LOOKS, and sounds, can be deceiving. Take DZ Deathrays as case in point.
When the then Brisbane two-piece burst onto the scene in a haze of dance-punk distortion and screams in 2012 on their debut album, Bloodstreams, not many would have suspected DZ Deathrays to one day exhibit maturity.
Sure, Shane Parsons (guitar, vocals) and Simon Ridley (drums) have always delivered a blistering live show full of unbridled energy, punctuated with scintillating singles like Gina Works At Hearts and Pollyanna, but did these so-called slackers have the ambition to become more?
It turns out DZ Deathrays are highly ambitious.
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Last week the expanded three-piece - following the official inclusion of guitarist Lachlan Ewbank - released their fourth album Positive Rising: Part 1.
Recording of part two wrapped up last week at The Grove studio on the Central Coast and is suspected to be released in mid-2020.
Surely in 2019 when the overbearing influence of music streaming threatens to render the traditional album to Tasmanian tiger status, a double record released in separate parts is hubris?
"We're huge fans of the format of the album," Parsons says from The Grove studio. "It's a big thing for us and we like putting together a collection of songs.
"You can try different styles of music and incorporate different things into your songwriting outside of what you did if you just played singles. We always wanted to do that.
"This is our fourth album, so for us it was time to try something different. The double record was the idea, but the staggered release is so we can get the most out of it because these days as soon as you have an album out it's like three months later, 'Hey when's the next record'?"
There's no doubt the success of DZ Deathrays' 2017 album Bloody Lovely provided the confidence for Positive Rising.
Propelled along by the singles Shred For Summer and Like People, which featured the original red Wiggle Murray Cook in the video clip, Bloody Lovely reached No.4 on the ARIA charts and gave DZ Deathrays a mainstream profile.
Parsons felt so inspired after recording Bloody Lovely in early 2017 that he immediately commenced writing the follow-up.
Much of the songwriting was refined and completed over a week in a country homestead in Yass in south-west NSW away from the distractions of extracurricular activities.
From there the band decamped and headed for Los Angeles where they worked with producer Miro Mackie, who lists St Vincent and Cold War Kids on his engineering resume.
"I feel like I've hit my stride with songwriting," he says. "I spend a lot more time doing it. Even though we tour a lot, we don't tour as much as we did for the first five years.
"That gives me more time to work on music at home. Lachlan has also been writing with us too, which has made things move along a lot quicker."
Positive Rising: Part 1 sees DZ Deathrays dabbling with new guitar tones, harmonies and even synths.
But don't be fooled, tracks like Still No Change, IN-TO-IT and A Lot To Lose are still packed with their trademark fuzzed-out doom-rock riffs.
But elsewhere on Hypercolour and Snakes, there's a greater emphasis on melody and more dynamic sonic soundscapes, which were inspired by American dream pop band Beach House and UK shoe-gazers Slowdive.
DZ Deathrays also had the opportunity to call in their hero Matt Caughthran from Californian punk band The Bronx to sing on their track Year Of The Dog.
"When we did our first album [Bloodstreams] we thought how can we do this as a two piece?," Parson says. "Like it had to be a two piece.
"Then the second one [Black Rat] came along and it'll probably have these extra guitars so we got another guitarist and it's gone from there. We just thought let's do whatever we want that sounds cool and work it out later and that's the challenge.
"It's been really fun to experiment with different soundscapes. We're huge fans of bands like Beach House and Slowdive and want to incorporate those sounds into our style of rock music, which pushes a bit harder, but you can have these moments that sit back and feel blissed out."
That blissed out vibe is expected to carry through on Positive Rising: Part 2. The songs were all written in the same two-year period and Parsons says there will be a natural flow between albums.
Parsons also admits that the project had led him to weigh up the longevity of DZ Deathrays and the band's career path. Now in his 30s, he knows there's an end point to jumping around and screaming madly on stage and being known as one of the wildest and loudest bands in Australian indie.
DZs are ready to grow up.
"For us live has always been a lot more intense and bigger," he says. "If you had that intensity recorded it just ends up wearing your ears out a little bit. We want these songs to be listened to as time goes on.
"If the band stops playing, they're still on playlists for songs to listen to on the way to work or at a house party.
"I'm a huge classic rock fan so I always look to those songs that stay with you over the decades and suit different occasions. It's cool to be blistering live and harsh live, but on record it's got to be dialled back a little bit.
"There's still a sweet spot that gives energy and it's just trying to find that."
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