Written By Alana Mazurke
Battleships are a four piece hailing from Sydney who obtain their own unique way of writing music much to their critics’ adulation. They mask their level of indie pop with darker shades creating a new dimension of sound structures that grasp for your attention and once held, doesn’t let go.
In light of their recent mini album release and with new track ‘As You’d Begun’ to soon be out for the public eye I asked bassist Jonathan Bowden about album To You and what Battleships have in store for Australian fans…
Brand new single ‘As You’d Begun’ is set to be released this month. Notably, the track is both self produced and recorded. What made you decide to take reign in production? Is this the case for the album as a whole or are there outside influences who work on other tracks?
We produced and recorded the whole album ourselves. The main reason for doing this was the fact we had no money. Our drummer, Dan, owns a lot of recording gear (as well as having access to a whole lot more), and I work at a school where there is this big old hall that has this great natural reverb. So we bunkered down there for a few days over the school holidays with all the gear and recorded what you now hear.
Since the successful release of mini album To You, how do you feel the band has differed in the making of a new release? Does constant touring of an album make you excited to produce new music? Have you ever felt like playing an entire new set of songs to see the reaction?
I mean, it’s not that we get sick of playing our current songs, but the art of creating is always exciting. So for us, I think we are always somewhere in the process of producing new music, whether that’s writing a song in its most basic form, or trying out a new song in a live show.
The band are about to embark on a new co-headline Australian tour in light of the release of ‘As You’d Begun’ with artist Nantes. Had you previously worked together? Why the co-headline – are both bands just equally as modest as the other – is chivalry really not dead?!
We haven’t worked together as such, but we’re quite good friends. And because we both want to go to each other’s birthdays, we insisted on a co-headline tour so nobody’s feelings got hurt.
To You saw many singles released off the album such as ‘In Retrospect’, ‘Your Words’, ‘Coming Back To You’ and shortly ‘As You’d Begun’. What is the thought process when deciding to release a single?
I guess that as a band, you just have a vibe when you know that a song is special. Once we’ve gauged the general feeling in the band on a particular song, we sort of widen our circle to our manager and a few close friends and family to see what they think of the song and get their opinions on it.
Having a high rotation of said singles, can you possibly describe the feeling of hearing your work being played on the air for the first time? Is there a point where it becomes commonplace or is there perhaps an even slightly egotistical reaction?
It was a surreal feeling hearing something that I’d written being played on the radio for the first time, and I still get a bit excited when I hear us. I guess I do get quite proud when I hear something of mine on the radio. To be honest, I’d say I get more self conscious than egotistical, especially when I’m around other people.
As Australian musicians, what are your thoughts on the current situation of Australian live music – is there a positive growth in the amount of people paying and attending live music, or would you agree there is a notable difference in the crowds of today when compared to the past?
Well I’m not that old, so I can’t comment too much on the crowds of the past. But over the past however many years that I’ve actually been aware of the live music scene in Australia, I’d say there’s definitely been a positive growth in terms of people paying for and attending live music. I think there will always be a place for live music, not only in Australia, but globally.
You’ve recently played at the Moomba Festival in Melbourne. What’s your take on playing festivals; do they take higher preferential that playing either headline or support? What would be the one festival Battleships would love to have a spot on the bill?
I would love to play Glastonbury Festival! It’s just such a renowned festival with a vivid and long past, and to be a part of that would be amazing. There are pros and cons to playing both festivals and headline/supports. In a festival environment, there is a great sense of comradery between the bands and you also get people coming to watch you who perhaps wouldn’t normally…I guess it’s sort of like a big school camp. On the other hand, headlines and supports are usually more intimate, where the punters are there to see you, and you can see them, which makes for a great vibe.
You’ve been described as ‘old friends; young band’. How did you all meet in the first place let alone the formation of the band?
Jordan (our frontman) and I grew up on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and have been together since about Year 1. Over the years, we’d been in many bands together…some good, most bad. When I was in Year 11 or 12, I met Dan (the drummer) who was about 13 at the time. We bonded over music and began playing together. After we both completed tertiary course, Dan and I decided to move to Sydney. I kept writing songs with Jordan over Skype, but it’s very difficult to play music over Skype. After much coercing, I finally convinced him to join us. We then asked Nato (our guitarist) who Dan and I had met in Sydney to join us…and there you have Battleships!
If you were to describe how new single ‘As You’d Begun’ differs to the other singles off of To You, what would be the one word you would use?
I feel that each of the songs showcase the musicality and creativity of Battleships in a different way…and I like the fact that each song gives people a little more of an idea of who we are as a band. The word I would use to describe ‘As You’d Begun’ is melancholic.