Free Falling

6 June 2012 | 5:30 am | Chris Yates

With a second EP ready to drop, Hannah Shepherd from Brisbane’s Charlie Mayfair tells Chris Yates what they did differently this time around, and how before joining the band her life was about to take off in a very different direction.

"I was having an argument with one of the boys because it was my birthday yesterday and I didn't get a text message from him!” Shepherd laughs. “Apparently he did send me one but my phone's not working. Very important matters to sort out.”

Despite fighting jetlag from a recent tour of the UK with Emma Louise, the keyboard player/vocalist is in high spirits. The band are in the middle of rehearsals for the launch of their second EP, Fall In Time, when she breaks away for a quick interview.

“We played our first ever shows on the Black Bear Lodge stage years ago, so it's gonna be great to go back there to launch our EP. Plus it's a public holiday for the Queen's Birthday the next day so I think it's gonna be a pretty loose night.”

Shepherd says that the band took a very different approach in the studio the second time around. Working with producer Matt Redlich they took the time to try some ideas that maybe they weren't confident with when they recorded their debut, Watch My Hands.

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“We spent quite a while making this one. We had a bunch of really important songs and we knew we wanted to translate them properly. Last time we just went in there and did our thing, just laid the tracks down without really thinking about anything. This time we spent a lot of time in the band room, listening to lots of different sounds and really honing in on what we wanted and being really thoughtful about the instrumentation and the structure of songs and just how we wanted everything to sound. We really wanted to have a bit of a more mature, more developed sound. We recorded some of the record live on analogue tape, double-tracked some drums and really layered the percussion. We used some synths as well just to get a really warm sort of sound.”

The results of the studio experimentation are very apparent on the EP. From the opening track, Waste Me, which rides on a massive wave of percussion, to the complex arrangement of Stone with its many sections and different moods, to the epic sprawling pop of Blue Water, this is a record with many different ideas woven together.

“We're always striving to make sure however we arrange a song keeps the integrity of the song,” Shepherd explains. “I guess with a song like Waste Me, it's a quite intense emotional song. The vocals are loud, but there's a lot going on and it just really supports it I think.”

Explaining the band's origins, Hannah says that after meeting the rest of the band she had to re-evaluate her future plans of studying to be a physiotherapist. Basically, once the band started rolling she knew it was what she had to do.

“It was definitely the people around me in the band, and Dave [Di Marco – guitars/vocals] especially that showed me that that kind of world was even possible. I just loved it and it became this huge part of my life. It was never something I really imagined myself doing, I thought I was going to go to uni and be smart and stuff,” she laughs, ”but I realised I couldn't stop this, and it was the connection with the other guys that made me realise I couldn't stop it. I can't pretend it's not there and lie to myself and say I wanted to do these others things when that was really it.”