When speaking with a member of Buckley Ward you better have your wits about you. The Melbourne indie quintet are a fast-thinking wisecracking bunch, which stands in contrast to their slow-building and methodical pop tunes.
The band’s keyboardist and sole female member Georgie Emselle is jovial, self-deprecating and on the cusp of surpassing Ben Folds in regards to piano solo ability. When it comes to talking about Buckley Ward’s second record So Pretend, which comes out tomorrow, Emselle readily concedes the band suffered from sophomore record syndrome.
“Every song that’s on the record is not in its original form. It was born as something else and evolved, and was thrown away and looked at in disgust for a couple of months and then reinvented. But it turned out OK in the end I think, hopefully the best versions of everything ended up on the record,” Emselle muses.
The origins of So Pretend can be traced back to the band’s frontman Jimmy Allen, who began crafting songs for the new record about two years ago in his self-made home studio.
“Jimmy our lead singer…he’s got this amazing little place…it’s a real hole and it’s falling apart and the owner’s going to rip it down, but he doesn’t have the money at the moment, so pretty much Jimmy has licence to do whatever he wants to it.”
“So he’s built himself a little makeshift recording studio out the back and pretty much closeted himself in…for about a year, just experimenting and mucking around and making sweet tunes. That’s pretty much how the record came about, he just sort of spent a year-and-a-half in there on his own, working on stuff, and then bought us in to work on it afterward.”
Once the work was finally completed, Buckley Ward emerged with a follow-up record that is both subtle and thoughtful. So Pretend often touches on the pressures of the daily grind and how a routine of uninspired toil can rid a person of purpose.
“I think that’s why it’s quite relateable, this album, because everyone knows how that feels.”
“The darkness in the themes of the record are more to do with finding those sorts of hidden depths in every day situations. I probably shouldn’t say this, but it’s not like going out on the street and getting attacked by a zombie; it’s going to work and realising that this is what’s happening for the rest of your life. The darkness in everyday situations and the listlessness that comes with just everyday life for 20-something kids who live in the city.”
Emselle’s crack about zombies is a reference to the video for Buckley Ward’s latest single Into the Darkening Blue. The clip sees the band fleeing from a horde of Zombies, though not necessarily in terror. A spam having blood-stained T-shirt-wearing band member who apparently fears nothing as he continually smiles while escaping from the undead surge.
“That’s Ren, he’s our bass player. He’s our saving grace when it comes to being one of the cool kids. He’s our long-haired, roguishly attractive guy who we always send forward for any interviews that happen to have video.”
“I think that’s what he’d actually be like as well you know, ‘I’m so ridiculously good looking nothing bad is going to happen to me’,” Emselle jokes
Emselle is also lighthearted when it comes to discussing who is the most unappreciated band member. Despite being a classically trained pianist slumming it in an indie pop band, Emselle forgoes the honor and passes the prize onto fellow Buckley Ward member Justin Sproules.
“I think our most unappreciated member is our multi-instrumentalist who fills the gaps. Jimmy will write something and all of a sudden we’ll realize it doesn’t really have anywhere to go and so Jus will end up with his guitar on playing synths and playing the sample as well and he’s got his floor tom on his right hand side and his snare on his left hand side and he’s trying to juggle everything and he get’s something wrong and we’re like, ‘What are you doing man? Come on, step up!’”
“So it’s a trial for him, but he’s doing OK,” Emselle laughs.
So Pretend by Buckley Ward comes out tomorrow
Watch: Buckley Ward – Into The Darkening Blue
Buckley Ward Australian Tour Dates
Saturday – 28th April
Edinburgh Castle, Adelaide
Friday – 11th May
Saturday – 19th May
The Toff, Melbourne
Saturday – 26th May
The National, Geelong
Sunday – 27th May
Pure Pop Records, Melbourne
Saturday – 2nd June
FBi Social, Sydney