Lost Woods have graced our studio a few times over the years, laying down a brand of indie rock that's as catchy as it is technically astute. Which is to say... very.
Now settled into a lineup with talented brothers Miles and Lucas Sly on drums and bass respectively, they're back to make a new EP. It's a cliche, but this record really does have something for everyone - brilliantly stitching together the variety of sonic directions they've taken over the course of their past releases.
Could this one be their best yet? We didn't ask them that. But we did ask Pete, Tom and Sam some other questions. Check out the short film below and the full interview even further below!
For the most part, your last EP Shaping Distant Memories moved away from the harder 90s guitar influences of your earlier songs to give us a really spacious, sensory style of music – with singles in the realm of folk pop. To our ear, that trend continues with a bit more energy on this record… but how would you sum up the style, and what’s influenced you this time around?
Pete: I think with this batch of songs we’re almost combining the old and new sounds of our past releases. We’re definitely returning to that 90s-influenced grunge with punchy guitars and high energy. But then we do have some more introspective moments with spacious sounds and textures too... hopefully it’s a nicely balanced record between the two. This time we really looked at playing around with different effects on vocals and other instruments like drums, and exploring texture where we previously haven’t.
Tom: I’m not sure if our sound development has been been a conscious thing or not. Adding more high-energy elements to these songs is most likely a reflection of playing live and what people respond to in that setting, but we didn’t set out to change our sound at all.
What are some of the lyrical themes that emerged in writing this record?
Pete: Thematically, the songs explore the difficulties of writer's block, procrastination and perfectionism in the writing process. I definitely experienced some stagnant times with writing these songs. Sometimes life gets a bit all-consuming and limits your capacity to be creative. We’re gonna kick it off with a single, Sleep, which is pretty much about dreams, ultimately - or what they kind of mean to you... and a time when I just sort of stopped dreaming. I almost wound up missing dreams - it was maybe an escape from what was going on in my life at the time.
Can you talk us through your routine for approaching vocals in the studio? Give us some advice!
Pete: Recording studio vocals is really a unique beast! It’s a very different environment to practicing or playing live. I try to accept that it will take a bit of time to re-calibrate and find your groove in the vocal booth. Don’t expect to nail it quickly. You can get in your head going down that path... I certainly have! Take it slow, and really try to channel the emotion of the song to get an authentic vocal take that you’re happy with.
Miles and Lucas appeared on your last EP, but not in the way most people would expect… that was a gang vocal cameo, and this record is their first with the band on drums and bass. What have those guys brought to the studio process?
Pete: It has been so much fun working with the Sly brothers. Probably the most exciting thing is that the EP sessions have actually been with them. This is the first recording that we’ve done with them as a whole band, and they’ve been part of it for a really long time now. They are both very seasoned musicians - and from the get go, they had a clear vision of how they would like their parts to sit. They also played a real active role with mixing, providing plenty of fresh perspectives to all parts along the way.
Sam: They add heaps of things we don’t necessarily think about - like a lot of drum stuff, and a lot of vocal inflections. They both do backing vocals in some of the songs, so it’s been good getting the nuance that they bring to it.
You did what a few bands have done lately – make the most of Joseph’s experience with Mixmasters Studio to go out there and get fantastic-sounding drums in the live room, while doing other instrument tracking in the process. How was that experience?
Pete: Mixmasters looks exactly like the studio of my dreams! You’re surrounded by instrument relics in this beautiful log cabin of a studio. It’s a joy being in there and the drum sound produced speaks for itself. It’s definitely a happy place.
Without giving away too many sonic easter eggs, what quirky sounds and instruments did you lay on this record? We enjoyed watching a tape sample make its way through a guitar pedalboard at one point…
Tom: It’s good exploring new soundscapes, using different instruments, new pedals, stuff like that. We’ve been trying to create as much atmosphere as we can with our limited range of instruments. We’ve tried sampling vocals onto a synth and then running it through a pedal board. Sam playing lots of keyboards this time, using a cello bow on our guitars, a bunch of different tape samples and synths. A lot more layered vocals than before too. The aim is to create interesting sounds and sometimes you get there in a convoluted way. Anything to make noise and atmosphere!
Roughly when can people expect to hear the music you’ve been making? And does the record have a name yet?
Pete: If all goes according to plan, we're looking to release the first single Sleep in late April or early May. We are still mulling over a title for the EP that sums everything up. It’s been a long journey, this EP... we’ve had a lot of setbacks with COVID and everything, but we’re getting there, making it happen bit by bit. Watch this space.
Thanks to Lucas and Sam for sharing some studio photos