Hey Underground Lovers, we are so excited for your exclusive release of ‘Cold Feeling’ for Record Store Day 2023. For those who don’t know Underground Lovers, take us back to the beginning and some fun moments along the way?
We started back in 1989 and have been gigging and releasing records ever since. Inspired by early 80’s post punk, our music is built on repetition, driving bass, motoric beats, jagged guitars and hypnotic melodies. Our fondest memories are playing some of our earliest gigs at venues like The Punters Club in Melbourne and The Annandale in Sydney. Our biggest gig was playing with The Cure at The Entertainment Centre in Sydney and our most nerve-racking gig was at 4AD’s 13 Year Itch event at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. The most fun we had in the early days was playing with some of our favourite bands like Ride, Lush, Primal Scream, New Order, Throwing Muses and My Bloody Valentine.
‘Cold Feeling’ first came out in 1999, why have you decided to press it to vinyl in 2023?
We have been releasing a lot of our early albums on vinyl over the last couple of years and Cold Feeling was next in line. It has never been released on vinyl before so this is such a buzz. We are so grateful that it can be part of Record Store Day in 2023.
Tell us a little bit about the guest performances that feature on the album?
Merida Sussex from Paradise Motel sang on ‘You put me in your Movie’ and ‘Towards the Skies’. Her band mate, Matt Bailey played some bass for us on ‘Infinite Finite’. We were fans of the band so it was exciting having them there.
Helen and Hope from My Friend the Chocolate Cake played the strings on the album. They were real professionals and a delight to work with.
David Chesworth played some keyboards on a few tracks. We loved David’s band Essendon Airport in the early 80’s, and he and his band mate Robert Goodge helped produce our third album ‘Dream it Down’. It was a thrill to have David play on Cold Feeling.
We were also excited to have Graham Lee from The Triffids play pedal Steel on ‘Infinite Finite’ and ‘Worrier God’. It all came so naturally to him and he nailed the parts in one take.
An old high school friend, Jim Yamouridis (The Stream) played some classical guitar on ‘A Fool’s Song’. It was nice to connect with him again.
Jim’s band mate, Robert Tickner (The Stream, Conway Savage Band), provided some backing vocals on ‘Excerpt from a Winter’s Day’ and ‘Worrier God’. We wrote a song with Robert in 1988 called Looking for Rain, which ended up on our first album. The Clouds also covered it for one of their B-sides. Robert still works with Underground Lovers as a guitar tech.
Andrew Nunns, who toured with us in Underground Lovers and was a member of Autohaze, played the drums on ‘Infinite Finite’. He did his best Ringo impersonation with some cool rolls in the middle section of the song.
Touring has been a big part of each album you’ve released, how has promoting albums changed since the 90s?
When we released our first album ‘Get to notice’ in 1990, we travelled to Sydney ten times in one year to help promote it. We drove together in a Tarago and all stayed in the same room at the Thelellen Beach Hotel in Bondi. Our touring and launching has become more selective over the years and there’s no longer a need to be constantly in people’s faces and playing every week. We don’t even stay in the same hotel any more, let alone the same hotel room. We still love playing live, promoting albums and connecting with our audience. Social media has certainly helped us get the news out about releases and tours, and has helped us to stay in touch with our fans.
Most memorable in-stores you have played either overseas or in Australia?
We did an early instore at 78 Records in Perth on our first tour there in about 1992. They had a dedicated space for performances upstairs and it was an intense experience with the audience listening so closely to every word and note.
There was an instore at the Virgin Mega Store in Melbourne to help promote our 1996 album ‘Rushall Station’. They had a really good stage set up and had a nice PA and foldback. Very professional.
There was a brilliant instore at Gaslight Records in Melbourne to help launch our 1997 album ‘Ways to Burn’. We set up in a corner amongst all of the records. We played on the same day following Mark Seymour, who liked our Korg MS20. As big fans of early Hunters and Collectors, we were overjoyed.
Our most recent in-store was at Record Paradise in Brunswick where we launched our 2017 album Staring at You Staring at Me. There was a packed crowd and it went off.
‘Cold Feeling’ steps into a new direction, incorporating drum machines and synthesisers, tell us about the creative process behind the record?
Drum machines and synthesisers were not all that new to us. The band started with the two of us writing on a Casio keyboard, Roland TR606 Drumatix and an Ibanez Blazer guitar. As the band developed and more members joined, drum machines appeared on fewer songs, but it was always something we cherished and incorporated when we could.
By the time we got to Cold Feeling in 1998, we were back to a two piece and took a step back to writing with keyboards and drum machine, before layering vocals and guitars. Adrian Cartwright from Sonic Animation helped us out with pre-production and programming and we borrowed some old analogue synths from David Chesworth and Simon Grounds (who produced our first album ‘Get to notice’). We decided to mix the synth and drum machine sounds with acoustic guitars, which made the album an authentic acoustic/electro blend. Of course, we layered crunchy electric guitars in spots as well, which is a bit of our signature sound anyway. Ultimately, the finished sound was a mix of Kraftwerk versus Simon and Garfunkel versus Neu versus The Go-Betweens.
How much did this new sonic direction impact the following releases ‘Weekend’, ‘Staring at You Staring at Me’ and ‘A Left Turn’?
Our last three albums have all been written on drum machines with live drums played over the top. The combination of drum machine and live drums gives the tracks a punchy sound which helps propel the song. We love the use of arpeggios and sequences that come in and out of tracks, so we have continued to incorporate these sounds into our most recent albums.
‘Cold Feeling’ was recorded at Birdland, what was the recording process like and how long did it take?
We had a lot of fun with Lindsay Gravina and Mikey Alonso at Birdland. It was pretty relaxed. The studio was pretty makeshift at the time as it was still being built.We spent most of the time recording in the control room and only moved to studio space (which was still under construction) to do guitars, strings and drums. We built the recording layer by layer, so there was no need to have 5 people in a room playing the tracks live to tape. Every step was planned and controlled. We made endless notes and track sheets that we pinned up around the control room to keep us on task. We spent about 10 days at Birdland. The mixing stage was completed with Tim Whitten at Sony Studios in Sydney. We spent another 10 days mixing the album and the B sides.
Favourite recording memory?
One favourite memory of the recording process was when Adalita came to the studio to visit Lindsay Gravina and she was impressed by our collection of pedals. We were too shy to speak, so she probably thought we were arrogant, but we were excited to have her there. Another memorable moment was when we recorded the strings for ‘Infinite Finite’ and Vince had to conduct Helen and Hope for the psyched out Beatlesque cacophony in part two of the song. It was like our own Abbey Road moment.
What are your favourite stores to go digging for records?
Record Paradise in Melbourne and Red Eye in Sydney.Our favourites used to be Brashs at Doncaster Shoppingtown in the 70’s and then Missing Link in the city in the early 80’s.
Where will we find you on Record Store Day 2023? Instore? Record store? Listening to records in peace?
Hopefully playing in a Record Store near you. Stay tuned!