On June 22, 2017, members of June Body grappled with a decision: play their set acoustically or miss their live debut. The group's then-drummer broke his arm the day of the show—and guitarist Connor James and bassist Alex Callaghan decided to risk it and unplug.
This impromptu acoustic performance was foreshadowing for the group’s latest release, which dropped earlier this month: Negatives, Vol.1.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget how good that sounded,” says James. “That show definitely has some influence on the project. It was motivating in the sense that we knew we could make it sound good.”
Ever since, the group has mulled over re-recording some songs acoustically.
“I’m always writing on an acoustic guitar. No song that I’ve written has come from a rhythm bit on an electric guitar, so to strip the songs down to their original base form seemed important to me,” James adds.
It's almost poetic that just as the group gets ready to record its next album—a follow up to 2018's Life from Underneath—COVID-19 hits and drummer Jonny Renken can’t access his drum kit because of restrictions.
Following their own example, James and Callaghan dust off their acoustics on Negatives, Vol. 1—but unlike the last-minute nature of their 2017 performance, this time, there is time to think.
And while this is great for creativity, it also poses its own set of challenges: “The thing that makes it difficult is that Connor writes songs on his acoustic guitar and then when he comes and shows it to us, we turn it into a new version of the song. We collaborate,” says Callaghan. “So sometimes the full band version is unrecognizable from the original demo.”
James and Callaghan work on trying to find a middle ground between the demo versions of the songs and the versions developed as a band. They include the harmonies that Callaghan incorporates during live shows, as well as add new lead guitar parts to thicken up the sound.
The result is an EP that doesn’t need amplifiers to be electric and pairs well with the cooling summer air.