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Interview with The Vacationists

Petersham’s The Vacationists return with haunting and atmospheric new single Bush Turkey. The single bristles with post-punk energy and builds on a recurring minimalistic lead melody to a roaring crescendo. Its restless energy and Lynchian musings on obsession make it The Vacationists’ darkest release to date.

Tomatrax caught up with the band to talk about their latest release.

How did the band form?

Johan: Tom and I started writings and singing some songs a few years ago, inspired by Phil Spector and hazy lofi rock, and not long thereafter we began a collaboration with longtime muse and friend Mooney. Matt is Tom’s brother, and joined us on drums a couple of years ago, on the promise that we’d take a more yacht rocky and post-punky direction. Craig came on board a year ago, and has showered us with atmospheric and thundering keyboards ever since.

Where did the name The Vacationists come from?

Johan: We like thinking about a single or an EP as a trip through some sounds and ideas we want to explore. And being in a band, music already becomes a vacation away from jobs and bills and leaking faucets.

You’ve just released your latest single, how does it feel to have it out?

Tom: It feels good! We are really happy with how the song turned, and it’s always fun to put a new song out into the world.

‘Bush turkey’ was much darker than your previous releases, what was the inspiration behind the song’s themes?

Johan: The mood of the song came from a strange and unsettling dream I had about love and turkeys. It resonated with something, and I have watched enough Twin Peaks to know not to ignore dream intuition. Once awake, the bones of the song was written in half an hour.

Where did you get the idea for the vintage sci-fi style video clip?

Johan: Well the dream that inspired the song was a bit of an uplifting nightmare, and we wanted to capture that mood with the unsettling comfort of nostalgic horror and low budget sci-fi.

The single was recorded and mixed DIY style in living/bed/sun rooms, what made you chose this approach to putting the song together?

Johan: We really love lofi aesthetics.

Craig: Yeah, and we recently realized that the band has enough collective gear and knowledge to record and mix ourselves. While we don’t have access to all the fanciest studio doodads and gadgets, recording at home gives us the freedom to relax and experiment.

Tom: And as a result, the song feels more like The Vacationists than other things we’ve done.

Are there any plans for an EP or LP release?

Johan: We have written a whole bunch of songs lately and are going to workshop them over the coming months to decide the destination for our next musical trip, which will most likely be an EP.

Do you ever listen to your own music?

Tom: Now and then but not too often. By the time we have a song done and released we’re already working on our next thing so we generally spend a lot more time listening to demos than the final song.

What music do you listen to?

Mooney: Currently listening a lot to the new Slowdive album, Dark Hours by Ainsley Farrell and the first three albums by the Wedding Present.

Tom: Recently I’ve been pretty obsessed with a few songs: Bob Dylan’s Most Of The Time, Al Stewart’s Year Of The Cat and Mental As Anything’s Live It Up.

Now that the single is out what do you have planned next?

Johan: We are throwing a launch party at Botany View Hotel on August 25th with one of our favourite local bands, Okin Osan. We are also putting together a Halloween gig party at Brighton Up Bar, which should be a ball.

Check out The Vacationists Facebook page to find out more!

Interview with Figurehead

Figurehead are a four piece from Fremantle, in their final year of high school. They have just released their latest single ‘Teacher’s pet’ which finds a nice balance between the grungy and poppy elements of 90s indie rock and have an EP to follow soon. Tomatrax caught up with the band to talk about their music.

How did the band form?
Matt: The band formed in mid 2014 when we were introduced through a band mentoring program called Rockscholars.
Ross: Chet and I knew each other at primary school and we’d been playing together throughout our first few years of high school, so we were always going to want to be in a band together.
As a bass player I wanted to play with a really solid and tight drummer and Chet happened to be one of the best around, it was love at first sight, as they say!

Matt: Josh and I went to the same primary school and would always be spending lunch and recess in the music room with our mates. We started playing together in high school as well. So when we were introduced to Ross and Chet at Rockscholars it was like bringing these two established partnerships together. We hit it off immediately both musically and socially and became good mates. We were really lucky in those early days to have some great mentors like Mitch McDonald from The Love Junkies and Jake Webb from Methyl Ethel, because we learned really quickly about the importance of being disciplined, rehearsing regularly, like every week and the importance of being consistent and writing original tunes. These guys were awesome and taught us loads and by the end of 2014 we were ready to do our first live show. We have now played more than 60 shows around Perth.

Where did the name Figurehead come from?
Matt: Being from the port City of Fremantle we heard that the old tall ships used to have these amazing carved wooden figures that they believed guided them on their voyages and brought them good luck. We thought this was cool and it had a ring to it.

What made you pick ‘Teacher’s pet’ as your latest single?
Josh: Well the school thing is just such a live issue for us at the moment as Matt and I prepare for Year 12 exams in a few months, so it just felt right that we go with that track, it was also great fun especially shooting the video and not too serious. I recon we can all relate to it and the struggles of wanting to achieve.

Are any of the band member’s teacher’s pets?
Matt: Yeah Chet, is a studio nerd, he is always telling us how to look after our equipment and how to roll our leads properly “over and under over and under”.. so I think he qualifies for that award!

You have an EP on the way, how will the rest of the EP compare with your latest single?
Matt: We have a range of songs recorded but regardless of the vibe they all sound like Figurehead, we are often described as Pop Rock/ Brit Pop/ Alt Rock but we are a straight up guitar band so these comparisons are not surprising given our influences.

When will the EP be out?
Matt: We have not locked in a date yet as we are just finalising the mix and the timing. But all the songs are recorded.

What will the EP be titled?
Matt: We have not finalised the Title, but our debut EP was self titled so we need to make an effort this time round.

You’ve also entered Unearthed High, has this had any impact on your music’s exposure?
Matt: Yes being part of Unearthed High is huge for us, as regardless of genre there is no shortage of talent from around the country. You just have to look at what the previous winners and nominated acts have gone on to achieve. it really is a massive opportunity for national exposure, it’s priceless! This has already resulted in us getting our first plays on Triple J, which is just amazing and social media has been busy.

You’ve been spending this year finishing Year 12, is it hard to juggle school work with being in a band?
Matt: To be honest we use the band as like therapy, as it is such a great retreat from the pressures of Y12 exams, we just have to get the balance right and know that in a few months that part of our life will end and we move on to the next phase.

Do you ever listen to your own music?
Matt: When writing and recording we will listen back and try to improve the song, but once its recorded we tend to focus on the next song so we don’t dwell on it. We are always looking to what next. That said, it is always cool to hear it played on the radio.

What music do you listen to?
Matt: We all like similar artists. We are currently enjoying Catfish & The Bottlemen, Methyl Ethel and DMAs

What do you have planned once the EP is out?
Matt: We hope this opens up new opportunities. We love recording and playing live, they are both different experiences and we already have new songs written ready to record so getting back in the studio and hopefully expand the choice of venues that we can play at and tour opportunities and festivals.

Check out Figurehead’s website to find out more!

TUMBLEWEED Announce Headline Show at Melbourne’s The Gasometer

Tumbleweed may disappear here and there for a while, the hiatus was nearly two years this time & it felt like it may have lasted forever, but when friends twisted our arm to pull ourselves together to do a few shows in May, we had to think about a bass player. What do you do? It is a sensitive issue, too difficult to contemplate.

Jamie Cleaves has been playing around the ‘Gong in bands since the early 90s, his band Shifter played many early shows with Tumbleweed and since then he’s been playing in Lenny’s other band, The Pink Fits.

He comes into the jam room and locks in immediately, not only his playing style but his personality as well, he just fits right into place.

There is new spark, it feels good again and it sounds better than ever!

Tumbleweed play the Gasometer Hotel in Melbourne on Friday 10th November 2017.
Special guests HITS and Grindhouse, tickets available through OzTix

CD Review: The Foreign Resort – The American Dream

Following up their 2014 album New Frontiers, the Danish trio blasted this emotionally charged and atmosphericly moving 5 track EP. The EP sounds like the band picked their favourite bits of the best post punk around with elements of The Cure, Joy Division, and XT appearing somewhere in the sound. The result is a collection of truly magnificent songs!

‘The new blood’ sounds like a new age version of New Order. The track races through with great energy, with a gritty atmosphere buried beneath taking you though dark and cold street corners where the lights are all broken. ‘Suburban Depression’ is perhaps the most apt song title around in terms of describing how the song sounds. The music is dark and eerie, dragging you along feeling the grim, dreary outlook. The fantastic vocals both add the narrative to match the soundtrack and provide immense feeling in every syllable.

‘Onto us’ brings in an amazing mix of Faith and Unknown Pleasures. The music has an energetic pace to it while also having a distant and bleak industrial atmosphere. ‘Under bright neon stars’ acts as a kind of light at the end of the tunnel, bringing in a sweet and lighter poppy sound, sounding like The Cure’s brighter poppy moments driven along with a Robert Smith-esq lead guitar.

The EP closes with the racy ‘Skyline/Decay’. The faint vocals combined with the echoing sounds create a dark foggy atmosphere like you are wondering through a forest in the middle of winter.

This is a truly fantastic EP. All manner of emotions, vivid imagery, and atmosphere is felt across the tracks.

Check out the Foreign Resort’s website to find out more!


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