Album Walkthrough: LOSER detail the catharticism of their new album, All The Rage
On their second album, the Melbourne-based alt-rockers descend into a more therapeutic sound without losing the heights of their debut.
Header image by Ian Laidlaw.
After the success of their debut album Mindless Joy last year, Melbourne-based rock four-piece LOSER could've gone anywhere. Their trajectory could've followed that of their Domestic La La label-heads Violent Soho, i.e. waiting a few years to meticulously carve out a record as brilliant as their first. Or, they could dive straight back into recording, much like every other band that hasn't had too much to do over the last two years. Sonically, they could've gone heavier and embrace the punk shadings of their debut, or they could've gone lighter, further exploring the emotive songwriting that flickered amongst the album's heavy production.
What happened instead was a recording-induced mental breakdown, which soon defined exactly how they'd follow up Mindless Joy. "That’s the first time I’d ever broken down in the studio," frontman Tim Maxwell says, in a quote accompanying the release of On The Edge - a single which would eventually become the lead for LOSER's second album. "I didn’t know what was wrong with me – I felt like half my body was numb. And I think you can really hear that through a lot of the vocal tracking and the lyrical content."
Arriving just a year after their first, All The Rage sees Tim Maxwell and LOSER emerge on the other side with an album that depicts an endless battle with mental health; an inwards-facing moment of catharticism that balances the detailed and emotive songwriting of their debut with their heavier, punkier edge - a pin-pointed middle ground between two potential paths that, in the face of their debut album, both make a tonne of sense as the band's next steps.
Over the course of its ten tracks, All The Rage is a simultaneous call to help and a lifeline to those in need, witnessing Maxwell and the band explore the depths of their last 12 months with a detail and introspection that anyone can latch onto in a time of need. The album-leading On The Edge is just one of those examples; songs like All I Need detail moments of anxiety with an intricacy that makes them feel oddly comforting in their relatability, while many of the album's other cuts - like the near-closing So - showcase moments of personal growth and resilience in a way that captures the album's over-arching aim to help those that may be in need.
"I hope there’s something on this album that people feel like they can relate to," says bassist Craig Selak in a quote accompanying the album. "I think that’s the overarching theme of the album: you don’t have to step away and hide from the world, you can look within and find something that makes you feel more comfortable. And that really sums up the personal growth we all went through in trying to record this album, learning not to overthink thinks, and Tim’s personal journey with his mental health over the pandemic."
Sonically, however, the album's more intimate lyricism doesn't necessarily mean that LOSER have gotten 'softer' per see. Just as Mindless Joy brought touches of punk-rock and grunge-y alt, All The Rage includes some of LOSER's most evolved and - at times - triumphant sounds, whether it's interpolating spiralling riffs into subtle-leaning ballads like on the album-closing Meant To Be, or songs like Stall which dance with nostalgic nods to MTV-era punk-pop and early-2000s alt-rock - a tapestry of bands including Powderfinger through to Green Day informing the album's eventual sound.
With Mindless Joy behind them, it is true that LOSER could've taken their sound and stories above and beyond to the next level. However, what eventuated was a touching and remarkable album that showcases versatility and growth both musical and personal; LOSER standing tall after the heights of Mindless Joy, and showing that even if life makes you feel a little lower sometimes, you're still able to climb up and emerge on top.
It's a timely sentiment that becomes the defining theme of All The Rage, and you can learn more about its development as frontman Tim Maxwell dissects the album's creation and themes one song at a time.
This song has been kicking around since 2018/2019. Craig and I went to pay a visit to Dear Seattle in the studio to drop Tidswell some greenery and then we came back to my house at the time to start demoing what would be Head First. The idea was to have that acousticBblink feel with a huge [Smashing] Pumpkins style verse/chorus. The very first line of the song came to me after an incident where I was shopping in Castlemaine and I went to try on an item of clothing with my head down walking into the change room but little did I realise there was a huge steel beam above me. It sent me straight to the ground and no one in the shop noticed for a bit haha. It didn’t feel very nice and felt like part of my brain was missing. The song is about determination to keep doing what I want in my life and never give in.
On The Edge
During lockdown, I sat myself down and watched heaps and heaps of video hits playlists on YouTube. I wanted to write a song that would have an impact universally. To do so I studied how songs were written in the early noughties as this was my bread and butter growing up. A major influence for the verses was Rockin' The Suburbs by Ben Folds. It had that almost rap vibe while still staying cool and true to yourself at the same time. It all came together pretty quickly once I had the verses and I knew I wanted a simple as chorus that would make you want to get off your seat and scream the words. As I have said in past interviews this song lyrically is very deep and is about me overcoming my worst state.
Don’t Leave Me
Another song that has been floating around the loser camp for quite some time now. We were demoing this song for mindless joy but it didn’t make the cut. Tidswell offered some production on this tune to cut it down to radio standards because all you impatient motherfuckers can’t listen to anything over three minutes. Lyrically this song has a deep meaning it is about an old friend of mine who ended up in jail. His mother dobbed him in because he was going down a bad path. I used to play in a band with this guy and we were really good friends so this hit me hard to hear what was going down. This is the first song I have written from someone else’s perspective.
We recorded about three different versions of this song, the tempo didn’t feel right and it wasn’t gelling the right way. It was one of the first songs we started recording but took the longest.
Funnily enough this song was NOT written about COVID but it surely become an anthem for that once released. This song took a while to get it right and I never really liked it. Everybody else loved the song but I thought it was too simple or boring. Turns out the public liked it so that’s all that matters haha. This was also the first song mixed and once we received a mix back from Anton Hagop we couldn’t believe that the whole album was going to sound like this.
All I Need
This was another song that took a while to get it right we wanted to give off old Loser vibes with a dash of something fresh. Slacker Blink Weezer rock? I dunno. This song means a lot to me. Lyrically it is a song about anxiety and letting people know that they are not alone. If you ever feel like chatting I’m always here. We had a huge video shoot with a bunch of extras lined up for this song only for it to be cancelled at the last minute due to a snap lockdown in Melbourne. Although we were able to piece together a clip using existing footage this was a timely reminder of just how many hurdles we’ve had to overcome to get this album into the world. At one point it seemed like it was just one complication after another, but we couldn’t be more proud as a group.
Time Won’t Wait
Every album needs a slow burner; big Oasis vibes on this one. Probably one of the only hopeful songs lyrically on the album haha. I loved bringing this song to life and is a big highlight for me on this album. We managed to put strings in there with big vibrato guitars washing everywhere. Love it. During the recording process, I watched a video of Stu from King Gizzard explaining how he records acoustic guitars through an iPhone. I was super inspired by this and all the acoustic guitars on this song and the majority of the album were recorded the same way/using an iPhone. It’s amazing how far phone technology has come.
The heaviest song on the album, I was obsessed with QOTSA - Songs For The Deaf at the time and I think that this shows. We first played this song live while on tour supporting Ruby Fields. By the end of the tour, crowds were singing along and Ruby herself joined us on stage to perform it. From that point on we knew it had to be on the album. Craig loves the whammy guitar outro solo in this song it reminds of early Dimebag Darrell guitar tones. The song is about aliens and feeling alienated wanting to be taken to a different realm because nobody understands you. This is the best song to play live and I can’t wait to see you all banging your head to it. UFOS are real, Tom Delonge was right.
If this song doesn’t make people jump around like a teenage girl on a bed then I’ve done my job wrong haha. Massive early 2000s vibes again, straight to the point pop-punk. It’s about questioning what you are doing with your life and holding fire on all plans just have to fun for the meantime. This song was actually written twice with two completely separate arrangements. We liked specific parts from each one and as a result, what you hear is a combination of the best parts from both. It made us think maybe we should write every song twice just in case hahah fuck that.
My favourite song lyrically on the album. This is the first song that is written like a storyteller. It follows the journey of me moving out for the first time and ending up back where I started. I hope a lot of you can relate. It also features the best lyric on the album “I got no money to spend, I spent it all on my band”. This was another song that I didn’t think should be on the album, I dunno maybe I was feeling vulnerable because of the new lyrical style. I also may have felt exposed because everything was hanging on the vocals in the verses particularly but once it was tracked I started to really enjoy the song and now it is one of my favourites. It was another growing experience and another way this album managed to teach me something about myself.
Meant To Be
Here we are at the end of the album, time for another ballad. This song means the world to me. Myself and Craig spent hours and hours perfecting this song to hit the right way. I was inspired a lot by Powderfinger when writing this song. It’s a good thing I got the guy who worked on their albums to mix our album! We felt like we needed to do our November Rain, and although this is nowhere near it the guitar solo definitely could’ve been played by Slash out the front of a chapel. This song required the most revision from a mix point of view as I had a really clear vision in my head. The song was laden with harmonies and we were trying to mask it with all this other stuff, yet all that mattered at the end of the day was my voice standing on its own.