Queensland prog-punk-pop lovers, He Danced Ivy, pull their influences and inspirations from a range of artists and releases; from Deafheaven to Jeff Buckley, to even fellow Aussie locals, Clowns. Hot on the heels of a recent East Coast run and the release of their latest single, the gnarly ‘Toothcutter,’ we got the band to list off some of their favourite records that inspire their music the most. And they were more than happy to oblige! I feel like they maybe had too much fun putting this together but I ain’t complaining.
Jeff Buckley – ‘Grace’
“Let’s kick this off with good ol’ fashioned tragic romance. Jeff Buckley. The man, the myth, the below-average swimmer. Thank god he managed to leave behind the sprawling, luscious masterpiece that is ‘Grace’ before unceremoniously carking it in a Mississippi river, Harold Holt style. Narrative reigns supreme in the Buckley-verse with each track possessing its own unique flavour, setting up landscapes of raunchy encounters, conversations with one’s own mortality and a yearning for intimacy. It’s quite a poetic ‘fuck you’ to traditional pop structure, tossing that in the bin to make room for more experimental thematic progressions. Cuts like ‘Dream Brother’ and ‘So Real’ are crammed full of stunningly unconventional chords and melodic passages that still have their pretty little hooks sunk into our songwriting to this day. And that voice! Oh that voice! The lyrics weep out of his lips and make everyone else seem amateur in comparison. Hell, it made Sean abandon his baritone ambitions to chase those sweet, tenor goals. For a soulful record, ‘Grace’ knows how and when to get heavy like on ‘Eternal Life’ and the latter half of the title track but that heaviness is portrayed through the ebb and flow and buried in textures crafted by his phenomenally tight studio band. Buckley may be sleeping with the fishies, but ‘Grace’ will live forever.”
Clowns – ‘Bad Blood’
These Melbourne madmen know how to get the party started. ‘Bad Blood’ is a front-to-back bowlarama of heavy punk/hardcore bangers and irresistible raw energy. Thunderous drums, buzz-saw guitars and lyrics spat out like the raw end of a Gatling gun, what more could you want? Each track catapults into the next with themes of politicised suburban disaster. Here Clowns are at their most flexable; they’ve done their thematic yoga and with it can fuck with just about any topic they like. Police brutality? Check. Existential dread? Check. Feeling like a useless pawn in an unfair system? Check checkity check. It’s always nice to have an Australian band that doesn’t shy away from the accent too. Embrace the boganism, we say. Personal favourite cuts include ‘Play Dead ‘with its Jason Voorhees-ian determination to lodge a machete in your face, while album closer ‘Human Terror’ proves outright that punk doesn’t need to exist just in short form. There’s a self awareness that really gets us about Clowns, most evident as they close out with the lyric “You need to pay for the art you’ve been suffering for.” That shit rings out for us and anyone struggling to self-express. All the suffering, all the mistakes that you think helped, they’ve been stewing with interest buddy. Wisen up!
Deafheaven – ‘Sunbather’
Okay, put all the hipster-core arguments aside. ‘Sunbather is a special record and let’s be honest, there’s something pretty punk about rustling the jimmies of an entire musical community through your art. The conceptual shift away from the nocturnal shrieks and hatred of its black metal predecessors is refreshing, as if the Scandinavian woods have all been logged to make way for a Hot Topic. But where else am I going to get a Smiths 1985 tour shirt at this hour!? The way the guitars on this beast layer and soar so high into the stratosphere inspired our more tender heavy moments like ‘April Fools’ and the long form progressive nature gave us the confidence to experiment with track length on ‘The Singing Tree,’ not to mention proving how seemingly disparate elements can come together for one beautiful musical sandwich. ‘Sunbather’ was all written on acoustic guitar also, a writing process technique we like to adhere to when the pieces aren’t fitting. If it sounds good on an acoustic, it’ll sound fucking great through 50 watts of tube amp. On that note, that outro to ‘Dream House,’ taking a colossal wall-of-sound then shrinking it down to a single, sweetly strummed guitar progression before detonating like a Soviet era nuke of luscious reverb and distortion? Yummy.
Every Time I Die – ‘Low Teens’
What a testament to longevity ETID have become. Hey, old guys are angry too, don’t judge. ‘Low Teens’ sinks a pair of spurs into the hindquaters of modern metalcore and really makes it fucking gallop. I mean, ‘Fear and Trembling’? Dank, bent, drunk-stumbling guitar riffs locked in some god awful basement-rounding room reverb? THAT’S how you start an album. Cuts like ‘The Coin Has A Say’ and ‘Glitches’ shone light on how we could sharpen our humour from simple slapstick moments into over-the-top displays of sarcastic aggression that seeped into the DNA of ‘Guillotines’ and ‘Cutting It Fine.’ Those vocals too. Keith Buckley’s juggles an arsenal of vocal chainsaws so effortlessly, dear lord. Thankfully, there’s four of us so while Dave sings a melodic passage, we have Sean to belt above that and Josh to go full-out Fred-Durst-Smoking-Crack screeching over that. So, ‘Toothcutter’ is basically our ETID tribute. Nothing quite like soft bois with some scream, eh?
Karnivool – ‘Sound Awake’
And finally, last but sure-as-hell not least, the one that started it all off, our proverbial godfathers, the mighty Karnivool and their second effort, ‘Sound Awake’. There’s been some debate within the Ivy camp about “which ‘vool is best ‘vool”, with Josh and Dave leaning towards the roller-coaster of prog/nu metal hooks that was ‘Themata’ and Mitch thinking ‘Asymmetry’ would slap if they only
mixed the drums right. But forever the diplomats we are, ‘Sound Awake’ always keeps us coming back. From the odd timed mammoth grooves of ‘Goliath’ to the spasmodic punk-meets-prog riffing of ‘Set Fire to the Hive,’ ‘Sound Awake’ is a textural playground of colossal scale. The interplay between vocals and instruments set the blueprint for much of our earlier efforts like ‘Me, I’m A Seller’ and are still in our bones today. Bless you Karnivool, we salute you.