Evolution not revolution.
Within a few seconds of listening to ‘Out Of Touch In The Wild’ it’s clear that Dutch Uncles have completed a massive step forward. Shifting from a live entity into a studio force, it’s a blur of prog, disco, indie and pop with a real orchestral flair. Packed with curious idiosyncrasies, it finds Dutch Uncles sounding more and more like… Dutch Uncles.
“I try not to think about it too much” singer Duncan Wallis muses. “It’s like your friends know you better than you know yourself, in a way. How can we not sound like us? Surely if we’re enjoying it more and things are better than last time it can only be a better version of us” he explains. “We need to keep it interesting for ourselves. I think if we started to say ‘that’s well Dutch Uncles that’ in the studio it would feel like we were just parodying ourselves. Once you start saying that then it’s probably because it’s an old idea or something we’ve done in the past. We always have to feel that we’re doing something new. A new idea is what would make us sound more like us - in the best way”.
‘Out Of Touch In The Wild’ is certainly packed with new ideas. Those intrinsic rhythmic quirks take on a new edge, with Dutch Uncles sluicing all manner of new ideas onto their palette. “When you’re swapping guitars for a xylophone that’s going to be exciting – it always is,” the singer says. “I enjoy getting on the xylophone and the piano – I kind of get to do it sometimes on the album but not all the time. I think for the other four it was really nice and a good adjustment for them, they really got into it!”
An expansive, empowering process the album was initially conceived as a quick fire retort to their second LP. Sadly, though, a six month delay means that Dutch Uncles have been squeezed into a January release. “We originally thought the album was going to be released a lot sooner” Wallis explains. “But obviously as time went on we didn’t really know.. like I say, we did rush into things. Obviously with experience because it’s our third album, we knew we weren’t getting ourselves into trouble with things but we really had to take a step backwards when we were mixing the album, take a look at other albums who use these instruments. How did Japan do ‘Ghosts’ for example? Looking at that as opposed to trying to mix it like a live band again, like we did with the last album”.
The lush, Future-laden orchestration of Japan seems to be a recurring reference point for the band. “Japan is a big one – purely for the instruments. The ‘Tin Drum’ album specifically” insists the frontman. “When we started this album me and Robin were sharing a house together and we’d try to listen to a classic album together. We’d try to analyze what we like or dislike about an album. We didn’t get very far but we did listen to Kate Bush, ‘Hounds Of Love’. Now, I didn’t like it at first but that’s because I was listening to it online. Then I realized that ‘Hounds Of Love’ should be listened to on vinyl – it’s essentially two mini albums”.
Not that Dutch Uncles are following Kate Bush’ method of composition. “One thing I’m really pleased about with the new album is that it’s quite pacy, it doesn’t take too long to digest. It’s a good thing for these times – not that I approve of that but it’s a good thing. It’s 37 minutes long. It’s longer than ‘Cadenza’ by one minute, but obviously shorter by one track. It lasts that long mainly due to the ending of that last song!” he laughs.
A torrent of new ideas, ‘Out Of Touch In The Wild’ is a defiantly studio based document. Looking ahead, it seems that Dutch Uncles are desperate to get back out on the road. “At the same time as saying that taking a break is torture I think the rest has done us well. We’re definitely better people on a stage, I reckon. We got some new gadgets – I don’t want to give anything away just yet. It’s a little bit crazy – we’re looking at a new live set up, a few new ideas. With ‘Cadenza’ we were doing new band circuits and new music things –despite the fact it was our second album. This time round we would really like to show a development in our live set if we’re going to progress. It should be a very concentrated effort to make it worth people’s time coming down.”
Returning with a selection of new toys for your delectation, Dutch Uncles are already looking ahead at future studio efforts. “I kind of feel as if we have to, in a way. One thing we’re not going to do again is sit on an album for six months and do nothing in that time. It’s been torturous, basically” sighs the singer. “The funds are low because we haven’t done any gigs – properly – in a year, and we missed out on the festival circuit. You start to get paranoid, a bit bitey with each other when you’re watching everyone else moving forward. We needed to keep things flowing and time things right”.
Brightening, Duncan Wallis enthuses about a potential stand alone EP. “We’re already thinking about the next album but we thought this time would be used to actually write a few tracks. That’s happening but it feels too daunting to think about an entire album just yet. We’re thinking about a special EP which would get all those prog influences out. Not flush the system but concentrate it into one solid ten minute piece which would highlight those tougher characteristics which our music may draw on sometimes. Make it a lot easier for people to understand it”.
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'Out Of Touch In The Wild' is out on January 14th.