Interview

Songs

Songs

Monday 9th August, 2010 1:41PM

With a debut album freshly pressed and an imminent Stateside sojourn for SXSW lined up, Sydney-based Songs are a band quickly making a name for themselves (even if it’s impossible to find them on Google). UTR spoke with guitarist Jeff Burch and learned his thoughts on the writing process, the problematic idea of musical heroes, ‘making it’ in America and spear fishing.

Who are Songs? How long have you been together for?

Max Doyle, Ela Stiles, Steve Uren and myself. The band has been together for about three years now. Steve, Max and I grew up in New Zealand, Ela in Australia. We all live in Sydney now.

How would you describe your sound?

Pop music essentially. We draw on various things but that is always at the crux of it. You can trace a lot of it back to sixties New York I guess; all the ideas the people working there inadvertently spawned thereafter.

How does the writing process work for you?

Max or (sometimes) Ela will bring an idea to the band. Sometimes it is almost fully formed, sometimes the ideas need a lot of work and arranging. So it depends. The process can be quite quick, and sometimes it can be really, really long. Because they are pop songs the melodies are always there, so it can be played a million different ways ¬and sometimes we need to try it a million different ways to find out what the melody needs.

After already releasing two 7”s and an E.P, how does it feel to have finished and released your debut full-length album?

The process is so drawn out that by the time you have it in your hands the whole idea of it being something new... there is no euphoric state if that's what you mean. It's good to have recorded an album with the band though. It was a lot of work and it’s great to complete something of that scale. I think it's quite a fully formed record, it's something we are personally quite happy with, so it is satisfying to have that out in people’s hands and to hear that people enjoy it.

Who are your influences/musical heroes?

I am a fan of course but I don't like the idea of musical 'heroes'. A hero implies that what someone does you are incapable of, I don't like that idea. Steve Reich and bands like The Dead C really changed how I think about music, Alan Licht, John Fahey, John Cage, John Cale etc. People that have rethought traditions, deconstructed them and offered new solutions.

What are you trying to get across with your music?

That's an open question. We don't really have an agenda as a band if that's what you mean. We do it because we enjoy it and it's a nice escape from our nine to five jobs. It's nice to work collaboratively on music and our first priority is writing music that we enjoy playing together. How people read what we do is out of our control.

Is there a particular audience you are aiming for?

Not at all.

What are your experiences as a band with the internet? Effective promotional tool, viral communicator, revenue destroyer or otherwise?

I really don't know. The band uses the internet every day; we have our own website and a couple pages on those social networking sites. It is probably a good way to communicate with people who are interested in the band, especially a younger audience.

In terms of it being helpful or detrimental to the bands 'career' is a question I can't really answer. The internet is a new technology and I feel like people are still in a state of frenzy with it. It's as if people are still learning its actual relevance or are trying to map it out, you only have to look at something Twitter to realise that. I think in a few years everyone might be in a better position to answer your question...

Do you create music primarily for a live setting or the recorded format? How do you see the relationship between the two?

I think we enjoy both. I personally enjoy working in a studio a lot. I like details and the possibilities that reveal themselves once you begin overdubbing and layering things. I like the controlled environment of the studio too, it's more like a practice room. Playing live is great though, you just approach it with a different attitude; you have to think about how you can fill the room, how you can move people in the back of the venue. We are probably a bit more indulgent live.

After touring New Zealand, you guys are heading off to the challenging frontier of America for SXSW and a bunch of shows in California. How are you approaching the task of breaking into America? How difficult do you think it is for overseas acts?

This is probably quite clichéd but we are going there for a new experience, to see and play some new places, challenge ourselves a bit. I don't know what it is like, but SXSW seemed like a good opportunity to play in a new country to a decent sized audience that hasn't seen us. I don't think we really care about cracking it, none of us have time to crack it, we have to go to work on Monday.

What are your plans for the future?

We are planning to buckle down and write another album soon. Hopefully we will have time to record it by year’s end.

Finally, 5 albums for a desert island?

I would be too busy spear fishing and trying to open coconuts for things like music.

Ryan Eyers




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