By Alana Mazurke
There’s a reason why this young four piece from Sydney are opening for the likes of Go Violets, Vampire Weekend, Wavves, Best Coast and Real Estate. Their latest EP THE NIGHT HERO WASTE TIME GETTING BETTER produced by acclaimed Dann Hume (Alpine, Matt Corby, Snakadaktal) showcases five tracks all brilliantly epitomizing the ideals of pop music; or as most people continue to refer it to – indie. Band member Jonas Nicholls took some time to answer my questions about catching a break, playing with idols and recording new material.
Pretty soon after the release of your second EP you did a National tour with Go Violets. How do you feel the reception to the new material went? It must be a pretty humbling experience playing new music to fans.
Playing new songs is definitely a humbling experience, it feels like a lame version of what I imagine bass jumping to feel like, just your song is the parachute while the audience holds the ripcord that decides if you splat. We’d been playing most of the new EP songs for a while before the tour though, which was sick. Love them Go Violets.
The EP was produced by Dann Hume (Alpine, Snakadaktal, Courtney Barnett), was his knack of working with predominately Australian artists what appealed most?
He’s definitely had a hand in a bunch of great sounding Aussie releases of the past few years, he did a really great job at creating sonic worlds for Snakadaktal, Alpine and Courtney Barnett that are tailored to their vibe/aesthetic. I think his ability to do that is reflected in his creative process. When we did a song with him for our previous EP it was such good vibes, and that was probably the main reason we went with him again. Recording was always spurred along by beers and talking shit. Riding those good vibes is a great way to get in the zone and smash a take, but I think the chats were also his way of getting an idea of the bands personality so he could bottle it up in a sound.
The name of the EP The Night, Hero, Waste, Time, Getting Better is derived from the title of each single off the EP; how did the decision process to name it this come about? Was it a group effort or more just a one genius idea type situation?
It was at the suggestion of our manager Andy Casselhoff while we were trying to think of a name, we’re really bad at naming EP’s in that we forget to think about naming it until the last possible second
Getting named JJJ unearthed artist of the year unlocked some pretty big doors for SURES including a slot at the 2012 St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. How does an opportunity like that affect a young emerging band?
It was a pretty amazing feeling, at the time we’d only been a proper band for around 3 months. The doors were flying open as well, so quickly that it felt a little unfair. But the early advantage did come with its own inconveniences. Inexperienced bands need to cut their teeth live, I’ve heard someone say it took the Beatles 1000 live shows in dingy pubs around Liverpool to get tight, imagine how long it would take a bunch of gronks like us.
Is there the same kind of feelings/incredulity when playing with names such as WAVVES, Real Estate, Vampire Weekend, Bleeding Knees Club etc.?
Definitely, I’m always stoked for days every time we get a sweet support. A surprising number of the bands we’ve played with are bands whose records I’ve smashed on the old iPod too, it’s a weird feeling supporting a band you know all the words to. For me who sings whatever song is in my head on autopilot its a constant struggle to avoid accidentally singing their songs while they’re in earshot.
Two years ago the single The Sun was released from first EP STARS. Looking back to that time, as one of your first recordings, how do you feel about the song or even EP now?
I think the first EP was great, if I can say that without sounding like a tosser. It was at a time that we had just started delving into writing melodies and chords and we weren’t too sure how to dress them up yet. At the end of the day that EP is the sound of Sures learning how to write songs. A process we’ll hopefully always be going through.
The first film clip for the EP was single Waste directed by William Colvin, depicting a very 90’s feel. Second film clip for single Time, directed by Simon Knox is a little more lyrical yet suits the song perfectly. Does the band have influence in the storyboard or do you predominately leave it up to the directors? How did the relationships between the band and two director’s form?
We heard about Will though a crazy video he directed for his fake band, it was pretty wacky and we wanted to bring some of that stuff into the Sures world. Will would voice his thought process as he thought about which of his crazy ideas would work for us and which wouldn’t. In a fashion similar to Dann Hume his decisions stemmed just from chatting and getting to know each other a little before and during the shoot. Simon was already a mate so he had a good idea of what would work for us, we chatted about his ideas a few times and he went off to shoot all the narrative stuff exactly how he wanted it. We did collaborate in the editing, it was a pretty intense time, we all had exams coming up but were sitting in front of the computer trying to work out some kind of order for the shots. When you get on a roll creatively I find it gets easier though, there were times when it felt like we synced up and thought of an idea at the same time, pretty strange.
How do you feel the Australian music scene is faring right now? When touring, are there any notable differences from Sydney to any other capital?
The Australian music scene is great, we never have a bad time playing anywhere. Touring is one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had, every city has people keen for some brews and a chat. Places like Brisbane are great, it’s a sweet setup, people are keen on the bands as much as they’re keen to get wasted and dance. The local music community is so tight knit I’d imagine they’d have a hard time meeting someone they don’t vicariously know at a show, needless to say it’s make outs galore. Sydney is the victory lap, like playing to the home crowd after a series of away shows. Sydney-siders are the nicest people, I feel like they understand us better if that’s something that makes sense, and they’re always keen for a chinwag. Adelaide is great because in the words of a drunk Adelaidian himself, ‘We don’t have fuck-all to do here so ‘course we gonna get pissed and watch you play’. His words, not mine.
SURES have been referenced to a number of genres most commonly ‘surf rock’. As easy as it is to leave the genres to the critic, surely there are times when you think people are completely off the mark. I think your genre reflects your influences; who is SURES main influences in both past and present tense?
Yeah, I think calling our first EP ‘surf’ is fair play, but if I can have an aside I’m not heaps stoked on genrefication of music, simply because it can become a crutch for its appreciation. Its like one of those pictures made up of heaps of tiny pictures, an understanding of genre is understanding what the big picture looks from far away, but the artists that are clumsily lumped into each genre all look like something completely different through a microscope. In that way genre is a simplification for the sake of classification, one that a lot of people never quite see past.
But that’s not to say it doesn’t have its uses, if I was to talk about our influences I could, but only through the sweeping generalities of genre as opposed to minute details of specific artists. For example a love of emo/punk music and hip-hop both have their role in our creative process. We all used to listen to emo music growing up and I think that’s where our focus on melody comes from, possibly some of the angsty songs are in that space too. The rap influence comes through in our approach to production when recording, when we record its all about creating the right sonic and rhythmic environment to frame the melody. Come to think about it, punk music is pretty influenced by hip-hop rhythmically as well.
There are talks of an album set to be released this year; what pushed you into doing a second EP rather than diving straight into an album?
We started out to create a record as soon as the first EP dropped, but every new song we wrote was a step away from the first EP. It would have been fine if they were steps in more or less the same direction, but there were songs going fucking everywhere, it was a mess. Anyway, we’d been live trialling a few of the songs that most fit with the rest of the set and it wasn’t too long till we thought to put out the ones that stuck. It sort of created a sonic trajectory for us to extrapolate from when it came to working on the album.
How has the feeling toward writing and recording this new project been so far?
Its been a fun process and we’re all stoked on the songs. It was daunting at first, we had about 40 songs recorded on garageband to narrow down and only a loose idea of how we thought those songs would fit together on an album. We’ve just been jamming and recording for last month and half and right now we’re in the middle of finishing up our second batch of demos.
I guess seeing as its still close to New Years I can beg the question of the possibility of a SURES new year’s resolution?
Think of a name for our album, ha.
Watch latest film clip for single ‘Time’ here:
Film clip for single ‘Waste’ here:
SURES have been announced to play at 2014’s Secret Garden!
Tickets and details here