Carried forward by expressive fretwork and dancefloor rhythms, there’s an undeniable sense of momentum to Letters to Lions 2016 debut. A composite of cascading jams, jangly rockers and shimmering summer anthems, Clean Eating delivers five surprisingly polished tracks.
After touring Canada earlier this year, the group returned to the studio to record a follow-up with veteran producer Lachlan Mitchell. Hinting they’ve cut a more mature sounding record, the four have helped fans to an early taste with lead single ‘Come Around’.
Catching up with vocalist and guitarist Adam ahead of an upcoming East Coast tour we got to know the group a little better. As a co-founder of the group he confesses to taking formative cues from indie outfits Foals and Last Dinosaurs, but suggests that group may be on a different trajectory.. Despite these indie undercurrents, Adam enthuses equally about Thom Yorke, Jimi Hendrix and Captain Beefheart. Jumping back to the present he reveals how a Cronulla outfit came to link up with Canadian label Indica and shares the details of the forthcoming EP.
Rabbit Radio: Going back as far as you can, what was it that first turned you on to music?
Adam: The first thing that turned me on to music? Well my parents were both pretty big into music. I think it was listening to Jimi Hendrix a lot in the car with my dad. He kind of instilled that on me, this idea of what music should sound like.
RR: You started jamming together in high school. Can you tell me a little about how the group came together?
A: [The group’s other guitarist and vocalist] Joel and I were in mutual classes but had never really been that great friends, but then Joel and myself just got jamming one day in class. There was some chemistry there and we decided to start a band. That’s basically how it went, I was in Year 11 at the time and Joel was in Year 10. We just kind of played around with the same guitar effects in this one class and it all went form there!
RR: Your sound has been compared to Last Dinosaurs and Foals. How does these comparisons hold up?
A: We’re definitely influenced by those bands. They were what we were listening to a lot of, our musical tastes, at the time the band started. But I don’t think we’ve ever aspired to be like them or follow in their footsteps. I think we’ve spent a lot of time refining our own sound.
RR: Do you have a guilty Foals or Last Dinosaurs track, EP or album?
A: Track? I’d say probably a Foals track from their first album Antidotes called ‘Big Big Love (Fig.2)’. It’s a really great, great track, something I’ll always add to every playlist I make. It lasts!
RR: The band has linked up with a Canadian label Indica which is also home to Half Moon Run. How did it all come about?
A: Our manager has actually been good friends with one of the guys who runs the label for many years. Over Christmas time he came over, visiting Australia. I just kind of met him then. We hung out a bunch, got talking. He then came to a bunch of our shows and really liked them then approached us, which made it really easy for us when we went over to Canada earlier this year.
RR: You did this big tour over there. What was the like? I’m guessing it’s probably the first time you played overseas? …
A: Yeah! Man, it was like only our second time traveling interstate! It was really rad. When we started the band that was the kind of shit we dreamed of! It was one of those moments where it felt like it was all coming together, the dream was happening!
RR: You released debut EP Clean Eating last year. There’s this track, ‘Mushrooms’, which I guess we can all guess what it’s about…
A: Clean Eating!
RR: It seems to have a darker vibration than your other material. Is there a story behind it?
A: I guess it’s just the sort of song we came up with at the time of writing it. All of our songs are written from jamming, there’s never been just one sole songwriter in the band. It’s what we came up with at the time.
RR: There’s this other track ‘Ohly’ where the vocalist , I’m not sure if it’s you or Joel singing…
A: That’s me singing.
RR: It’s a really gravelly and guttural vocal grain. Is that your regular singing voice or were you trying to inhabit another vocal persona?…
A: (With a hint of self-deprecation) Nah, that’s just my regular singing voice.
RR: I dug it! I thought it was a little bit Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits or something like that.
A: Captain Beefheart yeah! Cool man! I’m glad you dig it!
RR: Your new single ‘Come Around’ is dropping sometime in the next few days, is it part of a follow-up to Clean Eating?
A: We’ve got an EP which we’ve just finished recording actually. ‘Come Around’ is the first track off that EP.
RR: Can you tell me a little about how things have progressed sonically?
A: I think the songs are just a bit more mature. I think the whole recording process we went with was a lot more mature than our first one, which I think you’ll hear. It’s a lot more polished. We’re all really excited for people to hear it, to see the next chapter in the Letters to Lions tale.
RR: Who were you recording with?
A: We had the producer Lachlan Mitchell, who has done all of the Jezebels’ music. Jackson, our bass player, actually interns with Lachie at Parliament studios in Sydney.
RR: I picture him as being really good at creating this polished radio sound, like what The Jezabels have, but you guys are more spontaneous, you’re jammers. Was there a meeting of the minds?
A: There definitely was. We did a lot of pre-production. We all knew Lachie quite well so there was a really mutual relationship between us. It wasn’t just like client producer y’know? The strong point for a dude like Lachie is his experience. He’d bring a lot of ideas forward to the table. It’s really refreshing to have a set of ears like that. You grow as musicians sitting in with a dude like that. It’s cool!
RR: If you could collaborate with any producer who would it be?
A: I’d probably like to record with Thom Yorke. I think with him as a producer it would be a lot of fun.
RR: You’ve got an East Coast tour in the works. You’re hitting up Byron Bay, Brisbane and the Gold Coast before returning to play a set for an Australian Music Week event back home in Cronulla. How are you feeling gearing up for that?
A: Really excited man! We’ve been a bit quite over these last few months focusing a lot on this EP. We’re just really excited to be playing shows again because that’s what we love!
Interview: Riley Fitzgerald
New Single 'Come Around' Out TODAY