Billy Puntton has just released his debut album ‘Dopamine‘ through Atomic Brain Records and the hometown launch is this week along with a Canberra show.

In September Billy has picked up a support slot with Direct Hit! on the Central Coast.

Hailing from Sydney, Puntton delivers raw, angry and passionate acoustic songs dealing with the everyday struggles of depression, anxiety, politics, and love.

You can grab yourself a copy of the album now [Here].

LISTEN WHILE YOU READ

Tell us about the release title.
Nearly two years ago when I first tried to record / release an earlier version of this (before I put it on shelf for mental health reasons) it’s original name was ‘Billy Puntton’s Folk Punk Super-Cake’. I actually baked a cake and wrote those words on it in icing for the photo. If you look back far enough, I think that photo is still up there somewhere. When I got motivated and confident enough to start trying to release something again. I decided on the title ‘Dopamine’ because it’s the brain chemical that my psychiatrist told me I had an extreme deficiency of back when I was diagnosed. So since I found writing these songs to be extremely cathartic and expressive. I like to think of them as my own personal stash of Dopamine.

Tell us about the artwork.
I’ve always wanted to release it on a medicine box and make the background look, for lack of a better word, very “regular”. Just because taking anti-depressants and anxiety meds has this negative stigma around it but it is a very regular part of day to day life for so many people. I didn’t quite know how to pull that off exactly, it was Michael Cross who gave that golden egg! The guy’s a pro. He even snuck a really sneaky Simpsons reference in there.

What format/s will it be released on and how will it be packaged?
It’ll be out on digi-pak CD, Spotify, Bandcamp, iTunes, a couple tracks will be up on Triple J Unearthed, a bunch of other places and physical download codes come in a little prescription bottle, It’ll be hard to not look shady selling medicine containers at shows, but that’s fine.

Who will it be released through, and when?
It came out on Tuesday the 18th of July via the fantastic folk at Atomic Brain Records! They’ve been extremely good to me, so transparent, patient and getting signed to them really gave me the encouragement I needed to make this release what it is! I’m also a pretty big Batfoot fan, so that worked out pretty well!

Tell us about the studio and why you chose to record there?
We recorded it in my housemates bedroom, our bathroom and our garage. The reason? I’m a big fan of DIY, my housemates bathroom has amazing acoustics and recording always peaks my anxiety so doing it at home makes it a little easier.

Tell us about the producer / engineer and why you chose to record with them?
Lachlan McDonald is a close friend, housemate and an awesome engineer/producer guy! I know him from when we we’re in the same crappy, high school, blink182-rip-off, punk band back up in our home town of Coffs Harbour, he moved down to Sydney and did his degree in sound at AIM in 2013 I think it was. But yeah! Having that closeness really helped make the whole recording process a more comfortable one which I think resulted in the best possible product.

Did you go into the writing process with a clear direction in mind?
Not really, there were no “I’m going to sit here and write a song” sessions. It really did just come from the moment (as cliché as that may sound). A lot was written on nights where I was spiraling, between 2 and 6 in the morning. Just freaking out about being freaked out and being very aware of the fact that your brain is chemically wired to freak out for seemingly no good reason. I’d take my scribbly notes from those nights with a rough idea of the melody and use that to guide the structure and chord pattern during the day. The melody and lyrics kind of guided how the chord progression/strum pattern should sound.

Were you listening to anything in particular during the writing / recording process that influenced the songs at all?
Some influences include The Decline from Perth, Local Resident Failure and a bit of Camp Cope. On those nights that I mentioned above, My go-to cry/drink-myself-to-sleep music was always Mtich Primer. This incredible person from Adelaide is the most brilliant word-smith with delivery that just screams emotion. HOWEVER. My biggest influence for this release would have to be Johnny Hobo & The Freight Trains. When I first discovered it, it was the most interesting thing I’d ever heard, I fell in love immediately. It’s raw, it’s angry, it’s angsty and it’s dirty!

Were there any albums you were referencing in the studio to aim for a certain type of sound production wise?
Love Songs For The Apocalypse by Johnny Hobo & The Freight Trains, The Beauty & Chaos by Mitch Primer and Shut In by Pigeon Pit were all big references production wise. I never wanted this one to be a full band release, one of my lecturers had this saying “Don’t release it if you can’t do it live” and that really stuck with me for some reason. It’s just me at live shows so on this record it’s just me (and some very special guests).

How long did you spend in the studio recording?
We recorded it over a long period of time, maybe 6 or 7 months? I was such a perfectionist which worked in my favor because the setup kept getting better and better every time got back into it.

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Tell us a little about the recording process the band used?
Well since we did it over such a long period of time, whenever we got back into recording, there’d be new songs to record or parts to make better, I wrote some of these songs two years ago, every time we thought we’d finished I’d purposely listen to what we recorded through cheap, tinny, terrible headphones. My theory was that if it sounded good through them, it’d sound good through anything. In regards to the technique, the vocals were the most interesting I think. We had one main mic in the bedroom that I sang into facing the slightly or half open door that lead into the EnSuite, in there was a second microphone picking up the spill over echo and natural reverb.

Was this any different to previous processes you have used?
Yes and know for I released a demo on soundcloud in 2015 for the song ‘I Wouldn’t Watch A Show That Features War & Child Abuse’ and that was recorded in bedroom and bathroom. This time around the recordings were done in a bathroom bedroom and a garage, but by someone who knew what they were doing and had good equipment and software!

Any guests involved? if so, who.. and what did they do?
We had a garage full of special guests for the gang vocal sections. Amazing friends/supporters from the punk and folk punk scene and some friends from the indie crowd also came out on a sunny Sunday afternoon. We drank a little and screamed into some microphones. It was a really fun day!

When it comes do naming the tracks, is there any particular approach or process to it all?
Most of the songs got their titles from a central idea that’s usually mentioned in the first verse; Faberge Egg, Bleach, Autistic Narcissistic, Mirtazapine, 1996 all do that. ‘I Would Watch A Show That Features War & Child Abuse’ is a line from my favorite Local Resident Failure track called ‘What’s The Good News?’.

Any particular equipment outside your usual live gear used in the process?
I know that one word answers suck but, nope! It’s just my guitar and a couple of harmonicas.

Any memorable studio moments?
There are so many parts where I completely missed the note I was trying to sing or my voice breaks. I’m pretty sure Lachlan kept some on purpose to use as black mail later-on.

Any additional tracks recorded that didn’t make the cut but may see the light of day sometime?
Yeah they exist! There’re heaps! We’ll doing bigger things with them in the future, that’s all I’ll permit myself to say.

What track/s are you most looking forward to playing live?
I really like doing Autistic Narcissistic, it’s where I usually have a little speech about mental illness and the thresholds society has for being ‘normal’. But Bleach, has a chorus that people get really involved with, which really is the best feeling in the world. Basically, when a room of people are screaming along to some words that you wrote when you felt like nobody cared, is the best feeling in the world.

How would you compare the final product to previous releases?
This is a googolplex times better than my first demo and I think I’ve work harder on this than any other release that I’ve been apart of for any other project/band. I’m really happy with how it turned out!

Anything else you want to say or about the release?
Firstly I should probably say and remind everybody that it’s out now via Atomic Brain Records and I’m doing shows to celebrate!
The other thing is that this whole experience has been amazing. I’ve made so many new friends, people have been extremely supportive of me. I never did this for anything except myself and I didn’t know that there were other people who liked this sort of music until I got out there and met them! The other thing is, a lot of my music is about mental health struggles and suicide and I want to say, it’s totally fine to be sad and not know why, but please talk to someone about it. There are some great free services that help people who struggle existing in their own skin. No matter what your brain tells you sometimes, you do have value! Thank you so much for reading this interview! Come hang out at a show and we’ll talk about the Simpsons!

TOUR DATES

BILLY PUNTTON
JULY
27th – Lazybones Lounge, Sydney [18+]
29th – The Front Gallery & Café, Canberra [18+]
SEPTEMBER
2nd – Sunken Monkey Hotel, Erina [AA – Arvo] w/ Direct Hit!, The Decline, Hack The Mainframe, New Trends.
—> For more information, visit [Here].

LAUNCH POSTER
Billy Puntton
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