‘Dubious’, ‘delicate’, ‘shaky’ – swap out any synonym for the third word in Luca Brasi’s new album title and you really start to feel the idea of ephemerality behind this collection of tracks. It’s an idea which resonates with frontman Tyler Richardson from the micro up to the macro. “I like having songs which resolve to a certain point,” the affable singer-bassist explains. “That sense of hope, in the undercurrent… it’s not all bleak, but it’s not this big joyous thing – it resolves in a way that has both the elements. That’s how I’ve always wanted to write a song. And that’s really how I feel about the record itself.”
Like most of the occasions we’re used to consecrating with a good old knees-up, the COVID pandemic sent an air of weirdness wafting around the completion of Tassie’s favourite sons’ fifth album. “It just kind of finished,” muses Richardson. “We made it pretty much by ourselves, just in our houses, and that meant there wasn’t the usual blow-out to celebrate. It was like, ‘Oh, the record’s done,’ and that was it. It was really strange.”
However, that COVID-oddness made for a serendipitously instructive new way of recording. “Instead of an advance to go and make this record, we asked for an advance to buy some music units,” Richardson explains. “And, it was like, well, we kind of got forced to learn how to do this.” ‘This’ refers to self-recording and self-producing – something many musicians have turned to during the last year – with a little help from Kisschasy’s Darren Cordeaux. “Just by proxy – he was in America,” says Richardson. “We’d send him stuff, he’d send us stuff, yada yada yada… and we’re so stoked with the results.”
They should be. Take a turn around stand-out Restless – which begins gently before bursting into an enormous, heart-wrenching wall of trilled chords along with the lyrics, “How far can we go/ On empty tanks, aching heads/ Feeling dead in unmade beds?” – or evocative single Tangled; Content, whose chorus lyrics (“I know what I’ll remember best/ Being tangled and content/ In your long hair”) Richardson admits are derived from real experience. “It’s about my partner, that line,” he says.
“It was a Sunday afternoon, we’d had a massive night, we weren’t doing anything. Y’know, totally happy in that moment you’re in.” He did, however, “cop some flak” after its release. “I went to my girlfriend’s work and her workmate just looked at me and said, ‘You realise, like, she hasn’t got long hair?’ I looked at [my girlfriend] and was like, ‘Oh, sh-t, she doesn’t even have that long hair. It’s shoulder-length,’” he chortles. “They gave me sh-t as soon as I walked in. So I’ve taken some liberty on that lyric, ‘cos it sounds cool.”
By the time you read this, Luca Brasi will have played at the 2021 MONA FOMA festival, an event super close to Richardson’s heart. “Mate, part of the reason I love [living in Tasmania], especially in Hobart, is because of MONA and their events,” he says. “They just do such good things in the community. They care. They elevate Tasmania. I love it.” He says he’s jonesing to perform single Every Time You’re Here (I’m Gone), but history tells us that whatever they end up doing on stage, it’ll bring the house down. “We really want to be a live band,” he says. “It’s such an important thing for us, to be able to recreate [our records]. And I’ve been working a lot on trying to sing better; that was a massive part of this record, to work on melody and clarity.”
In fact, Richardson received an extra-luminous spotlight on his vocals during the band’s run of acoustic shows in September last year. “I’m used to having an instrument in my hand, so I’m really bad at knowing what to do,” he laughs. “It was kind of the first time that I didn’t have something to hide behind, I guess. The first show, I was like, ‘What do I do with my hands?’ Like that Will Ferrell movie. Like ‘Holy sh-t, that’s actually what’s happening to me right now.’ And my first response was to safeguard myself by grabbing my wrist. Then someone said ‘Man, you’ve been watching Liam Gallagher clips,’” he smiles. “I love that band. I love Liam.”
Everything Is Tenuous by Luca Brasi is out Friday Feb 12 via Cooking Vinyl.
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