If the classic chorus written by Degrassi Junior High’s foremost musical act The Zit Remedy (later known as The Zits) told us one thing – it’s that everybody wants something. Aussie rockers The Vines wanted to ‘Get Free’, 50 Cent had plans to ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’’ and Joseph Edgar Foreman, aka Afroman, just wanted to get high.
But as for Tom Lanyon, frontman of Melbourne five-piece Ceres, he simply wanted to get happy and despite some dark days along the way, that’s exactly what he’s done. Thanks in part, to a new love, loyal band mates and some irreplaceable artwork.
“After the release of ‘Stretch Ur Skin’ I was struggling to see the worth or point of the band,” he says. “You see, my songwriting is somewhat autobiographical and my ex-partner read into that song quite badly.
“So that made me realise I was a selfish arsehole to have written that song and that I really needed to understand the place the band has in the world and that what I write can affect people.
“After that, I went into a funk,” Lanyon adds. “If my songwriting was causing harm to people, there’s no way I wanted to do it anymore. So I didn’t write anything for more than a year. We called it ‘writer’s block’ but that’s not what it was. I was actively swallowing these songs that came bubbling up because I felt unworthy and like a bit of a dickhead about the whole thing. I thought it was the end of the band and I’d quietly ride off into the sunset.
Then Lanyon fell in love. “Suddenly I was in a new relationship and we had fallen in love. It was a new chapter in my life, and I was happy. Then one day Dana showed me all the scribbled images in notebooks. Her late father was a part-time artist and had drawn most of them in the ‘80s and I fucking loved these things.
“I knew we had to get them framed and hang them around the house. So I got them framed nicely and when I went to pick them up, I put them in the front seat of the car, and suddenly the chorus of ‘Viv in the Front Seat’ came like a lightning bolt to my brain, so I jumped in the car and ran home to write. That’s how the whole thing kicked off and I knew I could write again.”
Fast forward twelve months or so to the release of Ceres’ third studio album We Are a Team (out now via Cooking Vinyl Australia), by far the band’s most thoughtful work yet.
“Everything around this album has meaning. Even where we recorded it, which was at Dana’s family’s farmhouse in Apollo Bay. So I really went all in on my poor partner,” he laughs. “I don’t know how she feels about it. Maybe she’s like ‘Oh man, stay out of my life’.
“A lot of the house or the feeling of the house actually ended up on the record,” Lanyon continues. “On the last song, ‘Something Good’, you can hear birds in the background. I was so honoured to have that on the album because the place means so much to Dana and her family, and used to mean so much to Viv.
“Then as I went deeper into the rabbit hole of this album, I realised the catalyst for this album was his (Viv’s) artwork. So with permission from the family we used Viv’s artwork for the singles and the cover of
Lanyon also recruited some very talented friends to be part of We Are a Team. “We invited [Grammy-nominated engineer] Andrei Eremin to the house and he is a wonder kid and a brainiac. I don’t know how he does it, I stay out of that. He’s amazing; he engineered the album, mixed it and mastered it.”
“We chose him because we wanted to get out of the muck and mire of the punk scene – that’s a bit of a negative term – but we just wanted to elevate our sound,” he says. “So I really wanted to get an engineer and a producer who aren’t from that scene and Andrei is definitely not, he’s Grammy-nominated too.
“He’s worked with Chet Faker, Flume and Japanese Wallpaper. He’s such a nice guy, and we got him down in Apollo Bay with no phone or internet.
“We also asked Tom Bromley from Los Campesinos! to help, which is an absolute treat to have him on the record. He helped us with the last record, and he wanted to come back, so he must have had a good time,” Lanyon jokes. “He’s a very British man, and bit of a sad sack.
“He’s honestly like another member of the band. He wrote some massive hooks for this album that we love. I’m such a fan.”
Ceres’ new album We Are a Team is out now via Cooking Vinyl Australia. They’ll be launching it at The Corner on Friday May 17. Grab your tickets via the venue website.