Deafen Dissection: 'Cactus Country' By Cool Sounds
Welcome to Deafen Dissection, a warm (and enjoyable) place where we get some of our favourite artists to tell us about their wonderful new albums, instead of reading or writing a review. If it’s here, it’s usually because we love it - but let’s hear what the musicians have to say for themselves. First up is Melbourne’s charming pop-experimentalists, Cool Sounds and their beautiful new album Cactus Country.
As always, please press play below to enrich your reading experience.
Band: Cool Sounds
Album: Cactus Country
Record Label: Hotel Motel & Osborne Again
Producer: Self-produced. We thought about working with someone but got scared.
Where was the bulk of the album written?
Dainis: It was written in my old apartment in Northcote. We had some real hectic neighbours, I like to think their screaming games contributed to the album somewhat.
Where did you record the album? (studio, location)
Dainis: We recorded most of it in Brunswick at the now defunct Smooch Studios. I then kept slowly working on it at home for a couple of months after adding little bits and pieces.
How long did the album take to bring to life?
Dainis: Including recording and mixing it was a pretty long and slow process. Snowy who plays sax in the band and mixed it had to get cheeky freaky in order to commit to a mixing session which could only happen once a fortnight.
What’s the weirdest recording technique you used throughout?
Dainis: Nothing really that weird. Getting on YouTube and looking up percussion tutorials to sample little bits and pieces was maybe the most wild.
Any funny stories from the recording process that you can share (oversharing is caring)?
Nick: I enjoyed leaving Matt Murphy, who lived upstairs at the pub Ambrin and I worked at, at the studio with Dain and Josh to record piano parts. They didn’t really know him and at one stage I messaged Dain to ask how it was going and he said “Matt’s being pretty weird, he keeps mumbling and tinkering with the Rhodes”. Given Matt thought he was coming in for a rehearsal, he did a really good job and in relative terms, wasn’t even that weird.
What’s the personal fave on the album and why?
Nick: I like the first track ‘Dirt’. It’s unlike anything we’ve done before and is a really gentle song. I really like Dain singing his own backing vox towards the end and the sax in the outro is really nice.
Dainis: The lyrics for ‘Twin Turbo’ are kind of the only silly ones, so I like them for that. They are about having some kind of relationship with god, where god isn’t really treating you that well but you are always looking for god or something. The idea of having a romantic relationship with something that isn’t physical is kind of interesting - ‘I see four boys around the hood of a truck trying to find meaning but nothing comes.’
Was there a particular track that took longer to ‘get right’ than others?
Dainis: Probably ‘Nylon’. It was a real lazily written song, with lots of space for ‘everyone just do whatever you want’. I think that might work when you are a group of slick musicians but for us it just resulted in blank stares. So to get that kind of organic studio musicians jamming feel that the song resulted in, it actually took a lot of time and editing.
What would be the ideal place or setting to consume the album for the first time?
Ambrin: Maybe your backyard on a 30°C day.
Nick: Maybe in your room, with foil over all the windows so it’s pitch black, you’ve got a 1.25L bottle of Mountain Dew and you haven’t slept in 3 days.
Steve: After finding out the new guy at work you had been calling ‘Dave’ is actually called Tim.
Dainis: Maybe hanging out with dogs or cats.
What kind of stuff were you all listening to whilst writing/recording the album?
Ambrin: Dain and I were living together at the time he was writing the album and when our friend Dom stayed with us for a few weeks we listened to a lot of Jimmy Buffett and Sean Nicholas Savage. I don’t think either had an influence on the album, though.
Are there any significant events that have informed the album (whether political or personal)?
Dainis: Not really. It’s a bit autobiographical and a bit fictional. It was all written during a reasonably mundane few months. Hopefully that doesn’t come through too strongly.
Best ‘moment’ on the album? (Feel free to pop a timecode here, we wanna listen)
Dainis: I have a soft spot for the resolution of ‘Loose Grips’ 1:50 onwards. A song about the sometimes questionable nature of Australian tourists in Europe ends in an extravagant surrender to the senses. I know what I’m doing is disingenuous, but I need to get fucked up.
Nick: 2:41 in ‘The Beat’ when really quietly a voice says ‘Go, Get Up’. That was really loud on the demo and there was a gunshot noise to accompany it. I thought it was funny on the demo and I was very surprised that it made its way onto the master. Sometimes we’re not great at letting jokes die a natural death.
Finally, is the finished album what you imagined it would be when you first started?
Dainis: I can’t really remember what I imagined it to be anymore. Probably not though.
Do yourself a big fave and listen to the full album right here.