From a Sydney garage to Abbey Road Studios in London, Australian dream rock band, Crystal Cities, have come a long way in just over 2 years.
In March of 2017 Crystal Cities released their critically acclaimed Debut EP, Who's Gonna Save Us Now, receiving widespread attention across the globe from tastemakers like Indie Obsessive, The Revue, and EarToTheGround Music. The title track and lead single, 'Who's Gonna Save Us Now' received over 2200 plays on their Triple j Unearthed page and reached number 1 on the Unearthed Overall Charts within a few days of its release. The EP also made waves on US College radio; it was the 19th most added new release on the NACC Radio 200 Chart and received airplay on coveted radio station, KEXP. All this was achieved despite the EP being recorded in the modest environment of their mate's garage in Sydney!
Fast forward 2 years and the band have completed their debut album, Under the Cold Light of the Moon, and inked a records and publishing deal with global music company Audio Network. Audio Network is part of eOne's group of Music and Live companies. Through this partnership the band were allowed the opportunity to record at the prestigious Abbey Road Studios, capturing the sounds of a string orchestra made up of London's finest musicians. The exquisite lushness of the orchestra can be heard on the record's title track and lead single, 'Under the Cold Light of the Moon'.
The album required a deft hand to weave the tapestry of loud distorted guitars and rich textural strings. Knowing the difficult task ahead of them, the band recruited world-renowned LA-based engineer Paul Lani (David Bowie, Prince, Megadeath) to mix the record. Together they sculpted a captivating reverb-drenched yet hard-hitting debut record that is impactful from the very first listen.
With a new cinematic sound and grandiose aesthetic, the band are more equipped than ever to make their mark on the global music landscape.
Crystal Cities are:
Geoff Rana - Vocals / Guitar
Jared King - Bass / Vocals
Daniel Conte - Drums / Percussion
Stream 'Under The Cold Light Of The Moon' here.
Friday, May 31st – The Lass O'Gowrie Hotel, Newcastle
Saturday, June 1st – Frankie's Pizza, Sydney * SIngle Launch
w/Lincoln MacKinnon & the Wrecking Train, The Francos, and Ex-Cassette
Question: You describe your music as 'Dream Rock', can you explain that further?
Geoff Rana: 'Dream Rock' describes the musical approach we take, specifically on the vocal delivery and the instrumentation. I have consciously stayed away from big vocals and reaching for the top of my range in choruses. Instead, opting for a more subdue vocal approach while at the same time allowing for the emotion to still be conveyed. In regard to the instrumentation… 'Dream Rock' relates to the soundscapes we create; emphasizing reverb-soaked guitar hooks and synthesized tone colours.
Question: What inspired Crystal Cities to return to the studio to record your debut album, Under the Cold Light of the Moon?
Geoff Rana: The album was written at home in my modest home studio. My songwriting and the experimentation in the production of the demos is a constant evolution. The demos I was composing and producing after the E.P really inspired me and I wanted to capture those moments and put them into an album.
Also, the concept of 'our sound' was something I was very aware of at the time and I made sure there was a constant music style within the production of the demos. We have definitely arrived on a Crystal Cities sound I think. So, the inspiration behind this album was to solidify that musical identity of the band. I wanted to make sure that we delivered our debut album in a musical style that announced the arrival of Crystal Cities to the world!
Question: What was it like recording at Abbey Road Studios in London?
Geoff Rana: Very surreal. It was like stepping back in time. I got to play on the Mrs Mills piano that was used to record a number of Beatles tracks such as Lady Madonna, Penny Lane, etc. We actually recorded in Studio 2 which is the famous Beatles room. I had seen this studio so many times on documentaries and there is so much history in that place… just standing in the room you can feel the energy and the history of the music. It was a definite highlight not only for making this album but one for my musical career!
Question: Can you talk us through the motivation behind the track, Under the Cold Light of the Moon?
Geoff Rana: I watched the speech that Yeonmi Park gave at the 'One Young World' conference and it really hit me emotionally that such a young person could go through so much to obtain freedom; something I think most of us in the Western world don't really think too much about on a day to day basis. I sat down and wrote the lyrics straight away. At the time I had just purchased a new delay guitar pedal and was experimenting with sounds, so the main riff came about experimenting with delay patterns. The verse pattern you can hear on the recording became the catalyst for the rest of the composition.
Question: How did the band come together?
Geoff Rana: Myself and Jared met at University and actually played in a few bands together previously. Dan came about via the obligatory 'musicians wanted' ad!
Question: What is the story behind the band name?
Geoff Rana: I came up with the name after ingesting peyote and going into the desert…..ha, not really… But it is a vision of a place that could possibly exist in say 1000 years. I can imagine the human race living in cities made of advanced crystal; possibly on another planet where the we've evolved and vibrate on a higher level and in a conscious state that allows people to live in peace and harmony.
Question: If you could have anyone, in the world, attend a show, who would it be?
Geoff Rana: My Mum and Dad.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Geoff Rana: Performing live is great and allows you to connect with an audience but the recording process allows for that state of creating and organising sound to produce something final which,as a composer gives me the most gratification.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Geoff Rana: The music!! But it all starts with the guitar. I started playing guitar when I was in primary school and thought it was some magical instrument from another planet… But it was when I started getting into music properly via listening to The Beatles, Kiss, Cream, Led Zepplin etc. that I decided music was cool and something I would like to be in on!
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Geoff Rana: Jonsi - Sigor Ros
Adam Granduciel - War On Drugs
Ben Gibbard - Death Cab for Cutie
John Mayer - John Mayer
Noel Gallagher - High flying Birds
Tom Yorke - Radio Head
Kevin Parker - Tame Impala
Dave Grohl - Foo Fighters
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Geoff Rana: The National
Pure Meditation Playlist
Swedish Death Candy
Death Cab for Cutie
City And Colour
City Calm Down
Father John Misty
War On Drugs
Question: Can you share your socials?
Geoff Rana: www.crystalcities.co
Triple j Unearthed
Interview by Brooke Hunter