Decoder Ring hit Byron Bay’s Hotel Great Northern on Thursday night.
Decoder Ring hit Byron Bay’s Hotel Great Northern on Thursday night.

Decoder Ring return

AT 7.15pm on the last night of 2006’s Splendour in the Grass festival, Decoder Ring took to the stage, welcomed by the huge crowd’s uproarious applause.

Silhouetted by a gentle blue light, the band assembled themselves and instruments, and played the entirety of their 2004 album, Somersault, for a crowd that was mesmerised, transfixed, for the hour set.

The band members, too, lost themselves in each song - a sense of purpose accompanied every perfect note.

That Splendour set became the stuff of legend in festival circles; the magical, landmark ‘last gig’ Decoder Ring played for two years.

"We decided at the start of 2006 we wanted to spend a couple of years on the new album," guitarist Matt Fitzgerald said.

"It was great to play that one time only show … it gave us a sense of celebration and closure, and made us even hungrier to get started on the new album."

So why a two-year hiatus to do it?

"It seems such a long time to immerse yourself in something [the album]. Suddenly you look up and your nieces and nephews are older, and so much time has passed," Fitzgerald said.

"Everyone has highs and lows in such a long period of time … we wanted to make an album which reflected that, rather than a snapshot of a particular moment or memory."

While each Decoder Ring album differs vastly, their history is laced with critical acclaim: from 2002’s Spooky Action at a Distance EP to their debut self-titled album the same year; the Somersault soundtrack gained several major music awards in 2004; followed closely with Fractions in 2005.

"Emotion is everything to us," Fitzgerald said.

"On this album we’ve aimed to get those emotional experiences across: feelings intersect and overlap and they’re not one dimensional – this album reflects what emotion and, I guess, life, is like."

They Blind they Stars, and the Wild Team is a double album that has stripped musical elements such as melody, rhythm, verse and chorus, to create a sound that is raw, unpredictable, joyously anthemic, and altogether stirring.

Without standard writing tools, isn’t penning a song harder?

"Yes, but it was important for us to push the envelope and move away from those things," Fitzgerald said.

"They can be manipulative devices and we wanted to be in a place where we were creatively untethered.

"In painting, there’s abstract and expressionistic art and it’s so refined, but in music it seems very stuck in the 1600s where everything has a sense of literalism. We opted to bring a sense of feeling and place instead."

Their Splendour 2009 set attracted one of the largest crowds at the festival, an acknowledgement of how much they have achieved in their time away.

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