Custard's newest album is titled 'Respect All Lifeforms'.
It comes as no surprise that 2020 will go on record as perhaps the worst year to have been a career musician.
Borders closed for touring or rehearsing with far-flung members, venues and rehearsal spaces closed, even getting together across town was nearly impossible for those in the hardest-hit areas.
And unless you took it online, your audience has also gone largely AWOL – especially once Zoom fatigue set in some time around April.
So, spare a thought for artists who'd managed to also time the release of a new record just as lockdown and all its associated displeasures set in.
This was the case for beloved Brisbane indie pop-rock icons Custard, whose impressive eighth studio album, 'Respect All Lifeforms', dropped in May, just as the harsh reality of the year ahead was setting in for Australians and the rest of the world.
"It's been strange; I have to keep reminding myself we released an album this year," Custard's drummer, Glenn Thompson says.
Glenn's been with the indie stalwarts since 1997 and famously penned their surprise hit 'Music Is Crap'. "We seemed to get a lot more press [for 'Respect All Lifeforms'] because there wasn't much else happening, but then it just disappeared and nothing to remind anybody [about it].
"Normally, by about this time with an album you just don't want to listen to it again, so it'll be interesting getting up and playing the songs now."
The slow promotion of the record, with no shows for nearly a year after its release (by the time the band return to the stage in February), and rehearsals only recently possible through border openings, is a stark contrast to how 'Respect All Lifeforms' was recorded.
The band – Thompson, frontman and guitarist Dave McCormack, bassist Paul Medew and guitarist Matthew Strong – jammed out the crux of the record in one, quick session in Fremantle (March 2019), and the immediacy and joy of playing together can be heard throughout the lively, upbeat set.
"Just by chance, we thought, 'we've got time' as we were all in the same place at the same time, so we thought we'd just book a studio and see what happens," Thompson, who mixed the set, explains
"We managed to bash out eight songs, we used six of those [for the album], but basically it was just a morning, five hours.
"We hadn't played the songs before recording, so it was learning and recording at the same time – which is great. That spontaneity helps to make something interesting.
"We've played together for so long that there's just a feeling, you know the direction in which things are going to go, and you all go in a similar direction at a similar time."
With the clouds beginning to clear from a year to forget for the vast majority of the music and arts world, there are some silver -linings.
For one, there's a newfound excitement for artists playing to a live audience again, as well as for fans who get to see performances in band rooms once more. While it will take some time for international acts to join in this comeback, it's the perfect moment for local talent to step into the spotlight.
And one of these first moments for Custard, following a couple of home-town shows, will be Scene & Heard Festival in Newcastle (which was postponed till November 2021 after this story was initially published).
Reminiscent of a classic Homebake line-up, the strong billing also features Regurgitator, Ratcat, Grinspoon, Killing Heidi, Frenzal Rhomb, Cog and Caligula.
Glenn expects to see an enthused group of musicians and music fans happy to return to 'normal'. "It's funny how quickly you can get back to normal without thinking too much about it," Thompson muses.
"But also, we'll probably remember for quite a while that it's a privilege to stand there and watch someone performing; it's a wonderful thing.
"We are so lucky here in Australia. And I hope everyone realises it could change again at any moment, but we are super, super lucky."
Custard play The Tivoli (Brisbane) 4-5 February. The band also play 2021 Scene & Heard Festival at Wickham Park (Newcastle) 7 November.