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Port Macquarie’s Royal Chant have been touring round the nation, showing off their latest material. Tomatrax caught up with the band just before their gig in Brisbane to have a general discussion.

Mark Spence, formerly the band’s guitarist and lead singer has recently had a change in roles and is now the band’s drummer and lead singer. Mark explained that this was “out of necessity. We lost our drummer and needed a new one and good drummers are hard to find. Most of the time drummers are either really bad or they want to take over the show.”

Royal Chant has been working on their next album to be released later in the year. “Three songs out of eight or nine are done,” explained Mark. “We hope to be done recording by the end of June, July we’ll be mixing and hopefully it will be out by September/October.”

The band decided to take as long a time as they can to produce this record. “We were actually talking deliberately about ‘let’s take our time’” said Mark. “James [the band’s guitarist] is producing the record that was a deliberate step. Instead of going ‘We gotta record! We gotta mix!’ we thought ‘let’s just calm down’. Including recording the guitar one weekend and recording the vocals the next, we wanted to make it really easy. It’s like how Fleetwood Mac would go into the studio for a year and they would spend millions of dollars. Bands can’t do that anymore, there’s no money. But we can do the same thing and have as much time as you want by recording at home and recording at studios, we’re trying to get the best of both worlds. Generally indie bands have to save up a lot of money and do it all at once, and hope it turns out. We’re trying to have a big rock experience at least with the time table.”

James, the band’s guitarist added that “the big time table gives us time to think. Like if somebody makes a mistake that sounds really cool. For the first time we could think about adding synths or pianos, and for the first time there are bits we recorded that we didn’t use because we had time to consider it more.”

Mark explained that the band’s latest single, I am a model is “James at his tinkering best!”
“It’s got a lot of stuff in it, it’s mixed very low,” said James. “It’s got a lot of layers to it, it’s got pianos it’s got synths, it’s got guitars, it’s got a lot of guitars. I had a lot of fun with outtakes of Mark’s vocals, and placing them around the song.”

In producing the album, James has done a fair amount of experimentation working field recording samples into the mix. “I’ve been recording a lot of stuff around my place and added that to the sound, they become padding which adds to the silence. If you listen closely you can hear a lot of computer science students complaining about the lectures in the background of Just trying to meet you. It’s not as in your face as other field recording stuff. I like the Tool approach where you can have stuff you can only hear you turn things up really loud. I like to hide stuff down low.”

“I record as much as I can then I listen to it and find the best bits to it” said James in discussing how he collects samples for the music. “I have some ideas if I want something interesting that is conversational or something interesting that sounds like street noises. But other than that I’m cheery picking from a large data set.”

The next album will be titled The War Cry of Failure, a title that was inspired by a comedy of errors on a recent show. “Inside the first three songs, something went wrong on every song”, remembered James. “The first half of the set was a complete write off for me. After the show we were out the back we were chatting and it just came into my head. I was just thinking about how you can try do everything as good as you can and you can just run into this possibility of failure and we just found it funny.”

“It was entirely James’ idea,” said Mark. “He just yelled out ‘It’s been the war cry of failure!’ So we came up with that and we laughed ever since.”

In previous interviews Mark has talked about how he felt he was very bad at playing guitar, however over time he has softened on his self-criticism. “I think I understand the role more”, said Mark. “When I play the guitar it has a very specific reason. I’m not going to do a solo. No one wants me to solo; no one wants any guitar player to solo. I play the guitar the way I want it to sound. James plays the guitar the way I wish I could play it, he also emotionally interprets the songs so I don’t mind playing the drums because he doesn’t manhandle them. It’s always about the song, either the song is or it isn’t! I berated myself as a guitarist, and I still do, but I’m more accepting of it now.”

Check out Royal Chant’s website to find out more!

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