Body Type Discuss Their Second Album “Expired Candy” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Photo by Toni Wilkinson

Body Type Discuss Their Second Album “Expired Candy”

Release and Liberation

Jun 02, 2023 Web Exclusive Photography by Toni Wilkinson and Nick McKinlay Bookmark and Share

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and long-lasting impact on the music sector. Concerts and festivals were cancelled, revenue streams were lost, and tour plans were thrown into disarray as musicians pivoted to online performances.

Despite these difficulties, many artists found inspiration in the isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic, exploring themes of vulnerability and the fragility of the human condition via their music. Amidst this prevailing wave of introspection and reflection, Australian band Body Type offer a refreshing perspective with their second album, Expired Candy. Partly written during Lockdown, the album takes a different tact, often sounding joyful, free-spirited, and celebratory, suggesting a newfound appreciation for life.

As I hopped on a Zoom call to catch up with the members of the band, I couldn’t help but wonder how they had managed to keep their creative spark alive during the dark days of lockdown. The quartet—consisting of Sophie McComish on lead vocals and guitar, Georgia Wilkinson-Derums on vocals and bass, Annabel Blackman on vocals and guitar, and Cecil Coleman on drums—reminisced about the challenges they faced during those trying times.

Blackman sighed as she reflected on the drawn-out lockdown, “It was tough, and being in Australia with everything so spaced out, it made it all the more difficult.”

McComish nods in agreement, “Absolutely. I mean, at one point, due to state border restrictions, we didn’t even get to see Georgia for almost a year. That was pretty challenging.”

Body Type began life when McComish moved to Sydney after spending some time in New York where, as she explains, “I’d picked up a guitar and started to write some sad songs. Cecil was one of my only friends when I arrived in Sydney, and she’d just started to learn the drums. Inevitably, we tried to make some noise together.”

As fate would have it, Blackman had moved into a mutual friend’s house share. “I was walking down the corridor one day,” explains McComish, “and happened to spy a beautiful seafoam green Squire Fender Stratocaster in her bedroom, so that was it, I invited Annabel to join the band, to which she replied, ‘I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to ask.’”

Still, in need of a bassist, McComish’s friend Tom Stewart initially volunteered but then suggested Wilkinson-Derums, who turned out to be a perfect fit for the band. “No offence to Tom but I’m so glad it was Georgia, who joined us,” laughs McComish. The band began to practice and share ideas and before they knew it, they had amassed about 25 minutes worth of material. “And then a friend of ours booked a show and asked us to play—we were shitting ourselves!” continues McComish. “But after that, we kept getting offers to gig every single weekend.”

The band’s sound has undergone a striking evolution. Their once shoegaze-tinged melodies have been reinvigorated with a gritty intensity, yet they continue to showcase a natural gift for crafting unforgettable hooks. This was clearly evident on their superb debut album, 2022’s Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising.

“I think a lot of bands maybe start out with a bit of a shoegaze element before they get a little more confident and branch out,” reflects Blackman.

“I was so scared of overdrive and distortion pedals for about two years,” adds McComish. “I thought it would make the guitar untamable, and at that time I wasn’t confident I’d be able to get the sounds I wanted out of it.”

Wilkinson-Derums agrees that their sound has certainly evolved. “I think the real change started to happen after we went overseas for the first time in 2019 at SXSW and when we supported Fontaines D.C.,” she says. “It seemed to have a subconscious effect in the sense that when we came back and began writing songs for the debut album, our sound had kind of shifted.”

Sadly the band had initially been patronized by men in the industry and perhaps felt nudged toward a pathway they hadn’t envisaged taking. When I ask if they felt that they perhaps had to take back control of their own narrative, it induces a wry good-natured collective chuckle. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a narrative to change,” laughs Blackman. Wilkinson-Derums agrees, “but if we felt anything was being imposed on us, we would push back against that. All along we’ve had some men say things like, ‘You’re not very good, are you?’ But, y’know what? There’s an absolute fuckload of mediocre rock performed by men out there, so hey, carry on.”

Photo by Nick McKinlay
Photo by Nick McKinlay

The band’s second album, Expired Candy written partly during the lockdown, sees the band reunite with producer and musician Jonathan Boulet (Party Dozen). The songs often sound joyous, and convey a sense of pent-up emotions finally being released, and given a voice. “Release is a good word,” Wilkinson-Derums remarks. “There is a lot of joy in there and although it was tough at the time, looking back, I’m kind of grateful for what that imposed downtime over lockdown gave us. I think we were able to come up with a lot of great material.”

Initially, the band had to work virtually, sharing ideas online, due to the tough restrictions of movement in Australlia. McComish takes up the story: “I did try to get the band to use a cloud-based program called BandLab, which I got very excited about. But it didn’t take off. I don’t think anybody even opened the link I sent, which is FINE, she laughs. “But it didn’t matter, Georgia and I did some writing via voice memos. In fact, the album’s opening track ‘Holding On’ was written that way. Funnily enough, a lot of the songs I contributed came after the lockdown, so it’s an interesting mix of material during that shithouse devastating time and also the celebratory times afterwards. So maybe that’s the joyousness coming through.”

The band clearly missed being a band. The rollicking, fast-paced “Miss the World” explores a number of themes, both personal and global. On the one hand, it examines the world’s complicit acquiescence to the rise of tyrannical populists while referencing Donald Trump’s infamous “grab them by the pussy” remark. But it also looks inwardly, as McComish puts it, addressing “ideas around culture, values, the things that matter, and the parts we play” before the song spells out the band name in the lyrics. “I had to fight to keep that in there. Everyone thought it might not be the best idea to sing the praises of your own band in a song,” she laughs.

“We also did some writing in the studio after lockdown,” reveals Wilkinson-Derums. “That was something we hadn’t tried before.”

If the writing of Expired Candy took longer than anticipated due to circumstances beyond their control, then the recording was a much quicker affair, as Coleman explains: “We got offered some really important gigs like the Pixies tour, which was right in the middle of our studio time. So we had to rejig our schedule and probably went into the studio more under-rehearsed than normal and we recorded faster.”

But this seemed to work in Body Type’s favor and added to the spontaneous crackle that really drives the heart of Expired Candy. It was also a no-brainer working with Jonathan Boulet again. “I love that man,” laughs Coleman. McComish agrees and continues, “Our older stuff sounds so foreign to me now. I’m still proud of it, but Johno just got us from day one and instinctively knew the direction we wanted to go.”

Body Type are not only an exciting band in their own right but are, as one might expect, enthusiastic music fans who enjoy introducing each other to diverse musical styles and new artists. “It’s a learning curve being in this band,” says Wilkinson-Derums. “When I first joined Sophie and Annabel introduced me to DIIV, I guess we do tend to like similar artists but maybe sometimes from different eras.” However, she admits, “There was only one album the band introduced me to which I hated. I’m not naming names here, but it was terrible.

Coleman laughs, “Ah, I remember. There was a road trip where Georgia was in the back, and we kept playing that artist, and G was like, ‘Oh, great! So you’re playing this again?’”

And their influences subtly inform their music. “Sha La La,” for example, was written when Wilkinson-Derums was on a Libertines listening spree, resulting in a song with a similar ragged, ramshackle freewheeling spontaneity, but without the distracting need to cosplay as Dickensian street urchins. “That was another song written across borders,” explains Wilkinson-Derums. “I can’t play piano or keys, but my 21-year-old brother gave me a Korg. So the song started out as a Korg demo during my Up the Bracket binge. I sent it to Bab [Annabel] with a basic guitar lick, and she made something great out of it.”

Similarly, the sublime “Shake Yer Memory” had taken various iterations and again had been written remotely. McComish recalls, “I remember Cecil had been working on a drum beat, and I’d said something about a Julian Casablancas 11th Dimension vibe.”

“It took a while to get our head around that song,” adds Coleman. “But the drum beat originally came from an old demo I’d been obsessing over. It was another song Georgia and Sophie had been working on, so when they gave me a reference, I was like, ‘YES, this is it.’ I’m really glad we recorded it when we did. There are so many intricacies on that track, and having the time to work on it was really beneficial, as we could let it sit and breathe and work out what it needed.”

As the band prepares for their European and UK headline tour, they discuss life on the road, which can be both fun but also psychologically taxing. When asked for tips on staying sane on tour, Wilkinson-Derums jokes, “Touring is essentially the antithesis of self-care, but my advice is to put people who need the most sleep in the same bed.”

“I’m not an early morning person so take plenty of coffee,” adds Coleman.

Blackman’s advice is simply, “Fuck off and don’t tell anybody.”

When asked about their favorite ever gig, the response is unanimous: “It has to be the Sydney Opera House Forecourt supporting Pixies,” enthuses McComish, “as the sun went down over the Opera House with the bridge as a backdrop. It was a dream. And Black Francis was watching and filming us from the side of the stage!”

“That really did feel like a moment,” adds Coleman. “Supporting those absolute legends and doing it together at such an iconic venue, playing on stage with your best friends. It was just so special. You can’t really ask for much more than that.”

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