A few weeks back Melbourne psych-pop outfit 808s & Greatest Hits blew our hair back with Cabin Vibes. The eight-track compendium pulls you into it’s warbly psych journey oozes with faux-retro vibes and astounding lyricism.
Now the frontman and mastermind, Skube Burnell, walks us through the conception of each track before the recorded it in a cabin, in just one week.
Take a walk through the wild and wonderful conception of 808s & Greatest Hits brilliant debut album, Cabin Fever.
I had been writing and recording the album really slowly over about a year and feeling abit frustrated with how slow the process was. Just finding pockets of time here and there to work on it – real disjointed. I had an ongoing joke with my friend about how Guns ‘N’ Roses took ten years to finish the Chinese Democracy album, and despite neither of us having listened to it I just found it hilarious. That kind of felt relevant with how long it seemed to be taking. I couldn’t really go into a studio for a week and muck around trying to finish writing the songs because they hadn’t been fleshed out and that’s real expensive.
Unlike a lot of bands, I write the songs as I record them. Anyway I decided to find a place to go and finish it with my own gear and just get immersed, uninterrupted by day to day responsibilities. I rented a cabin which was on someone’s farm and when I got there I just felt like it was the right space. I even listened to Chinese Democracy for the first time when I was there. I don’t hear any influence of it apart from the line referencing it by name. Another friend thought I was trying to write a political song based on that line.
Anywho, it sounds generally pretty Doorsy to my ears, probably due to the keys and the envelope filter guitar part.
The breakdown though makes me think of Body Movin by The Beastie Boys which is a bit of a curve ball. I’m pretty sure I bought that single when I kid after seeing the Intergalactic film clip on Rage one night.
This was written when we were living at a rental and the landlord lived next to us. It was a “too close for comfort” type situation with him slipping in comments about the lawn being too long when he’d come by dropping off the latest bill and he didn’t like our animals. I was a student, working part time then and money was tight causing abit of anxiety and claustrophobia. I was listening to The Homeshake Tape on Bandcamp around the time.
This reminds me of his song Brothers with the floor tom beat, finger picked guitar and generally the tempo.
I was deep into Daniel Rossen and Kurt Vile when I wrote this in 2012. If anyone asks, this is my rip off of Sailing By Night by Department of Eagles. Subconsciously I probably just wrote it because I wanted to learn how to cover it but was too lazy. I had just bought a nice acoustic guitar and I was pretty much just writing finger picked stuff – Freak Train by Kurt Vile is a good example of what got me razzed back then on guitar.
I went to the Phi Phi islands in 2008 and while I was there I was reminded by someone that there had been a tsunami in 2004 and I found some videos taken from my accommodation when it hit. Unsettling footage seeing the water rising up the staircase.
The music itself had a bit of a dark feel to me so I wrote the lyrics about a family going on a holiday and a tidal wave hitting the beach.
Lord Knows Best
I came across ‘Lord Knows Best’ by Dirty Beaches when it came out and was amazed by how lofi it was, yet still popular, maybe more in a niche way. It gave me validation that you can get by without trying to cater to the larger audience that’s conditioned to want to hear a particular recording aesthetic. We added this into our live set with Maddie on vocals and I introduced another section to it so it would play better with our other songs. I kind of had to record it in order to figure out the parts for everyone.
I was really vibing on John Lennon’s solo stuff. I made a song somewhat similar to One Day (At A Time) but I held onto it too long – it mutated into something different and when we introduced it into the live set everyone added some things to it gradually and it became the lengthy mutant it is now – it was for the best though. When I was finishing it off I was deep into David Axelrod/Electric Prunes and wanted to add a shrill guitar solo in like off Holy Are You so that explains that solo after the second verse.
The intro was me trying to do something similar to Television’s The Dreams Dream. Luckily it never really resembled it. However both songs meander quite a bit. This song was an offshoot of another song I was working on. It was meant to be a part of it but it deviated too much so it broke off into its own thing. I can really hear the rhythm sections of Mr Beat by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and Pendulum by Broadcast in this one. The keyboard part in the last section reminds me of the warbly keys from I’m Not In Love by 10cc.
The Fear Remains
This song is about imposter syndrome. I finally came round to Supertramp, particularly Gone Hollywood and was feeling a Supertramp vibe on the keys. The song mutated over time and I got overzealous about the Fantastic Planet soundtrack so that found its way in there in the dissonant part of the song. Something like Déshominisation (II) encapsulates that dissonant sound. I’ll chew anyones ear off about that soundtrack.
This song is about stage fright and social anxiety. My favourite part of the album is the instrumental section at the end of this one. I realised the chord progression I use in the verse is pretty commonly used in late 60’s rock songs. It makes me think of a lot of songs by The Doors and it’s loosely present in Old Man Willow by Elephants Dream in the jam bit – side tangent: that song most likely inspired The World Backwards by Broadcast.
I’ve also been told Public Scrutiny chords are like Walkin’ On The Sun by Smash Mouth. Mixed feelings about that one, but I can certainly hear it.
Check out 808s & Greatest Hits debut album below: