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First Listen: Ceres ‘Drag It Down On You’

Frontman Tom Lanyon also takes us through a track-by-track tour of the Melbourne band’s blistering second album.

Melbourne pub-punk revellers Ceres are set to release their new album Drag It Down On You — the follow-up to acclaimed 2014 debut, I Don’t Want To Be Anywhere But Here — on September 2nd via Cooking Vinyl.

Drag It Down On You is a notable mark of a maturing band. While previously the band’s contrasting aspects of emo-rock internalising and driving, pop-faced punk were emphasised via their side-by-side segmentation, here they’re muddled into a far more complex collage. Anthemic, yet painfully intimate, with all scenes of sun-chasing escapism offset by brutally blunt snaps of introspection and self-depreciation.

“Writing Drag It Down On You was a pretty cathartic experience for me,” explains vocalist/guitarist Tom Lanyon. “It’s definitely the darkest stuff I’ve got out into songs.”

Lanyon also acknowledges that, while love and lust pursuits remain significant touchstones of his songwriting, “there is a lot of death on this record, or at least the idea of death.”

Yet, cleverly, the album avoids falling too far into the darkness and while, there’s an unmistakable presence of mourning and more than a few hints of malice, the fist-pumped fury of the Japandroids-esque self-assurance lifts the mood more towards a beautifully, tight-roped middle ground.

Ahead of its official release this Friday (September 2nd), today Rolling Stone is exclusively previewing Drag It Down On You, available to stream in full below. The band have also announced the accompanying national album launch tour, full run of dates here.

In addition, Tom Lanyon has provided us with an exclusive track-by-track breakdown of the release, revealing more about the personal meanings and nostalgic reflections that the songs were sourced from.

All words below by Tom Lanyon.

“You gotta let me in.”
“I’m not exactly sure when I wrote this song. Maybe ten years ago? I don’t know. It was way before the band existed, way before I even thought I could be in a band, and definitely way before I’d ever begin to dream that I would be writing a track-by-track about our second record’s first song for Rolling Stone. Life’s weird huh? It also inspired another song on this record, but we’ll get to that later. Anyway, I like it. I guess I like it enough to make it the first thing you hear on Drag It Down On You. Hope you like this short, interrupted, sad ditty to introduce us again, for the first time, too.”

“Happy In Your Head”
“I am your twenty years bad luck.”
“This was one of those cliché ‘The song just flowed out of me, man’ type deals. But not exactly just me, flowed out of us. The band was packing up one night at practice, and as it always seems to happen, Rhys started to strum that lazy, fuzzy, descending guitar part that now sits somewhat proudly at the start of this song. Four-and-a-half minutes later we had ‘Happy In Your Head’. Love when that happens. Serendipity is a beautiful thing. Was that serendipitous? I use that word a lot but are never completely certain what it actually means.”

“Roll Ur Eyes”
“Hey! I can smell the cut grass.”
“You know how when September rolls around and the weather picks up and people start cutting their lawns and the smell of the cut grass floats into your house and takes you right back to summers in your youth and you go get your guitar and sit on your bed with the window open and the cut grass smell still floating in and you get that little rush in your chest and you write a song about all of it? Me too. That’s ‘Roll Ur Eyes’. Little side note: you have no idea how much time was spent labouring over whether we should stylise the title ‘Roll Your Eyes’ or ‘Roll Ur Eyes’. ‘Roll Ur Eyes won’, obviously, but I can’t remember why.”

“’91, Your House”
“I am such a piece of shit, it’s okay, come on, let’s all admit it.”
“This one’s about death. And the year 1991. And the house I grew up in and sometimes, selfishly, wish we still had. It was in the mountains, just on the fringe of Country Victoria. If the smell of cut grass teleports me anywhere, it’s to 63 One Tree Hill Rd. I get tingles every time I sing the chorus. Sometimes I feel guilty that I can keep going back to that well and take from it again and again. Not sure when it’ll dry up? Maybe when my conscience get’s the better of me. But for now, it’s seems like the deepest well on the planet.”

“Laundry Echo”
“But in this laundry everything is echoing now.”
“This song is about writing ‘Okay’ (the first track on the record, the one I wrote ten years ago, remember?) in the laundry of the house that ”91, Your House’ (you know, the metaphorical well place?) is about. Confusing, I know. Anyway, all you need to really know is that laundries have terrible acoustics. Everything echoes. This is somehow the third-out-of-fourth (I know that’s terrible grammar) song, so far, about my family’s child-hood home. Yikes. I’m sensing a pattern.”

“Spinning Wheel”
“Turn sideways and disappear.”
“I’m pretty sure this was supposed to be a nice little acoustic number that ebbed and flowed and meandered it’s way through to the end; until the band got to it. One of my all time favourite things is to bring a song to the band and have them completely flip it on it’s head. This was one of those. Also, funny story (kind of): I could’ve sworn that I thought up all by myself the lyric “Tough luck, she’s nothing but a failure”, but after listening to ‘How To Taste’ by Violent Soho, I was, evidently, full of shit. I messaged Luke (Boerdam) straight away letting him know there’s still time to change it if he felt weird about it. He was cool. He said, “Don’t sweat it my man, you’re a great songwriter and a cool guy and have lots of friends and we’ve all ripped off someone somewhere along the way.” or something like that. I can’t really remember, it was a while ago… Maybe I should stop saying ‘funny story’, before I tell that story, huh?”

“Loner Blood”
“You got blood in your veins that you swore mine was the same.”
“I watched with my own eyes and listened with my own ears as Eileen Sparks played the most beautiful cello over this song. Tom (Bromley; Los Campesinos! and producer) made this song sound so lush. All it was a guitar and a vocal in the beginning, and he and Eileen turned it into this swelling, breathing, heartbreaking end to Side A of the record. In my Voice Memo demos on my phone this song is called ‘Cool Guitar Part 1’ – more than happy that my guitar is the least coolest thing on this song now.”

“But I don’t know, I want to choke on you.”
“After Tom (Bromley) had strummed the last reversed chord of the intro to this song, we all sat in silence and played it back as we looked out of the only window in the studio. There was an old awning that had weathered in the sun and it’s bleached fabric of brown and gold was flapping against the glass, casting shadows into the studio; almost, somehow, moving in slow motion. Imagine that in your head when you listen to the intro. Transcendental, huh?”

“Sometimes I wish I was you back then.”
“The pop banger! I like it’s drive and momentum. I like that it’s still a little weird. I think it’s about having a fight. And not wanting to talk about it. But it could be about a million other things. It’s probably the cheeriest thing on the record, even if it’s still a bummer. If you love that crazy, million-pedalled, supersonic, bent guitar sounding thing just after the first chorus then cool, thanks. That was my idea.”

“Hold your breath through cemeteries.”
“That lyric is such a Los Campesinos! lyric it almost makes me sick. But I guess it makes sense seeing as this was the fist song we wrote after I Don’t Want To Be Anywhere But Here, and had it shelved for so long that when Tom (Bromley) heard the demo and loved it and said we had to do it, we sort of said “Nah”, but then he helped write the chorus and now I basically have my favourite band writing songs for me and honestly, it feels great. Tom also said it sounded kind of like Pavement—so that helped too. Think he even named it Us as well. Far out, who’s record is this?”

“Nothing On Your Shoulders”
“She weighs nothing on your shoulders, so why would you let her down?”
“Now, stick with me, but the kernel of this song started when I saw a girl on a guys shoulders at a show I was at once. Pretty much as soon as she got up there, he let her down. I don’t know why it stuck with me. She wasn’t even that bummed out about it, and he didn’t seem to be a complete dickhead. I don’t think they noticed me as I creepily stared at them as I wrote lyrics in my head. Maybe I was the dickhead in this scenario. Anyway, I thought it was too much of metaphor to let slide. I think it’s about staying strong for someone, trying not to let them down, when it’s always so damned easy to. You can’t always be such a selfish prick.”

“I watched Brad watch a storm from his window seat.”
“Brad ‘Smokes’ Fulton is our tech/fill in guitar guy/confidant/friend who has played with us and toured with us many times over the years. We were flying back from some-where, on some-tour, some-time and there was a storm out to the left of the plane. It was just one of those moments; I had my head back half asleep, watching Brad watch a storm from his window seat. It must’ve been a long week. So this is my ode to touring, and the bastard that she is. And about death. Always about death.”

“Hey, I thought you’d never show up.”
“Go read a book by author Victor Kelleher called Del-Del. It’s to blame for this song.”

“Baby’s Breath”
“An ungrateful prick, I never asked for it
Now I can’t stop I just suck and spit on
Everyone I ever loved
“Oh man, this song. I don’t know. It’s heavy. By far the most personal thing I’ve ever written. I’m not even sure how I’m going to sing it live, both literally and figuratively. It’s about my Mum, my Dad, my brother and half-sisters, my family home, my girlfriend, my ex-girlfriends, my band-mates, my friends, my friend’s friends, my loves and my hates, my fears and my regrets, my growing up, my backing down, my arrogance, my ungratefulness, my sorriness, my sadness and me.”
“Who am I to tell you how to feel your pain?
Like relief lives inside both your parents names
Losing one but gaining one to blame
I know you’re not me, I’ll learn that one day
I know, I’m sorry
Missing a lot of things”