Sticking my head into The Blackwater Fever’s current hideout, the new Borough Studio in Brisbane’s inner north, the first impression I get is of the open plan of the room. There is no division between band and engineer, just one great big space filled with all the fixin’s for recording. With work underway on TBWF’s second full length record, titled In Stereo, the open plan room seems perfect for a band starting to take control of their own recording process. With the assistance of seasoned producer, engineer and studio owner Skritch, the frontman Shane Hicks and drummer Andrew Walter are allowing themselves to find their own way amongst the tangle of cables, microphones and amplifiers. While their previous release Sweet Misery was a rather dark sounding album, Blackwater are taking a different approach to recording and songwriting to nail their songs to the wall.
“We’ve done about fifteen things for this album, and then a bunch of others that will wait for the next one,” says Hicks. “I’ve got a little mixing setup at home got and I’ve been getting my head around that, but basically now we’re at the point of doing vocals and overdubs. This album’s definitely more lighthearted than Sweet Misery, more fun and rock and roll, with a few nice soft songs. That was the plan, I thought Sweet Misery was a bit dark for some people.”
“This one started out being a collection of older songs that we hadn’t recorded and thought that they were worthwhile, so we started going through those, and with that that in mind because those songs were more rock and roll we added to that list.” Not all the record is so preconceived however, one studio written number has made the cut. “It was the last song we did for the tracking, we only just ran through it a few times at rehearsal and I was still fitting the words to it. We put it down as a rough layout and then I finished off the lyrics. It’s cool like that, because if you demo in the studio, if you just punch out a song the first time you’ve heard it is when you’ve finished its recording you don’t have any expectations. I’d love to do more of that, where you don’t sit there and stew over the same song for six months.”
The band are also branching out their arsenal of sounds, adding more instruments to their traditional two-piece sound. “We’ve been putting everything on it, bass, piano, Rhodes. We’ve been thinking we might have to find a bass player and keyboard dude! But I’m glad we’ve written some songs like that, where our co-ordination isn’t limiting you to where you can go, just laying parts down.”
In order to unleash these new tracks on the unsuspecting public, The Blackwater Fever have booked themselves into the Troubadour for a month long residency at 1am on every Saturday night in May, starting on the 8th. We’ll be trying to keep it fresh each Saturday, we’ll pull out old songs that we haven’t played live before and breakout these new ones too.”