Donny Love's new single, The Lights, is out now! We chat to frontman Andrew Hodges about their music and more.
Image: Alex Lorking-Tanner
Aussie band Donny Love have shared their new song, The Lights. The band are also giving fans a behind-the-scenes look into how the track was made.
The exhilarating song is a comment on the decline of Australian suburbia, vividly capturing that essence. Whilst navigating that notion, the release also captures the spirit of the landscape, creating a nostalgic space where listeners can fondly recall upon their own experiences of suburbia. There are nods to neon domination, family, nocturnal life and more present on the track.
On The Lights, the bands singer and songwriter, Andrew Hodges, leaves behind the usual tongue-in-cheek lyrical tactics, swapping out irony and absurdism for a fragile and more reflective narrative. Their songwriting has become more expansive and reflective, which has allowed the band to create the romanticised space that has been set out on The Lights. Of the writing process, Hodges shared: "I tried on 'The Lights' to write from a more exposed, perhaps fragile place of my fractured psyche at that time, to understand the post-modern streetscape, dusk, the layering of memory and material in public spaces, and the individual's role within all of this."
With a stellar horn introduction, the production and structure of the track when paired with the instrumentation and lyrical mastery really embody the feelings of suburbia. In particular the laid back, romantic glow of Australian life.
For the first time ever, the band are pulling the curtain on their creative process, giving fans an exclusive look on how the track was created. Donny Love are sharing a collage of the life of the song, made up of soundbites of different sessions and ideas that arouse during the recording process.
The Lights is the bands second release of the year, following their single Boredom Pills. The tracks are set to appear on their sophomore album, Meeting of the Dons, due out later this year.
The Lights is out now! Read our interview with Andrew Hodges below!
Tell us a bit about how you started your musical journey, and what brought the band together…
The musical journey starts in the womb and is solidified at a young age through nursery rhymes. With a love and curiosity for music, the founding Dons (Randy, Bill and myself, Hog) came together and began forging our very own adult nursery rhymes.
Congratulations on the release of The Lights!
The song comments on the decline of Australian suburbia, and vividly captures that essence. But you’re also capturing the spirit of the landscape, creating a nostalgic space where listeners can fondly recall upon their own experiences of suburbia. How important was it for you to present these juxtaposing views to completely convey your own thoughts and understandings on Australian suburbia?
Thanks Milky! This song was an attempt to tread the precarious line between nostalgia and despair. Nostalgia sugarcoats memory and leaves out the gritty details. The suburbs of Australia have plenty of this, and while I’ll try and craft a romanticised image of our lives within them in my head, I can’t ignore the front fences closing us off from the street and our neighbours, or the disparity happening all around. Although I must admit I am a sucker for the smell of rain on hot bitumen.
There are nods to neon domination, family, nocturnal life and more present on the song. Could you tell us a bit about what inspired you to delve into these ideas and the importance of exploring these themes?
The Lights was written during an unruly and creative period of my life living in a share house and centre for nocturnal activities in Palm Beach QLD. I was living the double life of a full time designer for a global firm / unruly artist with a bad mullet and the song is a direct exploration of this existential tug of war, played out to the backdrop of the asbestos fenced furore of Palm Beach.
The track leaves behind your usual tongue-in-cheek lyrical tactics, swapping out irony and absurdism for a fragile and more reflective narrative. Did this re-route alter the way you approached creating the song?
I guess I found a more suitable place to rest my tongue…
That horn introduction is so sublime! The production and structure of the track when paired with the instrumentation and lyrical mastery really embody the feelings of suburbia. In particular the laid back, romantic glow of Australian life. How did you approach creating a soundscape that perfectly embodied the lyrical content of the track?
Lots of observation of intersections and billboards.
Intro breakdown below:
Don T Bone on the sax = Surfside Bus (route 777)
Me on trumpet = Honking hatchback driver
The Dons = Disgruntled motorists being cut off by Surfside Bus and honking hatchback
You began writing the track in 2018, how do you think the evolution of the song influenced your own views on suburbia and the nostalgia that surrounds it?
I definitely realised a lot of thoughts I had around suburban life through The Lights. When you have limited lines in a song you’ve gotta make ‘em count, and this song attempted to summarise the things I’d experienced, observed, and written about over the years.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording songs?
I got the majority of the song out in a flourish in late 2018 and made some demos on my darling Yamaha 8 track cassette recorder before taking it to the Dons. From there we played it live to test it/expose its flaws, then recorded the bones of it at Love Street Studios here on the Gold Coast with George Carpenter. Thanks to George for his guidance, especially in pushing us towards that horrific but very fitting Paul Simon-esque middle section lol. We finished off the recording in my home studio and various other spots round town, before we sent it to the alchemical genius Jack Prest who gave it a large mix and master. We’ve since played it live on radio, and now it’s out it lives on through our humble yet powerful fan base, and as one of our favourite songs in the live set.
How do you feel your music speaks to listeners, and what messages do you hope listeners take away from The Lights?
We hope The Lights really speaks to the part of our listeners that makes them want to get in their cars and drive straight into a.. carpark.. safely. We hope it encourages further contemplation of our neighbourhoods, and nature’s impending reclamation of them.
Did you find the experience of writing and recording during the COVID-19 pandemic to be more challenging or did it allow you to carve out time and space to immerse yourself completely within creating? Were there any challenges?
This song, and our previous single Boredom Pills, and our entire new album Meeting of the Dons preceded the pandemic, but predicted a strange future.
What can fans expect in terms of the sonic sound of your upcoming sophomore album, Meeting of the Dons? Will you continue your lyrical experimentation present on the track and bring in more new sounds?
When it came to mixing Meeting of the Dons with Jack Prest, we chose this track as the first as we thought it was both at the thematic heart of the album, and had all the key instruments and fluffy feelings. The experimentation most certainly continues and the instruments keep piling up.
What new knowledge and experience are you bringing into the sessions working on the tracks, that differs from creating your debut album?
A daily barrage of experience is forever piled atop the heap that is Donny Love. We sensed the egg, tried to understand it, now it’s in all of us.
You’ve performed a handful of shows during the pandemic. What has it been like performing these socially distanced shows as opposed to your usual performances? And how do you approach creating a set for a sit-down show?
The return shows we have played have been thoroughly enjoyable for 2 reasons: 1, the seated environment allows us to lean into the loungey vibe, and 2, we can say we’re selling out shows.
The current pandemic has obviously put a halt to touring and performing live. Do you have any post-pandemic touring plans? And what can audiences expect from a Donny Love live show?
The pandemic definitely halted plans for our (above-ground) single and album tours, but it’s allowed us to start planning our cross-border tunnel tour of Australia. Stay tuned moles!
In the meantime, grab a ticket to this: SPRING TIME RITUAL: The Birth of Holiday Maker Records.
Roman aquifers in modern Istanbul
Donny Love X Family Jordan
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Recently.. Bonnie Raitt - S/T and Eden Ahbez - Eden’s Island
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Hairpin banana rendezvous
Best song of 2020?
Family Jordan - Big Grass
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
The Little Rascals, but with Randy Newman performing every track
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Nostalgia vs despair.
The best/most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Shibuya Lush, Tokyo 2018
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Wings or some shit
Best concert you have been to?
Tie between John Maus or Mic Conway last year or Pearl Jam as a fifteen year old lol
Last concert you went to?
Nice Biscuit / The Oogars / Syrup, Go On
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
Guilty music pleasure?
Jennifer Lopez (not guilty)
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?
Toss up between Sam Joseph and Jordan Rochfort
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Listen to more Family Jordan
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Nursery rhymes and my first cassette recorder, Playskool brand, age 6