Melbourne’s The Mean Times have returned with EP number two. Tomatrax caught up with Tom Morgan to talk about the band’s latest release!
How did the band form?
This band has been coming together and falling apart for about 7 years now! It started off when I returned from living overseas and wanted to start a slacker pop band with a group of old ex-Tassie mates living in Melbourne, who’d all previously played in bands together back home. As lives changed and people moved on (with the exception of me), I roped in a mate from work (Rob) and then plucked Eoin from the depths of the internet and things became a bit more solid for the three of us when we realised we were all on the same page as people and in our musical tastes and ambitions. We then enjoyed a procession of deadbeat drummers (see what I did there?) – from ex crims to overgrown man-children, all without cars, jobs and focus – so we’ve since decided to crack on with just the three of us, roping in drummers we trust, and other support musos, along the way.
Where did the name The Mean Times come from?
Nowhere in particular. We actually took ages to come up with a name. I was sitting around having a beer with Dave (who was our first guitarist), arguing about band names among other things. We like to argue. We were both gunning for really obscure names and each thought the other’s suggestions were shit. So we mutually agreed to pick something which was reasonably bland and simple, yet sounded kind of cool, with a meaningless play on words. The Mean Times was the only suggestion we agreed on. We still think it’s cool though.
You’ve just released your second EP, how does it feel to have it out?
It feels bloody excellent. It’s also a relief. We faced a lot of problems along the way, but I’m glad we stuck to it. It took more than twice as long as the 12 months we’d originally planned, A lot of our friends had thought we”d broken up, but we were just knuckling away trying to get it right. We poured everything we had into it right from our initial rehearsals, through tearing the songs apart and rebuilding them into something that was as good as we possibly could. It took up hours and hours of production, financial cost and the loss of so many hours of sleep. It was important that all these challenges were dealt with by keeping the overall purpose of what we’re trying to do very close to mind.
Where did the name Raw Prawn come from?
When we started thew recording, we actually ended up recording enough for an album, but decided to split it into 2 EPs – ‘Raw Prawn’ being the first. In making this decision, we realised we had two very different batches of songs that were also somewhat related. So we wanted to name them both in similar ways, like light and dark or black and white, but we realised those types of names were a bit too bland for our sense of humour. So for no particular reason, we went with Australian fish colloquialisms… the next EP will be called ‘Stunned Mullet’. We felt the bunch of tracks we selected for ‘Raw Prawn’ belonged together because they’re a little more raw – emotionally, sonicly and in their approach.
What was the inspiration behind the EP’s cover?
We just wanted a cool prawn illustration! We also prefer good artwork to photos of us. We’re boring. A friend of ours called Manny has been doing all our artwork – he came up with the idea and theme. Check out his art on insatgram – @zigposca
You’ve shifted from a synth pop sound to multilayered guitars, horns, and strings, what influenced this change in approach?
I’m not sure we ever really intentionally had a synth pop sound, but in hindsight, when you listen to the first EP, I guess I can see why people thought that. We thought we were just a slacker geek rock band playing silly little songs like Weezer. Then we started recording and playing around with synths, so we ended up adding it to the recording. We never played the synth pr synth lines live though, so we never really associated ourselves with that tag. With the most recent release, we’d orginally intended to put out a pretty raw rock album, which sounded like we sound live. But then, once more, we kept hearing all these horn lines and string lines in our heads and began playing around with synths again. Then we’d start thinking, ‘Man, we should add another 20 guitar layers to that song!” We just couldn’t help ourselves. The difference now though is that we’re replicating it live, by playing with a horn section and incorporating some keys here and there. The short answer to your question is that we just thought it all sounded cool and made the songs better!
You’ve describes your music as teenage angst for people in their mid-late-30s, do you see 30s angst as an emerging topic?
I hope so! Because as long as it is, old bastards like us will remain relevant! Jokes aside, I actually think it is a relevant topic. There are a lot of people in the mid-late 30s who are struggling with life. Society says they’re supposed to have their lives on track, but it’s bloody hard, life, and it takes it toll. And there will always be dickheads around for you to get pissed off with. Angst is not just for teenagers!
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Only when I put it on repeat on Apple Music while I sleep to rack up the number of plays! Actually, throughout the recording and production process, it was all I was listening to! But at the moment, I think we need a break from each other.
What (other) music do you listen to?
I’m really challenging myself to listen to new music and not be that old whinger who moans about the kids not doing anything worth listening to these days. At the moment I’m listening to West Thebarton and Ought. But I can’t help listening to older music. I’ve recently had a listen to ‘Exile on Main Street’, some old You Am I albums (usually ‘Hi Fi Way’ is on high rotation) and Dinosaur Jr.
Now that the EP is out, what do you plan on doing next?
Getting it in the ear holes of anyone who will listen! And playing live as much as possible. Then we’ll release the other EP and keep wearing people down until they succumb to the joy of The Mean Times! Constant badgering is the most effective way to get people to listen to you.
Check out The Mean Times’ Facebook page to find out more!