A couple weeks ago, I jumped on the phone with Aburden‘s Kyle Burrows (vocals & guitar) and Mason Forster (vocals & piano). The Melbourne alternative rock band were on the countdown to releasing their sophomore EP The Last Goodbye and vibes were understandably high, as well as there being a touch of curiosity as to how their creation would go down; thinking about their longstanding fans as well as potential new ones.
Kel: I’m not even sure where to begin with you guys! I think I’m wondering about what happened between My Old Friend and what has become The Last Goodbye.
Mason: A long, stressful process.
Kel: [laughs] Long and stressful?
Kyle: Yes definitely. It was a hard, hard time both mentally and physically to write this EP. But I guess it came out amazingly.
Mason: Yeah, we’re proud of it.
Kyle: It was a year process.
Mason: It started in November. We went away with Evan and Ash who produced the record [Evan Lee and Ash Daws of The Loud Noise Estate]. We went away and hired an AirBNB in the woods, in Macedon Ranges. We spent a week and a bit up there, writing the record. We kind of set up a live room in the living room and mic’ed up everything and it went out to the main control room and we just jammed live every day. That was the first week of writing of it.
Kyle: And then we all went back to work and scheduled the recording sessions. It took about two weeks to have it recorded and finished. A lot of stressful days. We all worked pretty much full time, so we all came in on different days. We were tired, but we knew we had to get what we needed to do done in the short timeframe that we did. Like, for me all the vocals were recorded on two very long, hot, stressful days.
Kel: Oh wow.
Kyle: Yeah. It was a long process, but I’m so happy.
Mason: It was a rewarding process.
Kyle: Very rewarding.
Kel: Cool. So the stay in the AirBNB put everything together, you decided what you were going to do, and then it was just the tracking afterwards that was the really quick part.
Mason: Yeah, it was the quick part AND the stressful part. There was a lot of jumping back and forward. Like vocals, guitars, and bass were done in the apartment studio, and then the piano was done at my house, at my family’s house. I have a piano there. And the drums were recorded up in Bittern, which is on the Mornington Peninsula.
Kel: Cool. A bit all over the place, but it came together well.
Mason: Yeah, definitely.
Kel: So I was going to ask you about the piano, because I noticed on “My Best Friend” that I can hear birds in the background and the creaking kind of noises which I assume are a stool or something. Is that deliberate?
Mason: Yeah, definitely. On the first song and the last song, the creaking is me sitting on the chair. At the last song, which is called “My Old Friend”, I stand off the chair. It’s kind of the end, it’s the whole sit-down process and the record plays, and then I stand up at the end and walk away.
Kyle: Both the first track and the last track were recorded live. We had to set up all the mics; room mics, piano mics. And Mason played and I stood behind him and sung it. So all the birds and everything, creaks-
Mason: Yeah, the stuff that kind of happens when you have a live song. Pretty much what you hear is what it sounded like.
Kyle: Yeah, everything was done. There was no mixing or anything. Completely raw.
Kel: Was that for a reason of wanting a certain feel?
Mason: That’s what we wanted. Some of our favourite records have that kind of thing on them. Radiohead‘s a big one. All those little creaks and little sounds you pick up on is what makes a record. And for us, we wanted this record to be a very live organic record. So having those sounds really added a layer that you can’t really do, post-studio. You can’t really fake any of that.
Kyle: I think the closest resemblance for this song and inspiration is probably “Give Up The Ghost” by Radiohead. In that, he just plays the guitar and loops his vocals and the guitar, and you can hear the birds. It was recorded live and I think that really took us, and we just wanted to have a song like that.
Mason: I think we wanted to show a maturity with this record as well. Having something that doesn’t necessarily get done much anymore. We wanted to do that and bring back a lot of those 90s, early 2000 sound records, or even earlier than that.
Kel: With “Sorry” being the second track, it’s kind of opposite, being very polished.
Mason: Yeah! It kind of takes you by surprise.
Kel: Were you wanting to mix things up by having them next to each other?
Mason: Definitely. For the listener, if they’re listening with headphones or whatever, they have “My Best Friend” and they get put into this real comfort zone. And then I think “Sorry” really makes the start of the record sound a lot bigger that what initially you think it’s going to be. So then it throws you off a little bit, and that’s where I guess the fun part of the record starts.
Kyle: We wanted to catch people by surprise, definitely.
Kel: Yeah, cool. Because it sounds HUGE.
Mason: The production is phenomenal.
Kyle: That’s one of our favourite songs.
Kel: With “Don’t Say”, it kind of felt like it was a bit of a push-back? Toward people who are dismissing what is actually felt.
Kyle: I connect that one with probably the lyrics in “They Say”. I think they’re both very similar in meaning.
Mason: It’s like that whole thing. People tell you that things are going to get better and things are going to be okay. The frustration is in that song. And the ending with that big build up. ‘You can’t say that I’m going to be okay, because what I’m feeling is what I’m feeling. You can’t tell me otherwise.’ And you start questioning yourself: ‘Is it okay to feel what I’m feeling? If everyone says that it’s going to get better and it’s okay, then why am I feeling like this and why can’t I get better?’.
Kel: Very true. It’s having a moment of being okay in feeling not good, whether it’s going to last for months or weeks or whatever. It’s what you feel in that moment. Which is the same thing in “One For You” as well.
Mason: Every song kind of shares a resemblance lyrically.
Kel: Yeah, there is a lot that ties it all together. Just different angles of looking at this situation.
Mason: Yeah, definitely.
Kel: By way of music videos, can you tell me what went into the “One For You” video and how that came about? Did you tell Kez [Ellis-Jones of Crystal Arrow Films] what you wanted, or..?
Mason: That was last minute. Initially we were going to go to the snow and do it on the snow. But due to the weather, and we kind of got snowed in a bit, it was like last minute, we needed to do something quickly. Kez was like “Look, we can do this” and we kind of ran with a really basic but really cool idea. He just kind of made it all up on the spot and we just ran with it.
Kyle: So he has an idea and we just fully trust him with everything. It came out perfect. We couldn’t have expected anything better.
Kel: Yep. Can I ask if it was relating to being trapped inside yourself?
Mason: There’s definitely the ideas that Kez had. And showing anxiety with colours and stuff.
Kyle: The quick change of mood, it’s like a duality.
Kel: Very cool. I notice that some of the themes of My Old Friend continue on here. Does it feel like that’s what The Last Goodbye is for you guys? A continuation of these themes?
Mason: At the end of “They Say”, which is the end of My Old Friend, the character talks about the friend passing away. And I guess a lot of this is lyrically from the standpoint of the friend that passed away’s view – so it’s the other side of the story.
Kyle: It’s kind of like the continuation that the person is so burdened by grief, regret, mental illness, it’s like a look into the mind of the person that passed away in My Old Friend. I think that’s the best way to look at it. Mixed with personal experiences from me and Mason and how we feel. We both really connect with the.. it’s not really a character, but the character that we had worked on throughout My Old Friend. It’s kind of an amalgamation of me and Mason.
Kel: So there was some fiction in My Old Friend but also some reality?
Mason: It’s all based off real experiences and every song comes from a true place, but it’s written so it’s really relatable to the listener. It’s open to interpretation, but it’s made really easy for the listener to kind of grab their own story from it.
Kel: Because it sounds like in The Last Goodbye you guys have put angles of loss, whether you’re losing your identity or..
Kyle: So the final goodbye, the last goodbye, it kind of means the last goodbye of anything really. The person you love that has gone or moved on, or saying goodbye to a person you once were, or saying goodbye to a family member that we’ve lost. It’s all different things. Obviously Mason and I have lost a lot of people and we’ve said goodbye to a lot of people that we didn’t want to say goodbye to, so that’s kind of the theme throughout The Last Goodbye.
Kel: There’s definitely that heaviness of finality, and also the feeling through a couple tracks of the things that you couldn’t say, wishing you could have said it.
Mason: Definitely. In “19”, I say those exact words, “By the way I wish I could have said goodbye”. So it’s a lot of those things you didn’t get to say, and now you get to say them.
Kel: Yep. And there’s some anger with that as well. Like frustration in not being able to say things to people as well.
Kyle: It was definitely so frustrating. The biggest part of the grief I felt after my grandfather passed away is the fact that I didn’t get to say the things that I really wanted to. I wanted to keep talking to him. I still to this day want to keep talking to him about my experiences of life, because he helped me every single day. From my angle, it’s so frustrating that I’ll never get to talk to him again, and never be able to say the things that I wanted to say and it’s such a frustrating thing that everyone deals with, when they’re dealing with grief.
Kel: Exactly. I wanted to ask about the idea of a hidden track that we’ve talked about before, because I love hidden tracks. When The Last Goodbye streams came out and I saw “My Old Friend” on the tracklisting, and no mention about the hidden track, I thought ‘Oh what a shame that it wasn’t left as a secret’.
Mason: Well if you see it on the record, it is hidden. There is no “My Old Friend” in the tracklisting or anything on the records. All the physicals don’t say it. We don’t care if it’s not hidden, but on the physicals it is. Because it is like a little part of the song, it’s definitely the darkest song on the record, so we wanted it to be that kind of thing at the end of this record: You’re listening out to “To The Sky” and the piano ends and you’re sitting there feeling what you are from listening to the record, and this song comes in and cuts off the whole record. It leaves it really open to what we could do on the next record.
Kel: Yeah, it’s a very strong ending, isn’t it! So are there plans for the next chapter to come?
Mason: Yeah, we’ve already started writing. We’ve already started the process. That’s 100%. We’ve already been in the studio.
Kyle: We’re already apparently working on whatever comes next!
Kel: Wow, that’s very cool.
Mason: We kind of got a lot of hype off this so far, so we very excited to continue it. We’re so blown away at the response so far.
The Last Goodbye released today (12th October) via Greyscale Records. Buy or stream now: http://smarturl.it/TLGoodbye[Photo of Mason Forster @ Cherry Bar courtesy of Albert Lamontagne]