Refusing to ride on the successful formula that saw singles such as Special Ones, Run and Breathe In Now achieve critical acclaim, George have broadened their musical scope. They’re exploring different sounds from the introspective, getting back to the acoustic joy of five musicians and then taking the songs where they will – whether it is a simple melody and guitar line or the grandiose splendour of a huge symphonic sound.
“I personally feel like I’ve developed a lot as a songwriter,” comments Tyrone, “more confident lyrics and statements being expressed through those lyrics. Overall it’s a more positive approach in dealing with personal issues and socio-political issues, more positive light. As a band, this to me feels like a really mature album for us. I feel like the five of us have really connected stronger than ever before musically as a unit.”
“The album is a combination of all of the recording practice we’d all done,” adds Paulie. “george have always prided themselves on high quality recordings, and individually Unity was my sixth or seventh full length album to record with a band. We were all completely comfortable with who we were for each other, and that was something we really learned on the first record. Polyserena was us learning how to make a record, Unity was making that record.”
Working hand in hand with producer David Nicholas and assistant Justin Tresidder (additional production and engineering), both of whom also worked on Polyserena, everyone felt a sense of comfort and intimacy during the recording session that occurred in the beautiful surrounds of Byron Bay. Melbourne’s revered composer Paul Grabowsky also assisted with sweeping orchestral and horn arrangements, lending the music a dignity that refrained from falling into pretension. Songs like first single Still Real and Today examine people’s relationships with their own lives, as well as providing a touching insight into the band themselves.
“I think that sense of friendship comes from the early days of george, in that it was about two sets of siblings, so it was about family and love and very close, intense relationships,” considers Katie. “That family vibe brings a closeness and honesty that permeates what we do. Collectively and individually, we’ve been through a great period of change and growth. Knowing we can look to each other for strength brings comfort and solidarity. We have all been through the same thing and there’s an incredible sense of union from that experience – that’s what being in a band’s about.”
It’s a perspective that has seen this band survive more than seven years now. “The essence of george was a couple of sets of siblings getting together for the sake of music, and both the Noonan family and Stewart family had musical parents who were very passionate about letting their children find what made them happy and how to achieve what they wanted to achieve in life,” explains Nick. “From the very onset, Ty, Katie and myself have had that passion and goal, and that’s definitely where Unity comes from. It’s a musical search that with complete support from our parents, we’ve been able to pursue, and it’s likewise for Paulie and Geoff. That came very much to the forefront just before we came in to record this album. It signifies that after all the success that Polyserena had, the basic formula was happiness in music, and that’s where we come from and where we’re going to and what Unity encapsulates. All five of us very strongly feel that way.”
That sentiment of strength and focus is apparent throughout the record – despite moments of darkness and questioning, musically the overriding force is that of positivity and seeking out that silver lining. “It’s meant to be universal,” asserts Katie. “There’s been an extreme amount of emotional intensity in the world over the last two years, but I feel people are now starting to look to each other again. I’m feeling that anyway. We’re feeling that uneasy political turbulence, that sadness of seeing our brothers and sisters in war. So I guess it’s not meant to be just about unity for us, it’s an everyone thing as well.”
Unity. It conjures images of persistence, of sunshine, of hope. It signifies faith and motivates change. It’s the album that george has been slowly and determinedly working towards for the past seven years and one that will serve to elevate them to their next goal.