Melbourne-bred quartet Strangers have unveiled their emotive sophomore Mirrorland in emphatic style, to the joy of alternative rock fans across the country. With a helping hand from Shihad’s Tom Larkin, Mirrorland communicates a darkened narrative, fed deeply by themes of anxiety and depression spawned during a rocky post-debut period. Despite a number of harrowing experiences, frontman Ben Britton has been able to cultivate a powerful and undeniably gripping album with his inspired fellow band mates. Take a closer look at the ingredients that tie it all together:
Where was the new LP recorded and over what time period?
We recorded the whole thing in June 2015 at “Studios In The City”, it’s our manager/producer Tom Larkins studio in Brunswick. All the music was tracked more or less live in just over a week, and then Benny spent the next few months in and out getting all the lyrics and vocals together.
Where did it begin when it came to writing music for the record?
It began in a garage in Engadine in 2013 with the main riff for God Is In My Head, but the majority of the material that made it onto the album was written live just jamming at Aesthetic Studios, just around the corner from our house.
What would you credit as being the major influences behind ‘Mirrorland’?
Everyone in the band has their own little cache of influences, most of which have been there since we started, so I think for this album my biggest influence was the other 3 guys taking ideas and adding their flavours.
Do you have any unconventional, or perhaps unusual, studio routines?
I like to record my guitars sitting on a half Bosu ball (so it can’t roll anywhere, obviously), and I only like to have that pungent, acrid, organic, orange, toilet spray stuff as an option in the bathroom.
How did the relationship with Tom Larkin come about, and what was his influence on the album?
We were living in Sydney and had heard a song he produced and loved it, we met up with him and he agreed to produce our first album. So we came down to Melbourne and annoyed him every day for 6 months and he broke. Now he loves us.
Tom is basically a fifth member, in a way he influences the music before he’s heard it, he’s taught us so much that he’s definitely rubbed off on us.
Are you (singularly or in a group context) more likely to have a structured ‘sit down’ approach to writing, or do you feel it’s more of a ‘spur of the moment’ type thing?
It’s both. Usually, I’ll have a premeditated riff, just a vibe not necessarily a fleshed out thing, and then once we start playing it as a group, it’s those spur of the moment things that make it a song.
Was there anything in particular that felt different about entering the studio for this LP, that perhaps wasn’t there during the creation of your debut?
There was little to no fear this time around, we had a lot more material to work with so I think we were a bit more comfortable and got to spend more time exploring ideas instead of having to force them.
What’s one thing that gets easier as your recording experience goes on?
The chemistry and finding your space in the song. You learn to not get too attached to ideas and just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Aside from instruments etc., what are some of the studio essentials?
Organic orange toilet air freshener, a label gun, sm57s, herb/s, current drivers license, pacifier t-shirts, Samuel K Sproull.
If you had to dedicate ‘Mirrorland’ to a decade, what would it be and why?
I’d dedicate it to right now. I think lyrically it’s very real and an important conversation and now more than ever there should be no shame in discussing mental health and the ups and downs. Otherwise, the 70’s because disco will never die.
Mirrorland is out now via Sony Entertainment Australia.