After three long years, I Know Leopard offer up the fruit of their labour

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After three long years, I Know Leopard offer up the fruit of their labour

Photo by Lisa Businovski
Words by David James Young

Despite having been a band for the better part of this decade, Sydney indie-pop band I Know Leopard have only just come around to releasing their debut album. 

Love Is A Landmine was released last week after nearly three years of work. “This has been a long time coming,” says Luke O’Loughlin, the band’s lead vocalist and chief songwriter.

“We lost any sense of objectivity over it a long time ago, so to actually have it out there for people to listen to with fresh ears is an exciting prospect. It’s terrifying, of course – I’ve been thinking a lot about that the past few days – but the fact it’s finally out after all this time is something to be really proud of.”

The band – O’Loughlin, bassist Rosie Fitzgerald, guitarist Todd Andrews and violinist/keyboardist Jenny McCullagh – recorded Love Is A Landmine between Sydney and Adelaide, with the latter involving one half of fellow Sydney band The Preatures. Guitarist Jack Moffit was behind the boards for the album, tracking the band playing live, while drummer Luke Davison took to the skins in a session capacity.

“We’ve known those guys since Todd and I first moved to Sydney about 10 years ago,” says O’Loughlin, originally an Adelaide native. “They’re very familiar to us, and they were able to create a really great working environment to make an album in. Luke, in particular, has been a big part of the band for a while – he’s gone out on the road with us a few times in the past, and he’ll be doing so again for our album tour later this year.”

Curiously, for an album that had dozens of songs demoed for it, only a couple of tracks have been performed live by the band prior to Landmine’s release. Both ‘Evergreen’ and ‘All That She Cared About’ were taken from early sessions for the album, and thus are somewhat of a stylistic contrast to the rest of it.

“The other key difference for those tracks was that they were pieced together from old stems,” adds O’Loughlin. “Most of the album was tracked live, which gave the songs more of a kind of cohesive feel. For these two, though, they kind of come across perhaps a little more sample-based. I think that ended up being a good thing – it gave the album a bit of a twist to have them included.”

The only other song to be performed prior to the album’s release was its lead single, ‘Landmine’, which was released this past August. Its original form, however, was substantially different from the one that made the cut for the album.

“That early arrangement didn’t have a lot of the bigger parts of the song,” O’Loughlin explains. “The chorus wasn’t there yet, the ‘didn’t you know’ hook wasn’t part of it, and the guitar solo section was way too long. There were parts I felt had to be toned down, too – that’s a big thing when it comes to me self-editing my work.” The song’s final incarnation was inspired by a myriad of different musical touchstones, which, believe it or not, included lauded rock enthusiasts Devo.

“In the past, I’ve drenched a lot of the keyboards and synths on our records in reverb, just to make them sound as dreamy as possible,” says O’Loughlin. “One of the biggest differences this time around while we were making this record was to switch that up – we either cut down the reverb or took it right out.

“You’re getting pretty much that dry signal for the synthesizer, and it makes them sound a lot more percussive in that element. I feel like that’s a big part of how Devo achieve their sound, and how they were able to really push the weirdness of their music. With any luck, that’s seeped into what we do as well.”

I Know Leopard’s debut album, Love Is A Landmine, is out now via Ivy League Records. They’ll be launching the LP at the Northcote Social Club on Friday May 24. Head to the venue website for ticks.