“Signals to Asymmetry was more of a side step, but this one is a big boot forward” - hmv.com talks to Mallory Knox about new album Wired
Mallory Knox didn’t waste any time releasing their second album Asymmetry, knocking it out a year after their hit debut Signals, but it’s all been a bit quiet for the last couple of years. They’re back now though with Wired, their third full-length effort, which hits shelves today (you can preview and purchase it on the right-hand side of the page).
We chatted to frontman Mikey Chapman about why the band’s quest for an efficient recording process lead them to a 26-bedroom mansion and why Oasis and Charlie Brooker inspired their new album...
How did making this new album compare to the making of Asymmetry?
“The timescale and budget we gave ourselves was a lot shorter and a lot smaller. We had a great time making the last record, but we really could have compressed the process and we wanted to do that this time. We’re always ready to go before we get to the studio and we felt like we had everything in place this time and there was no need to waste any time.”
Was the writing any different?
“We’ve got a great structure in place. Sam (Douglas, bass) will bring in the bare bones of the song and then we all fill it out and jam it out as a band. Lyrically this is definitely a step forward, I feel like we’ve expressed ourselves more and really grown as individuals. It’s a stride forward in a business sense and creative sense.”
You worked with Dan Austin on the album, how did you settle on him?
“He was the assistant producer on Asymmetry when we worked with Gil Norton and we loved his dynamic. He’s a fantastically astute and very confident guy and we had a great time working with him. Last time we’d ask him questions about various parts of the song and he’d always have to tell us to speak to Gil, which was fair enough, but we really felt like he understood us really well. He’s very intense and very eccentric, but the way he works ties in with us perfectly.”
When you think Gil Norton you think of the albums he’s made with Pixies and Foo Fighters, obviously Dan isn’t at that stage in his career, was that a concern for you guys?
“There’s always that element to every decision, everyone always wants a big name, but in the genre, we’re in, you have to be on the pulse and to see the up and comers. At one point in his career, Gil Norton was at Dan’s level and it was the Pixies and Foo Fighters who got him to that level. We have that feeling about Dan, you only have to meet him to see how good and how passionate he is. To me, there’s no doubt he’ll be a big-name producer in time.”
You recorded in a 26-bedroom manor! What was that like?
“Sam and I drove down there and we really thought the sat nav had taken us to the wrong place. We got to these big gates and it literally looks like Wayne Manor, 30-acre estate, lakes everywhere, we were driving up to the house waiting for them to release the hounds! We loved it, it was the greatest place. It was ironic that we’d made a commitment to work more efficiently and more quickly and we’d found a studio that we just didn’t want to leave. Last time we recorded at Moles in Bath, which is steeped in history, but really run down and dusty, whereas this time the environment couldn’t have been better.”
How did you want the sound of this record to move on from what you did on Asymmetry?
“In terms of recording, the boys really wanted to achieve a rawer, more natural sound. Getting to a point where you feel like you’re in the room with the band, more in the spirit of the great records from the 70’s and 80’s. Signals to Asymmetry was more of a side step, but this one is a big boot forward. This is a more confident album, when we were younger we’d arrive at sounds and riffs and wonder too much about how it would be received, this time we just decided to go for it because we love it, we gave more things a try and really pushed our own boundaries.”
It’s been billed as a record with more to say about the modern world, is that fair?
“It’s still the case that the lyrics are dictated by the vibe of the song, whether it’s a sad song, an angry song or something more uplifting, we don’t make conscious choices to address things. But rather than just writing about love and our lives, there are a lot more topics at play. I got one big social commentary, a state of the nation song, the boys granted me that. It’s definitely a record with more developed ideas.”
It’s called Wired, does technology play a big part?
“Absolutely. A lot of themes and visuals come from the irony that we’re as connected as we’ve ever been as human beings but more disconnected than ever. So I want to tap into how that makes people feel about themselves and their environments, the distractions technology can bring and how it can isolate people in their own worlds.”
Were there writers, films or other lyricists you looked to?
“Sound wise I think there’s a real hint of Oasis and Britpop in the songs. In terms of the visuals and for inspiration, Charlie Brooker and Black Mirror gave us a lot. It’s the most incredible social commentary, the best in existence, in my opinion, it hammers home so many good points in a very abstract way, that was the main influence. That and my obsession with the current global political climate, all of it made me feel like this was a really good time for us to put our two pence in, as it were.”
How’s it going putting together your live set? You’ve got plenty of songs to choose from now...
“This is the first record where it’s really hard to choose what to junk from the set. Before it was easy, the songs that weren’t singles would just go, but we’ve done that now and we still have to lose a few. We’ve got to figure out which songs to bring back and which will sit nicely alongside the newer songs. I always wonder how bands like the Foo Fighters do it. How do you fit in all those bangers? It’s a nice problem to have, though, we’ll have a really entertaining set, that’s for sure, for fans new and old.”