First Listen: Dropping Into The Studio With Hunting Grounds

4 April 2012 | 6:02 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

Recording their debut album, theMusic's Bryget Chrisfield met Hunting Grounds in a Melbourne studio today.

After visiting Red Door Studios in Collingwood today, where a couple of tracks from the upcoming debut longplayer from Hunting Grounds (formerly Howl) were previewed, it's safe to say that the band are comfortable in their new sound.

“Some of the songs have a phenomenal amount of tracks,” vocalist/guitarist Michael Belsar – also of so-hot-right-now outfit Twinsy with Ajax (Under Your Sink/Bang Gang) and Guy Chappell from Yacht Club DJs – says. “Like, this one that's getting mixed right now [Wings] has 165 separate tracks, but it's such a simple song I actually don't know what's taken up so [many].”

“Maybe the guitar,” drummer Daniel Marie adds. “All those ambient ones.” Belsar considers, “Oh yeah, that's true, and there's this spacey bit in the middle that's got James Bond sounds in it.”

“When you listen to it, you just won't be able to tell,” the band's alternate vocalist/guitarist Lachlan Morrish says. “Unless the depreciation takes up all the tracks. I dunno.”

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Wandering into this impressive studio, which is a converted old church, post-interview, we locate Paul 'Woody' Annison who agrees to play us a couple of tracks. The first one is Wings, which vocalist/keyboardist Galen Strachan wrote and makes his singing debut on. On their previous two EPs (Howl and Brothers In Violence), Belsar was the band's primary songwriter, but vocalist/keyboardist Strachan penned three songs for this debut album.

Aptly named, Wings definitely references Skying by The Horrors, an album Hunting Ground band members previously admitted was on high rotation since its release. The song's moody, echoing synths transport you up, up and away through the clouds and into a glittery marshmallow wonderland. Strachan's vocals are angelic, his bandmate Belsar earlier complimenting, “He's like an AutoTune machine, he's just so pitch perfect with everything. It's crazy”. Annison cuts this one short since it hasn't been mixed yet.

The mixed track we hear is titled Kill All Your Friends and it sounds like something Sons Of Anarchy should sync. John Crawford's bass reaches in and kickstarts your engine (he borrowed his uncle's '70s, “natural wood colour” Fender for these recording sessions) and there are rallying vocals with dichotomous celestial harmonies. You don't wanna mess with this song, which would be best suited to listening in a high-speed vehicle while in hot pursuit.

Other confirmed tracks from the forthcoming longplayer include: the album opener, which is called In Hindsight and described by Belsar as “the prequel to [previous single] In Colour”; Cold Feet (not a cover of the Jack Ladder song); and Flawless, which was written mainly in the studio after a demo of the song was brought in.

Hunting Grounds are currently looking at releasing their debut album independently through Redcat – Rae Harvey (co-owner of Red Door Studios together with Annison, Chris and Emma Cheney)'s label – this July.