“We didn’t want to produce something that was a carbon copy of Priorities, we wanted to push the boundaries musically and lyrically.”
[dropcap size=small bg_color=”#ffcb05″]I[/dropcap]t’s been three years since Don Broco released their debut album Priorities back in 2012, and after a year of writing and recording, the Bedford band are ready to bring out their highly anticipated second album, Automatic. “There’s definitely been a lot more pressure, because Priorities did way better than we thought it would, it meant when it came around to doing the second album, there were people who were excited about it which was the crazy thing. A lot of people say really nice things like it might be their favourite album yet” or on the other hand “they say you’re never going to top it, so you’re like oh, the challenge has been set.” Expectations have undeniably been high for the band after they managed to tour three times with the same album, but Rob confesses it’s not just pressure from other people, but pressure they’ve put on themselves: “We wanted it to be the best it could be and not rush to put out a second album that wasn’t up to scratch. That was our greatest fear, so we thought we’d take our time and write a million songs and the narrowing it down to ten was tough.”
Before Automatic’s official release on 7 August, Don Broco have given their fans a taste of what to expect with their recent singles: “It’s always scary putting out new music,” Rob says, before going on to emphasise, “we want people to know it’s still the same Don Broco just with a twist. We didn’t want to produce something that was a carbon copy of Priorities, we wanted to push the boundaries musically and lyrically.” The album is a throw together of instruments and harmonies, with a texture Rob calls a “Musical Headfuck.” Referring to their first proper single Automatic he confesses that “it turned some heads” and “people were like, wow. And that’s what we wanted, we wanted to get people talking.”
The band’s recent Studio Diaries show them working alongside Grammy Award-Winning producer Jason Perry – certainly a step up from recording at their mate’s house. “When you look back at Priorities you hope it doesn’t sound too awful.” At this moment I fended off the idea that in any way could Priorities sound awful: “we did that on the cheap and it’s all we could afford. But recording this album was really fun for us, we got to go into a real studio and use real analogue equipment. You can hear the room and the realness behind it. . . we could make it sound more alive.” I questioned Rob as to whether it was just as challenging vocally for him as it had been for Tom and Simon instrumentally. Being truly honest he passed the praise onto Drummer Matt: “Not to sound too mean but it’s more vocally challenging for Matt, because when we write these insane parts we get into the studio and I’m like that’s so high, I’m not going to be able to sing that and then Matt has to do it because he’s got a ridiculously high voice.” The album’s opener ‘Superlove’ represents the innovative sound created by Rob’s rich voice against Matt’s set of powerful pipes. “We never really consciously thought about it, it’s just one of those things that naturally developed over time, you get all these ideas of harmonies and backing voices kicking in here and there, but you don’t know whether it’s going to be any good until we’re actually in the studio.”
At this point in the interview took a turning point in talking about the unreliability of the British weather. “We wrote a lot of our songs last summer when we had that heatwave, when we were all getting tanned in the garden and we wanted that kind of positive image for the album’s first video.” The unreliable weather meant travelling out to LA for the first time as a band to shoot in front of a backdrop of palm trees, sea and sunshine. “Anywhere in England you just can’t trust it,” Rob laughs, “we’ve been stung by the British weather before with Money, Power, Fame… It was meant to be bright sunshine and when we got to Manchester the heavens opened and it rained all day.” Good old British weather. “So we decided that’s why Hollywood exists and we made our way out to Malibu.” Rob’s tone started to sound surprised as he reflected on how easy it was: “It was all very chilled, we literally sat around took a few photos, I mimed a few lyrics, I think it was probably the most chilled shoot we’d had.”
All the buzz around the new album suggests August is going to be a busy one for the band who play a run of intimate gigs before heading to Reading and Leeds: “They’re going to be a lot of fun, boxed rooms where you know it’s all hot and sweaty.” I asked whether the shows were going to be entirely Automatic or a concoction of both albums: “We’ll be mixing it up a bit, we’re not bored of playing Priorities, were maybe bored of doing just that.” Don’t worry if you can’t make these intimate gigs, Rob let out a little hint towards a possible UK tour not too far in the distant future: “I can’t really say anything just yet but it will definitely happen soon.”
Rob’s last sentence pretty much sums up the whole vibe of the album, if you’re a fan of summer beats and a truly funky sound then it’s perfect for you.
As the interview started to come to a close I couldn’t resist the urge to ask Rob’s favourite song from the two albums. He went silent for a few seconds, before following the silence up with a lot of ums and ahs. I’d clearly stumped him, “It’s really tough”. A few more seconds later . . . “I’ll give it a joint one, I think ‘Here’s the Thing’ and ‘Yeah Man’. Lyrically ‘Yeah Man’ was a very intimate topic where there were a lot of feelings, so it was nice to get that out there. . . and we haven’t played it in a while so I haven’t got bored of it just yet.” While thinking about his favourite for the upcoming album I was surprised when Rob asked me mine and whilst I first said ‘Nerve’, I followed it up with ‘What You Do To Me’, and at this point a silence made the innocent song name sound out of context, I was relieved when Rob finally came up with an answer. “At the moment we’re trying to learn it and play it all so it’s all exciting, but probably ‘Keep on Pushing’, it’s got that kind of really fun groove you can have a bit of a jive to.”
Rob’s last sentence pretty much sums up the whole vibe of the album, if you’re a fan of summer beats and a truly funky sound then it’s perfect for you. Automatic really illustrates how the guys have pushed themselves from a musical aspect to create something original but still sticks to their roots. Although they’ve made a fresh new sound, as you slowly go through the album it gradually begins to return to the Don Broco fans know and love. With less of a jive vibe it becomes more personal, ending on the killer anthem ‘Further’, the longest song on the album, but a true contender in being the best one on there.