THE PRIORY DOLLS
|July 18, 2011 | SOUND||Posted by Matt Cohen|
The Priory Dolls have long been a part of the Melbourne band scene and their sound has come to reflect its best qualities. They’re exciting, dirty, clever and laced with psychedelics.
Liam Jordan recently invited all five of them into his lounge room: Rory Lampitt (lead guitar, backing vocals), Tyson Lyndley (keys), Jeremy Mair (lead vocals guitar), James Payne (bass) and Erin Taylor (drums) to talk about their debut album and the difficulties of surviving as a band in 2011.
Let’s start with the album. Is it self-titled or does it have a name?
JM: It’s called Suddenly, At The Priory.
Alright, good. Why?
JM: Well there was a murder mystery book, about a murder that took place, in a priory. And then the first song on the album, and that tied it together really nicely.
ET: Wait is there a book called Suddenly, At The Priory?
JM: I can’t believe you haven’t looked into this.
I didn’t know that, either; I was under the impression that the song was about ‘The Priory.’
JM: It is. I have to point out that it isn’t ‘about’ us, and I don’t want everyone to think we’re a really nasty bunch of people who hate each other, which is a slight misconception. There was a house we used to live at a long time ago, and the room above us had just been vacated, and the rest of the house had been long-term vacated, there’s a photo of it on the back cover.
The cops had come recently and given them the boot, and they’d left all their shit there. These bizarre things like letters from little kids to their aunt who’d lived there , a great big fuck-off bowie knife, and then just bags of porn and other stuff. So we just kind of put a song together out of it.
TL: Every square surface of the floor was covered in ripped-up pages from some kind of porn magazine.
JM: Yeah, it wasn’t a very nice place but it was interesting to walk around in.
I’m just looking at the track-listing, and there’s quite a gap between the most recent thing you wrote and the oldest one.
ET: We only wrote How the Goldfish Lost his Memory about a week before we went into recording, too.
When you got to recording, did you find it harder to record the old songs?
TL: It was hard to remember the bigger picture we had for the older songs, they’d just sort of gone through the ravine again, whereas the new songs had these fresh new sounds…
RL: (adopts robotic voice) …an enchanting wonderland of excitement.
TL: Yeah, they basically had a lot more inspiration for me.
JM: I still like a lot of those older songs that are on there, but I knew if we made an album any later, even a year from now, they just wouldn’t be on there. So it was basically an effort to document everything that we’ve done so far, that we thought should be released to the general public. There were bits and pieces in there that made me fucking cringe though, bits of stuff that we cut out or re-arranged before we recorded it.
JP: I think we’re kind of making it sound like they’re not very good.
JM: Again, I still think they’re good songs, and it doesn’t matter how good a song is or how much you like it, if you play it enough you’re going to get really fucking sick of it. I mean, they’re only on there because we think they’re good enough to be on there, but we’re not going to play them perpetually.
ET: It’s kind of a marker, that this is done and now we’re looking forward to writing new things.
What it sounds like to me is that the album is kind of a commemoration of all the work that you’ve put into the band so far, and so the people who’ll be buying that album, at least initially, will be the people who’ve enjoyed hearing those songs live, so it’ll be a reward for them as it is for you.
JM: Could you just do the interview for us?
No, sorry, I can’t. In terms of recording, is it fair to say that when you get to recording again, however far away that will be, that’ll you’ll be writing new songs that go together as a recording, rather than collecting and reworking older material?
TL: We plan to do it as soon as we’re up to it really.
ET: Start overseas, even.
JM: I think the next one will have a central idea, that we’ll start writing songs specifically for an album. These songs all fit together pretty well I think, but they weren’t written for an album.
Do you have any plans as to where you’re going overseas?
JM: Germany or Spain, one of the two. We’ve all been meaning to go for ages and ages, not specifically for a career, but we do want to write a second album over there and hopefully record it. I mean none of us have been overseas for an extended period of time, or at all.
As much as Australia is a great place to make music, its so far away from everything you get this kind of cabin fever. I don’t really understand people who don’t want to get out of Australia, at least for a little while.
JP: When we travelled to Sydney, we had to stay in the same place together for a long time, and that made us function better. I think that’s when we work best, when we’ve kind of lost our minds a little bit.
ET: I think we just work best when we’re doing something productive, I don’t think it matters what it is. With recording I could sit down and listen to what everyone was actually doing and I think everyone had a stage of that. And then once that’s done you can underline that and go, “yep, box ticked.”
TL: When we were recording I had a whole page of boxes, some of them were stars, cubes, prisms and every time we got something good done we’d tick one.
JM: Tyson did want to call the album Ticking Boxes.
TL: Finishing the album was a big change in my life for me, now I’m just ticking boxes all the time.
ET: I tried to tick a sphere once, that was fucked.
If recording the album has made you more organised, is there a difference in how you write songs today as compared to four years ago.
JP: The way we approach songs has completely changed, because there’s been somebody there recording it really well, so we had to think really carefully about what we were doing.
And who was that person?
TL: Dave Mcluney [Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Drones].
What was good about working with him?
ET: He’s got red hair.
TL: He smokes more than Jeremy.
JP: He’s got Murder Ballads on a gold CD on his wall. We walked in and hadn’t been there before we all said “yes” and then we saw that.
JM: He had an amazing amount of knowledge obviously, and the equipment was great. The best part honestly was being able to drink and smoke freely inside. And the fact that he was drinking and smoking with you, he wasn’t just running some machine you weren’t allowed to touch. It really felt like he was a part of making that album.
ET: It was really helpful, he actually came to some of our rehearsals and offered suggestions, and I think my playing is better as a result of that.
JP: He was taught us a little bit about structuring songs as well, he suggest something like ” just cut out that whole verse” and then we’d say, “Wow, we should’ve done that three years ago.”
JM: He treated what we were doing as something that was worthwhile and important, which is not necessarily the response that we’re used to.
TL: And at the same time not taking it too seriously, and making sure that we didn’t take it too seriously ourselves.
Have you found that advice on how to record your material for the album has also changed how you play live?
JM: Yeah, to a degree. I mean, we won’t be doing the album set forever,we’re basically doing a few months touring around Australia, then we’ll be going to Europe where nobody is going to know who the fuck we are.
I think it’s worth mentioning at this point that you have the benefit of being able to travel and to write new material whenever you want because you’re not attached to a label.
JP: The glass is definitely half full.
There are other bands I know of who’ve recently gotten onto contracts and as a result of that can’t release new material for another eighteen months. They’ve got to work in that promotional cycle.
JM: We never really imagined we’d have a record label to put this album out when we started making it, we didn’t know it’d be such a long process to start with. It just ended up being easier without them.
Would you consider going that route on your next album?
RL: For the next one, I’d rather have a label.
JM: I’d rather have someone to distribute it for us.
TL: It’d be good to have someone to do promotional stuff for us.
ET: It’s hard to tell, it’d really depend on the position we were in at the time.
JP: To be honest I think if were to do that, if we were to have a lot of freedoms taken away or any freedom taken away we’d probably freak out. As much as we would like to have a bit more backing,if we had to sort of be responsible. If they were telling us to do stuff we’d probably get angry pretty quickly, I imagine. If somebody told me I couldn’t record an album for two years, I’d be pretty pissed off.
TL: I’d be happy to spend two years working on one album, I think.
JM: Something like people telling you what you can put on the front cover of your album, that would really shit me.
Is there anything else you have planned?
TL: There’s a few tracks.
RL: But you should come to the album launch!
ET: We can’t afford to pay for anything at the moment. We owe Dave money, we owe Tyson’s parents money.
The Priory Dolls Album Launch Tour:
MELBOURNE -East Brunswick Club, August 5th
SYDNEY – Tone, August 12th
CANBERRA – Phoenix, August 20th
You can listen to a few tracks off the album at their Facebook page or check out their slick new video, Get Your Dark Wizard On. Head here to see The Priory Dolls live, covering Britney Spears’ Toxic.
Words: Liam Jordan