It’s been four years since Kaurna/Adelaide trio Horror My Friend released their last album, but they sound fired up to make up for lost time on repaper.
Released today, the alternative rocker’s follow-up to 2018’s Home Life is a battering ram of a record, a signal of intent, a reclamation of old powers.
repaper came together during the tough pandemic years, with the trio struggling – like most of us – to cope with the isolation and suffocation of myriad lockdowns. It’s why these songs often sound like last gasps of salvation, a reaching for the light at the end of the tunnel; fighting self-doubt and existential dismay, Horror My Friend rightly funnelled all their emotion into making music.
To call repaper a “battering ram” of a record is also to do it a disservice: it’s really an exercise in exquisite musicianship. As is evident from the band’s track by track breakdown below, all three are, first and foremost, avid fans of music. Artists as varied as Deerhunter, My Bloody Valentine, Die! Die! Die! and Metz are name checked as inspirations.
Throughout the album, sweet shoegaze fuzz is topped with the muscular rhythm and vocal venom of alternative rock; lovely reverberating textures are constantly conjured up, only to be bruisingly brought back down again. It’s cyclical and intricate, patient and hypnotic.
You can read the band’s full breakdown of repaper below. They’ll be touring in support of their new album next February, with dates confirmed in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Wollongong (tickets here).
Horror My Friend’s repaper is out now via PIAS Australia.
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Tom Gordon: ‘Devotion’ came about directly after buying a new guitar pedal, an old Hardwire Digital Reverb (RV-7), which I’d specifically heard about for its Reverse Reverb effect. You can hear the effect on the guitar in the intro and the bridge, where it’s difficult to hear when the chords start and end. Honestly, we went into the rehearsal room and I just asked Josh and Sam, “can we start it with this? I really like this,” and that’s it.
Lyrically, the song touches on misogynistic culture within certain circles we’d come across in Adelaide and their absolute disregard for the women they dealt with.
Musically, ‘Devotion’ is the culmination of a few different influences. We love Die! Die! Die! after touring with them, we were so blown away by their endless energy throughout every song, we wanted to try and replicate that here, but with more of a My Bloody Valentine-esque shoegaze element thrown in.
Alongside this, rhythmically we’ve been trying to take inspiration from other genres outside of rock. With ‘Devotion’ we were looking at the repetitive nature of electronic music that locks the listener in endlessly, a good example of this being ‘LesAlpx’ by Floating Points, which had a huge influence on me personally, alongside the album ‘Crush’ as a whole.
The monologue in the bridge is spoken by our friend Jackson Phelan from one of our favourite Australian bands, RAT!hammock. We all love Jackson’s voice and with zero preparation, he came into the studio and made it sound incredible. We love Jackson.
Josh Battersby: This song was written real fast before we recorded it back in 2019, it was still very fresh at the time and was enjoyable to hear it come together in studio. When we finished recording it originally I didn’t like how the vocals sounded so they were re-recorded with Jeremy Glover in Adelaide. It was a good reason to hang out with a friend I don’t get to see too often! I wanted a lot of dissonant sounding chords and some tried and true loud/quiet dynamics!
Josh: Five years ago I was probably listening to a lot of Metz and Drive Like Jehu and I think those bands were a big influence on the song ‘Spiral Stairs’. The aspects of Metz I tried to capture were how the guitars sound like they could be the drums, as in the guitars and drums are very synchronised, as in the guitars sound like they could be a percussion instrument, ya know?
I’m not certain of a particular aspect of Drive Like Jehu I wanted to work into the song, but I definitely tried to rip them off in some fashion! Around that time I had also bought a Jazzmaster guitar, it was built in the U.K. by someone under the Moniker of ‘Motorik’. I found it on the Found Sound website and then saw that there was a big blog post about how that guitar was made. From the details of sanding the body back to trialling different paints etc etc.
Luckily I had saved up some money and was able to buy it – there is no guitar exactly like that in the world and I haven’t felt the need for a new guitar since! I was in the process of selling all my guitar pedals bar a fuzz/overdrive and tuner during that time as I wasn’t using anything else. However, I remember Tom had some way niche sounding thing that we used for the chorus riff and that sounded great. I can’t recall what the pedal was called now though!
‘Looking For a Reason to Exist’
Tom: Thematically, this song is easily explained by the title. At the point of writing, I was in stuck in New South Wales only a few months after moving there, isolated from friends and family in South Australia by border closures. I’d just moved over for a job in live music, which was of course, decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
So honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. Musically, I just wanted to make a big, dumb shoegaze song and I think we did it. We were also lucky enough to have Monica Sottile (Sweater Curse/Monnie) feature on the chorus for this track.
‘Dress For the Heat’
Josh: Over the last few years I have been repairing guitar amplifiers and other instruments and the only time I would play guitar was in testing an amplifier to see if the job was done properly. ‘Dress For the Heat’ is one of two tracks on the album that came together as a result of testing these guitar amplifiers.
‘Your Life Continued’
Tom Lyrically, ‘Your Life Continued’ is pure quarter-life crisis, which just so happened to coincide with the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, it touches on the idea of spending your adult life on music, but asking yourself what’s next?
It’s also inspired by the idea of the standard, modern ‘capitalist’ path of living in our society: school > uni > work. Especially coming to the realisation that once you reach adulthood and a career, you just go ahead and do that for 30-40 years, which honestly just makes me feel tired to think about. A sentiment I know is shared by many people in their late 20’s and early 30’s.
Josh: Like ‘Dress For the Heat’, ‘Corners Peeling’ is another one which came about because of constantly tinkering and experimenting with guitars and amplifiers as I was repairing them. It was actually written only two days before we were meant to start recording and only just snuck in.
This track is in a tuning I hadn’t used before. Annoyingly there aren’t any other songs in this tuning and it will be embarrassing to have to tune the guitar up and down whilst not having much to say on stage.
Tom: This was written right in the middle of NSW’s four-month lockdown in 2021. During this time, I did a lot of sleeping and I had very little motivation for music. Related to the sleeping, and this sounds like a cliche, but I had a dream that I saw Regurgitator live and the chords of the song they played were the chords of ‘Can Do!’.
I woke up and realised that it wasn’t a Regurgitator song, worked it out on guitar, and it sparked me to begin writing again. Lyrically, the track reflects on society’s constant focus on money and work, alongside the constant ‘Can Do!’ attitude people are expected to have in the workplace, continually piling work upon themselves.
Tom: This one was written whilst in a particularly dark place mentally, again during the 2021 NSW COVID-19 lockdown. It coincided with being prescribed Lexapro for both anxiety and depression, an experience I’m sure many people are familiar with over that period.
In some ways, this song is written as a breakup song, but rather than losing another person, you’re losing yourself (Posie) and what you felt made you, you; to be replaced by robotic calm and lack of emotion.
Josh: This was written when I was building a guitar pedal. It is a treble booster that enables the guitars we use to have more sustain and to cut through the mix a little better. I took this song to the band ages ago and then decided it was no good and then brought it back two days before recording the album. The end riff is very similar to that in Deerhunter’s ‘Nothing Ever Happened’, but it wasn’t on purpose I promise.
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