CALLING All Cars dodged the bullet of “second album syndrome”.
Coming up with a sophomore album is always a tough time for any outfit.
The weight of living up to those signs of early promise and carrying them through to more mature heights has tripped up countless budding musical acts.
But the three Melburnians who make up Calling All Cars were ready for this up-hill battle when they returned to the studio in February to begin work on the follow-up to their highly-acclaimed 2010 debut Hold Hold Fire.
Over-compensation was how frontman Haydn Ing best described the writing situation.
“You hear of so many bands that fall victim to the syndrome,” he said.
“Where they get bogged down in the touring and by the time it comes around for a second album, they have no new material lined up.
“We always had this in the back of our minds, so we worked really hard from the get-go and had about 40 songs when we started pre-production for the new album.”
Song ideas were morphed, culled and reborn to make Dancing With A Dead Man, released nationally last week.
Recorded once again with Shihad drummer Tom Larkin in his Melbourne studios and mixed by Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, The Mission U.K), the Ing brothers and bassist Adam Montgomery gave their new LP the breathing room absent from their first effort.
“The first album was a bit of a learning process for us because we’d never actually recorded an album before,” Mr Ing said.
“We went in thinking ‘…this’ll be fun’ but realised at certain points that we were actually very good at capturing certain things.
“This time we knew what to expect; we took a step away from the one-dimensional, stripped it back, and just tried not to play as much.”
Jumping from angry and nihilistic vocals and a tight rhythm section to hauntingly slower tempos throughout, Dancing With A Dead Man also saw the band trying some unorthodox methods in the studio – thanks to Larkin’s input.
Vocalist Ing losing up to 9.2kgs in the recording process due to a “room heating” technique were among the rumours reported.
“It has been talked about quite a bit,” Mr Ing said.
“I’ve been told that I can’t say whether it’s true or not…but his secret techniques definitely paid off.”
Calling All Cars play the Amplifer, Perth, on September 10 and Indi Bar, Scarborough, on September 11.