By Ben Doy
Today sees the release of Ekko Park's highly anticipated second album Know Hope. The new record, which features the singles Validation and Probable Cause, follows the band's 2013 release Tomorrow Tomorrow Today, which was nominated for two New Zealand Music Awards in 2014.
To celebrate the release of Know Hope, Ekko Park are set to embark on a nationwide tour with Dead Letter Circus (Australia) playing at the Kings Arms in Auckland on Thursday 19th November, Allen Street Rock Club in Christchurch on Friday 20th November and Bodega in Wellington on Saturday 21st November.
I was lucky enough to catch up for a chat with the band's frontman Joel Walsh.
When and how did Ekko Park form?
We formed not long after I moved to New Zealand and I moved here in 2006. I was playing with the Jordan Luck Band and while doing that I met Joel. His band Augustino had just split up so we started writing together and we started the band. It was a slow first couple of years really as we didn't have any settled band members or anything because we had other sort of commitments. But in 2010 or 2011 we found Nick and Callum which created the full line-up of the band and has been full steam ahead since then. So although we started a bit earlier I feel the band really started when Nick and Callum joined and we created a 4-piece.
What's the story behind the name?
When the band started Myspace was still the premium outlet for bands. Everyone wanted a Myspace.com backslash and then the band name, so that's why the spelling is a bit funny. But it was named after a song by a guy named Joseph Arthur who made a song called Echo Park that I love, and I really liked the name. Once the band became known Myspace became obsolete so... a bit of a pain in the arse really.
And the new album is Know Hope. How does this compare with your debut release do you think?
It's a massive step up for us, both artistically and musically. We're just a better band than we were. Both albums were independently made and stuff, but with the first album we learnt a lot about the process of who we were as a band. I think the first album sounds like a band that was finding its feet, while the new album is a band that knows exactly who it is really. We've been touring pretty much since the first album came out so I think this album is just a big step up. The band is more of a unit, and it's probably exactly where we should be now I think.
Where did you record it?
Some of it was done at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studio where we recorded the drums, and then we went off to a little village called Onemana just outside Whagamata. We took over a large batch there, so we emptied it out and put a mobile studio in there. We spent about 11 days right by the ocean just recording, so it was pretty DYI and amazing. I think it really lent itself to the sound of the album.
So all up how long did the recording process take?
We were lucky enough to work with Greg Haver, a Welsh guy who's a producer that's produced a lot of great records. We played in Europe last year and at the London gig we got in contact with a guy called Adrian Hall; he's mixed bands like Depeche Mode, the Black Eyed Peas and stuff, and he was really in to what we were doing. We did a single that he wanted to mix and Greg wanted to work with us, so the chance came up to do that and we did ‘Validation' which was the first single off this record and recorded it at the start of the year. It was this whole new team and we realised that it was the formula we wanted for the new record.
We batted the rest of the 9 songs I guess over a period of about 3 weeks in August. It was pretty quick but it was a big step up production wise. We had Greg and Adrian working with us but we've batted it out the way we would live, but it was pretty quick... it was good.
Who was behind the album artwork?
There was an idea that I had stemming from some of the lyrics. The imagery comes from the chorus of the current single ‘Probable Cause'. It was an idea that we had that the whole album package we wanted to produce thus ourselves. I went to a David Bowie exhibition in Melbourne and I had no idea that he was so hands on with all the album covers. So we made these sort of poster packs ourselves and it's quite relevant to the lyrics and the cover reflects that too. So we came up with the idea but didn't really have the skill set to draw it or make it a real picture, so a friend of our Kyle Wetton sort of jumped head first into it and basically pulled out of my brain what the cover should be and we're really stoked with it.
You recently opened for Seether's New Zealand show, how was that experience?
Yeah that was good, that was a great gig. It was a full house when we went on. When you're the support band it's usually a smaller crowd but it was full and we were really well received. It was a big night! It was the first time we played there (Logan Campbell Centre) and it was a great show.
And your NZ tour with the Dead Letter Circus kicks off next month...
We are indeed, yeah. They contacted us after they were out here with I Am Giant. They're up for an ARIA Award and are absolutely killing it in Australia, so it's a really exciting time to be involved with those guys. We're super excited for it.
What are your plans for summer and then heading into 2016?
We are hoping to get overseas with the album really and aiming to get into some festivals next year, we'd like to get to Australia and Asia. And just work this album as much as we can really. We enjoy being in the studio but we're not a studio band if that makes sense? We write these songs and record them as a means to get out on the road. We won't to get out and play as much as we can.