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Track By Track: Abroad Pull Back the Curtain on Their New Album ‘Departure’

Jack Dawson and Will Cruger, the two constituent members of Abroad, met as students in Wollongong more than half a dozen years ago. The electronic-inclined indie duo introduced themselves with a series of city-specific EPs, each written or recorded in the eponymous city. They began with London in 2017; New York followed in 2018, and Dawson and Cruger returned to New South Wales to create last year’s Sydney.

Abroad’s debut album, Departure, is out now. The album was previewed with the singles ‘Coffee’, ‘Go Where You Go’, and ‘Air’. The pair will hit the road for album launch shows in Sydney, Newcastle and Burleigh Heads in late July and early August. Here, Cruger breaks down the new album, track by track.

Will Cruger shares the stories behind Abroad’s debut album, ‘Departure’

1. Something Else

I started writing this track by playing with some percussion and trying to make a riff with just a beat. The bulk of the track, arrangement and melody, came together in an afternoon. Once we had the demo and we were blasting it in the car, we knew it was something that needed to be part of an album. It felt like the beginning of a journey, so we knew it needed to be the opening track.

2. Coffee

This was the first song that we finished for the album. While making Departure, I worked really hard on improving my mixing and production skills and when I heard ‘Coffee’, as soon as we got it back from mastering, I felt like all of our effort had paid off.

3. Calling

This was the last track we wrote for the album. We had a few songs floating around that we thought could be the final track, but none of them felt quite right. I had an idea of what I felt was missing from the album, so rather than try to make one of the demos fill that place, I wrote ‘Calling’ from scratch. We tested it out at a few shows earlier this year and we got great feedback from the crowd.

Abroad – ‘Coffee’

4. Air

This was a track that took us back to our roots. In the earlier days of Abroad, Jack and I had worked remotely, living in different countries and sending ideas back and forth. Now we’re living in the same city and we have the luxury of working together in the studio, but ‘Air’ came from an idea that Jack started on an old piano at his parents’ place. He sent the verse to me as a voice memo and I clicked with it right away – I think I finished the demo the same day.

5. Go Where You Go

Sometimes a song comes together from carefully laying down one track at a time until you land in a place that feels right. ‘Go Where You Go’ came from setting up Ableton as a live looping buddy, plugging in every synth I own and just jamming. It started with the drums and we built up the vocal hook by layering in heaps of harmonies. The original demo was a lot longer than the final cut, but I’m really happy with where it ended up.

6. I’m Not Here to Be Your Friend

This is the oldest song on the album. It’s been through a few iterations, but the very first version of this song came about during our second or third writing session back in London, I don’t think we’d even named the band yet. It just seemed to be put back on the shelf whenever we were putting together a release. I felt like it had potential, but I lacked the production experience to make the song what I wanted it to be.

Abroad – ‘Go Where You Go’

7. Be Mine Again

This was another older song that I wrote back when I was putting together songs for the New York EP. Similarly to ‘I’m Not Here To Be Your Friend’, I felt like this song needed more than I could do at the time, so I held off on releasing it. When we began writing for the album, we ended up rewriting it from the ground up, but the original vibe is still there.

8. Holding On to Me

‘Holding On To Me’ probably had the biggest transformation from its first demo to what it is now. I actually started writing it with someone else in mind, but they kind of ghosted me, so I put it aside. Jack heard the hook and immediately wanted to add it to the album. It took me a few tries to make it feel like an Abroad track, but once I locked in the beat and bass groove, it felt good, so we just ran with it. Now, it might be my favourite track on the album.

9. Slowly

This was another jam-based track. I was just playing with my Moog and Roland Chorus Echo and riffing away, trying to find how the pre-chorus bass line would fit together. This is the first song we have written that didn’t have a vocally driven chorus, and I think that’s because of how the song was written. When that groove kicks in, it’s probably my favourite track to play live.

Abroad – ‘Air’

10. Get to You

I wrote the first version of this track on the same day as ‘Something Else’, but it took a few days of tinkering and shooting voice memos and ideas back and forth with Jack before we landed on a hook that felt right. Jack wrote the melody for the chorus, and when I heard it for the first time, it lifted the whole vibe of the song and everything else fell into place.

11. Jupiter

Sometimes, you find inspiration in the simplest things, and this song is a perfect example of that. I had just purchased what is now my favourite synth (Dave Smith Prophet 6) and I was playing around with the sounds and the interface. I was recording little ideas and putting together patches, and before I knew it, I had this song on my hands.

12. Run

I started to write this song when I was living in Melbourne in 2020, during the big lockdowns. I wanted to take off and escape and I would imagine running through the woods with my partner, just getting away from it all. Eventually, we came out of lockdown and moved up to the South Coast. When I came back to the session, I wrote the bridge, “When the sun comes up, you will find me here with you.” With that, I played around with the chords of the last chorus to reflect the feeling that we had landed in a good place.

Further Reading

PREMIERE: Indie Electronic Duo Abroad Start Afresh On ‘Coffee’

Track By Track: Garrett Kato Breaks Down His New Album ‘Small Town Rituals’

Track By Track: Blood Command Unpack Their New Album ‘Praise Armageddonism’

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