We first were introduced to Adelaide group The Unset earlier in the year, when their music video for tune “Solipsism” took out the major prize as part of our CAPTURED competition. Their music displays a solid sense of musicality and songwriting – channeling some great post-rock and alternative vibes reminiscent of the likes of Cog and Mogwai.
Next month, The Unset are releasing their debut EP, Polymer, before heading to Melbourne in August to share it with the audience on the east coast. Before it all kicks off, vocalist/guitarist Elian Hamilton takes us through the process of getting Polymer together and what we can be expecting from the band as this year continues to roll out.
How does it feel to be at the stage where the EP is finally edging closer to release?
It’s pretty exciting! Especially after the reception “Chad” has received so far, we can’t wait to share the rest of the EP with everyone.
How would you describe “Chad” to be an indicator of what people can be expecting from the rest of Polymer?
We figured “Chad” would be a good choice to share, because it’s got a bit of everything in it; from the chunky guitars and big vocal notes to the more intimate verses, it covers most of the bases of what we do. Overall, to describe the sound of the EP in a word I would use very ‘huge’.
How much of the material had been written prior to heading into the studio for this one? Do you find that the band writes a lot in studio or is it mostly figured out beforehand?
We had the songs all written. We just had to get in, dial in the right tones and go for it. The vocals were probably the least concrete part of the song, we have a couple of songs that I had more than one set of lyrics written for. Quite often live, I’d mix and match lines or sing one or the other depending on the show, so lyrics weren’t finally settled on ’til we were already underway recording them. Once we got the bulk of the instruments done, we got to experiment and play with the songs a little, tweak the structure or play with vocal lines and have some more fun with them.
In terms of writing and recording the EP – were there any significant hurdles you overcame as a band, or any highlights that you believe to have made the band a tighter creative dynamic?
The biggest hurdle was deciding the approach to recording. When we play live, we get to improvise a lot, so it’s very rare for the song to be the same two shows in a row. We’ll either change the structure or switch up the dynamics depending on the mood of the night.
If the crowd seem a little tame, we might play a little more conservatively or maybe we’ll just go extra crazy just to kick them into gear. Obviously, the studio version needs a very different approach; you have to condense each song into a cogent statement but still retain the excitement of the songs. Being able to pick apart and identify the necessary parts of the songs and cutting out the excess has certainly made us better songwriters with the new material we’re working on.
Were there any particular artists you were listening to when writing for this EP that you feel now, looking back, had any type of influence on the sound overall?
We were listening to everything from American Head Charge to Jamiroquai to and from the studio, so it’s tough to pin-point if anything really swayed the EP’s sound. We also loaded up on a lot of great local bands; these days, the quality and variety of music here in Adelaide keeps you on your toes and pushing forward!
Would there be anything about this recording process that you would do differently or explore further on future recordings?
We were really lucky with this recording, so there’s nothing we would have changed about the process. Cat Johns at XPM Studio was so easy to work with – she made it a pleasure. We haven’t decided what our next release will actually be; we’ve been tossing around a lot of different options.
I’d like to record a live studio session so that we can work in a little more of the improvisation and the extra looping and ambient vignettes between songs, as well as the songs themselves. We have another couple of ideas planted, we just have to see what takes first. We also now have three synthesisers between the four of us, so who knows when we’ll get to break them out too!
How would you describe Adelaide’s music scene as having been a good place for the band to be establishing itself over the past year, especially?
The Adelaide scene is so rich. We’re always getting the opportunity to play with different bands who are all forging their own sound; it’s been getting stronger and stronger, year upon year.
When we were starting out, with the dynamic changes we have during our set, we quite often would find we were either the heaviest band playing on the bill of indie rock bands, or the softest band playing with a slew of metal bands. Now, there’s so many different bands playing their own styles of music, it’s much easier to find common ground and connect with like-minded musicians and fans.
The EP launch is happening at the end of July – how is preparation coming along for the show and how is the EP feeling to be preparing for the live capacity?
We’re all ready to go with the show, the hardest part is waiting. We can’t wait to share the stage with local band Iiah and Melbourne band Arakeye, before we head over to Melbourne with them in August. We’ll have our EP’s soon and a bunch of other goodies on the night, some stuff which will only be available on the night of the show and will be in very limited supply.
The Unset will be launching Polymer at the Worldsend in Adelaide on July 30th. Grab your tickets HERE. The band will also be playing Melbourne alongside Arakeye on August 14th at The Workers Club. Check out more info HERE!