Revelling in glam and dreamy synth pop with playful, upbeat, 70s soft rock influences, I Know Leopard’s debut album ‘Love Is A Landmine’ is an unashamedly romantic record that pulls you deep into the rich gamut of emotions that love will inevitably drag you through. Lead vocalist and chief songwriter Luke O’Loughlin gave us a glimpse into the band’s world for the album’s release.
We understand there was quite a story behind this album. Can you tell us about the writing and production process?
The songs were written over a three year period. By the end we had somewhere between 40 to 50 demos. There were moments along the way where we thought we had the album conceived but we would soon enough lose faith and recommence writing. The actual recording and mixing process was actually done in a comparatively much shorter period of time of six months. Recording the chosen songs all in the same period helped bring a cohesion to songs that in some cases were written 2 or 3 years apart from each other. The album chronicles some tough times for us. Myself and other members of the band endured some pretty monumental relationship breakdowns, family woes and mental health issues. Towards the end of it all a new love bloomed between myself and Rosie. Love that had always been there but we had never surrendered to. It has healed us both in so many ways.
Love is such a universal theme. What is the message you want listeners to take away from ‘Love Is A Landmine’?
I wouldn’t say there’s a central message. I just wanted to explore that kind of duality of pleasure and pain that exists in love. The idea that love is beautiful and joyful but also that on the wrong side of it, it can feel like it’s going to kill us. It has a strange power to heal and also to destruct and I’ve always found that interesting.
How does the song writing process work between the band members?
It starts with myself on a piano really. I like to get the song working and playable with just a vocal and piano chords before I demo it with any kind of production. In the past, the next stage was then to bring band members into the studio and they would add their ideas to the demo. Then we would gradually refine it until the demo became the real thing. We wouldn’t learn how to play it as a band until after it was finished. But this time round we learned to play it live sooner and actually recorded most of the album live in the studio. In this way spontaneous creative decisions were being made while were actually tracking which really kept things fresh and immediate and I think gave the songs all the more personality.
How and when did the four of you meet and come together?
Todd and I met in high school in Adelaide and since then we have always had different projects together. We moved to Sydney about ten years ago with a band we had back then but when that died we met Jen first and then Rosie later on through friends of friends and we were just so lucky that it was the perfect fit.
If I were to look at your recently played list on Spotify, what kind of stuff would I see on there?
Been loving the new Weyes Blood album along with recent records by Sharon Van Etten, Pavo Pavo, Against All Logic and Andy Shauf.
Tell us a bit about working with Jack Moffitt.
It was truly wonderful and inspiring. We’ve known Jack for quite a while so it was a very cosy, comfortable affair. We’ve always been on the same page musically too. It was his idea to track the majority of the record live as a band as he wanted to capture some of the energy he felt when he’d seen us live. He really pushed us embrace imperfections as the things that give an album character.
I hear shades of many influential bands and musicians in the I Know Leopard sound, like Bowie, ELO, Pink Floyd and more. Who are some of your greatest influences?
When I was growing up my Mum had something like ten LPs she would rotate constantly. There was ELO, 10cc, Alan Parsons project, Barry white among them. So this era and aesthetic has been ingrained in me and I’ve carried the influences pretty much throughout my entire songwriting journey. I think these influences are still present even in the earlier IKL stuff but I agree we’ve never worn them on our sleeve as much as this. It’s always a risk but I guess you just hope that the influences kind of filter through you and the songs come out the other end sounding like they have some of their own identity rather than just a revival of a bygone era.
What can Gold Coasters expect from your Soundlounge gig?
Sparkle. Onstage outfits. And just a really fun, energetic representation and celebration of the record.
What does the rest of your year look like?
After the album tour we have some festivals coming up as well as potentially heading back overseas. All the while the writing will continue.
IMAGE (c) Lisa Businovski