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THE LAURELS’ guitarist/vocalist PIERS CORNELIUS chats to DENIS SEMCHENKO about the making of the four-piece’s debut LP, their democratic approach to songwriting and assorted future plans. 

Sydney shoegaze revivalists, The Laurels are one of those bands that doff the cap to a genre while retaining a sonic signature. They notched a sizeable blip on the Australian music radar with the release of swirling, oscillating Mesozoic EP in mid-2011. Following relentless touring and this April’s gliding single Tidal Wave, the quartet unveils their Liam Judson-produced, debut full-length Plains.

DENIS SEMCHENKO: The band’s new album sounds like it was recorded at two different places. How long did it take to finish?
PIERS CORNELIUS: It basically took us about ten days of recording between a place just south of Sydney called Big Hill and a place about an hour and a half north of Sydney called Wollombi — we did a weekend in Big Hill and another eight days in Wollombi. Both times, we were staying in small farmhouse cottages with fantastic views, so it was pretty enjoyable.

DS: You’ve been touring rather extensively for the past year or so. How many songs on Plains were played at gigs prior to the recording?
PC: There’re about six on it that we tested out live before. Another four we hadn’t played before we recorded, but we’ve played them once or twice since we’ve done the album. It’s basically half-half — half songs that we’ve tested out and half brand-new ones.

DS: Some of the songs on the new record — even Tidal Wave — have a palpable “individual” feel, but still sit perfectly well with the flow. Can you tell me about The Laurels’ songwriting dynamic?
PC: Luke [O’Farrell; singer/guitarist] and I do our own demos at home and then as soon as we think we have a song completed, we’ll take it into the rehearsal room and play it out a few times; it normally comes together pretty quickly. I work on my own demos, Luke works on him own demos, and — as a band — we work on half my songs and half Luke’s. By the end of rehearsal, they end up sounding like The Laurels songs.

DS: When it comes to song arrangements, who’s the main idea generator?
PC: I guess it’s all of us once we get into it and we’ve played the songs a few times in rehearsal. Someone might think something’s not working and speak up, or maybe find another way to start or finish the song, but by the time we take them in, they’re usually complete and already arranged.

DS: Compared to Mesozoic, Plains has a considerably ‘smoother’, yet no less trippy feel. Are there any songs on the album that you like more than the others?
PC: I probably like Luke’s songs more than I do my own, but they’re all pretty even – some of them I like because they’re hard to play live and other ones I like because they’re really fun to play live. It’s an even mixture – they’re all pretty fun to do and they all mean something to us, so it’s a bit like asking who’s your favourite kid.

DS: What are your plans for the rest of they year once you’ve done the album tour?
PC: We’ll try to go to the US and do a few shows, but that’s up in the air at the moment because it all depends on getting grants. We don’t really have enough money to fund it ourselves unless the record goes really well. We need to hear back before we figure out what to do. We’ve still got a few songs left from the album recording sessions that didn’t make it, so hopefully we might be able to put out a seven-inch or something in a few months, if we don’t end up going to the US — or we’ll just get back in the studio and knock out a second one.

DS: Speaking of — which Australian bands currently rock your boat?
PC: I really enjoy World End’s Press, especially watching them live — they’re always changing their sound, but they have that “Madchester” thing that I really like. Adalita is great. Also, Velociraptor are pretty far out — I’ve never seen that many people onstage before.

THE LAURELS play Beetle Bar on Fri Aug 17, supported by Brisbane doom-pop darlings KEEP ON DANCIN’S and COBWEBBS. PLAINS is out now on Rice Is Nice.

DENIS SEMCHENKO, formerly Rave’s Geared Editor and now OffStreet’s Music Editor, divides his time between writing articles, playing guitar in two Brisbane bands and collecting vinyl. You can annoy him @musojourno.


About Zenobia Frost

Zenobia Frost is a Brisbane writer. Her work has been published in Voiceworks, Overland, The Lifted Brow and The Guardian. Her debut poetry collection, Salt and Bone, is out through Walleah Press. @zenfrost


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