Author: James Nicoli
At a gig a couple of years ago, local rockers Kashmere Club were getting ready to play in front of your regular Saturday night crowd at the Espy front bar when they suddenly spotted someone in the audience who they hadn’t exactly counted on being there. “We were sound checking and the bass player Jono came over to me and is like ‘hey man have a look in the front row’ and I looked down and it was Chris (Cheney) just standing there with a beer,” remembers vocalist and guitarist Billy O’Connell. “When I was in my teens I was a massive (The) Living End fan; I had the whole guitar hero thing going. So yeah he stayed there and watched the whole set and afterwards he came and had a chat to us.”
What started out as a chance meeting at one of Melbourne’s most iconic music venues ended up with The Living End front man Chris Cheney signing up to produce Kashmere Club’s latest off ering, the Lost & Sound EP. “We got in touch with him and sent him a few emails and you know what the industry’s like – you never hear back – but we kept at it,” recalls O’Connell. Eventually they managed to pin the guitar virtuoso down, and once they had a date, they then holed up at Red Door Sounds studio in Collingwood. “He (Cheney) lives in LA now so it was kind of a matter of waiting for him to be back in Australia and try to book out a week of his time.”
Working with such an esteemed Australian musician proved to be a profound experience for the band, and O’Connell is full of nothing but praise for the legendary guitarist-turned-producer. “He’s a hilarious dude and grounded as hell, such an Aussie,” he says. “He’s got a massive reputation of being a perfectionist. I’ve heard of him locking himself in a room tracking the same mix for eight hours. He takes massive pride with anything that his name is on, so it kind of got to the point where he was the fourth band member.”
Despite his profile, Cheney worked tirelessly on the songs and his work rate was something that rubbed off on the band members, helping them to get the best results possible from the time they had together in the studio. “He worked really hard,” admits O’Connell. “Like we were meant to just do the standard 10 or 11 hour studio day, and I think every night for the whole week, he was going well past midnight. He’s got an incredible work ethic which opened my eyes; to see someone who’s achieved that level in Australian music and to see how hard they do work.”
O’Connell admits that although the band member’s musical influences are vast, they were definitely channelling some sort of 70s vibe into the soulful rock’n’roll numbers which make up the EP. “Nathan the drummer, he’s basically ‘70s influenced,” says O’Connell. “He’s a huge Jon Bonham fan, so I guess there’s plenty of Led Zeppelin influence in the rhythm section. The songs usually start as basic folk songs, and when they come to the band they kind of get that 70s thing stamped on it.”
If there’s one thing Kashmere Club pride themselves on, it’s their live performance. So naturally while recording the songs for Lost & Sound, one of the biggest challenges for the band was how best to translate the raw energy of their live show into the studio. “I think it’s the age old challenge to try and capture your vibe and what you do best live in the studio,” admits O’Connell. “(But) I think we managed to achieve it. When I listen to the EP, I feel like it does capture us live; it’s a lot more polished. Being a three-piece, there’s no room to add guitar layers or second melody lines when you’re playing live; we still had the opportunity to add those things, but it’s still very much a representation of us a three piece.”
KASHMERE CLUB launch their EP Lost & Sound at Cherry Bar on Saturday August 24.