BOMBS AND BURIED OPTIMISM
Davey Craddock’s first album was an impressive collection of Australian Americana music from the west coast of the continent, but on his second album he felt the need to mix things up and explore the pervasive sense of anxiety in these changing, uncertain times.
When Craddock sat down to start writing One Punch he knew that he wanted the music to suit the songs and not necessarily decide on the genre of the album before the songs were written. “I started writing this album in the US when I was there for AmericanaFest. My girlfriend met me and we hired a car and drove across America for a month. It was right in the middle of the presidential debates and it was so strange, it was Looney Tunes stuff. The song ‘The Bomb, From Broome’ is about when we got home from the US and went to visit friends in Broome, when the North Korea missile testing thing started, and it was a similar bizarreness. They have a young child and I never thought in our lifetime we’d have this situation where you had to explain what a nuclear bomb was to a toddler. When you’re dealing with that subject matter, cruisey country songs just don’t feel right,” explains Craddock.
That change in sound includes incorporating darker and noisier guitars, moodier textures and a bleaker outlook. “The sound I had in my head for this album, we’d never played before. These songs felt like more of a reach. I’d bring something to the band and say I wanted it to sound more like Grinderman on a song,” Craddock recalls.
Craddock’s band are integral to the realisation of his songs and they provide the elements that he can’t necessarily bring on his own. “I’m by far the worst musician in the band and happy to joke about that,” he laughs. “I write the songs but they’re incredibly talented at creating textures, particularly in the studio. The piano songs I’ll write on piano and have a sound like a Hammond organ in my head and then I’ll take to Mo [Wilson] and ask him to create the sound I have in my head. The same for guitars. I bring them to the band as 65% sketches and then they bring them to their full potential. I do bring in touchstones like the Nick Cave movie One More Time With Feeling and that will inform a song when I suggest sounds I hear in that.”
Some songwriters use their craft as therapy, helping them to work through personal emotions and situations. For Craddock that wasn’t the case, admitting in general he’s “quite an anxious person,” before drilling down to the essence of what the album is about. “I think the world is still worrying. It’s not like a hardcore political album. A couple are about world affairs but if anything it’s about personal anxiety and how that shit makes you feel personally. It’s very hard for any of us to affect global affairs individually so it’s about how that external noise and chatter affects you personally and how you deal with it.”
Through what might sound like bleakness on the surface, there is a sense of optimism buried in the DNA of the songs. I think on a song like ‘Holiday’ there’s a sense of optimism. It’s about a shit holiday but the music lifts it. I think there’s a feeling of ‘just keep going’. ‘Madeline’ is optimistic. It’s about a backpacker working up north at a truck station and she’s not resigned to the fact that the truckers are perving on her 24/7. She’s still going. No-one gives up in any of the songs.”