We talk to Papa vs Pretty about their debut album United in Isolation. For once I don’t have a great deal to say (as surprising as that may sound). Although rest assured it’s for good reason.
Over the past few years Papa vs. Pretty, consisting of Thomas Rawle (vocals, guitar) Angus Gardiner (bass) and Tom Myers (rhythm) have done well for themselves – needless to say it’s been well deserved.
Rawle is talented. He strikes me as the kind of guy that has a million ideas floating through his head at any one time and all those pent up thoughts seem to flow through his sound. In the end the music speaks for itself. It’s frustrated, brooding and delightfully schizophrenic.
1. What has been the best thing about producing United in Isolation?
Doing EPs is fun and you get to make a statement I guess but when you do your first record, it’s a much larger statement. I've always been obsessed by musical atmospheres. You know when you listen to a record and when you put it on it installs its own geometry and space in your head, like another world you can go to. I guess that’s a bit of a tangent but I really want to be able to do that and this album for us has been our first step towards trying to get to that I guess.
It's also great to have something out there that you can stand by and say, ‘yep, I think I’m proud of that record’! I’m not totally satisfied but I never will be, I’m already thinking and writing for the next record….
2. Tied together by the album title, many of the songs seem to come from a dark place. Did you know this was the way the record would take shape when you first started writing?
Not totally, I mean I think I write mostly from a place of frustration, you know when you take a walk outside and you can be totally overwhelmed by everything? I guess half the time I have this frustration where I don't think everyone is as overwhelmed as I am about it, so I vent that frustration in writing. I also do a lot of people watching, spent most of my life doing that, I’m pretty paranoid most of the time too I think, so maybe that’s where it came from.
3. What I love most about your music is the juxtaposition between soft and heavy sounds, the element of the unexpected. Do you enjoy the experimental side of things?
Thank you! I love procedure, I like going through a whole lot of effort, to get one sound. It’s a bit like you can write a different song if you pick up a different guitar …it’s like the instrument wills you to certain chords just by the way it sits in your hands. It’s a very delicate thing, but I love making more atmospheric sounds by means of procedure.
For example at the start of Charity Case, the soundscape song at the start is made by me singing vocal lines put into a loop pedal, sped up, then reversed, then layered with a juno synth, then when that loop was created, I created another loop (similar in texture, differing in notes) and fed the loops into each loop pedal which carried the reverb of the first loop over - it made this really strange transitional glitch. I guess that’s an example of finding sounds via procedure.
4. Would you be able to tell us a little about the thinking behind the striking album art?
The painting, "Mona Bear" is by Dirk Larsen, he is a truly amazing artist I believe. I had been a fan of the painting and his work for a long time and just got the guts to ask him if he would like us to use the work for the album cover, we sent him some music and he agreed!
I’m still amazed by it, I reckon whilst it does look a bit strange compared to a lot of album covers about nowadays, I truly believe it has a very strange presence about it, a bit of a misfit, I thought it fitted the album title too. I just like it, which is the way it should be right?
5. How has the tour been going, any stand out gigs so far?
The tour has been amazing, we haven't done a tour this large yet so it feels sort of surreal so far, especially that most of the shows have been sold out. As I answer this we've played Melbourne, Sydney (both which sold out) and Newcastle which was pretty close too. It was surreal, people were singing along and jumping about, really has felt great, I don't think it has truly hit me yet though that people care enough to come out. Brisbane is tomorrow and is looking as if it will sell out so exciting times I guess!
6. If Papa vs. Pretty could take to the stage with any artists, alive or dead, who would they be?
the list is probably too long !
You can buy United in Isolation from JB HI FI or any other reliable music store & on Itunes. Trust me, you won't regret it! x