In the middle of 2000 we finally got the green light to record our fifth album Rocks on the Soul. We traveled to Melbourne and spent three winter weeks in a tiny studio with producer duo The Pound System. It was a great if somewhat confronting session; Dean especially feeling pushed into unfamiliar territory with the extreme editing of parts in the then-new(ish) digital recording domain.
We’d had the songs sitting around for ages and we were more than ready to let someone else take control of how they were played, recorded, and would eventually sound. The album was a sharp change in direction for us, after the noisy energetic Kitten Licks; a lot of fans of the band didn’t get the new sound and feel at all. Understandable, as Tim and Kel discuss in detail, with focus on the opener Stopless (with its Seinfeld reference) and its subdued groove-based feel.
It was our first release which was really a Kellie album, her songs book-ending the record, and standing out as highlights throughout. Themes emerged which she’d go on to explore again and again, the rapidly changing world and our alienation from it, in the “desolate and disconnected” feel of If You Lived Here, the “trying to paint a bleak picture” in Close Again, technology’s increasingly bludgeoning and de-humanising influence, consumer culture, and her probing reflections on her own youth and life choices.
It was a time when music was changing, the 90s were over, it felt like our indie rock enclave was transforming into something different, and we weren’t sure where to go with it. Also our world was changing – a couple of us had mobile phones for the first time ever (and were faced with the task of dividing up colossal phone bills with those who hadn’t made the leap, yet were still happy to send hundreds of texts every day on the others’ Nokia 610s, at 22 cents a pop).
We go deep on every song, exploring the lyrics, music, and what we were trying to achieve. In retrospect we’re still extremely happy with the majority of songs, one or two only end up getting picked apart and allocated to the “maybe not really good enough” pile.
The musical snippets are longer in this episode, we hope you enjoy the story of Rocks On The Soul!