Local Watch: Strangers From Now On
Written by Alana Mazurke
Rounding off what has been an undoubtedly epic year, having played alongside the likes of My Bloody Valentine and The Drones at boutique festival ATP; four piece Melbourne outfit Strangers From Now on have digitally re-released their first self titled EP. Deservingly so, the band are now receiving recognition for what turns out to be a well produced, sonically indulgent four track experience. I talk to band member Dan Myles about the bands evolving sound, the new record set for release next year and what it’s like being a young band in Melbourne.
The band formed in 2010, and you’ve only just re-released your first EP three years later. Why the wait? Have you felt a change since the first release – forming certain bonds sonically; perhaps a type of maturation on each part? How did the four of you come together to form Strangers From Now On?
The first EP was actually recorded and released in 2011. That was so early on that we didn’t really have the resources to properly distribute it, rather we just gave it out after shows and made to occasional sale online. We have recently been working with a new manager who has been wonderful and she was keen to give the old EP a proper organized push. We are lucky to have some backing now and a little more interest and with the next EP coming out early next year we thought we might as well give it one a last hoorah. So yeah there wasn’t too much of a wait, although I suppose it’s been two and a half years since we last put something out so we are definitely due for some new recordings. That gap has certainly been about shifting tastes and a bit of growing up. Even still I think the next EP we have just finished recording comes at an interesting time where we are still bridging the old and the new so there’s a bit of a taste of some of that old Strangers still in there.
As for the four of us coming together I knew Aidan and Gab through various mutual friends. Through 2009 Gab had been performing solo sets and was keen to get a band together. I came back from overseas in early 2010 and Gab, Aidan and Miranda had put a set together with our good friend Tyson Slithers, who plays in a number of great projects around Melbourne. Ty was over busy at the time and had to leave so I joined shortly after.
Do you now feel latter day shows will differ now that the songs are readily available for people to hear?
Our set is changing for sure, but it has nothing to do with what we have put down on the last EP or the next. You just have to change things up or you get bored, your audience gets bored and there’s no love left in it anymore. I think we will be letting a lot of the old material go from the old set as we write new songs throughout next year. To be honest that’s exciting, it makes room for new things and we are all focused on putting together new material.
The production of this EP is very admirable and makes a massive difference to the entirety of the EP. After reading numerous reviews I can see I too am not the only one who thinks so. Who produced the EP and how did the band come across the studio at where you recorded – Birdland Studios? Will you choose to use the same recording processes on the next EP?
For the first EP we had Mic Letho work with us, though he was mostly involved in the postproduction and mixing rather than being there in the studio with us. Mic did an incredible job of making it sound really professional, especially considering a portion of it was tracked in a warehouse, Mic’s home studio and we only had a day of actual studio time at Supersonic studios. He was so patient and often full of ideas of how to achieve what we were after.
What can we expect from the second release from Strangers From Now On?
The next release is a bit more varied; whilst there is certainly still some of that loud intensity from the earlier EP some of the newer songs are more restrained and focused. Gab and Aidan have been playing a lot more synth these days and that’s definitely changed the sound away from being completely guitar driven. This time through we had a lot more studio time too and worked directly with Lindsay Gravina who has produced a number of our favourite Australian albums. Having the time to really work out songs and lay down each part perfectly has really made a difference to the finished product too.
You’re a local Melbourne band who has played at numerous venues. How do you feel music is progressing or if so, rather digressing from how the music scene was when you started?
I feel it’s always changing a bit, venues are always opening and closing and a few have been around forever and will hopefully stay. There has certainly been a lot of worry about these things and we are all watching it closely and do what we can to help out. Music is such an important part of this city and I would hate to see it go anywhere. As for the scene itself it’s hard to say, we’re close with a large number of really great acts from around Melbourne, so I feel we get to see it thriving all the time. The longer you work at it the more you meet people who are creating really great stuff so I think it would be impossible to say it’s regressing! Music will always change, and as different styles become popular others lose favour. It would be wrong to think that this is any sort of regression; people will always be making interesting music. Let’s just hope our small venues stay open and continue to support that!
As obvious as this question may be, playing at ATP earlier this year with the likes of The Drones and My Bloody Valentine; what does an opportunity like playing at a festival of that demeanour do for a young emerging band like yours?
Towards the end of 2012 we had lost a fair bit of momentum as a band and had scrapped probably 10 or so songs over the course of that year in an effort to write new material. Our late addition to that bill was certainly a welcome surprise and definitely set the bar high in that we would playing alongside so amazing acts on that line-up. We began rehearsing like crazy, wrote a few new songs in a number of weeks and really found our stride for the first time in a while. We were blown away by what seemed like a really positive response to our set, from the crowd on the day, a number of the people involved in the festival and by the couple of reviews that appeared over the following days. That kind of thing really develops your confidence in what you are doing. We also had a great chat that day with Stacey of Two Fish out of Water who was promoting the festival. One thing led to another and she has recently started managing the band, and that’s certainly helped focused everything we have been doing recently.
The description of Strangers From Now On as being ‘androgynous, neurotic, sex-pot in a world of sleaze’ is quite confronting and honest. Is this a generalisation of the bands sound or more so live performance which is notably entertaining?
Yeah that came from one of our really early reviews, as silly as the word “sex-pot” is I don’t actually mind the line. A lot of Gab’s lyrics address a discomfort with sleaze and macho sexuality and his voice is certainly androgynous and expressive, so it’s quite appropriate. Regardless of how much the reviewer might have been taking the piss we all kind of took to it and so have repeated it tongue in cheek several times.
Listen to EP here: