As Melbourne’s The Demon Parade get set to launch their fantastic new single ‘To The Mountain’ at The Tote in Melbourne this Friday and in Sydney on the 17th of June, Tone Deaf’s Ella Jackson caught up with front man Michael Badger to discuss the single and get a few ideas about what the album it has been taken from is set to sound like when it’s released later this year.
In your most recent single To the Mountain we can see a bit of a departure from your previously heavily layered psychedelic sound. Is this a one off song, or can we expect the whole album to be a change from the EP?
In response to it being a departure from our previously heavily layered sound – it’s actually the most amount of tracks we’ve ever used while tracking a song. I guess it may not come across that way when comparing to previous records as we’ve made a conscious effort leave a little more space for parts which are intertwining with each other rather than fighting each other to be heard over the heavy wall of sound. I think this is the first single of ours that has featured acoustic guitars as well so that is going to change the listener’s perspective from the first strum of the song. The rest of the album is probably a little closer to what our listeners have become familiar with. I guess we were pretty excited about releasing To The Mountain because nobody would have expected us to come out with a track like that as our next single and we just wanted to remind people of our wide range of sounds and influences. The single and forthcoming album recording sessions are also the first in which Jordan has been involved with so it’s always going to change a few things when new people are making suggestions for something they are pretty passionate about.
In the past you’ve done most of your recording and mixing yourself. Did you prefer the process of bringing Tony Lash into the mix? Did you find that it restricted or broadened your boundaries in any way?
It’s been a really interesting process getting someone else involved in making this record. As producer, songwriter and performer on this record – and this goes for any record in that I work on, you can sometimes get a little too close to the music to be able to make good mixing decisions for yourself. It’s the first time an outsider has had any creative input with our music and I think the timing was right for getting the right person involved. As it’s our first album and we are taking our time to record it we run into danger of over thinking parts and straying away from what came naturally when the songs were first written. So first things first – we get the backbone of the song down live and then we’ll try a whole bunch of crazy sounds and layers – some obviously work and some do not, but we’ll tell Tony which parts we definitely want to keep and then we’ll let him play around with some weird stuff which he’ll decide whether to throw in the bin or perhaps get a little artistic and create an interesting texture which we wouldn’t have thought of on our own. So basically before he gets the tracks to mix we’ve covered all bases and have left him with a few options of which direction to take the song.
The songs on your EP would be pretty hard to detach from each other and include separately on the album… Do you plan on including any of them at all on the LP, or will it be consisted entirely of new songs?
We haven’t decided on a final track listing for the album yet. We have 25 + songs to choose from for this album including a few off the EP which we’ve rerecorded. Because we’ve rerecorded them they have taken on another dimension to what they were like on the EP and now sound like they belong on our album with the new songs. To be honest the EP was a very rushed job, four of the six songs were recorded, mixed and mastered in 6 days and I didn’t even listen to the songs for three of the days in that six day period. That was kind of a conscious effort at the time – to do it quickly because I didn’t want to get too caught up in messing around with too many sounds on the first EP.
Tell us a bit about your creative process. How does a Demon Parade song come to be?
Generally the creative process begins in my studio. I usually work in purple patches. I’ll have a week of extremely creative periods where I’ll record a million riffs and hooks and choruses etc but not actually write a song. I’ll just keep them all stored safely and in between those purple patches I’ll construct the songs either at home by myself or with the band at a rehearsal. It’s great having the luxury of owning my own studio not just because I can produce a releasable product in a few hours but even when I’m not having a so called “creative period” there’s always parts and sounds that I can record and pull up old tracks that need some reworking. Most recently, while I’ve been focusing on recording the album I’ve been going through the 2010 archives pulling out some songs which were nearly forgotten about. We’re gonna give a couple of them a test run at our launch on Friday.
All the greats seem to take narcotics to enhance the creative process. Do you fit into this category? What is your drug of choice?
I’m not sure if “All” the greats, is the best term used for this question. I can certainly think of a few who didn’t. I think if you’re in a creative period it doesn’t matter what you’re on – coffee/high on life/high on rock n’ roll but as a songwriter it’s important that you can understand when you’re mind and body is telling you to be creative so you can make the most of your time. I’m usually most creative when I wake up in the morning. I do come up with some great stuff late at night but I generally can’t remember writing it, I just find it on my computer hard drive a few months later.
You guys toured with The Brian Jonestown Massacre a year ago, who are notorious for being badly behaved on tour. Have you got any stories that you’re willing to share, or have they honestly cleaned up their act?
It’s not really my place to say whether they have cleaned up their act or not, I didn’t personally know them before we toured with them – only seen them live and footage of them in DIG! It’s safe to say, however, that it was the best and most enjoyable tour we’ve ever been a part of. They let us use their amps while we were interstate and even hired a drum kit for us on a few occasions as their drummer is left handed. They were the most welcoming and friendly bunch of “rockstars” I’ve ever met or hung out with. If there was a film crew coming to do a follow up to DIG! the main focus of the documentary would be what an amazing live act they are.
They’re evidently a bit of an influence of yours, along with bands like Kula Shaker, Oasis, The Stone Roses, etc… Who would you say that your biggest influences are? Have you got any influences that might surprise your fans?
The Small Faces were the first band I loved and admired and through that I moved onto other 60s and 70s bands like the Rolling Stones and The Who. Through my teens I was obsessed with Rickenbackers and having haircuts that resembled the astronaut helmet style shag of Pete Townshend. I’ve also played drums, bass and keys with some blues and roots bands which is something I’ll always love and continue to do so as I learn more and more from playing different styles.
Growing up, were you heavily influenced by your parents, or a cool older sibling’s record collection, or did you have to discover music for yourself?
Yep, Mum and Dad took me to the MCG to see the Rolling Stones on their 1995 Voodoo Lounge tour. That was when I decided to change my main focus of playing drums and started on guitar. There was something about the way that Keith and Ronnie’s guitars intertwined that captured my attention. I couldn’t work out who was doing what so I bought the tour video and learned to play guitar from watching that along with a little help from my dad.
If you could steal one record from your parents’ collection, what would it be, and why?
To be honest, I’ve stolen everything I’ve needed. I’m sure they’re not happy about it but they’re pretty giving people! I think I’ve claimed every CD by The Church that my mum has ever owned and that has probably been the most beneficial pick up.
You guys are playing shows in Melbourne and Sydney for the release of your single… Can any other cities hold their breaths about seeing you some time soon?
Yes, later in the year. We don’t want to get you too excited yet though. We need to save up some more cash before we do another nationwide tour. Two national tours last year have left us broke! People can get in touch with us if they’d like to offer us places to sleep and some nice home cooked meals when we visit their city. We’ll play an amazing show in return.
Apparently your show in Hobart in promotion of your EP was interesting, to say the least. Have they scared you guys off forever, or are you willing to give them another crack, perhaps when you release the album?
It was interesting… We did get a few things out of playing the show though. I think we earned two new fans, captured a video of a drunk naked dude that poo’d, pee’d and vomited on himself in a nightclub toilet and I also wrote the lyrics to our new single!
Have you got a date set for the release of your album yet?
Once mushroom season is over. When the weather warms up!
The Demon Parade launch their new single ‘To The Mountain’ at The Tote this Friday 20th May with special guests RedBerryPlum, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizzard and Mary of The Moon. Tix from www.oztix.com.au They’ll also be headlining a Sydney launch show at Tone in Surry Hills on Friday 17th June. You can get a free download of the single for a limited time at thedemonparade.bandcamp.com