It’s 10:00pm, just under two hours before the release of Kingswood’s sophomore album After Hours, Close to Dawn, and the lead guitarist is rapt, telling me about the moment today when it all hit him.

“I had that weird realisation which should seem obvious,” he begins, “because you’ve been sitting on it for months waiting for it to come out, and you always just put it in a box in your mind. It was so sudden that it’s kind of scary, but it was awesome.”

The album process wasn’t just steeped in musical freedom but in rich history.

The Melbourne group recorded at The Sound Emporium in Nashville, founded by legendary singer-songwriter and producer Jack Clement (Johnny Cash, Jerrry Lee Lewis). The city is truly a melting pot, having attracted artists including Jimi Hendrix, country legend Dolly Parton, and pop mainstay Brenda Lee.

One of the first few to hear the whole album pre-release was Dew Process founder and industry veteran Paul Piticco – and it was quite a story.

‘Okay I’m going to need a whole bunch of wine, and we’re going to come back and listen to it all again’

Recalling his initial response brings a smile to Laska’s face as he laughs, “He was literally like, ‘Alright guys, this is funny, but come on. A bit of experimental stuff is fun, but where are the songs?’”

“We’re like, ‘Paul, this is the album!’, and that’s when he was like, ‘Okay I’m going to need a whole bunch of wine, and we’re going to come back and listen to it all again’. Then we listened to it four times in a row from start to finish, getting more wines. At the end he was so wasted, going, ‘This is genius! We’re going out!’, and then we had a massive night.

“So I guess it’s a good indication of musically what it is. He said, ‘It’s like you guys came in and cut all your hair off and shaved your beards’”.

Then the scenery changes, like someone listening to hard-hitting first single ‘Creepin’ and then the soul-dripping ‘Golden’ straight after. That’s how different the musician’s very first experience of listening to the record was.

We’re back in suburban Nashville, full of “beautiful estates and rolling hills” and inside co-producer Ed Spear’s garage, attached to a beautiful old house in Belle Meade.

“We’d drive out there every day, throw mixes together and check things here and there, but he was just a crusader and strived for perfection. Then he was like, ‘Alright let’s go in’, and we picked an elementary order of how we thought the record would feel the greatest.

“It was almost like a meditation by the end of it, we just reflected on the last two months of everything that had led to that point. Everyone was glowing, it’s so hard to describe,” he muses.

While Laska acknowledges that Nashville’s a strong country derivative, he also notices the funny thing about perceptions, saying, “Like you said, it’s so open-minded.”

“It’s really modern and happening musically. There are heaps of rock ‘n’ roll bands and hip hop, modern soul and R&B. So it’s hugely inspiring, and with this one we had a different approach where we were like, ‘We have no limitations or expectations’”.

Laska soon makes the introduction to the director of The Sound Emporium, remembering her fondly. “Her name’s Juanita (Copeland), and she’s seen everyone through there from Robert Plant to Cyndi Lauper.”

‘You guys are part of the family now, just like Johnny Cash was when he recorded. We want you to make great music here’

“It didn’t matter who you were, she’d come in and tell you a history about the studio… She said, ‘You guys are part of the family now, just like Johnny Cash was when he recorded. We want you to make great music here’. Bands would pass through and she’d bring in a lot of national locals. Everyone was super open and musical.”

After being taken back to a studio snap of the band flashing jazz hands with soul and gospel trio The Woodettes, Laska grows even more enthusiastic as he reminisces on just how they all found each other.

“So the main Woodette Kristen (Rogers) sang on our first record (Microscopic Wars, 2014), and she was a good friend of Ed’s from when he first moved to Nashville. She’d bake cookies and bring us muffins, and Ed’s like ‘By the way, she’s a badass singer’. So she came in and did some vocals and we’re like, ‘Wow, this girl’s got pipes’.

“Then in the years that passed, she went on to become quite a premier vocalist for a lot of really big Nashville acts, and would tour a lot of America, Canada and Europe with them. She curated this little trio with two other girls, Meaux and Stephcynie. So we called her up – Ed alerted me to this – and I started creating parts so we could have this vocal chorus. I kind of knew Kristen’s musical inflections from the first album, and we knew we could make it work.

“Usually with studio sessions in Nashville, they’d come in for the day and you’d book them out for a whole bunch of time, but we did it super efficiently. They had everything ready to go, came in and smashed their parts. It was incredible. Like you said with the jazz hands, it wasn’t like a usual session. It was friends hanging out, drinking and making music. Putting the soul into it, you know?

“Kristen is quite a feature, actually,” the musician continues. “At one point, I’d written this song and was like, ‘The best representation of this is to have a female lead’. Even that as a concept for an album of ours’ might be challenging for some, but it was the right thing for the song because that’s the emotion it needed.”

Yet although the group experienced “a revolving door of international music whilst we were trying to create our own”, right around the corner were Sticky Fingers who had played The Basement. King Gizzard were also passing through. That’s a reminder of home, yet also of the growing perception of Aussie artists feeling the need to ‘escape’ from a music scene that seems somewhat boxed in.

‘Why do we have to stop making this record? Let’s bring it home and do two-and-a-half weeks at our studio in Melbourne and continue to be creative.’

For Kingswood though, that’s certainly not the case.

“We love home, and part of this record was made in our studio. We had to come back and tour and flew Ed in, and we were like, ‘Why do we have to stop making this record? Let’s bring it home and do two-and-a-half weeks at our studio in Melbourne and continue to be creative.’

“The initial reason we moved out to LA was because we got picked up by a management company and like you said, it was all just a natural trajectory. Same with the process of this. The guy we wanted to make records with lives in Nashville, and we met him making our first one. It felt right.

“It wasn’t about being boxed in or having some sort of opinion like, ‘We can’t do it here’. We had some amazing musical moments on this latest album in our little house in Dew where Ed came and lived with us. We’d experiment and explore just like we did in Nashville. Then we’d go off and tour, and he’d hang out and explore Melbourne. He’s got family here in Perth so they came over and visited, and then we packed it all up and went back because we had to.

“It’s just part of it”.

Join Kingswood when they embark on a huge national tour this March and April in support of After Hours, Close to Dawn, and celebrate this new chapter by grabbing the album here.

Kingswood 2017 Australian tour

Thursday, 23rd March
Sooki Lounge, Belgrave, VIC                      
w/ WAAX & Batz
Tickets: Oztix

Friday, 24th March
170 Russell, Melbourne, VIC
w/ WAAX & Batz
Tickets: Moshtix

Saturday, 25th March
The Gov, Adelaide, SA
w/ WAAX & Batz
Tickets: Oztix

Sunday, 26th March
170 Russell, Melbourne, VIC
w/ WAAX & Batz
Tickets: Moshtix

Wednesday, 29th March
The Cambridge, newcastle, NSW
w/ WAAX & Maddy Jane
Tickets: Ticketbooth

Thursday, 30th March
Wollongong Uni, Wollongong, NSW
w/ WAAX & Maddy Jane
Tickets: Moshtix

Friday, 31st March
The Metro, Sydney, NSW
w/ WAAX & Maddy Jane
Tickets: Ticketek

Saturday, 1st April
ANU Bar, Canberra, ACT
w/ WAAX & Maddy Jane
Tickets: Moshtix

Thursday, 6th April
Miami Marketta, Gold Coast, QLD
w/ WAAX & Maddy Jane
Tickets: Oztix

Friday, 7th April
The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
w/ WAAX & Maddy Jane
Tickets: The Triffid

Saturday, 8th April
The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
w/ WAAX & Maddy Jane
Tickets: The Triffid

Sunday, 16th April
The Torquay Hotel, Torquay, VIC
w/ Batz & Maddy Jane
Tickets: Oztix

Friday, 21st April
Discovery, Darwin, NT
w/ Maddy Jane
Tickets: Ticketbooth

Thursday, 27th April
Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
w/ WAAX & Maddy Jane
Tickets: Oztix

Friday, 28th April
Prince Of Wales, Bunbury, WA
w/ WAAX & Maddy Jane
Tickets: Oztix

Saturday, 29th April
The Capitol, Perth, WA
w/ WAAX & Maddy Jane
Tickets: The Capitol