STUDIO DIARY: The Money War Take Us Behind The Scenes Of Their New Album

18 November 2020 | 7:05 pm | Dylan Ollivierre

With their highly anticipated second album ‘Morning People’ set to drop this Friday, WA duo The Money War take us into their Fremantle studio for a behind-the-scenes look at the record’s creation.

This is our home studio, the place where I spend the majority of my day and a place that feels like a sanctuary to me. The Money War is the project that my wife Carmen and I started in 2016. It began very much like this - we’ve always been a very DIY band. I produce the music and Carmen is in charge of the visuals. 

We initially started this way due to having limited budget to pay other people but then we really enjoyed the freedom and I think got decent at doing it. Over the years I’ve collected a fair amount of recording gear. I especially love vintage gear so there may be some stuff in here that is appealing to gear nerds like me!  This is us figuring out an arrangement with a nice view of the back of Jack Hill (drummer’s) head. 

Probably the most notable thing about this album is that Carmen fell pregnant just as we began writing. Naturally, that’s all that was on our minds and that came through to the songs we were writing. The album is called Morning People in tribute to leaving the life of late nights and sleeping in behind us. The album is essentially about our son, Jack. The journey from finding out we were pregnant to meeting him for the first time.

Here is Carmen recording vocals while about seven months pregnant. She is probably catching her breath post take. Who knew it would be hard to sing while carrying a baby in your stomach!?

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I look pretty focused here - probably EQing a kick drum while Carmen looks on in boredom. For me, a lot of the songs take shape whilst messing around with the production, some from accidentally moving something out of time or muting the wrong track, for example. 

I think the core of our songwriting is pretty traditional and direct but then I always try and do something different with the production of each song. I think of the melody and lyrics as the soul of the song and the production as the clothes that it’s dressed in. The clothes don’t make you stay in love but they may draw you in…

Behind me is one of our closest friends and longtime collaborator Chris Chen of The Peppermint Club. Chris plays in our live band and has been involved in a heap of our recordings. I think this was us recording to the Tascam tape machine for the first time. We didn’t end up recording anything to tape for this album but hey it looks cool… one day! 

I always go into each new album or EP thinking I am going to do it all very traditional, ie. record live to tape with minimal overdubs, but then along the way I tend to get bored of that and want to mess with it a lot. I feel like where the majority of our songs end up is somewhere in between traditional and modern, which I think is a good balance for us.

Jack Hill played the majority of the drums on the album. Here we are jamming out an arrangement with some tea-towelled toms. I love vintage drums. I’ve got a '70s Rogers kit and a '60s Premier kit and I plan to keep collecting.

Carmen recording vocals. We try and keep the process of recording super light and low key, often recording without headphones. Sometimes this comes back to bite but vibe and performance always outweigh sound quality for me. On the wall is some art from Bret Polok who did the artwork for our first EP and debut album.

Carmen laying down some bass. I love that bass guitar - a Fender P. I don’t think we’ve ever changed the strings on it in 10 years and that is hugely part of the sound. In the background, you can see the flag of Bequia, a tiny island in the Caribbean where my family is from. Carmen and I travelled there last year and I’m so glad we got to spend time with family before the pandemic hit.

You never know where you’re going to find the sound you’re going for! This is a stairwell in our house. I like writing here because there is an ambience to it as the sound expands up the stairs. I find writing in a different acoustic space can be like picking up a different instrument - the different tone makes me feel the music a little differently. I can’t remember if these vocals ended up on the album. I think they may have been on the song Wish You Were Here.

I look pretty chuffed here, but I think I was trying to fix a broken microphone. The sm57 was the only microphone I owned for ages and I recorded stuff that I loved with it. The studio has grown a lot since then but the 57 is still a staple and without a doubt used somewhere on every recording.

It’s weird writing this and looking at this photo of our son in the studio with us, whilst having this music out in the world that was about the whole process. I feel like the album encapsulates the things we were feeling that are very hard to articulate with words. The pregnancy was such a wide range of emotions and I hope that ride comes across to other people when they hear the music.


You can pre-save Morning People here and find all supporting tour dates in theGuide.