DEEP BLUE

ON THEIR AM­BI­TIOUS SEC­OND AL­BUM, CITY CALM DOWN TRADE REST­LESS­NESS FOR AT­MOS­PHERE. WORDS

Australian Guitar - - Final Note - BY MATT DO­RIA

In the hy­per-sat­u­rated mu­sic world of 2018, there’s an al­bum for ev­ery sce­nario: you’ve got the big, boom­ing jam­fests that beg to blast through car speak­ers do­ing 150km/h on the free­way; the club an­thems that force your fists in the air and the grimy metal opuses that trig­ger an in­nate need to start swing­ing limbs. But some al­bums yearn for more. Echoes In Blue is the kind of record you set time aside for, bust out the ‘spe­cial oc­ca­sion’ head­phones and soak in ev­ery fas­tid­i­ous crevice in the mix. As its pri­mary song­writer – City Calm Down front­man Jack Bourke – tells us, it all comes down to one ob­scenely cru­cial fac­tor: the vibe.

So this is your third record with Mal­colm Bes­ley in the pro­ducer’s chair. What made you want to link up with him again?

It felt like the sec­ond record needed to be a sort of bridge to what might come on the third one. We wanted to open some new doors, but we also wanted to keep some of the el­e­ments that we re­ally loved about In A Rest­less House. We didn’t want to get trapped in this no­tion that the sec­ond al­bum had to be a dras­tic de­par­ture from the first.

What was it about In A Rest­less House that you wanted to repli­cate on this record?

There was noth­ing pre­cise about it – more just the mood and the feel­ing that I think we were able to cap­ture on that record. There’s a lot of tex­ture and de­tail, but the record still has a good en­ergy about it. It’s re­ally hard to cap­ture the en­ergy of a band while still keep­ing that tex­tu­ral el­e­ment, but Mal­colm cap­tured it per­fectly on that record, so we knew he’d be able to get us to that point again.

How did you want Echoes In Blue to evolve on the style that you’d es­tab­lished with In A Rest­less House?

We man­aged to play all of the songs live be­fore we went in and recorded them. You never re­ally end up record­ing the ver­sion of a song that you play live; play­ing them just gives you a sense of the at­mos­phere in a song, be­cause when you per­form it to an au­di­ence and you can hear ev­ery in­stru­ment at full vol­ume through a PA, that feel­ing is quite vis­ceral. Be­ing able to get a sense of the way a song feels live helps us to then think about how we want to go about pro­duc­ing it – the kind of en­ergy we want to cap­ture in the record­ing.

Do you think it makes the song a lit­tle more spe­cial when you’ve got a dis­so­nance be­tween what you hear on the record and what you ex­pe­ri­ence in the live show?

That’s not some­thing we think about when we’re pro­duc­ing a track; we’re es­sen­tially just try­ing to make the best sound­ing ver­sion of that track when we’re in the stu­dio. But I think the way it comes across live is very im­por­tant. We want the songs to sound like they do on the record, but we’re not ob­sessed with repli­cat­ing that – some­times what works live doesn’t re­ally work in the stu­dio, and vice versa. We’re cur­rently re­hears­ing all of the songs on Echoes In Blue, and we’re adding lay­ers of gui­tars that aren’t present on the record­ing into the live show. If we just re­lied on the syn­the­sis­ers, I think there’d be a lack of sonic depth and a lack of at­mos­phere. But the gui­tars wouldn’t have worked on the record, so there’s a bit of a dis­so­nance there.

Why wouldn’t those ex­tra gui­tars have worked on the record?

It was just the way all the dif­fer­ent tones were work­ing with each other. I had a few dab­bles on the gui­tar with some of the songs, and I just didn’t think it mar­ried that well with what was go­ing on with the syn­the­sis­ers. But there are other songs that are dom­i­nated by gui­tars – you have to ap­proach ev­ery track with a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

My un­der­stand­ing is that you don’t play it live, but you had a lot to do with the gui­tars on this record.

Yeah, I’ll gen­er­ally write all the gui­tar parts. There are a few bits that I played on the record, but I’m not ex­actly what you’d de­scribe as a crash-hit gui­tarist, so… If you give me enough time, I can play the part, but when you’re work­ing with tight record­ing bud­gets and ev­ery­thing like that, it’s just im­prac­ti­cal. Our gui­tarist Will [Fletcher] played most of the parts on the record, and he al­ways does an amaz­ing job. It’s a funny one, be­cause much to my detri­ment, I’ve never re­ally fo­cused on be­com­ing the best gui­tar player. That’s some­thing I’ve been work­ing quite hard at since we fin­ished the record, though.

It feels like all of th­ese tracks flow in such a way that you’re al­most telling a story with the mu­sic. It ebbs and flows from this lack­adaisi­cal groove to a hard sum­mery vibe, and then this cold, glit­tery sort of som­bre­ness. Was that flow some­thing you were aim­ing for?

Yeah! We were more con­scious of achiev­ing that with this record than we were with the last one. With [ In A Rest­less House], those were just the ten best songs that the felt we had at that point, and we just pro­duced each song as we thought that song should be pro­duced. But with this record, we were try­ing to pro­duce across songs so that a sonic idea that might oc­cur on one song would then pop up on an­other song to give it a sense of con­ti­nu­ity. And then when we set the track­list up, we wanted to do the op­po­site, which was break it up so that you go from a song like “Dis­trac­tion” to a song like “Blame”, which kind of reen­gages the lis­tener. But be­cause there are sim­i­lar sonic el­e­ments through­out the whole record, it all kind of knits to­gether.

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