The Sunburys

Published on October 10th, 2012

The Sunburys are back with their third album, Keep A Lid On It. Recorded with producer Jeff Lovejoy, the band are hitting the stage this Saturday night at the Beetle Bar to launch it. Here front man Anthony Dettori sits down with TOM to talk about his rocking three piece and their brand new album. 

TOM:  How long did it take to record the album?

AD:  Keep A Lid On It took a little longer to record than the last couple of Sunburys’ albums. Not that much more actual studio time though, around 8-9 days actual tracking and then the usual mixing etc. This time though the whole process took a bit longer for a couple reasons. The first reason was that Derek [Haas] joined the band just as the last album (Swings & Roundabouts) was released. This meant that it took a little time for the new line-up to settle into gear. Not that it took long mind you. We had already started working on some stuff together that was destined for a solo release but then when Andrew decided to leave the band and Derek stepped in it all blended into one.


The next slight delay was due to the birth of my first son, Dylan. No complaints though. A little delay in releasing an album is a small price to pay. Not that I’m a proud dad or anything but if you want to be bored with thousands of photos just ask me about him at our next gig.

TOM: The song writing credits are shared between the three of you. What’s the writing process these days?

AD: The writing process varies. There are songs like ‘Keep A Lid On It’ that were completely collaborative as far as I see it. It was written from concept to completion with Scott [Lapthorne] and Derek in the rehearsal room in around 15 minutes. For the most part though I suppose I am the main songwriter. Other songs like ‘No Direction’ were actually written before I had even met Derek. That’s not to downplay how I see Scott and Derek’s involvement in bringing that song to life though. It had never sat right with any other band or line-up that I’ve played in. All of a sudden with Scott and Derek the feel was perfect and the structure was spot on. So basically there are no rules when it comes to the writing process in the band.

The fact that the song writing credits are split equally between the three of us is really just a demonstration of how strongly I believe in this line-up of the band. Scott and Derek’s input is essential to how everything sounds. Without them these songs wouldn’t be what they are and wouldn’t have been recorded how they are… therefore I feel it should all be even. Basically on the off chance that a large amount (or even moderate amount) of money is to be made from any of these songs they should be entitled to any of that just as much as me.

TOM: Do the Sunbury’s have a grand plan? Are releasing albums so quickly a big part of it?

AD: Well I’m not sure how “grand” it is but yes I think we do. The plan is to continue writing, recording and releasing what we think are great records. Records that we’d like to listen to and records that we can be proud of. Longevity and quality are the two things we want to achieve.

Doing it quickly isn’t essential but it helps. If we don’t do things this way too many songs miss out basically. For Keep A Lid On It  we had an extra 10 songs tracked that didn’t make it. We’ve got around another 20 at the moment that we are almost ready to hit the record button on so to speak. So there’s just not too much point waiting around too long between drinks. I don’t see much point in us trying to play the game of releasing a single, waiting, touring, single, touring, album, touring etc.  We control everything and as such have the ability to do things when we want. So quickly is just how it happens. We’re not here for a haircut as they say.

TOM:  The keys and horns add another dimension to the album. Will these guys be joining you on stage?

AD: Yes, thanks they do add another dimension hey? Morgan (the organ) Wilson will definitely be joining us as much as possible. He’ll be there at the launch on October 13. Stevie the trumpet player was fantastic. Haven’t worked with him before but we’re definitely keen to again. There is talk of having a soul style horn section on the next album (well one of the next albums) and I’ve spoken to Steve about arranging parts and playing so we’ll see what happens there.

TOM:  How important is the concept of the album to you in this new age of downloads where people often just pick out key tracks?

AD: It’s important to us. It’s what we do. It’s what we strive to create. I’m not sure what, if anything, it means to anyone else but that’s not really the point is it? People can pick out key tracks and if they get something out of it that’s fine with me. To us though the whole picture is the album.

The way people access music these days is clearly very different to how it was 10 or 20 years ago and it will continue to change. People have always and will always focus on key tracks, have favourites and songs they can’t stand. The challenge with making albums is to create a body of work that flows, where all the songs fit together and where are all the songs are of a certain level of quality. If we can create an album that really resonates with a listener, that really means something to them or that they simply enjoy from start to finish then I feel like we’ve really achieved something. If we can make an album that means anywhere near as much to someone else as some of my favourite albums mean to me, then we have accomplished exactly what I set out to achieve over 20 years ago when I decided to do this.

TOM: There’s lot of light and shade on the record. Were any of these songs initially destined for an Anthony Dettori solo album?

AD: Yeah a few of them were. Scott, Derek and I had started working on what was going to be a solo album before Derek joined the band. After that it didn’t seem right to do a separate Sunburys album and a solo album with the same line-up so we decided to make it all Sunburys material. I think it works. Well I hope it does. There is a lot of light and shade on the album which is exactly what we were going for. We tried to show as many of the bands dimensions as we could.

The solo album idea is still kicking around in the back of my head but I’ll just wait for the right time to do it. There will come a time when The Sunburys need to take a break from recording for one reason or another so maybe then I can revisit the idea.

TOM:  Any plans to release any singles from the album?

AD: Not really no. Well by that I mean there will be no physical singles pressed for sale. We may release some promo singles to radio to try and give specific tracks a bit of an extra push but that’s about it. The album is our thing. It’s what we work towards. Singles may still be the right thing to do in a commercial sense – I’m not sure to be honest, but in terms of the work we do the album is the most important thing so that’s what we’ll try and push.

TOM:  Are you a fan of home recording studios? Does it make a difference recording in a ‘big room’?

AD: I am a fan of home recording. I think the advances in home recording technologies including the price reduction in these technologies has been a great thing for songwriters and recording musicians. I have to admit I probably underutilise home studios for the most part though. I have a small setup at home but have never used it for more than demos. I think largely it comes down to the sort of album you want to make too. I couldn’t do Scott’s drumming justice in my meagre home studio but I see no reason why guitar parts couldn’t be tracked at home. I think it depends on the quality of the studio you have at your disposal too to be honest. Not to mention your skills with the tools. Frankly without Jeff Lovejoy’s expertise our album would be nothing regardless of where we tracked it.

TOM:  Will the Sunburys be touring interstate anytime soon?

AD: Yes. No dates I can confirm at the moment but we’re looking at booking shows in Sydney and Melbourne at least as soon as we can. We’ve been getting a fair amount of airplay up north too lately so we’re looking at heading up there in the near future as well.

Keep a Lid On It is out now through Handsome Devil Records/MGM. The band play The Beetle Bar on Saturday 13th October alongside Leichhardt, Ben Crick, and DJ Cameron Stokes.

Tickets:           $10 at door or free with album purchase on way in.

Doors:             8pm. 18+ only.