Five Australian Bands Ready To Conquer The World
It’s safe to say that the most patriotic we get here at Laneway is when local bands make good overseas. For us it’s kind of like winning the Ashes or beating the All Blacks at rugby: sharp and unreasonable pangs of pride and joy, as if it were happening to us.
One of the reasons we get so excited when an Australian band makes waves on the other side of the pond is because it’s such a damned hard thing to do. A number of tricky factors, not least Australia’s considerable physical isolation, make getting a foothold in the US and Europe a tricky business indeed.
Money, unsurprisingly, is typically the first stumbling block. Then there's luck. The usual way for bands to begin to crack the overseas market is to play showcase events like SXSW and CMJ. But even if bands can muster up the (not inconsiderable) dough to make it to Austin or NYC, they’ll usually find themselves playing gigs in less-than-ideal venues, often at exactly the same time as some must-see hot young thing across town. Getting an audience at all is hard enough; getting some people in the room who can actually give you a leg up to bigger and better things overseas is another thing entirely.
If a band is lucky enough to get a break at one of these things, that’s just the beginning: they’ve now got to compete on the “world circuit” against thousands of other hopefuls. Sadly, bands just don’t have the support they used to. With the value of artists’ copyright steadily dropping over the last ten years, labels are no longer able to take too many risks with new acts. In such a climate, the few bands that get a deal are expected to do more for less (including giving up many of their ancillary rights, such as touring and merchandise income), making them work even harder for more limited opportunities.
Which isn''t to say it's impossible—just damned hard. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of Aussie bands make good on the world stage. Take Perth psych-pop maestros Tame Impala (pictured above), for instance. The quartet, who played Laneway in 2008, have, over the last couple of years, started to generate some much deserved international buzz. After building steadily for a few years, this year the band got their much acclaimed debut lp Innerspeaker Best New Music’d by Pitchfork, and went on to play Reading in the UK, and to open for MGMT in the US. Big things are on the horizon.
Another local band made good o/s is The Temper Trap. The Temper Trap first played Laneway in 2006, three years before their debut lp hit the shelves. From there, the band moved to London to crack it over there, and have since gone on to do just that, playing Glastonbury, and Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo in the US, building a considerable international profile and following in the process.
Fellow Melbourne lads Cut Copy are another success story. Despite sometimes being dismissed in their home country, the electropop trio now enjoy a major presence overseas, particularly in the US.
‘There is so much love for Cut Copy in America it blows my mind’, Laneway founder and director Danny Rogers says. 'They're often the first band people in the states mention when we talk about Australian music.' The adoration you can see (and hear) at the band’s performance at Lollapalooza this summer (see video above) is a case in point.
So who’s next? Let’s take a look at five Australian bands we think will crack it on the world stage in the next 12 months.
Four childhood friends from the Blue Mountains, Cloud Control patiently honed their sound for a number of years after relocating to Sydney, releasing their debut lp, Bliss Release, an alarmingly coherent debut full of spark and space and warmth, earlier this year. The secret’s quickly getting out: Gold Canary, which you can watch them perform in a cab below, was voted Single Of The Week on BBC6’s Rebel Playlist, and the band, who just finished a successful UK tour, are said to be packing up soon to relocate to the UK to give things a proper shake over there.
(Cloud Control photo top right c/o Colin Lucas.)
Sydney's The Holidays began with four friends from uni ‘making random noises and playing bad covers’. Soon enough, the four discovered they could actually write songs—catchy, sharp, sunny, instantly likeable songs, and the band started getting some attention, first in Sydney and then beyond. Soon enough, the band had ditched uni and were putting together their excellent debut lp, Post Paradise, which dropped a couple of weeks ago and is already getting strong airplay beyond Australian shores.
Boy & Bear
Ordinarily having four singer-songwriters at the helm would make for a fractious and chaotic band. Not so with Sydney indie-folk quintet Boy & Bear, who manage to make it work by founding their sound in what they call ‘the Americana big harmony vibe’. Think Fleet Foxes and The Shins, but with a fondness for the chugging dynamism of classic indie rock. After a successful British tour supporting Laura Marling, Boy and Bear played Splendour earlier this year, and dropped their acclaimed debut ep With Emperor Antarctica. Watch this space.
Eclectic Sydney electro kids Danimals got a kick start a lot of bands could only dream of: in 2009 the band won a Tooheys competition to record a song with hotshot British guitarist and producer Mark Ronson in NYC. Ronson likened Danimals to The Beach Boys and a Tribe Called Quest, which gives you an idea of the fruity diversity of their sound. 'I love their stuff,’ he said. ‘I thought they were incredibly original; one of the most interesting things I’ve heard in quite a while.’ Check out their remix of fellow Sydneysiders PVT, and their great animated clip for Hornet’s Nest below.
Wally de Backer, otherwise known as Gotye, makes new-sounding music drawn from old sources—vinyl, CDs and tapes ‘all cobbled together’, de Backer says, ‘to sound seamless.’ Over two lps and an album of remixes, the ARIA-Award-winning alt-pop songsmith has garnered himself a solid fanbase in his home country, and with his hotly anticipated new lp—three years in the making—just about ready, we think he’s well due for some much deserved recognition beyond these shores.