After spending the last few days launching their new EP in Melbourne, Sydney’s The Optionals will do the same at home this week. On Friday night they play a free show at The Lansdowne Hotel in Sydney to show off the new five track CD ‘Bash It Out For Their Lonely Heads‘. Joining them will be Wil Wagner, Heartbreak Club and Crouching 80′s Hidden Acronym. Canberra gets a go on Sunday night too as they head to the Phoenix Bar with Wil Wagner and Open Pinata. The EP is available now at the shows, or online via Poison City Records E-Store [Here] or Fist2Face [Here]. Bass player Tommy took the time to answer our ‘On The Record‘ questions and give us more of an insight into the EP. Click below to expand this post and take a read.The Optionals - It's Called Destruction
Tell us about the title.. (ie. how’d it come about / significance, were there any working titles that just missed out?)
The title is a line from one of the EP’s tracks, “Song: Eternal” – it’s basically about us and our friends’ bands, bashing it out for little cash and even less glory, and the lonely heads that follow us. We consider it all a lot more of a tragic irony than some rock star wank-off. We’re doing it all for the dirty, sweaty love of it, and we’re stoked we all get to be lonely together, you know? There was never any other option really, from this record on, the name and theme is set before a single note is written.
Tell us about the artwork…
We were rehearsing at our drummer Danny’s house, when we found these three stuffed toys sitting on the trampoline. Danny’s unrelenting licking machine of a dog, Ruby, had lined them all up; rained on, chewed up and looking generally pretty miserly – they were the perfect image of the lonely heads, so we took a photo, handed it over to Glenn Smith, a magnificent Sydney artist, who redrew it and put the whole thing together. He ran with the whole “broken toys” thing which fit perfectly with the vibe of all the tunes, a kind of positive acceptance of the tragic futility we all feel sometimes.
Tell us about the studio and why you chose to record there…
The studio wasn’t really what we chose, it was the producer, But it was awesome. I’d talk it up, but unfortunately it self-destructed not long after we were finished. Production Avenue Studios, Rockdale (more irony, this time more apt than tragic) had a lot of really good pedals and preamp units that gave a really nice texture to all the sounds.
Tell us about the producer / engineer and why you chose to record with them…
Lachlan Mitchell is already pretty well renowned as one of the country’s best. He was responsible for the last Optionals album, “Dead to Realise” which had a monster sound too. He has a real understanding of where we are coming from as a band and as people, I recall him saying something like “this is easy man, your songs produce themselves.” He’s a great friend and an amazing talent, we wish we could afford the bastard for everything! Stupid prodigal sonofabitch.
How long did it take to record?
We spent three full days locking it all down including the mix, although Danny took about twenty-five minutes to record all the drums. He did everything in one take except for the gigantic hurdle of “It’s Called Destruction” which took two takes. Make an error for christ’s sake! At least to make the rest of us feel better! Most of the time was spent on mixing it all just right, Lachlan had some pretty wonderful toys for that…
Tell us a little about the recording process the band used..
We did a live take to get the drums sorted, Danny used his Pearl Kit and a fresh set of Zildjan cymbals, the black ones, I forget what they’re called. I used my G&L USA bass (as always) – I was going to use my Lab Systems VP600 bass head, but the fuse blew just minutes before we started, so I used a Peavey that Lachlan had in the studio. We used a Rat distortion pedal with a very slight gain to give it that real chunky “glank” – I told him I wanted half Green Day – Dookie, half Tool – Lateralus, and the man delivered. My reference disc for bass sound was The Suicide Machines – War Profiteering Is Killing Us All. I can’t remember what amp Jonny used – probably a JCM 900 – thanks again Grand Fatal! Except for a few little bits where we recorded an unplugged telecaster with a microphone, then added distortion in the software. It added the “texture” that was Jonny’s main goal for this record.
Any guests involved? if so, who.. and what did they do?
No guests on this one, but we’ve got plans for the next few records that definitely involve a few friends…
Anything particular stuff outside your usual live gear used in the process?
For me it was the Rat distortion pedal. I sometimes use an OCD at gigs, but it’s a guitar pedal really and tends to turn the whole sound into an ear-raping treble fest, so I like to keep things clean and glanky for the most part. When you’ve got a hundred grand’s worth of equalizing equipment and a man who knows what to do with it at your disposal, bass distortion works wonders. Apart from that, we’ve kept it quite natural and without too much embellishment. We’re a three-piece dirty rock band, it would sound too tacky to be using synths and reverbs like we were MGMT or something.
Any memorable studio moments?
A book of a hundred and one Japanese inventions (glasses with funnels for applying eyedrops, tiny umbrellas that keep your shoes from getting wet, shit like that) kept us entertained on those long, boring waits. It was pretty uneventful to be honest – Lachlan had his shit totally covered, and we were in and out with minimal fuss.
Any additional tracks recorded that didn’t make the cut but may see the light of day sometime?
Who the fuck has the money to do shit like that? Do bands do that? We’ll just make a new one!
Now that it’s ready for release, what can fans expect of the release?
Basically, we’ve got no delusions of status or importance, we’re a trio of dudes just rockin’ out where we can, so you can expect that same honesty in our records. Five songs, five bucks – no nine-minute guitar solos, no elaborate prog-rock storytelling – it’s punchy, catchy stuff and you’ll probably like it for its honesty and power. Besides, you’ve probably spent five bucks on way dumber shit a few times this week already.
How would you compare it to previous releases?
Well it’s the first release to feature yours truly on the bass, and there’s definitely something a little different in the sound now, as there always is when a new member comes into a project. Mostly in the backup vocals. It’s very difficult to get me to shut up at the best of times. A lot of call and response stuff and new types of harmony that weren’t utilized before. The songwriting has gone down a much poppier road, still with the same intensity, perhaps more, but melodically it’s much sweeter than previous efforts. It’s short and sweet, but I think this one will get through to more people than the older records, it feels a lot more like a definite sound achieved through good, old-fashioned teamwork.
Any stand out track/s to you personally?
My favorite is “It’s Called Destruction” – and I’m yet to hear anyone else say different. It’s got the perfect mix of chug and flow I think, with a nice sing-along feel and doesn’t try to overstay its welcome.
Anything else of note you want to say about the release?
This is the start of a new era for The Optionals, this tour and record the first of many to come. It’s a very real depiction of what we’re about as a band, and what we’re going to achieve over the next decade, so stay tuned, ‘cos that’s not all, folks!
Find out more about The Optionals [Here]