A few years ago Calling All Cars were just three boys from the coast playing punk songs and dreaming of touring the country and releasing albums. Today they can say they’ve toured the country a number of times with the likes of AC/DC and Queens Of The Stone Age and released a few EPs and albums. Last Friday saw the release of their brand new record Dancing With A Dead Man, a record that has a huge sound and killer songs. Haydn from the band called in, exhausted after playing a gig in the snow, to talk about the new record, touring and recording techniques
Music Feeds: Hey man, sorry to drag you away from celebrating after a day like today with the album being launched.
Haydn Ing: Yeah I know. I’m kind of a bit tired; we’ve just got home. We played a show in the snow last night.
MF: What happens on a day like this, on release day? I imagine it would be pretty hectic?
HI: You can’t really do much but just sit back and see how it goes and wait for the reviews to come in.
MF: So give us a rundown on the new album Dancing With A Dead Man?
HI: As soon as we finished the first album (Hold Hold Fire) we got stuck into it. We didn’t want to be one of those bands who release their first album and then have nothing to back it up with. We booked a month of rehearsal time when we had a break and demoed as much as we could. When we came to pre-production, we had 40 songs to work with. In pre-production it became obvious which songs were going to work with the direction we were going in.
MF: How many songs did you end up recording?
HI: I think we did fifteen. There’s a couple that are all finished but didn’t quite make the cut. We just chose the songs that worked better with each other and at the end of the day we were all really happy with it.
MF: It is an amazing album; I’ve been listening to it all week. The one thing I noticed was the difference in sound between the first record and this one. What did you guys go in with as a mindset for this album?
HI: The first album was a compilation of everything we had done up to that point. With this album, we wanted to take a slightly different approach. We really wanted to strip it back and give it heaps more dynamics, do a couple of slower songs and be experimental. I think we did so much touring off the first album we progressed as musicians and felt more like a unit.
This time round, instead of going in and recording, we knew a lot of the processes in making a record and we had all our parts down and had more fun experimenting with tones and using keyboards and all that kind of shit. So we kind of just went for it and made it as big and mean as we could. When it comes to playing it live, we’ll just deal with it then and work something out, hahahahaha.
MF: You guys do tour a hell of a lot; was it difficult to stop and sit down and get this album together?
HI: Well, we started writing straight after the first album. We wrote a whole a bunch of songs while out on tour. We knew the songs from the first album inside out, so during soundcheck and in the hotel we’d come up with new stuff and jamming on new songs and see if they worked. When it came time to demo we had all the parts figured out. And then in the studio we were able to capture that first-take magic because we hadn’t played them a million times already and really caught a vibe and rolled with it.
[at this point the phone dropped out]
MF: sorry about that Haydn, where were we?
HI: I dunno man, hahahaha
MF: One track I’ve fallen in love with on the album is Fireworks In A Hurricane. What’s that one about?
HI: It was about a friend I let into my life and they were just kind of poisonous and I didn’t really see it at the time. They came in, turned it upside down and left, hahahaha. And I was like “ahhh fuck” but I had no one to blame but myself. Musically, when we were recording it, we wanted to leave it really open and try and use as much space as we could.
We actually layered the vocals a ridiculous amount of times. Thirty-two tracks of vocals just to create that haunting effect.
MF: When you have to layer 32 tracks of vocals like that, do you get to a point where you’re just sick to death of singing the song?
HI: Yes/no. This time round, because the songs were so fresh, we didn’t quite get so sick of it, unlike last time. You do get to a point where you go “is that enough? Surely we’ve got it”
MF: I read this rumour that your vocals were recorded under extreme heat and humanity. Any truth in that one?
HI: It may or may not be true, hahahaha. I’ve been told not to talk about any of Tom’s unorthodox recording methods, hahahaha.
MF: So I can’t ask what the purpose may or may not have been behind this alleged rumour?
HI: Apparently the steam allows you to open the vocal chords. I guess that was the idea.
MF: You guys are about to head out on tour. You’ve gone from the support band to headliners in a relatively short period. Do you get much of a say who comes out on tour with you?
HI: Yeah, it’s our choice in the end who comes out on tour with us. This time round we’ve been hearing heaps of Boy In A Box and Redcoats on JJJ and really digging their stuff, so when it came to a point where our booking agent asked who we wanted to come on tour, we put those guys forward and they came back and said yes, so that was pretty sweet. I haven’t had a chance to see either live yet.
MF: Well, you’re about to get 17 chances!
HI: hahahaha, yeah.
MF: When you are on the road so much, besides the hour on stage, what else do you do to pass the time?
HI: Just try not to get too annoyed with each other! You’re in each other’s faces most of the day and the amount of time you have to do driving, you learn how to give each other space and not piss each other off. We also use it to write, which helps kill time.
MF: How do you guys write songs?
HI: I guess it usually starts with me. I’ll come up with a riff and record it on my iPhone, and when we get the chance at rehearsal or soundcheck, I’ll bring it to the guys and work on it there. Sometimes it’ll turn out completely different!
MF: Mate, one last question. If you were to make a mixtape, what would be the first track?
HI: I’m a huge fan of Queens Of The Stone Age, so maybe I Wanna Make It With You.
MF: How was it touring with Queens Of The Stone Age?
HI: It was insane man. It was crazy and awesome. It was cool to open for our favourite band. And those guys were all really friendly, looked after us and stuff.
MF: That’s a good thing. You got to play with some massive bands and some of your favourites; has anyone not lived up to your dreams of them?
HI: Not really. We’ve been lucky enough that every band we’ve supported have been really nice. I think when it gets to that point, they’ve done it so many times you learn that being nice is just easier! They don’t want to deal with shit on the road.
MF: Again thanks for having a chat today, I know it’s been a huge day for the band. Congrats on the new album and I’ll catch up with you at the Sydney show.
HI: Yeah, no worries dude, thanks heaps.
Calling All Cars – Dancing With A Dead Man is out now.