Screamfeeder in a word are awesome and one of Australia’s much loved bands. No doubt they will again capture the hearts and minds of fans with their new album Pop Guilt which is coming out in April. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles had a quick chat with Tim Steward about the album and upcoming tour.
Great news Screamfeeder have a new album on the way, how good does it feel to have a new album done and dusted?
It feels pretty amazing. If you’d asked us a year or two ago I’d have thought it would be impossible to achieve! We were such a well-oiled machine in the 90s and noughties, we could make an album with our eyes shut. For this album we could have taken the easy route and just give something ordinary which didn’t require much effort, more of a token gesture as a lot of bands who have a long break tend to do. Instead we put ourselves through the same rigorous quality control processes as we always have and really sweated over making the songs as good as they could possibly be.
When it was finished was there a feeling of relief that it was finished?
For me, a huge one. I oversaw all the mixing and mastering (remotely, the majority of it was done in America). So there were long days of flicking between two different mixes going “I can’t hear the fuckin difference” or “How can he not understand we need the vocals turned up?!” that kind of thing. Pretty tedious and by the end of the process I was sick of the songs. I haven’t even listened to it for over four weeks now, I need a break from them.
Then I did the artwork which was another week of sweating over the various files for different formats (vinyl, CD etc.) and making he pixel-perfect and trying to avoid typos which for some reason I’m crazy good at. Making typos, not correcting them, that is. I’m the worst typist in the world. So yeah, a relief once it was all done.
What did you think when you heard the final mixes played back?
Honestly I’m super proud of the songs and I reckon the mixes are great, I’m just at the point where I can’t listen objectively any more. But that said, driving home from a gig, drunk, playing it really loud in the car, I kinda get the feeling. I get it, I can hear that we did it and the energy is there just like it always was. It’s probably in our top 3 most energetic records.
Were there the usual sorts of challenges you had to overcome in making the album?
Small arguments over arrangements and parts always happen, that’s pretty normal. It’s kinda stressful because all of you want it to be perfect and your opinions on what makes a song great can be different from the other guys’. We had long disagreements about the album name, something that’s always come easy in the past. Lucky the cover art was a no brainer, as soon as I saw that photo I was like “there’s the cover”. Apart from that we tried to have fun. We’ve made a lot of albums and on the whole we know what’s worth worrying about and what isn’t.
Was there ever a point where you started doubting yourself and whether you could see this album through to the end?
No, not really. Once we’d collected enough songs and rehearsed them and started recording it all kinda fell into place.
Twenty years and still going strong, what do you put that down to?
25 years! It’s nuts I know. We just enjoy what we do I guess, and have come to realise how lucky we are to get a chance to do it. Being in a Rock n roll band with your mates, recording albums, going on tour.. it’s some of the best stuff you’re ever going to do in your whole life.
Does it get frustrating to always be benchmarked against classic album Kitten Licks or is it just one of those things?
It’s really just one of those things, we all need reference points and I’m happy that Kitten Licks is ours, it is a benchmark we hold ourselves to. Pop Guilt might even surpass it.
The bio mentions that now Screamfeeder are more respected now than ever before, is that something the band has struggled with commanding the respect that the band deserves?
I don’t believe any one has doubted our commitment to making good music, to putting on a good live show or staying true to ourselves. Even though we had a 10 year non recording period, we still played shows and released our back catalogue on vinyl through Poison City. We toured in support of the vinyl re-issues which is what spurred us on to do another record to be honest. The support and interest in the band was stronger than it had been in a very long time. This transpired with us releasing our new album in Australia, US and Europe, …so, really it was an ongoing support and renewed interest which has been behind us, not a sense of a lack of respect.
How does Pop Guilt compare to the rest of the back catalogue? How has your sound evolved do you think?
We kind of made a conscious decision that we wanted to try to write songs in the same way as we did with Kitten Licks. Quick creative decisions, jamming on stuff, less bringing in finished songs, more like Tim and I working on song collages in a way. A majority of the album is written like this. It’s hard to sit back from it at the moment and see if fitting in except in its chronological order. We are better writers, singers and players now. I’m immensely proud of this record.
Are you looking forward to this tour?
Yes, we have been doing some warm up shows with Some Jerks in regional beach towns in Queensland and new South Wales and some big theatre shows with Spiderbait. We are loving playing!
What can Screamfeeder fans expect?
I guess they can expect loud guitars, smashing drums and throbbing bass with Tim and I singing over them.
What are the plans beyond this tour?
Honestly, who knows. Maybe overseas? Maybe working on another album? I can’t answer, we need to focus on Pop Guilt for the time being.
Pop Guilt is out on April 21 through Four Four. Pre-order here
Interview by Rob Lyon
SCREAMFEEDER – TOUR DATES
Friday March 31 – The Tivoli, Brisbane (with Spiderbait)
Fri April 28th – Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne VIC w/ MikeNoka, Kill Dirty Youth, The 131’s, Thigh Master
Saturday April 29th – Frankies Pizza, Sydney, NSW
Sunday April 30th – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD w/ Ultra Material, Tape/Off, Thigh Master
Friday May 19th – Hotfreaks Festival Perth, WA w/ Grim Fandango
Saturday May 20th – A Day of Clarity, Adelaide, SA w/ Fair Maiden, Dom Trimboli & The Wizards