- by Tom Dumarey
We caught up with The Living End drummer Andy Strachan to talk about 'Wunderbar,' the band's upcoming album. Which apparently has nothing to do with the Tenpole Tudor song of the same name! It is however another solid addition to the Australian band's already impressive discography and an absolute must for any self-respecting fan. 'Wunderbar' will be out this Friday via Rise Records.
PRT: I have to ask… does naming the album ‘Wunderbar’ have anything to do with the Tenpole Tudor song?
Andy: Haha, never heard of them until now. I just checked it out on YouTube though. That’s going to be stuck in my head for a while I think!
PRT: You recorded the album in Berlin with producer Tobias Kuhn. Isn’t it a big risk to fly halfway around the world to work with someone you hadn’t worked with before?
Andy: Yeah I guess it was a fair risk but I’m so glad we did it. We spoke to him on the phone and it just felt right. We seemed to connect instantly and he just “got us”. It felt like more of an adventure than a risk.
PRT: What was it about Kuhn that made you want to work with him?
Andy: He’d worked with Die Toten Hosen who we’ve known for years and they spoke highly of him and another very close friend of ours had also recommended him and thought that’d we’d work well together. The idea of making a record in Berlin was pretty exciting too, it’s suck a creative place and so much great music has been made there.
PRT: Speaking of halfway around the world, you guys are pretty spread out all over the place as well. Which means that you can’t rehearse the old-fashioned way. Was that a challenge at first? And has it since become a comfortable way of working?
Andy: Well yes, that was the case until just recently and now we are all living back in Melbourne for the first time in 6 years which is great. It was a bit of a challenge at times for sure but you just make it work. If we were starting a tour we would hopefully have a day or two in a rehearsal space before the first show to blow out the cobwebs. If we were writing, we would try to book some time at the end of a run of shows in Australia where we could all get in the jam room for a few days and flesh out some ideas. In some ways it was quite productive to do it that way I think but logistically……. not ideal.
PRT: You had already written all of the songs before heading over to Berlin. Did staying in the city end up having an influence on the finished material?
Andy: Absolutely! We spent the first 10 days doing pre production in a little jam room with Tobias. Right from the start he was jamming with us, playing guitar and singing which was so cool. He became the 4th member and his energy was infectious. We would work through the morning and then we’d go out for a lunch break and while walking around the streets of Berlin we’d talk about the tunes and get ideas from the things around us. It’s a very inspirational place.
PRT: I read that ‘Wunderbar’ came together faster than any other record you’ve done. Is that experience talking or is there just a lot to write about nowadays?
Andy: Probably a bit of both I reckon but I think it came together faster than usual because we gave ourselves a deadline that we couldn’t break. Having that time restraint meant that we had to make decisions quickly instead of labouring over things or wrestling to make something work. Instead we went with the strongest ideas (that were generally the first) and stuck to them. there was a bench mark set fairly early on too, which meant if an idea didn’t fit…… it didn’t get worked on.
PRT: I absolutely love how the album takes you on a trip through all these different sounds and styles, yet still ends up sounding like a very cohesive album. Is that a difficult thing to achieve or is that the last thing that you think about while writing and recording an album?
Andy: Thanks! I agree, it feels really cohesive to me too. It’s alway something that you set out to achieve but rarely does it turn out that way. I think we did it this time and we are all super proud of the record. I must say that Tobias was very instrumental in choosing the songs and I think he had a vision very early on as to how he wanted the record to sound and flow from song to song. I guess that’s what a producer is meant to do, right?!
PRT: ‘Death Of The American Dream’ starts out as a blazing rock ‘n roll into before seguing into a fragile acoustic song that sounds like it was recorded in another era. Can you tell me a bit more about how that song came about?
Andy: Yeah, it’s kinda two different takes on the subject. The first half being more of a look at how bad things are over in the states at the moment, the questionable political desicions being made and the lack of vision for the future has really changed the way people think and feel about the country. The second half is like a love letter to America……… everything will be alright, you can get through this and get things back on track, we still love you!
PRT: Am I insulting you if I say that ‘Otherside’ made me think of The Police? Speaking of which, did you get to meet Sting when you shared a stage with him in 2016?
Andy: Not at all! We love The Police. The verses particularly have a Police vibe I think. It feels great to play that’s for sure. And yep, we played together at the AFL grand final in Melbourne which is a huge sporting event here in Australia. He came over and introduced himself and we had a great chat. He was such a lovely bloke! He also played Scott’s double bass and I asked him to play Walking On The Moon…….. he obliged and it sounded amazing!!