Australian indie Folk outfit The Gypsy Scholars are starting the new year in the best way they can, by releasing new music. Cold Hands’ is the first single off their forthcoming debut EP and is symbolic of a more refined and mature sound for the band.
Tomatrax caught up with Alec from the band to ask a few questions.
How did the band form?
The band formed at The ANU in Canberra. We’d all moved away from home to study and three of us were living at the same residential college with the fourth at another college just up the road. It was a case of mates first, then band members soon after. It took a while before we made a conscious decision to take our music past just playing in our dorm rooms. The turning point was definitely when when we crammed our gear and our bodies into a tiny black car and drove up to play Balcony TV in Sydney. That three and half hour trip really cemented us a group of friends and we began to make plans for the future of the band.
Where did the name Gypsy Scholars come from?
The idea for the name was brought about by wanting to incorporate the fact that James and Conagh had both just been traveling in their gap years/holidays, so that’s where the Gypsy part came from. Conagh had also taken to wearing this vintage suit and that got the ball rolling for the Scholars part. We liked the idea of the paradoxical nature of the name and thought it was pretty funny at the time.
You’re about to release your debut EP, how does it feel to have it finished and ready to go?
The EP is a project that we’ve been aiming towards since day one, so to have five tracks that we believe in done and dusted is a great feeling. I think until the cds are printed and the whole work is out in the world we won’t be able to relax fully, but having the actual music side of things finished is something we are very proud of.
What made you pick ‘Cold hands’ as the lead single?
From the moment Conagh first played us the verse and chorus of the tune we all knew it was going on the EP. As the recording process went on, it just stood out as the more “single” type song. It’s dynamic, got a catchy hook and most important we as a band genuinely like the song. It did take a lot of workshopping however; we must of tried a dozen different versions to get the
structure and the feel to a place where it felt best. Adding extra guitars and the horns definitely helped built the last few climatic sections, we were very lucky to work with some great musicians and some very patient sound engineers and we’re extremely grateful for all their help on the track!
How will the rest of the EP compare with Cold hands?
Cold Hands is definitely the popiest sounding tune on the EP while the other four songs share elements of our original indie folk sound along with the more rockier elements of our most recent writing. Throughout the EP we’ve used lots of different instruments like strings, horns, banjo and electric guitar to help each song standout as it’s own work, whilst always aiming for a collective cohesive sound between the five tracks.
You’ll be touring the country in support of your single, what can fans expect from your show?
If the first night of the tour is anything to go off, the remaining shows are going to involve a whole lot of sweat, singing and dancing. We kicked things off at The Lansdowne in Sydney last week and couldn’t of asked for a better start to the run of shows. We really try and give a lot of energy when we perform, that’s normally not too difficult when you’re onstage with your best mates, and we definitely use the vibe of the crowd to fuel the show. When people haven’t seen us before it can take a few songs for people to loosen the hips, but we actively try to get the crowd involved and approach each show like we’re playing for a bunch of friends and family. Most of the time we are, but when we’re not, it sure feels like it by the end of the set.
You’ve listed Sydney and Canberra as your home towns, how does it work being based in two cities?
It can be quite difficult at times to be honest! The distance isn’t massive but it means we don’t get to play together as much as we might like and we have to be very organised in terms of planning general band things. It’s very easy to get sick of looking at stream of messages and emails so when we are in the same city as each other, we are genuinely stoked because at the end of the day it’s just great to hang out together. One big plus is that with three out of the four
of us originally from Sydney, it does mean we have two home town crowds.
We’ve been very lucky in that regard to have great fans in both Sydney and Canberra because it’s allowed us to build a following in a way that most bands wouldn’t be able to. Even though it was only a few years ago when we all made the move to Canberra, the university and local music scene there have been very inclusive and supportive so we’ve benefited greatly from that.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
I think by the time the songs are out in the world you’re completely sick of them! Sometimes it’s nice when a tune or a video you haven’t seen or heard in a while pops up and you get to revisit those moments, but we don’t go on the road blasting our own tunes for 10 hours.
What other music do you listen to?
The band has pretty eclectic taste the varies from rock classics to house, punk
and hip hop. We all get around Australian artists of every genre though, I think
there is this underlying feeling in the band that we make a conscious effort to
listen to Aussie artists who are putting out interesting music, no matter the style.
Top favs at the moment would be Winston Surfshirt, Horrowshow, Sons Of The
East, Alex The Astronaut, Slow Turismo, Gang Of Youths and Middle Kids.
What else do you have planned this year?
After the tour winds up in late February, the focus will go onto releasing the EP. Depending on how Cold Hands is received, that might be in the middle of the year or potentially sooner. We’ll be looking to book a big ole tour when it comes out, our biggest yet, and there is some opportunity to go overseas later in the year as well. Three of the boys will be finishing their degrees in July so that will open up a whole new world of writing, recording and sub par banter.