7 Oct 2017

Deer Park made an album between Auckland and Shanghai

From RNZ Music, 2:40 pm on 7 October 2017

Shannon Walsh from Deer Park tells us why the band's second album took seven years to complete.

Deer Park 'Saboteurs' cover art

Deer Park 'Saboteurs' cover art Photo: supplied

In 2015 Deer Park were one of a select few local acts invited to play at Auckland's Laneway festival. It had been five years since the release of their debut album Walk Into The Sea, but there was a buzz around the band thanks to the odd performance, and the fact that they were so far outside the norm. Live shows saw members bobbing over samplers and synths as vocalist Nick Walsh took his voice to strange new places. 

Then later that year, the band announced that Nick was heading to Shanghai to live, and the band would be playing their last New Zealand shows "for a while".

Prior to that though, they had been recording in kitchens and storage spaces around Auckland, accumulating the material that would become their second effort Saboteurs. The songs were passed between Nick and multi-instrumentalist Shannon Walsh, and finally co-producer Djeisan Suskov, in a process that took the best part of two years. 

Shannon laughs self-deprecatingly as he relates the "seven years of recording" it took to complete the album. He's refreshingly non-careerist when asked about pausing the band's career after the opportunity that Laneway presented. 

"[For] most people that make music in this country, it's something that you do in those spare moments: in the evenings, in the weekends. The more you play [live], the harder is is to be recording all the time. Unless you just quit your job and go full-time, but for most people that's just not an option".

Recording is something he takes seriously, despite not having the budget or inclination to track the album in a traditional studio. Interesting acoustic environments form the backbone of Saboteurs, as Shannon chose to forgo artificial reverb (a staple of most DYI producers), in favour of capturing a room's natural sonic qualities.

"We couldn't afford to go in and spend all that time in a proper studio. But what that meant is we could take our time. I have a tendency towards natural-sounding things, and when you're an electronic band that presents all sorts of challenges when you're trying to make it all glue. There was a lot of experimentation, and re-recording, and a lot of trying to find the right mic and the right room."

The Deer Park album release show featured Shannon remixing the album live from its core elements. He says "It was a lot cheaper than flying Nick out from China".

Saboteurs is out now.