Slogging it out over the last few years in the underground of Melbourne’s thriving live circuit, Iowa have been increasingly turning heads and breaking eardrums with their wall of noise sound and are now on the verge of seeing the fruition of their labours pay off in the release of their debut album Never Saw It Coming. Just weeks out from its official release and album launch, vocalist and guitarist Dylan Stewart reflected on the hard work, toil and patience the three members of the Melbourne band have had to endure to finally have the record see the light of day. “We did 13 songs, we recorded in two days for the album and we didn’t have those songs like a few months before,” admits Stewart candidly. “I think about eight months before the recording we went ‘How are we going to do an album? We don’t even have any songs.’ Like its amazing when you set a goal for yourself and say I’m going to do an album. You write the songs, get it all together and I think that’s one of the main achievements that we’re really proud of.”
Never Saw It Coming is awash with fuzzy guitars, brooding vocals and a pounding rhythm section. It’s heavy and it’s loud yet it still manages to retain just the right amount of melody and popiness. Recorded over a frenetic two days at Headgap Studios with producer Neil Thomason at the helm, Iowa went in with the intention of trying to replicate their live sound as close as they could. “We didn’t spend heaps of time recording the album,” admits Stewart. “We did it all in two days at Headgap. So it was fairly raw and live but we just rehearsed quite a bit before the recording so we really knew what we were doing.” Having such a short time frame to work in, preparation was the key and the fact that through cutting their teeth courtesy of a number of live shows, the band had already perfected the sound they wanted to commit to tape.“We used a lot of pedals, effects, different guitars and obviously messed around with different guitar sounds but they were all sounds we had set up already and we definitely knew what pedals we were going to use. So we were pretty well rehearsed before we went in.” Although the album was recorded in a short amount of time, it was more a conscious choice of the band in order to achieve the sound they were aiming for; to keep it as raw and live and as gritty as possible. “The records that I really enjoy, I guess over the years, have always been the records that have flaws in them,” says Stewart. “You hear the guitarist taking the lead out of his guitar and it adds a realness to a record. A lot of people spend so much time on making everything perfect and it takes the realness out of music I think.”
“I guess with our band,” he continues, “we don’t try to follow any trends or anything. We play music that we really enjoy listening to, loud rock'n’roll music. It made it really nice and easy to come to the studio and not be too precious about everything, just bang it out and whatever turns out at the end that was us.”
Following the release of two different coloured 7”s back in 2010, when it came to choosing the format for the album, according to Stewart, the band simply couldn’t go past releasing it on vinyl. “I really love coloured vinyl and limited edition things and thought it would be awesome to have like an actual album on different coloured vinyl as well. So the limited edition vinyl will be available on Record Store Day in all the stores and our actual launch is on Record Store Day so it coincides with that.” Fittingly, a day the celebrates independent record stores will be the day Iowa unleash Never Saw It Coming at the Phoenix Public House.“We’ve actually never played the Phoenix before as well so that’s new for us. I’ve seen a couple of shows there and it’s a great new venue and a really good feel and they just put on lots of publicity making sure every show is really good.” As our conversation draws to a close, we again return to the sense of achievement felt by any band, especially an independent band, when releasing an album into the world. “We’re completely over the moon to finally get it out,” says Stewart. “Obviously a lot of work goes into when bands release albums and EP’s and everything. We never thought we’d actually ever get around to doing an album.” It’s a good thing they did.
BY JAMES NICOLI
IOWA launch their debut album Never Saw It Coming at the Phoenix Public House on Saturday April 21.