I think drummer Flynn Ord summed it up best when he said “State of Disaster is very much a song that kicks you in the head. It’s like an up-tempo, right up in your face, spin kicking in your lounge, listen. It’s got the whole shebang”. I caught up with Flynn, Dan and Will from Tall Relatives, to find out where the inspiration for the song came from and learnt that they are changing up their sound a bit!!
You guys released your new single ‘State of Disaster’ a few weeks back.
Flynn: We did indeed. We put quite a bit of effort into it all, we went to the boys at Loud Noise Estate who did Polaris’s The Guilt and The Grief. We really wanted to step it up with this one. The mixing and engineering side of things has been getting really good feedback.
It’s a cool tune. You guys have been around for awhile now.
Dan: Yeah we have been gigging for about four years.
Will joined us at this point.
Have you guys had practise tonight?
Flynn: It was a bit of a split up practise cos Will might have Covid, so we are isolating him from society.
Will: It’s just a runny nose!
Don’t you be shutting the borders again Will…..
Will: Luckily I’m in the country so its kind of hard to see people.
Dan: We officially announced Will today as our official bassist for the band.
So you have had a line-up change?
Dan: We have had so many line-up changes. We haven’t had a consistent line-up since about early 2019. That’s why we have taken so long to get back into it, that and Covid. We have probably gone through about ten members. It’s been pretty crazy. Flynn and I have been the consistent ones in the band.
Tell me about ‘State of Disaster’.
Dan: I’ve been hearing a lot of people who have listened to the single and then some of our newer demos call this song a red herring sonically. It’s sort of teasing a lot of stuff. It’s a very heavy alternative punk song and its quite fast as well. I think it was like 200bpm. This single isn’t going to be on the EP we are working on, but it was a way to vent out all the frustration of all the line-up changes, the stagnation and not being able to play shows and to get back on with it. That was the point of releasing the single. Like a hard, fast, quick song to get back into it. We released another song before this called Ice Age and an EP, I feel like State of Disaster is a new and improved of what we were trying to do with Ice Age. Both in terms of what the song is like, but also in how it was produced. We did it properly this time. We just wanted to get back to where we left off and move forward from there.
What is the main message from the song?
Dan: The song was written a long, long time ago and it has been through a few name changes as well. It was sort of an anti-authority song for awhile around all the minor inconveniences that you get like tickets and fines. Very minor authoritarian type stuff and really making big deal about it, song wise, from a few incidents that we noticed. The song changed as Covid State of Disaster got announced. The name of the song changed as soon as they mentioned that it was a State of Disaster. I think I was in the Botanical Gardens walking around during the second wave, I kept walking around in circles and I had the boys on a messenger call. I said to them we needed to change the name and when they asked what to I said State of Disaster. The whole song is being disenfranchised I guess at a lot of minor things building up into bigger outbursts. It’s also almost a critique on itself. I’ve heard people even using the song for different things, a mate of ours used the song when he was going through a meltdown. He shaved his head while listening to the song recently.
Did a Brittney?
Dan: It sort of became this thing, this is the state of disaster, when anything bad happens to you it’s a state of disaster. Its almost like a critique on the nature of critiquing stuff in a privileged place. That is something I have wanted to address for a long time because we are in Australia, a first world country, but we are still complaining about things like parking tickets, fines and license issues. We had to acknowledge that; I think in a way it is a little bit self-aware in that regard.
What can we expect from the EP then?
Dan: You can expect a lot.
Flynn: There are going to be a lot of interesting flavours involved in it all because as Dan was saying the single was our sort of punky side of things coming out, with a bit of a fun break down and a slight little progressive twinge. But now we are wanting to change the aggression that went into that and make it more ambient would we say?
Dan: I wouldn’t say textural. The biggest difference is that we have introduced a synth into the band. All those piano lessons from when I was a kid are finally being put to use.
Will: It sounds a lot bigger too. When you guys showed me some of the new stuff I was like ‘Woah’. This new sound is really interesting. I am keen to see where it goes.
Flynn: It’s the fun thing of taking the really cool parts of like State of Disaster for example and then tweaking it and making it our own. It’s different from what we have done before but your still getting that same great taste.
Dan: And I think that the song writing process for these tracks, because we do have a more stable band, has really changed. As people we have had a gazillion things happen leading up to now and that has led to a sort of change into different sounds for us. I guess now all the songs that we write is me writing with each of the boys and so each song has a different flavour. Everyone’s personalities get to shine depending on which song it is, it will have a well-rounded flare to it. It’s also easier to just meet up with one person as we are so spaced out around the Melbourne. The synth is a huge factor that is going to change the sound but its as if you chopped up State, condensed it and sprinkled it into something more, I guess atmospheric, moody and haunting. That is what the EP will sound like.
Flynn: The really interesting thing is that we have a taste of that EP that is going to be coming out some time soon. To give a special hint there is a certain UNFD band member who is very much involved with that. When we drop that one I think that will get some heads turning.
Dan: I think a really important thing that I need to mention as well is that the State of Disaster single did one thing that nothing we had done before did which is captures the feel of actually being at one of our shows. Our gigs are rowdy and energetic but also a very inclusive and fun environment. That’s my main mission, is to create a fun place where people can go and actually feel like they are a part of the surrounding. That was important for us going forward. The EP will probably change the way we perform too. I am used to getting off-stage and getting crazy with everyone down in the front, I’m literally used to performing the whole show down with the audience. Now we are trying to focus on the sonic aspects of it and the textural elements of it. To give you a show that you can really remember musically. I’m still going to be jumping off but hopefully in lesser doses because it is exhausting.
The older you get the harder it gets too!!
Dan: That’s it. I think also when it comes to watching younger bands performing, the ones that have the most energy really make you kind of question why it is you do certain things. I guess I am an introverted person who had become extroverted to give people a good show. I see younger performers doing a lot more things than I could possibly do, I just don’t have that in me anymore. I think to an extent I was never interested in that aspect but watching other bands changed the way I thought about it. For me and the band to stand out we needed to give people that show. That became the priority for a long time, but I guess after four years of doing that I have reached a point where its time to give the people something that they can play on Spotify and actually know what it is we do rather than the atmosphere we create.
Flynn: State of Disaster very much kicks that in the head you know. It’s like an up-tempo, right up in your face, spin kicking in your lounge listening to it. Its got the whole shebang.
Dan: We could have written six or seven songs along those lines, but we are not trying to be the next idols, we are trying to create our own stuff from within. I hope that is what the new EP represents.
It gave me old school punk vibes and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the band that I got the vibe of.
Dan: Interesting. I think because it is such a fast song it was undoubtably going to be compared to a lot of punk sounds. You cant play that fast and not get those comparisons. I didn’t write it with that in mind. I wasn’t really listening to a lot of punk music before then but after the song was done that changed a bit. Like an Agent Orange vibe but mixing it with a Black Sabbath sound, just sped up!! We used to get that comparison a lot with the doomier stuff that we were doing but we were more trying to figure out our sound. The doominess came from the guitars and the vocals. I think the doominess is still in the vocals, but the guitars don’t reflect that anymore.
That’s a mix! Your influences are pretty wide then?
Flynn: Great question isn’t it.
Dan: We used to have an EP back in the old days on Spotify, I told Flynn to take it down recently, so I hope it’s still not up there, it was the influences of the band which was so fucking dorky for a start up band (laughs). Flynn can go first, that’s a big question.
Flynn: I think one of the interesting things with this band is that we bring a lot of different sort of influences to create these varied songs. From my world it’s Messhuggah, Lamb of God, a little bit of Tool and Puscifer stuff. More on the progressive side of heavy.
Dan: More on the Unify side of things for sure. Flynn has introduced me more to that world, hasn’t quite sold me to it yet to be honest.
It’s a good world to be in!!
Dan: I’ve heard good things.
Will: I guess in terms of guitar tones I get pretty inspired by Death From Above, not that we sound much like them, but I like their guitar tones.
Dan: There’s been a lot of bands that I have been enjoying now like The Drums, and we don’t sound anything fucking like them!! We couldn’t be further removed from a band like that, but I find them fascinating. For me I think what makes things different is that I make EDM as well under a different moniker called The Nylex Factory and so I think I bring a lot of that into the synth work. I used to use a Korg minilogue which is obviously quite small, and I used that for EDM. When I wanted to bring that sound to the band they would always laugh at me because they would be like ‘That sounds like eight bit shit, that cant work’. So I invested in a Nord Lead so that I can adapt it to what the band are doing. So for me it’s obviously a lot of Aphex Twin and big EDM kind of groups. Groups that can fuse those two world together fascinate me.
Flynn: I know from a writing perspective Will always goes on about Converge, those sort of heavier bands hey Willy?
Will: Oohhhh yeah!
Dan: If you asked JD he would say Radiohead. I’m hesitant to do that because any time a band mixes electronic shit with rock it’s like there is this transitionary period, this is ours. We are genuinely just trying to make a different kind of thing. Its not all rock being turned into electric, its not analogue going into digital. We are just trying to say what we wanted to say the first time around. Properly this time, and we need equipment such as synth’s to do that. I find it much easier to write with a synth. It’s more a song writing thing than a sonical thing. If I could do it without the synth I would!
Did you guys write this EP during Covid or was it done prior?
Flynn: Bits and pieces were.
Dan: The first song on it, that we have been working on for months, was written at the tail end of November or December 2020. JD and I were writing the song at his house and the whole town of Druid had a power blackout, obviously because the song was so fierce it shut everything down (laughs). We did the synth parts and when it came time to do the vocals the computer was still able to turn on. We went to go get some food but there wasn’t any in the entire 100km radius of the town. When we got back the power came on and we had no food, but we managed to record the song. That song was the basis for two other songs that are in C# or C# minor. I guess it was because we were trying to come to terms with what it was we were actually doing. We figured it out in the end, and it gave us a new freedom to pretty much write whatever we want.
Flynn: Like we said before with the big, beautiful Will Pain joining us now we have gone back to the drawing board. We were sitting there thinking we have had our noses in this alt/rock thing for awhile what can we expand on to make it interesting. We started messing around with more up-tempo punk stuff but while doing that we brought the synth in and started mucking around with that a bit more. We found that you can actually fuse a lot of heavier elements with that sound and create a really interesting piece of sound that not many people are doing at the moment.
Will: One of the things I definitely learnt about when joining the band, even playing a lot of your old songs, in other bands where I have been playing bass I have been the rhythm section and there has been another guitar playing the same thing. Whereas in Tall Relatives JD is definitely playing lead and I am definitely playing rhythm. It’s been cool because I have had so much more sonic space to experiment with guitar tones and get weird which is really good.
Dan: From a basis that was actually the biggest thing we wanted. It wasn’t what we asked for, but it just happened to work because he is a creative person. He thinks about it not from a musical perspective necessarily but from a creative stand point. He is adaptable and isn’t afraid to show us his material. The bass is such an important facet to us, and we have someone who can use the bass as a driving force.
Will: Thanks Dan you little sweetheart.
Dan: You’re welcome.
What else does the world need to know?
Dan: That’s a big question! I reckon just keep those eyes peeled on things that are coming soon that are involving some cool people and some cool sounds. What we are actually doing is going to be not only fun to listen to but quite surprising for people who might think that they know us based off of what they have seen live, only to find out that it is a different band all together. But one that has the same energy, integrity and values as the one that they see on stage.
Flynn: No set plans but keep those eyes peeled….