'Busy Busy People' is the second album from CHILDCARE, following their 2019 debut 'Wabi Sabi'. Whereas 'Wabi Sabi' was deeply focused on wellbeing and introspection, 'Busy Busy People' is its infectious and dizzingly energetic counterpart - as the title suggests. (CHILDCARE are Ian Cares, Rich LeGate, Emma Topolski and David Dyson).
We spoke to CHILDCARE's frontman about how the quartet pushed themselves further on this record, where their unusual lyrics come from and how they go about working together on song lyrics.
For guitarist Rich's birthday, Ian got them some tickets to an all night Gong Bath meditation session in West London, which took place at a church. The night inspired the first single ('Karaoke Mantra') to be taken from their new album, 'Busy Busy People' ("So I tried something weird at the weekend / A kind of pyjama bath"). "It's just about my experience there really. We had a funny time."
'Busy Busy People' was recorded over a year ago so the band are ecstatic to be sharing their new material with fans. "Yeah, it's great," Ian says. "It's been a long process to get here. Even working out what the album's about and what the artwork should be... that took quite a few months. It's felt like a long process, so I'm really pleased that people can hear it."- - - - - -
Recording their second offering at a recording studio in Somerset was "fun" but definitely not relaxing, because they were working so hard. "We worked with a producer called Dom Monks, who we hadn't worked with before. He really wanted to capture us live. He'd seen some of our Maida Vale sessions that we'd done... He saw that we could play and wanted to - in his words - he didn't just want to make a 'Pro Tools record', metronomic tracks... [lay the] drums then, you do the bass and the guitar...you wanted to get the feel of a band in the room at the same time. So for a lot of the tracks, we were all in the room and I sang my vocals at the same time you know, we do a few takes, then we do a few more takes. It was a slightly more old fashioned way of doing things, but meant that you get a lot of life recording that way - a bit more energy," Ian explains.
The end result was more raw sounding than usual. "You have to also be more OK with, and accepting, of your own mistakes, because they have to be allowed to be in. You can't get too sucked into really finely editing everything. And so that was quite good, quite a learning process for us. It was great. It was enjoyable... and we learned a lot."
Their quirkiness is what appeals but, although the tracks are pretty much always fun, there are darker themes lurking in the lyrics. "What we do...what I do, lyrically, is I try to talk about, and hint at, the anxieties, the uncertainties, the surrealness of life that's bubbling under but I do that using everyday objects. Food comes up a lot in the album." We can confirm that this is true as there are references to rhubarbs, jelly, orange juice and more scattered throughout the album.
There's no doubt that CHILDCARE lyrics are relatable. He continues, "I use commonplace things as a way for people to latch on to and get in. And then, because you're not used to hearing those everyday things - or those everyday references - to foods... I guess that catches your ear. Once you listen, you start to realise how the lyrical objects are positioned in relation to one another. It can give a certain sense of unease and confusion and surreality, which you're kind of feeling in some way or another."
'Busy Busy People' was never intended to be a continuation of 'Wabi Sabi' in the sense that it is a separate entity in its own right, so it's almost impossible to compare the two. However, one thing Ian has noticed is that his songwriting is coming into its own more on this second album. "I feel like I'm starting to get my lyrical signature a little bit more on this album that maybe I hadn't developed as fully on 'Wabi Sabi'."
Meanwhile, Emma's vocals feature more heavily on this record, which isn't something the band had planned to do. It just, sort of, happened organically. "We used everyone's voices. And we used our voices in a range of styles and more talking stuff on this album, so I suppose we were generally pushing the boundaries of what we could offer in terms of using our voices. I suppose one of the natural outcomes of that will be Emma's voice features more than before. I mean, she's obviously a great singer so we want to use that, " Ian explains.
We can't help but ask... why exactly is there a song about Gok Wan on the album? "There just is," Ian quips. It's the only one we know of. "I would hope so," Ian replies. "He must have popped up somewhere and he must have been on my mind. is true. I think he's a good guy. I like him." When it comes to songwriting, the band work together and give Ian feedback on the lyrics he writes. "Everyone offers their feedback on what I've written and what they like and don't like about it. I write something, take it to the band, and we work out but there's all these little strands of collaboration that are going on throughout."
CHILDCARE will be on tour in January 2022 and they are remaining tight-lipped on the surprises they have in store for us. Their last show, in 2019, was at London's Scala and saw them perform choreographed dances to 'Sugarcane'. "We're working out a few things that are going to make it interesting as we have done in the past. I don't want to give too much away. But it will be good. It'll be a good show."
But, first,they must prepare for these live shows as it has been a little while since they have been on stage together. As Ian says, "Remembering how to play our instruments. I guess that's what's next."- - - - - -
CHILDCARE's new album 'Busy Busy People' is out now.
Words: Narzra Ahmed
Photo Credit: Tom Ham