h

Forever Son is sticking by the DIY approach that characterised his debut album

There’s much talk of how home recording has levelled the field – of how, with a Macbook and a copy of Pro Tools, anyone can turn out the next Divide, at least in theory.

However, few homemade albums emerge as fully realised as Forever Son’s debut album Ten Months.

Reminiscent of Avi Buffalo’s At Best Cuckold, Ten Months was masterminded by frontman Jack Robbins, who recorded and mixed the album in his lounge room and bedroom. While producing Ten Months, Robbins’s work/life balance was nonexistent.

“It was an interesting experience, recording it and living in the same space,” Robbins says. “It’s exciting. You get hyped up about it, and it’s good because you can just throw yourself in there nine to ten hours per day, and you get to the end maybe a little exhausted. Though, I suppose, if you’re working with someone else, they can remind you to eat.”

With help from his two bandmates and the Melbourne music community – on everything from songwriting to software glitches – Robbins was able to turn out an album free of the amateurish foibles that so often mark home-produced recordings. Some tracks – particularly 2015 single ‘Rambling Knot’ – have tested Robbins’s ability to achieve the sound he wants without professional facilities. However, his recordings having earned him gigs at Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival and elsewhere, Robbins isn’t overly anxious to move into a studio.

“If the opportunity came along, and I was really comfortable working with the engineer and producer, I would love to work in a studio environment,” he says. “I suppose it’s about finding people on the same wavelength.”

Robbins names Fleet Foxes’ 2011 album Helplessness Blues as the biggest influence on Ten Months. What makes Helplessness Blues such an admirable piece of art, he says, is that it’s as immersive as a movie.

“I remember when it came out, just so deep and rich, and I was able to dive straight in,” Robbins explains. “I was trying to get that richness, I suppose… I wanted [Ten Months] to be an immersive experience. I wanted it to be interesting and deep, but also simple. Sometimes, I think the best albums are the ones where I can put a set of headphones on and listen, silent and completely immersed for the entire length. I want it to be relaxing.”

Robbins lists among his biggest influences Wilco, Born Ruffians, Leah Senior and one unexpected name: Lou Reed. Music blog Happy’s description of Forever Son as “optimistic, heartwarming and steeped in pleasant expectation” could rarely, if ever, have been applied to Reed. But Robbins’s esteem for Reed is more about philosophy than genre.

“It sounds so effortless,” rhapsodises Robbins. “It sounds like he got out of bed, put a couple of chords together, then the band’s laid it and called it a day, and the songs sound so incredible. The way he treads that line between rock'n'roll and storytelling – it’s like soft rock. It’s relaxed.

Forever Son’s new single, ‘Kevin’s Street’, is a bittersweet rumination on the youthful creativity so often discarded during maturation. As a child, Robbins says, he would privately name streets after the people he knew who lived on them.

“As a child, you use your imagination,” he says. “Instead of going by what things are named, by the rules, you are creating your own universe… Now, as I get older, it’s not always easy. When you’re a child, you create unwillingly, all the time, and your imagination runs wild. I wanted it to be a song that highlighted things that were real, created unknowingly. It’s important, as you grow up, to keep creating and keep playing. Once you lose that, I don’t know what there is.”

Ten Months is out now from Dark Barn. Forever Son plays Queenscliff Music Festival when it goes down from Friday November 23 until Sunday November 25. Check the website for playing times.