“Coming out of this period of self-reflection that the band went through over what I guess you’d call a hiatus – although I didn’t really feel like it was a hiatus – I think we each individually became quite at peace with who we are both as individuals and as a band. And I think that level of contentment really inspired the urge to get back into the studio and lay down these songs but also inspired the direction we went in, in not worrying too much, and not being too stressed as to what we had to say for ourselves.”
Hiatus or otherwise – it’s been five years since Dappled Cities released their last record, Zounds. But one could argue that their newly-released album has taken just the right amount of time. Named Five – it is the fifth in the discography of a band whose members total the same number; a fortuitous meeting of elements reflected in an LP that is equal parts refined beauty and echoing confidence, wholly unafraid of occupying all the space in a room.
“I like to think it signifies luxury,” explains singer and guitarist Dave Rennick via a conference call with fellow frontman Tim Derricourt. In Derricourt’s eyes, “It signifies pride, pride in our band.”
Despite not being in the same room, their playful chemistry is easily detected down the line, a dynamic they say hasn’t changed since they started playing together at age 14. It’s an energy the band – comprised of Derricourt, Rennick, Ned Cooke on keyboard, Alex Moore on bass, Allan Kumpulainen on drums – brought into the recording of their latest album north of their Sydney hometown, in Byron Bay: a setting justified on the grounds that “you only get to make a few records in your life and so rather than it being this absolute punish, it should be a holiday,” explains Derricourt. Prompted for in-studio adventures, he says, “because it was so relaxed we had to add our own drama to the situation … I thought I saw a shark while I was surfing. Luckily it was a dolphin.”
“I got a haematoma on my forehead after I tried to do butterfly in the pool,” offers Rennick.
“The reality is we’re kind of caged in this eternal youth. Which is the box of a backstage green room.”
When it came to recording, though, the band approached the process with an audible self-assuredness they say has come with age. “We kind of hit this point of, I wouldn’t call it desperation but kind of uncertainty that comes with being an artist when you’re younger kind of disappears,” says Derricourt. “When we went to make the album, we said to ourselves OK let’s make a simple record.” The reality, though, was “quite the opposite, because it ended up this big, epic, sprawling album full of five, six minute songs.”
It’s a scope of sound that has translated innately into a live setting, explains Rennick. “We’re a live band first and a recorded band second … and having done it for so many years, getting back in a room together just felt very natural.” Among a series of shows in the coming months, the ultimate evidence of this remains to be seen at The Dappled Cities’s upcoming performance as part of Vivid Live. “The venue is beautiful … and partnering with Vivid has meant that we’ve been able to bring all the visuals that we’ve been developing alongside this record to life, in a really grand and immersive and oversized scale,” says Rennick.
“It’s going to be hands down the best Dappled show in our career, I think; the jewel in the crown.”
Dappled Cities play at the City Recital Hall, Sydney, on June 4 as part of Vivid Live.