Interview: Liam Burgan from ‘Greenthief’
With a new single released and a national tour planned, it’s a busy time for Melbourne rockers Greenthief. We caught up with drummer Liam Burgan to discuss El Grande festival, the creation of their latest music video, and being a postman.
How’s your day been so far?
Yeah, pretty good, just bumped off work early, so that was fun and have just gone down to the studio.
Oh cool, doing recording?
Just jamming yeah. Getting ready for the tour and stuff like that.
That’s awesome! Speaking of the tour, you’re about to play El Grande Festival in Brisbane!
Yeah. We’re playing with Alithia, another Melbourne band, I think they’re headlining the festival. So yeah, we’re pretty pumped to be on the line up. There are a few bands, local bands and a bunch of interstate bands as well that we’re fans of, so it’s going to be a good one, I reckon.
Yeah, it looks like there are some cool bands on there. Who are you most excited to see?
Well I’m originally from South Australia, so I’m really looking forward to seeing a band called Colibrium. They were on my radar a few years ago and they started rehearsing at my Uncle’s studio in Adelaide, ‘cause I used to run a studio with my uncle, so I’m pretty pumped to see those guys!
I just listened to your new single Escape and saw that Matt Okine from triple j has given it a review saying he thinks it sounds like old-school Weezer?
Yeah, that was cool that he jumped on and dug it. We’re pretty excited about that song. It’s sort of like a new area for us. We wanted to put a single out that showed our diverse palette. If that doesn’t sound too wanky…
No, I totally get what you’re saying. I’ve listened to some of your older stuff and it seems a lot more grungy, whereas this seems much less grungy, if that’s a way to explain it?
Yeah, definitely. We actually recorded this track with a producer called Steven Schram. He’s responsible for bands like San Cisco, so a bit more of a pop style. We thought we’d change it up and go with a producer that had not so much a rock background, to sort of take our rock style and infuse it with someone else’s to get a different result. That’s I guess what we did with this one, so we’re pretty happy with it.
Yeah, that’s super cool. As someone who really enjoys stuff like Weezer, I really liked Escape!
Yeah, yeah. I guess every band goes through their stages of changing their sound. We’ve got an album coming out that’ll drop sometime this year, and the stuff we’re writing now for the next EP or album or whatever it’s going to be is a mix between the old and the new. As clichéd as that sound, that’s what we’re going for. With this single we thought we’d just go for it. It might come as a bit of a shock for people who have heard Greenthief before, and have heard all of the big riffs. But it was a good experience for us, and we’re really happy with it and the way it’s going.
I think it’s good to be more authentic and in keeping with the direction you feel you should be going, rather than just creating what people want, necessarily.
Yeah, definitely. I think if you’re releasing the same song every year it’s no fun really, that’s how I see it.
Yeah, exactly. In the film clip for Escape there’s these big balloons floating around, I hear it was filmed in the National Gallery of Victoria. What made you choose that location?
Well, we actually didn’t decide anything, we just went there because we really wanted to check out the exhibition. We walked through a couple of rooms, and then we came to this big open room with all the balloons. We joked about filming a clip spontaneously in the room, and then we were like “f*ck it, let’s just do it!”. So with two iPhones, one playing the song so Julian (Schweitzer) could learn the lyrics and the one filming it, we just did it there and then.
That’s a cool way of doing it!
Yeah, we didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but we showed a few friends and they loved it, so we put it out and have had a really good response from it. I think those sort of things you can’t really plan. The exhibition was amazing as well, we were totally inspired by it. We were just so happy that we got a film clip out of it too.
Definitely! And you’re heading on tour in support of the single too?
That’s right. We’re supporting the Escape single. We’re going to Tasmania which will be fun. We don’t get out there too much. Then we’re back home at Cherry Bar in Melbourne. The weekend after we’ve got the two El Grande Festivals – The one in Brisbane and the one in Gladstone. That’ll be awesome because the Gladstone bill has killer bands that aren’t necessarily on the Brisbane bill, so that’ll be really cool. Then on the Sunday we’re in Sydney at Frankie’s Pizza which is one of our favourite venues to play in Australia.
What are you most looking forward to about being on the road?
I’d say mostly the bands, like, growing the networks. Obviously playing the shows and stuff, but I think once you’ve done it a few times it’s more about meeting cool people and listening to awesome bands. I don’t want it to sound too cheesy, but that’s sort of what it’s like now. It’d be really nice to get radio support and be playing bigger shows and blah blah blah, but we try and just focus on playing really good shows, you know? Quality over quantity. That’s why we’re stoked to be on the El Grande line up, there’s going to be people there, and yeah, that’s what I’m most looking forward to the most, I guess.
Nice! And running on from that, what’s your favourite thing to buy from a service station while you’re on the road?
Ah, that’s a good question. I’d say Mentos, I reckon. Fruit Mentos. They’re really addictive. Mentos is good. We try not to get Krispy Kremes and stuff in Melbourne from the servos, because you eat the glazed ones and by the time you’ve had a few you can’t breathe.
You guys have been a band for a while, what advice would you give to bands or artists just starting out?
Well, I’ve only joined the band in the last couple of years and don’t want to take credit for everything, but I’d probably say just having good songs and playing good shows. I think if you’ve got a really good live show, I think people are going to notice. I’ll go out to a local gig in Melbourne and see these kids that are still teenagers absolutely killing it, and we wanna support those guys, so we hit them up like ‘hey, can we play with you guys?’. So yeah, probably have a killer live show.
If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing?
That’s a really hard one, I’ve never really thought about that. I reckon I’d like to be a postman.
Yeah? That’s an interesting response. Any reason for that?
I think it’s cool that you get to ride on footpaths, on like a motorbike.
Good answer. And considering you have ‘thief’ in your name, if you could steal anything in the world, what would it be?
Ooh, Kanye West’s ego.
Another good answer! Perfect, thank you so much for your time.
No worries, that was fun!
Check out the full El Grande Festival lineup and info HERE
Greenthief Tour Dates
FRI 4 MAR
The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
SAT 5 MAR
Cherry Bar, Melbourne
FRI 11 MAR
New Globe Theatre, Brisbane (El Grande)
SAT 12 MAR
Grand Hotel, Gladstone (El Grande)
SUN 13 MAR
Frankie’s Pizza, Sydney
FRI 18 MAR
The Loft, Warrnambool
SAT 19 MAR
Ed Castle, Adelaide