Album Walkthrough: Winston Surfshirt break down his second album, Apple Crumble
Arriving in the midst of a national tour and a summer filled with festivals, Apple Crumble doubles down on Winston's continued brilliance.
For the most part, it felt like Winston Surfshirt emerged out of nowhere. In 2016, a subtle guest vocal on Polographia's Sly introduced the world to the multi-instrumental powerhouse that is Winston, but a greater national explosion came with the project's debut single Be About You the following year; a single whose infectiousness and breezy, summer-soaked drips opened the doors for releases to follow - Ali D, Same Same and eventually, the project's detailed, 16-track long debut album, Sponge Cake.
Nowadays, Winston Surfshirt is an outfit that needs little introduction. Led by Winston himself, the group - which expands to a six-piece in the live realm, bringing Winston's productions to life in much the same way as Tame Impala do with frontman Kevin Parker - have become one of Australia's break-out acts in the years since Sponge Cake, a record praised by everyone from Beats 1's Zane Lowe to Elton John - the latter of which proving a significant win for the group and aided their expansion into the UK and Europe after triumphing at Falls Festival and Splendour In The Grass back home.
Skip forward a short while later, and in 2019, Winston is readying the approach to the ambitious debut album's long-awaited follow-up, Apple Crumble. Released last Friday, it's an undertaking just as grand and intricate as the debut, with a more concise and focused duration - Apple Crumble spans 12 tracks in 43 minutes, far shorter than Sponge Cake's 16 in 56 - encouraging Winston to package the brilliance of Sponge Cake into an intricately-built collection of tracks that don't just highlight the brilliance of Winston in the driver's seat, but also look forward into their versatile future and the many musical forms it can take.
Bound together by a musical backbone infused with lo-fi jazz and hip-hop grooves, Apple Crumble dives into areas unexplored by Winston thus far. On Make A Move, the funk rhythms that birthed hip-hop's creation is moulded with gentle indie that on Where Did All Your Love Go a few tracks earlier, is brought together with a range of brass: blaring trombone and trumpet just the start. On Crypto, a touch of nostalgia is brought into the mix via dancing jazz keys lifted out the pages of yesteryear, while on the album-opening Need You, this nostalgic sense is instead interpreted through a nod to 90s hip-hop.
It's a masterclass in Winston's continued versatility, something showcased with their debut but built upon once again with Apple Crumble's experimentalism, and one that cements Winston Surfshirt as a multi-faceted and complex musician bringing some remarkably great sounds to the table. Here, dive into Apple Crumble with a track-by-track walkthrough from Winston himself, and then catch them on their national tour currently underway - full list of dates at the end.
The last song written for the album. I always leave the intro till last usually, I always have an idea of what I want to start an album and always mess about with ideas with an intro song in mind. There were probably 12 to 14 songs that were written before this one, I was in England a lot this year and went for a session with a producer called Owen Cutts, we messed about with a couple of beats but this one instantly had a vibe and once I’d finished the words and structure it just felt perfect to start. The intro talking was always the first thing that was going to be heard on Apple Crumble and was on every version of an ‘intro’ I'd written.
For The Record
This one was released nearly a year before the record was released - there was about six or seven written that ended up on the album but this was the first one we wanted to release. Started with the beat, once I had the two chorus phrases, the verses wrote themselves pretty quickly.
Since I Saw You There
Another early one, been playing it live for a year now and people seemed to have a good dance to it without knowing it, always fun to play. Started with a melody I've had in my head for years that I decided to record and make a song around it, took the whistle melody out that started it and that's how she came out.
That Just Don’t Sit Right
A darker sounding track, just really liked the feel of the chords, Julio's bass really makes it move... Feels like a very Surfshirt song to me. The Bone picked up a Fluegel over the past couple years, he only played the trombone but picked up the flu really quickly and we put it down on a bunch of songs on this. Really gives it another frequency to the sound.
My garage song, I've been writing garage tunes for about a decade now, just waiting to find the right one that sounded like me. I tried about six or seven different garage beats and tunes throughout the writing of this album, had the idea of a computer-generated voice doing a hook and found this one. His name is Alan, reminds me of the voice in Boogie 2Nite by tweet.
One of the first songs written, it was called Launchday in my folder, I think from either Sponge Cake’s release or one of the singles a couple of years ago. Was just the beat as it is now without any words. Went back through stuff I had later down the line and found this one just spent a day having a go at putting words to it and it came out pretty quickly, has a nice vibe and a nice message.
One of my faves, definitely to play, it’s a real up, happy song. Nothing beats a smile, you can't not smile back or laugh when someone’s laughing and I think I just wanted to capture that in a song. A good one to sing along to.
Where Did All Your Love Go?
A slower cut, Bustlip was at mine a couple years ago and we were messing about on a Keyboard I borrowed from Dool, he played the chords you hear at the very end of the song, we put a beat to it and left it for a while. When I went back in to it eventually I couldn’t figure out what the hell Bustlip played so just made my own chords over the top and tightened up the song, I had a melody in my head and before writing words, got The Bone around to mess about on it, we ended up leaving the line as the first chorus without words, me and Mi-K eventually got a nice line and hook with Where Did All Your Love Go?
Make A Move
Me disco tune, bit Jaykay, bit Patrice, bit George M, just wanted a disco-type tune that fit with what I already do, really liked the music and pretty much just worked on this till it was completed, hardly touched anything else. One to dance to.
Actually probably the first beat I wrote that ended up on the album I think, was slower but is pretty much exactly as it was when it started. Had the chorus straight away and just took a bit to get my verses how I wanted them.
We were on tour in Europe on a train from Paris to Amsterdam messing about with beats on the train. Bustlip had his MPClive out behind me and leaned over and popped his headphones on my head and heard the base of this tune, loved it instantly, we eventually ended back in England and spent a couple days at my childhood home, all 6 of us set up in the lounge room and messed about with songs, we finished this one in 2 days, takes me straight back there every time I listen to it.
Bolney Stage 2
Wanted a sort of reprise type thing to end the album with, I made a fair amount of songs that were intended to be an outro but never found the one I wanted, I slowed down Someone New which was called Bolney Stage at the time (the local pub in my village) and put a bunch of samples of my family and old home movies on top of it which happens throughout the album, so I tried to make that all happen in one track that was sort of a breather to wind you out of the album.
Saturday, November 23 - Spilt Milk, Canberra, ACT // sold out
Friday, November, 29 - Uni Bar, Hobart, TAS
Saturday, November 30 - Spilt Milk, Ballarat, VIC // sold out
Friday, December 6 - Prince Of Wales, Bunbury, WA
Saturday, December 7 - Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA // sold out
Thursday, January 2 - Bay Dreams North Festival, Mount Maunganui, NZ
Saturday, January 4 - Bay Dreams South Festival, Nelson, NZ
Friday, January 17 - Sound Splash North Festival, Raglan, NZ
Saturday, January 18 - Sound Splash South Festival, Timaru, NZ
Saturday, January 25 - Holy Green, Eatons Hill, QLD
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