With their new EP, ‘Turn Toward The Sun’, Spectral Fires are coming out of their cage, and their doing just damn fine! Since last year’s ‘Wayfarer’ EP, the Melbourne alternative/melodic hardcore group have come far, growing in musicianship, songwriting, execution, and in the number of solid hooks that they cram out of their songs. All evident by their latest EP’s four hot ‘n’ catchy tunes; ‘Before You Leave’ , ‘Just A Mirage’, ‘Starting Over’, and ‘Transparency’. Turns out, the up and coming band have been itching to share with the world what these songs are thematically and how they all came together too. So, very kindly, they recently navigated us right through the lyrical intent & musical creation of said EP; telling us of what they’re trying to express emotionally, what almost didn’t make the cut, who wrote and produced what, and what they hope for this EP’s material now that it’s out unto the world. Let Spectral Fires point you in the direction of the burning sun below:
1. BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
“This song was almost not included on the EP, which is funny to think now that it’s the opener, the second single and collectively one of our favourite songs on the release. Due to the limited time we had in the studio, we had to get picky with the our song ideas, and this one was one of several on the chopping block. Happily, it escaped, thanks to some intense brainstorming on its structure during pre-production with Jay Maas, which led to its original multi-part bridge getting the cut, and us finding a tempo which worked for it, by going against our usual instinct, which is to make every song as fast as possible.
It was only when we all jammed the chorus at a straight-forward, mid tempo pace that we all decided, whatever form the song took, that chorus had to make the cut, and the foundation of the re-jigged track was laid down. All the lead guitar parts were more or less improvised over that in a couple of takes. Jay perfectly, and quite literally, set the tone for the record on this song with the guitar tones he got out of a little 50 watt off-brand head that was lying around, just by cranking the gain and presence. The level of fuzz was exactly what we were going for, and helped make this song Jack’s (vocals), Daniel’s (bass) and Lachlan’s (drums) favourite of the release.
Lyrically, Before You Leave is a song of desperation, about grappling with your surroundings when it feels like circumstances and the people in your vicinity are conspiring against you. The fuzziness and reverb on the track hopefully conveys that sense of intoxication and haze, but ultimately we just want to rock out with this – it’s been one of our favourites to rehearse, and we can’t wait to bust it out at the EP launch.”
2. JUST A MIRAGE:
“Just a Mirage was the first song written for the EP, and the only one not to undergo significant changes in pre-production. The driving drum-beat throughout the verses and pre-choruses comes courtesy of Apple – the programmed GarageBand drums in the early demo were so close to what we wanted and worked so well that Lachie pretty much just played exactly that, but better and without the obnoxious fills GarageBand thinks it’s entitled to throw in every now and then.
Lyrically, this song was always destined to set the scene for what we wanted to be a nostalgic, but optimistic release. The lyrics speak from the perspective of someone who has reached a point of disconnectedness in a relationship without having noticed along the way that things were breaking down because, superficially, nothing seems amiss.
The chorus is sort of an extension of that, but is more about the pitfalls of nostalgia, and our tendency to sometimes give the past a reverence and aura of glory it might not actually deserve. The outro of the song forms part of the optimistic rallying cry that we really wanted to be the headline of the EP; the message that no one is getting out of here unscathed, but you can look forward to the future by being at peace with the past.”
3. STARTING OVER:
“The kernel of an idea that developed into this song was not much more than wanting to have a big, jump-along, punk-hardcore chorus. The rhythmic guitars on this track were Jonah’s baby, and an old breakdown idea he had squirrelled away from when we wrote Wayfarer became the chorus. Again, a lot of the lead guitar parts were nutted out in the studio by playing over the track once the foundation had been laid.
Some of the dynamics of the song itself were a bit difficult to envisage with our home recorded early demos, so it was absolutely thrilling to have the racing guitars and toms of the second verse balanced perfectly (thanks Jay!). That nice interplay made this track Harry’s (guitar/vocals) favourite.
It took a bit longer to lock down the bridge, but Harry had the idea to re-use pre-chorus vocals in the studio and it ended up being one of coolest bridges we’ve ever written. The bridge part also gave Harry a chance to prove he actually had been getting singing lessons (from our good friend and benefactor, Belle Haven’s David De La Hoz), and not just lying about them to get out of band practice.
Interestingly, Jack’s initial passes at vocals in the first verse were actually yelled, but this was one of a few things we realised had to be different, and were re-recorded with Chris Vernon during the mixing sessions. We decided something a little softer and cleaner might sit better and help the chorus and second verse to stand out, and luckily Jack delivered in spades.
The lyrics of Starting Over were a whole-band achievement. The night before our last day in the studio we were huddled around a laptop, all gesturing word changes and stanza rearrangements on the screen, and discussing how best to articulate the chosen themes of bettering yourself and the realisation that comparison really is the thief of joy. Everyone has their ‘problems’ but it is the mindset of which you tackle them and your choice to solve better problems that creates some happiness. Having brainstorming nights like these are some of the funnest parts of being in a band.”
“Transparency came together fairly quickly, and clearly represents the moodier quarter of the 7”. It’s a fun thing for us to try to get out of the confines of our punk-beat tendencies sometimes, and do something more sweeping and epic. Both on stage and in the studio we’re very much a single-coil guitar band, but this track called for some humbucker crispness, and is also the first ever SF song to feature synth (albeit pretty subtle synth), which we added with Chris Vernon [Belle Haven, Better Half].
Vocally, there was a lot for us to play around with, and Harry asked us all to trust him with the big “YEEEAAHHHH” in the bridge. Jay justifiably described it as sounding like a cock rock band, but he was won over with the final product to the extent that it became his favourite of the four, as well as Jonah’s (guitar/backing vocals).
Lyrically this song is about living with your choices and in turn your mistakes. Jack’s favourite line, ‘Your blank face betrays your grave mistakes’ came out of his writing about falling easily into a mindset of victimhood when making bad choices, instead of acknowledging the action taken. Again, it’s a song sort of about making peace, and understanding you did what you truly believed was the right thing at the time. Learning lessons can justify your past mistakes, and short of those that hurt others, no choice is inherently bad if it brings growth and makes you who you are today. Thematically, it rounds out the EP’s message of “turning toward the sun” – orienting yourself to a positive mindset (to put it in the most pretentious terms possible).
All in all, we hope you enjoy this EP – it’s only a little one and it required us to condense our band down to its essence. We put a lot of ourselves into it, like all bands and artists do with their music and hope you get something out of it, whether it’s something emotional, or just a couple of head bangs.”
‘Turn Toward the Sun’ is out now everywhere, accompanied by a limited run of 7” vinyls.