A labour of love, ingenuity and ambition, Spirals is set to catapult the Wollongong quartet Pirra further into the ears and souls of old and new fans alike, and Out Of My Hands is the perfect appetiser for more Pirra goodness still to come in 2022. And while a global pandemic and ongoing hurdles may have thrown setbacks into the mix for musicians across the globe, Pirra set their sights firmly on proactivity and positivity against the odds to conjure Spirals. The band answer some questions about the new album and working with Tim Wheatley.
How was the build up to your new single Out Of My Hands?
It’s a long time between the song being written and getting the final product released, but it’s always exciting to share something new and nice to see people reacting to the song.
What is the story behind the single?
To me the song describes a tense energy, where you can’t help falling for someone despite your better judgement. Often when I write I just like the sound and flow of certain words, and I just try to let them write their own story. So when people ask what songs are about I often don’t actually know, which can feel fraudulent. When I’m listening to music I just want to be drawn into a song and I’m fine with things being vague and non-specific as long as it feels good. Then again it’s really interesting how some writers can be so specific in their storytelling, Paul Kelly is a great example of that.
How did you find Tim Wheatley to work on the single with the band?
The head of Cr2 (whom we are signed to) Mark Brown met Tim in London a while back, he mentioned that he’d signed an Australian band and he threw it out there that we should collaborate. We had written Out of My Hands but weren’t sure if it was quite right for Pirra to release, given it’s got more of an old school groove to it. Then it dawned on us that Tim’s voice would be perfect for the track, so we got in touch and it went from there.
What was your reaction when you played the finished version of the single?
Relief to have finished it! We tend to labour pretty hard over songs and our bass player Curt mixes most of our tracks these days so needless to say you’ve heard it a million times by the time it’s release ready. It’s funny because by the end of the last mix your ears have become more sensitive and start looking for the tiniest imperfections, so it’s probably true that old saying songs are never finished, just abandoned.
How exciting is the build up to the new album Spirals?
It’s been great to share the last bunch of singles, we’re stoked to have collaborated with some amazing artists and producers on Spirals such as Cumbiafrica, Sam La More, Konstantin Kersting, Roy Kerr and Tim Wheatley. Having been five years since Animal Kingdom and four years since Rabbit Hole also makes it extra special.
Did everything go to plan in the studio?
Fortunately we didn’t run into any dramas. It’s such a long journey from bedroom demo to finished master and there is a mixture of lo-fi sounds from the early demos and more professionally recorded stuff. We recorded drums at ‘A Sharp Recording’ with Matt Stewart, live drums are one thing where it makes a huge difference to go to a proper studio. I think it’s nice to start with a plan and then hopefully stumble across some magic on the way.
Five years is a long time between albums, how has the band kept on track and focused especially after the last couple of years?
Yeah, we’ve been itching to do an album for a while now. We have tons of unreleased material and the band has gone through whole phases without releasing anything so it’s nice to feel like we’re moving forward. Generally I think we’ve stayed focused by continuing studying and writing. Curt and I are fairly nerdy and there’s an endless amount to learn about writing and producing. I also think searching for new music to listen to keeps everyone passionate.
Which band/artist would have been the biggest influence on Pirra for this album?
The album is fairly eclectic, so there’s lots of influences in there. But if I had to pick one I’d say PNAU. We are big fans, so working with Sam La More on Never Apart really shook us up and hugely influenced our direction. He challenged us to get out of our comfort zone and was generous in sharing his concepts and showing us some tricks of the trade. I can’t say how many times I’ve listened to ‘Chameleon’ it’s just so ecstatic and I couldn’t have imagined how someone would go about making a track like that, so it was fascinating to see how he works.
Are there plans for more new music this year?
I think after releasing Spirals it’d be good to give ourselves time to explore new directions and experiment before diving into another album.
Are you looking to tour more broadly around Australia including Adelaide (nudge nudge)?
We’ve focused on booking festivals such as Listen Out around the country, plus ‘Your Paradise’ in Fiji in December. So yes we’re covering ground but we don’t have anything booked in Adelaide as yet! Which is something I’m sure we can remedy in 2023. For now, doing festivals is a great way to reach new ears plus they’re super fun, although it definitely makes sense to book our own tour before too long.
Interview By Rob Lyon