Adam Curley, frontman of Australian post-punk group Gold Class, speaks candidly about the origin stories of the songs on new record Drum.
I knew that I wanted the album to be defiant and full of skin and trouble and spit and love. I was feeling that way, and was thinking about persecution and resistance, about how people on the outside have always dealt with isolation and rejection, external and internalised fear and hatred, and those who've survived it have built lives they could call their own despite it all. But I was also having a hard time personally, having just come out of an intense relationship, and couldn't settle or stay in one place for long. I was reading James Baldwin and Maggie Nelson, about bodies that carry shame and power, bodies as sites of personal and political liberation. I knew the album had to be personal in order to write about those other ideas floating around in my head. "Twist In The Dark" is a good starting place for the record, I think. It's about transformation, but not transformation into anything in particular, just about transformation itself. The push and pull of it, the need to keep going despite the pain of it in the hope of finding some light, and the knowledge that pain and light go hand in hand much of the time.
Evan [James Purdey] and I had talked about writing something with a big, raging chorus - I was aiming for something with an unhinged hook like "My Pal" or "Smells Like Teen Spirit". It came fairly soon after a European tour, at the end of which I'd spent four days in a tiny apartment in Rome with a couple of writer friends, talking for long hours over lots of red wine and watching the US election unfold. We walked up to Gianicolo the morning Trump won and looked out over this stunning city built on oppression. I guess "Rose Blind" is about feeling like a grain of salt in the tide of history, about the in-between moments of closeness with other people, about the enormity and stupidity of it all.
"Get Yours" was the first of the lyrics I wrote for the album. It's fairly clearly a break-up song, about wanting someone to come back for you, to not leave you in the dust. But I think I was looking for something in myself that knew it was ok to be in the dust, too. The line "there's none left here and all I need," was really the start of the album, lyrically, for me - it said a lot of what I wanted the record to say, or to explore, at least. It's about revelling in the wasteland, rolling around in it, saying 'fuck you' to whoever or whatever put you there because the wasteland is where losers thrive.
I think the lyrics probably speak for themselves. It's a song about going out and looking for trouble. It doesn't need to be more than that, but I guess it's also a response to the dominant thought in our country that only people who grovel to white middle-class Australia deserve fair treatment. That rights should only come to those who will strive to be married, well-mannered professionals with three TVs and a mortgage, whether they're refugees, indigenous peoples, queer people… it's a love song to anyone who wants to resist that idea. It's kind of dumb, too.
This is a pretty straight-up song about wanting someone's attention, that feeling you get when you realise you've been just going along with your life and then suddenly there's this person in front of you who is smart and dangerous and exciting. I liked the idea of using the word 'bully' to describe the thought that the two of you could be a threat to a timid life.
We went away to the country for a week to do some writing because we wanted to give ourselves the space and time to come up with new ideas and ways of playing. "Thinking Of Strangers" was one of the songs that came out of that and I like how it just finds a groove and sits there the whole way through. Lyrically it was a challenge because there's not a lot to work with - it's basically two short verses and a repeated chorus - so I played around with changing single words here and there to say what I wanted to say. It came out of moving around a lot and not having a fixed place to live for almost a year, walking around the city and seeing old friends who had moved on with their lives, and questioning whether I was running around and chasing new ideas to avoid facing myself.
This song is probably one of the more personal songs on the record, and I don't want to write too much about the other person involved outside the lyrics that are there. But the title is meant to have a couple of meanings. I think when you've faced a certain amount of rejection in your life, and then you find someone who's your partner in crime, everything is high stakes and you can feel really irrational for having strong feelings and responses, especially when it starts going bad. I just wanted to tell someone that it wasn't too much, that we weren’t crazy. A lot of childhood imagery crept into this one, too, and I don't think by accident - those feelings go back a long way. There's a lot of childhood imagery throughout the record for that same reason.
This was the last piece of music written for the album. We liked the idea of having an interlude and something we could play around with production-wise in the studio to give the record a bit more texture. It's a comedown song, but not in a bad way - that feeling in the morning of having found yourself in the night. Almost a lullaby.
Another of the songs that came out of the country getaway. It's about a night spent with a friend who was having a hard time with depression. Night is obviously a running image on the record, which was both a choice and because it's where the band lives, really. Night is where all bands live, and it's also always been the realm of people at the bottom, people who have to hide, who have to make their living in dark hours, who can escape and also find liberation at night. I also like the way the song repeatedly builds and subsides, the way that works with the words.
It took me about a year to write the lyrics for this song. It's had other titles and we played it live for a while with other words, but I was never happy with it. I probably would have scrapped it altogether if the others weren't so keen to have it on the album. I was working on it when the new year was ticking over, sitting at home by myself, and I think I finished it a few days before we started recording. In the end I wrote it as the last song, as a kind of mirror or opposite to "Twist In The Dark" – the word "Lux" comes from the measurement of light. I didn't want the album to have a definitive end, more just a way to keep moving on, to keep on the ideas of transformation and release. When we recorded it, it finally found the propulsion it had been missing up to that point, I think.