The first three things that pop into my mind when I think about Australia are Crocodile Dundee, cricket, and their mixed love-hate relationship with the U.K. … With enough of Australia being rooted in English tradition, there have been various ‘go away Britain’ moments, such as regarding the flag, the monarchy, and other elements. One area where it is clear, however, that the nation is clearly embracing something distinctly born in Britain is with shoegaze music. There is where we find Australia heralding a whole whack of great shoegaze from bands like Bloodhounds On My Trail, Lowtide, Contrast, Miniatures, Flying Colours, Blush Response, Luna Ghost, Kigo, Lunaire, Roku Music, Fait, and the ‘wizards of Oz’ explored in this feature.
Hideous Towns got their start post-high school, when members Ryan DeCoite and Chris MacLean moved in together and starting to write music. Drummer Ashley Stirling joined the band next, thanks to a specific pub and a family member with connections to Ryan, followed by Alana West, who was looking to get involved with a band after moving to Melbourne. Straight away it was clear that West’s vocals fit in perfectly with the band’s overall style and direction. Since playing their first show in September of 2013, Hideous Towns have been gigging steady, have self-recorded and self-released two singles (“Don’t Look Up” and “Joy”), and have also released their debut self-titled EP in November of 2014.
Replicant Ears recently got the chance to catch up with the band in this exclusive interview!
RE: Tell us about yourselves and how you originally came together.
HT: We are Ryan, Alana, Ashley and Chris. Ryan and Chris have been friends for a long while. We moved out together a couple years ago and started writing songs. We met Ashley because his mother worked with Ryan and recognised the music Ryan played off his phone at work from Ashley playing it at home. Alana is from interstate and had just moved to Melbourne looking for a band on a musician website. We snatched her quickly and voila.
RE:Who are your biggest influences?
HT: We all have similar taste, but also varied taste, and influences are often hard to pin down. A bunch of pop and post-punk groups would be a vague way to put it, but for each of us individually it would be something like: Alana – ’60s hits/soul/’50s rock ‘n’ roll, Ryan – punk/lo-fi pop/British India, Ashley – The Velvet Underground/N.W.A, Chris – Kraftwerk/MBV [My Bloody Valentine]/Johnny Marr.
RE: In your own words, tell us what kind of music you are making.
HT: Generally, there are two broad kinds of sounds that we tend to have: slower and prettier dream-pop songs and faster, noisier, post-punky stuff.
RE: What motivated you to start making music in the first place?
HT: Listening to other music that really just grabs you by the mind and alters how you think and how you spend your time makes it hard to not want to make music — what could be better than maybe one day doing that to someone yourself?
RE: Would you say a shoegaze revival or rebirth is underway right now? What do you think about bands like Ride, Swervedriver, Medicine and Slowdive getting together again?
HT: ‘Rebirth’ is perhaps a better word… ‘revival’ seems a little too close to sounding like direct imitation. Although, the influence has never really disappeared completely. Though there are definitely a lot more bands consciously referencing that era with pride over the last few years, and [there has been] some more attention to it also. It’s cool that it’s become loud enough for legendary groups such as those to take notice and realise they really did mean a lot to people, then come together to celebrate it and maybe be inspired themselves to make more music. Certain labels really getting behind it all does help also, and reissues of great albums that maybe weren’t adored in the mainstream world at the time can reach new ears.
RE: Can you tell us about your involvement in the Revolution shoegaze compilation that was put out jointly this past month by Ear to Ear Records (UK) and Gerpfast Kolektif (Indonesia)?
HT: We were contacted by Gerpfast Kolektif a few months ago while our EP was in the stages of being released and the details are somewhat hazy, but we were psyched to be asked so we said ‘yes please!’ I don’t think we realised the magnitude of the compilation until a while later, and since then we’ve been so impressed with the effort that’s been put into it, as well as [with] the quality of [the] music — it’s an honour to be involved really.
RE: What kinds of things should we expect from Hideous Towns in the near future?
HT: We have a single being mixed right now (by Matthew Hosking — he also did our EP and is a legend, check out his band VHS Dream) which will be out over the next couple of months. We’re excited — we think it’s our best song yet. There’s an abundance of new songs floating around, but who knows what we’ll do with them or even if anything would be done this year. Once we’re all back in the country in March we have some great shows lined up too.
RE: What other fantastic bands from your country can you push our way for listening?
HT: Melbourne has enough bands to keep anyone going at the moment: VHS Dream, Contrast, Miniatures, Bad Family, Lowtide, Terrible Truths, Hollow Everdaze, Luna Ghost, Sagamore.
RE: About your song “Pets,” what was the inspiration behind this?
HT: At the lyrical core, “Pets” is simply a love song. However, in spite of that, it is actually more complex than meets the ear. The interior is simple, but it is encompassed by a deliberate compound of contradicting elements: Fabrication, Fact, and Metaphor. Because of this particular lyrical structure, “Pets” can actually be interpreted in three different ways. The song is a contradiction and I believe that this is an exemplary expression of my subjective understanding of a situation that I experienced.
SHAUNA McLARNON fronts the popular Canadian-Ukrainian duo Ummagma and provides vocals for Russia’s Sounds of Sputnik. Moved by her interest in the heart of the indie music universe, Shauna has helped build Ear to Ear Records from the ground up and also supports other indie artists through Shameless Promotion PR. She has spent a good portion of the last decade in Ukraine, however, not a fan of dodging bullets, Shauna is once again basing her activity out of Canada.