After five years of waiting, Brisbane alt-rock icons Screamfeeder have returned with their triumphant new album, Five Rooms.
Ever since they first formed back in the middle of 1991, Screamfeeder have been a force to be reckoned with. Capturing the attention of Aussie rock-lovers throughout the early ’90s, it was the likes of 1996’s Kitten Licks that helped the group reach a wider fame, with the Screamfeeder name rarely absent from stages or lineups around the country in the coming years.
In February, the group announced that their first record since 2017’s Pop Guilt would be arriving in May. Dubbed Five Rooms, it’s Screamfeeder at their very best, and is set to be paired with a national tour in support of the record this June.
As the band explain, though it’s been 30 years since Screamfeeder released their debut album, Flour, it feels almost as though no time has passed at all, with the group hungry as ever to venture into the future and keep doing what it is that they love.
“Honestly it’s surprising and not surprising at the same time,” bassist and vocalist Kellie Lloyd explains of the record’s timely arrival. “Time feels like it doesn’t exist anymore anyway.
“I think it might take some time to feel like everything is normal again after the last few years, but I can’t wait to see live music return to full capacity and feel safe and free again.”
With the new record out in the world today, Screamfeeder’s Kellie Lloyd and Tim Steward have given us a rundown of each of the tracks on Five Rooms, explaining the album went from being nothing but an idea in their minds, to how they crafted one of their best releases to date in the midst of COVID.
The title comes from the need to tie the whole album together. Tim and I were not writing in the same rooms, we were in lockdown for some of the time, there was no linking themes that we shared. We tried for geographical significance like a point between our houses, a street name, a mountain. Nothing stuck. The songs were written separately in our different rooms. We started to practice them in different practice rooms to bang them into shape. The connecting part of the story is the rooms. We were going between our own music rooms, two practice rooms and the studio. The album was created in five rooms. – Kellie
This was the last song we wrote for the album; it ties together a number of themes and phrases from the rest of the record. It was hard to convince the others to take on yet another song, Dean learned it and recorded the drums in half an hour. Written about a fast-food worker, who gets stuck hanging out with people from a different shift, and starts feeling their life is on endless pause. Being in 2021 this tied in with COVID/isolation themes as well. – Tim
“Don’t Get Me Started”
This song first had a chorus with the title in it and it got dropped. But don’t let that be a reason not to use such a great title! This song was written really quickly, goofing off on GarageBand, and found its way into the practice room, it got longer, shorter, longer, weirder…. And back to closer to how it was written on the demo. Mostly stream of conscious lyrics about social media, needing to be fascinated constantly, lost in a world in a phone or a screen. Sometimes we just need to look away, which ties in nicely with a Trump reference about looking into the sun. – Kellie
“No Past Tense”
I wrote most this late at night after coming home drunk, singing and playing quietly into my phone. I’d done a couple of albums focusing on memory and nostalgia, and I wanted to turn a corner and get away from that. There’s only so much reminiscing you can do before it gets boring. Also a song with no parts that come back and repeat, they all only happen one time around. – Tim
“Late to The Party”
I wrote this song in a few different ways, different tunings, different lyrics, but this one was fleshed out. In my mind I was imagining a Lana Del Rey meets PJ Harvey, half-lethargic, half-menacing kind of song. The song is a like a reflection on how we are told to be a modern person in the world – remain aloof, always be in control, everyone is watching, be everything but don’t be too good at anything, etc. Again, a comment on social media and how everyone is watching and “everybody cares”. – Kellie
The first song written for the record. Intentionally simple and easy to understand. I hadn’t written anything for a while and I needed to finish a song without it being too difficult. Boy/girl/regret themes, which everyone knows, probably too well. – Tim
This song pretty much has three lines, the rest of them just join the dots. A simple song, about being a kid and feeling lost. – Tim
“Everything is Temporary”
A little riff recorded on my phone turned into this song, it went through a few different versions in the practice room. No real story behind this song, the lyrics kind of fell into place, it would characterise the general feeling of constantly dealing with change and randomness and not being able to put your finger on it. The feeling of strangeness each day when the whole country ground to a halt, waking up each day, just not knowing how to explain how we felt. – Kellie
I wanted this to sound like Urge Overkill but I don’t have the voice for it. My songs are what-you-see-is-what-you-get, you understand the meaning right away, or they mean nothing. The song got trimmed right down, the middle section was originally much longer and we explored the groove for a while. But we’re not that kind of band – on record anyway. – Tim
“Break It Clean”
Whilst writing the album Tim and I would give each other a task to write a song – certain chords, slow tempo, a certain tuning, a theme or a word, just some rules to write a song – in two hours. Not sure what the brief was for this song, but this is the result. Lyrically I had taken inspiration from Ben Ely’s character in his song “Aussie Road Movie”, less lyrically brutal than Ben’s song but observes those feelings of having to cut your losses, leaving town, hoping everyone will forget you and the sense of razing everything to ground. Ben’s song is full of heat and desperation, but this take is full of rain and monotonous self flagellation. Also starts with my favourite kind of weird-timing start. – Kellie
“How We Pay”
About watching the natural world disappear, and regretting it, and trying to understand how we let it happen, after it’s too late. This song ended up with a lot of parts in a short space, it was hard to mix, to decide which part’s style should dictate the others. When you hear us play it, it makes more sense. – Tim
“Who Are We to Do This to Each Other?”
Another simple, transparent song, written after being inspired by Fountains of Wayne’s chords and melodies. A band I only discovered after the songwriter Adam Schlesinger died in 2021 from Covid-related complications. A sad circumstance under which to discover a band, but he gave me something in my rudimentary grasp of how music works. – Tim
“Try to Find Us”
This song ruminates on male fragility/privilege and how it’s perpetuated, “who holds the hand that coddles the son, are they the bullet or the gun?”. Who is the problem? Part nature/nurture question, part observation that it’s systemic, are we in peak patriarchy? Are the constructions going to come undone? What is the lesson? It’s too big a concept for a single song, but this is a question that is worth asking. – Kellie
Screamfeeder’s Five Rooms is out now.
Screamfeeder – Five Rooms Album Launch Tour
Friday, June 10th
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC (18+)
Saturday, June 11th
Jive Bar, Adelaide, SA (18+)
Saturday, June 18th
Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney, NSW (18+)
Friday, June 24th
Princess Theatre, Brisbane, QLD (18+)
Tickets available via the Screamfeeder website