Following a pair of singles in 2020, the highly-fashionable garage rockers Imperial Leather are back with their foot-stomping self-titled debut EP. To dive more into the new EP, we caught up with guitarist-vocalist Annaliese Redlich and drummer Alice Edgeley to get the scoop on its recording sessions and the comfort that's been created since forming.
Highly stylish fashion designers, hair stylists, and radio disc jockeys make up the boot stompin' and headbanging garage sounds of Imperial Leather. Forming in late 2019 after a dream and wanting an excuse to spend more time together, the Naarm/Melbourne four-piece is composed of guitarist-vocalist Annaliese Redlich, bassist Ginger Light, keyboardist Emma Peel, and drummer Alice Edgeley. After two thrift-store surf 'n' turf singles in 2020, the garage rockers followed up with their anticipated cowboy boot fueled self-titled debut EP earlier this month through the always reliable Rack Off Records (Blonde Revolver, Future Suck, Shove). Produced by Anti-Fade's Billy Gardner, Imperial Leather roam in a blistering swath of campy surf punk and hooky garage rock that's drenched in trashy reverb and tip-tapping analog synths. The group also crank up their songcraft, particularly on the twisted freakbeat opener "Heavy Breathing," which sits somewhere between The Cramps and The Delinquents. The spaghetti western goth meets Ventures nugget "Lewis Lee" is hypnotic with its sinister keyboard lines while the tightly-wound clutter of "Creep Stain" is a spike-heeled power anthem.
To dive more into the new EP, We caught up with Redlich and Edgeley to get the scoop on its recording sessions and the comfort that's been created since forming.
Paperface Zine: How did you all meet and form Imperial Leather? Also, do you maintain other projects outside of Imperial Leather? Annaliese Redlich: We all knew each other through the indie radio, music and fashion scene in Melbourne. Being fans of each other's radio shows, DJ nights, Alice's incredible fashion label and Ginger's hair salon. Annaliese had a dream about playing with Emma and a huge friend crush on Alice. She and Ginger had talked about playing music together and so here we are! Musically speaking, I am always generally floating round playing in other random projects and Emma does from time to time too. PZ: Imperial Leather is composed of highly stylish fashion designers, hair stylists, and radio disc jockeys. What's something that you admire about each other when playing music? Also, do your day jobs have an influence over Imperial Leather?
Alice Edgeley: What I admire most about everyone is the vulnerability and the strength. It takes a bit of soul baring when we make music together and we get through it with lewd jokes and hijinks and a bit of cathartic screaming. Annalise is really entertaining when we play. I love that. She makes rehearsal a big hilarious show. That always makes me laugh. Ginger and I check in with each other while we play. The rhythm section smile of encouragement is always much appreciated. Emma is a total boss. I love when she plays the keys with her elbows!!! I don't think my day job has much of an influence over Imperial Leather. Though I LOVE how we all like to dress up. When we're together it's like some different organism. That's what I really like about it. I've worked in fashion for almost 25 years and (12 of those years as a solo business owner), so it's such a brain explosion to work on this amazing collaborative project with these women I admire so much. Making music and doing live shows. I'm taken out of my usual life and transported to this other planet.
PZ: What's been the progression like for Imperial Leather after the pair of singles you released in 2020?
AR: It's definitely been really stop start due to the pandemic. Where we live we had tons of extended lockdowns so we couldn't all be in the same room for ages and cause we're not techy, we only play when we're all together. The songs on this EP have been written for a while so it's SOOO good to finally see them out in the world!
PZ: On December 2nd, you released your anticipated self-titled EP through Rack Off Records. The press release described it as "DIY new wave bangers with layers of cowgirl country and punk sprinkled on top." Talk to me about how this EP came together and what the recording sessions were like.
AR: We've been itching to put something out for ages and were so thrilled that Billy Gardner was keen to record us at Button Pusher. He was so chilled to work with, really supportive and we did it all in a day. David Forcier mixed and mastered it and he really got where we were coming from sound wise. A great dude to work with!
PZ: Out of these four tracks, what's your favorite to play live and why?
AR: All of these tracks are some of my favorites of our set! "Lewis Lee" always gets me into a hypnotic mode. "Creep Stain" is a good steam blow off, "Heavy Breathing" is dumb fun to play and "Smile Now" is a cathartic x bf rant so each is special for me.
AE: I love when we play "Creep Stain" because it's really fun to yell that out together. CREEP STAIN! And "Heavy breathing" is my favorite to play on the drums. I feel like I found my drumming feet with that song and I always look forward to playing it.
PZ: How did you approach the songwriting on the new release and what sort of themes do you like to write about? AR: I had written "Lewis Lee" and "Smile Now, Cry Later" a while back and they are both about an ex. Whenever I record demos on my phone at home for some reason they get labelled "Lewis Lee Associates" so I had this idea of this mystery person that I was breaking up with, the cold clinical detachment and the feeling of never really knowing who someone was in the first place despite being in love with them. I pretty much only ever write lyrics about heartbreak, anger or sex to be honest. I'm working on getting better at love songs or abstract themes, but those other experiences have always really motivated my writing. "Heavy Breathing" was us just mucking around in practice and it just popped out and "Creep Stain" was a riff of Emma's that we worked on for a bit all together. AE: I love noodling around when we're writing. I remember Emma making her keys sound like a fax machine when we were working on "Lewis Lee" [laughing]. PZ: What's it like being part of such an incredible and growing roster at Rack Off Records?
AR: Iso and Grace are THE BEST women. We're super thrilled to be on their label with so many other absolute powerhouse babes too!!
AE: We're thrilled to be with Rack Off. Love what they do and are super grateful for all help getting our EP off the ground. Can't wait to see what they've got up their sleeves for next year too! PZ: I know you played your last gig of the year back in October, but do you have any shows lined up for 2023? AE: Yes! We're planning our live EP launch show for early 2023 which will be extra exciting after we've all taken a few months off to refresh, have holidays, kick some work goals, etc. We've got a few support gigs between New Year's and then too. We're never completely idle :). Hoping to pay with all the ace bands around town and get out of the state again in 2023. Maybe even out of the country. Got to dream big!
Imperial Leather is out now through Rack Off Records. Purchase the 7" here.