Friday, 23 July 2010

Interview with Bonfire Nights

Ahead of the launch of their debut EP at the Troubadour (tonight), I had the chance to speak to Ruth and Steve from local duo, Bonfire Nights.

Hi Ruth and Steve, congratulations on the upcoming release of your debut offering. Now I know you guys have been collaborating for quite some time. What does it feel like to finally have something out there which people can grasp in their own hands?

We’re really happy to finally have a recording to share with everyone. It’s been our little secret for a while now and we’re quite proud, as it seems to be drawing a positive response from people.

Stylistically, your sound is different from your two previous musical endeavours - Steve, you with Black Mustang and Ruth, you with Hot Liquid Sex. Does this project feel more natural to you guys, more so than your previous endeavours?

It has been a natural progression for us – we started writing songs together in our bedroom for a bit of fun. It got to a point when we realised that we wanted other people to hear our music, so we started demoing tracks with the goal of recording an EP together.

It’s a project that’s very close to our hearts, because we are writing the sort of music that we’ve always wanted to write.

Ruth, I see you have now traded in the bass playing duties with to play drums. And before that, you were playing guitar. Whats the deal? Are you trying to master every single instrument on the planet?

You know what they say: “jack of all trades, master of none!” I started playing drums for Bonfire Nights out of necessity, because I couldn’t get the goddamned drum machine to work! That was an expensive mistake – all I can say is, thank god for eBay.

For the moment I might stick with the drums, but I would like to get better at the glockenspiel.

You certainly get a lot of sounds from a two piece. I note you recorded the EP on a four track. While this technique almost seems synonymous with the terminally abused label 'lo-fi', it sounds anything but that. Can you explain the whole recording process and what your thoughts are regarding the process?

We recorded the EP with Matt Redlich in his home studio in East Brisbane. The process was different to anything else we had done in the past – we recorded the tracks live, sometimes using our first take. We were looking to capture the vibe of the songs, rather than sounding technically perfect.

Although it was recorded onto a four-track, Matt knew what he was doing and the analogue tape really captured a warm and full sound. There was little post-production as well, because tape sounds so good without the need for extra tinkering.

It’s definitely not a lo-fi sound, but at the same time it’s not overly produced. When you think about it, the Beatles recorded onto a four-track and they wouldn’t be described as lo-fi. Ah, not that we’re trying to be the Beatles or anything…we just ‘borrowed’ a few of their ideas when we recorded the EP.

While obvious comparisons will be made to bands like the Kills and the Ravonettes, your sound seems more complex in terms of instrumentation. For instant the use of what I believe is harmonica in 'Leave Yourself Open' may not seem like an obvious choice for a song that has such a grandiose and crunching guitar riff during the chorus section. How flexible you guys in terms of sound? And how do these track back to your alleged influences?

Our sound is really born out of experimentation, so we’re prepared to have a go at everything and anything. When we jam, we swap our instruments a lot, and play with anything we can get our hands on. I guess I don’t really how this approach relates back to any of our influences as we don’t tend to make a conscious effort to sound like any particular band.

While the EP is strong in all regards, my favourite song on the EP has to be 'We Don't Care' - it certainly seems to be the most standout song in terms of radio playability. What do you think of that assessment?

It’s definitely an upbeat fun track – that’s the song we wrote to annoy our neighbours with.

Strangely while listening to it, I'm reminded of Supergrass for some reason. Am I way off the mark?

Yeah, we can hear definitely hear that, it sort of has the same kind of feel as ‘Alright’.

Thematically, the EP seems to speak of a carefree approach of making music. I would venture a guess that it wouldn't matter if you sold 10 records or 10,000,000, its more for the love of writing a good song or playing live. Is that correct?

Exactly, we get a real kick out of creating something from nothing. Watching a song grow and take on a life of its own is something pretty special. If no one buys the EP it’s no big deal, because it’s still fun just doing what we do.

You've chosen the classic 'Teenage Kicks' by the Undertones, and given it an interesting interpretation. Can you tell us about the process of getting permission to put it on the EP, how it came about that you wanted to use this particular song in this fashion?

I always felt the song had a real innocent side to it and we wanted to bring this element out. We like it when artists give their own interpretation of a cover, as it’s a lot more interesting than trying to replicate the original.

We had to get permission to record the cover from the publishers of the original song. This delayed the release of the EP a fair bit, but APRA was really great in helping us get the green light.

You do know that in Ireland, any person under the age of 40 knows this song back to front. Probably most people in the UK as well. What about sending this version to radio stations over there?

We may be treading on thin ice, recording a cover of a classic song like ‘Teenage Kicks’. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. We probably will send it to a few radio stations in the UK, especially as we’d like to tour there one day.

I note that this Friday's show is an EP launch AND a birthday party. What can people expect at the launch party?

Good music and possibly some cake!

You will recall that I reviewed their EP just two days past. Click here to read my thoughts. Furthermore, as I mentioned the group launch the EP tonight. Tickets available from Oztix and the supports are the stellar Teenage Wolves and Blonde on Blonde.

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