Now seasoned with international travel and a more sophisticated perspective, Zach Stephenson and Billy Fleming have delivered the excellent follow-up to their astronomically popular 2016 debut Boronia. Stephenson answers our questions about Blend Inn.
Robert Lang Studios, where you recorded Blend Inn, is supposedly haunted (possibly by Kurt Cobain, who recorded his last material there). Did you see anything weird?
No, but we did find out about all that stuff about two days before we went in there, and I was really sh-tting myself, because I hate that sort of stuff. I was really scared to go in there. But we were forced in there, by our manager. John [Goodmanson, producer and audio engineer] said mostly it’s stoners who freak out, which I was scared about because usually I’m in that category. So no, didn’t see anything, but I didn’t go walking down any hallways at night or go looking for anything either – I just stayed in the control room and didn’t mess with anything!
“You don’t want to open and then close a book straight away; I like to keep it open-ended”
The message of stand-out I Wanna Be Everybody revolves around social anxiety, but the chords and feel are very upbeat. What made you decide to pair these kind of disparate things together?
I guess maybe there’s a glimmer of hope in the [song’s protagonist], and maybe the chords try to keep on the bright side of life. To be perfectly honest that’s just how it came out. I didn’t think too much about it. I probably should – it would probably make a great record.
You seem to have perfected the trick of slightly changing final chorus lyrics to reflect back on the rest of the song (“C’mon join the club” becomes “It’s so hard to join the club”, and “I wanna be everybody” becomes “I can’t be everybody”). Is it a deliberate, writing device?
I sort of like to leave an ambiguous ending to lyrics in songs, so that maybe there’s a part two, somewhere out there in the world. You don’t want to open and then close a book straight away. I like to keep it open-ended and keep people guessing.
Sweet Release is the first time we’ve heard Billy (drums) on the mic. What made you decide to give him a go?
We were recording the vocals, and that song came together in the studio in like 10 minutes, it was a sort of joke song. And I was just yelling the lyrics, you know, spitting them out. [Billy] was giving me shit, saying ‘That’s not it, you’re not getting it,’ so I said ‘Well you go do it then.’ And he did! And he did it pretty good. Yeah, he was heckling me and I got sick of it. He showed me. I think he liked the idea of a fun, stupid song, and that’s how he wanted to make his debut.
Blend Inn is out Feb 9 via Inertia.
Read our review of the album.
Keep up with the latest Australian release dates for music.