The Stress Of Leisure: ‘I’m excited for the genre of faux wave. I think this could be a thing!’

Original photo by Jackie Ryan. Hand-coloured mixed-media by B.

Last week Brisbane band The Stress Of Leisure released their exciting new album Faux Wave. Recorded in Melbourne by John Lee (who has recorded many Gimmie favs: Bananagun, Gordon Koang and Lost Animal) it captures the band’s live wild energy that lights up the dancefloor—they might just be the world’s greatest party band. Gimmie caught up with them to chat about the LP; a hot contender for our Album of the Year!

What is one of the most exciting things for you about your new album Faux Wave?

JANE (bass): I really feel we knew the songs well before we went and recorded them, so all of the performances felt strong and confident. I can listen to it now and say ‘Yeah!’ It’s all solid and great. I am excited by the impressive efforts of my bandmates, and I’m excited for interested members of the public to check it out.

IAN (vocals/guitar): I’m excited for the genre of faux wave. I think this could be a thing!

PASCALLE (synths): I feel excited that the album even exists! I’m aware of how close to the line we were in getting it recorded — in the way we wanted to — and the pandemic’s impact on everything we do now.

JESS (drums): This album makes a great companion piece to our previous album Eruption Bounce. It’s exciting hearing us grow as a four-piece.

I understand that this album was written as your most collaboratively one yet; can you tell us a bit about writing the record and collaborating?

IAN: We record all our ideas, and we had up to 60 sketches of songs in the bank for this album. Recording the ideas we produce at rehearsals also means we can capture golden moments that can be hard to remember. What I’ve found more and more doing The Stress of Leisure is that the songs where Jane, Pascalle and Jess bring something in (an idea) is way more exciting than what I come up with. I feel when I have an idea it tends to dictate too much how things turn out. A song like Banker On TV literally came out fully formed in one jam — Jess had a beat she wanted to try out, Jane had a bassline written down she married to it and then Pas and myself did our stuff on top. Individually, none of us could’ve come up with this song.

PASCALLE: I really love how Ian challenges us to come up with lines but we also had to constantly remind him that his lines are very fun for us to play along with. One way he was convinced to drive the song was in Spiralling, which has Ian’s power pop synth line, Jane’s enormous bassline and Jess’ unconventional drums.

What’s one of the most challenging things for you in regards to your creativity?

JANE: Speaking for myself, I sometimes find it hard to carve out time to make creative things happen.  But that is pretty much on me, I think I need to try harder.

JESS: Coming up with rhythms that sound fresh, and like Jane, finding the time to get creative in modern life. I generally don’t practise so I’m composing beats in my head and then trying them out at rehearsal. Nothing is out of bounds or too weird to bring to rehearsal and I think that vulnerability is where magic happens.

PASCALLE: Yes, I think it mostly comes down to time… we’re all just waiting to win the lotto so we can make music as often as we want!

IAN: I find my bandmates sell themselves too short. They’re always bringing in great ideas, regardless of outside pressures. It comes back again to the fact that we record the jams. Creative inspiration strikes when you least expect it, so it’s important to always document. Like panning for gold, you can’t expect a high success rate. We’re only challenged by timelines, not creativity.

Photo: Jackie Ryan.

We’ve always loved the wit, social commentary and humour in your lyrics; what’s your personal favourite song and lyric in this new collection of songs?.

JANE: I particularly like Ian’s lyric in the song No Win No Fee, where he intones ‘Mission accomplished, for the rich and the foppish’.  The song has a sort of sleazy, lazy groove to it, but it goes along at a slightly quicker tempo than you would normally expect for such a groove, which makes it compelling to me.

JESS: My favourite lyric is ‘Everybody wants to tell you how you’re doing it; Everybody loves to tell you how you’re doing it wrong; Everybody seems to know just where you’re coming from’ in Connect to Connected. It’s an astute observation of the countless daily interactions between humans courtesy of the internet.

PASCALLE: I feel a sense of achievement that we incorporated the line ‘no quid pro quo’ in a song.

IAN: If you read the lyrics of Your Type of Music and Beat The Tension with a John Cooper Clarke accent in mind they really work! I’m delighted by that. I played a solo gig earlier in the year with Seja, and during the set I recited them, so I can attest to it.

Faux Wave was recorded in Melbourne with John Lee at Phaedra Studios over five days at the beginning of the year; what drew you to working with John? What was it like?

IAN: John Lee’s name came up in a lot of Australian independent music I was listening to and liking — starting with Lost Animal, Laura Jean through to Brisbane/Melbourne act No Sister. Everyone I inquired of really rated John and said he was great to work with. We wanted to record an album outside Brisbane too, to get out of our comfort zone. It’s one of the best decisions we’ve made as a group I think. The reports rang true, John is a total gentleman, but he also challenged us with this recording, in a totally positive way. Recording the ten songs over five days was a real buzz and my feeling is that as a group, we’ve all connected with this experience. It was like recording a debut album all over again.

PASCALLE: Yes, John’s the absolute best!

What’s one of your fondest memories from the sessions?

PASCALLE: This was the first time we recorded an entire album in one go — usually we’d go into the studio on sporadic weekends and record two or three songs until the album was done. Going down to Melbourne for a solid week felt like we were at camp and, from my perspective, we had a whole new level of togetherness. From the get-go, John was a kindred spirit and made the whole week memorable, too. Favourite things about recording were not using click tracks, listening to Ian record his vocals and getting to play with John’s vintage synths.

JESS: Like Pas, getting to spend a whole week together recording was a luxury! No click tracks and a live recording setup really captured the energy. For me, anymore than three or four takes starts to sound forced and contrived. Having that week also meant we could sample the gastronomic delights that Melbourne had to offer and catch up with friends.

PASCALLE: Yes, we really explored Melbourne’s food and beverages, and we even managed to see Dave Graney and the mistLY play Memo Music Hall, too. Great times.

What inspired the album art?

IAN: We thought it was important to go back to the collage style we’d previously utilised on the Sex Time and Achievement artworks. It rang more true to who we are as a band. The imagery we’ve chosen feels like Faux Wave for some reason — the crowd in a fervour and the rubbish pile. The disposable aspects of modern day hyperconsumerism comes to mind — the shiny new thing that gets people excited, quickly replaced by something even shinier and newer. It’s disconcerting.

PASCALLE: This is also the first time we’ve included the song lyrics on the back of the vinyl, too, so you can follow along if you like.

What have you been listening to lately?

JESS: Billy Nomates’ debut album, Fontaines D.C’s A Hero’s Death and Blake Scott’s Niscitam. Despite all that has happened in 2020, fantastic and exciting music is still being made.

PASCALLE: Have you seen Sampa the Great’s Planet Afropunk performance Black Atlantis? Incredible! I’m also listening to Blake Scott like Jess, as well as Chloe Alison Escott’s Stars Under Contract.

JANE: I have been listening to the Scratch and the Upsetters album Super Ape, though it is not a recent release by any means.  I really enjoy the space in it, from top to bottom, and front to back.

IAN: The Music in Exile label is releasing some great stuff. I particularly love the Gordon Koang album Unity.

2020 has been a challenging year for pretty much everyone; how has it affected you and how have you stayed positive?

IAN: Making my own coffee is a nice ritual I’ve developed during 2020. Also smelling the roses in New Farm Park has been a highlight. When we were allowed to rehearse again as a band — I felt that was a big moment of positivity. We’ve been writing more songs, languid and slow types of songs.

PASCALLE: It’s been a year where each of us has had to learn who we are in this situation. There’s been an unavoidable wave of planetary depression — whether we explicitly feel it or not — and coming up for air amongst it all has been an effort, I think, for many of us. Art and a kind community helps.

JANE: When I was able to return to fitness classes and band rehearsals that helped me heaps. I’ve joined the video streaming revolution. Drinking heaps of Malbec has also been very good.

Anything else you’d like to tell us or share with us?

IAN: Community radio in Australia has been a big support to us. Support community radio wherever it finds you by subscribing. 4ZZZ, our local station in Brisbane, has been an absolute champion over 40 years plus in pushing local and Australian music and we’d be severely diminished in Brisbane as a music community without it. There’s never been a more important time to support local independent media and arts.

PASCALLE: It’s also heartwarming to see all our fellow bands emerge from the Covid hibernation. I hadn’t realised how much I missed seeing live music!

IAN: Long may it continue. Fingers crossed.

Please check out THE STRESS OF LEISURE; on bandcamp; on Facebook; on Instagram. Faux Wave out now HERE.