It’s been an incredible few months for Melbourne locals, High Tension. They’ve signed to Cooking Vinyl, are about to release their debut album and are causing an almighty stir. Before ‘Death Beat’ drops next week, we caught up with guitarist Ash Pegram to chat about influences, recording and working with Tom Larkin.
By Meghan Player
It’s certainly been all systems go for the band the last few months – are you excited to be releasing your album next week?
Definitely. It feels like such a long time even though we only recorded it in July. I think the best thing is to see how people react to the songs live.
Can you tell us a little about the album? Did you approach making the album differently to your previous bands?
Writing the album wasn’t really like ‘OK guys, we’re making an album’. The album is essentially every full song we have. Over the past year we’ve written a few, gotten half way and chucked them out as we weren’t really feeling it. So everything on the album is pretty much every song we know minus a few we’ve kept up our sleeve.
I can only really speak for Young & Restless but making that album was a lot more laborious. It took roughly three months whereas this one took a few weeks. Working with Tom Larkin is fantastic though. He gets the best performance out of everyone but also doesn’t go for a full polished sound. If it’s a good take but there’s a flub in the middle of it, who cares.
It’s an insanely hard-hitting album – in the best way possible – are you surprised by how heavy the album is? Or was it a natural sound progression?
Not really surprised as such at how heavy it is. We wanted to make sure there was diversity and dynamics without writing that inevitable song that everyone skips on albums. Sound wise, Tom knows how to get a heavy sound. We wanted to make sure it was really big in the bottom end, to make you feel it in your chest when you listen to it.
Was it a conscious move to make the vocals and melodies really raw and angst-ridden?
Karina always makes sure she’s pushing herself how far she can go physically with her voice. In the studio, we constantly have to rein her back in because she’ll go ballistic in the first few takes with the screams and growls. After a few takes she settles in to what eventually makes the vocal takes.
What inspired the sound and style of the album?
I think all we wanted the album to sound like is a band playing live. Just no bullshit or frills. We had the luxury of having no time or budget, which meant we had a few takes on each song and that was it which forced us to really belt out each.
Do you think your previous band/s influenced or had any effect on how High Tension would sound? Or was it a chance to explore new territories?
We all approach it with our own experiences in previous bands and the kind of music we all listen to individually. But that’s where the beauty lies. Also I think it works that we don’t ever think about what ‘High Tension should sound like’. It’s just organic –a ridiculous fast punk song about smoking bongs and high-fiving cunts? Sure. Doom metal breakdown? Sure.
You signed to Cooking Vinyl earlier this year – are you excited to be working with them?
Totally. Both Stu and Leigh who run it are such fans of heavy music so it was great to work with people who you know genuinely appreciate the kind of music we’re making.
The album release next week has also meant you have a few dates on tour in support – are you looking forward to hitting the road? Is there a particular date/gig you’re looking forward to?
Playing a hometown show is great and the Tote is such a great venue, but equally Crowbar and Spectrum are great places to play. Such different crowds though which is great to have that variety.
How will 2013 end for the band?
The tour this year will be short and sweet. As for next year, who knows! It would be great to get some decent support slots (wink wink Daughters wink wink).
Many thanks to Ash for taking the time to chat to us. Death Beat is released via Cooking Vinyl on October 25. http://www.hightension.com.au/