Easy Life: “Our unique selling point: we’re completely lame”

It’s time to say hello again to Easy Life, back with a quite frankly luxurious second album.

It’s time to say hello again to Easy Life, back with a quite frankly luxurious second album – one that frontman Murray Matravers says enables the band to learn from their past shortcomings, make new friends and explore reflections of their past selves. And move to Japan, maybe.

Words: Finlay Holden.

Making career strides during an unstable few years, the buffer period between album drops has been a time of growing pains for Easy Life. In creating a surprisingly introspective and existential second full-length, the five-piece have been grasping at the fruits of inspiration in countries around the globe. As we speak, the band are busy making a rapid recovery from tour-induced jet lag after bouncing from Japan to Australia in the last week; two locations they had long been dying to explore.

Frontman Murray Matravers can’t help but gush on the former. “Honestly, mate, I’m obsessed,” he enthuses. “I even have dreams in Japanese. When I sleep, I’m in Tokyo walking around – it’s such an intense place, it’s burnt a hole in my brain. It’s exactly as you’d imagine it to be, that’s the thing. There are many places in the world where you imagine it in a certain way, and then you arrive there, and you’re… maybe not disappointed, but you’re surprised. Japan is just like you’d think, especially Tokyo, which is just fucking hectic. It’s so foreign, and it’s great.”

It is refreshing to see the singer revelling in his recent discoveries. The last time Dork caught up with Easy Life, they were in the midst of a debut album release which, in hindsight, was jarring, unstable and a little confusing for the group. Nonetheless, they carry momentous energy into every project they tackle. The joy the songs enabled and the lessons the process gave have proved invaluable in what has followed.

“The first time you do anything is daunting, so in releasing our first album, we were quite nervous and weren’t exactly sure what to expect. It’s funny because you put so much anticipation and expectation on it to go a certain way or be a certain thing, and then suddenly, for us at least, we felt a little bit… almost underwhelmed,” he admits carefully. “I’ve enjoyed this second album process so much more. It’s still all very new and exciting, but I’ve made an album before now, so making the new one felt like there was a blueprint to follow. I knew the shortcomings of the first one in terms of the songwriting, production, artwork or campaign – whatever it might be, wherever I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made them already. This time, I’m feeling good.”

He confesses that album three is already under development in secret – the new effort, titled ‘Maybe In Another Life…’, started much the same way. While fans were pestering the group for details on ‘life’s a beach’, they’d already begun to move on to more expansive ventures.

“That was constantly the question on everyone’s lips for a long time: ‘when’s the album happening?’ For this one, no one was asking when it was coming, so when I delivered it, everyone was like, ‘oh fuck, you’ve done it already?’” Murray grins. “I’d always made music as a hobby myself, so I just crack on with it. I felt so free, just completely at ease with what I was creating and in the way I was creating it. It was enjoyable. There was no pressure.”

Despite the absence of external stresses, undeniable mental turmoil meant everything else became more complicated. While ‘life’s a beach’ represented a seaside holiday that failed to escape the woes of the everyday, ‘Maybe In Another Life…’ was becoming even more focused on those ever-present thoughts: ‘did I make the right decision?’

“I think the older you get, unfortunately, in my experience, the more anxious and terrified you get – it’s not very fucking hopeful, is it?” Murray contemplates. “I was told the older you get, the less you give a shit, but I’m just now dealing with a lot of stuff that I’d always left alone. When you’re young, you’re just trying to push forward and not let the past define you or hold you back. With this second album, I’ve really gone into all the decisions I’ve made – some of them were good decisions, some of them were mistakes – and that’s how this whole record came about.”

While there are some fun, “party time, hands in the air” songs within the tracklist (‘Basement’, ‘Silver Linings’), the undeniable core stems from an air of melancholy and its highlights lean into sombre territory. One shining and snarling example of this is ‘Memory Loss’. While Murray admits to frequently bathing himself in nostalgia, it is not without struggle – whether that’s down to smoking too much weed or a symptom of trauma, who can say? Either way, takes this existing curiosity for the past and scrutinises it under a lyrical microscope.

“We have been working away at this for five years, but things always seem to happen so fast,” he explains. “I got stuck looking back and wondering how we got here; whether this is what I wanted for the band, what I wanted for my life, and all those deep questions that I think people are asking all the time. It’s not just personal to me; this is something that our generation will be stuck thinking about for the majority of our twenties. You literally have no idea if what you’re doing is what you want to do, and that’s a really terrifying thing.”

“The older you get, unfortunately, in my experience, the more anxious and terrified you get – it’s not very fucking hopeful, is it?”

Murray Matravers

Coming to terms with the fact that nobody ever has a real clue what they’re doing was an existential moment, and one made more difficult at a time when all five members of Easy Life were split up across the country.

“It goes quite melancholic in places because there were genuinely times when I felt really alone, overwhelmed and perhaps even unhappy, and then I might write a happy song to get out of it – that’s what I’ve always done, really. I think a classic example of that is ‘Nightmares’, just to reference our massive smash hit,” he jests. Using music to remedy a situation and inspire hope in times of turmoil is an ethos embedded throughout ‘Maybe In Another Life…’, with the opening track immediately setting that tone.

“’Memory Loss’ deals with the ‘maybe’ of everything; maybe I should’ve done everything differently. ‘Growing Pains’ is; should we be together, should we do this, should we still be questioning the path we’re on,” Murray reflects. “I was thinking about my place in the world and whether I belong here. Am I developing in a good way? Is life going well? It’s so fucking miserable when I say it out loud, but I don’t think it feels miserable; when we play these songs live, I want people to smile and have a sense of togetherness. It shouldn’t be isolating and lonely because that’s what I was escaping when writing them.”

It was with escapism that initial sketches of the record began with ‘Dear Miss Holloway’, a character Murray emphasises is fictional. He began sketching out these ideas of ‘what if’. Typical of Easy Life, their first question was, ‘what if I ran away with the teacher I fancied?’ So far, so very Busted. This introduction to the concept soon developed some serious weight, though. It got the ball rolling, even if a firm direction wasn’t yet apparent. 

“This song began the album process – its chorus gave me the title too,” he recalls. “It also birthed this concept of what could’ve been, decisions and consequences, so I had this overarching theme throughout the writing, and it led to a cohesive idea; exploring the idea of maybe. Because of that, I think it was bound to be a bit melancholy because rarely do I look back and think, ‘ah yeah, I’ve smashed that’. Normally it’s more like, ‘oh god, what have I done? Why did I say that?’ There’s the pure anxiety of questioning what you were even thinking. I’m always so embarrassed at my younger self or even what I just did yesterday, especially waking up after drinking. The hangxiety is very real. There are a lot of those moments on this album.”

Drinking is explored explicitly in the third preview from the album, ‘OTT’ – a collaboration with BENEE full of obvious chemistry between the two artist’s vocals. There are three standout tracks that feature voices external to the band – a distinct departure in attitude for Easy Life. Other than 2019’s ‘sangria’, the band have previously kept their worlds very much to their own.

“We wanted it to be all about us and not have anybody steal the limelight; we very much wanted to do things ourselves for the first album. No one could take the microphone out of my hand,” Murray explains. “I’m trying to make more friends in life in general, and through that process, I’ve made more artistic friends and collaborated with them. I think that’s really important. I couldn’t collaborate with a complete stranger because it feels so synthetic. I’ve been lucky enough to rub shoulders with these great artists like Kevin Abstract, BENEE and Gus Dapperton on my journey, and now they’re only a text away to write a song. That feels more organic.”

“If we were rock stars, Easy Life would cease to work. The whole point is that we’re not. That’s our unique selling point: we’re completely lame”

Murray Matravers

Dapperton is an early friend of the band, taking them along on their first-ever UK tour, and BENEE is a Kiwi gem that should be familiar to any regular Dork reader (“your stomach will always be aching after chatting to her”). It remains Kevin Abstract who has made the biggest impression on the group before and during their blazing career, though. Easy Life may be one of the most original groups to transform their indie tones on this side of the pond, but BROCKHAMPTON led the way.

“There are a lot of people in our lane doing interesting, alternative types of music, and Kevin is definitely a trailblazer in that field,” Murray describes. “I’m in awe of everything he’s done with BROCKHAMPTON. They established a new blueprint for what a modern band can be, which was really exciting. All the moves they’ve made have been really thought-provoking, so working with him has been amazing. Some fans do say the same things about Easy Life, which is funny to us. I am being humble there. I do think we’ve done things differently from other British guitar bands that have come before. People always catch on to our style, and that’s one reason why we’re constantly switching it up; that’s exactly what BROCKHAMPTON were doing too.”

It has become increasingly clear that Easy Life are now generating the same influence for British up-and-comers. BROCKHAMPTON may have caused a storm and become hip-hop icons, but for indie teens here in the UK, the five grounded and somewhat goofy lads from the midlands are far more accessible as role models.

“To have any youngsters look up to us, I’m humbled by that,” Murray expresses with evident gratitude. “I remember looking at artists and thinking they were so unattainable, but I think Easy Life still feels close to home. We resonate with our fans because they’re just like our mates down the road. Music in England is funny, man. I don’t wanna talk about money, but people be tripping thinking we’re rock stars. If we were rock stars, Easy Life would cease to work. The whole point is that we’re not. That’s our unique selling point: we’re completely lame, and we will continue to be.”

Lame is not what comes to mind when watching Easy Life on stage with their newfound style – greasy hair, moody attitudes and matching, embroidered leather jackets. Their live performances have taken on a more theatrical approach, and the same can very much be said about their music. For all their past world-building ventures, ‘Maybe In Another Life…’ is the first that seemed to arrive with its visual identity already clearly established.

“Something that often happens is you finish all the music, and then you realise shit, now I need some artwork and videos. That process can be stressful because you have to compromise,” Murray reveals. “This whole visual campaign, though, I’d thought about alongside the music, so the two feel married together rather than being an afterthought, which they certainly weren’t. I wish I’d done this earlier in our career because it does help. It gives it an obvious sense of identity. We’ve always tried to build these worlds, but retrospectively. It’s actually really fun as well, just watching a bunch of films for inspiration. It’s nice to have fun, isn’t it?”

Fully with you on that one, Murray. With their latest record, it is clear that the band are finding complete joy in all aspects of the process, mentally distanced from the behemoth task that awaited them. Artists often look back at their own releases as time capsules for a period of their life, and this singer-songwriter only has fond thoughts in mind when he says: “I’m always gonna be really proud of this one.”

“When you asked about the ‘life’s a beach’ period, straight away, I acknowledged that it was really confusing and overwhelming. Looking back at this one, I will just remember that I was really happy while doing it and enjoyed every minute,” he beams. “I gained so much from making this album – I’ve come so far personally in such a short space of time, and that will always be special to me. I genuinely had the best time making it and learnt so much about music and production, dealt with a lot of personal shit, sorted out things I’ve been putting off for ages… I’ve grown five years in the space of a year, and now I feel much happier and at ease with the world, and with myself. Isn’t that just great? When I listen back, I’ll think: you tried your best to work things out, and that’s commendable.”

So what’s next? “My mind will change a lot, but I’m thinking about going to Japan and writing album three there,” he answers, recent experiences dominating his mind. “I’m deadly serious too, I’ve reached out to our label out there, and they said let’s do it. I want to do some travelling, man. I’ve written a lot of music in England, in London, and I think it’s time to see what it would be like if Easy Life went abroad. Also, like, come on – a free holiday? Let’s go. I’ll be working hard, though, I swear.” ■

Taken from the October 2022 edition of Dork. Easy Life’s album ‘Maybe In Another Life’ is out 7th October.

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