With the release of their new EP Any Colour You Desire approaching very shortly, Mason Bunt and Liam Fowler of Pridelands met with Kel and I at the Corner Hotel to have a chat and answer a few questions about the EP itself, as well as discuss their own lives and music in general. After trying to find a spot where the music wasn’t blaring so we could get a decent recording, we sat down and got talking.
After a brief discussion about Unify Gathering, we got straight into discussing the EP. Liam went into detail about the writing process for the EP itself, saying that it was more collaborative then previous releases. It was put together and written by Liam himself and clean vocalist Josh Cory, as Liam was staying with Josh, making for an opportunity to work on it together. Liam shared that the first EP Pridelands released (Natives in 2015) was put together by Liam and their previous drummer. All band members would add their own elements to the tracks, but it was essentially all put together by Liam.
On Any Colour You Desire, Liam, Josh, and their new drummer Joe, collaboratively came up with the song ideas, while Joe wrote the drums for every song. Everyone attributed more than they previously have, and I feel that the results of that are shown in the music. This shines through to me, with every aspect of the new EP sounding like it has been focused a bit more, collectively making a significant difference to Pridelands’ sound.
I also asked about the artwork for the EP, and did not expect it to be as deep as it turned out to be. Liam said that the band worked with Pat Fox to come up with the artwork. The guys of Pridelands had a different idea for the cover that they all loved, but took it to Pat and entrusted him the creative freedom to run with his own idea on their behalf. Describing the artwork itself Liam described the meaning of it all, referring to the central figure as a deity, who is surrounded by seven acolytes. Each of the acolytes has its own colour and represents a different song of the EP. Kel was intrigued by this concept and asked Liam if he could go into greater detail about the meaning behind the album cover.
“It was all of us expressing some of the worst moments of our lives in six songs. That’s really depressing. But we are happy people, we are colourful people. I sat down and thought about all the lyrics that are written, all the songs, and how dark they are. And listening to them myself, and like with Josh, and Mason, and all the other boys, there are certain things we think about when we hear those songs and they can put us in a dark place. I know a lot of people who are in dark places but they’ve also got these insanely beautiful minds; the most colourful minds, and they’re so creative, but they’re constantly in dark places. I wanted to have the artwork represent the polar opposite.”
Liam explained how he and Josh worked out the key emotion behind every song. Liam then determined which shades of colour represented certain emotions on psychology charts. They then used the opposite colour, so that they could represent the opposite emotion to the one in that song.
Kel asked about the central figure in the artwork and the inspiration behind that. Liam described it as a ‘hive mind’, where it outlines that everyone is connected. The deity is in complete control of the accolytes, which represents an outlook that people in society are becoming robots. They are controlled by everything, like the internet or technology and controlled by conforming with societal norms. Mason described the deity as a wise being with bad intentions, like an overlord. Liam confirms how happy they are with the artwork, and are very satisfied with how ‘out there’ and different it is.
I was curious about the inspiration behind themes of the EP, having noticed a darkness to the lyrics and emotions. In Liam’s words, they just wanted to write something that was emotive to them: “Lets write something that we wanna hear, and lets write something that makes us feel something.”
They didn’t try to write the songs in a certain tone, but they just went into it to express themselves and have come out with something they really enjoy. By way of songwriting, we affectionately touch on the 2013 released single “Gaia”, and how it reflects the growth of the band over that time.
Any Colour You Desire has been ready since 2017, with Liam sharing that “Life got in the way”, and that they wanted to feel ready to release it. He opened up, saying that 2017 was a rough time for Pridelands which almost saw the band break up. Mason explained that they all got stuck in a rough place emotionally and mentally, and needed to get out of that rut before they could put it out. Liam described it as not so much a lack of direction, but not knowing in which direction to go.
“I think we forgot, or lost sight of the fact that we moved to Melbourne to make music.”
Myself, Mason, and Liam all discussed the differences of country and city life and the impact on the band’s move from the Mt. Gambier area to Melbourne. It was agreed that the distractions and possibilities of living in bigger places with more to do can send you on a different course and distract you from what you are meant to be doing. Liam touched on the security that comes with having family around you, and how friends can certainly help but it isn’t the same as being able to ‘pop around to Mum’s house for dinner’. Being completely broke and living off tiny amounts of food for several weeks was something they had to live through, and Kel commented as to how difficult it is to create when you’re in survival mode. Liam agreed, saying “What you can do is survive and then get better, and then create from that experience.”
Pridelands’ track “Battery City” was created in one of the low points of the band, and Mason is surprised that the song actually exists. While disppointed in it not being what it could have been (if they were in a healthier state of mind), he and the band like it a lot because it reflects how things were.
On the band’s lineup, Any Colour You Desire showcases the stronger presence of vocals and clean singing, with former bassist Josh joining Mason on vocals. Mason described it as a change of direction, as they don’t always want to be a heavy band. Pridelands don’t want to be tied down by a genre, and want to be able to make whatever music they want to make at the time. With this change, Josh has a lot more freedom to focus on his vocals and have a bit more variety in his voice, and it has also allowed Mason to take a step back and be a lot more dynamic with his performances and his own vocals.
Mason explains that they were unsure about the decision, but took advantage of performance coaching and were encouraged to take a route that showcases the skills of everyone involved. Musically it opens up endless possibilities for them, and Liam explained how they are still writing new music. Even though they are very excited about Any Colour You Desire, the future release is an even bigger step forward, away from their traditional heavy sound. The band see Any Colour You Desire as a trial run of sorts, wanting to see how the process went before they jumped into a full album. Both Mason and Liam expressed that they never want to have ‘filler’ tracks on an album and would rather take time to make something they love than rush a release.
Mason expresses a particular appreciation for their music and acknowledging how the band members use it as a kind of therapy, especially Josh. Mason and Liam feel really lucky to be able to make music with him, as he writes all the lyrics and is particularly talented at writing and perfectly capturing the emotion and feelings involved. Mason talks about how special it is to make music, and how they all make this creative thing that is about horrible experiences they have, but they came out on the other side after creating it as brighter and happier people. He says that the biggest thing to them is that people enjoy the music. And how awesome it is that they’ll play a show and people will come and enjoy it and have fun. Even if the music is about sad things it doesn’t have to be sad because of how great the music itself is.
I point out how there’s a lot more use of melodious and slower types of vocals that focus more on the softer side of Josh’s vocals. Kel agrees and asks if there’ll be more of that. In particular I mention the song off the EP “Slowly”, prompting Liam to go more into the specific track. With “Slowly”, Liam says that all he wanted to do when he wrote that song was write an emo waltz. He wrote it in 3/4 timing so that people can literally waltz to it. The potential pitcall of “WALTZ MOTHERFUCKER” is thrown around the table, as Liam expresses his fondness for My Chemical Romance and says that this song was designed to remind him of them.
Liam says he wants to see people waltzing at their shows from now on, and how they will absolutely try to make that a thing that happens. Mason agrees that it would certainly make some good photos, if he and Josh were to waltz on stage. But on a more serious note, Mason mentions that they have been getting people dancing at their shows rather than just moshing, which they think is awesome. Pridelands want people to have fun and to go about it however they want, as long as it isn’t ‘crowd killing bullshit’; stating “If you’re angry and just deliberately trying to hurt people you can fuck off.”
After some light shit-talking related to The Wiggles, Mason shared his experience where as a child he charged the stage at roughly 2-3 years old so that he could touch one of The Wiggles. We confirmed he was lucky not to be tackled by security and black listed by the venue, and the suggestion of a Wiggles/Pridelands show was thrown around.
When asked about their favourite songs off of the new EP Liam confirmed his was probably “Boys.” He says he wrote that song when he was dealing with his worst point of mental health ever. He was completely weighed down by so many different things, and so many things about that song hit home for him. Instrumentally as well as lyrically it is very special for him. Also with “The Sulphur Inside Your Hell”, he had his first instance of writing lyrics for that song, as the whole thing is about his previous battles with sleep paralysis and insomnia.
Mason agreed his favourite is also “Boys,” but says he loves all the songs off that EP as well. “Boys” hits home for Mason as well, and is a very big song for all of them. He describes it as the pinnacle of that bad point in their lives where they finally decided to pull together, help each other out, and make the music happen. Liam says that it is about knowing that your friends need help, but you can’t help, and there’s nothing you can do to help it. It’s about feeling helpless and not knowing who you are or what you want to do. Liam explains that this is why it is so important to all of them.
Kel feels it is pretty vulnerable songwriting, and Liam agrees and sums up the EP as the most vulnerable you will probably see all of them. Liam says he is completely at peace with it and putting the music out there however. “That 22 minutes of those songs, of me performing it on stage, that 22 minutes is me being completely me. Me getting every single thing, every negative thing that is in that record, out, time and time again cause I’m constantly reminded of these things that are in that record.”
We ended our conversation with fondness and excitement for the EP (as well as the EP launch show), before going our separate ways. Mason and Liam were both very lovely people who were enthusiastic with answering questions. Their music is clearly meaningful to them and will no doubt mean a lot to countless others on its release.
Make sure to give Any Colour You Desire a listen, as well as try and get to their EP launch show at The Workers Club in Melbourne, on May 26, and come have a waltz.
Any Colour You Desire pre-order: https://apple.co/2I1ZdKH
Pridelands on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/33IjrsSZFfDC0ZE0cZXtOR?si=cbC2LrSfTMS_R4KZbUOgMw
Any Colour You Desire launch tickets: https://bit.ly/2r2LtqY
Image by Corey Bonadiesi.