The record is a miserable sack of shit with some great riffs and really beautiful moments on it." So says sleepmakeswaves bassist Alex Wilson of the Sydney post-rock quartet's third album Made of Breath Only, a record that draws inspiration from the beautiful but foreboding landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctica as the band work through "personal explorations of loss, fragility and transience".
For 11 years now, sleepmakeswaves have been attempting to capture such lofty concepts through the medium of instrumental post-rock. 2014's Love of Cartography brought them to a wider audience thanks to an ARIA nomination for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album and a tireless attitude to touring that, in addition to multiple laps of Australia in support of the record, saw them embark on a 55-date tour of Europe as well as shows in China and the U.S. The financial realities of being a post-rock band are not as glamorous as the destinations their music has taken them.
"We knew the financial risks entering into it, and we happily take those on the chin, so I don't want to complain about that side of things," says Wilson, the band's sole original member.
Those realities did, however, dictate that the proudly DIY band turn to crowdfunding to help with the costs of recording Made of Breath Only, which they captured at La Cueva studios just outside Byron Bay with producer Nick DiDia (Rage Against the Machine). Bonding with the producer over a shared love of Seventies progressive bands such as Yes, Genesis and Jethro Tull, getting the songs to the point of recording was not without its issues.
"We placed tremendously high expectations on ourselves; we're not an especially cool or trendy band, we live and die by the quality of our art," says Wilson. He also points to "a few difficult years" as various members dealt with breakdowns of relationships and family bereavements, all of which added their own particular brand of stress. Throw in a self-imposed deadline to have the album out in early 2017, and they were frazzled before even setting foot in the studio.
"We were running on fumes creatively, and it was a testament to how much we love each other as mates and how good the dynamic in our team is that we were able to pick each other up, dust ourselves off and do the final push to get into the studio," says Wilson. "I'm very at peace with the record we made, which is great."
Top photo: Touring guitarist Lachlan Marks, Tim Adderley, Otto Wicks-Green and Alex Wilson (from left).
From issue #786 (May 2017), available now.