Sydney punk-feminist heavyweights Body Type sat down with Mixdown to chat collective creativity and the gear that defines their new LP.
Sydney punk-feminist heavyweights Body Type’s new gut punch of a single ‘Miss the World’ is an ode to life in the midst of covid, as well as vocalist Sophie McComish’s love letter to the band itself. The first taste of their forthcoming new album Expired Candy, the track is a bone-rattling pastiche of everyday femininity refracted through the cacophony that is contemporary culture, and showcases the band at their heaviest and most ferocious to date. Shortly after its release, Body Type sat down with Mixdown to chat about the band’s evolving sound, their collective creativity, and the gear that defined their new LP.
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Having followed your work across the past few releases, it seems as though there’s been a gradual sonic shift in the band’s output – more tenacious drums, harder, dryer tones, and punchy, upfront vocals – elements all epitomised by ‘Miss the World’. Was there a conscious effort to push the band’s sound further throughout the writing and production of this single and LP2?
Annabel Blackman: Body Type has been a process of becoming-through-doing, rather than something that started with a clear vision. I’d say we used to model ourselves more after our idols, and we spent a lot of time researching things like what guitar pedals and gear everyone else used, and maybe that’s why we started out with more reverb, delay, chorus and effects drenching the instruments and our voices. Now we’ve grown into our own approach, informed by how we write together and what feels fun to play live; we’ve stripped back the effects and streamlined the recording process, honing in our favourite gear, and how we record with it. Who we record with is also instrumental – Jonathan Boulet has zeroed in on our collective urge to make the songs sound more ‘live’, which felt like a revelation when we recorded LP1 with him. Working with him again on LP2 it felt like he peered even deeper into our souls because he was nailing the mixes straight away, sending back these big, bad… hits? I hope!
As a multi-vocal band, how does the Body Type songwriting process play out – is it an entirely collaborative effort, or do you folks prefer to write alone?
Georgia Wilkinson-Derums: It’s definitely somewhere in the middle. I do know we all spend a fair amount of time writing and dreaming alone: listening to music; scribbling shit down on the back of receipts; singing into the voice memo app. Perhaps this private part of the process is becoming quite integral to the way we work, because it means that when those independent ideas are brought to the band, the other members are able to give shape and spirit to the song quite quickly. I think we are getting very good at co-writing, collaborating and finding how best to conjure something from nothing.
Could you detail the writing and recording process for your forthcoming album? How did it differ from the prior records? Any hilarious anecdotes?
GWD: Like I mentioned above, a lot of the songs were initially written independently and then brought to the band for completion. I’ve been living in WA since the pandemic hit, so our 2022 group writing sessions were sporadic and condensed but weirdly I think the distance meant we actually worked harder for the music? I certainly spent way more time writing than I had for the first album. A point of difference with Expired Candy is that we did a lot of finessing in the studio, and some of those last minute additions really changed the direction of the work. As for special moments, Cecil really rips on the tambo.
Are there any instruments, pieces of equipment, or mix conditions that are integral to each of you when it comes to translating Body Type’s fiercely energetic essence from its recorded to live context?
AB: Funnily enough I think one of the things that underscores our energy is having a really tight recording timeline that means no-one has time to be bored or idle, we just get into the studio pressure-cooker in almost a state of panic and attempt to squeeze out our best takes, while simultaneously relaxing the grip on perfection if things are a little wonky. Even though we thought we’d have the unusual luxury of time recording LP2, things got predictably chaotic and we had to cram the last studio leg in between going on tour with The Pixies, so that really helped preserve our manic recorded essence. I also got covid the week of recording so I had to do all of my parts on one day off between the tour dates. G’day carpal tunnel!
Cecil Coleman: My most prized possession is my snare – It’s a Ludwig Supraphonic. When I started drumming I wasn’t really sure what vibe I wanted to go with, but my friend Marcel from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever gave me some hot tips and said his favourite was a Supraphonic. He let me borrow his when we toured together and I loved its classic sound and how versatile it was. When we were in the US in 2019, I was hoping/dreaming/manifesting finding one second – hand, however I was very luckily given one as a present and it’s been my companion ever since. I’ve recorded both our albums using it and it’s always on tour with me.
AB: I must confess I’ve never really bought a proper guitar of my own apart from a flying-v at a pawn shop. I have a Reverend someone unexpectedly gave to me, and while I initially resisted getting attached to it, I now I love it. Everything just sounds great on it, and it’s got that nice double humbucker sustain. It’s the signature guitar of Jen Wasner from Wye Oak, and features a migraine-inducing design.
My favourite guitar pedal is my Crowther Hotcake Overdrive because it’s got nice grain and boost, but now it’s got some competition because just before recording I bought an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi – a purchase inspired by the solo on the Carpenters song ‘Goodbye to Love’.
Sophie McComish: I play a J Mascis Squier which I bought from a mate ages ago and used to be scared of because I thought it was really buzzy but now I embrace all the random noise that comes out of it. I like not feeling too precious about my guitar either because that feels restrictive – I like bashing about on stage and stuff and this baby can handle it, likes it rough. Her back is covered in scars from the grinding of sartorial buttons and buckles and her front is covered in sparkles and stickers (and the occasional crust of blood spatter from playing too hard). My favourite pedal is my RAT because it is similarly noisy, unpredictable and wild.
GWD: When we play live I only use a tuner. I was really insecure about this for a long time until I noticed Gus from Amyl only uses a tuner and now I’m into it. I do try and pay attention to the particular bass head I’m using each gig and work the settings to give it a lot of drive.
AB: I asked if we could try something different recording (my) vocals for LP2 – I hate the rigidity of standing up straight and singing into a fancy condenser mic that picks up all the saliva drying up in your mouth. I’m used to doing home recording hunched over a desk signing into a dynamic mic, so I ended up gripping onto a Shure Beta58, which had a dirty signal going through a guitar amp and a clean signal going straight to the desk (with the condenser still on in the background just in case it was a flop).
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