Australian Duo Standish/Carlyon Discuss Dub, Dark Moods and Their Debut Album
The debut album from Standish/Carlyon is called ‘Deleted Scenes,’ and sure enough, it plays like the soundtrack to what would be one hell of a film. It’d be part ‘Dead Calm,’ as the Aussie duo of Conrad Standish and Tom Carlyon bring an ominous yacht-rock vibe to some of their songs, though this movie would also need android detectives and a cameo from Lee “Scratch” Perry. That’s because these former members of the “noir-rock” group the Devestations filter frigid New Wave and doped-up dub into their hybird sound. It’s transfixing stuff, and chatting with Diffuser.fm via email from Melbourne, Standish talked about how he and Carlyon achieve the “repetitive tension” that leaves rock writers reaching for clumsy cinematic metaphors. He also talked about reggae, yuppies and the status of the ‘Deleted Scenes’ sequel — er, follow-up album.
You guys are back in Melbourne now, right? Have you started thinking about the second Standish/Carlyon record? Will there be another one?
Tom lives in Melbourne full-time, and I have been back since 2012. We’ve got some sketches of tracks right now. Whether we do an LP or release EPs, I’m not sure right now. There will be more releases, though.
Are you still enjoying not having a drummer? They do have a reputation for being troublesome characters…
It’s nothing so sinister. It’s easier for us to pack up at the end of the night.
Speaking of characters, when you wrote these songs, did you approach them as Conrad and Tom, the same guys behind the Devastations, or did you imagine yourselves as other types of people? The late-night, drugged-out vibe of the record suggests the latter. You’re like a couple of crazy James Spader characters or something…
Lyrically, the songs are so cut-up and nonsensical that it doesn’t necessarily make sense to attribute them to either characters or to myself or Tom. Sometimes, I’m referencing “characters” or “pop lyrics,” and maybe that gets filtered thru personal experience, or fantasy, but there’s not really a clear, linear progression there to hang onto.
One word that comes up a lot in Standish/Carlyon press is “cinematic.” What types of films are you guys into? Would you say this record owes more to, say, film noir or dark and slick ’80s fare like ‘Less Than Zero?’ Maybe neither?
Neither of us tend to think of movies when we are writing. Both film noir and that kind of ’80s vibe are both appealing, but we both work primarily to create mood, or repetitive tension, without really having visual cues. That’s for the listener to conjure themselves, and I don’t want to influence that.
Conrad, you’ve talked about your fascination with “yuppie culture.” What is it about ’80s-era excess that interests you? What songs on the record touch on that? Is it more a sonic thing (i.e. the yacht-rock or circa-’Avalon’-Roxy influence), or is something like ‘Gucci Mountain’ — where “pleasure” and “leisure” seem to vex the narrator — a reflection of the theme?
I don’t think I have ever directly said that, although the darker aspects to yuppie aspirationalism are fun to ponder, in a Ballard-esque nightmare way. ‘Critics Multiply’ touches on that a little. Excess isn’t really an interest.
HTRK, which features your wife, Jonnine, has talked a lot about their love of dub, as have you and Tom. What draws you to that music? Why do you think it fit so well with synth-pop?
I just think that dub is truly psychedelic music. It’s not trying to sell you anything. It’s not about structure or virtuosity or anything. It just rearranges your molecules. Bass and echo endlessly.
You’ve said ‘Deleted Scenes’ was very much influenced by London. If there’s another Standish/Carlyon album, will you return there to record, or would you look to soak up the atmosphere of another city? Maybe Berlin? Someplace entirely new to both of you?
Someplace new would definitely be nice. Defintely not Berlin, we’d never get anything done. Maybe California?
How did you enjoy the trip to America? Are there plans to return? A lot of groups here have embraced synth-pop and wonky R&B over the last year or two — did you find the U.S. especially receptive to your music?
American trip was great. It was just four shows in NYC, so it was nothing too taxing, touring-wise. People in the States have been pretty receptive to what we are doing. Hopefully we can make it back before the year is out.