Between The Devil And The Deep
By Brent Balinski
Three years, three studios, two births, a broken hard drive full of songs and a couple of false starts made things a little difficult for Sydney lads Between The Devil And The Deep. By Brent Balinski.
We went in to record with Lachlan Mitchell, who fathered one of the children,” explains Dave Drayton, bassist with Sydney post-hardcore gents Between The Devil And The Deep. Respected producer Mitchell (The Jezabels, I Exist) and bassist Damo had sprogs between the start of writing Paper Spine and its release last month.
That didn’t speed things up, certainly. Nor did Mitchell’s duties with the uber-popular Jezabels. Nor did having half an album worth of songs disappear due to IT issues.
“When we started with him we were at Production Avenue Studios and laid down a single first, a double-A side, and that was all we intended on doing and then we were going to finish off the album,” says Drayton. “Then we went back in, got some of it done; the hard drive broke and we lost six songs, apart from drums.”
Before Drayton even joined the band they had written a full-length’s worth of tunes to record, but these were eventually ditched. Then singer/bassist Jay Gleeson put away his four-string to focus on vocals alone. “And the album that was written with those interim bass players was scrapped.”
Drayton, if not someone who is living his childhood dream by playing in BTDATD, was a long-time admirer and toured with them in his high school band, the splendidly named Euripides Berserker.
“I kind of fan-boyed Devils for a couple of years,” he says. After other bassists didn’t work out, Drayton joined. “Eventually I weaseled my way in, when they got tired of everyone else.”
Reviews of the band tend to lump them in with quality post-hardcore acts like Fugazi, Envy and recently reunited At The Drive-In.
“I think generally it comes through, the sign points for musical influences, the vocal delivery and erraticism is Bear Vs Shark and the guitar lines, guitar-type stuff: Fugazi, At The Drive In,” believes Drayton. “But [adopts pompous voice] were trying to do our own thing with it [laughs].”
With their obvious talents as players and the intricate interplay between guitar lines, Paper Spine was always going to sound polished in its way. But the band wanted to get away from shiny production, citing The Nation Blue’s Damnation as a kind of model.
“We often get the post-hardcore tag, but the way that that kind of genre is going now, so much of those recordings sound like programmed drums, a pre-packaged, very glossy, very slick kind of sound,” says the bassist, whose band wanted punchiness without too much processing. “If you can find a way to sound as big as that, without sounding naff [then you should], and Nation Blue certainly managed to do that, Bear Vs Shark as well. It’s still big, but it’s a bit more raw and a bit more present.”
Another goal was to make sure things didn’t get repetitive. “Because we’ve got a full-length to play with, getting a bit more versatility and melody on the album mattered.” He says “Paper Spine” and “Ballast”, both written late in the recording period, say a lot about the band’s vibe overall. “Those two songs were later in the piece and felt like a culmination of what we were doing. They kind of really struck the balance between melody and the harder parts and we found a common structure about them that was kind of what we were aiming for [overall].”
Between The Devil And The Deep have already taken their newie on the road with a brief launch tour, but Jay, a keen bodyboarder, is taking his booger “for six weeks somewhere in the Pacific, I don’t know,” says Drayton. When the frontman gets back, it’ll be time to pack his bags once again and get on the road. “Then we’re going to flog the hell out of it from about late-May onwards”.