It’s been a big couple of years for The Chemist, with the great success of first EP, The Wolves’ Howls Shatter The Old Glass Moon, which was launched before a 600-strong crowd in their hometown of Perth, followed by a move to Melbourne and their first tastes of Eastern Seaboard touring.
With many still humming the Triple J-favoured End Of July, The Chemist had not been resting, releasing 2010's Lullabies EP and while singer/songwriter Ben Witt appears to have been up all night writing songs about going to bed, he was just trying to help folks out...
“I had a friend who was staying in an apartment block and at the stroke of midnight, every night, a guy above him was playing saxophone,” Witt explains. “I wrote some songs for him, some lullabies, so that my friend could get to sleep at night. He used to play Ornette Coleman songs and keep everyone up, but now he plays these.”
How Witt seems to know so many people in the one apartment block is unclear (“We’re all good friends,” he assures “It’s a communal affair.”) but he’s carried that weight into a four-track odyssey of lullabies seemingly passed around from Tom Waits to Tim Burton to Brian Wilson.
“There’s always a bit of all that in there, Witt explains, “but it was also about just writing to the classic idea of lullabies with a music box, glockenspiel and vibraphone. Those kinds of instruments that make that lullaby sound.”
Lead track, Lullaby #1(Mercy), was irresistible platter of glock’n’roll, walks in the warmth of its sentiment – promising golden slumbers if it weren't so stirring in itself. “It depicts a kind of apocalyptic setting and couples it with the traditional lullaby sentiment of, ‘go to sleep, you’re safe here’,” Witt says. “The protagonist looks out the window at the madness and wants to believe in the notion of mercy, so that not only some will be sleeping well.”
When The Morning Comes pays respect to the lullaby tradition tucking the listener in before Sweet Dreams terrorises the child in us all with its creepy affirmations. It all wraps up with Deep As Death, a surprisingly cheery ode that may or may not reference the sleeping abilities of young musicians during daylight hours. “It’s not really a lullaby,” Witt says, “it’s more like that happy song at the end of a movie when the credits go up and everyone feels good in the cinema.”
After touring extensively through a string of national support slots for the likes of Birds Of Tokyo, Boy And Bear, City Riots and Lowrider plus their own headlining dates leading into a festival season which included One Movement, Coaster, Festival of the Sun, Peats Ridge, Southbound and Woodford the guys returned to their home state of WA and bunkered down to write and record their soon-to-be released debut LP.