Australian duo Hockey Dad - best buds, Zach Stephenson (vocals/guitar) and Billy Fleming (drums) - are embracing their early-20s with talk of getting older, growing up and learning the tricks of life's trade. It's an inevitable coming-of-age period for the surf rock combo, who approached third album 'Brain Candy' with their trademark humour, wit and sense of adventure. "Our last album, 'Blend Inn', dealt with problems in a less mature way through fighting and complaining," Zach explains from lockdown, where he's hanging out with a new puppy, the lucky so-and-so. "I have come to see these situations as learning experiences — using these songs to understand my surroundings and lessons I've been given."
Have you been sitting on your new album for long? When did you record?
We recorded it in May 2019, so I guess we have been sitting on it for a while. It's been nice putting out a few songs already and giving them the light of day!
How did you find your time in Seattle, that must've been fun?
Seattle is super fun! We've recorded two albums there now, so it feels like our second home in the USA.
What are your favourite spots over there?
Dick's Drive-In for sure! There was also a small bar by the water close to the studio we would go to all the time. We always get a kick out of meeting friendly locals and putting on an accent for them.
Do you spend a lot of time outside of Australia?
We spend a lot of the year touring overseas. We're super lucky to be able to see so many different places all the time and then come back home to AUS for some relaxation.
How did you approach creating your new album 'Brain Candy', what were your first steps?
The first ideas for the record came from writing at home by myself. I had a few songs ready to go then we headed to a house for a week and played them over and over. A few more songs got written during that week which really got us excited and ready for the studio.
What's the record about? What themes do you cover?
A lot of the record is just exploring getting older and facing changes that come with growing up. Whether it be changes in relationships with friends or changes within your own thinking and actions. Some songs on it are also stupid and mean nothing at all, hahaha.
Is there a moment when an album feels to pull into focus for you, or are you pretty confident in the big picture right from the start?
I think it really comes into focus and you get the clear idea of what is happening when you get into the studio. A bunch of songs can have such a different feel all the way up to that point. Once you know the take you are doing is actually going to be the finished product forever, your mind seems to lock in, and you get the clear picture for everything else.
Do you think all the events of 2020 so far will impact what you want to write about on your next record?
Possibly, I'm not sure yet. It's been a strange time. It feels too close and intense to think about writing about it at the moment. And I mean how many songs are going to be written about it anyway? Someone's definitely already beaten me to the punch. These events sure are a lot of ammunition for a pen and paper right now.
Do you feel like the same musicians you were on your debut?
No, definitely not. I can't say if we are better or worse. But not the same.
What were the biggest lessons you learnt while putting 'Brain Candy' together?
Not to take ourselves too seriously, ever. I think we rediscovered that the best record we can make is the one that we enjoy writing and playing. That's the whole main goal in the end.
What does the future hold for Hockey Dad?
More music, forever and ever. We don't want real jobs.
Taken from the August issue of Upset. Hockey Dad's album 'Brain Candy' is out 31st July.
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