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The Laurels Discuss Writing Songs, Traveling Stateside and Hating Funny Hats

Lyndal Irons

Australian four-piece the Laurels finally brought their trippy shoegaze sound stateside earlier this year, releasing their debut album, ‘Plains,’ in April and following that up with a brief tour that hit both coasts and kicked off with a stop at Austin Psych Fest. The group’s sound features the floating vocals of dual frontmen Piers Cornelius and Luke O’Farrell, and as they’ve won fans in both hemispheres, they’ve performed alongside the likes of the Black Angels and Low.

It’s been a whirlwind few months for the Laurels, but O’Farrell recently took time to chat with Diffuser.fm about the group’s songwriting process and experiences in America. He also dismissed the idea he met his band mates at a “funny hat party.”

Can you talk a little bit about the recording of ‘Plains?’

We’re striving to do something different with each record we release. Our first EP was very much a representation of our live show, but with ‘Plains,’ we wanted to start experimenting more with dynamics and texture. There was also a greater emphasis on structure, subject matter and lyrics. I think all those aspects will continue to evolve over the band’s lifespan. It only took us two weeks to record the whole record, which was both liberating and stressful. We removed ourselves from the city and rented a house in rural Australia to record in, which was mostly a pleasant experience until Conor’s case of swimmer’s ear came back.

Does sharing writing and vocal duties with Piers cause any competition?

It just means we get breaks from singing in between songs when playing live. Piers and I just write our own songs, then we teach them to [bassist] Conor [Hannan] and [drummer] Kate [Wilson] over a few rehearsals. Everyone inevitably ends up contributing their own take on their parts, and that’s when it becomes a Laurels song. Once you learn to separate yourself from your individual instrument and look at the song as a whole, it becomes pretty easy to work together as a band.

Have you noticed differences between U.S. and Australian audiences?

U.S. audiences were really friendly and always came up to us after we’d play and say positive things. I don’t think Australian audiences are as responsive, but maybe that’s because it’s more costly to get drunk here [in Australia]. American audiences have definitely surprised us, though. We didn’t even expect to see anybody at our shows — their attendance leaves us dumbfounded.

You’ve gotten to tour with some great acts — the Black Angels, Low, Wooden Shjips. What have you picked up about performing or touring from those bands?

Just that it takes a lot of time and hard work to get to the level they’ve gotten to. I can’t say I have any crazy stories to share from those shows, but I do remember thinking one of my kidneys had exploded the morning after a show we played with the Black Angels a few years ago. It still hurts.

I’ve read that you guys met at a funny hat party. If it’s true, what kinds of hats were you wearing?

That story is bullshit. I hate wearing hats — although I have a fondness for beanies and hoodies.

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