Double Six/Domino-signees All We Are battled through anxiety and depression for an album they hope will offer catharsis.
Drummer and vocalist Rich O’Flynn tells how with their new album 'Sunny Hills', Liverpudlian trio All We Are want listeners to know they’re not alone.
How has 2017 been treating you so far? Are you guys having a good year?
Yeah, it’s been all go really. We mastered the record in January, so we’ve just been doing the usual frantic organisational stuff around it to get it ready for the release. Apart from that and a few gigs we’ve not been up to much.
Tell us about the creation of your new album, ‘Sunny Hills’ - what was your starting point and what’s it about?
Shortly after the release of LP1, we had a record of songs pretty much ready to go. We went on a final writing session down in Margate where a friend of ours at PRAH foundation owns an old punk warehouse. We ended up writing there for a week and from the moment we started we were writing heavier, faster and more aggressive tunes. It was like a rebirth for us. After the week was done, we decided to scrap the previous songs and start again. That’s what you hear on 'Sunny Hills'. The record for us it’s a way of getting the darkness and anxiety out in the catharsis that we felt when we first started writing and playing these songs. The world is a pretty dark place right now, and we want to tell people that you’re not alone in it, so although dark, the record is really about hope. The road the warehouse was on was called ‘Sunny Hills’.
What topics do you most enjoy writing about?
Well with this record we decided to be painfully honest lyrically and with ever note and beat played. Drawing on darkness inside and without was definitely our inspiration this time around. We think the themes are pretty straight forward. With 'Burn It All Out' for example, we’re setting the tone for the record; it frames the catharsis and rebirth we’re talking about. “All your worries inside, all the panic within you, burn it all out”. Human is asking the big question, ‘what does it mean to be a human’. This was something at the forefront of our mind when writing this record, particularly in a world beginning to be divided by populism and a tragic refugee crisis. 'Animal' is about breaking out of walls, emotional or otherwise, that surround you, “I used to live with walls around me, I was living in a cage but not anymore.” So although drawing on things from within, we hope the songs are universal enough to resonate with anyone and give them something positive.
What was it like working with Kwes? Have you teamed up before?
Kwes is our A&R at Domino, so he’s been heavily involved since the demoing process and knew the songs pretty intimately from the start. We were initially talking to a number of producers but when they didn’t work out for one reason or another Kwes put himself forward. We jumped at the chance to work with him, and it worked out. He’s a lovely, sensitive presence in the studio and was careful to honour the mistakes and wobbles that make this record, we think, so honest. His experience of working in hip hop and with loads of diverse artists brought something special to the production of ‘Sunny Hills’. He’s a great guy.
Were there any difficulties or sticking points you had to overcome during the record’s creation?
We’re very close, we feel each other's emotions very acutely, and at the time of writing, we were suffering from a lot of anxiety and depression. It was tough to battle through that when writing a record, and it never really leaves you, but the catharsis of writing and playing it was a huge help to us and totally coloured it musically. Nobody really talks about it, but mental health is a big problem that is severely underplayed. The more open we are as a society about it the more people can talk and express how they’re feeling. Specifically, we ended up writing ‘Down’ about our experiences with depression. Hopefully, that may inspire people to feel like they’re not so alone in it.
What are you most proud of with ‘Sunny Hills’?
We love the record and feel that musically and lyrically we couldn’t have been more honest with the contents so for us there’s a lot to be proud of. However, I think one of the most important things we did was the way in which we pursued that honesty in the mix and the master. We went back and forth for ages and tried to make sure it was coming across in the final stages of making the record. It took a while, but we got there. That’s something that makes us proud.
How would you like the record to make listeners feel?
We hope that the listener gets the same feeling of catharsis and release that we did when making the record and playing it live. It’s a dark record, but it’s really about hope. You’re not alone in whatever situation or anxiety you suffer from. We’re all human beings.
What are you guys up to over the summer, lots of festivals?
Playing live is what we love best, so we’ve got an exciting summer coming up. A UK and EU tour with a smashing London date on 14th June at Moth Club and loads of festivals including our favourite place in the world Glasto.
Finally - recommend us some new bands?
We love Pumarosa, such a great bunch of people and an amazing live band.
Taken from the June issue of Dork, out now. All We Are's album 'Sunny Hills' is out now.