visit our new project!

Love In The Time of Reverb: The Laurels

They may not be as well known as their current touring partners Tame Impala, but lovers of psychedelic pop and shoegaze will likely be well versed in the sounds of local Sydney band, The Laurels.

After winning the Sydney University Band Competition in 2007, The Laurels have spent the past few years making their mark on the touring scene, pulling new fans and high-fives from critics across this country. And all without so much as an EP on the table.

The band’s long-awaited debut album is tentatively set for release early next year, and the recording is widely expected to be just as enticing, and hopefully diverse, as The Laurels live set.

I was lucky enough to speak with Piers Cornelius (vocals/ guitars) and Conor Hannan (bass) in between touring towns to get the lowdown on their forthcoming album and to see what the band has planned for the New Year.

How did the band come about? When did you first get together?

PC: Luke and I met shortly after we’d both finished school and although our friendship was founded upon a common love of the Beatles, it was perhaps our mutual respect and admiration for each other’s haircut that led us to start a band. After exploring a new city for a day or two we were introduced to Kate at a hat party that we’d attended, sans hats and invitations. Things fell into place like they always seem to shortly afterwards and we found Conor meditating under a tree one early morning in Sydney Park. He generally prefers to be left alone but sometimes we can convince him to leave the tree if we have a show. Unfortunately, despite much persistence, I am yet to get together with any members of the band.

CH: Luke and I first met at a Silvertone show in late 2005. He was impressed by the fact that I had a sitar and wanted me to play it in his band. Although he drank too much and ended up vomiting all over the front steps of Spectrum, he did remember to give me a cd of songs he'd been working on with Piers. It all just kind of came together from there.

Were you always into the psychedelic scene, or was it something you grew into?

CH: Not really. I got into the whole shoegaze and psychedelic thing toward the end of high school. Before that I listened to some pretty terrible bands. A lot of the bands I've been into since could somehow be placed under the 'psychedelic' umbrella, but its certainly not all-encompassing.

PC: I think we were into finding an underground scene that contained many musically diverse, amazing and supportive bands. I don’t really know what we’ve grown into but we tend to gravitate towards bands that we like and share similar attitudes about music with. Not necessarily all of those are psychedelic but drone can be pretty great sometimes.

If you were to write a personals ad for The Laurels, what would you say?

PC: Unpopular Sydney band seeks fans/friends. Cool hair, poor hearing and good lung capacity are a must. A fondness for the song “She Sells Sanctuary” by the Cult is optional but would be preferred. Other interests include flannel, reverb, sushi and orienteering.

Like many bands, your sound has evolved quite dramatically since you first started. Did this change come about because of boredom, was it a learning thing or the result of something more significant?

CH: I can't really speak for the rest of the band as I don't write the songs, but from my perspective no one's musical tastes remain stagnant. We've discovered so many new bands over the last three and a half years and it's inevitable that this will effect the songwriting. I think the whole psychedelic tag was something that we probably identified a lot more with when we started, as we were all heavily into the whole Brian Jonestown Massacre thing and wanted to make music that sounded like that. These days I think we're more interested in making interesting music from more diversified influences, which includes shoegaze and psychedelia amongst other things. For me, discovering a lot of lo-fi and 1980s New Zealand music was hugely important.

PC: I guess we go further through life we’re exposed to different surroundings that change how we relate to the human condition and this influences our songwriting. I hope and imagine that our sound will always be evolving as we seek to communicate different feelings.

Who would you consider to be some of the biggest influences on the band?

CH: We all have pretty distinct personal interests, but as a collective I think what bring us together is a love of My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Sonic Youth, Swervedriver, and the Telescopes. The Beatles are a pretty big influence on the rest of them. I'm a Stones man.

PC: The Velvet Underground, The Dude, Spacemen 3, The La’s, The Stooges, Lilys and The Byrds are all pretty great.

It’s perhaps something of an understatement to say your upcoming album has been long awaited. What caused the delay?

CH: Well aside from work and uni constraints, I think we really do want to get it right. You only get one first album, and as we have a lot of constantly evolving material, sometimes its difficult to take a step back and finish off recording songs that have already been replaced in the set. That being said, I think this has allowed us to re-work certain things and make them better.

PC: I guess it probably would have been slightly quicker if we had realised anyone was awaiting its release besides ourselves. We don’t have the luxury of booking out two weeks in a recording studio so parts get done slowly over time. In our defence it was extremely hard picking the right day and weather to record when Conor refuses to move from underneath his tree.

How would you describe the album, and when can we expect to see it released?

CH: Kind of like seeing us live and being able to hear the lyrics.

PC: At the moment it’s in the final stages of mixing and then it’ll be mastered so it’ll probably be out early next year. According to Conor it sounds like it needs more bass.

Psychedelic music continues to be a fairly niche and I guess ‘underground’ scene in Australia. Is it generally the same people turning up to your shows, or do you get pretty diverse crowds?

CH: Sydney's a pretty huge place and there's bound to be a lot of people who enjoy the same kind of music as we do. We've met a lot of them, but there are always new people at shows. Recently we've been playing with some pretty different bands. We just finished touring with Tame Impala, which obviously meant playing to a lot of people who had no idea who we were. It was really fun, and some people seemed to dig it, which was cool.

What should people expect from a Laurels show? Do you plan it out before you go on stage, or is it just a case and seeing where the night and the crowd takes you?

PC: According to our last review you can expect to absorb some sonic fuzz whilst Luke and I deliver incoherent lyrics that fail to nourish your attention span. Pretty good for us. Normally most of our planning goes into getting to the venue and whatever happens after that is a bonus.

CH: We just play music like we would if we were playing to our friends or with each other.

Australia has produced some rad psychedelic bands like The Morning After Girls and The Lovetones, both of which are now based overseas. Do you think a move away from home is inevitable, if The Laurels are to get bigger and better?

CH: I guess that would be something to assess in the future. We're happy here now so it’s not really something we've given any thought. It certainly would be rad to play shows to some audiences outside of Australia. I'd be happy to go to New Zealand!

Looking into the crystal ball, what do you see for The Laurels in the next 12 months?

PC: Moving, winter colds, writing, an increase in lucid dreaming capabilities, more sandcastle building and hopefully improved navigational skills. An album release and possibly a second would be nice too. Good times.

The Laurels are playing at The Annandale Hotel tomorrow, November 12 & on Sunday, November 15 with You Am I & The Holy Soul. They are also playing at The Spectrum on Friday, November 13 with Regular John.

words: Jacqueline Flint


Related Posts with Thumbnails