It started one summer in a West End share house; was crystallised with a short handwritten letter; was born in Melbourne and has been nurtured through landscapes vast and plenty. Now, deep in the forested hills of the Natural Bridge, on the edge of an extinct volcano, amidst the speckled light of glowworms, tucked beneath damp and heavy air, hushed by the ripple of the spring-fed creek is a cabin with a stone floor that is the home of Louise O’Reilly and Paul Hannan. Herein is the space where flowers in the hair, tapping of the boots, a swaying of the hips has been translated into the sound of the death of 1000 summers. The sounds of Laneway
Since heading to the hills they have written, mourned, fixed pipes and chopped wood. They have traveled away – returned. Always collecting tales. Of places. Journeys. Home. Of seeking and finding and misplacing once more. Donkeys. Coal piles. Turning on lights. Death. And love (whatever that may be). They tell these stories with a melding of guitar and voice that makes such sense it is instantly familiar and distinctly unique. There is charm herein. And humour. A self-effacing style. A relaxed panache, but there’s more…
Last week the pair were awarded the Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship. The fellowship, which was established in 2007 in honour of the late Queensland singer-songwriter Grant McLennan, who was one of Australia’s greatest songwriters and a founding member of internationally successful 1970s Brisbane band The Go-Betweens. The $25,000 fellowship offers the recipient an opportunity to travel to New York, London or Berlin for up to two months and use the experience of being immersed in a foreign and vibrant musical culture to further develop their own artistic skills. O’Reilly and Hannan have decided they will travel to Berlin to build an international profile. They hope to establish a European base for touring and record new material. We can only wait with bated breath for the results.
Laneway’s new offering Turn Your Love Up has been pieced together through recording sessions in spaces inspired and as diverse as their eclectic musical appreciations. It has been more than three years between albums for Paul Hannan and Louise O’Reilly, the two parts of Laneway.
Their acclaimed first album If You Don’t Need It Let It Go was independently released in 2009. Shortly after the pair then headed to the hills from their home in Melbourne’s Brunswick, the place where
they started Laneway. Up in the southeast-Queensland rainforest at Natural Bridge, they have spent the last two years together pioneering and playing music. While they may have been out in the wilderness and quite literally off the grid, their debut was making ripples in the music scene and garnering much praise. Following their first east-coast tour and release of the single The Turbine, written as an ode to their experiences of green power and a black sky, Hannan and O’Reilly were shortlisted for the prestigious songwriting award, The Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship.
In June Laneway released the new album’s lead single Love is a Devil. This tune was actually one of the first songs the duo ever wrote and sang together. ‘It was a very catchy verse and chorus that I had not got around to finishing,’ says Hannan. Louise fleshed out another verse and when they recorded it onto a flatmate’s four-track in 2006 they realised they might have something with the combination of their voices, guitars and words.
But the song sat patiently on a cassette until this year when a recording opportunity presented itself.
Offered a day to play in Matt Redlich’s studio, Laneway enlisted the skills of Fingers Malone (The Fingers Malone Ensemble, Ash Grunwald) on drumset (and double-tracked clicks) to finally record the single in the haunted and wild arrangement that sees it as the album opening number.
As well as recording at Redlich’s new studio, Grandma’s Place, Laneway did sessions at Studio 301 in Byron Bay with Jordan Power, in Ash Grunwald’s personal studios, Delta Grove with Fingers Malone, at Old Dog Studios in Corndale with Al Pegg and in Melbourne at Little Gold Studios with Steve Fraser.
They also did tracking in one of the wooden dwellings on the property at Natural Bridge where they live. Engineered by Fraser, from Melbourne, O’Reilly and Hannan spent a week of prolific recording and writing in the solar-powered studio with cathedral ceilings and the background sound of whipbirds and the running creek.
Apart from the unpredictable onset of rainforest downpours, the power situation saw them juggling solar and backup generators that had to be kept fuelled. ‘We learnt the hard way to constantly save the tracks we’d just done because the power was a little unpredictable and when the computer crashed the first time we’d lost the last hour or so of work,’ says O’Reilly. ‘We ended up structuring our days around refuelling the backup generator. Wake up. Have a long breakfast. Fill up the tank.
Record. Break for dinner. Fill up the tank. Record till we were too tired to carry on. Do it all again the next day. It was a very beautiful and lucky time in our lives. Being up there on the hill and having the studio in our home. With our son so involved in it all. Even as we were doing it and working so hard we had these moments of thinking what a wonderful memory we were in the middle of making for ourselves.’
And that memory is captured in the new album and here to be heard. Turn Your Love Up is a collection of 10 original songs penned by the duo. It displays strong and striking roomy guitars and wonderfully spaced vocals delivering these well-written and diverse compositions. Released through Crawler Records in August 2012, Laneway will be bringing the live show to towns throughout Australia in September and October.
Laneway release Turn Your Love Up through Crawler Records in August 2012 and tour nationally in September.
You can catch them at the Tyalgum Hotel this Sunday, Sheaok Shack next Sunday 19 August and on the road, and stay up to date with their movements at www.lanewaymusic.com.