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Music, Honestly: The Preachers

Following a number of unexpected encounters from 2008 until February this year, local Sydneysiders The Preachers have left quite a mark on the local scene as of late. Since releasing their first EP earlier this year, the five piece have covered considerable ground for their young band status. Already having played a slew of shows, including World Bar’s ‘MUM’ and The Revenant Club at Oxford Art Factory, their stage presence can be described as nothing less than an awe-inspiring mix of everything that’s great about live music.

“We took a look at our show and started working backwards,” says lead guitarist Jak Orion. “We do play our songs true to the record, but it has become more about showing the audience what we're made of. I really love the EP. Thomas [bass] and I put it on in the car a few weeks ago just to see if it stood up, and we still think it does. Naturally, the Preachers live is an extension of the tone of the record: we're dirty and a little bit country. The best stage shows are the ones that don't intend to bowl you over with size and empty volume, but reel you in to the band environment only to blow up around you. If you watch Elvis Costello live, he's like that - you forget things.”

It’s a good fit for the band’s songwriting model, which Jak describes as little stories and narratives. A case in point is the catchy and harrowing ‘Skin & Bone’, which was released as the second track on their self titled EP.

“Pop music says "I'm heartbroken" or "I'm in love". I would say that we're not far from pop music structurally, but the music we've grown up with is narrative-based – so we learned early on that you can't just make a shoot-from-the-hip statement about feelings and not explain why. Izzi and Gideon are honest and to the point people, so they write narrative lyrics and dialogues in that mind set. For me, I see it in songs like ‘Skin & Bone’; the female character asks a gentle question and you feel her rejection when the response condemns her for playing games of truth – now that's a song about heartbreak.”

“It's very difficult to ignore those feelings,” Jak continues when asked about the more sober themes on the EP.
“If you're going to be honest and stare yourself down, that's dangerous and you wear that after the fact. Making up things to satisfy a space lyrically is just wasted time anyway. If you can't be that direct through song, let alone yourself, then you're just lying.”

The Preachers’ duel vocalists, Gideon Bensen and Isabella Manfredi, both display a great deal of versatility and propensity to both growl and sing across the EP’s five tracks. Having spent the past few years bombarded with almost childlike, breathy voices, Isabella’s voice now wields like a battleaxe. With this in mind, at 22 years old she sounds as if she belongs to an older generation of female singer/songwriters, flitting ever effortlessly between velvet and snide, timber and blues.

“You always start off imitating people you admire – mine was Patti, always Patti – and then there comes the point where you go 'it's ok to be me' and from there it's only a matter of time,” enthuses Isabella. “I love female voices that show experience, sadness and strength, people like Emmylou Harris and PJ Harvey. There's a bit of a local cohort developing at the moment, with women like Hero Fisher, Aleesha Dibbs and Kira Puru, all with different styles but man, these girls can fucking sing. It's good to see some guts back in the music.”

Guts, grit and blues aside, what’s in store for The Preachers next? “Big things!” says Jak. “We played at the Winterland Festival at Carriageworks, and again the next night with Guineafowl at OAF, and we’re playing on the 16th of July supporting Black Cab's 'Sexy Polizei' tour in Sydney. We're sitting on a great single and a very large back catalogue of songs that will eventually end up being on our LP. We’re going back up north through Newcastle, Forster and possibly Brisbane. We're going to get down to Melbourne too and play some shows there. Maybe we'll have a day off around December, if we're lucky.”

As mentioned above, you can catch The Preachers this Friday supporting Black Cab at the Oxford Art Factory. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.

words: Jacinda Fermanis


July 14, 2010 at 3:03 PM Anonymous said...

Kira Puru is a goddess.
More people should know about her.

July 14, 2010 at 10:23 PM SirGingerlot said...

Kira Puru ain't got nothin on this girl, have you seen them live? She kills it! Awesome voice and a serious minx. The whole band is sick, can't wait for Friday.

July 20, 2010 at 11:59 PM Anonymous said...

The Sydney indie scene is full of Arcade Fire wannabes with little talent in their ranks. The best indie music is about mavericks, experimenters and outsiders not clones. I've seen The Preachers three times now and their gig at OAF supporting Black Cab was their most powerful. The musical heritage they show brilliantly in their songs reaches right back to the very beginnings of the blues but they unapologetically make that heritage theirs by giving it a new voice. They are building quickly and, if that show was a taste of things to come, The Preachers will be an important Sydney band. They can write great songs, they can sing and they are wonderful musicians. Nicely written piece Jacinda. Couldn't agree more

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