CULT favourites from back when the Nineties became the Noughties, you can’t accuse Departure Lounge of not having ambition on their new single, “Australia” – if that wasn’t enough a span from poor old virus and Tory-spatchcocked Britain, craving some sun, they’ve also enlisted none other than R.E.M.’s king of the jangling guitar, Peter Buck, to sprinkle some Rickenbacker magic over a wholly lovely tune.
Now signed to Michael Head’s Violette Records imprint, the critically adored former Bella Union band, are set to release their first album in 20 years next month (you’ll find more details down the end there).
The band’s singer and songwriter Tim Keegan, whose name prefixed the band back in the early days, put in a call to Peter, a friend of 30 years, after noticing a distinct ‘Rickenbacker-shaped hole’ in the track during the album sessions. Et viola, as they say.
Of all the eventful incidents you can look back on from a life in music, Tim counts his friendship with Peter as a one of the best – as you would; it was a friendship initially forged through a mutual fellow traveller, the lovely Robyn Hitchcock.
As a massive R.E.M. devotee from the early Eighties, Keegan subconsciously wrote the perfect foundation for Peter to lay down some glorious jangle over, without really aiming to – though the song has a gorgeously folk-rock aesthetic, tailor-made.
Tim says: “Listening to the playback of ‘Australia’ in the studio, I remember saying to the rest of the band: ‘What this song needs is Peter Buck’ (like the bicycle in the Quentin Blake book, Mrs. Armitage on Wheels).
“I sent him the rough mix, he said he dug the song and went and played the perfect part on it.
“I am not ashamed to say that when I opened that e-mail and first listened to his divine, soloed track on headphones, I shed some tears of joy.
“Now it sounds like a great lost R.E.M. single from 1989 (with a different singer, sure) and it’s probably the best thing we’ve ever done.”
Despite an adoring fanbase, Departure Lounge previously split amicably in 2003, rebuilt bridges for two reunion shows last autumn; liked what they found and decided the time was right to explore the old chemistry.
The four-piece, Tim Keegan, Jake Kyle, Chris Anderson and Lindsay Jamieson spent one giddy 24-hour session at the majority of the album was gathered up in a fertile 24-hour session at Middle Farm Studios, Newton Abbot, and laid down what would become a new album, Transmeridian.
The album is named after the defunct ‘golden age of aviation’ cargo airline for which Tim’s dad was chief pilot.
Transmeridian will also be only the second full-length LP released by Violette Records, formed by Michael Head, of Shack and The Pale Fountains, and Matt Lockett, as a platform for Head’s work and as a multi-disciplinary event organisation.
Departure Lounge’s Transmeridian will be released on digital and vinyl formats on Friday, March 26th; you can pre-order your copy from the label, here.