A FUNNY thing occurred when Raave Tapes walked into good friend and producer Fletcher Matthews' Sydney studio last September.
They simply sat around and listened to music.
Matthews was interested in uncovering what the Newcastle band wanted to be, not who they thought they should be.
"We showed him the seven demos we'd recorded and he didn't care," Raave Tapes guitarist and vocalist Joab Eastley said. "He said, 'I don't want to hear them, let's listen first'.
"So we sat down and listened to music for three hours and he sat there writing notes the whole time. When we finished he said, 'Instead of me telling you what to do, you've shown me what you want to do'."
The music Eastley and his bandmate Lindsay O'Connell played for Matthews included artists like The Presets, Bloc Party and The Naked & Famous.
A pattern quickly emerged. Of the 22 songs they chose, only two featured real drums.
Matthews encouraged the duo to move away from their garage rock roots and follow their electronic production instincts.
"We put a picture together of all the things we showed him and it helped us move forward and decide what we wanted out of this Raave Tapes project," Eastley said.
"Which I think we've needed for a while as we were just writing songs and recording them without any real game plan or end goal.
"It was great to work out what direction we wanted to go in and work towards it."
The first single to emerge from those sessions is Red Flag, released last Thursday. It's a dramatic shift.
In the five years and two EPs since Raave Tapes burst out of Kurri Kurri with their debut single Throwin' Shade the band have undergone several line-up changes and have slowly drifted away from their squelchy dance-rock towards a more electronic beat-driven sound.
It's a slow transition which has made Raave Tapes one of the most popular bands in Newcastle and earned them festival slots at BigSound, Groovin' The Moo, Yours & Owls, Mountain Sounds, Best Night Ever and Festival Of The Sun.
Eastley and O'Connell shared vocal duties on Red Flag, like their previous single Dancing Because I'm Sad, and it's the first new music released as a duo following the departure of drummer Lewis Horne last winter to go travelling in the US.
"He [Horne] had lots of things he wanted to do in his life and we had to commit to this and we were about to dive into this new process and I don't think he was ready to do that unfortunately," Eastley said.
The use of electronic percussion has been a "game-changer" for the band as it's allowed them to record basically anywhere, including at O'Connell's parents' farm near Singleton and at Eastley's family home at Sawyers Gully.
Daniel Simmons of Bleu Collective and Oilbaron has since joined the band as the live drummer, but Raave Tapes remain a two-piece in the studio.
Lyrically, Red Flag continues Eastley's exploration of social anxiety and negative behaviour that he's written about on previous singles Dancing Because I'm Sad and Stabs.
The song was inspired by a late-night visit to Eastley's favourite kebab shop, Cappodocia, in Hamilton.
"As much as we love that place to death, after a certain time in the night all roads lead to Cappos no matter which venue you're coming from," he said.
"It's bit of a melting pot of cultures and sub-cultures, which is nice, but there's always that group of people out there baiting people and trying to talk to everyone that goes past.
"It sprung from that idea that you've got to appease them. You can't just be rude to them, ignoring them doesn't usually work, you've usually got to give them something and be very polite about it or it can end quite negatively for you, which is just upsetting.
"I wanted to shed light on that situation."
Last month Raave Tapes were afforded one of their biggest opportunities to date when they were invited to sing backing vocals for Brisbane band Bugs on their performance of Mallrat's hit Charlie for the popular Triple J Like A Version.
The video has been viewed 102,000 times, but it was hardly a smooth process.
Both Bugs and Raave Tapes checked into their Sydney Air B'n'B late the night before the radio performance and went out for dinner. When they returned at midnight the key failed to open the front door.
Locked out of their accommodation and with the owner not answering their calls they were forced to ring at locksmith at 2.30am. Finally the bands got in the house where they did a quick acoustic rehearsal before grabbing some sleep ahead of travelling to Triple J's studio at 6am.
But the drama didn't end there.
"We were running off two hours sleep and got to the studio to set up to play Bugs' original and then the drummer comes out and he's like, 'Where's the drum kit?'," Eastley said.
There had been a miscommunication and Raave Tapes were supposed to provide the drums. That forced Eastley and O'Connell to make a mad dash from the Sydney CBD to Artarmon on the north shore and back in peak hour traffic.
"By the time we got into the studio we were just shot," he said. "It was kind of nice because it got rid of all the nerves. Everything that could have gone wrong, had gone wrong."
READ MORE: Raave Tapes take stab in new direction
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