Ahead of their show at the Arts Centre as part of AWME on November 12th, we chatted to Skipping Girl Vinegar’s, Mark Lang about The Great Wave, recording in tin sheds, and seeking inspiration from hard times.
Your third album, ‘The Great Wave’, was produced by U.S producer Brad Jones. What was it like working with someone of that creative calibre?
It was really incredible. Brad Jones has one of the greatest musical minds I have come across over my years of making music. Our working relationship with Brad began with our debut album Sift the Noise, and then Keep Calm, Carry the Monkey where he did the final mixes on the recordings. This time around we wanted to have him involved from the ground up.
You recently took a trip to Nashville; were there any elements or experiences that affected the recording or writing process of the record?
Nashville’s great, but of course everyone knows that! Brad is based in there, so we did quite a bit of recording and mixing at his studio called Alex The Great. So I guess that although thematically the record is much more heavily influenced by my move from the big smoke of Melbourne to a small Victorian coastal village, Nashville has definitely been imprinted on the record and that’s never a bad thing.
On your website, you noted that the bulk of your recording was done in tin sheds around regional Victoria. What was the best thing about this setting in contrast to a studio?
There was a real honesty in the recording of the album in bringing out a world-class producer to record the album in my back shed. There’s also this one old abandoned hall in particular right by the coast near where I live that really brought the magic. It’s a bit of a trek to get to it through overgrown scrub and the windows are all boarded up, but its unusual shape gives it the most incredible natural reverb. Not to mention the sound of the waves crashing right outside that made their way across the record that in you would absolutely never get in a big studio environment.
‘The Great Wave’ feels like an important and personal part of the band coming in terms with critical life challenges. Were there any elements of the record that allowed space for healing?
It’s been the most meaningful and painful album I have ever made. Things were really starting to open up for us in the US before the crashing heartbreak of my wife being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I had written nothing across this period until one day close to the end of the treatment I sat down with a guitar, pressed record on my phone and then the last song on this new album called ‘Lay With Me’ fell out in one pass. It was something that’s never happened before. I have never had the experience of a full song fall through me so quickly. It was as if all of the experiences over the proceeding months distilled into this moment into a song that became a healing thing for both my wife and I.
You launched your latest LP at the Byron Bay Bluesfest in April. Were there any highlights from the show or how fans received your newest material?
I think the whole festival could really be described as a highlight. It’s up there with the best festivals in the world and we were lucky enough to get three sets this year all on the main stage. One of these sets was just me playing a Skipping Girl Vinegar solo acoustic set, which really gave me a chance to strip things back to basics and unravel the stories behind the album and present the songs in their rawest form. We got a lot of really positive feedback from it and is now something that we’re looking to develop further to compliment the full Skipping Girl Vinegar live experience.
The last time you performed at Arts Centre Melbourne was only a few months back for the launch of your new record The Great Wave. What are you most looking forward to about playing there again and now part of such an awesome festival?
In short, we’re absolutely thrilled to be getting back to Arts Centre Melbourne. The Playhouse Theatre is incredible. AWME is such a fantastic event that brings delegates to Melbourne from huge national and international festivals, as well as agents, managers, labels and promoters all soaking up the wealth of Australian talent that’s on offer. We attended AWME last year, and the advice and opportunities that came out of it was completely invaluable. We’re really lucky to have the opportunity to showcase this year.
Any recording or touring plans for the future?
Absolutely! We’ve got a few shows coming up in regional VIC and NSW, as well as plans to really roll out a national tour that will include some SGV solo shows to mix things up a bit. Plus, you never know what can happen after showcasing at an event like AWME, and that’s the beauty of it. We’re definitely open to new opportunities that may present themselves and are excited to see what the future brings.
Thursday, November 12th
Arts Centre, Play House Theatre Melbourne
w/ special guests – Pirra