RENDEZVOUS: A Quick Catch Up With Straight Arrows
“I mean, we use pretty old guitars, old amplifiers, and recorded through an old mixing desk onto tape, so if it didn't sound at least slightly old then we'd screwed up somewhere.”
Straight Arrows are a guaranteed good time. Their fuzz-infused garage rock is a wild ride – just as the high energy chaos peaks, you’re offered a dreamy slice of jangly guitars to catch your breath to. Then boom, back in action. We had a mini-catch up with lead singer Owen Penglis to chat about their new album ‘On Top!’, his soul dancing skills, and how keeping things short and sweet is best.
As always, please press play below to enrich your reading experience.
Your new album ‘On Top!’ is bursting with chaotic energy and fuzzy goodness. Can you tell us a bit about the recording process? How long did it take to bring to life?
We recorded that in a couple of days at a Sydney studio called Golden Retriever with our friend Nick Franklin hitting the buttons, but spent 6 months beforehand writing it, and a solid 4 months rehearsing. After that I took it into my studio to add the icing, polish, and flame decals.
What’s the general Straight Arrows creative process like?
Usually me yelling into a voice memo app, then trying to decipher it a few weeks later and turn it into something not embarrassing to play to the rest of the gang.
There’s a real authentic vintage sound that shines through on all of your songs. Is that something you purposely try to maintain? If so, how?
I guess so, I mean we use pretty old guitars, old amplifiers, and recorded through an old mixing desk onto tape, so if it didn't sound at least slightly old then we'd screwed up somewhere.
What are some of the most interesting recording techniques or instruments you used on the new album?
On the track 'The One' I dusted off my old kit-built theremin to add cool noises to the chorus. Hot scoop - when I was a kid I toured briefly with successful band Youth Group as their theremin player, tambourinist and guitar re-stringer.
A lot of your songs sit around the two-minute mark. Do you prefer to keep things short and sweet?
Definitely - I mean does anything cool ever take longer than 2 minutes?
That said, the highlight track for us is ‘Buried Again’ (the longest track on the album). Did you feel like that one needed a bit more room to move? What’s that track about?
I built a copy of an old guitar pedal called a 'Vox Repeat Percussion' which gives the guitar that choppy tremolo sound, and the song kind of wrote itself with that thing on. That one's about getting exhumed and buried a second time.
How would you say your sound has progressed since the release of your debut album?
Well, now you can hear that we've got a bassist. And words, we've also got words you can now mostly hear.
What’s the dynamic like between you as a band? What’s everyone’s role?
Al - minister for social media/propaganda and party boy
Will - minister of quiet achievement and incredible skater
Adam - chief transport officer and midnight drive-through champion
Your live shows are going to get a little wild. What do you want people to feel when they walk away from a Straight Arrows show?
Satisfied in the head and lighter in the wallet.
The Aussie music scene is exploding with talent, it’s hard to keep up. What local bands are hot on your radar at the moment?
Some current hits from up Sydney way are Nick Nuisance and the Delinquents, Rosa Maria, Concrete Lawn, Luke Spook - there's a TONNES at the moment.
Finally, you obviously have an ear for music. How do you go on the dance floor?
You're speaking to the reigning Melbourne Soul Clap dancefloor champion (pic below). I'm STILL waiting for a worthy challenger.
Catch them live at the below:
Friday November 16th, Secret Location (Collingwood), Melbourne w/ School Damage + Parsnip
Thursday 22nd November, Rice Is Nice 10th Bday, Melbourne Music Week