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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


Maybe There's No Heaven is out now!

Image: Pat O'Hara.

2022 is the year of Short Stack! The iconic Aussie trio have treated us all with their first album in seven years, with the release of their fifth studio album Maybe There's No Heaven. We caught up with frontman Shaun Diviney to unpack the album and so much more!

Maybe There's No Heaven arrives with ten new tracks, including the previously released singles Burn You Down, Live4, Armageddon, Love You Like I Used To and Sunshine. Unsure if they would ever record and release another album, the opportunity presented itself following the continued postponement of their reunion tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This time around, Short Stack wanted to tell their own story.

Having gained newfound creative control, the record is a reflection of the bands illustrious career, whilst also foraying into a more mature and refined sonic realm. With influences ranging from Bring Me The Horizon to The Getaway Plan and Blink-182 to The Used, Maybe There’s No Heaven supplies some of Short Stack's heaviest moments, whilst still retaining threads of their signature emo-punk sound. Opening with the sparse and vulnerable title track, we're immediately met with energised electronics that leads into the roaring Burn You Down, and sets the tone for what is to follow.

Laced with commanding drums, epic guitar lines and anthemic choruses, the album brings vivid lyricism brought to life by Diviney's captivating vocals stomping above dynamic soundscapes. The band enlisted Stevie Knight (Stand Atlantic, Yours Truly) to help bring the album to life after recording demos in Webb's studio, reuniting with the producer following their work together on the bands 2014 comeback single, Television.

In early 2020, the band announced their reformation and were set to embark on a national comeback tour, with multiple dates selling out in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, the shows were rescheduled a number of times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, offering the band time to work on new material following their signing to UNFD.

Kicking off in Newcastle on June 16, the run of shows will continue on to Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, before wrapping up in Perth on July 23. Along for the ride is special guests Between You and Me, with new tickets on sale now!

I'm actually going to start this with a little, I'm gonna say confession, but I guess it's only a confession if my year eight math teacher is seeing this, so it's more so a story. When I was in year eight, my friend and I skipped math class to go to a Short Stack meet-and-greet at a Sanity CD store, which is pretty wild.

That's sick. I love that. How old are you now?

I'm 25. So I realised yesterday that was like 12 or 13 years ago.

That's so cool. [Laughs] That's amazing, I love that!

The Planets single had just come out.

Oh, that's awesome. Thanks man!

It was great to meet you back then, great to chat to you now. The new album Maybe There's No Heaven. Firstly, you guys open with the Maybe There’s No Heaven intro, straight into Burn You Down, it's such a wild opening, you know that kind of vulnerable vocals and lyricism, sparse guitar, and then the electro motif to full on hard rock. I think it perfectly captures the listening experience of the album.

Thanks man!

Maybe There’s No Heaven is arguably Short Stacks heaviest album sonically, but still brings sprinkles of emo-punk nostalgia in a more refined and mature setting. What prompted you guys to follow that avenue of sound?

It kind of happened organically. The first thing we really wanted to do was we always wanted to make like a super pop-punk album. Armageddon was pretty much the first song we wrote that would make the record, and we were like, 'okay, cool. So this is the direction, super pop-punk'. And then we started going to, we have like a home studio and then we went into the studio and we like started fucking around with electronics and stuff and we were like, 'oh, what if this went here, what if this went here' and then we wrote Burn You Down. So there's sort of like two sides to the album, I guess. The real sort of real pop-punk side and then the other, I don't even really know, I suppose it's more just like rock songs.

The album reflects on your career as a band and embodies this newfound creative control you’re experiencing. How important was it to you guys to use this record as a vehicle to capture that history and represent what you really wanted Short Stack to be?

There was a feeling of like, we never really wanted to do another album. We really just wanted to do a tour and then just call it a day after that. So when we were presented with the opportunity, it was a bit of a weird feeling because we're like, we so just go with the flow of things and like when we're not feeling it, we sort of just stopped doing it. We were pretty aware that this could be the last record that we ever did whilst we were making it, which is a really weird thing to be aware of as a band. So we were like, 'all right, cool. Well this might be the last one. We better make it as good as we possibly can'. We obsessed over it a fair bit. We wanted it to be as good as it could be, I guess.

Yeah that's such an interesting thought, being aware it could be your final record as a band. I mean it's been 13 years since Stack is the New Black came out like that's-

Wow. Is it? That's insane? That's so fucking long.

Yeah it's crazy. It might be more, I might even have my math wrong there. 2009, is that correct?

That sounds about right. That's 13 years. That is insane.

Yeah wild [laughs]. Sorry, I'm just thinking about how I was like 12 or something then. So crazy! But looking back now, how do you think your artistry and the way you create a record has evolved? I mean, obviously you guys have had some time off between a few albums, personal developments like fatherhood, married life.

Being boring adults. Well we're not in high school anymore, so that sort of like changes the writing process a little bit. [Laughs] I think this album, we collaborated more so than any other album we've done. The majority of stuff in the past it was sort of like I just came to the boys like, 'here's the songs, let's go in and record them'. Whereas this time around we really worked on them together more than we ever have before. Like Sunshine, which is our next single, that was pretty much all Bradie, that one. So that's like something that's pretty cool that we've never really done before, really shared the writing around. Another thing we really wanted to do was, every now and then we did like a co-write in the past that would kinda make it, whereas this time we were pretty much like, 'nup, this is all coming from us'. So yeah, that's something we were really just, I suppose precious about, just having total creative control. Which I suppose was pretty annoying for people working with us, but we really had a pretty fleshed out idea of what we wanted it to be before we went in the studio.

So which three songs off the album would you play to someone who had never heard a Short Stack song to make them an instant die hard fan?

I think Sunshine, it's our next single, It just sounds like a Short Stack song to me if that sort of makes sense. Like there's electronics in it, there's guitars and sort of like that real sort of high hat kind of beat that we do in Sway Sway Baby that we just ripped off from Bloc Party [laughs]. So that would definitely be one. Burn You Down I think is like the best song we've ever written. It sounds like a proper song, if that sorta makes sense. Like that sounds like a song a good band would have and not like us [laughs]. And then...fuck I don't know. I don't know the third one. Maybe Armageddon. Armageddon is fun to play. It's fucking easy, easy song to play.

How did the album evolve throughout the creative process? Because I mean, you guys worked on it for how long? A few years right?

Yeah, we started it in 2020, and then we finished it at the start of this year. So Sunshine was the last song we did for it, and that wrapped up at the start of this year. How it sort of happened is we'd meet at Brady's house at his home studio and then we'd put down the ideas and work on them for a few days and then we would leave and we'd be like, 'hey, we want it to be super rocky, like not many electronics on it, not many synths, not many pads'. He'd be like, 'yeah, I won't put many on'. And then he'd put a fuck tonne on, and we'd be like, 'oh, well this sounds kinda cool. So I guess we sort of gotta roll with that'. And then we knew exactly who we wanted to work with. We wanted to work with Stevie Knight and he did Television with us in the past, which was the single we came back with last time we broke up, and we love working with him. He's unreal. And I just knew he'd get us. When you meet with a producer, there's always like that weird sort of first week when you're like, 'oh, I sort of have to be nice to these guys and not shut down these ideas'. Whereas we're so comfortable with Stevie where if he has an idea and we love it, we're like, 'yeah, that's sick', if we don't, we're like, 'nah, man, that's shit' [laughs]. Just that honesty upfront, which is awesome. And he gave us hell, hey, he was like, 'nah, not good enough. You need to be better than that'. I was like, 'oh fuck dude, can't you just fix it?' [laughs].

Is there a particular line or lyric from the album that you find will get stuck in your head the most? Or maybe one that you're most proud of?

There's a line in the first song where it's like, 'we're doing it for our kids and it's like doing it for our sons'. That's one that really sticks out to me. Because it's a sort of rare vulnerability that we don't really have. And even when we were recording it, Stevie was like, 'oh, it's a bit personal for you dude. Like your song are usually, not that personal' [laughs]. And I was like, 'Ah, is it a bit weird?' He's like, 'no', I should keep it. It's kinda cool. I was like, 'alright cool'.

I've even written here, that the whole of Maybe There's No Heaven, especially that little opening part, lyrically it's just so beautiful and amazing.

Thanks man. How that came together, we were in the studio on the last night and I was like, I really wanted the first two tracks to mold into each other. Because we knew that we wanted it to be first, and I made them stay until like 3:00am, until we got it. And they were like, 'we wanna go home', and I'm like, 'nah, man, it's gonna be sick' [laughs].

You’ll be hitting the road after so many reschedules due to COVID, how have you crafted a live experience after about seven years between tours?

We have not even thought about it. And that became very apparent when we played UNIFY over the weekend. Because there were like [laughs] all these other bands, they had like confetti and fire and smoke machines and shit. And our manager, he looks after The Amity Affliction and like proper bands too. He was like, 'it's just so funny how like all these other bands have like all this shit, and you idiots rock up with like three beach balls' and we're like, 'yeah, that'll do' [laughs]. We better actually think about it. We have meetings this week about it [laughs]. Because they're like proper big shows. We're like, 'oh, we better fucking do something [laughs].

What kind of impact do you think live music and performing has had on your career, and how important is it to you in terms of making that in person connection with audiences?

I think that's why people like us. I think, you know, there's like a chemistry between the three of us. That's something that's kind of cool. It's just the three of us that have been doing it since high school, pretty much. The fact that we're still doing it and then we play live, I think people that listen to us like the music. I think just the energy that we all have on stage is kind of fun and you know, that's the biggest thing. We got it from UNIFY on the weekend. There were so many amazing bands there and it was like there's a lot of music that's like, really heavy and really heavy things and stuff. We're like, 'oh we just want ours to be fun'. You know? We want people to come have an awesome time cause the world's such a fucking heavy place, especially at the moment. So people can come to our show and just have an awesome time for like an hour and a half, that's kind of what we want to do.

Which songs from your back catalogue are you guys most excited to perform this time around?

I love playing Planets and Sway Sway Baby, they're my favourite songs to play live. They're probably our biggest songs that people sort of know, and they are also fucking ridiculously easy to play. So that's why [laughs] I kind of like it. On the weekend we played Shimmy a Go Go for the first time and I've been playing it for like fucking 13 years, and I still fucked up. I was like, uh there's like a thousand people here and they watched me screw up this guitar that I've been playing for decades and I was like, ‘oh shit better play Sway Sway now’. It's like two chords.


Biggest musical influences?

I think Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance for me.

Dream collaboration?

Um, probably Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance {laughs}.

Album that has had the most impact on you?

Oh, I suppose that changes kind of all the time. Recently, it was actually, funnily enough, Gang of Youths' Go Further In Lightness. That kind of made me want to get the band back together when I listened to that cause I was like,' wow, this is like, this is really fucking cool'.

If you could create the soundtrack for any existing film, which film would it be?

I watched The Batman movie the other day. That was pretty good. Let's go with that one. Just make it like pop punk soundtrack instead of like that that broody Nirvana song.

Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?

Oh [laughs] It's gotta be Miley, Miley's fucking cool.

Yeah. Miley x Short Stack collaboration I reckon. What was the first song you loved to sing?

When I was little the first album I got was the Spice Girls album, when I was like in kindergarten or something. Spice World.

The first concert you ever went to?

I went to Blink-182, actually. That was my first concert, when I was maybe like 14 years old in Newcastle Entertainment Centre and Gyroscope opened.

Best concert you've been to?

When Green Day did their American Idiot tour and they played like the cricket ground and My Chemical Romance and Jimmy Eat World supported and it was like insane. Yeah, it was fucking good.

It's funny you said the Spice Girls earlier, because my next question is, would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet boy?

I'd rather be a Spice Girl, hundred percent.

What would your Spice nick name be?

[Laughs] I don't know. I mean I like Oporto. Oporto is my favourite food. So what's that sauce called? The Portuguese chicken sauce, prego or something. I'll be a Prego Spice.

A show you've performed that stands out as the most memorable?

Probably UNIFY. The last one we did.

An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?

In Australia, it's probably Parkway Drive, I think. Which is really weird, but they're pretty cool.

What advice would your current self give your future self for a year from now?

I'm building a house, so maybe chill the fuck out.

Do you have a guilty music pleasure or something that you might not feel guilty about it, but someone might be like, 'why are you listening to this'?

Dude, my Spotify is like fucking Bo Burnham: Inside. I listen to that probably three or four times a week. That whole thing I'm like obsessed with it still. Amazing.

The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?

I think when I watched the Blink-182 DVD. There was like a Blink DVD called The Urethra Chronicles. And they just went on tour and just put a DVD out of them just fucking around. And I was like, 'fuck that looks like so much fun. That's what I wanna do'.

Maybe There's No Heaven is out now!


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