Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2017 Mar-Apr Contents Rhythms 65
Like probably many other Australians, I first heard you
guys on JJJ, a Sydney-based but regional radio station
backed by the ABC (our BBC). Of course the song was
‘Underdog (Save Me)’ which was from your first album
The optimist. I loved the track and proceeded to buy the
album. What struck me about that single and also ‘The
Door’ is they both reminded me of late ‘60s/ early ‘70s
Neil Young, with a completely different vocal feel but a
similar vibe. Am I way off track here? Were you guys Neil
We sure are Neil fans, although I'd say we got more into
him after our debut when people remarked on the shared
feel. I listen to Harvest and Zuma quite a bit to this very
day. I think what I love is although he's got this “acoustic
tinge” to much of his work he always combines it with an
almost punk attitude underneath, even when he's being
subtle and beautiful, I actually don't particularly dig overtly
soft and safe acoustic music, that can almost seem like an
apology and made for the background. It's an attitude thing
as well as a sonic thing that I think we may share.
I can assure that Bluesfest is one of the country’s best
festivals and you’re going to love it. Do you feel like you
have a reasonably strong fan base here? Ben Ottowell
from Gomez did a solo tour here last year and I was
surprised at how recognised and welcomed he was
by local concert-goers. It got me thinking there is an
appreciation of post-‘90s “underground” British bands
here that I wasn’t previously aware of.
Yes we did notice that Australia seems to have a bit of a
thing for those era bands like Gomez. I think a little like
America, Aus seems to like the area where folk, rock and
pop collide and they collided quite nicely in the late-‘90s
to early naughties. We are always struck by the love we
feel which is why we keep coming back despite the horrific
travel time haha. It's pretty amazing to think that alt bands
like Doves, and Gomez and TB were once regulars on the
mainstream airwaves, good times.
What is immediately striking about your sound is the
vocal blend between Olly and Gale, which is clearly a
huge original mark on your sound. But listening through
your now very prolific collection of albums, the diversity
really stands out as well. Some songs are quite simple
and acoustically bare, where as others seem to almost
going for that epic Beach Boys/ Sgt peppers/ almost
Phil Spector thing.Do you just write whatever comes out
or do you have pre-conceived ideas about the feel and
production in a particular track?
I definitely hear production in my head as I write, I
guess the more records you make the better you get
at understanding just what can be done in the studio.
Production and sound are a huge part of how we express
ourselves as a band. It seems geekish but just the sound of
the snare drum can say so much about a band’s values and
reference points, even if you aren't aware to that level it still
makes an impact. These days we seem to be pushing things
to whatever their maximum potential is sonically, like if
something seems to want to be sparse we go as sparse as we
possibly can and vice versa.
Where do you guys see yourself in the overall scheme
of things now? Just happy to be recording, writing and
touring pretty much indefinitely?
Yeah I think that's it, we seem to have flourished since the
pressure of repeating success stopped being such a thing
for us. We are in the best shape we’ve ever been in as a band
really. I love that quote by Jay Z: “The genius thing we did
was not giving up.” It's like it was made for us that quote.
We are four musicians and we choose to make and play
music together, it's as simple as that.
Well I trust you have some great gigs at Bluesfest and
the sideshows and I still think ‘Painkiller’ is a stone-cold
Thanks so much, ‘Painkiller’ is still a live favourite and
manages to sneak onto the radio quite often too, always
funny as it actually holds some pretty adult themes...
Turin Brakes play Bluesfest on April 15 & 16,
national tour dates in the Gig Guide.
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