Friday, July 13, 2012

Expatriate interview

Carol Bowditch caught up with from Expatriate after the band's lonnnng period of playing and writing in Europe. We haven’t really heard from the four-piece since their 2007 release, In the Midst of This, so Damian (the chap just to the right of lead-singer Ben's cheek in the above picture) explains what they had been up to.

Tell us what you've been doing for the last few years?
At the end of 2008 we flew over to Germany to release In the Midst of This. We had an English management company and they got us a Warner Brother record deal in Germany, so we went over there and, just as we were about to sign it, the first economic crisis happened. We ended up going with one of Europe’s biggest independent labels called PIAS. We spent a-year-and-a-half touring that album, doing all of the main festivals, like Rock in the Park, all these massive festivals, from Turkey to Greece, Helsinki… We also did about 50 shows with Placebo throughout Europe, so by the end of it we were well and truly sick of the songs. It’s not a good move to put out a record, and a-year-and-a-half after you have done it in Australia, do it over again in Germany. It was a bit like Groundhog Day.

So, we’ve just done our second record that has been sitting on the shelf for about a year, but that’s finally being released. I would like a third album [or] another EP released within October or November. Cause we have so much newer, fresher material.

You played with Placebo around Europe, who would you want to do a tour with in the future?
It depends really, whoever I’m listening to at the time. I really like bands like m83, lots of different stuff really, like The Weeknd and Drake. I have been listening to William Basinski, who does all of this experimental stuff. He’s a bit like Steve Reich, makes this like a sonic landscape, droney, multimedia thing, it’s really different.

How is Hyper/Hearts different from your last few releases like Lovers le Strange and In the Midst of This?
It’s much more over produced. We spent a lot of time in the studio. We tried to make a different record to In the Midst of This, which was very rock, in a way, with lots of guitars. We tried to add a lot more keyboards. It’s a lot more developed and refined in terms of production and stuff.

What is your favourite track on the album?
I would say Dangerous Stranger; it’s just really dark and fucked up, like an early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club sound. A good mix of guitars and synths, I like that. Also, Do You Remember is a good singalong.

Tell me about the two new videos that have recently been released on your blog. Do you enjoy making videos for your songs?
I love making videos, we do them ourselves. Dave our bass player does them and is quite good at it. It’s such a hard thing though, like making music, when it comes together and it works, it’s amazing. I love making video clips and I film, I love that medium. If you can marry those two together, that’s awesome. I don’t think you need a massive budget, it’s all about the idea I guess.

How are you finding playing in Australia after so long?
Brisbane was awesome. It was like an indie rock DJ night. Our record label is up there too. It was an eventful occasion.

I think in a way, people have moved on, like Triple J… After coming back after three years, like, Robbie Buck, who was our biggest advocate and supporter of us, is over at the 702 station, Ha Ha… Nothing wrong with that obviously, it just appears that we haven’t got the same support that we once got.

After talking to Damian, I went along to see the boys play at Sydney's Spectrum. I was reminded of all the festival gigs that I had seen them play years ago as a 16-year-old fangirl of the band. They played a mix of old faves like Play a Part and The Spaces Between, as well as a sample of new material, like aforementioned Do you Remember, along with few other newbies off Hyper/Hearts. They dedicated their song Crazy from In The Midst of This, to all the friends and family that had turned up on the night.

Interview by Carol Bowditch. Hyper / Hearts is out now. 

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