Melbourne group Lowtide are about to release their second full-length, Southern Mind, an album that takes on the theme of “South” and “Southern”, whether it’s from the politics, the current state of the country or their own experiences. It also shows the band with a more complex and compelling sound. We caught up with guitarist Gabe Lewis to know more about their new effort.
It’s been 3 years since you released your amazing self-titled debut album. How’s life been like for you guys during these last years?
It’s been a pretty busy time, now that I look back. We’ve had some big changes and some huge opportunities. Securing an album grant and then a touring grant was amazing. This made so much of what’s happened possible. The recording grant helped us to record the forthcoming album in a much quicker, succinct way than what we’re probably used to. The touring grant meant that we were able to travel in quite a civilised manner. No bad backs from sleeping on couches, and we were able to bring in a tour manager who did all the navigating and driving, and also live sound. It really was a fantastic experience and has probably ruined touring for us in the future. It’ll be hard to go back to DIY.
Southern Mind is your second album and it will be out now on February. When did you start working on it?
Writing for the new album began soon after the debut came out. We pretty much continued writing and finalising songs until we hit the studio in the middle of April where we did 3 days and then 2 follow up days at the end of May.
Giles Fielke left the band following the completion of the new record. Did that affect the band’s dynamic in any way?
Yeah, that has been a bit of a change. We currently have our friend Jeremy from The Zebras filling in live for us. He’s also playing a Fender VI, so dynamically things aren’t terribly removed. He also sings, so the format hasn’t altered either.
I read that the album is a uniquely Australian take on the theme of “South” and “Southern”. Can you elaborate more on that?
I can’t speak for the others but I suppose for me, this feels like our interpretation of the genre, in a somewhat removed way from the British, European and American scenes. Though we as Australians aren’t so disconnected these days due to the internet, growing up in the 80s and 90s we had a much more individual sound within the indie scene. So, I suppose I am harking back to that as it resonates with me and my formative years of listening to (and beginning to play) music.
Did any record or artist inspire you guys for this new album?
For me personally, it depended on the songs I was trying to write. I’d credit bands like The Stems and The Hummingbirds as jangly pop influences, but as for the more languid songs we’ve written, I actually find myself referring back to more classical music. Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem has some beautiful textures and moods in it. As does Australian composer Ross Edwards with his Symphony No.1, which is quite dark and brooding.
One of the unique things about you guys is the interplay of male/female vocals on the songs. How’s it the lyric writing process like?
From what I understand they’d both have books of notes and lyric sketches that they’d refer to. Generally we write the instrumentals first. They’d add lyrics and melodies to this as the instrumental parts started to take shape. And then finally they’d have some vocal jams where they’d focus solely on harmonies.
The album was recorded at The Aviary Studios in Victoria in the winter of 2017. Can you tell us a little about the recording process?
The recording sessions were pretty straight forward. The main focus was on capturing the live drums. We also got most of the bass and Fender VI parts down too. Though we tracked everything, I overdubbed most of my guitar parts so we could control textures better at the mixing stage.
What are your touring plans after the album’s release?
At this stage it looks like we have about 8 dates locally for the album release. Whilst we haven’t discussed an overseas tour, I’m sure it’s something that could happen.
How’s it like the music scene in Melbourne and what are your favorite venues over there?
The local scene is lovely. So many talented, enthusiastic people. A very supportive scene. There are lots of great venues too. The Tote, The Gasometer, The Curtin Bandroom, and the Northcote Social Club are where we usually play, though there are heaps of other awesome venues too. I suppose we’re pretty lucky here in Melbourne. Spoiled for choice!