Tag: festival

Sleeping With Sirens at Good Things 2022: “The key to music in general is that it should be fun”

Credit: Press/Supplied

Sleeping With Sirens roared to life in 2010 with their pummelling debut album, With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear, and have since held steady as staples of the Hot Topic “emo” scene. With their first few records aimed primarily at angsty, black-sheeped tweens hopped up on Monster and mid-transition from primary to high school (and more importantly, MySpace to Facebook), there’s a good chance that, should you have found a seat on the hype train in time, Sleeping With Sirens have been with you for half your life. 

Much like ourselves, Sleeping With Sirens have grown exponentially over the last 13 years. Our social circles shifted as friends came and went, and they similarly cycled through guitarists and drummers; we filled our résumés with jobs, some lowkey and fun and others impressive but gruelling, and they similarly hopped from label to label (first Rise, then Epitaph, then Warner and now Sumerian); we found new passions and hobbies, and eventually got nostalgic for our teenage obsessions, and they, too, tried new things (see: Madness and Gossip) but ultimately fell back in love with the punchy, colour-drenched metalcore they cut their teeth on.

On the cusp of 2023, having just released their seventh album – the prismatic and powerful Complete Collapse – with a full year of touring ahead, Sleeping With Sirens stand tall as their strongest, most energised and invigorated selves. The album is reflective of that: another parallel between them and the average late millennial is that they too were pushed to the brink by adversity, but clawed their way back and, galvanised by the experience, were met an immediate jolt of adrenalised optimism. 

For the Kellin Quinn-fronted band, this journey started with 2015’s Madness, a confident dive into the open seas of pop-rock – something they’d toyed with, but never fully committed to on records prior – that led to them being sucked into the riptide of major label chaos with its follow-up, Gossip, two years later. Chewed up and spat out by the pop radio monolith, Sleeping With Sirens almost didn’t make it to the end of the 2010s. They’d been singed by the industry and burnt out on the road, and as strongly as their artistry translated to that shiner, more saccharine pop sound – Quinn’s chops in particular were primed for Top 40 hitmaking – the band didn’t get as much out of it, personally speaking, as they did from metalcore.

What followed was a complete 180: Sleeping With Sirens ditched Warner for Sumerian – another indie label à la Rise and Epitaph – and swung back around to their old-school sound, keeping their newfound slickness intact but wholeheartedly embracing the riff once more. Their 2019 album, How It Feels To Be Lost, is explosive and defiant, at once an unapologetic nostalgia trip and a fierce leap into the future. But like any great comeback, the initial “fuck yeah!” was inevitably followed by the daunting question of what would come next. Where would Sleeping With Sirens head when their trajectory was no longer guided by sheer adrenaline?

With touring off the table, the pandemic gave Quinn and co. a chance to gather their bearings – a forced micro-hiatus of sorts. This proved to be incredibly beneficial: after reflecting deeply on everything they’d been through over the course of making and touring six albums (and an EP, and a couple errant one-offs), Sleeping With Sirens had – perhaps for the first time ever – a crystal clear vision for the future. That involved ambitiously swinging from their highest highs to their lowest lows, fusing their grittiest riffs with their most shimmering melodies, and committing to a mindset that no idea was too unseemly to consider. So paved the way for what is, in my own opinion, Sleeping With Sirens’ best album yet.

Complete Collapse has been out for (just a few days shy of) two months now, so when Sleeping With Sirens touched down for this year’s Good Things festival, I caught up with Quinn and guitarist Nick Martin to vibe on how the album has been coming to life onstage (particularly in Australia) and how it brought the band to a new peak. Have a listen to – or read – our chat below.

elcome back to your home away from home. How’s the trip been so far?

Kellin Quinn: It’s been good! 

Nick Martin: I’m loving it. I missed Australia so much, so it feels very, very good to be back here. It feels very familiar.

Quinn: Yeah, it’s been really nice. The weather’s been really nice. It’s been light jacket weather, which is great, but it’s not too cold. [We’ve] got sun today, so I’m gonna wear my sleeveless shirt and let my BB guns out.

Martin: Wow, your BB guns!

Quinn: My BB guns, I’m gonna let my BB guns out!

So before kicking off the fezzie run today, obviously you’ve already played a couple of sideshows – Melbourne yesterday, and then Adelaide on Wednesday?

Quinn: Correct. Did you say ‘side’ or ‘sad’ shows?

I guess the main question is, what’s it like playing in clubs again? Because it’s been a fucking while.

Quinn: I like playing in clubs.

Martin: I do too. It’s tough – I wouldn’t say it’s, like, what I prefer, but yeah, it feels good to be back in in some clubs. I’m enjoying it.

Quinn: He’s not much of a clubber. I am though, I like to go to the club.

Martin: You love the club.

Well of course, you’ve got plenty of new tunes to show off – two albums’ worth since the last time you were here. Of course the big talking point is Complete Collapse – how will these new songs been coming to life onstage?

Quinn: We were talking about this in rehearsal. So, I like playing new songs, like, a year into them. I don’t like playing them right away. Because it takes a while to, like, find your footing with the whole live experience, you know, playing songs off a record. So yeah, we have a lot of albums, we have a lot of songs, and so we’re kind of slowly getting into the new record. We haven’t played a lot of… Well, I don’t think we’ve actually played anything off of our last record here, so… Lots of tunes! But yeah, we’re having a good time with them. 

Martin: Yeah, it’s crazy that you say that, because it doesn’t hit me until it’s brought up [that] we have two albums’ worth of material that we [are] yet to play over here, so it’s nice to finally play new songs. But I mean, for me, I enjoy playing the nostalgic hits from the catalogue. I like a good mix of it. I think it’s important for us to not play too much new material – it’s important for us to have a nice mix of the catalogue. There’s a lot of songs.

I feel like the live show is the real test, right? Like, a song can sound killer in the studio, but if it doesn’t work live, it doesn’t work, right?

Quinn: Yeah, that’s true. 

Martin: Which happens to us.

Quinn: Yeah, there’s a lot of songs that we don’t play live because they don’t sound good live.

Martin: Yeah, really. It’s true.

When I spoke to Nick a few months ago, we were talking about how this record really represents Sleeping With Sirens in its strongest form, and that the band has kind of been rejuvenated by Complete Collapse. How did this record push you guys to that level?

Quinn: I think a huge thing was being able to have some time at home and rest. I think that our band was just kind of touring non-stop and into the ground, and we were just burnt out. And I think we didn’t realise that until we had time to reflect on it. So we were charged up and energised when we back into the studio, and we just had fun making songs again. And I think that’s, like… The key to doing music in general is that it should be fun. And if it’s not fun, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it anymore, you know?

Is it safe to say that before this record, things weren’t so rosy in the band?

Martin: I think there was… 

Quinn: It was on its way up. It was pretty bad before the last record. [The] last record was great, and then I think that the extra time at home definitely helped cement us, like, being in a better place as people.

Martin: Yeah, I think we’re in a much better place now. But we had definitely gone through rough patches as a band, but also just individually, so it’s nice to come out on the other end of that and be where we’re at now, for sure… As opposed to many years before, where it was really tough for us.

I think that vibe of, like, pushing through the boundaries – [and not even] musically, but just personally – I think that’s very palpable on How It Feels To Be Lost. And I know [that] after Gossip, you know, being thrown through the wringer with Warner Bros. and being burnt out on touring, that was like… You guys were pretty close to the brink. That album, How It Feels To Be Lost, was that sort of like a chance to find your footing as a band again?

Quinn: Yeah, I think so. Look, I think that as much as it’s a rough situation to go through – making a record that you’re not really that proud of – the benefit to it is humbling yourself to kind of get back to square one and finding your roots again. And I think that’s [what] How It Feels To Be Lost [was] for us – finding our roots and going back to, like, where we began. And this record that we just put out, Complete Collapse, it’s kind of a continuation of that, but just a more mature sound.

And obviously a cornerstone of Sleeping With Sirens, from LP1 to now, is that emotional intensity – in both the lyrics and the music. And again, it’s so palpable, how you pour so much of yourselves into both of those aspects. In the process of doing that with Complete Collapse, what did you learn about yourselves?

Quinn: I learned that I can take naps in the studio, no matter how loud the music is. If there’s a comfortable couch, I can do it. And I didn’t know that about myself!

Martin: [Laughs]

Quinn: I feel like every answer has been serious! I had to break the ice, dude, I can’t be serious [for] that long.

Martin: What was question? Like, what did we learn about ourselves?

Quinn: Yeah, through the process of making our new record, what did you learn about yourself?

Martin: I don’t know if this really answers it, but I think there was a bit more of a newfound confidence for me, personally. I think I was going through some rough patches personally for a long time, and during this recording process, it definitely allowed me to open up a bit more and be more confident in myself as a musician, but also as a person. So it’s a very, like, therapeutic process for me.

Quinn: Great answer.

Huge shoutout to Janine Morcos and Amy Simmons for making this happen!
Complete Collapse is out now via Sumerian Records. Check it out here.

Thornhill at Good Things 2022: “I would fucking love to do a song on the ‘Batman’ soundtrack”

Credit: Jon Pisani

Cut from the same cloth as bands like Northlane, Architects and Periphery, Thornhill fast made a name for themselves making colourful prog-laced metalcore, blending thick and gnarly guitars with soaring and melodic vocals. They’ve largely kept committed to that alloy of dark and light, but with their debut album, 2019’s The Dark Pool, they started leaning more on the latter – those brighter and more widescreen soundscapes that didn’t need the aggression typical of metalcore to convey bold, gripping emotion. 

The album’s follow-up, Heroine – which arrived back in June of this year – is a fitting continuation of that ethos, all but eschewing the band’s metallic edge altogether. It sees them instead favour flavours of grunge, industrial and alt-rock à la Nine Inch Nails and Alice In Chains, at points nodding to wider-ranging influences like Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins, and in some moments even The Cure. The album’s accompanying visuals – like the cover art, press shoots and film clips – all make it clear that the band were inspired most by the gothic uprising of the late ‘90s, and the band have been open about how songs were directly inspired by such cultural phenomena as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Twin Peaks.

Earlier this year, I interviewed Ethan McCann for Australian Guitar, and he told me that Heroine was effectively a multi-layered concept album; the aesthetic influence is one layer, thematic links comprise another, and one comes in how each song was written “to soundtrack a different movie or TV show, or fit a different aesthetic”. Think one of those old-school movie tie-ins where a stack of hot topic scene bands would write songs vaguely referencing the plot or themes of the film it was commissioned for, except every song is written for a different film… But they all link together as the same body of work… And it also has its own set of themes. 

Convoluted as its concept may sound, Heroine in a resoundingly consistent (and consistently resounding) effort from Thornhill, and as their set at this year’s Good Things festival proved, the songs sound especially exceptional when they’re performed live. So after they wowed a packed early-arvo crowd at the Melbourne edition, I reconnected with McCann, as well as bassist Nick Sjogren, to dive a little deeper into the backstory of Heroine, reminisce on their recent tour in support of it (where the album was played in full), and explore what’s next for Thornhill. Have a listen to – or read – our chat below.

How’s the day been so far? How was your set?

Nick Sjogren: The set was really fun – really, really fun. The crowd was a lot bigger than I was expecting, to be honest, and yeah, people were going from the start. Pretty crazy, honestly.

So Heroine came out exactly six months ago – well, it will have as of tomorrow. Considering how much passion and energy you put into it, how does it feel to have this record in the rearview, so to speak?

Ethan McCann: It’s kind of bittersweet, to be honest, because it was like… We were really proud of that record, we did lots of things that we wanted to do, I guess. But at the same time, we wrote it in lockdown, so it was a pretty traumatic experience. So there’s lots of good memories and lots of bad memories connected to that record, but we’re keen to, like, move on and get the next one out.

I know that when you’re gearing up to release a record – and recording it as well – things can be so stressful and hectic. But now that it’s been out for a hot minute and you’ve toured it a bunch, are you able to look back and really appreciate what you made?

Sjogren: Yeah, it’s a really funny one, because when it first came out, there [were] a lot of loud people on the internet, who weren’t as stoked [on Heroine as they were on The Dark Pool] because it wasn’t, like, riff-y metalcore style. But we’ve had a lot of people like around to it [and] say that they get it a bit more, so to speak.

McCann: I think it was also kind of nice… Obviously, like I said, we wrote a lot of those songs – if not all of them – in lockdown, [so] to then take them to the stage, we sort of learned what we enjoyed and what we didn’t enjoy playing, which I think will be really cool to apply to new music.

Obviously there was that tour in July, where you [performed] the album from cover to cover. What was it like to celebrate Heroine as a standalone body of work like that?

McCann: It was pretty ideal, I would say, because I think we sort of wrote that album with the intention [that people would listen] to it cover to cover. Because we’re very much so, like, an “album band”. I know the general public, I think these days, is much more into singles and, like, rapid releases – but I think we all really enjoy listening to albums [from] cover to cover, still, so that’s sort of how we wanted people to hear it. So yeah, it was really cool to do that.

Is that something you see yourselves continuing in the future? Making concept albums, and…

McCann: 100 percent, for sure. And if people don’t get it, fuck it.

There were, of course, those couple shows in Canberra and Hobart where you had to play [Heroine] instrumentally because Jacob was not doing so great. What was it like to really celebrate the musical side of it?

Sjogren: I was surprised [by] how much people liked it. Because Jacob is such a good frontman – he’s such a powerful frontman, and his voice has so much character, [so] a lot of the personality behind the music seems to [come] from him. But playing it instrumentally, it was really cool to see people actually appreciate all the surrounding elements, too. It was just a good crowd for both shows in general – not just a good for an instrumental set.

And of course, I’m sure some of them stepped up to the plate with the karaoke vibes?

Sjogren: A bit, yeah.

McCann: My least favorite part was actually having to, like, make banter with the crowd. Because that’s usually Jacob’s job, and I’m not a very talkative guy. So I was like, you know, “Get up!” But it’s not my thing.

Everyone is like, “The singer has the easiest job, they don’t have to play an instrument,” but man, banter – fuck, that’s…

McCann: Banter’s hard. But I mean, they don’t have any gear, so they don’t have to load out [laughs].

Something we touched on a little while ago was, obviously, this record being such a conceptually ambitious and artistic vision – knowing how cutthroat this scene can be at the best of times, were you worried that people wouldn’t rally around Heroine the way they did?

McCann: I wouldn’t say we were worried, we kind of knew what we were doing. And like, by dropping ‘Casanova’ as the first taste of that album, it was kind of intentionally [released] to stir the pot – as childish as that sounds. It’s just like, we knew it was going to mess with a few people, and it’s what… We were really proud of that song, so we were just like, “Eh, let’s just throw them in the deep end from the start and see if they enjoy it or not.”

Well, the album was a wild success – Number Three on the ARIA Charts [and] you got the nomination at this year’s awards for Best Hard Rock… How did it feel to get that kind of response?

Sjogren: I was always pretty confident. ‘Cause I don’t write the music, personally – Ethan and Jacob do 99 percent of all the music, if not 100 – so I was always pretty confident that it was going to be received well, because I really liked listening to it. It was really fun to see it progress, from the first demos – just after [The] Dark Pool came out – to where it ended up getting to. There was a lot of thought behind it that made it all make sense. So I figured that even if people didn’t like it at first, they’d get it eventually, because it’s just really good.

Has inspired you to go even more ambitious, or step even [farther] into the unknown on album #3?

McCann: Yeah, very much so. I think even though it sort of split the crowd for us – like we knew it would – just the fact that we enjoyed writing something different and pushing [the] boundaries so much, I think it’s something we’ll always do with our music and our albums. I think Childish Gambino talked about it, where he’s just like, he opens and closes a world with each album, so you sort of, like, progress and do new things every time – and I think that’s such a cool way of looking at it.

Is that third album something you’ve started talking about now that Heroine has been out for a hot minute?

McCann: Yeah, for sure. We’re chipping away at a few ideas. [We’re] still figuring out the general vibe – it usually takes, like, one or two sort of full songs to then have the direction. Now we’re sort of just, like, playing in the shallow end for now.

What are these vibes you’re playing around with?

McCann:[It’s] hard to explain. Definitely rock-ier; I’ve been listening to nothing but, like, Arctic Monkeys and Queens Of The Stone Age for the past year. So yeah, [I’m] hoping for a sort of  UK rock-y sort of sound – but I don’t know, we’ll see. It’s too early to tell. 

That’s really interesting, because Heroine has that more grungy, almost like ’90s Britpop-y feel – so I feel like that kind of sound is definitely a good natural progression from from Heroine.

McCann: Yeah, we’re hoping so. And it’s like, it’s kind of funny because I think we’re gonna look back in, like, 10 years, and look at all these albums as just different phases of things we’re into. Because obviously, like, our tastes change pretty rapidly, you know, you don’t listen to the same thing a couple of years later.

Well taste in general, like… And this is kind of circling back to Heroine – I know that this record was written as almost like a score to a lot of the film and TV you were inspired by. What kind of titles are we looking at?

McCann: We’re talking Buffy The Vampire Slayer. We’re talking American Beauty. We’re talking She’s All That

Sjogren: The Crow.

McCann: The Crow. We’re talking The Craft… Just lots of, like, ’90s goth-y teen movies. I really love that aesthetic, and the colour palettes are always really cool. And it’s just like, I really like the sort of nostalgia that it made me feel – because I was born in the late ’90s, so I sort of grew up with a lot of those movies. And I think that was kind of comforting in lockdown, that sort of nostalgia, so it’s something we wanted to push into the music as well.

Are there any other movies or TV shows that you think you could write a banging Thorny track to in the future?

McCann: The Batman! I would love to do a fucking song on the Batman soundtrack, 

Which one? The new one?

McCann: The new one. Give me, like, the Rob Pat number two Batman – give me that soundtrack, oh my God, I will go to town.

Have you thought about the possibility of doing any scoring or soundtrack work in the screen industry?

McCann: I would love to. I don’t think I’m quite there yet. But even just like… You know how bands in the early 2000s used to do, like, music videos, or just songs on album soundtracks, and it would just be like a one off? I really want to do that, because I feel like they don’t do it anymore.

How fucking good were, like… Even as late as the Jennifer’s Body soundtrack with Panic! At The Disco…

McCann: Yeah, shit like that! And there’s, like, little snippets of the movie in the music video. I love that shit so much. 

Sjogren: ‘Little Things’ by Rob Thomas… Wait, no ‘Little Wonders’.

McCann: And that Nickelback song from Spider-Man.

Sjogren: Linkin Park’s discography for Transformers.

Are there any filmmakers in particular that you’d be keen to link up with, or franchises? Other than The Batman, obviously.

McCann: I’d love to do a David Lynch movie, that’d be sick. That’d be really sick. I’m sure there’s a list – I can’t think right now.

Sjogren: We need Jacob right now.

McCann: Yeah. Jacob will say someone like Baz Luhrmann, but I’ll pass on that.

I guess in general, we know you’re kicking around some vibes– you’ve got touring lined up for the next… Fucking eternity. Which is 2023 have in store for Thorny?

Sjogren: It’s funny – we don’t have much locked in, but we have a lot of things nearly there. It’s looking like it will be busy – very, very busy, all over the place. So yeah, we are definitely going to be playing shows. We’re gonna we playing hella shows.

McCann: Yeah, I think if all goes to plan, we’re going to be home for all of about three and a half months next year. So, [the year is] pretty stacked.

Huge shoutout to Janine Morcos and Amy Simmons for making this happen!
Heroine is out now via UNFD. Check it out here.

Nova Twins at Good Things 2022: “People come to our shows to be whoever the fuck they want to be”

Credit: Federica Burelli

No amount of shitty, crowd-shot iPhone footage could ever do Nova Twins’ live show justice. The genre-bending Brits made their Australian debut last week, playing a one-off headliner in Sydney before they tore Stage 5 to shreds at the Good Things festival. Second to none, they were the best band I saw at the Melbourne edition; they made Bring Me The Horizon and Deftones look like amateur pub bands, and even fighting a storm of technical mishaps, their musical prowess shone not a beam out of place.

Particularly mind-melting was the technicolour wizardry that Georgia South inflicted on her bass guitar – a super rare Westone Thunder 1, as she told me when we chatted recently for Australian Guitar – shredding and slapping wobbles in the vein of Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites-era Skrillex using only analogue effects. Her secret weapon, I found out after diving down no less than four internet rabbitholes, is a Hot Hand MIDI ring. By way of motion sensors, it allows South to modulate bass frequencies when she moves her hand in patterns close to her guitar’s pickups… I think. Admittedly I have no fucking idea how it works – I just know it sounds cool as hell.

It’s impressive, too, because almost any other band would simply lean on tracks, or at least use Kempers to emulate their digital elements. But Nova Twins spent years not just honing their sound – an idiosyncratic hybrid of punk, dubstep and hip-hop – but finding ways to authentically replicate it live. It’s this ethos that sets the duo, rounded out by vocalist and guitarist Amy Love, apart from their peers: there may well be other acts that sound similar to Nova Twins, but none are as fiercely devoted to embracing their inner chaos.

So too is this true in the ways they operate outside the music itself. They encourage individualism, even at shows where crowds are united by their affinity for one band, genre or “scene”. When they play ‘Parcels’, an ode to both melodic hardcore and ‘90s R&B, they call for pits where moshers and twerkers go ham in harmony. Even at a festival like Good Things, where Nova Twins were one of 32 acts performing – with a daytime slot on a side-stage, at that – they brought together a crowd entirely unique to their set: easily the most diverse, and very easily the most aesthetically ambitious.

Nova Twins are the risk-taking champions of inclusivity that punk needs in 2022. So, after experiencing a full-blown religious awakening during their set, I sat down with South and Love to learn more about their modus operandi. Have a listen to – or read – our chat below.

So this is your first time in Australia – how have we all been treating you so far?

Amy Love: Very nice. Everyone’s really cheery, got good spirit, good energy…

Georgia South: Super nice. The crowds are awesome – we just played our first festival here, so it was… Yeah, amazing.

Yeah, I just saw your set, on stage five… I don’t know why I’m hyping it up, it’s happened – but I’m still processing what I saw, and all I know is that it was, like, the best fucking thing I’ve seen – hand on my heart – in literally years. What was it like from your perspective?

Love: Well, there was a lot happening in our ears, so…

South: We had a few technical issues, but it was honestly so amazing, seeing women at the front and, like, everyone looked so colourful and amazing. And the fashion was insane, and the vibes were ten-out-of-ten.

Yeah, I feel like in-between every song I would just glance around the pit and be like, “Fuck, there are some fits in here!” First of all, with the set: Georgia, whatever fucking witchcraft you’re pulling with that bass… I have to know, how were you getting that analogue wobble when you were moving your hand over the pickups?

South: So I’ve got a magic little ring – that’s my, like, little special toy that I like to play with.

Love: That sounded really, like…

South: [Faux-sensually] “I love my toys…”

Love: “lovehoney.com”

So my theory is, like… It’s magnets, right?

South: Could be! Y’know, it’s a secret…

Okay! How long did it take you to develop the sound that you have?

South: I think it’s been growing for a few years. We’ve been a band for a while now, so our pedalboards grew over time, and over the lockdown we had so much fun experimenting with new sounds. And we really had the time over Supernova to get into [those] kind of sonics as well. 

Love: Yeah, it just grew. We sound more like we did at the beginning, and then we went down quite like a punk route, and then we came back again, full-circle. So it’s been quite fun.

I know, Georgia, you play with a Westone Thunder 1 – is that integral to your sound?

South: Oh, yeah, it’s so integral. It’s amazing. I love them. And they actually don’t make them anymore, so it’s a nightmare trying to find them on eBay and places like that – I also love playing Fender Precisions too, but I love my Westone.

And [Amy], you play… Is it a Mustang? 

Love: Mustang, yeah, P-90 pickups.

Huge, huge sound – shoutout to the P-90.

Love: Shoutout to the P-90! 

As far as the set itself goes, one thing I have to address is the absolute fucking calamity that is a combined mosh pit of moshers and twerkers. How does one come up with such a revolutionary concept?

Love: I think because when we wrote the song [‘Puzzles’], we were such big lovers of, like, ’90s R&B [and] ’00s R&B – like Destiny’s Child, Missy Elliot, you know, Snoop, Pharrell, all of that – but at the same time, we loved heavy music; we grew up on the punk scene, you know, we’re in a rock band for fuck’s sake. But we wanted a song that married the two loves and the two worlds, and all the different types of people who enjoy them type of things… 

We do have a lot of non-male people at our shows who want to twerk as well, who don’t always want to mosh. So it’s like, “Well if you do want to twerk, this is your moment too – you can exist here and do that – but if you want to mosh, join in and, like, become a family.

‘Puzzles’ – it’s like the anthem for the entire Nova Twins fanbase, right?

Love: Yes!

Let’s talk about the record as a whole, because later this month, we’ll be exactly half a year out from the release of Supernova. I know when you’re gearing up to release a record, it can be super stressful, and just like a fucking rollercoaster. But you’ve kind of caught up on the buzz a little bit, played a bunch of shows… How do you look back on the record?

South: I think it’s been quite an emotional year for us, because… Just so much has happened. We’ve toured more than we’ve ever toured, we’ve been places we’ve never been – like here. We’ve played in America and Europe and the UK, so it’s been incredible, thinking [about] how far Supernova has kind of taken us. And it meant so much to us, this album, so for it to get the Mercury [Prize] shortlist and things like that… It was just… Yeah, [it’s been] an incredible year.

Have you started thinking about album three yet? Or is it a little too early?

South: Yes, we have!

Love: We’ve been thinking about it.

Yeah? What’s the vibe?

South: We don’t want to give much away. But we’re definitely thinking about it, and we’re excited.

Do you see the Nova Twins project – this sound and character… Are you going to kick it up to a different level, or…?

Love: I think we’ve never put any kind of boundaries or pressure on what’s going to come out. I think we just let ourselves do and if it comes out… It could be anything. And if it feels good and it feels like us, then we’ll just go with it. I think that’s the best way to keep it fresh, and also, like, discover things that you might not ever have thought you’d go down. If you just let yourself do it, it will come. So we’re just like, “Whatever happens, happens.”

There is a power in spontaneity, right?

South: Exactly. There [were] moments when [we were] writing Supernova, where we were like, “This sounds different to us!” But we’re like, “We like it, so why not?” And we just went with that feeling.

Without trying to blow smoke, my all-time two favorite genres are punk and drumstep. And I think what made me gravitate towards Nova Twins is like, the driving force is that raw, visceral aggression – that punk – but like, there’s that belting synth bass… It’s kind of like an In Silico-era Pendulum vibe. What is your history with bass music? Was that a big thing for y’all, growing up?

South: Yeah, I love my electronic music. Especially Timbaland’s production or Missy tracks, or like, N.E.R.D – love them – and even Skrillex. I love that kind of like, gnarly electronic synth bass sound. So I just wanted to emulate that onto [my] bass guitar with completely analogue pedals and stuff like that. So I love electronic music.

Outside of the music itself – and I think this was definitely evident in your crowd – I know it’s really important for you both to fuck with the status quo and challenge the binary of punk and rock as what has been a very traditionally white, straight, male-dominated scene. Being such an active force in the movement against that, have you noticed a shift towards a more inclusive scene and more inclusive crowds?

Love: Yeah, 100 percent. I think so much has changed since we’ve [started the] band. And obviously, for the people before us, it must have been completely different. But when we first started, we used to be the only women there sometimes – definitely the only people of color there – And you used to look around and think, “Fuck, this is quite…” 

It was never, like, a “bad vibe” – people were always really nice and respectful, but it wasn’t good enough in terms of the promoters and who they were booking. It was lazy, you know, and people got used to just regurgitating the same headliners, the same acts – and it was like, “But what about all these new people that are coming through? What about diversity?” The genre nearly went slate for a bit! But now you can see, it’s kind of making [a comeback] – especially in the UK and the US. 

I don’t know about here, but it’s a whole revival right now. I mean, we’ve played on our main radio station, which would never have been the case years ago. But it’s coming back, and it’s so exciting because we’re allowing for diversity, and fresh ideas and fresh takes, and new artists to come through. So it’s a super exciting time.

It is incredible to see this carving out of a space that is very important – and frankly, well-overdue. Obviously, that’s something you must have yearned for when you were coming of age?

Love: I think when we were younger, we didn’t really… Because we were young, we didn’t know, we just thought, “We just want to be in a band!” And then when it came to being the band, we got faced with all these different kinds of challenges and hurdles, and we thought, “Hang on a minute, is something wrong with us?” And it wasn’t us, it was the industry, not accepting us doing the type of music we do and the way we looked with it. 

It was all very long and tedious, but you know, we just kept going [on doing] what we love. We took our own route, we were an independent band – we still are, you know, we’ve found an independent label that are really good to us [Marshall Records] and we’ve got a great team now – but yeah, we just fucked off everyone else and [were] just like, “We’re just gonna keep doing it our way.” And then it paid off eventually!

I think something that really ties into that in a big way is how you always push to get your fans involved – like the mosh-twerking pit and things like that – and make these people feel like they’re a part of something. What made you want to be, for lack of a better term, or more “interactive” band?

South: I think it just comes naturally to us. The people that support us, we call them our Supernovas, and they’re just amazing. They’ve been there, some of them, since day one – and when we just played our London headline show, we felt so emotional because we’ve been seeing these people that [have] been coming and coming… When we’d been playing to ten people, they were there, and people just really support us. So we always want to give back to our community, and you know, open the door and let people through – because that’s just what it’s about.

Are you very inspired by your fans?

South: Completely! They’re super talented, and like, the most badass, amazing people ever.

Love: And really loving. What’s really lovely about our fans – especially seeing our Discord group and things like that – is that they take care of each other. They see them in the queues, like, if someone’s come on their own, we’ll see certain fans – like our proper everyday fans – take them under their wing and show them around the area. Or if they need to get home, they’ll take them home. If someone’s fainted, or… You know, it’s really amazing, the community that they are – they’re just really lovely people. And they’re so open – I love that people come to our show and they feel safe and accepted to be whoever the fuck they want to be.

I fucking love that vibe. And just to wrap up – because I’m gonna get in so much trouble – at the very end of the set, Amy, you mentioned that Nova Twins will be coming back to Australia soon… Are we talking 2023? Headline tour?

Love: [Slyly] Maybe! I don’t know…

Come on!

Love: I don’t know! You’ll have to ask our [tour manager].

We need, like, the 40-date regional tour…

Love: We will be back! This won’t be the last time you see us.

Nova Twins will be back.

Love: We will be back.

That is a promise, we’re holding you to that.

Love: Yeah, of course. If it goes well at Good Things, we’ll definitely be back!

Georgia: My grandparents were Australian, so I feel like this is my calling, to be back here.

Huge shoutout to Janine Morcos and Sose Fuamoli for making this happen!
Supernova is out now via Marshall Records. Check it out here.

Kisschasy at Good Things 2022: “We’ve got a whole unreleased album sitting there”

Credit: Press/Supplied

Today was a holy day for emo Australians aged 25 to 40: riding on the high of their comeback at the Good Things festival, Kisschasy announced that their return to the spotlight would last a little longer, slating a theatre tour for next May.

At the festival – which ran over the weekend in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – the band performed their 2005 debut album, United Paper People, from cover to cover. According to bassist Joel Vanderuit, it was a long-belated celebration of the record’s 15th anniversary, picking up where they’d left off on their 2015 farewell tour (on which they also played UPP in full). 

Last Thursday – two days before the Melbourne edition of Good Things, where Vanderuit and I caught up – Kisschasy played a semi-secret floor show at The Gem, a cozy pub in Collingwood. I wasn’t able to head along, but judging by the dozens of Instagram Story clips I saw, the gig was batshit crazy and all kinds of life-affirming. The setlist, too, was unexpectedly stacked: in addition to a full run-through of United Paper People, the band performed a solid dozen other songs, with cuts pulled from 2007’s Hymns For The Nonbeliever, 2009’s Seizures, and even their 2004 EP Cara Sposa

There was never any potential of these making it into Kisschasy’s Good Things setlist: their billing gave them 45 minutes, and United Paper People clocks in at 42. Surely, if they’d put the effort in to rehearse all those other tracks, there must be another tour on the cards…

And, lo and behold, there is! Confirmed this morning, Kisschasy will embark on a tour of theatres – with no “X album in full” billing or other gimmicky caveat – across nine cities in May. They’ll be hitting all the main stops along the east coast, as well as Adelaide and Perth (thank fuck, those comment sections can chill out for once), and with no restrictions or prerequisites imposed on them, we’re sure to see the band at their absolute peak.

In announcing the tour, frontman Darren Cordeaux said: “We’re really excited to breathe new life into these songs that we remain very proud of. It’s humbling that our fan base endures almost a decade after we hung up our instruments and it’s reminded us that we created something very special together; a body of work that has managed to stand the test of time. This tour is for those who still hold our songs dear and have been waiting since we closed that curtain in 2015. We can’t wait to see you again.”

But what does Kisschasy’s future hold between now and May? And what does it hold beyond then?

We know that after they dropped Seizures in August of ’09, Kisschasy kept writing material, and came ever-so-close to committing they fourth album to tape before scrapping it altogether. Having spent the last seven years on the bleachers, do the band still feel as though their “new” material is below par? Has the potential of new new music been floated in the jam room? Have they kept writing?

These are the questions I, as a hopeless romantic for the golden age of Australian emo (2004-2009), was desperate to find the answers for. So at Good Things, I sat down with Vanderuit to pose them to him. Worth noting is that I only found out about the upcoming tour a few days ago – after I’d spoken to Vanderuit. I would have asked so many more questions if I’d known about it beforehand, and tinkered with the main angle a fair bit. Nevertheless, Vanderuit offered some great insight into the past, present and future of Kisschasy.

Have a listen to – or read – our chat below, and grab tickets for the May tour here.

First of all, welcome back – the year is 2022 and Kisschasy are an active band, I still can’t believe it. Is it surreal for you guys as well?
A little, yeah! It’s been a long time, and when we finished up [in] 2015, we honestly believed that that was sort of where it was going to be. We all have different things going on now, so to get a call-up, and enough interest from all of the guys, was really exciting. And yeah, it’s a little surreal still, but it’s cool to be back in the mix.

Well you did say that when you broke up in 2015, the general consensus was [that] that was it. Was there that kind of thought, that like, “Yeah, you know, we’ll dust off the kit and have a jam again one day”?
I don’t think so, at the time. We were all heading in pretty different musical directions at that point, so it was just like, “You know what? This isn’t going to come back to a good place, so…” Personally, it was all fine, but from a musical perspective, I think we pretty much felt like we’d done what we wanted to do. So yeah, [it was] just a surprise to come back.

How did it happen? Was it something you were pitched by Good Things?
It actually started a little bit before Good Things became involved. 2020 was the 15-year anniversary of our first record, and a different promoter had actually asked us if we wanted to tour the record. So we had a conversation and though, “Eh, this kind of sounds cool.” Had dates booked in… Obviously what happened, happened over the last couple of years – and during that time, instead of ditching the tour, Good Things sort of reached out and said, “Hey, we still want to see this album live, so come along.” And yeah, here we are.

Was it pure keenness across the board, or was there anyone that needed a bit of convincing?
Nah, everyone was pretty into it. I reckon if it’d been two or three years earlier, it would have been a bit more tricky, but yeah, everyone was keen to hang out as mates and have a bit of fun on the road again.

I want to know what it was like [when you had] that first rehearsal back – did you all kind of slip back into “Kisschasy mode” super easily?
Yeah, surprisingly easy! So we all did a little bit on our own at home, playing along – I bumped up my Kisschasy Spotify plays, trying to remember a few of the songs – a few we haven’t played since probably 2006 or ’07. But a lot of it just came back pretty organically, and once we all got together, it just sort of clicked straight away. So yeah, it was great.

And the first show back, a semi-secret show at a club in Collingwood – what was that like?
It was fun! It took me back to the very early days. It was a very small little venue, it was absolutely heaving – they filled it out, a little 100-seater in Collingwood – and yeah, it was great. I had a guy so close [that] I kept hitting him with the guitar… Yeah, it really reminded me of the early shows that we had,

Especially after seven, eight years: you’re walking out onto a stage for the first time as Kisschasy—
—A floor. It was a floor show. Proper DIY.

What’s going through your heads [when the show begins]?
We were just amazed people turned up, to be honest. We announced at eight o’clock that morning, and yeah, by the time we went on it was full. It was a good way to sort of just make sure that we knew that we could do it in front of people, before doing on a much larger scale here.

That selling point of “United Paper People in full”, for this entire comeback – because you did that for the farewell run, that was the ten-year anniversary thing – what made you want to do that record again when you came back?
They just pitched it to us because [of] the anniversary of it. And obviously when we did that [2015] tour, we were a self-touring band, so we were able to do whatever set we wanted and we chucked in a whole second set of all the other songs. So to do it [on] its own, start to finish, was kind of special, I think – and finishing with that last song, and being able to walk offstage to it.

Do you personally consider UPP to be the best Kisschasy album?
No… Ohhh… I like Hymns a lot. I actually like a lot of our really old stuff a lot, too – the really old stuff, the pop-punk stuff. But I think Hymns – as a whole piece, for me – is probably slightly ahead.

I promise, no bullshit – I have it on my [cheat sheet] to mention that Hymns is the best Kisschasy album. But honestly, just objectively, Seizures is so fucking underrated. Every time I revisit that album, it pains me that it doesn’t get the love it deserves.
Yeah. It was a bit of a departure from what we were good at, I think, and what people expected from us. So look, those songs have a place for us, but they’re certainly not quite… They didn’t quite get the recognition that some of the earlier stuff did get.

Do you reckon at some point, you’ll revisit those and maybe do a Seizures tour?
I don’t see a Seizures tour coming. I don’t think so.

Maybe like a one-off floor show?
Yeah, maybe, yeah.

Well, seven years is obviously a decent chunk of time. What have you all been up to since the first death of Kisschasy?
A couple of guys have got growing families. We actually had the kids here today – not mine, I don’t have kids, but two of the guys had their kids, they came up onstage and the crowd gave me a little wave, which was great. And we’re all basically… Karl [Ammitzboll, drums], Sean [Thomas, lead guitar] and myself, we’re still in Melbourne – I run a business, Karl runs a business and Sean runs a business, so we’re all sort of self-sufficient businesspeople now. And Daz lives in LA these days – he’s been there [for] five or six years, I think, and he manages a couple of bars and events over there. So yeah, very different.

Do you want to hype up the business? Is that something that’s public-facing?
No, it’s not, it’s a wholesale business – I do a lot of work to keep it hidden from the general public.

That’s totally understandable. So is this Good Things run just a little one-off nostalgia trip, or is it safe to say that Kisschasy is back in full swing?
We’re working on something. [I’m] not at liberty to discuss [it] just yet, but it won’t be far away.

Is it touring or is it musical?
Touring. I don’t know if there’ll be any new music – never say never, but yeah, there’s nothing being discussed on that front.

I spoke to Darren before the farewell tour in 2015, and he’d mentioned that since Seizures came out in 2009, you’d all still kept writing, but nothing had ever really, like—
We’ve got a whole album sitting there.

Like a whole album written, or finished?
All the demos are recorded. So there’s recorded music.

Why did that never come out?
After that was written, we sort of decided that we probably weren’t going to meet in the middle, musically, anymore. And instead of pushing through it, [we] decided just to shake hands and reflect on what we had done.

Do you still feel that way?
Yeah, I’m glad we pulled the pin when we did. Me personally, I didn’t want to sort of… We sort of went out and a bit of a high, which is always a nice thing to do if you’re able to do it. If [I] have the choice, that’s the choice I would make every time.

And is that just in regards to the record you made, or is that the general sense now as well?
To be honest, we have not discussed it since we broke up. I tried to convince Daz just to release a song or something in the lead-up to Good Things, but I couldn’t bend his arm. He’s very proud, and they are just demos, so he didn’t really want to do that. But look, as I said, we might even have [a] discussion whilst we’re all together again at the moment – Darren is staying down for another week after the festival, so see what comes up. But yeah, look, everyone’s got pretty intense lives these days, with other commitments, so…

Do you still jam just for the fun of it?
I had to find my guitar – it got closed in a case from the last show in Melbourne, 2015, and it did not see the light of day until three weeks ago.

I saw the set – it was fucking fantastic. Just the fucking… Kisschasy’s back. I saw Kisschasy in 2022…
Nostalgia is a powerful drug.

I feel like this has been a good year for it – we got Faker, Sunk Loto…
There’s heaps of it going on! I think it’s great.

I’m manifesting the Operator Please comeback – and then I want, like, a huge tour of all the 2000s bands that [made those] comebacks.
I think that would be a great festival. Absolutely. I saw… Ah, just heaps of bands have been popping back up – and [are] planning to over the next 12 months as well, so… I think people are hungry for live, real music again – especially after the last couple of years. I think all the bands are like, “Well, if they want it, let’s fucking give it to ’em.”

Huge shoutout to Janine Morcos and Sose Fuamoli for making this happen!