Interview: The Laurels make their reentry
Sydney’s The Laurels are back with a new single, taken from their highly anticipated upcoming album. Courtney Dabb talks to Piers Cornelius from the band to find out more:
Hi Piers and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Something You Said. Your new single Reentry is one that bolts out of the gate with a kaleidoscope of drum beats and samples. It has a real Pop Will Eat Itself feel and begs the question, where there any distinct styles and areas that you were focusing on when working this track?
Reentry was written as an entrance song, sort of like the music that is playing when a boxer walks into the ring or when a band is walking onto the stage. It’s probably the first self-referential track we’ve done and was intended to be a pump up song for the rest of the album, like a hype man in a rap crew. I suppose the main influences would be Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Daft Punk and hip hop. Have never heard of Pop Will Eat Itself but will check ‘em out. We were just trying to create something different to and more eclectic than our previous album.
You’re upcoming album, Sonicology, is a bit of a departure from The Laurels we have heard over the years, what does the new material say about the (musical) stage of your lives that you are at right now?
I suppose we are now at a stage where we are more interested in mixing things up and creating our own sound, rather than paying (unintended) homage to things. It probably boils down to wanting to create the perfect record, rather than just chasing the perfect riff or guitar tone.
The band dynamic was bolstered with the addition of Drew Huston and Jasper Fenton, what did they bring to the table that really shines through on this LP?
Jasper is a multi-instrumentalist and somehow knows all our songs (new and old) better than the rest of us. Although he predominantly drums in the band, he can hear the songs from a producer’s perspective and is always focused on the whole song rather than just the drums, which is super handy. He produced and played nearly everything on the song Clear Eyes which is one of my favs and he has an awesome knowledge of recording techniques. Plus he can set everything up before recording, which is good (I am lazy). He is probs the best studio engineer of all time (apologies to Geoff Emerick) and would no doubt vote for himself if there was a poll. When we play live he can trigger a bunch of samples while playing drums, and the eventual goal is to send him out to tour the record by himself.
Drew is just an all-round champion and if we ever needed a fifth Laurel he would be first choice. Currently he plays in a group called Wild Cat Falling but has had many other legendary ones before that. He is super talented at whatever he turns his hand to and is also a great chef and good at vacuuming. He added lots of brass/woodwind instruments to the album and did some unintentional spoken word. We also witnessed him roll a cross joint which was extremely impressive. Although we felt really privileged to have him on our record he did fall asleep while laying down takes, so hopefully it wasn’t too boring for him.
The multi-verse master SPOD was behind the mixing desk on this album. How was it working with the hilarious genius?
Awesome! We were really lucky to have such a legend helping us out. He put up with all our stupid requests, added instruments to make certain tracks sound better (without even asking!!), brought us back from the brink when we were losing our minds and also taught us a whole bunch of stuff. If you are chasing a certain sound, want some red hot hip-hop tips or are looking for a great husband then SPOD is your man. He can even do the ordering if you are at a Chinese and at a complete loss as to how to feed a large group of people, some of whom are vegetarian. What a guy.
Do you see Sonicology it as an evolution to your shoegaze origins of Plains or a deliberate about-face?
Sonicology is an evolution of our sound I guess, but Plains wasn’t intended to be a shoegaze album. We play loud guitar in a live setting and it probably drowns out our vocals, but it was mainly to cover up the fact we couldn’t recreate all the other parts with just two guitars. We now come armed with synths and samplers and can create the sounds we were looking for without relying only on guitar, so hopefully we can ditch that tag. I like Loveless by MBV and an album called Nowhere Forever by Love Of Diagrams, but those are probably the only things we still listen to that could be classed as shoegaze. I don’t think there is any point trying to evolve that particular sound, Kevin Shields already did that and it would just sound derivative.
In a live setting do you foresee any issues in integrating the new Laurels with the old Laurels?
Not really, there are only a couple of old tracks we still play but they are infused with the same spirit as new Laurels. The only issues will be for interstate shows and working out how the hell to get all our instruments on a plane safely without getting smashed by baggage handlers.
You have some unique artworks available for some lucky punters to snap up. Are these concepts of your own creation or rather ideas passed on to some local artists to express the sentiments of Sonicology?
The artworks were created by Sonny Day and Biddy Maroney from Wbyk. They have done basically all our art since the inception of the band and we love everything they do. We usually have a meeting (drinking session at a pub) and give them a bunch of loose references, things we think look cool, etc. By some miraculous chance Sonny has usually already come up with a bunch of rough ideas based on those very same references and whips out his notebook with some sketches, much to our drunken astonishment. Then he is nice enough to let us pick an idea of his to proceed with and then Biddy somehow makes the whole thing look even more amazing. http://www.wbyk.com.au/
When can we expect to see you back on stage giving Sonicology a thorough shakedown?
From September onwards we should be able to fudge our way through the new songs without sounding like a complete train wreck.
Interview by Courtney Dabb.