Get to Know: Death by Denim - Moonbow
We catch up with local faves as they continue their ascent on awesome second album Moonbow & share some behind the scenes studio shots
All photography by Dan Hildebrand (@daniel__hildebrand)
Kicking around the Perth live scene for some time, Death by Denim deservedly landed on a lot of people’s radars with their well-received debut full-length Sleepless and Sunkissed dropping at the end of 2020 - right when they found themselves back in the studio to record what would eventually become album number two - the highly anticipated Moonbow, which is finally out to DBD fans delight.
With a string of catchy singles - Small World, Cause a Scene, Feels Like Fiction and Make it Up As We Go, it was safe to assume the album was gonna be great… and yeah, it is. A seemingly natural progression of their first record, Moonbow sees the band’s chemistry growing even more, with guitar and synth melodies complimenting each other all over the place, exploratory lyrics and a tight rhythm section underpinning their laid back approach to irresistible indie pop and rock.
Written in a time of pandemics, social media addiction, a dying climate and potential world war, it’s not too surprising that themes of “social anxiety and inadequacy, existential crises over a cup of coffee, getting off the sidelines and standing up for social and environmental activism and quite literally making it up as you go.”
Elaborating on this, the band explains "The past two years had been about keeping perspective and a healthy outlook despite the uncertainty of the future. The good times have always outweighed the bad and while there have been setbacks there is still this beaming excitement amongst us all to continue on the musical path. I think this is reflected in the overall tone of the album.
Though it explores some darker personal moments and emotions at times there is this greater sense of triumph and recognition. You could say ‘Moonbow’ is all about learning to overcome and be comfortable with the chaos and confusion in your life - past, present and future.”
My obvious personal interpretation of this is that Death by Denim’s past, present and future will be musical… I type after just chatting to the guys, finding out that they are once again back at Debaser Studios with renowned engineer and producer Andy Lawson, the week their new album is dropping… I’m sensing a theme here!
The fellas were kind enough to share some exclusive behind the scenes snaps of some of the current studio action, as well as giving us the lowdown on all things Moonbow and DBD - get to know!
What’s it like to be in the studio working on new stuff before your new album has even come out?
It’s become a bit of a habit for us to be honest! We did the exact same with our first record as well. I think as much as we are so excited to release “Moonbow”, we can’t help but keep writing and recording.
How does “the studio” impact the creation process vs the jam room or anywhere else?
Definitely being in the mythical studio can boost creation compared to the jam room. I think when we are jamming new tunes we aim to get them to a certain level and once we get to work in the studio, things get flipped on their head often. It kinda goes part and parcel of being a few cooked units spending days locked in a small recording space, things get crazy. For the better, I hope haha
How important is your relationship with Andy at Debaser?
Andy has been such a key figure for us basically from the very beginning. Our first professional recording in 2017 was with him and ever since then we have been working as a team to carve out a sound that you hear today. I think he’s unlocked our passion to push sound boundaries and not do the “standard indie rock” music that you hear so much of.
How does this relationship work?
We see Andy basically as part of the band and all the craziness that goes with it these days. He doesn’t need to sugarcoat anything and if he thinks a song or a part of a song isn’t up to scratch, he’ll challenge us to try come up with something better. There’s been a couple times that we’ve had to re-record certain parts of a tune because we all knew we could do better.
Do different band members adopt different roles in the studio, e.g. the “dad” or “class clown”?
George has become the dad of the band especially when we tour. Loves to drive the van and be the responsible one after gigs whilst the others get a bit silly. In the studio its often different because he and Palle spend the most time working out what parts to play. Myself and Hamish get our stuff done pretty quick and then we just shout at them to try different sounds whilst also wanting them to hurry up before the day ends. It’s a unique set of circumstances!
What’s the general writing process for DBD like?
Usually Palle and myself or George will have a demo of a full song or a chorus and riff etc. After that, the 4 of us will get together and just throw different ideas at each other. There’s never a stupid idea and we always like to indulge someone’s idea until the very end. Sometimes they work a charm, other times it results us scratching our head and questioning ourselves as musicians. All fun and games.
Was this the case for Moonbow?
Absolutely, the approach to each song continued in the same fashion yet I think we were much wiser coming off the back of our first album. We were still really finding our feet in the studio on album 1 so for Moonbow there was a greater emphasis on the writing itself.
When was Moonbow recorded?
Recording began as soon as our first album was released, we recorded around 3-4 songs every few months until we had a clear vision of what it was all going to look like. This staggered approach definitely allowed for a lot of different influences to come and go in the mixing pot and this is why there’s a lot of different moods running through the album.
Why Moonbow and what is a Moonbow?
Heading on a 5 hour plane ride from Brisbane to Perth most people would kill time by watching a movie, perhaps reading a book or sleeping. Not for our boy Palle. For about 3 hours of the journey he was just churning out a bunch of fun facts to me that he was reading on his fun fact app. One of them was the moonbow, which is a very rare rainbow at night. It became a song about a pretty mystical experience and then the next minute we were naming our album Moonbow.
How much does being able to play a track live impact it’s composition?
We usually finish recording a song or an album and listen through from top to bottom. At that stage a mixed bag of emotions come over us. On one hand we are generally stoked with what we’ve produced. On the other we start to get nervous on how to pull it off live with just the 4 of us. There’s always that doubt that we won’t do the song justice on the live stage but so far we’ve been able to pull it off with flying colours. Hopefully that continues…
What’s coming up for the rest of the year? Tour?
We are heading on a big album tour starting in Melbourne on the 25th of March and finishing at Freo Social on The 29th of April which we are so damn excited for. Touring is something that all muso’s have been starved of so to actually be able to see our east coast fans and friends will be a beautiful moment for us. After that we are going to continue to record and tour throughout the year. NO STOP IN SIGHT!
Tell us about the Moonbow sour?
Ah yes, The Moonbow sour. Forget the albums and tours, this is our coolest accomplishment to date if you ask me. We were lucky enough to team up with Union Brewery and Distillery in Fremantle to bring a very tasty sour beer to life. It’s definitely quite a potent drink so be wise when drinking!!
Death by Denim’s new album Moonbow is out now via ADA Records
MOONBOW ALBUM TOUR
Friday March 25, 2022 | The Espy, Melbourne VIC
Saturday March 26, 2022 | Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide SA
Friday April 1, 2022 | Oxford Art Factory, Sydney NSW
Saturday April 2-Sunday April 3, 2022 | Yours & Owls Festival, Wollongong NSW
Thursday April 7, 2022 | The Zoo, Brisbane QLD
Friday April 8, 2022 | The Beach Hotel, Byron NSW
Saturday April 9, 2022 | Solbar, Sunshine Coast QLD
Friday April 29, 2022 | Freo Social, Fremantle WA