“It’s fookin’ freezin’ here!” she informs us, in her strong Welsh lilt. “I bet it’s hot where you are, go on, rub it in!” she laughs. “Go on, what temperature is it where you are?” she inquires.
Little did she know that we are suffering in record temperatures and there were bushfires running wild all over the nation as we spoke. “Oh man, I’m sorry to hear that,” she sympathises, “maybe cool is best!”
The new album has come up an absolute treat, big, bold and powerful, but highly varied at the same time. It was apparently a five-to-six month writing and recording process, and was generally a happy, smooth and energising experience for all involved. And what’s more, they got to work with one of the most legendary producers in music history, and Ritzy’s passion for the project was flowing out of her.
“From the very beginnings of its conception in November 2011, right the way through to mixing in April, it was totally exciting, and it fired up a lot of energy, I had a great time making that record,” she enthuses. “We had a great time working with Andy Wallace, I think he’s one of the finest collaborations we’ve ever had in our careers…we absolutely loved meeting him and working with him. He’s ridiculously talented, really nice. So it’s been a real pleasure…now we’re just fookin’ excited to share the new songs, it sounds great live, the songs are becoming their own ‘live beast’”
And so how would you compare the album to the debut? “They’re different records,” she states. “We’re proud of both, but I think this record definitely has a bit different instrumentation to the first record. Over the course of 12 months we started playing more piano. You have to pass the time in the (tour) bus somehow, so I’ve been doing a lot of scoring, and different types of composition over the course of 12 months. And that definitely seeps into the new record.
“The writing approach was quite different as well,” she continues, “in the sense that on this record we stripped everything back to a piano or an acoustic guitar, and that was kind of an exciting new approach to the songwriting, because it gives the lyrics and the melody a lot of focus. Some of the songs have stayed like that, they’re more stripped back, more than some of the tracks on The Big Roar, but some of the other songs have turned into more bombastic, aggressive tracks as well. They’re different records, but I would hope to be saying that! I think something would have gone drastically wrong if we churned out the same record!” she concludes.
Another, sad event in Ritzy’s life also helped to shape the way the album sounds. “I lost my grandfather just before we went into the studio to record this album,” she reveals, “so I had this massive nostalgic trip, I went back to all his favourite records almost. A lot of barber shop, a lot of Al Johnson, Perry Como, Frank Churchill.”
The band have already done a brief tour of Australia back in 2011, and while they have heavy commitments across the UK and Europe in the coming few months, Ritzy has great memories of that tour, and is hopeful and confident that they will return to our shores in the not too distant future.
“I sincerely hope so,” she says, “we had a really, really good time last time, we genuinely have so many happy memories from that. We did some shows of our own, and we were out with Temper Trap who are a great, sweet bunch of guys, and we went up to do Splendour. We just had that really fun, really busy but exciting couple of weeks. We’ve wanted to repeat it for so long, but just logistically we haven’t managed to. I sincerely hope that this (northern) summer we manage a trip back, we definitely want to.
“I think, in terms of the dates, we’re looking at coming back early our summer, your winter, so we need to try and figure that out at some point and come for your summer. It’s not like us Welshies get a lot of sun!” she laughs. “We could definitely do with some extra help when it comes to sunshine! So we’ll definitely have to try and factor in an Australian summer tour at some point.”
BY ROD WHITFIELD