Aidan Roberts is the multi-faceted artist responsible for the sweet melodies and folk lullabies of The Maple Trail, the side solo project of Roberts that acts as a musical outlet when he isn’t performing as a member of Belles Will Ring.
The Maple Trail’s third solo record Cable Mount Warning was written and rewritten (and rewritten one more time) over the course of a few years, spanning many travels before being completed in the Blue Mountains, where Roberts makes his home.
“I do a lot of my writing when I’m away, but I never get time to flesh anything out until I’m home in my studio with all my instruments around me, then I’m really able to put things together,” Roberts reveals.
“Most of my inspiration comes from my travels: things that I’ve seen, books that I’ve read and things going on in my life. Where I work best is in the peace and quiet. I’m from the Blue Mountains. Since I moved back up here last year, I’ve felt a lot more freedom to really get going with it and work out the sounds that are right for each song.”
In searching for the right sounds, Roberts didn’t shy away from using unconventional tools. For the warm and soothing track Barking Dog & Swallow, Aidan employed wine glasses to create the drumbeat.
“I tried that song a number of different ways and it always came out really just as an acoustic ballad. I was very inspired by friends I worked with, Caitlin’s (Park) stuff and Holly Throsby, who I did some recording with last year. There’s a lot of spacing in their music and a lot of constant little rhythms that are made by unusual sounds that I love to hear,” Roberts acknowledges.
“So for that one (Barking Dog & Swallow) I wanted it to almost have like a ticking clock sound and I searched around my house trying to find something that I could just lay down as a rhythm and then build the song over the top. I had some wine glasses and…came up with this little – it sounds sampled but I actually played it right the way through – wine glass drumbeat and that really informed the feel of the song.”
“I did a lot of that on the record actually, just starting at ground zero with something to hit and putting everything else over the top.”
Starting from ground zero was something Roberts did about three times while constructing Cable Mount Warning. The time Roberts had to work on the record allowed room for second guessing and redirection.
“Because it took so long, my ideas changed over time and I fell in and out of love with some of the songs and I was coming up with new ones periodically,” Roberts admits.
“There’s songs on there like The Dinosaur Hunters that I think I recorded four or five times before it ended up where it is. I don’t usually like to work like that, but I think it was worth it in this case because finally the album feels like the album I wanted to make, I think.”
The Dinosaur Hunters is the lead single and revolves around a frenzied period of time when discovering dinosaur fossils was somewhat like finding oil.
“These characters ‘the dinosaur hunters’ are made up to a degree, but the idea was based on something really cool I read about the palaeontology rush, the dinosaur rush back in the 1880s. I saw something in the hard working under-appreciated character, and the song just sort of came out of that.”
“I always like songs about people with something that’s eating away at them or there’s something wrong that the character has to get through. That’s what I tried to convey with that song.”
Watch: The Maple Trail – The Dinosaur Hunters
The Maple Trail – Cable Mount Warning Launch Tour
Tuesday 24 April (Anzac Day Eve)
The Gasometer, Melbourne
with special guests Packwood & Ben Mason
Tuesday 3 May
The Vanguard, Sydney
with special guests Hot Spoke and Eirwen Skye