JOSH Pyke didn't set out to write a second lockdown album. It just happened.
He also considers To Find Happiness, his seventh full-length album, to be his best to date.
To Find Happiness is about actively seeking joy, acceptance and unbridled creativity within the narratives of uncertainty and self discovery.
"This is my best work, absolutely. For me it was a hugely creatively-free process," Pyke explains.
"It was also kind of unexpected. I wasn't expecting to push through with another album so soon after 2020's Rome. I didn't even know I was going to make another record until I was eight songs in and I was like, 'OK, this could actually be something'.
"The pandemic was by no means over. A lot of artists went into hibernation but I just couldn't do that, and in the absence of touring I had creative energy that I wanted to use.
"I really believe that musically, lyrically and production wise, it's a step up, and I feel like To Find Happiness is the sound that I want to build on from here. Still organic and authentic, but with an experimentation that felt less restricted than before."
Opening track To Find Happiness lets the listener know upfront this is something a little different from Pyke. He says he always follows his gut when writing songs, and "whatever comes out, comes out".
"Some of the songs are first takes, for example Circle of Life," he says. "I did the demo at home, played the drums myself but my voice was a bit raspy so I thought I'd do the vocals again later.
"Then Elana Stone [of All Our Exes Live in Texas] came over and she put in some backing vocals and the accordion and I was like, 'I love the sound of this'. So I didn't re-do that.
"Others are highly-curated and planned. Your Heart Won't Always Weigh A Tonne was one we worked hard on, revisited, pulled apart and then put together again."
As for the message each songs shares, Pyke leaves it to the listener to make up their own mind.
"To Find Happiness has a 'don't give up' message, but it's relating more to how hard it is to find happiness," he says.
"For me, it's about the constant battle for all of us to try to keep looking for things that make us happy, whether it's creative fulfilment or inspiration or whatever.
"You can't stand still in order to find these things."
Pyke will embark on a 30-date regional tour in October to celebrate the album, joined by singer-songwriter and vocalist for The Jezabels, Hayley Mary.
The tour kicks off at Palais Hepburn in Hepburn Springs and stops off at Ballarat, Belgrave, Frankston, Healesville, San Remo, Mornington, Byron Bay, Canberra, Bulli, Ulverstone, Evandale, Hobart, Franklin, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, Katoomba, before finishing up at Airlie Beach on December 18.
Pyke is leaving his band behind for this tour.
"It will be and my acoustic guitar, loop pedal, stomp box and a little keyboard as well for different colours and textures," he says.
"It's a good way to connect to the audience. Some of the rooms are more intimate than I would usually perform in with my band.
"There hasn't been many opportunities to take the last couple of records out on the road. I can't wait."