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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos

TRACK-BY-TRACK: UNDERLAY TAKE US THROUGH 'SICK LIKE A KID'

Sick Like A Kid is out now!

Image: Richard Clifford.

Melbourne-based indie-rock artist underlay has unveiled his new EP, Sick Like A Kid. The musical project of Melbourne via Newcastle via Riyadh, Saudi Arabia multi-instrumentalist Cody Broughman, the musician is taking us through the collection of songs track-by-track.


“This EP is more of a diary entry than anything for me. When I look back over my life during the period that I wrote the record, every significant event has a song in there and I can pinpoint exactly how I was feeling by listening back. I’ve always thought of writing music as an exercise of screaming into the void, the idea of throwing some of the most personal and intimate moments of my life out into the public sphere is so cathartic and something very special to share. It can also be a bizarre dichotomy of laying yourself bare, but also really hiding in plain sight. There are so many lines in there that only myself or the people around will really understand, but the idea that someone could project their own experiences onto them is what makes music so special." Broughman shares.

 

“These songs have sat with me for quite a number of years now, whether hidden in the live show or sitting on a hard drive, and it feels like such a breath of fresh air to finally have them out to the public. I’ve always written music purely for myself, and I’ve learnt over time that sharing songs isn’t an intrusion, it's an invitation. I’ve lived this, now we can all share the same experiences and emotions together.”



THROUGH YOUR TEETH

This song only just scraped into the EP, but I’m so glad it did in the end. After I went through a huge house fire in 2020, I didn’t really have any working guitars except for this dodgy acoustic my friend had left at my house years ago and somehow had managed to survive. I spent a whole year just writing these acoustic ballads and this one stuck around for a while. Eventually I made an instrumental demo of it and uploaded it to SoundCloud as I usually do because my computer’s always out of storage. The very next day that computer wouldn’t turn back on, and I took it as a sign that it was time to move on from these songs.


I didn’t really think about it again until it was coming up to when we needed to have the songs finalised to go into the studio to record the EP and we needed one last song to put on there. I hadn’t heard the song in about a year, and listening back immediately put me back into place of when I wrote it, in the middle of peak pandemic, going through my first big heartbreak and having just lost everything, and so we decided it needed to be on the EP to mark the start of the whole narrative. The opening chords are actually from the original SoundCloud demo which I thought was really special. One of my favourite moments off the record is in the bridge there’s so many layers of ambience and intertwining acoustic guitars, and underneath it is a moment when my producer Campbell decided to turn the mics on while myself and my drummer Nick were packing up the live room for the day. It’s quite literally a recording of him telling me to “shut the fuck up” through a whole load of tape delay. I think that summarises the underlay experience perfectly.



FAMILY LINES

Mentally I segment the record into which songs were written in each house, so this one is a bit of a sister song to Father’s Name since they were written on the same day. I genuinely have no recollection of writing this song, which is a huge pain when we play it live and I have to try and figure out what’s going on with those bouncy glockenspiel parts. My bandmate Lily used to be on keys, and every practice she would get so annoyed trying to figure out what was going through my head when I wrote this one. She’s on guitar now. 


Another special moment of recording the EP came in this song. We’d wrapped up tracking and decided to go to lunch and celebrate, when Campbell mentioned that whenever he’d seen me play this song live, I always just ended up degenerating into screaming by the end of that, and we decided that we had to go back in and give this one last go. For vocals he’d rigged up a bunch of acoustic panels in the live room so no one could see in or out while I was singing to create a super isolating space. He hit record and just told me to start yelling expecting it to sound more funny than anything, but it was one of the most beautiful and cathartic moments I’ve ever had in music. Being able to finish recording, alone and on the floor, screaming into a microphone felt like the perfect ending and as if I could finally let go of everything from the past few years.. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there that I’m not smart enough to figure out. Either way, it’s probably a completely unnecessarily aggressive way to end a song about how much I love my girlfriend, but that’s what I wanted to capture. Love can feel incredible, but sometimes it’s so engulfing and you can truly feel captive by it.



HAIRCUT

In true underlay fashion I’ve taken the darkest topic I’ve ever written about and put it as the backdrop for the closest thing to a pop song I’ve ever written. I had a really rough time with an illness in 2020-2021 and it’s something that I still don’t ever really talk about or tell anyone. The whole point of me starting underlay was that I had so much that I wanted to say but was too embarrassed, so my way to get it out was putting it into a song and this song taps into that. 


I probably flew a bit close to home on this one though and I still really struggle to play it live and get through the whole song, so it’s nice to have it out there on record. “Haircut” was the most production-heavy song, and I think Campbell and I were pretty close to strangling each other by the end of mixing it – it’s one of those songs where you’ve just got a certain idea in your head and if the song doesn’t sound exactly like that then it’s all wrong. To be able to have someone like Campbell in the room with me and pull me out of the usual rabbit holes I go down was phenomenal, and I’m super proud with what we were able to pull from this one.



OUGHT

This track was from the same “suite” as Haircut, and the last song I wrote for this EP. It will always be one of my favourites to play live, it means a lot to a lot of people who play in the live band and I think we all get a bit of a kick out of being able to play it together. Technically and musically it’s miles away from songs like Haircut, and I wanted this one to really be about the words and make it my indie-rock version of a diss track. The original version was a lot more synth heavy, but we cut everything down and stripped it away to bring it back to the pain in the lyrics, especially at the end. I had an unhealthy obsession with Belle and Sebastian at the time of writing this one, so there’s a lot of references to their song “tars of Track and Field in there.



FATHER'S NAME

Sometimes you have to sit back and look at yourself and think “god you’re a dick”. I probably do this a bit too often, but this one was pretty valid. This song’s all about messing up and saying “I am so sorry, I promise I will fix this, I will genuinely do the dumbest things if it’ll make you feel better”. This song was another one where I’d sat on the demo for so long that that’s how it felt it needed to be, we tried to re-record a lot of things but ended up using quite a few of the original sounds, which is pretty fun for such a grandiose song where we’ve got a room full of super nice vintage synths and most of the sounds are from the jankiest possible logic plugins, but that’s what really came across the best in the end. 


Even in the drums before the second verse, that’s all the sound of the talkback mic mixed with this super old compressor that Campbell had that makes everything sound completely terrible. That was another common theme in the EP, trying to make things sound worse. Sometimes you knock off a bit of polish to really get the point across, and I think a lot of the ugly and nasty sounds really help drive the pain and power of songs across. I’ve always thought some of the most beautiful sounds in music are simultaneously the ugliest, again another metaphor I can’t figure out but we’ll leave it in.



Sick Like A Kid is out now!


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