Dappled Cities have been hot on the Australian indie music scene for years. Coming together as teenagers back in 1997, they started off their career by playing all-ages shows and charity benefits in their home city of Sydney, NSW. 18 years on and with four records under their belt, Dappled Cities are back and better than ever with their long awaited fifth studio album Five (stylized as |||||).
Recently I had the pleasure of having a chat with co-vocal, guitar and co-songwriter Dave Rennick about the recording process, the wait between albums & everything in between.
Five will be released on May 5th through Chugg Music/MGM.
So there’s been quite a wait between your upcoming album ‘Five‘ and your previous releases, was it simply you guys just wanting to get the sound perfect or were there other contributing factors?
We really just took a few years off, our last record was record number four, and four records really takes it out of you as indie Australian band. During the time off we put together our B-Side (Many Roads) just to keep things ticking over for us, and there’s not really any other explanation besides that we just needed a break. The break really repositioned us mentally though to head back into the studio. When did we were so much more relaxed and content and happy, which is the exact state of mind we wanted to be in when we did start recording.
So you would say that the time off really helped you guys make ‘Five’ what it is?
Yeah totally! Other stuff happened during that break as well, we parted ways with management, our label & our booker. We found ourselves very much left up to our own devices, which was really a state that we’d never actually been in, where we could just decide for ourselves what songs we liked & what songs we wanted to work on. We didn’t have any other voices in the picture, which sometimes can be really helpful in guiding you in a certain direction. But in this case, there weren’t any so it was just left up to us to make it real.
What was the writing process for ‘5’ like for you guys? Was it a collaboration of stuff you’d written over time or was it written all in one go?
It was definitely written over a long period of time. When we did start thinking of a record again, usually the first thing you do is look into your archive of songs that have already been written and that you want to bring back to life. So that was the first stage of writing, just finding those songs and making them beautiful. We then sort of coloured the album in with some new songs as well.
You guys recorded this album in Byron Bay, how was that different from recording in major city studios?
Oh my god it was so cruisy, and also a part of the plan. Our thought process what pretty much like ‘where is the most relaxed, sunny, beachy place we could go and record this’, and it was 301 (recording studio) in Byron Bay. The studio has actually shut down now, but it was a big kind of rock studio. It had big live rooms and a big control desk, so it was a really nice kind of classic studio. They also had an apartment just next door where we staying that had a pool and then within a block was the beach, so we’d just kind of wallow about in the pool and then just step in to the studio and lay down a guitar part or write some poetry. It was really fun.
It definitely sounds like it was more of a holiday than work for you guys!
Yeah totally! So we’ve now set the precedent on every recording session from now on, that f*ck going into tiny little New York studios, we’ve done all that, now we just want big, spacious, natural, beachy surrounds. We’re pretty much the new Jack Johnson (laughs).
So I have to ask, the album comes out on May 5th, it’s called 5, it’s your 5th studio album, there’s five members in the band, is there something important to you guys about the number 5 or is it just a weird coincidence?
It’s also been five years since our last record, we’re really pushing the five! We wanted to make a classic record, and if you look at classic rock bands, everyone one of them has a record where they name it after the number of record that it is, like Led Zeppelin’s ‘3‘. So it’s kind of like a bit of a nod to that era of album making. But also, it was just a practical name that we didn’t have to worry about too much. I can’t begin to explain to you how stressful naming an album can be if you let it get to, particularly when the decision needs to be made between five pretty headstrong dudes. We went back through our email chain for naming one of our previous records Granddance recently just to see if there was anything worth using in there, and there was literally 250 emails of us just going back and forth throwing names around. Five is just simple, strong and classic.
Sometimes a song is better for what isn’t there, and I think that’s the frame of mind we had entering the studio this time around. – Dave Rennick of Dappled Cities
So you released That Sound as the first single off the album, what made you choose that song in particular?
Again, we had no one else telling us what to release, so we just picked our favourite. That Sound was the first because obviously we’re a band and we play live, and it was the first song we got sounding good live. We just played it and we were like ‘woah, we’re really vibing’. It was just the natural choice, there’s no three-and-a-half-minute pop banger on this record, so we didn’t want to stress about it too much, we just wanted to pick the songs that we felt like we had an affinity to.
So can you give me a rundown of the kind of sound you guys have made with ‘5’ for everyone who is hanging out until May 5th to hear it?
Its definitely got a lot of nods to late 70’s pop-rock. I feel like its also got that quintessential indie sound that we have established for ourselves as well. So yeah, its sort classic, but new.
I personally really enjoy the sound that you’ve made with the album, it’s really great while also quite unique.
Oh cool thank you! It’s definitely my favourite Dappled record, I really feel like we just nailed that relaxed vibe and let it breathe. There’s no desperation throughout it if you know what I mean. Everyone album we’ve made we’ve had billions of ideas, there’s always been five of us in the studio just throwing everything we had at a song, but in this case, someone would have an idea and someone else would be like “nah” and then “yeah” then “yeah nah sure”. Sometimes a song is better for what isn’t there, and I think that’s the frame of mind we had entering the studio this time around. I like it too is I guess the point I’m trying to make (laughs).
So you’re going to be holding an album launch show as a part of Vivid in Sydney, can you tell me a little a bit about how the idea for that came up and a little insight into what you’ve got planned visually for the crowd?
We are yes, the artwork we’ve been working with is by an artist called Paul Juno who is an abstract painter from California, while the design of our album cover was done by a studio here in Sydney. The whole concept for the album cover was kind of like a stark five bars against the natural flowing colours of the background, a kind of juxtaposition I guess. The whole process for that opened us up to some wild visuals that we’re working on now for Vivid, and thanks to Vivid we get to explore all of it. You can probably imagine what might happen, but I don’t want to let the cats out of the bag just yet, but it’s going to be really immersive.
So do you have anything else that you’d like to add about the album before we finish up?
I guess just that it’s my favourite album and that I would really love for people to hear it, that’s all I really want for this record, for someone to listen to it.
Be sure to follow Dappled Cities on Facebook & Twitter, and check out the tour poster below to see where you can catch Dappled Cities playing live in the coming months. All ticketing information is available via the bands website.
Written by: Sarah Taylor
Featured photo courtesy of Rare Finds, all other images sourced from Dappled Cities Facebook page.