Old Soul’s Eyes is the debut long-player from indie folk duo Walrus and the Carpenter. Walrus and the Carpenter is the collaboration of enigmatic singer/songwriter Matthew Engerer and kindred musical spirit Mat Akehurst.
After coming together in early 2013 the pair quickly gained a reputation for their unique, transcendent live shows that lead them to secure slots at Mullum Music Festival and Falls Music and Arts Festival Byron Bay. Walrus and the Carpenter launch their new album in Mullumbimby this week. Mandy Nolan spoke with the Mats about their music.
What do you think underpins the musical synergy between you both as players?
Our musical tastes and styles have complemented each other’s from the get go. This has created a unique, fresh sound in our music that people seem to relate to. We get along on a personal level, too, which makes playing music together a real pleasure.
What do Maria/Al bring to the table that enhances your playing or musical offering?
Maria and Al are both very seasoned players and are anything but colour-by-number musicians. Their distinct musical voices were an integral part in achieving the sound we have as a band, and especially on the album.
Maria is a multi-instrumentalist and exceptional vocalist. She has enabled us to expand our instrumentation without having to call in other musicians. And the addition of her vocal harmony over the existing two takes the music to another level for the listener. She is an absolute blessing to have around.
Al (double bass) comes to the band with a wealth of experience and professionalism. He has exceptional feel and timing, and an instinctual ability to know when to push or be out of the way of whatever is happening sonically.
He is the Gandalf of Walrus and the Carpenter.
The two of them combined have really pushed us to be more creative and sensitive musicians.
What was the original vision for your album Old Soul’s Eyes?
Leading up to the recording we had been performing and refining what we felt was a very strong and meaningful collection of songs. Our initial vision was simply to create a sonically interesting representation of those songs while remaining as loyal as possible to our live sound.
The primary focus of our music is succinct, strong lyrics. A real focus going in to the recording was making sure that focus didn’t get lost and that we were as supportive as possible musically.
Did that change much in the recording process? How did you choose which songs stayed and which strayed?
The recording went pretty much to plan. We were well rehearsed going in to the studio, which helped us to quickly and effectively capture the lion’s share of what would become the finished product. This left us plenty of time to add the colour and shade that shaped the overall sound of the record.
We had narrowed the list down to 11 songs leading up to the recording. This eventually got trimmed down to 10. One song just didn’t gel with the sound we had created. The song is still a vital part of our live set, and I’m sure somewhere down the track it will find a place on one of our records.
Tell me a little more about where you recorded, with whom, and the players on the album?
The album was recorded at The Music Farm in Coorabell under the watchful eye of producer/engineer Paul Pilsneniks (Pete Murray, The Tea Party, Boy and Bear). Paul has an amazing discography and we were privileged to be able to work with him on our debut album.
All the tracks were laid down over a five-day period in October 2014, and mixed by Paul shortly thereafter.
It was mastered by Michael Worthington at Soundworthy.
Musically we kept it all very in-house. The only other performer on the album was our good friend Rebecca Ireland, who sang some inspired vocal harmonies over two of the songs.
Not straying from our core lineup was essential in successfully recreating the sound and feel of our live performances.
What is the essence of interesting and authentic songwriting?
That’s a tough one… it’s all so subjective.
For Walrus and the Carpenter I guess simplicity is the key. Stay true to yourself. Create solid structures and interesting dynamics. Probably most importantly for our music… have something to say, and say it well!
What should we expect for your local launch?
You can expect to get more than your money’s worth.
Court House Hotel in Mullumbimby on Saturday at 7.30pm.