Deep Sea Arcade had a clear vision for their debut record.
The organic evolution of a sound developed by singer Nic Mckenzie and bassist Nick Weaver since high school,
Evoking the atmosphere and austere imagery of French new wave cinema and the vintage warmth of music by The Doors, The Beatles, The Kinks and The Zombies, the record realises the Sydney five-piece’s combined vision.
“The sound was developed by Nick and I while we were in high school, and it’s continued to develop since,” Mckenzie says.
“The album is definitely a particular sound that we were aiming to get – it was quite clear in our heads.”
Girls by Deep Sea Arcade. Article continues after video.
Mckenzie and Weaver have remained the principal visionaries of the group’s sound.
The line-up has changed over the years and is now a five-piece that includes guitarist Simon Relf, guitarist Tim Chamberlain and drummer Carlos Adura.
“You need two guitarists and keys and samplers [to achieve our sound],” Mckenzie says. “If we had our way we’d have eight members.”
In the studio, Deep Sea Arcade were not afraid to use every bell and whistle at their disposal.
While some bands aim to have a recording that accurately represents how they sound on stage, Deep Sea Arcade didn’t want to limit or narrow their scope.
The studio was a place to explore and layer their sonic landscapes.
“If there’s a hundred tracks in Pro Tools then we’ll use all of them,” Mckenzie explains. “Everything is really heavily layered. When we play live we think, ‘How the hell are we going to pull this off?’
“I don’t think there’s one song on the album that wasn’t more than 120 multi-tracks – there’s tonnes of layers in there. I think the biggest skill of the mixers we’ve worked with has been to get to the crux of what was going on.”
Taking the listener on “a journey” was the main criteria.
“We wanted to have stuff that was a bit more ‘60s sounding, like
“But if you see us live we’ve never really sounded like a ‘60s band. We like to do a couple of songs like that.
“We take our influences from all over the place, so we also wanted a collection of songs that included those [influences] but showed the big picture as well. That was the hard thing, we wanted to include songs that we loved but put them in the right context.”
Don't Be Sorry by Deep Sea Arcade. Article continues after video.
With a wealth of material to choose from, added to a prolific partnership with Weaver, Mckenzie is already thinking about the sound of album number two and how he would like it to be written.
“There’s a whole bunch of directions that it could go in,” Mckenzie says. “I’ve always written songs to grooves – grooves are really important to me because a groove in itself can be the hook.
“It’s nice to write music over rhythms that are already there because they’ll direct you or give you a structure for a vocal melody. You can get heaps of ideas from that.”
Mckenzie, who studied film at art school and has directed all of the band’s music videos, references “The Outlands” from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 dystopian classic
Both films depict a future where free thought and individualist concepts are suppressed by governing bodies.
But it was as much the stark backdrops and film noir atmosphere of those films that influenced Mckenzie.
“In songs like
“Outlands felt like a suitable title because I can imagine the music would come from different landscapes, whether they’re barren or bleak. Every single line [of lyric] is like a scene in a movie for me – that’s the same with all the songs. Every line is like one shot in a movie; in my mind every lyric is attached to an image.
“As a band, we hope to one day make a video clip that references both Alphaville and Farenheit 451,” Mckenzie says.
Deep Sea Arcade’s combination of cinematic psychedelia and memorable melodies have caught the attention of UK music lovers and the group have been championed by BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe and Britain’s weekly music bible NME.
“We went to the UK twice last year and we’ll be going there again in September,” Mckenzie reveals. "I hope that we’ll go to the States because we’ve been added to a lot of radio stations over there. We’ve had a huge amounts of downloads on iTunes in the US, so we really want to follow-up on that.”
■ Deep Sea Arcade will perform at the Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, on Friday, June 1. Tickets are available through Moshtix. Outlands is out now.