WHEN Husky Gawenda reflects on the Westbury Hotel, he focuses on the positive times rather than its demolition.
Gawenda's band, Melbourne indie four-piece Husky, partially wrote and demoed their upcoming fourth album Stardust Blues inside the Edwardian-era mansion in the inner-south suburb of Balaclava just prior to the wrecking ball going through last spring.
It's since been replaced by a residential unit block.
For five years several members of the band, including Gawenda, lived at the glorified sharehouse. It provided a convivial atmosphere. An artistic haven for ideas to flow.
"A lot of great creative stuff happened at that place and also it's where half of us lived for a long time," Gawenda says.
"I don't feel so much sadness, I'm more glad a lot of the spirit of that place was captured on those songs and recordings and videos."
While Gawenda (vocals and guitar) and his Husky bandmate and cousin Gideon Preiss (keys) have previously spoken about the Westbury Hotel, the video for their new single, Cut Myself Loose, is the first time they've thrown open the doors to their audience.
The one-take video, filmed by their producer and engineer Matt Redlich, shows Husky performing inside the building while someone paints a mural at the entrance.
"I think they capture something of the spirit of the place," Gawenda says. "Those places are precious and they never last forever, but if you can capture something of them it's really great."
Stardust Blues is Husky's first album since 2017's Punchbuzz, where the band moved away from their indie-folk roots towards a darker synth sound, influenced by their one-year stint living in Berlin.
It produced some of Husky's most infectious tracks like Ghost and Late Night Store.
Starbust Blues' appeal is less immediate, but no less powerful. The breezy psych-soaked arrangements are made to slowly creep into your ears through repetition.
There's everything from the Tame Impala-style Foxes Of Caulfield to the chugging Americana of Dirty River to The Beatles-esque Quicksand.
However, the biggest difference between the albums was the recording process.
Stardust Blues was recorded live to 24-track tape. Rather than slicing together different pieces and using digital tools to fix imperfections, Husky wanted to celebrate any blemishes.
That meant Gawenda, Preiss, bassist Jules Pascoe and drummer Holly Thomas were together in the studio playing together throughout the process.
"Tape tends to produce a warmer sound," Gawenda says. "Because of that and how the sounds came out in the writing of them we were leaning towards that.
"I don't know if we were intending to, but that's how it came out.
"The idea was not to get perfect performances, but to get a feeling or a humanness, and that's something that's hard to put a finger on.
"But our producer Matt Redlich is really good at listening back to a take. All of us are thinking about that one note we got wrong or the kick drum beat that's slightly ahead, but he's listening for a feeling or atmosphere and often the mistakes make it better."
Gawenda also broke new ground as a lyricist on Stardust Blues.
The album follows a character over 24 hours on his personal odyssey throughout Melbourne, encountering friends, lovers past and present and memories.
"The character is based on me, but I'm not a journalist reporting facts," he says. "I gave myself license to let the story go where it wanted to go and let the character do what he wanted to do.
"When I started writing the lyrics to these songs I didn't start out with the intention to write a story, it just emerged as I was writing and when I noticed it had emerged I followed it and ended up with this story that surprised me as well."
Gawenda says previous albums had stories and themes flowing throughout, but this was the first time it was intentional.
"I think songs should be stories," he says. "When I was half way through it and some things had happened to this character and he'd come across some friends and old lovers and gotten into a fight, it was fun to work out what's going to happen now and where does this lead.
"It's also open-ended. So who knows, the next record might be the next chapter in the story and I might have some good time to write that now."
Cut Myself Loose is out now and Stardust Blues will be released on August 7.