I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your first port of call should always be what’s going on in your own backyard. And in my backyard (so to speak) I’m thrilled to say Australian indie rockers Little May are back with the release of their second album Blame My Body. Interestingly, with the departure of guitarist Annie Hamilton, you would assume that it would be enough of a distraction to cause doubt or a crisis of confidence to Little May’s resolve. Fortunately it has not, and if anything, founding members Liz Drummond and Hannah Field, have come out of this upheaval stronger than ever with an album that is both vulnerable and bold. Moreover, Blame My Body is an exciting glimpse into the mind of two twenty-something year old young women and how they currently see the world. Honestly, I’m already smitten with Lover, Apples and As Loving Should, all songs I must add, that feel bolder in approach, encompassing a terrific new sound, which pretty much steers clear of the folk leanings of their 2015 debut For The Company.
With just a little over three weeks before Little May hit the road on their forthcoming Australian and European Tour, I had the privilege to catch both Liz and Hannah, in between band rehearsals. Here is some of what we talked about.
There was a real shake up to the line up when lead guitarist Annie Hamilton left the band. Can you recall the moment when you thought we can still do this? It was kind of a rebirth of Little May so to speak?
Liz: When Annie left the band it definitely signalled a new era for Little May. Hannah and I have written together since we were 17 so the songwriting process between us didn’t change a lot. However, I think naturally over time our songwriting matured and what we wanted our new record to sound like evolved a lot more. Our sound manifested in a new way when Rob Muinos came into the band as lead guitarist and as a producer of the new album. His stamp is all over this new record, particularly in the guitar parts and tones.
How do you think that you have grown as a band since your debut For The Company? What has remained the same?
Liz: I think just life experience, practice and working harder has been the main thing. The production on the new album is definitely different to For The Company. I think our voices are probably the same, perhaps more matured and self assured. FTC was definitely a lot more beautiful and soundscapey the whole way through. The new album has a lot more songs that hit you straight away. Having said that, there’s still a lot of typical Little May sounding songs on the back end of the record.
Liz, do you maintain a close collaborative songwriting process with Hannah, or do write separately in the hope of bringing in a new perspective you might not have otherwise come up with together ?
It’s a bit of both. Generally Han and I will write Little May songs together, but I’ve also written some myself. Han is also writing on her own too. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but generally it’s always been a close collaborative process.
I understand your new album Blame My Body came about with a lot of personal growth. What are some of the central themes that you close to dwell on for this record?
Hannah: Some of the themes close to my heart on this album explore addiction, heartbreak, imposter syndrome and coming to understand that vulnerability doesn’t make you weak, it in fact makes you strong. For me, over the couple of years this record was being written and recorded I think subconsciously i’d decided just to fuck off the shame of some of my truths and write about them honestly for the first time.
Is there a particular track from Blame My Body that you are really proud of as a band? That one special song that was a revelation or almost impossible to write but you fell in love with it anyway?
Liz: I honestly have quite a few different songs that are special to me and the band in their own way. I think Blame My Body was a fun one to work on, especially in production. It evolved in way that was interesting and more experimental than other songs. I also find Be My Man, Be My Woman is still incredibly moving for me, particularly at the end of the song.
How do you decide who takes on lead vocals for songs? I must say I love how those responsibilities are shared. Equally your harmonies are perfectly placed.
Liz: Aw Thank you! There isn’t really a set method. For this album it was mostly whoever wrote the majority of the lyrics for that song ended up singing the song. It just feels like that’s a very natural thing to do. A lot of the songs are probably too personal to change singers on this album. But it’s nice to have a balance.
What do you hope your music say about you? That said what do you hope people will continue to take away from it especially with the new songs from Blame My Body?
Hannah: If anything, I hope people feel empowered after listening to this album. To own their feelings and thoughts, to acknowledge them instead of suppressing them and to not be ashamed of being bold and raw.
My favourite track at the moment is As Loving Should? Can you tell me something about it that might seem surprising?
Hannah: Glad you like it :). Hmmm…maybe it’s not a surprise at this point but that song is about my struggle with alcohol dependence after i’d just come out of a pretty turbulent relationship. It went on for a few years where I was just stuck in this pretty destructive cycle. I was disconnected from what I was doing and was hurting people who were genuinely trying to help pull me out of it.
Still on the subject of favourite tracks I love the infectious vocals and melodies of Apples. Equally impressive and fun is its accompanying music video.What was it like making the music video for Apples?
Liz: Making the video Apples was a lot of fun and it was just really straight forward and easy. Making videos can often be difficult and made too complex, so it was wonderful to work with Nathan and Nick from Stupid Genius. They are great to work with; great guys who are super funny & creative. They also kept things relatively simple, which we both loved.
Your 2019 tour scheduled begins with a whirlwind trek across Australia in June and July, before heading over to Europe in September. What are you most looking forward to? I understand there is a lot of love for you in places like Germany and Scandinavia?
Hannah: I’m mainly just excited to be on the road again with Liz and the band. We’ve got a pretty good dynamic going on with the live show so playing shows is more fun than stressful which is so nice. It’ll feel lovely to play these shows and a heap of songs from this album to people who have connected to it, it’s been a long time coming.
Yeh! Can’t wait for Europe! Apparently we have a bit of a following in Scandinavia but it’ll be our first time playing there so no idea what it will be like, we’re pretty pumped though! Germany is always a good time and it’s nice having people show up to the shows! Their riders are always pretty incredible which is a plus after a big day in the van.
Finally, I hope to catch your Melbourne show next month. What can we expect from your shows? Who are the wonderful tour musicians that will be part of the extended family that is Little May?
Hannah: Yeh that’d be sick! I hope you can make it too! I’m really excited for The Curtin Show. It feels like a bit of a second home for us. I recon the shows will intimate and intense. Touring Muso’s we’ll have coming along with us are Mark Harding – keys/bass (he’s been a part of the LM family since the very beginning, a wonderful and hilarious man), Robert Muinos – lead guitar (Rob co-produced the album, is a very talented musician/producer/engineer, all round good bloke) and Sam Raines – drums (also very talented musician/all round good bloke).