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Dead Letter Circus: “We experienced a real awakening, and awakening isn’t an easy process.”

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By Jeremy Vane-Tempest

Dead Letter Circus’ last record, The Catalyst Fire, was an absolute banger. Our esteemed editor, Robyn Morrison, listed it as her favourite record of 2013. So, no pressure boys, but this new one better be pretty bloody good. Drummer Luke ‘Licka’ Williams was on hand to talk about the new record, entitled Aesthesis, and how its conception and goal goes hand in hand with a Peruvian tribal ceremony made famous by two comedians.

On the topic of the albums’ writing process, Licka was more stoked than a campfire. “We sat together in a room for two months, rather than via correspondence, like with The Catalyst Fire and This Is The Warning. We’ve never done it that way before, but it rocked. We’d wake up, write, go to sleep. We went straight from finishing writing to recording. I did all the pre-production in a Roland TD-30. We’d slap together a rough outline of a song, then I’d record the drums on the Roland, then we’d clean up the MIDI information and run it through a program called Superior Drummer, and that’s how we did the demos. When it came time to track in the studio, I used a full acoustic set, but the demos were all digital. It was a real pleasure to write the record this time around. It’s much easier to resolve issues face to face than over email. Things get lost in translation. This whole record, from when we started writing to when we finished recording, took three months, which is unheard of for us.”

There must be something in the water at the UNFD offices, because all the bands on the roster seem to have their third eyes wide open. Dead Letter Circus are no different; in fact, they’re even wider. “We got to a point when we were writing This Is The Warning when we realised that we could be doing a lot better as a species than we are”, Licka explained. “As awesome as life is, there’s a lot wrong in the world and we wanted to bring this to people’s attention. The shit that we do to the Earth, the shit that we do to each other, there’s a breaking point and it’s not gonna be too long before we hit it.”

“We really became aware of the disruption to the balance in the world when we started experimenting with psychedelic compounds”, he continued. “We experienced a real awakening, and awakening isn’t an easy process. It’s not easy to fully comprehend the extent to which the Earth is being ravaged by us. That’s not to say we walk around depressed with glum looks on our faces. Being aware is a state of mind, and it’s the first step on the path to change. The first step for a drug addict’s treatment is that there has to be an acknowledgment that there is a problem to solve.”

If you watched Hamish and Andy’s South American Gap Year, you may remember a ceremony they partook in, Princess Bride-style. They each drank from a cup, one clean and one spiked with a psychedelic compound known as Ayahuasca. It was played for laughs, but it’s a genuine tribal practice that finds proponents and detractors alike. DLC are definitely in the ‘pro’ side, and Licka was both disparaging of Hamish and Andy’s depiction of the ceremony and equally enthusiastic in its defence. “You drink the tea and then experience a four to five hour introspective journey, an awakening, if you will”, Licka explained. “When you’re in the throes of an Ayahuasca ceremony, it brings up a lot of difficult things. Some are a pleasure ride through the cosmos, but others are like a psych session. It brings up a lot of things that are very painful, but in the end, you come out a better person with a better understanding of the world and things that have plagued you, sometimes since your childhood.”

“It feels as real, if not more real, than this reality”, he continued. ‘It’s an immersive experience, and that ties back into what the album title, Aesthesis, means. It’s an Ancient Greek word that means “to breathe in”, but when Kim brought it to me as the album title, he explained that it can also mean ‘an immersive understanding that transcends knowledge’. That’s what our album’s about, and it brings up the difficulty in defining consciousness, or what the human “mind” is. Is what we perceive in our every day lives the reality, or is it a simulation made by aliens for our entertainment? It sounds nuts, I know, but it feels very, very real when you’re in it. I’d say it feels even more real than this reality. A lot of people like to knock it back, which is sad for them. ‘I’ve never done it, but I’m gonna say you’re nuts!’ We’re not a band that’s going around pushing people into smoking DMT, we’re just saying don’t knock it til you try it.”

Aesthesis is out August 14 via UNFD.

Tour Dates

Thursday, 1 October – Prince Of Wales Hotel, Bunbury ^

Friday, 2 October – Metropolis, Fremantle ^

Saturday, 3 October – Leisure Inn, Rockingham ^

Sunday, 4 October – The Gov, Adelaide ^

Wednesday, 7 October – Karova Lounge, Ballarat ^

Thursday, 8 October – Black Swan Hotel, Bendigo ^

Friday, 9 October – Barwon Club, Geelong ^

Saturday, 10 October – The Forum, Melbourne

Sunday, 11 October – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart

Wednesday, 14 October – Home Tavern, Wagga Wagga

Thursday, 15 October – UCU, Canberra

Friday, 16 October – Waves, Wollongong

Saturday, 17 October – Roundhouse, Sydney

Sunday, 18 October – The Cambridge, Newcastle

Friday, 23 October – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast

Saturday, 24 October – The Triffid, Brisbane

^ 10 Years not appearing

Tickets on sale Thursday, August 20


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