Melbourne band Buchanan’s debut album Human Spring is a complex beast. From the paradox of the cover image to the sad story behind the album’s dedication, Human Spring has the makings of a hallmark release in an era when keeping music and themes simple is not an option.
"We wanted to write something that had a bit more meaning and we felt that in order to convey that we had to up the anti of the production as well. I think that bands, when they come to their first album, have to make a decision: 'are we going to strip it back and give something really raw or amp it up?’ We chose to amp it up!” explains Buchanan lead singer, guitarist and main songwriter Josh Simons.
The cover art for Human Spring depicts a protest scene with a cheeky gun-toting protagonist holding up a sign with the title of the album written on it. Simons explains that the title was directly inspired by the Arab Spring, a phenomenon in the Middle East and northern Africa where the people of countries including Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen rose up through protest and overthrew oppressive regimes.
“Human Spring is about what is good in the world, I wanted to draw attention to this because I think that we are dominated in the media and also in conversation on the negative so I guess the record is about what is positive in the world,” explains Simons with abounding enthusiasm.
“And the Arab Spring from my understanding was about a part of the planet that was celebrating an uprising and I guess we just wanted to make a record that celebrates what is good in everyone. We also like contrasts in Buchanan, so we liked the strong sort of war image on the front but the album is quite up beat so it was about juxtaposing light and dark, hope and despair,” intellectualises Simons.
Musically, hope is sprawled across the essence of Human Spring as it begins with cluster of keys that forms the framework for the entire track.
"That synth sound was literally the starting point. In the studio, if I find a loop I will just listen to it end-on-end much to the displeasure of the rest of band.” However, although this monotony is the bane of Simons’ band-mates, it is actually a very productive method. “I was just coming up with melodies in my mind and the guys were working in the other room, and also listening to the synth line on repeat and then by the end of the day the song was done.”
The strings on the song Human Spring took a lot longer and were recorded in England. The song was recorded in the UK because the producer of the song, Tim Cross, was bed ridden due to cancer.
“Tim was immobile at the time of recording, he was quite sick with cancer. He died just after we finished the album which is terribly tragic and we dedicate the album to him,” explains a downcast Simons. He now goes into why working with Cross was a necessity. “Tim worked with Mike Goldfield on Tubular Bells which is one of my favourite records of all time.”
Simons closes the interview with much gumption as he oozes excitement for Buchanan’s recently booked album launch.
“The show has just been booked and it is happening on Thursday June 6 with ClubFeet DJs and Hearts at John Curtain Band Room. We are in a really good place and really looking forward to playing again – when you do all this album stuff it gets a bit mentally draining – so the band and I are wrapped to be playing material from this album live in our hometown!”
BY DAN WATT
BUCHANAN play the John Curtin Hotel on Thursday June 6 with ClubFeet DJs and Hearts. Human Spring is out this Friday May 10.