Meanjin indie punks Semantics have released their crucial new single, This Love Could Kill You, the second track lifted from their debut, Paint Me Blue, out now via SideOneDummy / Cooking Vinyl Australia. This Love Could Kill You is a delicate look at domestic violence and abuse, with the goal to bring awareness to the warning signs we should be looking out for. Alarmingly, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2 in 5 Australians experience domestic violence from age 15 and, despite the confronting subject matter, Semantics believe it’s more important than ever to ask: ‘are we paying attention?’
Semantics debut album, Paint Me Blue, is a stunning and powerful debut that will stay with you long after the final song fades. Produced by the band and mixed and mastered by Grammy-nominated producer Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Jeff Rosenstock, Joyce Manor), the album showcases their impeccable songwriting and mastery of punk and indie sensibilities that lands somewhere between the post-punk of Title Fight and Joyce Manor, the all-consuming emo of Ceres and the iconic Aussie flair of Luca Brasi. Callum Robinson from the band answers a few questions about the album for Hi Fi Way.
Was there a feeling of relief finally releasing your debut album?
Massively. We were so nervous to release it, and it felt like forever to wait because we built our studio and recorded the whole thing ourselves. We got the masters back pretty fast and then it was just a waiting game to release it.
Is there more pressure with your debut trying to get that selection of songs that best represents the band?
We don’t write that many songs, and we knew what kind of moods we wanted to inject in this first album, so it was pretty easy to be decisive on this one, but I think the next album will be a big challenge.
Did you have a vision in mind how you wanted the album to sound?
We chose Jack Shirley to mix and master the album after hearing his work with Jeff Rosenstock, Deafheaven, Remo Drive, Oathbreaker etc. We wanted to go for that powerful, organic sound he captures so well. It’s not the most hi-fi or polished product, but that’s what we prefer listening to. I had a few conversations with Jack prior to working with him, because we couldn’t make it to the states to record with him, so we got some advice on how to record the album in a way he would enjoy mixing.
Did the songs continue to evolve in the studio?
Half did and half didn’t. Some songs had been demoed over the last two years to the point we barely recognise them, and they kept changing in the studio, but a few songs felt so in-the-pocket that all we did was add a couple more layers in the room. It’s nice to listen back to them all in their completed form.
What is the story behind the single This Love Could Kill You?
This Love Could Kill You is two stories merged into one. We have two close friends who both fell victim to abuse from their partners, who were also our friends. The song kind of goes through a few tells we missed during those times, and our short-sightedness as peers while these events were happening. Both of our friends escaped those relationships and the ex-partners are no longer in the picture.
Have you been stoked with how the album has been received?
We’re blown away. We’ve received some amazing feedback and enthusiasm from fans and industry folk around the world. Hopefully we can keep pushing it into more people’s ears!
How did the band meet?
It all started after a PUP show in Brisbane. Mitch and I started the band in 2017 with two other friends who have since moved on from the line-up. We all grew up in the local hardcore scene with a bit of band experience under our belts, but nothing serious. This was the band where we all said “let’s take this as far as we can”. Madz joined us in 2018 and Zac joined at the beginning of this year.
What are some of the band’s musical heroes that have helped shaped the album?
A lot of SideOneDummy artists have influenced my musical style, from Title Fight, PUP, Jeff, Microwave etc. We’ve got our emo roots with MCR, Sunny Day Real Estate, Jimmy Eat World, Thursday. Some classic songwriters like Springsteen and Paul Kelly. And a bit of shoegaze like Sonic Youth, MBV, DIIV, Nothing. There are too many legends to name.
Are there plans to tour the album more broadly?
Big plans, small budgets. We’ve got some Australian touring happening this year with hopes our plans to go overseas don’t fall through next year. Ideally, we’ll be overseas for a few months knocking out either a US tour or a full Europe/UK tour.
What’s next for Semantics?
Right now we’re all having a little breather, playing Minecraft and helping Mitch renovate his house. Then we’re back in for a headliner at Greaser on July 2 and a national tour with Between You and Me in August. We’ll keep writing music in the meantime and get ready for the big haul!
Interview By Rob Lyon