Cry Club in 2020 feels very similar to the Cry Club of late 2017, when Jono & Heather first started writing for the band, before any shows came together. “With everything falling apart this year it’s meant we’ve been working really hard behind the scenes to get stuff together but now we’ve announce some shows I think we’re gonna hit the ground running,” Jono of Cry Club tells Eat This Music.
On the other hand, Heather of Cry Club explains that Cry Club in 2020 is a mash of emotions and genres, two best friends bringing ideas to each other every day, talking about how we’re feeling, finding the best ways to express that, and being absolute workaholics in the process. “We just love making music, we love playing music, and more than anything we want to find people who connect with that and build the community we’ve always wanted to have,” they continue.
How Cry Club are feeling at the moment is a bit of a double edged sword, Jono reveals, “on one side is the lack of shows this year, we’ve always been a touring band first and foremost so losing that has been a big hit to us, but it’s also allowed us to work on Cry Club almost full time which is kind of the dream? So we’re just trying to make the best out of a bad situation.” Jono’s studio is in Heather’s house, so they still got to see each other every day, and for the first time got to just write music without having to plan around work, tours, and the other stuff that comes with just being alive. “I think the situation would have been a lot more dire if I didn’t have my boi Jono,” Heather expresses. “I saw so many people struggling with feeling isolated and trapped, it just made me appreciate what we have even more. We’re going BIG crazy not playing live shows, but we know we’ll get to do it eventually, so just taking it one day at a time and giving ourselves the opportunity to experiment without feeling the pressure.”
Having first came across Cry Club in April 2019 upon the release of their single ‘DFTM‘, I have been wanting to have a chat with Heather & Jono about their music, and with the release of their debut album ‘God I’m Such a Mess’, I was able to achieve that.
Speaking on the release of the album, the duo can assure you that it feels bizarre! “We’ve had these songs for such a long time now and a lot of our audience is so familiar with them,” Jono expresses upon the release, “but only now do they get to be songs that actually belong to them.” A big moment for Cry Club is always when people are able to connect to the songs in a personal way on their own and then bring that connection into a live environment – so Jono is really excited to see what that looks like. “I know when I go see bands that have songs that mean a lot to me it feels like the air in the room changes when they play them and I hope our stuff can have that kind of impact,” Jono adds.
“Definitely it’s about the mortifying ordeal of being Known,” Heather continues. “Worrying about how people perceive you, worrying about what people are expecting from you, if you’re meeting those expectations or letting people down.” The constant dissonance between needing to connect to people but also being a bit unstable and figuring out what you are responsible for vs what is out of your control.”
A lot of the debut album is essentially the ‘best of’ catalogue from Cry Club’s first couple of years as a band, so it feels like it is a great little time capsule for this era of Cry Club. In terms of process, a lot of these songs were written with really strict arrangement rules (only 1 guitar, 1 bass, 1 drummer and vocals) with being able to add on top of that after the core song is done. Jono elaborates, “I think that helped challenge us into a really clear path for this batch of songs, which I think we only got better at engaging with over time.”
Reflecting on the release, Heather thinks the same of the aforementioned engagement. “We had a very strong sense of identity from the start, knowing who we want to be and what type of people we want to attract, I think the difference now is that we have a community around us of fans, friends, and artists we look up to and we’re not just shouting into the void lol,” They continue. “We’ve had so much feedback and the songs as they are on the album are a result of that constant connection and communication with the people around us, so I think they’re an even more distilled and direct version of what we wanted to say early on.”
The pipeline Cry Club ended up in was that Heather and Jono would write as much as they could to get the strongest live set together as possible, but due to the limitations of being an opening band for the most time they needed to be consistently high energy and dramatic to earn the attention of people who may have not seen Cry Club – naturally drawing the duo to the most outlandish or pop tracks they had written. After them existing in the live set, Cry Club took them to our producer Gab Strum and he helped Cry Club add a lot of depth to the tracks sonically – a lot of synth stuff Cry Club were not super familiar with when they had started to work with Gab. Then mixing with Scott Horscroft really helped Cry Club with pining down how big they wanted to sound!
“LOTTA writing,” Heather emphasises on the creative process of their debut album. “We have a bunch of songs that we played a lot in the live set that didn’t make the cut, but also due to COVID and the album being pushed back, we had to release more singles than we anticipated. Defs a process of managing my expectations and learning to just roll with whatever feels right and makes the most sense.”
“We’ve had the title for the album for a long time, before the tracklist was locked in, so it was also a process of feeling out which songs fit that narrative the best, and were the most honest.” — Cry Club on the creation of their debut album.
“[M]anaging the balance of heavier stuff with pop tastes, which Gab really helped with by adding the beautiful shiny cherry on top with his sparkly production,” Heather adds. “It was so good to know that no matter how heavy or abrasive we made something, Gab could always keep it in that pop realm so we can push it further ourselves, and then Scott will bring out the interesting bits we had never noticed along the way!”
For Jono, Cry Club has been what he poured his entire life into for the last 3ish years, so it feels like the debut album is a distillation of what those years have been. “It’s ended up being incredibly fun while also a lot of work and stress, which funnily enough has connected with that “songs you could both cry and dance to” vibe,” Jono laughs.
“GOD it is literally impossible for me to hide what I’m feeling, like I’m the antithesis of “leave your baggage at the door”, so I came into a lot of our writing sessions just bogged down by all this emotional garbage that we could then mold into songs,” Heather continues. “In a way, the fact that I’m such an emotional mess is a positive thing for the creation of the album, because it meant we always had something to write about or bounce off.” Jono could relate and shape everything again with his own experiences, keeping everything grounded. In fact, Cry Club is definitely most of Heather’s personal life, the stress and joy and discovery that comes with it.
“I think I’d pick different songs depending on your taste,” Jono tells Eat This Music on which songs he would recommend to listeners, “if you love pop I’d go for Quit, if you wanna go full emo I’d go Lighters, if you want heavy I’d go Robert Smith and if you want to have a dance I’d go for Dissolve.”
Heather on the other hand, they recommend their personal favourite ‘Quit’. “[I]t’s our first co-write and a beautiful example of how euphoric the creative process can be when you bring in a bunch of people you love and admire,” Heather expresses, “but I love how Vertigo is a huge pop song but still abrasive and off-kilter enough to somehow be a punk song.” In fact, Heather thinks that song captures Cry Club’s essence super well, with Jono’s guitar babbling in the background of Heather’s theatrics, and Gab’s super sparkly production lifting it all to a ridiculous new heights.
“Ahhhh we’re not in a position to say just yet,” Jono dodges the question of what they are working on next, “but we’ve been working really hard to get more songs together for whatever the next thing ends up being, so I guess we’re just gonna see whether or not 2021 is as much of a shitshow as 2020.”
“Tee hee, we’ve written… SO SO much,” Heather supports Jono’s vague answer. “We have so much material, the next step is just to keep that spark going and see if we can make some even better stuff and road test it live when we can play shows again.” Although, Cry Club also definitely want to experiment more with their own live show and visual identity. “I’ve gone full goblin mode in lockdown and have been able to just express myself the way I’ve always wanted, I’m excited to bring that to our live shows,” Heather concludes in our chat about their debut album.
Cry Club’s debut album ‘God I’m Such a Mess’ is now out via Best & Fairest.