Dry Cleaning tell us about the influences behind their debut album
Following two great EPs, Dry Cleaning are set to release their debut album this week via 4AD. With the band's 2020 tour canceled by the pandemic one city in, they had more time to work on songs and experiment, and the resulting record -- made with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding) at Wales' Rockfield Studios during lockdown -- finds the band expanding their unique sound that mixes often heavy post-punk-leaning backing with Florence Shaw's deadpan spoken word style that details life's mundanities, humiliations and heartbreaks. New Long Leg features sparser, more fluid arrangements that work more than ever in tandem with Shaw's words. You can listen to a few songs off the album below.
We asked Dry Cleaning to tell us about the influences behind the record and the whole band -- Shaw, guitarist Tom Dowse, drummer Nick Buxton, and Lewis Maynard have given us a list of 10 inspirations, including albums, musicians, other artists, gear, video games, basements, and more. It's a very Dry Cleaning list, complete with great commentary for each item. Read that below.
DRY CLEANING - 10 INFLUENCES BEHIND DEBUT ALBUM 'NEW LONG LEG'
Written by the band as a unit unless specified
Drum machine (Nick)
The use of electronic drums came about during the first UK lockdown. I was unable to play a drum kit at home, so we used the drum machine for a recording project where we passed a Tascam cassette recorder around our houses, recording one at a time. We were really happy with the results and began to experiment with the electronic sounds when we could rehearse again. All the electronic drum sounds on the album were from a Roland TR8 routed through a Moogerfrooger MURF filter. I love the Roland TR8. It gets a hard time from some corners of the electronic music community for being a poor imitation of the classic Roland machines. Having previously owned a 707 and 909 I can understand this but TR8 sounds great to me, it's reliable and is wonderfully versatile.
There’s a risk of making a big understatement here! But it was our first time working with such a well known producer so we did not really know what to expect from John. As you can imagine he had such a huge role to play. He was the filter through which all sound had to pass, which requires such vision and focus. He is totally unintimidating, yet ready to challenge you at any turn, understanding that it’s often the subtle changes that make the difference over the course of an album. The record would have sounded very different without him.
There is a small recording studio in the basement of the 4AD office where we spent Christmas 2019 writing. It was a safe haven at a time when we were struggling to find a good rehearsal space of the cosy size that we prefer. We wrote a decent chunk of "More Big Birds," "Tony Speaks!" (which is on the Japanese edition of the album), "New Long Leg," and "John Wick" in a couple of days there.
I have always listened to Bjork a lot, I think she’s such a great lyricist. One of my favourite lines is “We just met and I know I'm a bit too intimate but something huge is coming up and we're both included”. I like the way she circles around a subject. She’s either indirect or incredibly direct, no middle ground.
Who can resist a subject line that reads ‘Many years have passed but you’re still charming’.
Tascam Portastudio 424
We used the Tascam as a quick recording solution for our Seachange festival performance last year. It's an amazing piece of gear; simple to use but has so much character and the results really resonated with us all. At John Parish’s request we took it with us to Rockfield and ran Drum Machine tracks through it which really laid the foundation for many of the songs.
The engineer for the recording sessions at Rockfield was a lovely fellow called Joe Jones who made lots important contributions to the sound of the album but also introduced us to this game on the Nintendo Switch. It has a legendary cult-status and is totally absorbing. The game play is overtly violent but beneath that, each level is like a tightly wound puzzle augmented by an unreliable narrator-type main character for whom reality is unstable. That, combined with the amazing title music by Sun Araw, really felt like it seeped into our group consciousness during recording.
Difficult to pick one but a combination of a Tremolo, Boss RC-30, Phase 90, Chorus Ensemble and the almost unmanageable ZVEX Fuzz Factory helped to articulate some of the weirder, deconstructed guitar sounds on the record. I felt very drawn to a burned out, unstable sound which reached a bit of climax on "Every Day Carry."
Streets of Rage S/T by Yuzo Koshiro
Nick brought this soundtrack to our attention and it seemed to fit into a burgeoning influence of video games on the album and certainly this informed the decision to explore glitch art for the "Strong Feelings" video. The soundtrack itself is really striking; a kind of 16-bit, 90s funk-house but is composed with so much flair and charm that it transcends its format.
Errol Holt (Lewis)
Being stuck at home for a few months and not being able to go to the studio I spent a lot of time playing bass along to the demos we had just recorded as well as a few favourite albums. Vol 4 by Black Sabbath was a regular but the album I would play along to most was Dub to Africa by Prince Far I. The style and simplicity of Errol Flabba Holt has really influenced my bass playing and can definitely be heard on this record more than before.