INTERVIEW: Short Stack

It’s been six years in-between albums for Short Stack, and when they announced their comeback for their national tour last year there were no plans to release new music or make a new album. It just wasn’t on their horizon. However, the COVID pandemic shifted their plans quite dramatically and that’s when things started to get a little interesting. With their national tour getting pushed back to 2021, time abled them to have a conversation about what new music would look, sound, and feel like. After signing to UNFD, they decided to get back in the studio and create a new album that continued their story. 

‘Burn You Down’ is the experimental lead single and official comeback anthem that showcases the pop-punk trio in a heavier sonical spotlight. With a darker, heavier and mature exploration of their roots, this is a song that feels like the older sibling to their ‘This Is Bat Country’ album. With anthemic drums and slick synths building through its duration, there is a punk influence that boldly shines through and is complimented by additional screams in the vocal delivery. 

I recently chatted to Short Stack lead vocalist Shaun Diviney about the heavier sonic behind ‘Burn You Down’, discussed their connection with the fans that has stayed so pure and strong over the years, and questioned if we can expect any new sonical arrangements on some Short Stack classics on their upcoming Australian tour. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Short Stack are back baby, and ‘Burn You Down’ is the first glimpse of new music from you guys and it hears a darker and harder rock sound shining through. So where in the new writing process did this track take shape? Did you immediately know you wanted to lean into this darker and heavier sound?

SHAUN DIVINEY: To be honest with you, this is probably the heaviest song that is going to be on the next record. The rest of it sounds more Short Stack-y. When we sat down to write it we really wanted it to be like a Blink 182 album. We grew up listening to them and I really wanted to make an album that felt like their early pop-punk sound. There are like 1-2 songs on it which are like that, but as we got deeper into the process and started collaborating more we got more into the electronic sound. So the new album is probably more in the pop-punk territory. 

‘Burn You Down’ was the last song we wrote, and we were like “wouldn’t this be cool if this was the first single as it’s so different” and then UNFD were like “yeah, you guys can do whatever you want”. So we made it the first single and decided to show everyone something a little different. 

TB: Was this a track that came together quickly? 

SD: No, it really didn’t. This is probably the one that took the longest to put together, which is probably because it’s so different to what we usually do if that makes sense. Usually with our songs you can sit down and play them on acoustic guitar but with this song it doesn’t organically go to that as there’s so many different sections, parts that build, as well heavier sections. It was very difficult to find a balance of having a lot going on but still having it flow and not be confusing. We did struggle a little bit with that. 

Do you write all together, or do you separately write parts and bring them together? 

SD: The way that every song used to work in the past was I used to send ideas to Andy and Bradie and then we’d get it done in the studio and work it together. This time, I’d go to Bradie’s studio and record around 4-5 ideas, and then he’d play around with it and add electronics and drums to it. And then we’d pick the bits we like. So this one kinda happened like that and it’s much more of a collaboration. It also saved us a lot more time as when we’d go to the studio the song was a lot more formed from working in the home studio and we can then build it up from there. 

TB: Lyrically this song explores being young and feeling both indestructible and fragile at the same time. The lyrics that stand out are; “I’m skin and bones so let’s face it. Got nothing to lose because I’ve got nothing at all”. So what particularly inspired those lyrics for you?

SD: It’s so weird talking about lyrics because I get so insecure when talking about them. But I suppose the whole song is just a reflection on how I’m feeling and how our generation sort of feels right now. You just kinda feel fucked over a lot by things that are completely out of our control. It’s that feeling when you’ve got nothing else to lose and you’re a little bit reckless. I feel like we’ve all felt like that at least in one point of our lives. 

TB: From listening to this song, it gave me some reminiscent tones from the ‘This Is Bat Country’ era. So would you say this new chapter of music feels a bit like a matured and older sibling of that work? 

SD: 100 percent! I really appreciate that because it does feel like a progression to that, and sounds like a better version of This Is Bat Country in my mind. All of the elements are there. With ‘Stack Is The New Black’ and ‘This Is Bat Country’ there was a electronic influence there, but now it’s really found its feet. I mean, we’ve had six years to work on it *laughs*. 

TB: Listening back to it now I feel like ‘This Is Bat Country’ was a little ahead of it’s time. 

SD: Yeah! We were in a really lucky situation when we worked on ‘This Is Bat Country’ that not a lot of bands get when signed because we actually finished ‘Stack Is The New Black’ a year and a half before it came out so we had a lot of time to really work on the new sound and experiment a lot which a lot of that record to be so different. 

TB: The music video compliments the darker aesthetic of this track with it being filmed inside a warehouse with really moody lighting. So what was one of the funniest or weirdest thing that happened on that shoot?

SD: Music videos and photo shoots are up there with the worst parts of being in a band as it’s just a lot of waiting around. But we had this director called Elder and he does all these amazing video shoots, and he just got us in there and pumping through it. The funniest thing that happened is actually pretty disgusting. Where we filmed it was an abandoned abattoir. There was just a room where birds had shit in there for a bout a decade and it just stank. But yeah, that was about it. 

TB: You were due to kick off this comeback last year before the COVID pandemic pushed everything back significantly. So what has this extra year meant for you as a band? Did you have any new music written before the first planned tour or was it all written in this in-between time?

SD: I think if the pandemic didn’t happen we probably would’ve just done the tour and then called it a day to be honest with you. We didn’t plan to release any new music at all, and we certainly didn’t expect to make an album. We just happened to meet with Jaddan from UNIFIED whose management have looked after some of the best artists in the country. We sat down and had lunch with him, and one thing led to another and then we were signing a record deal and suddenly putting out music again. 

TB: Your Australian tour has just got postponed again due to COVID restrictions but when you eventually do hit the road are there any songs you want to re-imagine with a heavier sonic? 

SD: That’s a really good idea, I will have to bring that up with the boys! But to be honest with you, we struggle to play the songs the way they already are *laughs*, so who knows. 

TB: Reconnecting with your fans must be something that feels really special now because they’ve grown up with you and watched this journey unfold. Like, the Stack Is The New Black Album Tour at The Tivoli in 2009 was the first show I ever camped out for.

SD: Yeah, that’s the most special thing to us. We sort of forgot the connection we had with the fans and it’s a very humbling feeling reconnecting with that. We still have people come up to us and tell us how much our music has helped them through hard times, and at the end of the day that’s exactly why we do this. 

Obviously we are on a different level, but one of my favourite bands of all time is My Chemical Romance and when they announced they were getting back together I was absolutely stoked. So maybe some people will have a little bit of that reaction with the fact that we’re coming back, and that’s all we can really ask for. 

TB: But how many breakups are you going to put your fans through? 

SD: *Laughs* we are very temperamental aren’t we! I wish we could just fight and carry on but we just have a very minor inconvenience and then we tap out *laughs. We probably have 2-3 break ups still in us. 

The acoustic version of ‘Burn You Down’ is out now!

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