Cam Avery, frontman of Perth’s The Growl, should surely be exhausted. In the last 12 months, The Growl have toured both Australia and the US in support of close comrades Tame Impala, as well as recording and releasing their debut album, What Would Christ Do?? With that record in the can, Avery took up the role of bass player in Tame Impala – replacing Nick Allbrook, with whom Avery shares titular sovereignty of the band Allbrook/Avery.
“I’m pretty tired,” admits Avery, speaking from the Tame Impala tour bus near the end of the their European tour. “I haven’t noticed it much before in other hectic touring times but the other day I was like, ‘Fuck, I’m tired.’” However, a busy year is hardly going to slow him down. Ahead of The Growl’s Australian headline tour in September, Avery reports there’s plenty more on the horizon. “I’m going to come straight back for rehearsals with The Growl for this tour, then after that tour I’m doing the new Growl album. I’m going to try and do it all in two-and-a-half, three weeks; and then I’m going back to the States with Tame Impala.”
While it may appear new to some, The Growl is not exactly a recent incarnation. The project – which sounds something like The Birthday Party meets Nine Inch Nails via Tom Waits’ Bone Machine – is Avery’s primary avenue of expression, and he makes very specific demands of his band members. “I’m the bossiest, most control freak-ish person. I come to rehearsals with the whole song pretty much recorded and show it to everyone and say, ‘This is what you have to do.’ I feel really lucky that those guys want to follow me with some of the stupid ideas that I have.”
Avery reveals the forthcoming record will depart from the shrieking industrial intrigue that dominates the first album to include “a lot more ballads and chorus-y songs.” The new material, he says, is “a lot more chilled. It’s not as garage psycho-explosion rock. It’s probably more orchestral than anything else. I started a new song on the weekend and it’s got timpanis and a six-piece string part and grand piano and horns.”
What Would Christ Do?? has commanded plenty of attention for The Growl, but Avery is determined to not let public expectations interfere with his creative ambitions. “At the beginning of this writing process there were all of these songs coming out of me and some of them were a bit more pop-based, and I was like, ‘This is so weird, I’ve never written music like this before.’ Then I spent two weeks with a good friend of mine in LA and he was like, ‘Just write them and record them.’ Even Kevin [Parker] and Nick [Allbrook], they were both like, ‘They’re going to sound like you anyway – whether you’re recording ‘Someday’ by The Strokes or a classical thing it will always sound like you regardless.’”
Music made purely to satisfy external pressures is likely to prompt both personal and public dissatisfaction, and Avery explains how this understanding has emboldened his ideas for the next record. “I’ve thrown all those paranoias out the window recently and the music that I’ve started recording for the new album is quite different. I think all you can ever do is record what sounds good to you at the time. If your tastes change and your expression evolves then follow it, don’t try to fight it.”
BY AUGUSTUS WELBY