After an extended hiatus and the release of a compilation album, Sharpie Crows return with a new full length album, 12 Omeros, this Friday August 2nd via Flying Nun. It's a mature, philosophical outing for the band and UnderTheRadar caught up with Steven Huf to discuss what has been happening in the Sharpie Crows camp and his favourite songs on this new release.
Hey Steven. Sharpie Crows have just released a compilation album, and are due to release a new album, 12 Omeros. What has the last year or so been like in the band, because there’s been a few developments, right?
Well yeah. Like most bands there’s always a bit of turmoil between members. People get sick of each other when you’re together for a long time and Sharpie Crows have been a band since 2006 – even though I haven’t been in the band that long. We just got a bit sick of each other for a while there. We had been working on this new album but it all got put on hold while we weren’t sure what was happening. It's great that it is finally coming out now and hopefully people like what we’ve done.
Tell me about the writing and recording process, that I believe happening a while ago, yeah?
Yeah it was actually recorded at the beginning of last year, and there’s even a track that’s quite a lot older than that. It’s called 'House in the Forest' and it’s two years old. I recorded the horn parts while I was still in Melbourne! I recorded them in my garage and 'Dropboxed' it over to them, and they attached it to the song which was pretty cool.
And then you were in New Zealand for the rest of the recording?
Yeah I was. So the rest of the recording involved jamming it out at my house with Jackson and it was a really solid team effort. We jammed out the songs until they felt right and then hit record.
And you and Jackson (Hobbs) are both sound engineers, so you recorded it yourselves?
Yep, we did.
Going into the writing and recording process, was there anything in particular you wanted to achieve?
I don’t think we went in with anything in particular in mind - the result was just what naturally came out. Jackson would bring in his ideas and we’d just flesh them out if we felt like they were fitting in with the rest of the album. We kept working on them until they evolved into something we felt was useful.
We’ve actually got another album’s worth of B-sides that aren’t usable so there was a lot of stuff that we came up with.
How would you compare these songs to earlier Sharpie Crows work?
The sound has definitely evolved. That ‘Bully for You’ single is quite a sideways step from what they’ve done in the past and I think that might be my influence coming into it a little bit. For example, in that song I just randomly played this thing on bass and Jackson was like “that’s cool, do it again” and then it turned into a killer song. So I think I’ve brought a different aspect to the band, and I think it’s also a more mature sound. It’s not as abrasive and aggressive as the first two releases.
What are some of your favourite tracks on the album and why?
'Ethiopian Mass': I love the intro to this song. It's us doing our best Enya impression. I dig the rest of the song just as much too; the repeated bass riff, the sparse synth lines and Casey's (Latimer) cutting guitar parts. Chill vibes.
'Maypole': This is the first song we wrote together when I moved over to New Zealand to join the band. I think we had it down in about an hour or so - it came together so easily. That's when I knew I'd made the right decision in coming over here. It's also one of the more aggressive tracks on the album.
'House in the Forest': This ones a bit more experimental. The song is from the era when we were performing with a drum machine, with Jackson on bass duties and myself doing what I do on the trumpet with a loop pedal. All the horn parts were recorded back in Melbourne in my garage and then Dropboxed over to Jackson to stick into the mix. I'm pretty stoked with how it all came together.
What are the future plans for Sharpie Crows?
Well, we’ve got this launch coming up and we might try and do another show before the end of August. Then Sam (Bradford) is going overseas at the end of August without a return flight – he’s going on an epic journey. So we’ll be having a definite break and won’t be doing anything for a while. I guess we’ll just wait and see what might happen.