Hume brothers drop the sarcasm in favour of a more optimistic sound
Evermore, the prodigal sons of Feilding, return this week for their first headline show in Auckland since 2007, to accompany their recently released fourth album Follow the Sun.
Three years between albums might seem like a bit of a gap, but the Hume brothers of Evermore have been busy.
After the release of their 2009 album Truth of the World, the trio found themselves touring Australia and Europe extensively with P!nk.
Finally returning to Melbourne (the city they now call home) in late 2010, they decided to fulfil their dream of building a studio in what used to be a ten-acre horse farm about half an hour from the city. It's called The Stables Recording Studio.
"The horses are all gone, and the stable is now full of musicians," Jon laughs. "It was basically a big steel and concrete shed, that we pretty much pulled everything out of and rebuilt over time."
"We wanted to make sure everything was hand done and using recycled timbers, old fence posts, handmade bricks," adds Peter.
"A lot of it looks like it's been there for 100 years, it's a real mix of stuff."
It may sound like an epic episode of Grand Designs but the studio wasn't their only project. Jon got married, and they decided to do some travelling, trying to pick up songwriting inspiration along with a dose of new experiences as they visited cities like Marrakech, Jerusalem, Buenos Aires, Paris, and Madrid."
"But a big reason for the trip was to get out of the house, get out of the studio, shake us up, and also to bring us together as well, just the three of us, and we could really focus on the songwriting," says Peter.
Despite their exotic surrounds, it wasn't a sitar or an oud which influenced the album, but the time spent sitting together with an acoustic guitar. "All of the songs that made it to the album, you could just sit around a campfire and play them, and they'd still work. They're not based on some big computer production. It made us strip some of our music down," Jon muses.
That's not to say it's an acoustic album though. They've still spent many hours in the studio working on the production, narrowing down the song choices and refining the sound.
"The album went through different phases," explains Peter.
"There was the grand anthemic stage where everything sounded like big stadium stuff, and then we went through a bit of a folk period, and then there was a Beatles, Abbey Road sort of Sgt Pepper's, complex period, and they were quite separate.
"But when we wrote Follow The Sun and when Jon came up with that marching drum intro, that was a key moment. When I heard that drum sample, and there's the trumpets at the end, there was something exciting for us, and that became the kernel for figuring out the rest of it."
They've come up with a different tone to Truth of the World - a concept album about trash media, propaganda, and infotainment - and embraced a youthful, optimistic outlook.
"I think on Truth of the World, there was quite a lot of sarcasm in the lyrics, and I got tired of performing like that. So I think with this album we were more conscious of figuring out, what do we actually want to say," Jon explains.
"Especially if you're going to say it hundreds of times," laughs Peter. "You know you're gonna play these songs over and over, and you want it to be enjoyable, and to be singing lyrics that you believe in."
They've already started performing the album in Australia, supporting Maroon 5 on their latest tour, and though they're only playing in Auckland and Wellington this week, they hope to be performing around New Zealand early next year.
Youngest brother and drummer Dann won't be joining them. He's decided to spend more time working as a producer and co-writer (he's already worked Bic Runga and Lisa Mitchell) and on his own solo project - but there's no hard feelings, as Peter explains.
"He's always been a great songwriter - he wrote It's Too Late, and Light Surrounding You, and we're very proud of him. He's never had the chance to do anything else, since he was 16, so now's the time. It is going to be different without him, but Dann's still very much part of the band, and it's sounding good with our new guy. Right now we're just excited to play the shows."