Sydney-based guitar-pop 4-piece Songs have just released their second album Malabar. The follow-up to the band’s 2009 self-titled debut, Malabar is the result of a more fluid Songs, where improvisation was favoured over preparation.
The new album sees the return of bandmates Ela Stiles and Max Doyle along with new Songs members Ben James (previously with Talons) and Cameron Emerson-Elliot (previously with Youth Group). The two fresh recruits helped Stiles and Doyle explore a more spontaneous sound.
Presumably taking time out from an hour-long Faust-inspired jam session, Doyle wrote back to Music Feeds’ questions, describing the experience of making Songs’ second album and giving an eclectic list of records for fans to listen in order to better understand the inner workings of Malabar.
Music Feeds: How did Songs going into the studio less prepared, than on Songs’ 2009 debut, help shape Malabar?
Max Doyle: How does everyone know we were less prepared? It’s true though and because of this a lot of the jammy moments only took shape once we were in the studio. Even with some of the shorter, more concise songs we were unsure of the feel they would have until we were with Mike in the studio
MF: What are some your favourite moments on Malabar that came about due to Songs lack of preparation?
MD: I like the flute coming in and out of the end of Looking Without Seeing. I didn’t even know Ela could play the flute. Also Reprise at the end of the record was just us not wanting to stop playing because it was sounding so nice.
MF: Songs welcomed two new members for Malabar. What did Cameron Emerson-Elliot and Ben James bring to writing and recording process?
MD: Cam is an incredible player and he can improvise and make stuff up on the spot. In the past we would have to get all the parts locked down in advance but with Cam it gives us the freedom to change direction if we get the feeling. I think Ben is a bit the same in that respect as well.
MF: Yourself and Ela Stiles remain Songs primary songwriters. How has the partnership evolved during the 4 years between albums?
MD: I think Ela’s confidence has grown as a songwriter and musician so she has been much more inclined to lead the band through a lot of tracks. I think I’m still writing like I always have but now I have Ela’s ideas weaving in and out of my own.
MF: Being that Songs is based in Sydney is the album title a nod to suburb of Malabar and if so how did the area impact upon the record?
MD: Yes Malabar in South East Sydney. I’d been spending a bit of time there and felt enough of a “spiritual” connection with the place to write the title track about it. It’s funny, a lot of Sydney people don’t seem to know that there is even a suburb in Sydney called Malabar.
MF: Looking Without Seeing ends with an exotic acid rock instrumental. What’s the story behind the outro?
MD: Well firstly it originally went for about five times longer until we cut it down in the editing. We just like sitting in a groove and letting things happen. Every time we played this it went somewhere else. We tracked all the songs on the album live and then just did a few overdubs so most of this was happening in the studio. I seem to remember the lights being off and a few candles burning.
MF: Although at its roots Songs is a pop-guitar outfit, the band doesn’t mind getting carried away in a 5-minute odyssey. Where does Songs’ fondness for drawn out jams come from?
MD: One song that had a massive influence on me was Krautrock off Faust IV by Faust. Once that’s in your head and you start jamming then everything makes sense. When we write and practice we tend to get the songs out of the way and then start having fun. We usually record these jams and I’ve got some that last over an hour until someone has the guts to stop it.
MF: Which records would you recommend fans listen to, to gain a better understanding of Malabar?
MD: That’s tuff. Ok, Krautrock by Faust. People talk about Krautrock as if it’s one easily defined sound but on that one album there is so much going on. First Time by Bushwalking, Serious Magic by Cam’s (Emerson-Elliott) other band Community Radio. Rumors by Fleetwood Mac and More Songs About Buildings and Food by Talking Heads.
Songs – Australian Tour Dates
Thursday, 11th April
GoodGod (Sydney) with special guests TBA
Tickets available from http://shop.popfrenzy.com.au
Friday, 12th April
Primitive Room (Brisbane) with special guests TBA
Tickets available at the door
Saturday, 13th April 13th
Workers Club (Melbourne) with special guests TBA
Tickets available from http://theworkersclub.com.au