I had a chat with Birthmarks ahead of the release of their debut album this month. And hey, just cos they love you, this post comes with a previously unreleased Margo’s Living Room Session of ‘Wax’.
Can you describe the process of putting together ‘And Then The Rain Stopped’?
Daniel: My original plan for the album was to write and record it over one summer. I went offline and would only read certain books and watch certain films to try and stay in a state of flow. What resulted was twelve tracks of dross and a lot of staring at blank pages and blank screens. We had to throw pretty much everything away apart from a couple of ideas. When it came to recording with Lorenzo, it became an exercise in reduction. I’m a bit of a ‘wall of noise’ producer, but Lorenzo gave us the confidence to allow sparseness to flourish. In the mix, we questioned whether every element was vital and needed. It was a great process, but slightly painful. It’s a strange feeling when you’re arguing and fighting for a bleep or something to be in the song just because you spent 6 hours making it though it serves no purpose to the actual song. I’d say that learning what was relevant was the hardest but most crucial part of creating the record. Also, one of the last things we recorded was the drums which isn’t the most traditional method, so Jason did a fantastic job to rework his beats when needed.
Do you think pain is required as part of your process?
Daniel: I think everyone in their lives has their fair share of traumas and hardships to whatever scale and the way I’ve always coped and processed these things has been through writing. The past few years did take time to process and recover from, and the writing of the album was definitely essential to the healing and understanding. The day we got it mastered felt as if we’d really drawn a line and I could put a lot of feelings to bed. It was pretty strange, I’ve always had a connection to the number 17. It’s always followed me and appeared at critical moments. When we were mastering the vinyl, we were working on the gaps and how long each side would be. The running time for side two happened to be precisely 17 minutes and 17 seconds. I was pretty freaked out and stunned into silence. I don’t particularly subscribe to fate or anything, but it was a nice feeling.
Did you record it with a concept in mind, or did you simply compile the live set you have into the best running order?
Jason: There were a lot of ideas floating around regularly, and we were faced with challenging situations in our everyday lives at the time. This would always affect the themes and moods of the songs. It was like chipping away at a sculpture that keeps falling apart until you get it right.
What obstacles in real life did you have to contend with and did they ultimately impact the writing?
Jason: There’s always a balance between playing emotively and what the song requires. I’d say that your own headspace can always impact your playing and writing negatively or positively. In regards to our album, it was not just about obstacles themselves. It was also about experimenting with the soundscape to create a sound that resembled a day in our heads.
And when you wrote the songs for the album do you imagine where they might fit contextually in people’s lives?
Daniel: That’s an interesting question and something that I haven’t really thought about. I believe there is a romantic element to the album which could lend itself to both lust and grief led situations.
Jonno how do you cope with the fact that there a point where the emotions don’t register?
Jonno: I joined after the album was finished and I see my job as bringing these songs to the stage with as much fidelity as possible. And the emotional aspect plays a big part. I need to be able to understand the songs inside out, so I know that what I’m bringing to the band isn’t taking these songs somewhere they weren’t meant to go.
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