They say good things come to those who wait, and it couldn’t be any truer of Wynona Bleach’s debut album, Moonsoake.
“We’ve always been fascinated with the moon and wondered what the opposite to sunbathing was, turns out it’s ‘moon soaking’.” say Wynona Bleach’s Melyssa and Jonny. “So we thought it would be funny to suggest that the album recorded in sunny Portugal had more ‘moon soaking’ than ‘sun bathing’.”
Recorded in an abandoned factory in Portugal during the final months of the summer of 2019, it ultimately faced a triage of delays that lasted over two years, caused by the pandemic and vinyl shortages.
We felt like there were roadblocks everywhere we turned
“We felt like there were roadblocks everywhere we turned. We were forced to think out of the box and have fun with the weird rooms we had, and it had plenty of challenges too, being cooped up together for a month wasn’t a holiday, pool or not!”
But despite all the unforeseen setbacks the band would encounter, the result is an anthemic record that sweeps the listener up in warm and fuzzy waves of joy, each track showcasing their innate songwriting talent through some unbelievably catchy melodic hooks.
And from the stripped back percussion of Flesh, to the moment Moonsoake opens with its mesmerising guitar riff, each lyric is deeply empathetic and delivered with a tenderness that makes it feel like a late night heart-to-heart.
“It’s mostly all love songs, and theres no specific concept to it apart from the sense of longing you get from being apart from your companion, so lyrically it had been important for us to be bittersweet throughout.”
Below, Melyssa and Jonny talk to Minm about the process behind each of the tracks:
“Almost completely re-written on the rooftop of the villa we were staying in, this one used to be somehow even more flat-to-the-mat. We made big progress on this in Portugal, and really pleased at how Andy Bradfield managed to bring the factory’s snare drum sound to life. We came home from that month long session with everything done except chorus vocals, so somehow Melyssa managed to record those and Avril Mackintosh managed to blend them together so you wouldn’t know the verse and chorus vocals were actually recorded months apart!”
“Was an 8-track demo and believe it or not, is a song with the least guitar pedals involved possible. Wanted to write a post-chorus-hook like Beck. The song’s lyrics are about wishing everything was back to normal after an argument.”
“Started out as a phone demo recording Aaron had written and sent Jonny. We actually play this entirely differently live now. During the original recording process Bill had Matty play the drum parts 25% faster and he used varispeed to slow him back down to the right tempo, giving this really low pitched, sludgy tape effect.”
“This one was co-written with a great lyricist friend of ours Brian White (Pinner, Tunic, Olympic Lifts) - it was a Haim/Talking Heads inspired instrumental that became a tongue in cheek track about having the real friends around you that you can say anything and not worry about them thinking you're horrible, because they probably are too.”
We wanted to remind people we were a big loud rock band no matter what the message is, and really, in a full on WB live show, Hollow is far from the loudest and heaviest thing most of the time
“Hollow was an important thing for us to put in because I believe every great album challenges the listener, for better or worse. We wanted to remind people we were a big loud rock band no matter what the message is, and really, in a full on WB live show, Hollow is far from the loudest and heaviest thing most of the time!”
“One of the few tracks recorded entirely live in the factory, we played this one a bunch and thought a lot about Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie album. It's there to shake up the listener and challenge them and we wanted to just go ham for at least one to remind people how loud we are live.”
“About as close to Cranberries as we probably will ever get, this was planned well in advance to be the closing track of side 1 of the album, because we had the idea to record acoustic guitars around the pool. It's a big anthem tune about self-doubt, a quintessential Wynona Bleach cocktail we think.”
“This one was another 8 track demo Jonny did but actually, it's the only one that wasn’t recorded in Portugal. We thought we were missing a ballad, and it came about during the first lockdown. We had just played a show in Dublin Castle, Camden (London) when they announced the UK was going into full lockdown and Ireland already had (if memory serves). We woke up on our managers living room floor in Brentford to the breaking news and we got on an empty plane home. A few weeks later the itch had set in so after Jonny had sent this song around the band, Mike went to our studio in isolation, set up drum mics, and left Jonny went up and set up a logic project, and then HE left… then Matty went up and recorded a few takes of the drums on his own. Vocals were done in our spare rooms, and guitars were almost all done on tiny amps in everyones living rooms. It was another one mixed by the wonderful Andy Bradfield and Avril Mackintosh and become a firm fave of ours.”
Lyrically it had been important for us to be bittersweet throughout
“One of the oldest songs on the album, we had been playing this one live for probably about 6 months before we actually recorded the album. It was fun to record!”
“This tune driven by Carls bass was recorded partially live in the warehouse. It's about hopelessly being loyal and devoted to someone.”
“A re-worked track from earlier demos written before WB was formed. This is absolutely one of our favourite songs on the record and a real gem of a mix. We are really proud of this one, a real bittersweet celebration of hope in the face of tragedy.”
“Written when Jonny and Aaron bought a Marshall JCM amp head from a junkie in Belfast, it was the first riff Jonny played on it, The song wrote itself in about 20 minutes and was one of Bill Ryder-Jones’ faves, one he wanted to work on first. Its our attempt at a classic Neil Young meets Matthew Sweet kinda tune. It's one of the few tracks we now play with more conviction live since recording it, well worth watching out for in our live set. Totally written about thinking you’ve beaten your own paranoia.”
“Arranged entirely in Portugal, this one began as a demo with strings and a horn section, we love how it turned out, a dark love song and a sensitive closing track. A fun bit of trivia was that Matty (drums) played acoustic guitar on this one’s bridge section. He’s a ringo style drummer (left handed but plays right) and so playing acoustic guitar he plays it upside down. There was something about the downstrokes going the opposite way we really liked so it was kept in and made a feature of. It also features Bill Ryder-Jones on Ebow guitars at the end, and some beautiful sampling by Aaron to create an expansive synth pad bed on the build up.”