Saturday, March 28, 2009
Working on your album with more people than live in your hometown is quite a daunting experience, even when its population is four, as LUCIE THORNE tells ANDY HAZEL.
“I moved to Bimbaya specifically to make Where Night Birds Call,” says an animated Lucie Thorne of her previous album and the township in New South Wales she calls home. “My friend [and guitarist] Heath Cohen is a native, and I thought I’d move here for six months then head back to Melbourne. That was three years ago and I’m still here,” she says laughing. “It’s still a surprise. There’s a real inner hermit to me, I love not having distractions and being able to set up half my house as a studio; I sleep in the corner and leave the mics and amps in place. I’m touring half the time which is a really social activity so I get good doses of the city and comrades, then I come back here and hide in my cottage.”
Richly detailed locales haunt the songs off Thorne’s latest album Black Across The Fields, many of which are about entering unfamiliar environments and suffusive states of mind, so it makes sense that solitude and the township seep into her alluring compositions. “I did that thing of living in inner city Melbourne with friends and neighbours,” she explains. “Not having anyone to hear you is such a liberating experience. Moving here really cracked a seal for me. Songs in the set are becoming bigger and crunchier; in my mind it’s a rock and roll show now.” In an irony she laughs at, it seems the more comfortable Thorne feels about making noise, the more hushed the songs become. ‘Having the physical space as well as the mental space that this kind of isolation provided meant I started writing and playing a lot more.”
As with many of Thorne’s creations, her album had a small and careful beginning. “I started recording a lot of the songs at home in a similar way to Night Birds, thinking ‘that’s how I’ll make this next record’; recording songs as they come along. I had a gig coming up at The Basement, and Glen from Vitamin [Records] had been telling me ‘broaden your horizons for this next record’. I was a bit dubious…‘I don’t need a bag of session dudes to make a record’, but I sent some demos to his friend [drummer] Hamish Stuart. We played a show together and it was just such a fun gig. Afterwards Hame straight up expressed an interest in working with me on the next record. He asked who I imagined working with if I could have a dream team, and straight off I said ‘Chris Abrahams’, not really thinking there’d be any chance. Hame said: ‘Well, let’s ask him,’ I said ‘what, really?’ Then we invited [bassist] Dave [Symes] and spent a week in Hamish’s back shed. Initially I was quite reserved. I sat back for a few days and got more and more excited, their ideas were on the same page as mine, and beyond that, they were just delightful human beings. It just felt really easy. We booked a few days at Megaphon [Studios] in Sydney, just the three of us playing live. I took the sessions home and started pottering around.”
Despite working in a professional studio for the first time and finding the luxury of time replaced by the tightness of professional musicianship, Thorne found a positive side to her initial intimidation. ”All the band tracks I’ve ever recorded before have been back to front; people playing along to my parts. I’ve always been amazed we’ve kind of pulled it off. I’ve always been able to do 17 million takes and delete them in the privacy of my own house,” she says laughing. “Knowing that Hamish and Dave were going to be right on it every time was scary, so it was a really good kick up the arse.” Whatever it’s taken, it’s clear that Black Across The Fields is finding Lucie Thorne new fans fast.