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Interview: WHARVES

The vertical incline for WHARVES is growing increasingly faster. This four-piece, from Lennox Heads, make intrinsic and dark indie-rock and with their latest burner, High School Hero, they continue to break the threshold. WHARVES will be performing at AAA Backstage’s Birthday Bash so we got in touch with Matt from the group to chat about their studio processes, the Northern Rivers area and his best birthday memory.

Your new single, I reckon it’s like a really, really good step up in both your sound and your production. How did this one come together?

First of all, thanks for the compliment. Yeah, no, it was actually just like me and the guitarist, Mike, we get together pretty often, like probably at least once a week, sometimes more. But, we literally just do a stream of consciousness, just whatever pops in our head we just go with it. Two, three hours go by and we end up with some sort of song. It just has a real dance-ability and it’s a lot of fun. It’s also kind of dark as well. Just kind of captures where we’re at, at the moment.

How many songs do you think you guys work on to completion or to almost completion?

Probably, in the last year, we’ve probably had 60 kind of solid things and then probably another 40 or 50 kind of ones you just never look into again. But we’ve kind of just done three at the start of this year, like fully recorded, produced and everything, ready to go and this is the first of those three. We do a lot of trial and error stuff and it’s usually just the kind of gems that kind of come through at the end.

If it’s one of your ideas that you brought it to the table and, say if the band kind of shelves it or if it can’t see the light of day any time soon, is that a bit disheartening?

Yeah it is a little bit disheartening. It’s actually, funnily enough, one of the ones we have recorded that’s not coming out this time but it will come out soon, was a bit like that. I the did original demo and then brought it to the band and they liked it but like we couldn’t seem to get it to work then and there, just as like a live kind of thing. But at the same time I’m always happy just to move forward. There’s some that just purely come out of jamming and stuff, and other things just sound better like just one person doing a demo.

When you guys are in the studio, how much experimentation or improvisation comes into play?

Yeah, a huge part. Really, that’s the one thing that’s really good about Mike, our guitarist. He’s just… like he’s just like a wizard. He’s just so amazing. He just loves experimenting with technology. He just plays with knobs and pedals and different things and they make the craziest sound. He’s like a great producer in his own right, even separate to the band. And so, I’m usually having to reign him in and kind of focus the idea a bit when he comes up with something really interesting. He’s pretty much just got an endless energy for experimentation. But yeah, we’re always thinking of different ways to experiment—we always do the opposite of what we did before.

So you haven’t really found a perfect way or structure to create your songs. It’s all just whatever the song needs, just do it?

Yeah, and that’s the common theme I find with listening to like Paul McCartney talk about how he writes songs and Sting—there’s never one way of doing it. The more you think you’ve got a method, you’ll just end up unhappy with the result. Or you can end up unhappy with the results, once if you go, “Oh this worked last time,” and try it again and then it just feels like it’s kind of forced. I never have trouble writing stuff, but it’s always when you try something new or just let something happen, rather than trying to manufacture some sort of perfect technique.

You guys are from Lennox Head. How does the area play into the characteristics of the band?

We’re really lucky to have Splendour and I just went to Bluesfest over the weekend and that just lights an absolute fire. Even during Bluesfest and then after Bluesfest I’ve written so many songs and ideas that could be songs. It’s just like being exposed to people like Robert Plant who just blew my mind on the weekend. So I think we’re really lucky, we’ve got a really creative area and having access to Bluesfest, Splendour and Falls, just around the corner from where we live, is something special.

We’re really lucky, for a regional area, to have that. I don’t think anywhere else in, maybe the world, has such a rich festival scene for the amount of population that lives here.

You guys are playing AAA Backstage’s Birthday Bash, which is going to be sick. What are some of your favourite birthday moments in your past? Or maybe even some of your worst birthday memories?

I remember my 22nd birthday. I had an epic house party and heaps of my friends and even my sister came down from Brisbane for it. I was obviously the drunkest there and ended up doing a back flip into the pool. I pretty much blacked out after that but I realized I was in different clothes when I woke and everyone told me that people had to change me. There’s footage of me singing Van Morrison in my friend’s shirt. He’s got big Hawaiian shirts that don’t fit me. So yeah, everyone was noticeably less drunk than me at that one.

WHARVES are playing AAA Backstage’s Birthday Bash—Friday 27 April at The Flying Cock, Brisbane, alongside K.I.M (The Presets), Nocturnal Tapes, Eliza & The Delusionals and more. Tickets are on sale HERE.

AAA Backstage Birthday Bash Lineup

K.I.M (The Presets)
Nocturnal Tapes
Eliza & The Delusionals
Machine Club

Written by Jake Wilton