Perth rock band Sly Withers have released their third album, Overgrown. The successor to 2021’s Gardens was produced by Dave “Parko” Parkin (Spacey Jane) and features band members Jono Mata, Sam Blitvich, Joel Neubecker and Shea Moriarty’s most grown-up songwriting to date. Here, Sly Withers break down the ways in which the new album exhibits growth.
Sly Withers: Overgrown
1. A new writing process
Sly Withers: Coming into demoing and writing Overgrown, we realised that we needed to refine the writing process a little bit to make everything work as optimally as possible for everyone in the band individually. Long story short, we decided that before any song would enter the jam room, Jono and Sam would demo it, working on it together a fair bit in the process.
We went shopping and bought some mics, monitors and an Ikea desk and spent the summer writing and demoing as often as possible in a spare room at Jono’s place. Then, after everyone had a chance to listen to and familiarise themselves with the demos, we took those songs to the boys in the jam room and would integrate the full unit’s ideas into the tracks. It worked really well and we think it’s probably going to be the standard for us moving forward.
2. Production process
Sly Withers: Overgrown is the first record we’ve made where we’ve been able to set aside a chunk of time, go into the studio over a long period and break apart the songs to better refine them. Out of necessity – budgets, timelines – we’d never been able to do this before, and it was a real treat to go into Blackbird with producer Dave Parkin and make something very considered and deliberate.
One of the most common questions Parko would ask us and himself was, “What does the record need?” It was so cool to allow ourselves the time to be able to consider that, rather than just refining the individual songs in the jam room for a couple of months by ourselves before going in and recording them as they were.
3. Prettier aspirations
Sly Withers: Parko helped us really push our sound forward on this record, incorporating prettier sounding elements and creating what we feel is a super lush sounding record. Acoustic guitars played a big role here – most of the album has acoustic chords layered underneath it, which gives the record an element that’s both beautiful and percussive.
A reference point for the percussive part of this vibe was the Green Day album Warning. There’s so much cool acoustic guitar on that record, truly an underrated outing from that band. There’s also a bit of synth and piano peppered throughout Overgrown but the most exciting new addition to us was the strings.
4. The strings
Sly Withers: To make this album a bit prettier, we decided we wanted to go full violin mode. So, we asked our pal Clancy Davidson – who we toured with a lot through her work in Noah Dillon’s band around the time of Overgrown‘s writing and recording – to come in and help us lay down some strings on a few tracks (‘Sundays’, ‘Don’t Wanna Leave’ and ‘Tongue’).
The day we did strings was one of the funnest of the whole process and we are so stoked with the amazing work that Clancy did. There was a lot of fun to be had helping arrange these parts as none of us had ever written string parts before at all.
5. The most tracks we’ve ever released at once
Sly Withers: Overgrown has 14 tracks and runs for over 46 minutes. We never intended for that to be the final product, but when it came time to pick what would make it onto the album, we felt like every song had a place and contributed to the record in some way.
Previously, we’d always been cautious of exceeding 42 minutes due to some vinyl related stuff, but we decided, “Nah, fuck it,” and asked our label nicely if we could put out all 14 tracks. They were like, “Sure, why not,” so we were like, “Cool, thanks, we’ll do that then.” And then they were like, “Cool, looking forward to it,” and then we were like, “Us too!”
It feels like we’ve achieved a real diverse sounding record thanks to not cutting anything. Every song has a reason for being on there and we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved with it.
Sly Withers – ‘Radio’
Sly Withers’ new album Overgrown is out now via Dew Process / UMA.