SKULLCAVE Out to Lunch for Radiothon with RTR’s Libby Noble

LIBBY NOBLE presents new release music program Out To Lunch every Monday on RTRFM 92.1, who are about to kick off their annual Radiothon. Libby sat down for a chat with Jay Marriot and Liam Young from Perth band Skullcave ahead of the Radiothon Opening Party at Badlands this Saturday Aug 11, where Skullcave will play and Libby will DJ. Skullcave will be performing tracks from their eagerly awaited forthcoming album, Fear, out September 20.

So, this album, Fear. How bloody proud of it are you?

Liam: Fairly. Fairly bloody proud. I think if you can get through that much recording and writing and sitting around with yourself and only a couple of other people for that long, you should be proud.

Jay: I spent a really long time working on the blueprints for the tracks and then spent as much time with Liam, sussing out the structure and how it was all going to go. We spent a great deal of time thinking about what each song was trying to say and what the record, in total, was going to say and I’m really glad we did.

Liam: I mean, It took us a whole year to write [the closing track on the album] Bleak.

Jay: Although when we got into the studio with Ron it was then relatively quick. The recording in total would have taken about two weeks. Working with Ron is such a pleasure.

‘Ron’ is, of course, Ron Pollard the keyboard wizard and producer from local band Tangled Thoughts of Leaving, who has a recording studio in North Dandalup. Is that a beautiful rural environment?

Liam: Very. It’s very pretty. The studio’s in a big shed and it backs up on to this long field and there’s cows and birds. His parents have a really great set up and they’re very hospitable. It’s awesome.

I read that Ron had given you the advice that sometimes you need time to allow the art to reveal itself, and that this had an important impact.

Jay: Liam, Steve and I were all coming off the back of [our former band] The Novacaines, and we knew we wanted to start doing something slower and certainly heavier. We were influenced by a lot of the acts coming over to Perth at the time. But the first two Skullcave EPs were very much like, ok, let’s write some songs and get them out as quickly as we can. It wasn’t until after those EPs that we heard bands like Tangled Thoughts of Leaving for the first time and lots of other acts that were really pushing the boundaries of what you could use music for as far as expression is concerned. Drowning Horse was another really huge influence on me for that sort of thing. So when I would have writers block and I’d be sending Ron material he would tell me that the album will reveal itself. That we’ll approach problems in our lives and it will eventually come out in our art. That we have a better understanding about what it is we’re thinking or feeling now, three months from now. To use the benefit of hindsight. So we applied that same principle to our writing and it certainly made a big difference.

What is the album saying?

Jay: There’s lots of really dark themes running through it. A lot of it is about ego, a lot of it is about relationships, and the way that we communicate with each other. It’s about how your actions at a certain time can affect things down the track. The record is called Fear, and that’s the fundamental theme. Fear can show itself in many different ways, and these underlying parts of our subconscious can drive every aspect of how we communicate.

Liam: Funnily enough, there’s not a lot of lyrics on the album. It’s really nice not to have to really talk it out. We can play it and convey the same experience, or even convey it more clearly. You don’t have someone constantly yelling in your ear about what they think about something. It’s been nice to relax in this instrumental zone for a little while. And when the vocals do kick in its more impactful. That was the aim. But, you know, there’s a huge portion of writing an album where you get to a point where you have no idea what it sounds like anymore and you just pray that it’s not awful.

It’s not awful, good job! Fear is being released on east coast record label Art As Catharsis. How has it been joining the Art As Catharsis family?

Jay: The best. So far, fantastic. Lachlan [of Art As Catharsis] is a fan of the act which is great. He’s letting us completely control the creative side which is great. We’re fans of the label, so we’re very proud to be part of their Roster.

How different an experience to The Novacaines is Skullcave?

Liam: So different. I was 16 when I joined that band, so I almost feel like a completely different person in some respects. You know, everyone grows up, and grows out of things and grows in to other things… and here we are.

Jay: We now have a lot more control over our art and how we want it to be. At the time of The Novacaines we needed all the help we could get, we were kids, and we learnt a lot of good and bad lessons through that process which has certainly made us stronger now. The Novacaines was a great time.

Liam: It totally shaped us as adults, really.

Jay: It showed us that we can do it. But the way that we’re doing it now suits us much better.

RTRFM 92.1’s Radiothon Opening Party is this Saturday at Badlands. I’m going to DJ in the beer garden, along with three other RTRFM Presenters, and you are going to slay on stage along with a pile of other incredible acts. It’s going to be hectic! Why is it important to you to support RTRFM 92.1?

Liam: We love RTRFM, and supporting RTRFM, and playing these kind of shows. It’s really great to know that there are people that give their time to promoting and supporting artists. RTRFM is a huge contributor to the whole scene.

Jay: We’re both big fans of RTR. For the music, but RTR also really represents things like Indigenous issues it such a positive way. Moorditj Mag is such a great show. And certainly LGBTIQ issues, and women’s issues, are covered so well. I’ve learnt so much just from listening to different interviews and different presenters, certainly you Lib. The kinds of perspectives that the presenters have and a lot of the people who volunteer and work here have taught me so much more than I would have otherwise learned. It’s great, it’s in your radio and you can listen to it when you drive to work, or wherever, and it’s so informative. Other listeners would completely understand where I’m coming from. It’s positive for the entire community and there’s a real community spirit around RTR, and from what I can gather, it really stands out from other community radio stations in Australia in this regard. RTR is a really good standpoint.  

Awesome, so you’re going to help us celebrate! This year’s theme is Choose Your Own Adventure. What will be your adventure at Badlands on August 11?

Liam: Well I could never finish those books properly, I always cheated. So hopefully I can just make a solid decision on the night. What DJ adventure are you going to choose in the beer garden, Libby?

Bangers. Hours of bangers.