Before heading off to the library for a relaxing day of reading and writing, Gold Class vocalist and lyricist Adam Curley had a chat with us about their upcoming album Drum. We spoke about working with Gareth Liddiard, the multiple meanings behind the album title, and the band’s rapid success since the releasing their acclaimed debut It’s You.
The story of ‘making it’ comes differently for each artist – some take a lengthy, gradual process of preparing releases and equipping themselves with a dedicated following before blowing up, while others just suddenly take off without warning. For Gold Class, the experience was very much the latter. “The first time around we just recorded (the album) and didn’t know if anyone would put it out or if we would put it out ourselves. Then it happened really quickly, Spunk said they wanted to put it out in 2-3 months time, and that was the week after we recorded. We hadn’t thought of artwork or anything, and the vinyl turn around was so long that it wasn’t out by the time the album was release. It was just really fast”
Yet the band continued facing the unexpected when they took out the prized slot as the first act to play Golden Plains in 2016 to a packed out amphitheater. “We were the first band to play and it was half an hour beforehand – there was no one in front of the stage and you’re like ‘this will be really weird’. Then they do the intro and the welcome to country. We were all so nervous, we were jumping around backstage trying to contain our nerves, and then we went out and there was something like 8000 people (laughs), people as far as you could see it, it was like ‘woah, so intense’, but that was a year and a half ago now.”
The Golden Plains experience was matched with another surreal occurence on the band’s recent tour in Europe. “We played Primavera in Barcelona, which was the last show on the tour. I hadn’t even been to Spain and had no idea if anyone would be there. We got there and they were like ‘they’ve been playing ‘Twist In the Dark’ on the national radio’, and we were like ‘that’s cool, but we still don’t have any idea what that means’. We (also) played at midnight, at the same time as Slayer and Death Grips, so we were like ‘No one is gonna be there, its fun but no one is gonna be there’. Then there was heaps of people there and the front five rows were jumping around and singing the words. It was a really weird experience, (we had) no idea about any of this, it was really weird, but nice.”
So, when faced with the task of approaching the recording process for their new album, Curley explains how it’s a little bit clearer the second time around, once the initial shock of a positive reception mellows out. “You realise how it works a little more. I remember doing interviews for the first record and I didn’t know how to describe what we had made. I just hadn’t wrapped my head around it. We wrote (this) album thinking we were going to write an album – so it is a bit easier to talk about what it is”
Add Gareth Liddiard of The Drones in a production role, and you end up with an ambitious, inspired recording process and collection of tracks. “We didn’t even know Gareth was producing for other bands, we knew he’d been doing production for The Drones, but had no idea he was doing stuff for other bands. So it was kind of interesting to us that he might come in and have ideas about sounds, have ideas about the songs, and pay attention to each song individually. It gives the record a bit of a… kind of like a push in a weird direction.”
Different from the debut, where the band curated most of the production themselves, Curley explains that having someone like Liddiard with a lot of artistic integrity who fronts a band who have their own disarmingly unique sound, there is plenty of potential to bounce from. “We could’ve gone in and recorded it all live, which was suggested by a couple of other producers. It’s also a risk having someone work outside of their own band come in and say ‘hey we can put these pedals on this song’, or ‘what if you did this in this chorus’ or ‘leave that weird mistake cos it sounds better’ ya know. We just wanted someone to do that, so it was nice, he is such an incredible musician.”
As part of the recording process, Curley and guitarist Evan James Purdy visited Liddiard’s property in Nagambie. It was here where they got in touch with Liddiard’s more experimental approach to production, playing around with instruments and different gear to achieve a range of sounds for their desired vision. Curley recalls: “We drank some red wine and played around with some gear. He (Liddiard) has this OP1 little synth, which is really fun to play with, all the little extra sounds on the record are from that. There was also a little spoken word piece we made in the middle of the night when we were drunk, with guitar chords and synth layered over it but I don’t know where that is. There’ s also a sound at the end of ‘Bully’, (which was) a phone recording that Gareth had from inside a plane. I think he was going to South America and recorded the sounds from inside the plane, and you can hear someone pressing on the attendant call buttons. We just slowed it down and that’s kind of what that sound is. It was fun mucking around with it.”
Fittingly titled Drum, Curley explains he wanted a clearer meaning when it came to naming the album and the lyrical content.“I was looking for a word that summed up the feeling of the album without it being a direct appraisal of what the record is, a word that summed up the feeling of the record and the lyrics, and drum kind of popped out to me.”
“When you think of a drum beat, often times you think of something that’s from the past, and something primal. But then a drumbeat is used as a kind of way to galvanise people and to get people moving. Its about where you’re going and where you’re heading, and I think the record is very much about looking at the past, and figuring out how the different pieces of your past add up and what you do with them. I don’t know, I kind of just liked the word. As with the first record, I just kind of told the others ‘I’m thinking of calling it Drum, what do you reckon?’ and everyone just really liked it immediately, so I was like ‘okay, cool, done!’ (laughs).
Unintentionally, the title Drum somewhat correlates with the recent departure of drummer Mark Hewitt, who has decided to pursue other commitments. Due to unavailability, the quartet managed to record the new album with him on board, while welcoming Logan Gibson to take his place on tour and for any upcoming releases. “Mark, who wrote and played drums on the album decided he wanted to go and do other things, which is cool, everyone’s really happy that he stuck around to make the record, and its completely understandable that he wanted to do other stuff, this band’s been very busy, and its been a massive commitment. Logan is also really incredible; everyone’s sort of excited to see where that goes. He’s really interested in dance and soul music, so just when I kind of feel like I have no idea what direction things might go in… I would happily make a dance record to be honest (laughs)”
You can catch the band at this year’s Volume festival in Sydney before they jet off to the UK to perform a headline show, but prior to that be sure to check out Drum, set to be released on the 18th of August via Barely Dressed and Remote Control Records.