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Bhanglassi – A Direct State of Mind

Written by Michael Carr on January 24, 2011

Offering up their own take on classic Brit-pop/indie, Sydney’s own Bhanglassi have been wading theri way through the music scene for several years now, with three EPs under their belt. Having played a steady stream of show in their years together, the band are focused on making sure that when they play, people have fun. Don’t expect guitar noodling wallflowers then when they play Mum at World Bar this Friday the 28th of January. We caught up with Spoona (yeah weird name ay, didn’t want to ask though) for a quick chat about the band’s latest EP amongst other things.

Music Feeds: So you’ve got you’re Everything’s Amazing EP out now. Being your third, how would you say it compares to you’re earlier recordings?

Spoona: It’s a distinctly BhangLassi recording, there’s no doubt about that but our intention this time was first and foremost to cut out the bollocks and get our music down on the CD as close to the way we play it as possible. From the opening riff of ‘Life’s a Dream Pt2’ it’s pretty much our intention to grab you and catapult you on a sweaty, sordid, ecstatic journey down the back alleys of Matt’s mind until the last exquisite chord of the CD. It’s a less polished but more energised production than the first two and the songs are more direct but that has been more our state of mind for the last 12 months or so.

MF: Can you tell us a bit about the recording process?

S: This whole CD was written and recorded in 6 months, compared to ‘Orange’ our first CD which had some songs on it that had been written several years before. Our intent with the CD was to capture that immediacy and let the songs cut through and carry themselves, so there’s very little over-dubs or tweaking done in the studio, only a few layered harmonies we had since we started working on the tunes. We recorded it at Zapata Studios in Coogee, the guys there were totally on the money and picked up on where we were coming from straight off the bat. They just brought their ear and a few tricks to help us getting that slightly edgy, aggressive sound we were used to from playing these songs live. The whole thing was recorded and mixed in three days so fair play to them, I’ve never seen anyone use Pro-Tools as ruthlessly as these guys did.

MF: How does the writing work in the band? Is there a key songwriter who brings ideas to the rest of the band, is it jam based, other?

S: Matt is a song writing machine, he churns them out day after day while Chris is more of a slow burner but they’re both quality song-writers and between ‘em we always have three or four songs waiting in the wings work on. They tend to write more or less a whole song just on acoustic guitar and then bring it to practice when it’s complete enough for everyone to see where it’s going and what it’s about. We’ll then jam on it within that structure and sometimes it might get turned on it’s head, or chopped in half and spliced with something new but increasingly these days they almost write themselves cause we know now what we’re doing. BhangLassi is a band above all, and we’ve been mates long enough to be able to speak up when we disagree about things without things boiling over (too often) – We also have a definite majority rule approach to writing but that also means you’ve got five opinions and ideas on structure, harmony, etc, etc which keeps things fresh and is certainly how we’ve developed our sound.

MF: How do you approach playing live is it a case of trying to recreate the songs off the recording or are the two separate beasts?

S: We pretty much always write with live in mind, if anything when we come to record things might get re-thought, like ‘Chasing Down the Sun’ on ’11:57’ which has heaps synth layers that just came out in the studio but live we tend to keep it true to the way it was written. Some regulars in our set from our first CD have grown a bit in our live show since they were recorded, like the day we commented it would be great to have some trumpet on ‘This Season’ and Alex piped up out of nowhere that he not only had a trumpet but could play it! We now have a fair bit of stuff like that now that didn’t get recorded unfortunately but it really lifts the songs when we play ‘em live.

MF: In an industry as competitive as the music industry and a scene as crowded as Sydney what do you think the key to getting noticed is?

S: Being mad bastards. That or having a singer with sufficiently tight jeans, don’t give a fuck hair and a screechy voice. Having good music helps of course, which is our focus but when people go out, they want something to turn their night around, they want to be in the presence of a genius or at the heart of a movement, above all they want to see musicians playing from their heart. That’s key. We make a point of pushing buttons when we play, if we have to get the whole pub dancing on tables to make their night one to remember, we’ll do it.

MF: Your music would fit under the vague umbrella of indie pop, what is it about the music that attracts you?

S: Guitars, drums and unkempt hair mostly. Individually we’re into all sorts of music, loads of electronica, reggae, indie etc. Ten years ago genres were delineated by fashion, gangs, friends and ignorance, fortunately today that’s not the case. You can drop a drum and bass beat on an indie track without people getting upset or confused, you can play a reggae track in the middle of a punk set, it doesn’t matter. We play indie sure but under the surface are influences, beats, basslines from all over the shop.

MF: What are your plans over the next few months?

S: We want to record our first album but before we can do that we’ve got some more writing to do and also a bit of a cull of tunes we could/should lay down for a solid Lassi album. We’ve been writing for years and got heaps of material that’s never been recorded because for one reason or another it didn’t fit the vibe of that CD or was knocked out of the running by something else that had more of a hook so this would give us a chance to get some of those tracks down that would sit better on an album than an EP. We may even squeeze in the obligatory secret track if it’ll appease the WullaMulla crowd – but that’s another story…

Bhanglassi play Mum at World Bar this Friday the 28th of January.

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