Many claim that the 60’s were the last bastion of creative music. While that opinion should be considered wholly subjective, there is no denying that it was a time that radically changed the way music was not only composed, but felt as well. Wunder Wunder - the Los Angeles by-way-of Australia duo of Aaron Shanahan and Benjamin Plant - explore that era on their upcoming debut, Everything Infinite, and we reached out to Shanahan to discuss the new album, their songwriting process, and more.
ChunkyGlasses: You, as well as Wunder Wunder’s other half, Benjamin Plant, are involved with the band Miami Horror. How does the writing process work with you two?
Aaron Shanahan: Basically, someone starts off with a little idea or a loop or something. Coastline started off with that little arpeggio at the beginning and I just starting singing over it one day, after a Miami Horror show actually, and I had an idea and we worked upon it from there. The third track from the album, “Everything Infinite”, came to me all in one night. I was on a train from Orange County and I imagined a song opening up with one chord and morphing into several forms of color. It’s a very collaborative project though. We’ll come together with one person’s idea and expand from there.
CG: With the both of you being in the same band of Miami Horror, how did this project of the two of you come to light?
AS: I met Ben when I first starting drumming for Miami Horror. I didn’t even know how to drum at the point.
CG: You didn’t know how to drum at all?
AS: Not really. I knew how to do some drum machine parts but nothing on a full set. I was more familiar with song production while drumming was more secondary to me. The concept of songwriting was what first attracted me to music in the first place. My friend, Josh (singer of Miami Horror), was collaborating with me on a project called Peacocks, and was set off to go touring but he needed a drummer. I simply told him I’d give it a go and have been drumming for them ever since. Ben was brought on to the band and we both were part of finishing Miami Horror’s first album. The more we worked together, the more we realized we shared the same passion for unique sounds: sounds that invoke nostalgia and have character.
CG: Does nostalgia play a big part in writing for Wunder Wunder and the tone of the new album?
AS: I’d say so for this album in particular. Ben and I have similar characteristics of what we like about music and conceptually making a song that paints a picture of nostalgia or a dream-like place of somewhere you have visited in the past. “Summers Day” is about being a kid and growing up and that creative, imaginative wonder that you have when you are young. You aren’t poisoned with the realities of society that come later in life. “Midnight Hours” still deals with youth but more in the post-teenage, coming of age feeling, kind of like an 80’s movie (laughs). That’s what’s good about music: it can take you away and connect you to a dream-like world.
CG: Moving to LA, what were some of the biggest culture shocks to you as a native Australian?
AS: The characters of Los Angles were the biggest shock. You can walk down the street and see a guy in a full gold sequence suit, for example. I saw that and was like “Its LA. You can do what you want!” It’s almost surreal seeing the people in LA and I think it really suits the dreaminess of our songs. The area really compliments the mood we take on with these songs.
CG: You grew up in Australia and are now living in LA. What made you finally want to begin operating in another country, let alone a unique cultural area like LA?
AS: We didn’t really come to LA just to make it big in the city where everyone wants to make it big. It was more a change of scenery for Ben and me. Los Angeles just seemed really attractive to me and it has been so far. The city is so full of character and variety. The people and even the landscape here are so varied. Moving here was also about getting away from everything we knew. Once you do something like that, you can really create a bubble. Wunder Wunder was really able to grow since we moved out here. Especially for me, I was able to get my confidence back up as a singer/songwriter and to be able to do that; sometimes you need to get away from what you know and what you are.
CG: Speaking of songwriting, were you still writing your own material during your main time drumming for Miami Horror?
AS: Not so much. Working in bands before Miami Horror zapped my confidence as a songwriter, as some projects can do to you. I was happy to just drum and put meaning into a band where I worked solely on percussion. Eventually, I started to write fragments here and there on the road with Miami Horror. “Trouble In Utopia”, came to be off a documentary we were watching on tour. Towards, the end of writing the album for Miami Horror, Ben has some ideas still lying around and I began to sing on top of them. I wasn’t very confident but I still did it.
CG: Was it difficult getting back into the position of being a singer/songwriter after quite some time focusing solely on drumming?
AS: It wasn’t hard but it more meant that I had to build myself up again. I wasn’t confident with putting ideas forward and being comfortable with the concept of my ideas being any good. That’s the thing with confidence in music writing; it isn’t about what other people like in music. Music is about what you like and what you want to create. You just need to pull out what’s inside you and not worry about what people think or if the music is good or bad.