There must be something about the seclusion of a remote location that brings out explosive inspiration in some people. The Unabomber lived in a remote cabin in the wilderness of Montana, and Melbourne band The Drones adopted a similar dwelling to write and record their latest studio release, Havilah. Guitarist Dan Luscombe explains how it all came about;
“Havilah. Yeah, it’s the name of the tiny little town we made the album in. We brought a whole bunch of equipment up from Melbourne and Burke who produced the album brought a whole bunch of equipment from where he works in Big Jesus Burger studio in Sydney. So we set up what turned out to be a rather state of the art studio in this house that runs off a generator where the nearest neighbours are several kilometres away, this big mud brick open plan four bedroom house.”
“We got a hold of some great mics and preamps, spent two days setting up the house and for the next two weeks we were there. Cooking meals in the drum room, which was also the kitchen, sitting around eating together and being very very free from distraction, at times almost too much really.”
Whereas the Unabomber embraced the seclusion of his log cabin for destructive purposes, The Drones have channeled their energies towards more constructive ends.
“It’s a great way to record because you can make that thing that you’re doing all that you think about. It’s great waking up in the morning and wondering about what you’re gonna do on a certain song, what kind of sound you want to get as opposed to all the other things you worry about in regular life.”
Never ones to do things conventionally (their last album was recorded in an old mill in Tasmania), the prospect of laying down new material in a tradtional studio didn’t really appeal.
“I don’t have anything against them as such, I mean they’re expensive for a start, but there’s this clock on clock off factor you know. You show up for work around 11, or well 12 and once you’ve sort of had enough you tend to go home. In the house we could wake up at any time and get straight to work, and if something dawns on you at some ridiculous hour you’re not too far away.”
With a busy touring schedule last year, singer Gareth Liddiard and bassist Fiona Kitschin took some time off to concentrate on writing new material before bringing in Dan and drummer Michael to rehearse and record the album.
“We didn’t start work on any new stuff when we were touring last year, it just doesn’t lend itself to that. We travel pretty frequently when we’re on tour, driving in the van, like on the European tour we did 52 dates in 63 days. You don’t really have time to rehearse and when you do have any free time the last thing you feel like doing is picking up the guitar, you’re just trying to get through the day and to get away from music for a second.”
The new album was written over two months and after four weeks of rehearsing the band was ready to lay it all down.
“The whole process really, from the writing to the mastering was done very quickly but with a lot of intent and a lot of excitement. It actually happened really smoothly, we didn’t get stuck on any tracks for too long and we kept up a good work rate, mind you Paul Burke who recorded and mixed it was up to 9 o’clock in the morning on the last day of mixing.”
“What’s the saying? Art is never finished it’s only ever abandoned. You don’t look back and say I’ve finished but I’ve still got a week of studio time, maybe my friends want to use it.”
If their earlier releases are anything to go by, Havilah will be a brooding mix of noisy guitars, howling vocals and ever so subtle melancholy that latches on to your eardrums and demands attention.
“If you’re taking a lot of different influences you’ll inevitably end up doing something different each time. There’ll always be common threads through your playing and approach. There’s always going to be a linear thing going through there.”
“I think the idea is just to enjoy yourself, and if you like a whole bunch of different music, you’re bound to try a bunch of different things. At the end of the day it comes down to what the song is, and if it’s a good song you can spend a lot of time and have a lot of fun dressing it up in different ways. ”
With a new album plucked from the foothills of Mt. Buffalo, Victoria, The Drones are excited about presenting their newest creation to the world with another round of touring.
“It’s always great to have a new record out, it’s wonderful to go on stage with a whole bunch of new songs, and it’s been a while since we’ve done a show where we could do that. We’re really keen to see how the record is received because it’s a bit different for us.”
Havilah is out now on ATP Records and MGM and be sure to catch them when they play The Metro on Oct 24 with The Gin Club and The Kes Band.
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