August 2020

Get Modern

Words: Gabriel Knowles Images: Daniel Boud

It’s a strange thing to consider, but at a ripe old median age of 26, Dappled Cities are a product of a nearly bygone era. A time when hours were spent meticulously aligning tapes to record just one track, when only the labels owned Pro Tools and you had to accept your first real gig might be supporting an entirely inappropriate band.

“We played two gigs in high school. One was a battle of the bands and we lost and the other we supported a death metal band called Segression and we got called ‘fucking pansies’ and finished the set early.” Co-singer Tim Derricourt recounts. Not exactly surprising considering they were called Periwinkle back then and definitely not the stuff dreams are made of but a good ten years on and Dappled Cities have moved right on.

With their third album Zounds about to hit record stores the gents from Dappled are being hailed as one of Australia’s most solid bands of recent times, both live and in the studio. Considering founding members Derricourt, Alex Moore and Dave Rennick have been playing together since 1997 before Alan Kumpulainen and Ned Cooke joined more recently it’s no mistake they’re tight.

“We literally spent three years recording into a tape machine!” Derricourt laughs. “The bands we really respect even though we’ve diverged from them musically like Weezer and Modest Mouse, spent years making recordings before they had any success. That’s why a band like The Drones are doing so well now.”

Despite their status as one of the last bastions of the analogue age Zounds is very much a progressive record, so diverse that it’s hard to place a finger squarely on where their latest offering sits. The fact they used three producers to finish it off – Chris Coady (TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Wayne Connolly (You Am I, The Vines) and Scott Horscroft (The Presets, Silverchair) – could have a little to do with that.

Three producers might seem a touch excessive but the Dappled lads have never been afraid of their ambitions, so much so that their relationship with the big name Coady wasn’t exactly a smooth one. “He was the biggest name we’ve worked with and he knew it, so a lot of the recording process was injected with clashes. But maybe we just knew, and expressed, what we wanted so strongly that it may have been tough for others around us to take at the time who knows?” Rennick said afterwoods.

Of course there are the obligatory tips of the hat to times gone by and preceding tracks but as Derricourt explains they’re very much rooted in the subconscious.

“I think that’s the best part of putting out an album when people say ‘obviously you really like this band’, and you’ve never even heard that band. Or when they say it sounds like Ian Durie and The Blockheads and you say well that’s a band my parents used to play on record when I was seven and I haven’t listened to it since but it must have been stored in there somewhere. I find that fascinating because when you’re writing songs you don’t think about the influences.”

“With this album I feel that it’s very considered, not so much as in the influences but that it’s modern. We wanted to make a very modern sounding record. There are so many amazing bands doing that like Grizzly Bear, Gang Gang Dance and even the Flaming Lips still and I think the album is a response to wanting to keep up with those forward thinking bands.”

Not content with just releasing an album with the standard showcase featuring a performance of the likely single and a press offensive they put together an exhibition and played Zounds front to back.

“That was just an idea we had, we wanted to have an event where we could really put the album in people’s hands. Not at a big club and not at a little pub. We decided to have artists curate work inspired by the album, so we sent off the tracks and got some amazing responses. I was genuinely shocked by the response because obviously we’ve never had an exhibition before.” Derricourt continues.

“It was really diverse. There were moment when I was really emotionally affected by what I saw to be the representation of the song. As a band the main way you represent a song is by a video clip and generally because of the budget you have you can only do it with one or two songs an album. I mean you can make your own little clips but they’re never that great. But seeing an artist create a visual representation of your work like a video clip is just as strong, it made me realise I want to see a visual representation of all our work.”

Are they aiming to be Australia’s answer to David Byrne. “Yeah, we want to become the cultural ambassadors of Australia!” Says a tongue-in-cheek Derricourt.

Zounds is out on August 15 through Speak n Spell. Dappled Cities are touring nationally from August 13 until September 5.

For your chance to win a copy of Zounds when it’s released on August 14 just email [email protected]

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