Sandtimer releases debut album "everything is on hold"
Following up their single “What’s On Your Mind”, English band Sandtimer unveils debut album everything is on hold.
After the releases of a couple singles and EPs, Rob Sword, Simon Thomas, Rachel Thomas and Alex Jackson now introduces their first full length album, a collection of 11 heartfelt tracks reflecting on life experiences.
“Many of the songs are observational, so we talk a lot about the things we encounter in our lives, the situations we’ve ended up in. There’s a lot of reflection upon themes of longing, time passing, relationships and such things. There are also a couple of political songs, which I guess is inevitable given the times we’re in,” explains Simon.
The debut album includes their previous singles "Loner", "Time? Why? Explain", "Clouds", "209", "Dormant" and "What's on Your Mind".
everything is on hold is now available worldwide.
Congratulations on your debut album ! How's it like to release your first album?
Rob: Thank you! It definitely feels like the culmination of everything we’ve been working towards so far. We definitely feel ready to publish it now - it’s been a long time in the making.
When did you start working on this album? Who helped you create it?
Rob: The very first sessions for what went on to become this album were in the summer of 2015, but most of the songs were different and we ended up scrapping all of those recordings and starting again in spring 2017. We produced it and recorded it entirely ourselves but I had a lot of help from one of my best friends, Giles Thomas (no relation to Simon), in the mixing process - he mixed the majority of our singles and gave me a lot of advice and ideas for the other tracks.
Could you describe us the songwriting/production process for this project?
Rob: Each song sprung from a different concept, whether that was a specific rhythmic idea, a chord progression or a melodic fragment- and I think we both really pushed ourselves to step out of our comfort zones on the songwriting. Once we’d created demos individually, we’d send them to each other and then start working on the arrangements collaboratively. This resulted in some unexpected combinations, like the slide guitar parts at the end of Afloat that Simon added, and the Thomas Mapfumo-inspired rhythms of “Dormant” that I introduced to Simon’s original demo.
What are the different topics you are talking about on this album?
Simon: Many of the songs are observational, so we talk a lot about the things we encounter in our lives, the situations we’ve ended up in. There’s a lot of reflection upon themes of longing, time passing, relationships and such things. There are also a couple of political songs, which I guess is inevitable given the times we’re in.
What were the hardest parts about making this album? What were the best parts?
Rob: I think one of the hardest moments was in early 2017: listening back to an album’s worth of almost finished recordings and deciding they just weren’t capturing what I wanted them to capture. The best part was probably starting afresh that same evening and hearing much better results immediately! I also loved the moments where we discovered a new angle on a song that would take it in a different direction.
"What's On Your Mind" is your latest single. What's the story behind this song?
Rob: It’s a song about Facebook, Twitter, Uber and pretty much every other unaccountable large online company, and about how these companies exploit our human vulnerabilities to oppress us. I promote our music on social media, and feel like I am winning if it gets a good response. But sometimes I remember that, by contributing to their newsfeed, I’m just helping very rich and unaccountable companies get richer and more unaccountable. The song covers two aspects of it: how we, as users of these sites and services, have become complicit in creating a world we are now trapped in; and how we’ve also enabled the mistreatment of millions of workers around the world - from the sweatshops in the developing world where the technology is manufactured, to the people who work in terrible conditions moderating harmful content.
What made you want to call your album everything is on hold?
Rob: It was quite a serendipitous moment! During our tour of Germany, Simon was talking to an audience member at one of our Bremen gigs. The person was asking Simon about his career and studies, and how music tied into that. To sum it up, Simon said ‘basically, everything is on hold at the moment,’ and the person repeated it and suggested it would make a good album title! It immediately stuck, and the themes of indecision, time passing, powerlessness that the phrase can evoke came to really shape the album’s tone.
What can you tell us about the artwork? What was the inspiration behind it?
Simon: The artwork, a bit like the title, came from a single moment of certainty. I had been trying out various designs for a new single, and had an idea to draw someone falling through a sandtimer, whilst another person extends a futile arm to try to save them. The drawing represented one person falling through time without any control, but the other person represented the another perspective; someone stuck where they are, reaching out for something, be it their past, people they’ve lost touch with over time or whatever. You can look at it in so many ways, and I liked it a lot, so I sent it to Rob. He was really happy with it, and we pretty much decided there and then that this was our album cover, even though at the time we had absolutely no album.
What did you learn about yourself after finishing this album?
Rob: That’s a tricky one - I guess that the production process made me realise how many hang-ups I had about authenticity, sound quality and precision that I had to ditch in favour of a record that was more fun and unusual.
Simon: That I can finish something without even realising it’s finished.
When did you know the album was finished?
Rob: I think it was just a case of listening to the tracks loads of times and trying to listen out for anything that felt like it was missing.
Simon: We’d listen to the ‘completed’ tracks, then leave them to sit for a couple of weeks. Once we could come back after that time and still enjoy every detail of the tracks on the album, we knew it was finished.
What message do you want to convey through this album?
Rob: My favourite lyric from the album personally is: ‘we’re not really sailing, but we’re staying afloat’. I think there is so much pressure in our society to keep pushing forward onto the next thing. For me, that lyric has felt like a bit of a mantra at various points - don’t be too afraid of drifting now and then, and be thankful for all the things you have at this present point.
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