Newcastle indie band, The Seabellies, are about to embark on their biggest tour ever, in support of their new album Fever Belle. Recorded across Australia and Berlin with producers Simon Berkleman (of Philadelphia Grand Jury) and revered Australian producer Tim Whitten, Fever Belle is a complex, ambitious record. Ahead of their massive tour, Glam Adelaide caught up with the Seabellies frontman, Trent Grenell. Over the phone, he’s as laidback and funny as you could imagine, taking the tour, the complex record, and his personal troubles which influenced it all in his stride.
Congratulations on releasing the album; what’s the reception been like so far?
Mostly good! Had a few “albums of the week” around the place, some good reviews.
What have you guys been up to since the first record got released?
We actually took off after the first album! We realised we’d been touring for five years straight and we were all, “we need a break”. We started recording at the start of last year in January, and finished it in September last year.
What are you planning for this tour?
Well, we’re hitting all the states except for the Northern Territory I think, and we haven’t done anything like that, well, ever. The album’s pretty layered and there’s a lot of stuff on there. So it’s a pretty challenging experience for us, trying to cover all those layers live. [chuckles] Like, I noticed on the last tour doing new stuff: I can’t have as many beers before a show.
Do you reckon you’ll survive? It’s pretty massive!
Yeah, we’ll be fine. We’ve been touring for like seven years now, so it’s not new to us. It’s what we love doing.
Favourite song to play live?
Still one of our old tracks which is always good, ‘Trans-Ending’. It’s pretty fun. Off the new stuff; we really like playing “It’s Alright”. [The song has] a lot of different time sequences going on at once, it’s just… a mindf**k.
This record is somewhat autobiographical – what are some of the events you guys drew upon whilst recording?
It’s a pretty introspective record; pretty self-involved. At the start of the record I was in a long-term relationship and I was writing about love and stuff… Then halfway through the album I was dumped big time, so I had to walk away from the record for a while, I went walkabout. [By the time I was ready] the producer of the record, Berkfinger (Simon Berkleman) was in Berlin at that time so I had to go finish the record there with him. So that’s why it took so long, me losing my mind.
There are some really interesting sounds going on across this album – what were some of the techniques you guys used when recording?
Yeah, well we met Berkfinger a year before and I knew he was a pretty crazy dude. It was his idea to bring in Tim Whitten who’s like, the godfather of Australian music. So we did all this crazy s**t like rewiring the studio, rewiring instruments; recording drums then playing them back through the keyboards. But we always had Tim sitting at the desk going “yeah that works” or y’know, making sure it was cohesive and that the songs still sounded like songs. Berkfinger was… [chuckles] brilliant. There was one track where he put a plastic bag over the mic and that was the only mic we used for the drums, and f**k, that’s the best drum sound on the album.
Who thinks of that?!
He does, and he alone! He’s mental, he’s so good. He’s very inspiring. He just has so many weird ideas, and they usually work! I think it’s a win; we attacked each song differently but somehow they all work as an album.
What was your goal when making this album?
We wanted to make a record that was completely, totally influenced by ourselves and nobody else. When we were making that first album… we were writing songs with record labels in mind, which isn’t the best way to make art. We’re still proud of that album, but this time we wanted to make an album that we really enjoyed. It feels like a proper achievement this time.
Toured Adelaide much in the past? Thoughts?
We used to go there a fair bit! We played at the Ed Castle all the time and Jive once or twice. What’s that big one just out of the city… The Gov? Yeah, the Gov, we’ve played that before. We can’t wait to get back there!
Fever Belle is out now. The Seabellies play Adelaide on Friday December 20, at Jive.