"We're not a political band per se, but we are very worried about where the world's heading."
Melbourne rockers The Charge burst onto the national scene back in 2012 with their debut album Red Flags, but then quickly seemed to disappear from view. Now - as they return for a national tour in support of their impassioned second effort Order Of The Owl - it's obvious that in their absence, rather than being slack, they've been busy at work away from prying eyes.
"Yeah we have, we started playing some shows after Red Flags dropped to support that, then in 2013 we started writing again," explains drummer Ben Cuthbert. "We picked up a couple of tours supporting Dead Letter Circus and The Nerve, and we met [producer] Reggie Bowman - who'd recorded and mixed The Nerve's stuff - on that tour, and he really dug what we were doing and asked us to his studio. We went there about a month after the tour finished and spent a day laying down two tracks just to see what it would feel like, and we gelled so he said, 'Bring to me as many songs as you can', and we went back to him with an armful and ended up recording 23 tracks.
"The politicians and ruling elite and so forth - have gone underground because we've used up all of the resources, and then there's the ground dwellers - normal people like you and me - who are just trying to survive above..."
"We did that as pre-production over a few weekends, and then picked the dozen songs which we thought would best suit the album and what Ash [Jones] our singer was going for with the theme and everything, then we re-recorded it all again. It took close to 12 months all up - all of last year - to get it happening, but it was well worth it in end because it allowed us to come up with some really good songs, and work extensively with Reggie on the arrangements which was great."
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The Charge's members all work out to keep healthy and eat Paleo, and this socially-conscious worldview permeates the narrative that weaves through Order Of The Owl.
"It's basically a story or a movie in Ash's head, but together over the last few years we've been reading books and watching documentaries about where the world is going, and we talk a fair bit about politics and society," Cuthbert explains. "We're not a political band per se, but we are very worried about where the world's heading, and Ash started writing about that. The lyrics on the Order Of The Owl are Ash's story, basically a metaphor about how all of the world's wealthy people - the politicians and ruling elite and so forth - have gone underground because we've used up all of the resources, and then there's the ground dwellers - normal people like you and me - who are just trying to survive above, just living like the people in The Walking Dead basically and foraging food to survive. The underground people are waiting for the planet to regenerate so they can come back out, and songs like The Rivers Will Return are about how the corporations deplete our water resources until the rivers dry up, before nature takes it course and they eventually replenish. The Order Of The Owl is a tribe of people just trying to survive and they're sticking to their beliefs to move forward, a mirror of many things happening around the world right now in The Middle East.
"We're all eating crap and people are getting sick and dying because of the genetically-modified foods we're eating and the fluoride in the water and all that kind of stuff - we're aware of all this, as are people like Lucius Borich and the boys from Dead Letter Circus, and we feel it's important to share our concerns. Although we're conscious not to be preachy, it's just a story that Ash has come up with for this album. The remaining songs from the session will be on our next album, and that has a similar theme - they're not concept albums, just us telling a story that we feel reflects us as people. We're not very rock'n'roll when we're touring anymore - there's not much alcohol drunk!"