“I try to be very free and open with what I do, and not have too many rules in where I’m going, what I’m doing and what I’m creating…”
Gideon Preiss’ humble voice echoes down the line as he describes his part in indie folk pop duo Husky while at the same time typifying what makes this project so special and so unique.
Named for the lead vocalist, writer and guitarist, Husky Gawenda, the multi-instrumental duo is riding a wonderful wave of success following the June release of its long-awaited third studio album ‘Punchbuzz’.
After a lengthy stint spent touring their 2014 sophomore record ‘Rucker’s Hill’, the pair decided to take a year-long sabbatical in Europe, and keyboardist Preiss says ‘Punchbuzz’ has been in the works since the duo’s time off.
“It’s always hard to know exactly when the songs started; we recorded a little bits and pieces while we were living in Berlin – we got back at the start of 2016 and we had the record wrapped up within the year.”
Recorded at The Aviary Studios in Collingwood, Melbourne, the record was mixed and mastered by award-winning producer Matt Redlich.
“[Redlich] is a very playful and adventurous guy – kind of like a sonic explorer,” says Preiss, “He’ll tread where no man has tread before and he’ll do it very naturally.
“Following him down the rabbit hole in the studio was a really fantastic way to create music
Punchbuzz takes quite a turn from Husky’s previous work, delving more into rock, pop and even electronica while still managing to preserve elements of the duo’s quintessential melancholy, folk sound. Preiss says it all started with the songwriting process.
“This record was made really differently; we used a lot of riffs—guitar and keyboard riffs—and loop pedals,” he says, “We let things evolve in a more organic, natural way.
“Typically [Gawenda] writes alone, but we also wrote quite a lot together – he brought back the songs to me and then we fleshed them out together.
“We took them to Jules Pascoe, our bass player, and Aaron Light, our drummer, and then finally took them to Matt [Redlich] … and they took on a whole new life.”
Preiss says the name Punchbuzz, which encapsulates the nocturnal feel of the album, came to Gawenda late one night as he was writing for the album.
“We both very quickly felt like it was a really good title for the record,” says Preiss, “One great thing about it is – because it’s made up, no one else has used it for anything.
“I think it just captures the vibe and the spirit of the record which is what any good title should do.”
The order in which a record is arranged can often be a make-or-break, and can set the tone for the collection of music as a whole.
The album kicks off with the foot-tapping, punchy (how fitting) second single ‘Ghost’, which is reminiscent of some of the work from The War on Drugs’ 2014 record ‘Lost in the Dream’.
The upbeat tempo continues with the almost hypnotic ‘Shark Fin’ with Real Estate-esque guitar riffs and vocals ringing of Half Moon Run.
The album track follows, giving way to the first single ‘Late Night Store’.
Released in late 2016, Late Night Store set the initial tone for the duo’s third album and marked their diversion from the traditional folk formula.
“We started listening to a lot of American, indie, psychedelic rock music where the music is a bit less structured and a bit more free,” says Preiss of Husky’s new direction, “That really influenced the kinds of sounds that we were creating on the album.
The back end of the album, featuring the third and final single ‘Splinters in the Fire’ and the aurally extraordinary ‘Cracks in the Pavement’ takes on a slightly more sombre, eerie feel – the sounds of solitude in a forest after dark, as opposed to the fast-paced, city feel of the first few songs.
‘Flower Drum’, the penultimate song on Punchbuzz, with catchy drumlines and an emphasis on synth that would make envious the likes of Kevin Parker, is perhaps the anomaly of this more Pink Floyd, Unknown Mortal Orchestra-esque B-side.
Preiss says this was again down to the process by which the pair created the record.
“I think one thing that was different with this album was that the songs came and evolved, and we followed the songs, which we’ve never really done,” he says, “We’ve always been like ‘we’re creating this, we’re going to make an album that sounds like this, the songs are going to give you this kind of feeling’.
“This time we were a lot more free with what we were creating… I think we were more free as people as well, I think that’s a big part of it, after just coming off this massive adventure, living and touring around Europe.”
Remaining true to this novel, nocturnal Husky brand, so to speak, Preiss says the duo’s music is best described as an owl.
“I mean, the obvious answer would be ‘dog’, but I’m not going to go with that – even though we both love dogs.”
“Owls are awesome creatures; they’re mysterious, they’re nocturnal—which we are—they’re elusive but they’re really beautiful and they make amazing sounds.”
Despite having to postpone a large chunk of their Australian tour due to frontman Gawenda’s health, the boys will be in town on Friday 18th August at Jive and Preiss says they can’t wait to get on the road and showcase their new material.
“I was already excited and then we had to push everything back… we’ve never had such an involved show – it’s going to be really magical, really exciting.”