Perth indie rock outfit Sly Withers have had a big year with the release of their second album Gardens which features a real treasure trove of hits including Cracks, Bougainvillea and Clarkson. The band have gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years, playing multiple sold-out headline tours, gracing the airwaves at triple j & taking home a WAM award for Best Live Act. Even with the challenges of Covid restrictions it hasn’t dampened the spirit of the band who are looking forward to getting back on the road in November through December. Hi Fi Way spoke to Sam Blitvich about the album, tour and the new tunes they are working on.
How exciting was the build up and the release of Gardens especially with a global pandemic going on in the background?
Super exciting, we’ve been hanging out for this for ages to get this out there in the world. We’re stoked, really excited. For us the negatives of the COVID was disrupting touring by being able to get on the road. The positives was being able to spend that extra bit of time and not having to rush to get the album as perfect as we wanted it. We were able to spend a bit more time on the songs and not feel rushed in any way. It turned out really well in that respect and super stoked what that gave us, a silver lining in a way. As for touring, we’ll get there and figure it out.
Was that a bit weird having the luxury of time and no pressure of deadlines?
We’ve never really experienced that deadline type of thing, the EP was the first thing we released with the label and this is the first album we’ve done as a proper swing of the industry. We were lucky this is the first time we have done this and that there never has been this kind of pressure previously. It wasn’t strange to us as this was a new thing.
How did the creative process work for Sly Withers?
For us, this was a consolidation of the process and we have figured out what we do and what we don’t like over the year, the process that benefits us and what we respond well to. With this record we planned it down to the best way to do the thing we love to do in our comfort zone. In that sense it was lovely, nice.
Having the luxury of time was it hard letting it go or knowing it was done?
When we started the record we decided exactly what every song was and we had the arrangement for every song as well at least in terms of the general structure. There weren’t that many changes that happened, we never stopped writing songs. It was a day where it was a live jam before we went in to the studio and that became that unspoken cut off for any new stuff. Everything was already there, for us it was more about the smaller detail in parts and the layering of vocals, figuring out harmonies and sussing out all the tones down to a tee is where we spent the extra time.
Were there any influences that were significant for the band or anything that pushed you a certain direction?
Nothing in particular, sonically working with Matt Templeman was an absolute godsend. Sonically we had a desire to go really big with this record without jumping the shark and going full metal. He has done a lot of work with Australian heavy bands and his background in making things sound massive was appealing to us in that sense and he influenced us in terms of his production style and how everything played out.
Has it felt like Russian roulette trying to get tour dates sorted in not getting stuck because of border restrictions?
For sure, we have definitely copped the brunt of that sort of stuff on this tour. We’ve got mates bands who have run tours in the same places at the same time as us but just being in different towns on different weekends have completed their tours without any problems and we have had to reschedule a bunch of stuff during the tour after being hit with all these hurdles. We try to play the cards that we are dealt and make the best of the situation. I think we can only do what we can do so we’ve been trying to just soldier on. The shows in Sydney were some of the best we have ever played.
What’s the plan for Sly Withers from here?
There is an album tour for the end of the year and we’ll see how that all lands in the end. Musically, we’re keen to get on to the next batch whether that’s for an album or an EP. We have some songs and I’m sure there will be a bunch more coming. We are keen to get back in to it and figuring out the tunes and doing demos for them. I think that is the funnest part of the whole process. Looking back at the process for Gardens we fondly remember the time putting the tracks together.
Interview By Rob Lyon