On the back of their latest single ‘Blood’ and a national tour spanning six capital shows, City Calm Down squeezed in some time with Backyard Opera to chat about their upcoming full-length and its inspirations.
BYO: You’ve been giving regular updates on the album process via social media. What details can you give on the album (track-list, length, release date, title etc.)?
Jack: All I can say at this stage is that the record will be out in early 2018. We’re still finishing the mixing process, so we haven’t got around to finalising the track-list yet although that will be sorted soon. We have a few album titles in mind… but nothing locked in yet.
BYO: Were there any differences with the way the band approached the second album in comparison with In A Restless House? / Was there an effort to change the approach?
Jack: The production process for this record has been very different. When we recorded [2015’s] In A Restless House we went into the studio and recorded the whole thing in the space of 25-30 days. This time around, we’ve split up the tracking time to allow ourselves the opportunity to listen back to what we’ve done and make changes if we need to.
BYO: Do you think there will be any surprises on the new album to long-time listeners?
Jack: There are some songs that mark a clear departure from the last album, but I think there’s a lot of continuity between this record and the last record. In many ways, it’s a progression on our last record – more focussed and it has a clearer intent and mood.
BYO: How has the album process been? Did you find the process quicker, or did you feel more pressure this time around?
Jack: Although we found the writing process a lot quicker this time around, the recording/production process has taken us a lot longer which, as mentioned above, was because we wanted to allow ourselves more time to think about how we wanted the record to sound. In terms of pressure, the only pressure we’ve felt is the pressure to make music we really enjoy ourselves. We haven’t felt any outside/commercial pressures – there’s not much we can really do about that kind of stuff, so it doesn’t really concern us all that much.
BYO: You mentioned that ‘Blood’ was inspired by the constant grind between working and touring with the band. What were some other lyrical inspirations for the new record?
Jack: ‘Blood’ is one of a group of songs which explore the life of a workaholic, from various perspectives at different points in time. In many ways, the lyrics in this group of songs reflect the state of mind I was in during the recording process. Between work and recording and writing we were all working seven days a week for a really long stretch of time (perhaps since the middle of last year), and I was burning out. I found (perhaps ironically) that the only way to keep everything moving forward was to explore what the future would look like if I kept doing what I was doing.
My favourite song on the record was written after I caught up with my uncle, who told me about a friend of his whose marriage had recently broken up after his wife had asked him to stop working all hours. I found that to be quite a sad but powerful reflection of how I was feeling at the time – a sense of not being able to stop what you’re doing, even though it’s harming you.
BYO: There’s a clear New Wave influence on City Calm Down such as Joy Division. What contemporary bands/artists influence City Calm Down?
Jack: Two bands I’ve mentioned above, Fleet Foxes and The War On Drugs have been big influences recently. Although the two bands have such different sounds, they both blend beautiful, moving melodies with unique yet familiar instrumentation.
BYO: What’s the plan for the band now? Will there be an album tour then bunk down and work on another album again?
Jack: We’ve got an Australian tour that kicks off at the end of this week, and we’re heading to the UK/France at the end of November which is really exciting. We still don’t have a release date for the new record, but it looks like it will be early next year. Once that’s out we’ll probably do some more touring and then start working on album #3!