You always hear bands and publications discussing honesty and how fans and audiences can tell when a band is being genuine and when they’re talking completely and utter shit. But I think that we can all agree that Melbourne’s Ceres definitely aren’t talking shit with their simple, but honest and superb music. I recently spoke with Ceres singer/guitarist/moustache lord, Tom Lanyon, about the band’s phenomenal new record, ‘Drag It Down On You’.
The first thing I want to talk about is the new album’s cover. It’s a very…iconic cover, almost. As both the band’s promo shots and the cover of ‘Drag It Down On You’ both featuring that same tree, I’m just wondering if that garden is the front yard of one of your own houses or maybe at a mates place?
The cover was a photo that my girlfriend took and it’s from around the Cross, this area of Richmond, Melbourne, near the MCG. We don’t even know what kind of plant or tree it is. I actually spoke with a florist the other day and they couldn’t tell me what it is. But yeah, this “magical” plant was cascading over the fence of this house and just I fell in love with it straight away. It’s not unlike the cover for I Don’t Wanna Be Anywhere But Here; it’s quite affecting, it’s emotional. Just putting it on the cover with the black background was awesome. But that photo was taken in summer and our press shots for the album were later in the year, so all of the flowers were gone. Kane Hibberd, who took all of the photos, found a very similar looking bush that was also in Richmond and we just stood in front of that. We have no idea whose house it was, but the owner came out to see what we were all doing. She was loving it! I guess she thought she was going to be so famous for this photo…but I guess not [laughs].
I really like that man, that whole story is like your music; real and with no bullshit. Also, the production and the mix of this record is just so natural and…real. Correct me if I’m wrong, but as you recorded it at Sing Sing Studios, that’s an all-analogue studio, isn’t it?
Well, there’s definitely a lot of tape used there. We tracked to tape on the last record, but this time round we just went straight into Pro Tools. But it runs off this crazy old Neve desk, so it has this amazingly warm sound. It also comes down to how it was mixed as well. You are right, we wanted it to sound like a very natural record. We also wanted it to feel claustrophobic in parts and much open, wider in other parts, all while still being natural sounding. There’s obviously no auto tune on my vocals, as they can get quite pitchy at times, but we love that as it happens naturally and you want to keep it in. That’s where all of the emotion comes from, I find. We are stoked on how the album came out, as there was actually a lot of effort put into it sounding so effortless. If we had gotten it wrong, it would have sounded shit, like a real garage, house recording.
Well, I think you really nailed that sound and tone for the record. I’ve always likened listening to your records as seeing the band play live, except nowhere near as loud.
[Laughs] cool man, I’ll take that for sure! Also, we all read your review earlier today; it was awesome dude. I was so hyped on it! That review was such a trip man, thanks so much for writing it. Reading things like that brings a tear to my eye!
Oh well, thank you, man, I am glad you liked it! I must also say thank you for writing an album that I absolutely fell in love with. Now, I’ve been seeing the band getting a large amount of praise for this record, and rightfully so! That’s got nothing to do with me being an Australian and you being an Australian band; you’ve just created an amazing album that is representative of your work and effort.
Oh, one hundred percent man, thank you. We never ever think about doing anything else except write the best record we could. I never go into recording thinking we are an Australian band, in an Australian scene, and we never think provincially like that. I am just so hyped that anyone likes it, really.
It is funny that some people said that it’s a great Australian record – it could be just a great record in general. But, in saying that, I try and keep some of my Australian accent in my singing. I never want it to be fully occa, I want it to be subtle and have these flourishes of my accent come through every now and then. Because there’s no way I am singing in any other accent other than my own, you know?
No, I get what you mean. I imagine that’s how English people feel when they hear a band with having a full-on cockney accent. Also, I know that by ‘some people’ you mean KYS and myself as that’s what I said on Twitter about it. The only reason I mentioned Australian is because Architects have the top record from an international band for me this year!
[Laughs] yeah, I saw that man, but it’s all good! I definitely didn’t think ‘Oh no, this dickhead is calling us an Australian band’ – you were just speaking total truth there.
It’s all good! One thing I do wanna touch on is the nationalistic pride that some people have towards any and all Aussie bands; that you must love and support every single band from your city or state just cause they are your locals. I want to get your take on that, as sometimes I think that people get it confused.
I get that too. With supporting bands from your home country or state, there can be a bit of a bandwagon thing happening where people get pressured to like bands. That’s happened to me in the past. Our band is a perfect example of that, as a lot of people don’t like us but hopefully, they like us as people and can still support us because of that. I do think that ‘liking’ a band and ‘supporting’ a band is two different things. It’d be pretty negative of me to say that some people are full of shit because they only like a band cause they’re from their city, but I think that’s happened to us in the past. So… I can’t pick too many holes in it!
Yep, I will back that! I love that band. We actually did our demos with Alex [Quayle, bass] he does all of the recording for Slowly Slowly. We did about ten or so demos with him before we went to the studio so he’s heard the record, in all of its various forms on and off over the past two years.
Lucky man! ‘Chamomile’ was a great record, and you yourself even have a guest vocal spot on the song ‘PMTWGR’ (‘Pussy Makes The World Go Round’). Which is a really great song just with a dumb name!
That song is obviously amazing and it is the best guest vocal recording ever made. I am joking of course! But yeah, before that song came out, someone asked me if I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be singing that part on the song and I started worrying about it, actually. But it all went down cool! It’s definitely not a derogatory song at all; it’s just Ben [Stewart, Slowly Slowly] and his crazy mind.
No, of course not, it’s definitely not misogynistic or anything like that! One thing I wanted to talk about was how the album is very straight up with its emotions and its honesty. The whole album can be used as an example but specific songs like ’91 Your House, ‘Loaf’ and ‘Baby’s Breath’ are pretty full on and you lay a lot of your cards on the table. Do you find that the lyrics flow out honestly or that you have to sit and think about choosing your words carefully?
It definitely is a natural process. I never sit down and write lyrics with a book, it always comes out of me when I’m writing with a guitar. So I am never trying to craft these poetic lyrics, they just come out as I play. It’s honest and it’s very cathartic. If I wrote lyrics down just as a diary and everyone read it, I’d be so embarrassed. But if you put a punk rock song behind it, then it’s all fair game. I mean, the music I love and connect with is honest music and if I can have my own part in that for someone else, then that’s enough for me. I mean, who knows if we’ll make it into our third record, but we figured we would just get it all out on this one; no regrets and just say mean everything that we say! So every song is heavy in many respects, not just musically.
I hope you get to a third record but well said, man. I think that’s enough of me ass kissing of Ceres for one day, we’ll have to end the interview there, Tom. Come this Friday, when the album is officially out, I wish you nothing but the best for it!
You’ve been an absolute legend, Alex, thanks so much. Thank you for all of your kinds words as well, it means more than you know!
FRIDAY, 28th OCTOBER – NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB, MELBOURNE
FRIDAY, 4th NOVEMBER – CROWBAR, BRISBANE
SATURDAY 5th, NOVEMBER – EXETER BEER GARDEN, ADELAIDE
SUNDAY 6 NOVEMBER – TIL THE WHEELS FALL OFF FESTIVAL, LAUNCESTON – TASMANIA
SATURDAY 12th NOVEMBER – NEWTOWN SOCIAL CLUB, SYDNEY