Rebuild Repeat

Rebuild Repeat

For their fourth studio album, Hockey Dad reinvented the way they write music. “We had to just let our guard down and go, ‘OK, let’s peel back a few layers and actually understand what we’re doing here and what songs we want to write,’” drummer Billy Fleming tells Apple Music. “Let the songs write themselves, in a weird way. If it’s a delicate song, let it be delicate.” Restraint isn’t a characteristic fans would have previously associated with the Windang duo, but it’s well and truly on display in piano closer “Dancing on the Other Hand”, the lounge-esque “Burning Sand” and the power-pop-flavoured “That’s on You”. The desire to explore new sounds was borne out of a simple resolve not to replicate the thrashy rock of their first three albums—although they did try, recording an entire LP’s worth of material before scrapping it. “We just started doing what we had always been doing,” explains Fleming. “We weren’t quite feeling it.” Salvation came in the shape of producer and former Sparkadia vocalist/guitarist Alex Burnett. “He flipped our whole songwriting process,” says Fleming. “[Previously] we would do the music first and lyrics were an afterthought. But he was like, ‘Sit here with an acoustic and actually focus on the lyrics first.’ Some of the best songs on the record were because of that.” “It was good for us to get that jolt and push in a different direction,” adds vocalist/guitarist Zach Stephenson, “and rebuild what we were trying to do.” Here, Fleming and Stephenson take Apple Music through Rebuild Repeat, track by track. “Base Camp” Billy Fleming: “That’s just a bit of a bop, like a little friendly introduction to the record. It was just a song title—Alex had written down some titles, and our challenge was to write something straight off the bat. ‘Base Camp’ is about always striving for more and attaining the goals that you really want to.” “Still Have Room” Zach Stephenson: “It’s about no matter how badly you can be treated by a person, you’ve always got this section in your heart and in your head of the time you spent with them. There’s always a little bit of room there for somebody, no matter how the relationship ends.” “Safety Pin” ZS: “That was another song title. I was thinking about this person being a literal safety pin, holding me together when shit starts to fall apart, and things are falling out of my pockets, and I need someone to coddle me and say it’s OK.” “Wreck & Ruin” ZS: “It's a nod to [Sydney band] Royal Headache—we used to cover Royal Headache when we first started. So this one felt like a bit of a throwback, but we fell in love with it straight away. It’s such a fun one to play.” “Burning Sand” ZS: “It’s another love song. This one’s a little more specific—it’s about my girlfriend, talking about walking our dog and walking down on the beach, and the sand’s bloody hot. It’s really just a nice, sweet love song for her. There are a few little Easter eggs in there for us.” “That’s on You” ZS: “That was the first song we worked on with Alex. I think I’d had an argument with [my landlord] two days before, so it was hot off the presses. I moved pretty quickly after that song was written.” BF: “You were pretty pissed off, but it’s such a nice song. It should have been a thrashy punk song but it just turned into this beautiful, spacious song with heaps of layers. I never would have expected that to come out of such angry lyrics.” “Seething” BF: “Alex came in; I think he was seething. And he was just like, ‘I’ve got the word: seething.’ And he was trying to get us revved up again. Trying to make us angry.” ZS: “He was the one who was pissed off during ‘Seething’. I think someone had done him dirty the day before. We just helped him figure the rest of that song out.” “Unhinged” ZS: “I had this image of a wayward man, a drifter, being taken in by a family, and getting back on his feet. I don’t know where it came from, but that was the story I was running with on that song.” “Backup Plan” ZS: “That’s a pretty correct assessment of my domestic fixing-things skills. That’s me tearing myself down. I can’t fix anything. I can’t deal with anything. That’s what that song’s all about.” BF: “It’s definitely accurate.” “Road Signs” BF: “It’s a very spacious song, and it felt really good to just rip it apart at the end and go heavy. It’s our first fade-out too, by the way.” ZS: “That one’s [about] the drive from Sydney Airport down to Wollongong at 11 at night or midnight after you’ve flown home or you’ve just done a show in Sydney. That dark, lonely National Park drive. It’s kind of an ode to that muscle memory on that drive, going down that every single night.” “Dancing on the Other Hand” ZS: “I had a demo for that as a full-band song with drums and everything. I might have just been showing everybody how it went on the piano. I think Alex was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s it. Don’t do anything else. We’ll just do that.’ It’s kind of a sad, sooky song. I don’t remember what I was thinking about when I wrote it, but it’s a downer.”

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