SOMETIMES attaining success can be your worst enemy. Expectations and pressures are enhanced, and the carefree spirit that exists in anonymity evaporates.
That was the experience of Sydney electronic dance band Art vs Science after they found almost instant success when their second single Parlez Vous Francais? was the runner-up in the 2009 triple j Hottest 100 to Mumford & Sons' Little Lion Man.
Two years later the trio of James Finn (vocals, keyboards), Daniel McNamee (vocals, guitars, keyboards) and Daniel Williams (drums, vocals) found more success when their DIY debut album The Experiment peaked at No.2, won the 2011 ARIA Award for Best Independent Release and garnered universal acclaim for its experimentation and fun.
When it came to their second album Off the Edge of the Earth and into Forever, Forever (2015) those factors were diminished and the record subsequently tanked.
For a long time Art vs Science didn't know how to proceed. They kept writing, clocking up 200 songs, but nothing was finished.
"Stress crept in trying to match previous output, or at least the success of the previous output," McNamee says.
"We went around in circles and I don't think the heart of it was there for a long time. It was outcome based. It was, 'we should do it this way because people will like it' or 'this way because that's what people liked last time'.
"It wasn't like, 'let's do it this way because it's fun or interesting'."
Eventually Art vs Science resolved their creative differences to complete their third album Big Overdrive.
The album is an idiosyncratic mix of adventure and experimentation written over a decade and recorded in various places, including McNamee's parents' old house in Dural in Sydney's north-west outskirts.
McNamee says the biggest challenge Art vs Science had was eliminating their tendency to be perfectionists.
"It's your career and livelihood and what if this one bombs and that sort of thing," he says. "There's enough credence in those concerns to wanna give them the microphone, so to speak, and let them dictate what you should do.
"It's almost entirely an error to do that. Our distributor said, 'if you wanna do what the fans want, get them to write the songs for you', because that's a more accurate representative of what it is.
"In a way it's difficult to learn that lesson, but once you do, you know how much of a dead-end road it is going down there."
It seems the hard lessons have been beneficial. Big Overdrive sounds like a band enjoying themselves without any commercial pressures.
Check The Boombox incorporates '60s psych and funk, then on How 2 Stay High there's a mix of Primus guitar and a trance-like drum beat.
Elsewhere there's disco vibes on the infectious Sweat and pop funk on Dance.
"It was a record where our influences were free to be there, unashamedly," McNamee says.
"We also spoke about the cheese-o-meter, if it's too cheesy or not. Sometimes we just let the cheese-o-meter ping into the red if that was the case, because it was fun.
"Disco and funk and '70s rock. Check The Boombox speaks to my level of loving The Doors and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard."
Art vs Science's Big Overdrive is out now.
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