Interview: Days Like These talk new EP, lineup change and community

Credit: Zachary Shane

Brisbane alt-rock duo Days Like These are back better than ever with a new lineup and sophomore EP ICON, released 19 May. Comprised of vocalist Callen Batson and drummer/vocalist Noah Murphy, the two bring an exciting flair to contemporary punk with pop hooks and killer collabs.

We had a chat with the two about their new EP, lineup change and more.

Congrats on the EP! How does it feel to have new music out?

Callen: It feels incredible! After sitting on this material for so long, it simply feels like a weight off of our shoulders. We’ve heard these songs a million times by now and they were starting to feel quite stale to me; I was less excited about them than I should be. However, now that they’re out and we have seen people react to them and talk about them with such kindness, I feel really excited by them again which is great as I know how proud of them I am.

Noah: Surreal. Besides being our best music to date, I am emotionally attached to each and every song, and the experience of creating them all. There’s a lot of focus around being humble when it comes to one’s own art, perhaps too much so, for me at least. I’ve made it a goal of mine to voice my deep love for DLT, and to have great conviction when I say I am truly our own biggest fan! So happy to see people get something special out of it too.

You’ve recently undergone a substantial lineup change. How did this come about?

Callen: I guess each member leaving has a slightly different story but in summary, all of those guys just wanted to do something different and put their efforts into something else they were more passionate about. Prior to the release of Wide Awake, Jamo joined Days Like These and I joined Headwreck on bass guitar, his primary band. We basically just temporarily traded to help each project out for that period of time!

Jamo and Connor left first, and Noah, Russell and I agreed that we were not going to search for replacements as we have spent a lot of time in the past doing that and it always just ended up being the three of us left. So when Russell left, Noah and I kept the same agreement and were just determined to make it work. I feel very comfortable with just the two of us now; it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would to feel that way.

ICON is an eclectic project with a range of styles. What were some of your main musical influences?

Callen: When we were writing material for this release, we basically just threw everything we had and anything we wanted to try together and didn’t even really think about the vast diversity until quite far into the process. Before the writing commenced, we had really opened up the floodgates of our palettes and began listening to a significantly wider array of bands and artists than ever before. Some key influences that made their way into the EP are Don Broco, Enter Shikari, Grimes, The 1975, Waterparks, Dua Lipa, Dominic Fike and DMA’s.

How was it to work with the talented Chris Lalic on the EP?

Callen: ICON will be our second EP with the man! This time around we felt ultra comfortable and confident, which is not to say the first time wasn’t. It was just a matter of getting to know each other and building a bond and friendship. I feel that our vision aligns with Chris’ really well and he understands what we aim to do and is there to back us entirely. However, he can also help us reel the ship back in if we get too out of hand!

What was it like to collab with Death Tour?

Callen: It was really great! “Oblivion” is our first collaboration and to reach out to a group that we are just fans of and have no affiliation with whatsoever, and then for them to say yes was super exciting. We basically gave them a rough idea of what we were chasing and what we imagined would sound good over those sections and they nailed it with ease. I feel that they brought a new level of energy to a song that we were already really hyped on.

Final single “Bloodshed” is a banger with a cool animated clip. What inspired the video, and how did it come together?

Noah: The credit for that incredible video goes to our good friend Nev (Deadend Visuals). Our team decided last minute – thankfully so – that “Bloodshed” would be released as a single. Because we didn’t have time nor the money to make another music video, we contacted Nev and offered him full creative control since we didn’t have any ideas. He came back with this fascinating retro anime-style concept, something he hadn’t tried before, and we were energised by the thought!

Your visual aesthetic seems to have just as much thought put into it as the music. What message do you hope to get across?

Noah: That we’re swag and everyone else can be too. In all seriousness, it definitely does and that’s a great question! I think it often emphasises our message of any given release. For example, for our 2021 single “Luna”, we wanted to express this authentically fun and playful side of us, also that DLT is much more than Wide Awake led people to believe. So we wore something that – just like elements of fun and play – was scarcely represented in our overall community.

I remember checking out a lot of Rick Rubin interviews recently, and he explained that the art he creates is often what he feels is missing or would like to hear and see more of. It feels like we’re doing that with the ICON EP too, by being bold, flamboyant, unpredictable.

You played an acoustic launch show at Suzi Wong’s last week with East Capri. What was that intimate set like?

Noah: Just that: intimacy. I think that’s something Callen and I have wanted to foster more in our own lives, but also our wider community. That sense of connection is what we all strive for. This show first and foremost was a celebration of our fans, friends and family, who – along with Callen and I – collectively make up DLT. It’s the first time we have ever played an acoustic set, we changed our songs up a bit and ultimately had a lot of fun!

Who is each of your true icons?

Callen: Tough one! I’m going to go with Halsey. I think she’s a one-of-a-kind superstar and can do whatever she likes and make it her own. She is so distinguishable and I simply find her fascinating.

Noah: Artistically, I would say Matty Healy from The 1975. Very charismatic, greatly entertaining, I love how diverse the whole band is. They make me feel like DLT can be anything. More true to the definition, I would honestly say Callen. He’s my best friend, and I deeply admire and love him. Just like The 1975, I think that’s our secret weapon: just a band of best friends. What more could you ask for?

ICON is available to stream everywhere. Stay connected with Days Like These on Facebook and Instagram for more!