From a sonic point of view, Porridge & Hotsauce is a bit rawer and looser than its two predecessors, 2008’s Dilettantes and 2010’s You Am I. Even though there are additional textural elements, including strings, horns, backing vocals and keys, it’s not a slick sounding affair.
I think despite the embellishments, which all came later on when we got back to Melbourne, I was hoping it would come across sounding like a band in a room. We were actually learning the songs on the fly. Leading up to recording we all had respective projects on, so we maybe had two days before we left to jump into a room. Tim sent through a bunch of his songs and I sent through a few of mine – but basically really rough acoustic guitar demos with a guide vocal. I think when we got in there we played the songs through about three times – we were getting things down within two to three takes. There are certainly raw and rough edges on there, and nothing to click track. It’s quite obvious on some songs, in terms of tempo, that they start somewhere and finish somewhere completely different.
It seems unusual that You Am I would ever utilise a click track. One of Rusty’s (drummer Russell Hopkinson) major assets is that he’s all feel, and not particularly cautious with tempo.
We have recorded stuff to click before. I think the last record there were a couple of songs that were built up around loops and things that Tim had put together, so things like that were naturally more grid-based. This is the first time that we’ve gone into the studio and were playing as a band. There wasn’t any, “OK, we’ll go back and fix stuff up later on.” Everything had to go down live.
The recording kicked off at Daptone where you were tracking directly to tape. The Daptone label is renowned for producing authentic-sounding funk and soul music in the 21st century. What was it like recording there?
The studio at Daptone is really small. It’s a pretty unassuming room – it’s just like an old lounge room that’s been converted into a recording space. Acoustically there’s not that much to it. One of the things that we learnt recording in there is that those Daptone records sound the way they do because of the guys playing on it. I don’t think our record has a Daptone stamp on it, but it was certainly a cool experience, and it was the first time I’d had the opportunity to make a record with the band overseas.
Let’s have a look at the guitars you used, and the pedal and amp setup. ‘Good Advices’ and ‘Out To The Never, Now’ have very distinct lead lines. Is there a certain guitar you always look to for that style of playing?
I took three guitars over with me and I ended up overdubbing a few little bits and pieces when I came home. But for the most part the tracks that are on the record are what went down to tape over there. I took over my SG, which I hadn’t used for years. I picked it up for a gig about a year ago and had forgotten what a great fucking guitar it was. I bought it about 12 years ago, it’s a Pete Townshend signature model. I used that one on ‘Good Advices’. There wasn’t that much in the way of pedals. It was all pretty straight-up dry guitar. In terms of amps, we had an old Ampeg Gemini – I think it was a ‘70s Ampeg. Tim would be using that for the most part. We had that and an old [Fender] Princeton. Depending on the song and depending on who needed the thicker, soupier guitar tone we’d swap around. The Princeton is a bit more thin and cutting, which was good for ‘Good Advices’ and those songs where we needed something a bit more jagged and bitey.
‘No, A Minor Blue’ is one of the chunkiest sounding things You Am I have ever done. How’d you generate that castle of guitar noise?
I ended up doing a little bit of stuff back at home on that. Leading into the chorus there are a lot of backwards swells, so I put down a guide track for that while we were in New York but I really wanted to come home and dig into it. The nature of having those backwards swells, that was where digital technology came in handy. There’s a fair bit of digital manipulation there, just on Pro Tools, with flipping stuff backwards and throwing it into place. The guitar solo section, it’s sort of an anti solo. I just wanted something that was pretty noisy and chaotic, so I ended up doing a couple of things and chopping and flipping stuff into reverse. I just wanted something unnerving and chaotic.
On this record Tim’s guitars are pretty much all tuned down a step, so his guitars are probably a little thicker and soupier for that reason. I was thinking about using a baritone guitar, but I ended up using my Electro-Harmonix POG, which is a handy little pedal to have. There’s not really any other octave pedal you can play chords on.
Despite the additional production elements, the record’s still very immediate and you can imagine four guys in a room bashing it out. Do you have any uncertainties about being able to execute this stuff live?
I’m certain we could play the record from start to finish. It’s all pretty up, as opposed to the previous two which had some of those great slopey, dreamy ballads. I think it was a conscious thing to make this record a lot poppier and there’s nothing over three-and- a-half minutes and everything’s got a pretty definitive chorus. ‘Beehive’, that’s a slower one. The chorus on that song is one of my favourites. ‘Minor Blue’ is a pretty massive chorus. I think Tim’s written some of his best on this record. ‘Daemons’ is just Tim on his own with strings. We didn’t do that overseas, he recorded that back in Melbourne. I think that’s one of the most beautiful things he’s written. It’s a nice halfway dip in the record. When I first heard it I thought, “Fuck this is like McCartney but with better lyrics.” I’m not saying McCartney’s a shit lyricist. I mean, he has written some shit lyrics.
November 6 – The Gov, Adelaide SA
November 7 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA
November 12 – Waves, Wollongong NSW
November 13 – Beachcomber Hotel, Toukley NSW
November 14 – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW
November 19 – Villa Noosa Hotel, Noosaville QLD
November 20 – Triffid, Brisbane QLD
November 21 – Parkwood Tavern, Gold Coast QLD
November 22 – Spotted Cow, Toowoomba QLD
November 25 – Magnums, Airlie Beach QLD
November 26 – Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville QLD
November 27 – Discovery, Darwin NT
November 28 – Gapview Hotel, Alice Springs NT
December 2 – The Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW
December 4 – 170 Russell, Melbourne VIC