The Laurels are a neo-psychedelic four-piece based from Lewisham, a suburb in Sydney’s Inner West. The band received critical acclaim in the Sydney live music scene after playing extensively throughout the latter 2000s in both headline and international support slots. They released their full length record ‘Plains LP‘ in 2012.
The Laurels developed a live sound that differs notably to the sound that appears on their recordings. The band uses shoegazing guitar techniques and understated vocals to emulate the loud and heavily distorted sound of 90’s artists such as Ride and My Bloody Valentine when playing live. The band says that their live wall of sound style arose from their reliance on layered guitar recordings for their recorded works and that the best way to emulate this live with only two guitars was to play at a greatly increased volume.
Shoegaze influences also feature strongly on the group’s recordings, with many of their songs using multiple guitar layers and reverberation to achieve complex musical textures. However, while many shoegaze groups intentionally use lower recording quality to add texture to their recordings, the Laurels’ works are notably cleaner and of higher fidelity than the bands from which they take influence. This is especially true of the works that appear on Plains, which feature cleaner guitars than those on Mesozoic EP or on their singles. Liam Judson, who worked with Australian acts Cloud Control and Belles Will Ring, produced both the Mesozoic EP and Plains.
Although the recording of Plains began in brilliant sunshine, the remainder was completed in a week where New South Wales experienced its most significant flooding in recent history. As the record slowly took shape, the creek surrounding the makeshift studio began to rise and things started looking a little dire. Predictably though, a band with a name symbolising peace and victory was always going to make it out in the end. The master tapes were transported safely across the flooded causeway, Liam Judson is free to wander the Earth wearing only his underpants for many years to come and The Laurels will finally release their debut album.
I recently caught up with The Laurels to find out what they are up to.
How did the band get together?
The members of the Band first came together as they joined rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins’ backing group The Hawks one by one between 1958 and 1963.
P.S. We put that first answer in as a cheeky joke, but seriously! The band has existed in different forms since about 2002. We come from all over Australia and have played in many different bands which is how we mainly discovered each other. The current lineup was drawn together in Sydney around 2006 and we’ve been playing together ever since then.
Who are the main bands who influenced you?
MBV, The Beatles, GZA, MC5, Neil Young, Primal Scream, Scientists, The Saints, Talking Heads, Drew Ronald Houston.
Plains is a fantastic record, I read that that the master tapes had to be saved from a flood, would you have re-recorded the album again had the tapes got ruined by the flood?
I’d probably take that as a sign that it was meant to be lost and we’d do something else entirely.
Your sound differs live than it does on record, have you considered recording a live album in the future?
Our first EP was representative of our live show and we’re striving to do something different with each release. The live shows also have a physical and visual element to them that I don’t think would translate very well to an album.
Do you think music streaming services such as Spotify, help bands like The Laurels?
I’ve never used Spotify. I’m a big fan of SoundCloud and Bandcamp because there’s more control for the band, but Spotify seems like such a rort as far as royalties for musicians.
Will the band be touring the UK anytime soon?
Hopefully next year some time.
What is next for The Laurels?
We’re working on a new record with an aim to finish it within the next ten years.
What album can you each of you recommend, which you have enjoyed this year?
The Murlocs – Loopholes http://themurlocs.bandcamp.com/
Lowtide – Lowtide http://lowtidemelbourne.bandcamp.com/album/lowtide
Wild Cat Falling – Yekermo Sewage http://skydreams.bandcamp.com/album/yekermo-sewage
Edwin Sheather – Seaside Suicide http://edwinsheather.bandcamp.com/