In The Middle with Don Broco
How’s the reaction been to the album so far?
Yeah it’s been great. The album’s been out a couple of weeks. It’s been really nice seeing people react to the songs.
Is it similar live?
Yeah we did a tour the week of release and it was really nice seeing throughout the tour obviously, as the tour went on then people had the album for just a couple more days. As the tour went on it really showed that people got the songs and knew them. We were playing a few of them for a while at festivals.
I was at Slam Dunk Festival earlier this year, you played a few there?
We did a couple of them there where obviously people don’t know them and you’ve seen people watching and taking them in but once people had heard the album and could sing along it was awesome.
Did you actively choose to try a new sound or did it naturally happen?
It kind of happened quite naturally. I mean, we’ve written loads of songs for the album and the songs we ended up choosing for the album all kind of had that sound about them. There were other songs that we maybe could’ve picked that we felt sounded a little too much like our old stuff and we definitely wanted to move forward and keep things interesting for us.
Rather than releasing the same album again and again?
Rather than just doing the same thing yeah. So I mean hopefully yeah next album will be different again. I think we definitely want to be one of those bands that keep trying to mix stuff up and pushing ourselves musically.
Do you think people’s tendency to label bands as a certain genre can actually be quite limiting?
Yeah definitely. One thing we were very aware of when we wrote the album was we didn’t want to write anything that we’d done and anything that we’d heard before. I think there’s so much music out there and there’s so many bands around these days so the only thing you can do is make something new and create something that no one’s heard before. I think listening to our album, it’s not like we’ve reinvented the wheel or anything like that! You can hear our influences, hear where we’ve borrowed ideas or taken references from, but we like to think when you hear a Don Broco song now, you know it’s Don Broco rather than ten other bands that it could be.
I think you’ve achieved that quite well, they all sound different to each other but there’s something similar connecting them all at the same time.
Awesome! That’s kind of what we wanted to do so that’s great.
Could you tell me a little more about the recording process?
It was quite a varied process for us because we started writing everything at home and we did a little bit of pre-production getting ready for going into the studio with our last producer Dan Lancaster who did our first album. Then we wanted to try a new producer out and try and create a more live sound that we’ve done. So we ended up going to quite a few different studios to get sounds from them which was kind of nice for us because we’d never ever done anything like that, we’d always just recorded in our mate’s bedroom or our friend’s makeshift studio. We did the drums in this place called AIR Studios, I think it’s a converted church in London. It’s got this massive drum sound, Eighties sort of vibe, really kind of spacey. Then for the instruments we got to go to Oxford, it’s just outside Oxford, this place called Banbury. There’s a studio there called Angelic Studios, which is incredible. It’s like the nicest studio we’ve ever been to. It’s so kind of chill and it’s got everything you could ever want there. We could shut out everything else and focus on finishing the songs and getting all the instruments done. To finish off the process, we did most of the vocals in Shoreditch so it was a real different vibe, a bit of everywhere. Which was nice as you don’t get cabin fever, you’re not stuck in one place, getting bored and not enjoying what you’re doing because it feels like work as we’re always moving around. It kind of kept things interesting.
So how long did it take you overall from the day you began writing to its release?
It’s quite hard to gauge really. It would’ve been after we released ‘You Wanna Know’ which was two Reading and Leeds’ ago.
I remember that! You debuted it on the Main Stage?
Totally yeah. The first time we ever played it was at Leeds on the Main Stage and basically after that summer we spent the new few months starting to write songs and I think we wrote ‘Money Power Fame’ quite soon after that and had ideas for other songs. So we kind of started the process then, it wasn’t really until January the next year we really started properly getting into it and we got our tour out the way. So it was about a year of writing and recording. I guess if you think about the initial ideas probably even more but we only got into the studio properly literally after Leeds last year. It was sort of like four months on and off in the studio and we had it all wrapped up by Christmas.
Do you have a set formula in how you write your songs or does it just come from random places?
Not really, we tend to find when it comes to song structure we’re definitely suckers for classic pop song structure. We sometimes try different things and see if it sounds good, but verse chorus verse chorus – you can’t mess with it! It’s a proven technique so we mix things around a little bit and normally go back to that. When it comes to originating ideas we literally start from everything so it could be bass line, it could be guitar part, drum beat, vocal. Usually it’s some sort of marriage between the drum and the bass, come up with some sort of musical blueprint we like, sing off that and if we like any of the melodies that come off the back of that, we’ll take the song forward.
Lyrically, do you take inspiration from your own experiences or do you try and separate yourself from the writing?
On this album, definitely more from my experiences. Last album was the first time I really actually took that on. Before on our EPs and stuff like that we’d always written from other people’s perspectives, try and put myself in their shoes and almost invented little characters and things like that to sing from. This time I kind of just took stuff that I was dealing with and stuff that my friends were dealing with and based it around that, so it’s all quite personal.
Do you feel pressure for new music to live up to what you’ve released before and for it to appeal to everyone who liked your original stuff?
We definitely felt pressure for it to live up to what we’ve done before because we’re still very proud of our first album. A lot of people really loved it so it’s great when you meet people and they say how much they dug that first album. We’re still playing the songs now and they still sound great to us. I think when it came to pushing things forward as a band, obviously we hoped everybody was going to like it, but we weren’t actually too worried about that as you can’t please everyone. I think with our band as well, there’s quite a variety between the songs. Some people have very broad taste, some people have very specific taste, and across the album we do cover quite a lot of ground so the thing we decided was that as long as we love every song on it then that’s what counts. It turned out we kind of had nothing to worry about, from the reaction we’ve had from our fans, everyone seems to absolutely love it. They get what we’re trying to do. They understand that it’s not the same album but they like it for what it is. We weren’t worried, but luckily it wasn’t an issue.
How did you decide on finer details such as tracklisting?
When it came to tracklisting it was literally a matter of us all listening to it, we all came up with one ourselves. We all went round to Simon’s house and just sat in his living room trying out orders and tried out something that didn’t feel stale so it took you on a bit of a journey. It had the variety in it so it kept you interested throughout the whole album. When it came to starting things off, we wanted something to start off with a bit of a bang, something nice and punchy, ‘Superlove’ felt right for that. ‘Further’, the last track on the album, as soon as we wrote that right at the start we knew it would be the last song, it felt like a climactic end.
What about the artwork?
That came about kind of by accident, kind of by happy coincidences. We needed to shoot our video for Automatic and we had a lot of ideas going around for that and we had a lot of ideas for the artwork. We were storing a lot of things and thought we can do this, we can do that. We’ve always kind of loved the sunshine and trees and water and the nicer things in life – it’s something that I think everyone wants to get to experience. We’d been begging our label to send us out to LA for a while and it made sense for us to go out and do the artwork and the video at the same time. It was nice we could go out to Malibu and shoot it all on location. It was amazing for us as we’d never been to America before as a band so it was great to do that and just enjoy what we were doing and not stress about it too much and just create something hopefully iconic – when people see that image they can think of the album and it relates to the music.