The Laurels released its first album, Plains, four years ago. In the time since, the Sydney four-piece has been busy honing its live act: a layering of hazy guitars, washed-out vocals and hypnotic rhythms with tones of psychedelic shoegaze; earning its reputation as one of Sydney’s best live bands. Its much-anticipated follow up album, Sonicology, is out tomorrow, and you can catch Luke O'Farrell, Piers Cornelius, Conor Hannan and Jasper Fentonin in their element when they hit the road again this month.
Broadsheet: Can you tell us about how you met? Luke O'Farrell: The earliest incarnation of the band formed entirely over the internet. I still have a vivid memory of getting a message from Conor on MySpace asking if we needed a sitar player. It was 2005 so our answer was a resounding "YES!" He was quickly upgraded to bass player after our first and only rehearsal with sitar. We all met Jasper at Q Bar a few years later.
BS: What creative influences did you bond over and what different musical influences have you since brought to the band? LO: We started out with a mutual appreciation for late-’60s psych and shoegaze. Inevitably we all started listening to different stuff over the years: Conor got really into jazz and always whips out Alice Coltrane bass lines in sound check, Piers and I got heavily into golden-age hip-hop. That was a big influence in the way we put the songs together on the new album. Jasper is into more modern stuff like Grimes, so he's constantly on his laptop working up sick electro beats.
BS: What can you tell us about your new album Sonicology? LO: We try to keep our albums pretty varied, so other than the fact we were drawing a lot of inspiration from hip-hop producers like DJ Premier and the way they use sampling techniques, there's not really any particular feeling or sound that was settled on. Some of the stuff is really stripped back and lo-fi and some other stuff is really densely layered and ethereal. Ideally it would have sounded like a mangled hip-hop cassette from 1994, but we crammed in so many other influences that it's hard to settle on one way to describe it.
BS: Are there particular elements of your music you feel have significantly changed or evolved from your early days as a band to now? LO: Maybe the fact we put a lot more focus on our lyrics than we used to. We learned a lot about ourselves in the last four years and hopefully we're better at articulating our experiences. Ironically, the vocals are still buried in the mix so no one else will notice.
BS: Fantasy support slot – any era, any artist, anywhere? LO: The Beatles? But our fave period is when they stopped touring so I don’t know ... Maybe the Rolling Stones just to make Conor happy, I believe his fave period was the Steel Wheels tour in ’89. Sonicology is out Friday 14 October.
Sydney: Thu October 20 – Selina’s, Coogee Wed November 2 – Sosueme, Bondi (free show) Sat November 12 – The Imperial, Erkineville
Brisbane: Fri Oct 28 – The Foundry, Fortitude Valley
Melbourne: Fri November 4 – The Curtin Bandroom, Carlton
Perth: Fri November 18 – Badlands, Perth