DZ Deathrays are no longer a two-piece. For the last ten years, vocalist/guitarist Shane Parsons and drummer Simon Ridley have specialised in a variant of the boisterous party rock sound the two-piece formation lends itself to. But having officially enlisted lead guitarist Lachlan Ewbank, who’s been a touring member since 2015, they’re ready to launch their new record, Positive Rising: Part 1.
It’s the first half of a planned double album suite to be spaced out over a period of months. The release date for part two is yet to be confirmed, but the wheels are in motion.
“We’re actually in the studio recording the second part to this project at the moment,” says Parsons. “I do feel like there’s a bit of a progression throughout the songs. The second half has more bigger stadium moments whereas the first half is a little more like punk rock. But there’s moments on the second part that tie back to the first one as well.”
Positive Rising: Part 1 is DZ’s fourth full length. There was a widely acknowledged gap between 2014’s Black Rat and last year’s third LP, Bloody Lovely, but Positive Rising: Part 1 comes just 18 months later. Along with profiting from Ewbank’s contribution, they were wary of letting it drag out that long again.
“We sat on [Bloody Lovely] for a year,” Parsons says. “Because it was so long between albums – between Black Rat and Bloody Lovely – we really waited until the right moment, instead of just recording it and having it out. So in that time since it was recorded we just kept writing and also writing with Lachlan. He brought a lot of his ideas to the table so I think things were a little bit expedited. We just got things done a lot quicker.”
Led by the singles ‘Shred for Summer’ and ‘Like People’, Bloody Lovely brought DZ more success than they’d previously experienced. It debuted at no. 4 in the ARIA albums chart, led to festival headline slots, a far-reaching regional tour, gigs at venues like Melbourne’s Forum and the Enmore in Sydney and a heck of a lot of international touring.
It allowed the band to observe their tenth anniversary from a position of strength, but at the end of the cycle they were eager to try something different.
“More than anything we just wanted to do a bigger project for our fourth album and we wanted to challenge ourselves, but we had to do it in a way that worked with the way that music’s released these days,” Parsons says. “There’s only so many singles you can get off a record these days and then people are like, ‘when’s the next record coming out?’”
Part 1 is a tight nine song sequence that includes the singles ‘IN-TO-IT’, ‘Still No Change’ and ‘Year of the Dog’, the latter featuring guest vocals from The Bronx’s Matt Caughtthran. The album was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Miro Mackie who’s worked with fellow Brisbane acts Hatchie, Jeremy Neale and The John Steel Singers and engineered records by St Vincent and Dirty Projectors.
With Mackie’s assistance, Positive Rising is DZ’s biggest sounding and most layered production to date. It’s loaded with a number of instant earworms, and while it’s not quite stadium rock, it’s on its way there.
“We were pushing ourselves to be more experimental with what we were adding to songs. There’s been songs on the first record that had synthesiser and stuff on it, but this one, rather than it being a lead line, we used a lot of stuff for atmospherics, making beds to put guitars on. Over the last few years Simon and I have really gotten into bands like Beach House, I really like Slowdive. It’s a bit more atmospheric and layered, but we’re trying to bring that to pop music, without it sounding too pop.
“Working with Miro, he brought a lot of those ideas to the table of how to bring the songs up into that world as well. It’s been really fun to hear Mellotrons running through choruses. You get to the point of your career where you go, look, let’s just make the song sound as good as it can.”