During the making of Plants and Animals’ The End of That, it took a much-needed break for the group before the recording process started to gell. On one of their last scheduled days in the French studio La Frette, the band was stressed, neither communicating nor playing well. A surprising wake-up call from the studio’s residential neighbors, however, changed everything for the better.
“We got to work one morning and the neighbors called.” said Warren Spicer, guitarist and vocalist for the band. “It was a holiday in France, it was like (France’s) labor day where everyone sits in the back yard and has cheese. And the neighbor called and he was insanely mad that we were playing. So we regrouped and we all ended up laughing. We were like, ‘Well, let’s change our flight, let’s book a few more days’ and all of a sudden the weight lifted.”
The weight Spicer describes wasn’t just inner-band turmoil, and the themes—breakups, isolation and growing older—come across through The End of That’s frustrated lyrics.
“I went through a relationship and I was not living in my home anymore,” Spicer said. “From a band perspective, it’s a struggle to continue playing in a band when you live a normal life. People have kids and they’re going through this and that. And even communicating on a musical level sometimes can be difficult with people you spend so much time with.”
And so the band, tied together with producer/engineer Lionel Darenne’s help, started playing better, and The End of That became less of a frustration and more of a living, breathing thing. Inspired by their manor surroundings and their newfound sense of camaraderie, some of the wide-open sounds on the album come from the huge manor itself, which Spicer described as “magical.”
“On this record, our gear that we play is the gear we play live,” Spicer said. “It has a more cohesive feeling to it. There’s some sounds where the drums are a little bigger. Picture a big French castle with doorways leading to hallways, which is a big huge spiral staircase going up four floors. It’s a big open place with tiled floors, so the drums from that come from that sound.”
The album also features “HC,” a track that Spicer said was one of the band’s favorites to record. “HC” was recorded on a Studer J37, one of the original four-track recorders used at Abbey Road Studios that Spicer said “was as big as a washing machine.”