Elliott Road walk us through their dynamic EP 'This Is Bowling'

Elliott Road walk us through their dynamic EP ‘This Is Bowling’

This Is Bowling sees Elliott Road taking a vulnerable approach to their alt-rock sound. Now, they share the creative process behind their EP.

Sydney alt-rock outfit Elliott Road have unleashed a vibrant and dynamic EP, This Is Bowling, which sees them expanding upon their eclectic sound. The six-track collection showcases their best sound yet, and sees them exploring more elegant territory whilst still embracing their raw and energetic roots.

Here at Happy, Elliott Road give us the rundown on the making of This Is Bowling, track by track.

Elliott Road
Credit: Press

Breathe a Little Deeper

ETHAN: The vision for Breathe a Little Deeper (and this whole EP in a way) was to pull from our typical brand of alt-rock and infuse it with a more vulnerable approach to the ‘Elliott Road’ sound. It turned out to be quite a difficult mix, as the tone of the instrumentation varies heavily from verse to chorus. We also had a big roadblock when it came to the sound of the drums, but we eventually came to this huge drum sound that complimented the song’s energy.

I’m also used to burying my voice under super loud guitars and even louder drums, so the verses proved a huge challenge for me. I think it really helped me feel comfortable with the softer side of my voice, which is something I was previously insecure about. I remember there were points in the studio where we were listening to my voice over the song and it was just so painful, but I definitely crossed a barrier with it. This song now just makes me feel good! Also the starting drum sound is literally the sound a microphone in a trash can.

Grocery Line

DANIEL: This track is probably the oldest off of this EP. Ethan and I were originally considering recording it for our previous EP, Too Stupid For Earth, but due to time restraints, we decided to pass on it. In hindsight, it was for the best, because this time around we had our producer Luke Payne really give it this pop and sheen that the demo was missing. The song’s composition is also one of the more simpler of the batch, which provided us leverage to be more detail-oriented and chuck in little things here and there. Which again, shout out to Luke for being so agreeable with our ideas of spitting bars and incorporating turntable samples, because Grocery Line wouldn’t be the same without it.

ETHAN: Yeah honestly, poor Luke had to put up with so many whacked-out ideas of ours. There were points in the studio sessions where we’d all just burst out laughing about the stupid shit that would come out of our mouths. This made them extremely fun sessions though.

The Way You Look

ETHAN: Honestly not too much to say about this one. I wrote this song almost four years ago, and two weeks before the studio I had the crazy idea to actually record it. I said to the band that at this point we’ve barely released music, from this EP onwards we only hope to go further with experimentation and whatnot. Why don’t we just record this fun and slightly dumb pop tune? If there was a time to do it, it was now.

I also became a bit hesitant toward the message of the track. It’s a bit toothless when a 20-year-old guy is just telling you to just love the way you look and not worry about the shallow lens of social media, when there are obviously greater issues when it comes to the image of a woman in a patriarchal society. But on that same token, I don’t think that was the point of the song, it’s just fun.

DANIEL: I remember the first time Ethan told me this was going to be on the EP and I honestly didn’t think he was serious. It took me a while to warm up to the idea of recording it professionally but once I agreed and understood that it would be a once-off track, I was keen. The original demo essentially had the first half written, so Ethan and I had to sit down one night and figure out the rest of the song. Once we wrote the bridge chord progression and the key change, the song had some new life breathed into it that made me proud to call it an Elliott Road track.

The drums for this one were a bit of a different process as well. We chose the most solid two bars of backbeat and looped it so we could retain the track’s disco feel. We also emulated the drum sound from the demo, as Ethan originally used Logic to program a really crisp studio-esque drum sound.


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Rocket Down

DANIEL: This track had a bit of a rags-to-riches arc. The band, at first, wasn’t too fond of the demo I made. To their credit, the mediocre quality didn’t do it much justice. But it was more appreciated over time, and by the time we showed it to our producer Luke, it was his favourite out of the bunch. So we were all keen to bring it to life.

The song is about falling in love with A.I. and how dysfunctional a hypothetical relationship with it would be. So I knew that this song melodically had to straddle a line between awkward and charming, which is what the verses and choruses contrast. Given how melodically busy the track is, I opted to keep the backbeat simple and let it glide underneath. Atop the foundation, our guitarist Aiden came into the studio and laid down the guitar leads, and the solo, of which, we figured out on the day. He ended up nailing it and giving the leads the soul that they needed.

Also, funnily enough, I came to know this song as the bastard child of the bunch. In the studio, Luke, Ethan and I all seemed to perceive the song in a different way and each mix seemed as if it needed something more. I had a strong emotional connection to this song so I was a bit conflicted about the stylistic shift from the demo, but alas, sacrifices were made, layers of lush instrumentation were chopped, changed and rearranged. The song is now as best as it can be and after all of its iterations, I can finally be at peace with it.

ETHAN: I think we just decided that we weren’t doing the song justice by layering a bunch over it. The songwriting is great, so with all the changes that occur throughout the song, we needed to make it as digestible as possible for the first-time listener. I think Daniel and I’s instinct when recording is to make it as busy and hectic as possible, this is something we tried to avoid especially for this EP. 

Elliott Road
Credit: Press

Every Word I Didn’t Say

DANIEL: Lyrically, this song is about regret. The chorus tackles this by being straightforward and in-your-face, as so are the instrumentals, but the verses I wanted to keep ambiguous and whimsical, since the instrumentals sound dreamlike during this section.

Our producer Luke has this theory that often times when a band brings five or six songs into the studio, one of them, for whatever reason, just doesn’t work. Every Word I Didn’t Say was that song, for a while at least. This was the last track off of the EP to become fully realised, to the extent that it was on the track list before I had even sent the demo to the band. This meant that a lot of aspects had to be figured out in the studio, and it was a long, arduous process, some of which was redone at our own studio. And not only was there a lot of ground to cover melodically, but the production side of things was also meticulous.

Luke and I spent a decent amount of time trying to emulate the crisp drum sound of Exit Music (For A Film) by Radiohead and generally trying to fulfill this vision of making a Pond/The Beatles love child. Once everything was tracked, the three of us sat in front of this project with a chorus that had two vocal octaves, two guitar lead octaves, three rhythm guitars, counter melodies, bass and drums, and just jumped straight into tackling it and making it work. The result was a ballad that, for all the hard work we put into it, appropriately stole the spotlight.

Elliott Road
Credit: Press

Twin Flame

ETHAN: I had the chorus written for this song around two years ago, I remember I was in a super dark place when I had fully fleshed out the song, it took me about 20 minutes. I don’t think the song is a semblance of that low point, it was more a tool used to emotionally connect with it. It was so weird, I remember I recorded and wrote the demo in those 20 minutes, and as soon as I finished I just broke down in tears.

Anyway, we changed the lyrics come studio time to make it less specific and more something everyone can connect with. I was also so against adding drums, typical drummer-type stuff. But when we ended up laying it down it turned out quite nice. We also used a crap ton of that trash can mic.

DANIEL: This was really Ethan’s song, so I knew whatever we did, had to be in service of this delicate vibe that Ethan had created. The idea was to not overload the track texturally and just keep it simple and effective. The demo itself only had vocals and guitar, so suggesting the idea of tracking drums was a risk in of itself, but in the end, we struck a balance that gelled perfectly. I really don’t think there’s another universe where Twin Flame isn’t the closing track.

You can stream This Is Bowling via Spotify below.