How did you come up with the chromatic, falling guitar scale in opener Where U Been? I remember reading Radiohead’s Just was an experiment in using as many chords as possible, was it anything similar?
I f-cking love that riff in Just. It gets me so amped. I guess the sentiment is the same, just making it sound like a bit of an intense mess. It was actually John’s idea, to just not worry about chords and have it descend sloppily. My first instinct is to always make something cohesive in a melodic/chord sense, so it goes against my natural reflex, but it fits well with all the accidental un-melodic stuff we do.
How long do you work on a chorus melody like the one in Beat Up? When I first heard it it felt like I’d had it in my head for years.
Literally once. We don’t spend much time at all re-thinking ideas. We usually record an idea the first time we come up with it because I’m super forgetful. I didn’t change the melody at all from the first time I sang it; I just open my mouth and sometimes whatever comes out sticks.
Do you understand the bridge rules for which I presume the band is named after? What is the best card game in the land?
Someone told me about that once. I have been meaning to Google it. My mum used to play bridge a lot actually, so I suppose I have both her and my Polish father to thank for our band name. The best card game in the land is Monopoly (that counts right, there are cards?). It ruins friendships and is all about f-cking over other people. What’s not to love?
Have you learned a proper vocal warm-up routine you do before performing live?
Mark Williams from Dragon is my vocal coach. He’s literally the only reason I can sing more than one night in a row. In songs like Able and Why Should I, I’m literally screaming in parts and that’s never going to be good for your voice. But I worked with Mark to change almost everything about my physicality when I sing: jaw movement, tongue placement, breathing, stance, muscle use, and not to mention warmups and preparation too. I also stole some insider knowledge regarding remedies and gadgets from Zach from Northeast Party House, but if I told you, I’d have to kill you.
Do you try to order your live set to give your voice the best chance of holding up?
I think I’m in a place now where I can move songs around more freely but there’s always a slight strategy with where I like to place songs live. It’s mostly about balance and not blowing your load all at once. Also, I’m super unfit and need some sexy slow jams to catch my breath, though they’re all mostly vocally intense too. I probably need to chill out. Maybe our next release with be a jazz album or something.
I imagine John-Henry has a ball playing the kit part on Broke; what do you call that kind of beat? The only other example of it which came to my mind was Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz.
I think it’s on Broke where you can literally hear John hit an accidental rimshot in the song and scream in pain. It’s probably one of his more difficult drum beats on the album, and that’s why I fully intend on playing it at every available opportunity live, because I’m a sadist.
There are lots of grunts, chuckles and asides sprinkled around the album. Tell us you were genuinely having that much fun while recording – and also, did you both agree to keep all those little life-signs included?
From day one in the studio we told Wade (our producer from Wolf & Cub) to keep rolling before and after takes so we’d have some banter and atmosphere sound to play with. To be honest, there would probably heaps more on the album if we weren’t so juvenile and crass. Most of it (which obviously didn’t make the cut) was fart noises and berating comments. There was a lot of Wade going “It sounds like you’re telling me what to do…”
You’re touring over the entire month of May, and finishing off at The Corner in Melbourne on June 3. What do you hope to have perfected/learned by the end of the run?
We need to learn a new Melbourne cover. Last time we were out there for St Kilda Fest, I tried singing the start of the Saints’ club song, but that didn’t go down so well. Maybe it’s time to bust out some Taxiride, Melbourne’s greatest gift to the world.
Alright Already is out March 31 via Double Double/Island Australia.