All The Rage is out now!
Image: Ian Laidlaw.
Melbourne five-piece LOSER have treated fans with the release of their sophomore album, All The Rage. We caught up with frontman Tim Maxwell and bassist Craig Selak to unpack the record, building their own studio to self-produce the album, the impact of live music and so much more.
Congratulations on your great new record, 'All The Rage'! This is your second album what new knowledge and experience are you bringing into the sessions working on the new record, that differs from creating your debut album? Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then?
CRAIG SELAK: Everything [laughs]. One thing that is completely new this time is that other than the drums, we recorded everything ourselves in our own home studio. So that was cool. But it was also cool that, so the first album called 'Mindless Joy' was recorded with a guy called Sam Johnson, who's a longtime friend,who's done lots of bands, like Camp Cope and The Bennies and The Smith Street Band, all kinds of bands. So we did the debut album with him at his studio, and then this time around, we got him to do the drums at the same studio. Then Tim and I took on producing from Tim's home studio for the first time. First time both of us had produced an album and it was hell fun. We learned a lot.
TIM MAXWELL: Hell yeah! We had enough time, I'll tell you that.
Throughout the record, you touch on a lot of human and relatable topics, with a main conceptual thread surrounding mental health. How important was it for you to make a body of work that reminds the listener they’re not alone and to keep pushing through the darker times of life? Especially with the album arriving whilst we are back in lockdown.
TM: Yeah, for sure. I like to look at it as the first album was sort of like mentioning a lot of that stuff, but it was all sort of masked by my own emotions. Where as this one, like you sort of said, is just about letting people know they're not alone and stuff and being a lot more open about it rather than trying to hide it, you know? It's more about like unleashing that rage and stuff.
I've definitely made that same connection, that your first record implemented more metaphors when compared to the new album, which relies more on honest and soul-baring lyricism. Was that a conscious decision or something you naturally gravitated towards?
TM: It sort of just happened. I mean, there is one song on the record called 'So' which I never ever write like that and I'm really like stoked on that. Writing from that like sort of storytelling sort of sense, I'd love to do more of that. But no, it wasn't really a conscious decision, it just sort of happened really. I mean with writing music, mainly a lyric or idea to do vocally, has to come first for me, otherwise it's sort of like trying to push something out. That's just not going to come out. Yeah. Right. It needs to be natural and it needs to have something that happens.
The record was self-recorded entirely at your own self-made studio Restless Noise Studios and you self-proud fed the record. What are the advantages of building your own studio, writing and producing yourself and having that control over your own music?
TM: Taking as long as you want [laughs]. Having as many ideas over a big old period of time and not being able to like go home from the studio that night and realize, 'oh, I forgot to do this'. We've got like so much time, we can just add what we want after the fact, rather than like paying for somebody else's time and freaking that we're wasting their time and we don't have enough time and all that.
CS: Yeah. It was pretty cool to sort of, if we wanted to add a new part, rather than have to book studio time and rehearse it, it was just like Tim would walk out from the kitchen, go to the studio and put it on and we're like, great. So that was pretty fun.
Such a relaxing way to create! Could you walk us through your creative process when it came to writing this collection of songs?
TM: Yeah, for sure. It sort of differs. Most of the time it starts off with me giving the band some sort of like demo and outline. The main melody and like riff structure could be there, but then maybe I'm not like sold on the lyrics and maybe somebody else in the band hears something and they'll pick it out. For this one, it was a lot of songs sort of written over a big period of time. We sort of picked some songs that were like super old that we demoed for 'Mindless Joy'. So basically if a song's strong enough to stand on its own them, we can like, we'll take. I'm not sort of the person who's scared to find something that was written ages ago that's not fresh, because you can always make it fresh and stuff. But most of the time it starts with just writing, it's got to be like a melody or riff idea, and it sort of just stems from there.
How did the album evolve and change as you were creating it, and were there any tracks left on the cutting room floor that you think might have a life in the future? You mentioned there some of songs came from older demos.
CS: There's definitely songs on the floor. I think by the time we actually went into record the first album, we had like over a hundred songs in the bank. When we were writing this one, new songs were being written and recording it. And so they were getting added and songs getting swapped out. So there was no shortage of ideas and also we've had nothing but time to keep working on them. We're not the kind of band that likes to be doing nothing, because it's fun for us. It's not like you've got to push to succeed. It's more like we just love creating and sometimes you got to wait for the promotion machine to catch up, but it's just fun to keep pushing them out. I think some of the songs that didn't make this release in particular will definitely see the light of day soon as well.
Could you give me your top three tracks from 'All The Rage', that if you played to someone who hadn’t heard your music, would make them an instant diehard fan?
TM: I'm gonna say Skyward, Stall and Meant To Be.
CS: I would definitely say Skyward as well. I think Head First and Meant To Be. Yeah those three they're kind of a bit of everything.
Is there like a particular line or a lyric from the album that you'll find will be like stuck in your head? You'll just be like washing the dishes or something and it's the one that you find yourself like humming the most?
TM: There's this one song that I was talking about, 'Stall'. That song always gets stuck in my head. It's like a lot of the melodies, they derive a lot from like pop music as well. You know what I mean? Me and Craig would like listen to some sort of Max Martin production and then I'd get inspiration from that and then I'd work out a way how to use it in our own songwriting because, you know, we're obviously heavily influenced by bands like Weezer and like they're pretty much like a heavy Beach Boys. There's always this like big overriding sense of melody. So like most choruses are just like nursery rhymes. So a lot of them I try to make to be worms.
You guys have dropped some great imagery surrounding the record. How important are the visuals to you guys when it comes to building the identity of the record?
CS: In a perfect world super important. For this album in particular, we really had a lot of big ideas for videos and things that would really tie in thematically. And then COVID systematically smashed every one of them. We canceled like four clips the week of, and then had to compile something at home out of old footage and stuff. We still try to tie it together somehow, but yeah I think in a perfect world it's a great marriage of visual and audio to try and represent something more visceral from the songs, from how you intended it. I think obviously when people just have the music, they can just create their own feeling. But it's a nice, subtle way to sort of also add some visual element to it and say, 'this is kind of where we were coming from'. I'm still really proud of every video we've done, absolutely. But we had to pivot a lot and none of them came out how we hoped when we first started recording, but still really proud of how they did come out.
Obviously we're all in lockdown, so you're unable to tour at the moment. Will we be able to catch you on tour anytime soon post-lockdown?
TM: Yeah. Well, we're meant to do it but that got canned.
CS: Yeah. I think we have now cancelled close to thirty gigs in the last six months. We had a couple of bad timings where there was a snap lockdown right when we were supposed to play and then they all got canceled and then people could play for a month and then we just kind of became ships in the night. Right now, we cleared the whole decks. So in terms of live gigs, we're just waiting until there's some clarity on no more lockdowns. Beause it was just actually starting to get really emotionally taxing, having to keep track of where you could be, where you couldn't be, trying to tell people it got moved, it didn't. The whole thing was a bit of a shit fight. So live performance, nothing booked, but other things where we're working real hard on. All kinds of stuff to stay active and help get people's ears onto the album.
What can audiences expect from one of your live shows when you are able to return to the stage?
TM: Some loud guitars, big old melodies, some singalongs and just pure rock and roll!
CS: Yeah. A bit of unpredictability too There's a lot of great bands that are really good at just playing their songs and that's it. And that's killer, I love that. But our band in particular, we're players. We love the technical aspect of playing and we like jamming and stuff. So a lot of the time we might set out a show with it, with a plan and then halfway through Tim will just be like, 'all right, it's time for a guitar solo Will, I'm changing the string, go', and then that's it. Then all of a sudden we're playing blues and we're taking it somewhere else. We'll get someone up to play a guitar solo with us. So it's a little bit unpredictable, but very much in the world of just have a drink and forget your worries.
Hopefully you'll get to tour soon so we can all come along to a show! The past eighteen months have taken its toll on the music industry, specifically the touring sector, but also in terms of making that in person connection with audience members and creating a shared feeling and experience. How important do you think live music is not only for yourselves as musicians showcasing your art, but also for the audience members who resonate with your music?
TM: Oh it's so important and I miss it so much. I didn't realise how much I missed it until now. You know what I mean? It's just such an important thing for people to stay sane and be able to help and support their artists and stuff like that. Because you know, at the moment, all we can do really is release music and sell merchandise. Once you take out the live aspect, especially when a band is about to drop something they've been working on so hard and they have to still stay inside, it's pretty depressing.
CS: That human connection is impossible to replace. There's nothing like feeling the wind off a loud stack amp blowing your face off, you know, and just being in a room with people and that excitement, the buzz.
TM: When we were about to release 'Mindless Joy' we had a show that was built for the Old Bar and then it got moved to the SB, like probably six or eight months later.
CS: It was a year later!
TM: A year later, and people were singing our songs back to us in a packed room. And you know, we snuck a gig in there. Nothing has ever felt that good. Still living off that now.
Biggest musical influences?
TM: Green Day.
TM: I'd love to work with this producer called Shawn Everett. CS: Yeah, fuck yeah Tim.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
CS: I'm going to say Pearl Jam Ten.
TM: I'm going to say Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
TM: American Pie Reunion [laughs].
CS: I'd love to do Sin City. It would be cool to write the soundtrack for that.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
TM: Miley all the way, I love Miley.
What was the first song you loved to sing or play?
TM: That's a good question.
CS: There was a song on the Agro's Cartoon Connection. He had a CD and there was a song called Wally Lewis. I still remember how that went. I must've been two or three years old, maybe on something I don't know.
TM: I was about to say Backstreet boys, but let's move on.
CS: There's no shaming here Tim.
A song you would love to cover on tour?
CS: The Four Horsemen Metallica.
First concert you attended?
TM: Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and My Chemical Romance at Rod Laver Arena, 2005.
CS: Mine was a Silverchair, Magic Dirt, Something For Kate on The Freak Show tour in 97,
Best concert you have been to?
TM: Roger Waters live at Rod Laver Arena.
CS: I went and saw Rage Against The Machine at Festival Hall.
First album you ever bought?
TM: It was a single and it was Lost Control by Grinspoon.
CS: Mine was Michael Jackson's Dangerous.
This is going to be a good question now! Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
CS: Spice Girl for me, the songs are way better!
TM: Backstreet Boys aren't as cool anymore. I'm going to say Backstreet Boys.
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
CS: OCD Spice.
What’s your favourite back street?
TM: Does Parkway Drive count as a backstreet?
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
TM: Probably the Mindless Joy launch. What are we were talking about before. That was, yeah, nothing's ever felt that. Cool.
CS: That was awesome.
Guilty music pleasure?
TM: Yes, a lot. I don't like to be guilty about it anymore. I just don't care, could be dead tomorrow, so I'll listen to whatever.
CS: I don't know why I feel guilty about it, but Sheryl Crow. I just love Sheryl Crow and I don't talk about how much I love Sheryl Crow.
TM: I've been listening to some Lil Nas X.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
TM: Violent Soho. CS: The Beatles.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
TM: Don't overthink anything.
CS: That's exactly the same advice I would give myself. So let's remind ourselves Timmy. Vasili can you send us a reminder in one year that says that?
I sure will! August 25th 2022. August, 2022 CS: That's awesome, thank you!
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
TM: I remember seeing, Green Day Bullet in the Bible when like Billy Joe came out and was the crowd was roaring and all that sort of shit. I think that was the first time I wanted to pick up a guitar and be an actual performer. You know, I listened to a lot of rock music before that, and that made me want to pick up the guitar, but that made me want to be a performer and be like, 'oh, I'm going to be a front man one day'.
CS: I know this sounds so fucking lame. But I just honestly can't remember a time when that wasn't the case. I don't think I have no formation ideas of ever not wanting to do it.