Childhood's second album wasn't easy.
Childhood's second album wasn't easy: "I was so overwhelmed I almost stopped challenging myself," frontman Ben Romans-Hopscraft explains. Thankfully he pushed through to create their most honest record yet - with a bit of help from his mum.
Hey Ben, how’s life?
Yeah, life is pretty alright. Definitely doing more musical things than at any other point in my life, so can't complain.
It’s been three years since ‘Lacuna’ - how did you find releasing Childhood’s debut? What did you learn from it all?
Yeah, it's been a while. I found it to be a unique experience. First time I ever put out a record for public consumption, so it was both nerve-racking and thrilling. I learnt to not rest on your laurels. When we finished our first record, I was so relieved and overwhelmed I almost stopped challenging myself musically. I find it's better to be unsatisfied than satisfied by yourself.
What have you been up to since that album’s release?
A lot of normal and abnormal things. I spent a good amount of time at home, living with my mum which was nice. I began listening to a lot of the records that inspired 'Universal High' there, which was great. I established a system where if I felt my mum was satisfied, so was I. Been working on some adventurous stuff with one of my band's named Warmduscher over last summer, and recorded an album with my pal Saul from Fat Whites under the name Insecure Men.
At what point did you start working on ‘Universal High’? Where did you begin?
I can't remember exactly when we started. It took me a while to work out what direction the record should go in. There was a lot of writing for writing's sake. However, none of the real early stuff represented what the album sounds like. I guess I began being brutally honest about what turned me on musically and what music I was seriously getting into. Since most of 'Lacuna' was made years before it was released, by LP2, we had changed so much. However much I love 'Lacuna', I knew there was no way we could fake continuing the vibe on that record as it wouldn't have felt honest. To me, our first record represented a formative time for us as musicians growing up in the world. I'm grateful as it took me where I wanted to get to, which is a solid understanding of what this band should be now.
You’ve said your new album signifies change - what’s changed for you guys?
What's changed is that we have an acute understanding of what music should represent us as people. I guess we've always enjoyed the psychedelic side of guitar music, yet we've also been mad fans of pop songwriting and the soul behind what makes such music so special. Rather than mask emotions, with this record, we wanted to be more honest and transparent with what is truly behind the song.
Where did you look for inspiration while writing the album?
A lot of it was back to basics stuff. Plenty of days I'd just look out my window in my mum's flat and see the same old people I've seen all my life. I'd see kids getting up to no good, grannys hobbling to garbage bins, shifty characters doing the same shit they always have. Sounds a bit corny, but I felt like this landscape reflected my true existence, and started thinking a soundtrack to this monotony feels right. Big swirling guitars didn't seem the right fit. However, the more soulful music that was blasting out my mum's radio and always has been, seemed appropriate both socially and contextually. So I started digging around, listening to the likes of Gil Scott, Al Green or the Jones Girls and actually began finding similarities between that sound and some of the stuff we've kind of attempted in the past.
Was there anything specific you set out the achieve with ‘Universal High’?
I think we wanted to have a specific sound that was more cohesive and honest. A lot of the songs on the last record had great sentiments but sometimes were mystified by our intentions as a band. We had clear pop moments, sometimes huge psychedelic outpours and other times dreamy reverb songs. It was great tending to all these elements we enjoyed in guitar music. However, it lacked a true identity. I think 'Universal High' shows intent and suggests we have a bit more emotion than a blazing guitar riff.
You’ve spent time co-producing and co-writing with other musicians, does that influence seep its way into your own work?
Writing with Saul helped me. He's got a serious dedication to all kinds of music. It gave me the confidence to realise that a raw emotion you're looking for can be wrapped up inside of seemingly opposing genres of music. I guess not having any fear and embracing what you like regardless, was key for me.
What’s your favourite thing about being a musician? Has it changed over the years?
Yeah, it has. My favourite thing used to be playing live and partying in the early days. Now I'm solely interested in songwriting. It fascinates me constantly, and there's always stuff to learn. However, I still love playing live.
Taken from the August issue of Dork. Order a copy below. Childhood's new album 'Universal High' is out 21st July.