MUSIC

Uncomfortable shed sessions deliver surprising results for San Cisco

TREE CHANGE: San Cisco's Josh Biondillo, Scarlett Stevens and Jordi Davieson recorded most of their new album Between You and Me in a makeshift studio shed in Mullumbimby. Picture: Toni Wilkinson
TREE CHANGE: San Cisco's Josh Biondillo, Scarlett Stevens and Jordi Davieson recorded most of their new album Between You and Me in a makeshift studio shed in Mullumbimby. Picture: Toni Wilkinson

IN June the Australian Financial Review published a story about property in the northern NSW town of Mullumbimby going gangbusters and attracting prices above $2 million.

The so-called "anti-vaxxer" capital of Australia was officially trendy, as the hippies were being priced out by cashed-up tree-changers lured by the lush hinterland and alternative lifestyle.

Fremantle's San Cisco didn't experience much of "Mullum's" new-found luxury when they spent a month last year recording their latest album Between You and Me at the property of their producer Steven Schram (Paul Kelly, Kate Miller-Heidke, The Cat Empire).

Instead they lived in a "big blue shed" among creepy crawlies. It proved too much for drummer Scarlett Stevens, who flew in and out, leaving frontman Jordi Davieson and guitarist Josh Biondillo to work through their 25 demos.

"I think it was a really good idea because it got us out of our comfort zone," Davieson says. "We're all very comfy here [in Fremantle].

"All our partners are coming around and we knew everyone and we had all these different commitments, so it was a bit distracting. To go to Mullumbimby where we didn't know anyone, there's no reception and we were living in this massive shed. There were like insects, mice and snakes everywhere.

"It was really good, it pushed us a bit. We were doing huge days."

Despite the uncomfortable gestation, it proved fruitful. Between You and Me delivers the hooky and sweet pop melodies the three-piece have become renown for across their previous albums San Cisco (2012), Gracetown (2015) and The Water (2017).

San Cisco - Messages

The highlight is the unashamedly fun Messages.

Davieson wrote the song about the "worst best friend that I've ever had" as a tongue-in-cheek dig at Stevens and her habit of never returning messages.

But when it was decided Stevens should take the lead vocal, Davieson revealed he'd written the song about her. In response Stevens penned new lyrics about how Davieson annoys her.

"We're like brother and sister, Scarlett and I, and I've got my own sister," Davieson says. "I'm very good are revving people up and pushing their buttons. I don't know if it's a big brother thing, but I do it to Scarlett quite a bit. She says, 'Can't you just be a normal adult and hang out with me? Instead of revving me up all the time'.

CHILLED: San Cisco were influenced by America and The Band on their new album. Picture: Pooneh Ghana

CHILLED: San Cisco were influenced by America and The Band on their new album. Picture: Pooneh Ghana

"That was one of those things. I thought, I'm gonna write a song about her because she never responds to my messages and then I'll be playing this song all the time and she won't even know it's about her."

Jokes asides, there's also some new-found maturity in the songwriting. Davieson's growing appreciation for classic '70s folk or pop-rock flows through on tracks like Alone and Tell Me When You Leave Tonight.

"For this record I was listening to a lot more," he says. "I used to listen to a lot of rap and hip-hop and I've really gone away from that and I'm listening to more America, The Band and Fleetwood Mac, Haim.

"A lot more singer-songwriter stuff, which I've found really good to do because it's a lot more useful for me to listen to that stuff than rappers. I'm not making rap music."

San Cisco's Between You and Me is released on Friday.

This story San Cisco album flourishes in uncomfortable reality first appeared on Newcastle Herald.