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Bright Lights, Big Cities: Dappled Cities

One would expect an interview with a total stranger to start with awkward introductions and polite chit chat, but that was hardly the case when I spoke to Alex Moore from Dappled Cities. Clearly sharing a similar disregard for accepted social etiquette, we somehow managed to cover burning warts and kidney infections all within the first two minutes. Be still my heart.

Luckily (for those not enjoying the off kilter banter), we also managed to squeeze in a word or two about the band. With descriptions ranging from art rock to oddly bent pop, Dappled Cities have been building a name for themselves in the local and international music scene since they first got together in the schoolyard back in 1997.

Sharing similarities with (and I suspect being a pretty big inspiration for) fellow Sydney musos Red Riders, who have themselves been popping up more frequently on the musical roundabout, the band is currently enjoying a nicely timed run alongside the growth of the dreamy psychedelic-inspired indie-pop genre.

Dappled’s third and latest LP, Zounds (released in August), was recorded right here in Sydney with help from local lad Scott Horscroft (Sleepy Jackson, Silverchair) and American Chris Coady, whose credit list includes the likes of TV On The Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Although rumours suggest the recording process wasn’t all cuddles and cotton candy, for those of us judging the end product, the match appears to have worked pretty damn well.

The new album represents, according to Alex, a ‘slightly more mature’ sound for the band. While the term itself is pretty generic, you’d probably be pretty disappointed not to hear it. Because despite Alex’s assurances the album won’t provide any nasty surprises for fans, it’s comforting to know we’re not just getting Granddance Volume 2. As much as I enjoyed their sophomore album, it’s always much more fun when you get served a little variety, particularly in the live arena.

Speaking of going live, Dappled has spent much of the past six months shuffling around the country in support of the new release. Following on from a national tour back in September and a few random gigs since, the band are looking to end the year with a bang thanks to some tidy spots on the summer festival calendar, playing Peat’s Ridge, Falls, Sunset Sounds and Laneway. For those lucky enough to be on board, I can’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon than sitting in the sun, listening to the sounds of Zounds with a cold beer in hand.

I’m guessing Alex would be pretty damn happy with who’s in the local touring basket too, considering he nominated Akron/Family, Future of the Left and The Phenomenal Handclap Band as his recent musical highlights – all of whom are either on the summer festival circuit or only recently departed.

Although they’re now comfortable headline acts, Dappled have also done some killer support slots in their time, for bands such as Spoon, The Shins, The Church and cult psychedelic heroes Brian Jonestown Massacre (which I practically fell over myself in asking about). Despite the lure of Antone and his drug addled ways, Alex was quick to point the finger at indie giants Modest Mouse when asked to nominate a partner highlight.

“It was pretty special to be able to stand in the same room as [guitarist] Johnny Marr [formerly of The Smiths], even if it was a bit of a nightmare at the same time!” he said

With their status as hometown heroes set to be cemented in the coming months, the band has moved their sights towards building a strong international fanbase as well.

“We’ve always seen ourselves as an international band,” Alex explained. “Not in an arrogant way but just because of the way our music is.”

Looking to grow their Yankee profile, they signed with independent US label Dangerbird Records (home to Silversun Pickups, The Dears) and have now whored themselves out at legendary festival showcase South By Southwest not one but a whopping three times.

“This year’s SXSW event was crazy,” Alex said.
“We were expecting things to be turned down because of the global financial crisis but it was bigger than it’s ever been.”

As one would expect when you put a raging bunch of musicians and hangers-on in the same place at the same time, Alex labelled the SXSW parties as ‘ridiculous’, admitting that they managed to stealth their way into an NME shindig by telling the beefcakes at the backdoor that they were ‘part of the band’. And here I thought shit like that just happened in the movies.

While the line might not be too helpful should you get caught trying to jump the fence at Peats Ridge Festival, hopefully the dream of rad music and loose parties will inspire you to fork out the cash to get along legitimately. With Dappled set to share the stage with the likes of Liam Finn, Bertie Blackman, The Panics and Kid Sam, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Dappled Cities is performing next Tuesday at the festival in Glenworth Valley. For more information, including how to buy tickets and how to get there, head to their website.

words: Jacqueline Flint


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