Since recording Shonk (2020), Simon moved to Margate, leaving his bandmates in London. Simon and Alex both became fathers, and there were multiple lockdowns to navigate. The band were faced with two options: give in to the overwhelming circumstances, or adapt. Nothing if not slaves to their impeccable DIY credentials, the trio opted for the latter and the album was recorded separately at the three members’ homes across 2020-2022.
After teaching themselves the basics of how to record from home, and formulating a way to collaborate remotely, the band were able to enjoy experimenting with unlimited possibilities of multitrack recording for the first time without the restrictions that come with recording live (as was the case with the minimal overdubs policy adopted on Shonk).
The results speak for themselves. Zambroni is a record more dynamically and melodically rich than its scruff-of-your-neck predecessor – a sonic mosaic crafted from countless versions of basslines, lead guitar lines and vocal melodies interweaved and gradually honed and sharpened to the versions you hear here.
“Working together (despite the distance) to figure out how the hell to make this record was invigorating and, at the time, desperately needed. We had no idea what we were doing, but tbf that’s always been a running theme for this band. Eventually most of these songs could have existed in dozens of different forms,” explains Simon. “We had multiple alternate verses written for most song, and it was often the same case for the bass and guitar lines. Some of the songs ended up being like multi-choice puzzles: ‘Pick your favourite vocal melody for the verse A, B or C. Now pick your favourite guitar line for the chorus’ etc”.
The thing that flourishes the most from the new process, and has become the totem of the Wicketkeeper sound, is the guitar work of Ryan. Loose, unpredictable, crunchy, fizzing, playing with timing and tuning, his playing has become instantly recognisable, its unpredictability bringing a unique excitement to these tracks.
Look beyond the licks, however, and you’ll find humorous and often self deprecating lyrics from Simon that slalom from acerbic to heartfelt, sarcastic to earnest, sardonic to romantic, on themes of friendship, ego, death, mental fragility, love, existential struggles, hope, time, fatalism, narcissism and one song comprised entirely of quiz answers discovered in the back of a notebook (‘Answers’).
“Although we approached the writing and recording of this record in a completely different way than our debut, it still feels very Wicketkeeper…very ‘us’,” Ryan summarises. “And, whilst we weren’t in the same room in its creation, it still felt like a wholesome and collaborative way of working. One of my favourite parts of the whole process was hearing what the other guys would come back with when a song sketch would be presented. No-one was ever really saying ’the vocal melody has to go like this’ or ’play your guitar this way’, so in many ways it was an open book. I think that really helped to stay true to what we’re about.”