When Melbourne punks Press Club arrived with their debut album ‘Late Teens’ last year, it prompted an avalanche of praise for their ability to perfectly capture what it’s like to be, well, in your late teens. On their second outing ‘Wasted Energy’, they’re looking out to the world around them. Drummer Frank Lees tells us more.
Hello Frank, how's it going? Are you good? It must be an exciting time for you, with a new album.
I'm very good, I've recently fractured my shoulder, so I'm just on light physical duties, which is nice for a change. I'll have to get back to full form before we head out on tour again, but I'll be alright.
Yes, we are excited about the new album! We've had a heap of positive reactions, so we're quietly basking in that. All in all, I think everyone in the band is feeling very loved and excited to be touring this new record.
Tell us about the record - when did you start working on it, and what was the process of piecing it together like? Did you set out with any firm initial goals?
So we started writing songs for this record not long after we finished up with the first album, 'Late Teens'. We had grand plans at that time to try and release multiple albums a year, but we weren't quite organised enough to pull off a feat like that. It also got pretty busy after the release of 'Late Teens', with touring and gigs and things, so the process slowed down a hell of a lot. When I think about it like that, it kind of makes sense that I think this album sounds more diverse musically, because the songs were written in various stages in our lives over the last couple of years.
This one must've been on the way to being finished at the point you released 'Late Teens' in the UK, was that a bit weird?
'Wasted Energy' was basically done by the time we got over to Europe in April, so our focus was in two places at once. We hadn't been in that situation before, so it was a little weird. Although we had to go back and relearn some stuff off that first album. So it sort of gave a new lease on life on a few of those songs. We never thought people engaged with the single 'My Body's Changing' compared to a couple of other singles off 'Late Teens', but when we got over to Europe, we had such a huge response to that song live. People go a bit mental for it actually, which always gets us riled up.
How long have you guys had your own self-built studio for, is that a new thing? What's the story behind that?
That studio really belongs to our guitarist, Greg [Rietwyk]. He's a freelance recording engineer, so he does a lot of other bands' stuff out of that space as well. There's also a couple of other guys who use that room as well so we can't really claim it as solely ours. Greg started building the studio in one of the spare rooms in a warehouse that he works at, probably about six months ago. Before that, he was renting a place beneath a larger studio in Melbourne called The Aviary, which was also where we recorded 'Late Teens'. I think he moved out cause it was costing him a boat.
To what extent was creating your second album a different process to creating your debut? Were you more confident going in?
I think we were definitely more confident in the process. We see making an album as the entire process, from the original writing of material to narrowing down and working on specific songs, and finally recording and mixing the record. The first time we did that, we developed a pretty specific way of writing songs, which is basically to write dozens of ideas, and then whittle out all the stuff that we know sucks. So we followed that same method for the second album, albeit taking a little longer. It's always a little scary to release music though, there's a voice in the back of your mind telling you that people will hate it, but I suppose you have to ignore it to an extent. As long as you like your music, that's really the only thing that matters.
Did you come up against any unexpected challenged during the writing and recording process?
Yes, of course, there are always little things that you're not expecting. Because this album did take a little longer to write, it kind of felt like by the end we'd moved on a little bit from the songs we wrote towards the start of the process. So we had to force ourselves to include a few of those songs on the shortlist, songs that we knew were good, but we had just moved on to other things. Oh yeah, and the song 'New Year's Eve' was pretty hard to record as well. Just because we found it hard to play a song so fast. It was the first time we've had to use a metronome in the studio.
Much of the record focuses on change, do you feel to be going through a period of transition yourselves?
In some ways, yes and others, no. While the stakes seem to be getting bigger, with us going overseas and now releasing our second album, we are still running the band ourselves; and still abiding by the same rules and values we set out when the group started. That being said though, we've all grown a lot in the last few years, and I think we might all be a little wiser and more comfortable in ourselves, still all good mates too.
Do you have a favourite track on the record?
That's like asking me to choose my favourite child! Honestly, I think we are all really proud of this album. I think we achieved a lot of the goals we set before writing the album, one of which was to write something with a little more variety that touches on some different themes and moods. While tracks like 'New Year's Eve' and 'I'm In Hell' are in a more traditional punk style, I think my favourite song that's a bit of a departure is 'Obsessing'. It has a really weird feel, kind of country or something, and Nat [Foster] put a lot of heart and soul in the lyrics. But to be honest, every song on the album is special to me in different ways.
What are you up to now, presumably there'll be a slightly longer wait for album number three?
I don't know, we haven't really talked much about the third album yet. I think it would be nice to try and sit down and come up with something really quickly. Like, taking a bit longer to do this second album was great, and we got some really positive results, but maybe it would be cool to really nut out an album in a few intense months? If we do go down that route, you might not be waiting all that long for a new album. I don't reckon that'll be this year though, we'll be too busy touring. We're heading over to Europe for the second, and then when we get back, we're basically going straight into an Australian tour. So instead of an album, you might just need to come see us live.
Taken from the October issue of Upset. Press Club's album 'Wasted Youth' is out now.
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