A Suburb of Earth is out now.
Do you know I’ve never done a write up about a prog rock band before? This has left me a little stumped. Here goes.
Zombie Picnic are a quartet from Limerick, Ireland. What I like about them is that their brand of prog rock is not esoteric and wilfully obtuse just for the sake of trying to obfuscate. Decent amount of irony in that sentence there. Their debut album A Suburb of Earth is a dexterous and considered collection that, while ambitious and technical, is primarily concerned with emotion and actual songwriting rather than show boating and pretentious conceptualisation.
This is most certainly assisted by the fact that the record was created live in studio. This imbues the songs with a certain rawness and immediacy that can often been absent from more clean cut and produced efforts.
We sat down and had a chat with the band about the stories behind the title and each song that comprises the record.
Grab A Suburb of Earth via Bandcamp.
A Suburb of Earth
We set out to record what would become ‘A Suburb of Earth’ in August 2015, booking 2 days of recording with the gentleman Joe Gallagher at the awesome GAF Studio in Tipperary to get down what we’d put together over the last couple of years.
We were eager to capture the energy we have as a band playing together and felt making the decision to essentially record the album together live in the studio was the best way for us to do that. We’ve been playing music together under various names for over 10 years, which means we’re pretty in tune which each other at this stage.
Hitting a setback within a couple of hours of arriving at the studio, Jim’s amp shitting the bed followed by a round trip back to Limerick (the album should have been longer!), we got cracking on our debut album.
The title of the album comes from Arthur C Clarkes ‘Rendezvous with Rama’ which has a thread running through the whole album.
1. The B141 Frequency
The name of this song comes from the number of our practice space unit, all the songs on the album originally had place holders for names (mainly food related due to us practicing around dinner time) for so long it made the task of naming them probably one of the hardest things about the album.
The drum intro was stretched out for recording the album so we could cut in the sample of us coding in to our practice space with the sound of the roller door opening. Although that was decided later, we knew something was going to go in there!
B141 is made up of 3 movements that we felt set the scene for us as a band and for this album, bringing together our high energy and quieter melodic sides.
2. The Adamite Bomb
This song has the darkest feel of all the tracks on the album, in the background we have the conservative political commentator William F Buckley carrying out an interview about hippies with sociologist Lewis Yabolonsky, writer Jack Kerouac and singer Ed Sanders.
This was a tricky one to get right in the studio and took the most takes, a lot of sweat and a lot of broken sticks. A large caffeine injection is all we needed to get it together in the end!
Brian’s excellently named ‘Zvex Mastotron’ pedal gave this song the dirty boost it needed to bring us through the bridge and power out.
3. The Cylindrical Sea
This is the first song we ever wrote as Zombie Picnic and, like all our songs, had a terrible working title: Onion Bollix. The pattern and timing for the intro is loose, which is what we felt it needed. We tried to give this song as much of a menacing attitude as we could through the heavier passages, to contrast the gentler sections surrounding it.
The Pink Floyd influence is strong with this one, but we put our Zombie Picnic stamp on it pretty quickly!
4. The Rama Committee
This song was always going to close out this album and had a working title that eventually gave us our band name before our first gig. Again, Arthur C Clarkes ‘Rendezvous with Rama’ was the inspiration that helped shape how this song came out.
This is a song we’ve played at every gig since we’ve started and is a favourite of ours to warm up. It’s a song with a lot of twists and turns when it comes to its mood so it’s a song you can have a lot of fun with.
The choice of samples and monologues all the way through this album added post production was a way for us to add another layer and give the music more texture.
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