Where was the new LP recorded and over what time period?
The record was tracked in a number of spaces throughout Victoria between August and September of 2016. We recorded the rhythm section at a beach house in Blairgowrie, on the Mornington Peninsula over four days. We then spent another five days at a number of churches and halls in Melbourne’s inner north recording our vocal, horn and string sections. Then it was mixing mixing mixing until the 19th when it came out.
Where did begin when it came to writing music for the record?
Myself (Nick), Jesse or Andy will generally write and score the music for the live eight-piece ensemble individually, getting it to about 80%. We’ll then take the tunes to the band and workshop them a bit. We’ll change arrangements, horn/vocal voicings etc. and get it to a point where it sounds good in a live context.
When recording we then sit down with the tunes and think about what else we could add that isn’t able to be performed live. Generally, these additions are more horn and string parts but we also add layers of vocals and tuned percussion as well as more guitar and vibe (cymbal swells etc.)
What would you credit as being the major influences behind ‘The Question’?
I think it’s really hard to pinpoint what has an influence on our tunes, or our sound because we all have quite vast and varied likes and dislikes. I’ll riff on some shared musical interests below but I think that our desire to create something immersive, beautiful and delicate whilst still quite powerful definitely influences what we write and how we play/record the music.
Everyone in the band certainly has a mutual love for artists like Luke Howard, Bon Iver, The Punch Brothers, The Cinematic Orchestra, Sufjan Stevens. I think that all of these musicians share the common association of being musically very thoughtful and deliberate in what they do and we really respect that.
There are certain artists that I really love listening to personally; I’ve been frothing Jon Hopkins Immunity recently. Also, the live Laura Mvula album with the Metropole Orkest is sensational. Vaughan Williams, Philip Glass and Dustin O’Halleron I’ve been listening to quite a lot recently. And then all of the old faithful: Brad Mehldau, Brian Blade, Joni Mitchell, Grizzly Bear and Sigur Ros amongst many others.
Do you have any unconventional, or perhaps unusual studio routines?
Unfortunately not… I wish we could say that we did some weird ancient tantric yoga before recording to look cool, but we really just fit as many 14-15 hour days in as possible before someone cracks.
Are you 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?
100% structured sit down. Almost every note that you hear on the album was written on a page of music manuscript and revised over and over again. There are certainly spur of the moment elements when we workshop tunes and change certain things but even at the first workshopping stage all of the parts have been written and printed for everyone.
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?
The main difference I feel was the fact that for the last record we were a 6 piece, only the one horn and the extra horn and string parts that you can hear in say, And Yet It Moves or Quieter Love were afterthoughts that we added after we had already started recording.
This album we wanted it to be as orchestral folk as we could afford. So we changed up the live arrangements to, for example, have a string melody be more dominant than a horn melody. That’s not something that we could do live, but we wanted the album to be a standalone project that didn’t rely on the live show.
What’s one thing that gets easier as your recording experience goes on?
The planning certainly is something that you learn as time goes on. Planning the project is a massive task and there are so many variables, especially when recording in different spaces and with different musicians.
Our ‘database’ of musicians that we could call upon to contribute to the album has certainly expanded.
And then, of course, there’s just being more comfortable playing music in a studio environment and playing really well together. I think that’s something that we still really need to work on; getting the live vibe into the record and playing as a tight unit rather than it sounding like a studio record.
Aside from instruments etc., what are some of the studio essentials?
Coffee, tea, good food and a good vibe.
What movie would ‘The Question’ soundtrack?
What a massive question! Maybe… Into The Wild?
What are some of the pros and cons of having such a sizable group?
Well, the con has to be just having eight different schedules to plan around. Everyone is involved with heaps of other projects so it becomes a bit of a pain sometimes! Also travelling becomes quite hard and quite expensive.
The pros would be having such a plethora of amazing minds contributing to a common outcome; creating a sick tune/record/show.
If you had to dedicate ‘The Question’ to a decade, what would it be and why?
I’m going to dedicate it to our decade, the twenty teenies because I want to be seeing larger bands trying to bridge the divide between pop music and orchestral/large ensemble music; I think it’s pretty sick.
Grab a stream or pick up a physical of The Question right HERE