Kingswood entered 2017 having toured the country supporting AC/DC, recorded the follow-up to debut album Microscopic Wars in Nashville, and leapt into Triple J’s Hottest 100 at #48 with Creepin’. New album After Hours, Close To Dawn is out now, presaging a national tour, and it sees the band vastly widening their musical palette, imbuing their riffy rock with tantalising hints of The Beatles, Queen, Elton John, Aretha Franklin and more. The band hit Settlers Tavern in Margaret River on Thursday, 27th April, Bunbury’s Prince Of Wales on Friday the 28th, and Capitol in Perth on Saturday, 29th April. SHANE PINNEGAR explored the album with singer Fergus Linacre.
The response to After Hours, Close To Dawn has been very encouraging so far.
Yeah, it certainly has. [People] seem to understand that we tried to make something bold and new. I think it’s going well.
Bold is a good word to use. Having supported AC/DC last year, some people might have thought that you’d go down an even more rock road, but you’ve really embraced a whole lot of other influences instead.
Yeah, totally. It is certainly diverse. We just wanted to make the best music we could. When you’re in the moment in the studio, if you want strings and flutes and whatever, you know, you just go for it. But yeah, the response has been really good.
There’s a lot more focus on your vocals and the vocal melodies on this album. They really seem to be at the forefront of most songs.
You’ve nailed it. One of the things that we’d do when we were work-shopping songs, the test was, can you stand in the room right now without the guitar or piano and just sing the songs? If someone walks in the room and sings, ‘yesterday, all my troubles seem so far away,’ it’s immediate – that’s a great song, because the melody is so good. We didn’t want to hide a less engaging melody or lyric behind the music to cover it up. When you stripped it all back, if it works like that, then we move on and we do the rest around it.
Who sang the female vocals on the closing song, Why Do I Get Stuck When You Arrive?
That’s Christian Rogers. She’s a singer from Nashville, and she sang on the first record as well. That last song’s quite a journey – it was this huge, everyone in a different room banging a different drum, percussion experiment, that came from a dream that Al [guitarist and main songwriter Alex Laska] had. There was all this crazy mellotron and percussion going on, and this vocal, and we were just like, “this song sounds like a death march.” So then it got stripped back to just a vocal, pretty much – almost no percussion and just the vocal melody, and that was how it turned out.
And you cut it down to only 1:18 minutes. That could’ve been a hit [if it were a more traditional length], it’s one of the songs that really stands out.
It was certainly a discussion that we had. It worked really well just as a little end of the album tie-off, kind of thing. I was saying to Al, “Are you sure you don’t want to just save this and work on it properly later, and turn it into a proper song?” I think it does work really well just to end the album.
It does work as a little snippet thing at the end there – it’s a little bit Beatles-like. And there’s a few other tips of the hat to The Beatles as well, especially in the production of songs like Belle and Alabama White, even the boogie-woogie rock and roll of Like Your Mother. Was that a conscious thing: were you listening to The Beatles when you were writing and recording?
Certainly – they’re a big influence on all of us. Also, through the production as well, the way this record sounds is phenomenal and that’s something that will grab your ears as well. The Beatles are the greatest band ever – so yeah, certainly.
Have you given much thought to how you’re going to recreate these songs live?
It’s very exciting – we’re working on all that now. So, it’s five of us on stage, and we’re running a light show that’s sort of time-trained into the tracks. It’s quite a step up, production-wise for us. It’s gonna be pretty amazing.
What’s the significance of the title, After Hours, Close To Dawn?
We went to a Japanese restaurant, and we said, “we’re not leaving this restaurant until we have an album title.” Because we’re terrible at that kind of thing. It takes ages, we bounce ideas around, we love them, we hate them. It’s a lyric from Creepin’, the lyric is just, ‘after hours and close to dawn’. It just popped out and we thought, “why haven’t we thought of that before?” I think it sort of captions that time in the night when all the good stuff happens, so we named the album after that.
You’re obviously aiming to be in this for the long run, and making Kingswood one of the great Australian bands – you’re not afraid of stepping out of the box and doing something that’s pretty unique. It seems like you’re really on track.
Yeah, absolutely. We have completely committed to this. It’s not like a bit of fun on the side, it’s completely what we do and we want to do forever. We just want to keep it going and we do care a lot about the music. We want it to be good. We don’t want to write songs that might do well because they’re catchy and thrashy or something like that. We want to make music that’s gonna stand, and be great.