Black Science was conjured up when Dylan Clarke, Alex Willi and Joss Colling joined forces in 2009 to form a raucous and robust alternative rock act with punk and psychedelic undertones. With one EP already under their belt, the Auckland group are set to release a debut album named ’Burn & Rave’ in March. Jean Bell chatted with the band.
With the sun shining and beer aplenty, the camaraderie of the three Black Science bandmates is crystal clear. Teasing and free-spirited banter between the guys reveals their musical partnership is based upon a solid and genuine friendship.
Drummer Alex Willi and Dylan Clarke (guitar/vocals) go way back, having known each other since primary school. They started playing music together as teenagers, before teaming up with Joss Colling (bass/vocals) to create Black Science.
Active on the scene for five years, the trio have locked down a solid live performance.
“We pride ourselves on our live shows. It’s high energy. You can’t slip a cigarette paper in-between, that’s how tight everything is,” Dylan smiles. “It’s like a therapy session for me, like I have something to give to the world.”
“As cliché as it is, it’s great to see the crowd getting into and loving it,” agrees Joss. “You look at other members on stage and it gives you a buzz when they’re into it too.”
“It’s always a reflection of how much I love doing it inside, so seeing it in the crowd is great,” Alex adds.
Beyond Auckland gigs, the band has regularly ventured down to Tauranga to perform at the annual Woodcock Festival.
“We’ve played every one. It’s like Christmas for us,” smiles Dylan.
“We played at Woodcock one year and it was a real high energy show and the three of us ended up vomiting together afterwards. We were holding each other arm in arm, holding back each other’s hair. I wish we had got a photo – it was album cover,” recalls Joss. “But that’s it, you give all you’ve got.”
Beyond delivering a riotous live performance, the guys are dedicated musicians and self-confessed music nerds, drawing inspiration from a range of musical sources.
“We all read that book Our Band Could Be Your Life [by Michael Azerrad]. It’s basically all the bands that are our influences. Also, any Flying Nun or SST Records from the ’80s, like Black Flag and Minute Men,” says Dylan.
Other acknowledged influences include Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., The Rolling Stones, Neil Young and The Replacements.
“As we get older, we discover a lot more different music and it comes subconsciously into your head,” admits Dylan. “We write whatever we feel, it happens organically.”
The Beatles are definitely one of the main ones,” Joss adds. “They’re the godfathers, like education.”
“The Beatles are like the meat and potato,” Dylan agrees, “We’ve got a song on the album dedicated to Paul McCartney.”
’Burn & Rave’ is the self-proclaimed magnum opus of the band, their first full-length release. With a diverse and full-bodied range of sound the gusto throughout the album is infectious. Vigour that makes you want to rave until you literally burn out. The album title was inspired by a Dylan Thomas poem.
“Basically, it’s not going gently into the good night, but to rip shit and bust and go to your dying breath,” explains Dylan.
“Out of all the songs that we’ve worked on over the years, the songs we’re releasing capture the best light of all of that,” Alex reveals.
“We always find something fresh while practising,” adds Joss. “The stuff that we’ve recorded is great, but I can see it evolving into extended cuts and mixing things up.”
As with their conversation, the group work on songs collaboratively, everyone having a hand in penning the music and lyrics.
“It’s good to have dudes who share the same goals. If you’re fucking up somehow and not getting it right, these guys will tell you,” says Dylan smiling.
Their music and lyrics explore a range of emotions with an overall uplifting message. Things are kept real by touching on topics like depression.
“It’s like a scrap book for our 20s,” reveals Dylan. “It didn’t start off as a concept album, but now it has become one. We don’t want it to be pretentious though, it’s more a story.”
“Our first single, I Fell Off The Edge Of My Mind, came from a big night out,” Dylan recounts. “It was raining as I was walking home with water in the potholes in the road, and the sun was just rising. I got home and was having a look at the newspaper, and the song inspiration came to me and I wrote it down on a scrap piece of newspaper. I found the tune hummed into my phone a few weeks later and it fitted in exactly with what I’d written about.’”
Ed Castelow (Dictaphone Blues) produced the album and the recording was completed over a couple of weekends within a six-month period at Castelow’s studio in Mt Eden. His input was valuable for the band, they describe him as being like a fourth member during the recording process.
“He’d push ’record’ but then have his headphones on and be dancing around in the studio. He’d be like, ’Here’s the feel, this is the moment, make sure you hit it hard.’ He’ll make sure the little things are there, as we’re too in another zone and concentrating on other things,” recounts Joss.
Keeping things simple, each track was recorded three times, with the best take chosen.
“It becomes really complicated and too much in your head if you do more takes. It’s about being well rehearsed before recording,” Joss advises.
“The energy is there when you’re first starting as well, after a few takes it can be a bit like, ’Ahh shit, I’m not getting it,’” Dylan adds.
“Just gotta let it go. Once we did 70 takes, well at least it felt like 70 takes!” confides Alex.
Come March, the band will be releasing ’Burn & Rave’ on CD and online. As well as plans to jump on a nationwide tour, the ambitious bunch are planning to release an EP within the next year.
“Our long term goal is to tour Australia and the States,” expresses Dylan. For now, the band is stoked to be releasing their first album.
“We’re all really excited to get our music out there and to play for more people. People are excited already at the prospect of having an album in their hands by Black Science. People are saying it’s about time for us.”