Posts Tagged ‘James Harrison’

The Goon Sax

Still in high school when they made their first album Up To Anything in 2016, their brand of awkwardly transcendent teenage guitar pop took them into end of year lists for BBC6, Billboard and Rough Trade, and earned them raves from the Guardian, Pitchfork, Spin, Uncut, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. According to Metacritic, Up To Anything was the 8th best-reviewed debut album anywhere in the world in 2016.

Up To Anything, their 2016 debut from Brisbane, Australia group The Goon Sax, was a brilliant reminder of indie pop’s effectiveness when it’s distilled to its simplest form: loose, jangling guitars and wry, understated vocals. But when it came time for the trio to record what became their second album, We’re Not Talking, each member of the band found themselves pondering the definition of “pop,” and how it related to the ways they wanted to develop their sound.

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“Pop’s a really odd thing,” says bassist/guitarist/vocalist Louis Forster (who is the son of Robert Forster of The Go-Betweens). “I think some people just see [pop] as something sounding polished and ultimately very accessible. But I think pop’s something that exists in a lot of forms, in all kinds of music. On jazz records, there are parts that are really poppy. I guess our idea of pop is a very westernized thing, and it comes out in funny forms; to me, [pop] satisfies something human and subconscious—or it should.”

Accordingly, We’re Not Talkingbalances the band’s usual laser-focused emotional acuity and economical instrumentation with a more expansive take on pop formalism. The keening opening song, “Make Time 4 Love,” boasts insistent cowbell, delicate strings, and jaunty horns; “Sleep EZ” joins delicate, harmony-rich choruses indebted to ‘80s U.K. dreampop to a contorted bridge that boasts a spurt of disco-punk beats, wherein Forster stutter-sings like a skipping LP; and the fierce, emotionally wrecked highlight “She Knows” charges forward on turbulent strings and livewire bass grooves. Even the more straightforward, strummy acoustic-pop songs boast more (and different) hues; the lovely “We Can’t Win,” for example, adds mournful piano and glassy twinkles of percussion into the mix.

“We wanted to make this record more collaboratively,” says Forster. “We had more ideas and more things that we wanted to try out.”

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We’re Not Talking shows how much can change between the ages of 17 and 19. It’s a record that takes the enthusiasms of youth and twists them into darker, more sophisticated shapes, full of lines like “When the bus went past your house and past your stop my eyes filled with tears” and “I’ve got a few things above my bed but it feels so empty, I’ve got spaces to fill and we’re not talking.” Relationships are now laced with hesitation, remorse, misunderstanding and ultimately compassion.

Strings, horns, even castanets sneak their way onto the album, but We’re Not Talking isn’t glossy throwaway pop. Sounds stick out at surprising angles, cow-bells become lead instruments and brief home-recorded fragments appear unexpectedly. This is a record made by restless artists, defying expectations as if hardly noticing, and its complexity makes We’re Not Talking even more of a marvel.

Forster and his bandmates bassist/guitarist James Harrison and drummer/vocalist Riley Jones were determined to push themselves on We’re Not Talking. Forster cites Scott Walker’s Scott 4 and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds as inspirations, as well as the work of ESG, Liquid Liquid, and Jenny Hval. “I really like how [Jenny Hval’s] record had those bits where everything sort of drops back, and it’s just spoken word,” he explains. “We were very obsessed with making something very honest, and she does that really, really well in her lyrics. They’re incredible.”

Jones spent much of the recording sessions trying to funnel her love for Tall Dwarfs’ Chris Knox into the final product. “I’d always be like, ‘Chris Knox reference, Chris Knox reference,’” she laughs, “and it just didn’t really come across. I don’t know if anyone else was behind [the idea], but I was just very inspired by him as a pop songwriter.”

The slippery definition of “pop music” was another topic of intra-band debate during the recording process. On Talking, the group worked with outside producers—Architecture In Helsinki vocalist Cameron Bird and the band’s former drummer/keyboardist/guitarist James Cecil.

“We wanted it to be more polished and poppier than the last [album],” Jones says. “We tried to explain to them what we wanted, but I think they really had different ideas about it, so it was a bit tough sometimes. We were all pushing for things, and we couldn’t communicate or couldn’t find a middle ground.”

Those clashing ideas didn’t undermine the final product, but they did give the band more insight into the ways they approach their career—and the possibilities available to them as a result. “When I said we wanted it to be more poppy,’ they were like, ‘OK, poppy,’ and then they had this completely different idea of pop,” Jones recalls. “I just had no idea that things could be that clean and so produced.”

Adds Forster: “Sometimes you forget that there are words that other people have a very different version of, you know? To us, ‘pop’ probably meant something worlds away from what other people would think. We think quite similarly sometimes, the three of us—we often think that because all three of us are on the same wavelength about something, it must be very obvious to anybody else, when it’s not.”

This deep, personal connection dates back to before the Goon Sax’s 2013 inception, when Forster and Harrison forged a fast friendship thanks to their shared musical interests (the Raincoats, the Clean, the Fall, Marine Girls) and—to borrow Jones’ phrasing similarly “silly” personalities; five years in, those personal bonds continue to provide a much-needed buffer against the trials of being in a band. “After the last tour, I was like, ‘Oh my God, can’t wait to get away from these guys,’” Jones recalls, adding with a laugh: “[I was] really ready for break, and then on day two, I was like, ‘Hey guys, are you doing anything today? Do you want to hang out, maybe?’ I just missed them.”

As the Goon Sax gear up for yet another tour—they’ll be spending the fall playing throughout England and North America—they remain cognizant of (and confident about) where they want their band to go in the future. To that end, We’re Not Talking is not so much a bridge to the next career milestone: it’s more like a roadmap.

“I definitely learned that I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do anymore,” Jones says. “We really thought, like, ‘Oh, we’re young, we probably need some grown-ups giving us some good advice.’ But I just want to be free to create stuff naturally, and to push it really far.”

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Brisbane nervy pop champs The Goon Sax have just released We Can’t Win, a heart-wrenchingly beautiful new song from their second album We’re Not Talkingwhich comes out September 14th.

As soon as the album comes out, they take off on their biggest international tour yet, taking in UK, Europe and the US from September through November. Taken from the fothcoming album, We’re Not Talking (out Sep 14 on LP, CD and digital) via Wichita Recordings and Chapter Music (Aus/NZ).

We’re also going to be doing another tour. we’ll be doing shows in Europe and America after that. Here’s those dates:

Mon 17 September – Hug & Pint, Glasgow UK
Tue 18 September – Headrow House, Leeds UK
Thu 20 September – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham UK

Band Members
James Harrison, Louis Forster, Riley Jones

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This group of teenagers from Brisbane could be your favorite new band. The Goon Sax frontman Louis Forster sings with a David Byrne-like delivery when he says the line that won me over, to his tenuous lover: “Let’s get nervous in your room again.” That’s the moment I turned up the volume.

As often as songs tackle the subject of love, (the wanting, the yearning, the rejection) what’s often missing is earnestness. The Goon Sax are full of that and a dose of humor as well. “Make Time 4 Love” is a song about defeat. Louis Forster wrote to say it’s also about “learning to live with yourself and accepting that everyone’s impulses seem irrational to someone else.”

Musically the Australian trio of James Harrison, Louis Forster and Riley Jones, takes creative impulse from ’80s, punky dance bands. “It was really inspired by [the bands] ESG and Liquid, Liquid, who we were all listening to a whole lot. And we just wanted to make the song really dancey.” In fact, Louis Forster’s dad was in a band from that time period that did pretty well, The Go-Betweens.

The video for “Make Time 4 Love” is directed by Ryan Daniel Browne and is inspired in part by a 1926 animated German fairytale, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, as well as by the 1968 Hungarian animated short, The Kidnapping of the Sun and the Moon.The video takes place in three worlds,” says Louis Forster. “Wicked, regular, and a third – removed fantasy.” It also draws some of its dark imagery from album art. “The album covers of Tilt and The Drift by Scott Walker were another critical clue for us, and Riley actually bought a copy of Tilt on tour which we listened to and it got us in the right head space.”

Taken from the fothcoming album, We’re Not Talking (out September 14th on LP, CD and digital) via Wichita Recordings and Chapter Music

The Goon Sax are headed to UK/Europe in September/October to celebrate the September 14th release of their second album We’re Not Talking.

There’s a lot going on for The Goon SaxShe Knows, the scorching first single from their wonderful and devastating second album We’re Not Talking has just been released. The album is available from the lovely people at Wichita recordings

The band are about to embark on a European tour with Franke Cosmos, a sold out headline show in London and their first US tour.

The Goon Sax are James Harrison, Louis Forster and Riley Jones from Brisbane. The band were Still in high school when they made their first album Up To Anything in 2016, their brand of awkwardly transcendent teenage guitar pop took them into end of year lists for BBC 6Music, Billboard and Rough Trade, and earned them rave reviews from the Guardian, Pitchfork, Spin, Uncut, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. According to Metacritic, Up To Anything was the 8th best-reviewed debut album anywhere in the world in 2016.

We are beyond delighted to welcome The Goon Sax to the Wichita family!