You’d be forgiven if you’ve considered the group one that’s been around the block a few times. Five years on from their inception, and with two EPs to their name, the Australian quintet is putting out their first full-length on Sub Pop and the sound couldn’t be more self-assured.
2017’s The French Press EP will be a hard effort to follow up. But if the newest single, “Mainland,” is any indication of what’s to come, their forthcoming LP Hope Downs is not one to miss.
Ahead of the record’s June 15 release, and their late night set tonight (May 11) at Great Scott in Allston, Vanyaland spoke to singer/guitarist Fran Keaney about the band’s current sound and where they’re at in today’s topsy-turvy world.
Nick Calvino: Your sound has been described as “confident,” while Hope Downs is said to be “the sound of a band finding its own collective voice.” What did the group expand upon since the release of its last EP/signing to Sub Pop? And what has changed in the group’s sound?
Fran Keaney: The main departure on this album is the production. Our first two EPs were recorded in our rehearsal room in Melbourne. For this album, we escaped the Melbourne winter and went up north to a house in our drummer’s home town near Bellingen in New South Wales. We recorded the album with Liam Judson who knew the tones that we were looking for and had a bunch of good mics and gear.
Beyond that, I’m not sure what else has changed for us. We didn’t want to change our sound too much. We wanted the album to be a faithful reflection of what we do and how we sound live. We wrote the songs together, and recorded all of the songs live in the same room together, and later overlaid vocals and some lead guitars. The album feels like it is slightly punchier but still sounds like us.
What groups/artists do you find have influenced the newest record most? Are there any that you find yourself coming back to time and time again?
In 2016, when we were writing a lot of the songs for the album, I was listening to a lot of The Clash and The Jam. I couldn’t stop watching Clash docos on YouTube. Both those bands both write punk songs with heart. I think that they have found their way into this album.
Where do you see the band’s music in the current cultural sphere? How does the album reflect upon the world’s issues at large?
I’m not exactly sure where you would file our band. I hope that our band just sounds like us. I guess you would put it in surf/punk/garage genre.
Most of the songs on the album were written in late 2016 and early 2017 at a time when the world felt like it was getting weirder. There also seemed to be a sense amongst us and the people around us that the sands were shifting. A lot of the songs on this album are portraits of different characters dealing with larger concepts (“The Hammer” is about judgment day, “Mainland” is about ancestry and fortune, “Sister’s Jeans” is a song for a lost friend, “Time in Common” is a love story between two flashes in the pan in the grand scheme of time). At the heart of most of these songs are love and friendship in the context of these larger concepts.
ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER + BEEEF :: Friday, May 11 at Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave. in Allston, MA :: 10 p.m., 21-plus, $10 :: Bowery Boston Event Page :: Advance Tickets :: Featured photo by Warwick Baker