From a Sydney garage to Abbey Road Studios in London, Australian dream rock band, Crystal Cities, have come a long way in just over two years. In March of 2017 Crystal Cities released their critically acclaimed Debut EP, Who’s Gonna Save Us Now, receiving widespread attention. The title track and lead single, Who’s Gonna Save Us Now received over 2200 plays on their Triple j Unearthed page and reached number one on the Unearthed Overall Charts within a few days of its release. The EP also made waves on US College radio; it was the nineteenth most added new release on the NACC Radio 200 Chart and received airplay on coveted radio station, KEXP. All this was achieved despite the EP being recorded in the modest environment of their mate’s garage in Sydney.
Fast forward two years and the band have completed their debut album, Under the Cold Light of the Moon, and inked a publishing deal with global sync and licensing agency Audio Network. Through this partnership they were allowed the opportunity to record at the prestigious Abbey Road Studios in London, capturing the sounds of a string orchestra made up of London’s finest musicians. Geoff Rana from the band answers some questions for Hi Fi Way.
Over the last two years leading up to the release of your debut album has it felt like a real whirlwind?
It has been a mix of emotions. Since the conception of these demo’s, to releasing them commercially, it has been a long journey. It feels good to have them released into the public domain now though finally. Artistically I have moved on and the next album has already been written. We will start to look at pre-production for that soon.
Have you been happy with how it has been received?
Yes, our sound has evolved from our debut EP and I think this album is a good introduction to many people who haven’t heard us before. It is a good introduction to our sound and where we are headed. I think that our confidence as a band is resonating with listeners. The reviews have been positive and I think it is really connecting with fans of our previous work and new listeners alike.
What was the initial idea behind the album art?
We wanted to try something a little more creative than just the usual band pose. You know… three guys staring into a camera trying to look cool… Amy, our photographer, came to the shoot with a whole bunch of ideas and we trusted her judgement and went with her direction. As we are not featured in our music clips this is the first time you get to see the band visually albeit blindfolded.
Further, this album has plenty of lyrical references to themes of escape, resistance, and limited/restricted views. Having us positioned in a sort of prisoner-like scenario with blindfolds on seemed a great way to represent these themes.
What was your reaction to playing the final version of the album back for the first time?
Relief and a sense of achievement. After all the hard work we had put in with tracking and getting the mixes to sit right, it was great to sit back and listen to the final masters and think ‘yep, that’s what we set out to achieve.’
Were you in awe recording at somewhere such as Abbey Road Studios?Yes in awe, surreal, and a sense of knowing what we were doing was special. As a songwriter I have been influenced by many artists who have recorded there.
Do you think recording there had a huge influence on the album?
It didn’t really influence the album in terms of songwriting, but more so sonically. The sound that we recorded from that room can only be achieved by recording real instruments with real microphones at Abbey Road!!! We were also really lucky to record it in the famous Beatles room – Studio 2.
Is it frustrating that you’re getting more attention than here in Australia?
Yes, unfortunately there seems to be more of a focus on international acts in Australia. Our sound is international; it’s not characteristically Australian… Which is great for us on an international level but not so good when trying to crack your own home market it seems.
How would you describe Crystal Cities to the uninitiated?
A band that is confident within itself, who knows their sound, can write great songs, play their instruments, and who put on a great live show.
Are there plans to tour Australia?
Not at this stage. We toured the East Coast with the previous EP and although it’s cool travelling around Australia, I think more can be achieved to promote this album online before we jump back in the van and hit the road.
What’s the next challenge for the band?
To continue creating our art. And to keep evolving and perfecting that art.
Interview By Rob Lyon