Interview: Backstage at FOTSUN with Triple J Unearthed winners, Mild West

As with every year, Port Macquarie’s Festival of the Sun provides a stage for not only some of Australia’s best known talent, but the fresh and emerging faces of our music scene, to show off their skills and continuously cut their teeth as live performers. This year, we met Mild West, who took out the triple j Unearthed competition to perform. We sat down with LiamNat and Isaac to find out about how they anticipated their festival gig and where their music is headed next.

 

Congratulations on winning [the] triple j unearthed [competition], in getting to play today.

Liam: Thank you!

Tell me a little bit about how something like that comes together. I don’t really understand. I know that you put your songs on triple j Unearthed, I know that much. But how do you enter, how does this happen?

Liam: Basically we just put the songs up on Unearthed; we put out our EP a few months ago now. We just put them on Unearthed just for people to listen to it in general anyway; it just happened to get the attention of the Unearthed people for the festival because we were obviously relatively local. We grew up in Foster which is two… an hour or two away. So yeah, we basically just put ’em up and they gave us a call and told us that we’d won – it was awesome.

And how’d the set go?

Liam: Yeah it was good fun, we had a great set actually. There was a couple of little things that obviously were out of our control, such as my drum kit was just walking away from me when I was playing! I was just trying to catch it with my foot and it just wasn’t happening, but I think we played a good set.

Isaac: Yeah, I think so too, it was a lot of fun.

Liam: Really stoked about that.

And it’s been a pretty good year for you guys with the release of your debut EP Howler, tell me a little about how the reception’s been for that; I understand you’re already working on your next one?

Liam: Yeah, it’s been really good actually, we’ve been working on this stuff for a while. It actually started out as my own recording project, just at home, stuff like that. We put it out, not knowing how people would react to it and it’s been really positive so far. We’ve got a bunch of new songs we’re working on too, and trying to get that out as soon as we can, probably early next year.

You seem to be influenced by a broad range of music that I grew up on as well. How does that progress with the music you’re moving forward into now? Where are you going from here, musically, with album number two?

Liam: Yeah it’s a bit strange because I feel like I haven’t drastically, kind of cognitively decided to make a change. A lot of these new songs are kind of different in their structure; their sounds, similar lyrically, similar musically but in terms of the way it’s produced and put together, it’s ended up being fairly different. I think in a cool way. A bit more clean cut, but a bit more psychedelic as well. A bit more single heavy. Howler‘s very drawn out and a long cohesive thing, which is what we opened our set with today. It was the first 20 minutes of our show, whereas this next one, the focus is more on the songwriting and the song structure and things like that. More or less the same kind of thing.

And what are plans for the rest of the summer, so you have a bit more shows lined up for you over the summer?

Isaac: We haven’t got any shows lined up for the rest of the year, but for summer we’ve got a couple of shows coming in February, which will be good because we’ll have that single out by then. Then yeah, we’re pretty consistent until maybe halfway through the year, busy boys.

Liam: I think we’re mainly gonna focus on getting the recording and the production side of it done while we’ve got a bit of a lull in gigs and stuff. Just get stuck into that, I think.

Always a good opportunity; is it hard to find time to do that anyway? I mean to find the time to sit down and write and rehearse and record?

Nat: Isaac and Liam work too hard together and it’s just like two peas in a pod, mate. If they’re in a room together for three hours, they’ve got a fucking album right there. For these guys, and for all of us I think making music is not that hard at all. I’m pretty excited to see where we can go with that.

Are you saying it’s a little bit harder for you?

Nat: A little bit trickier for me because I obviously have been playing a lot of different music before this, so coming into this project was like …

What were you doing before?

Nat: I play with Scallywags but the music we play is pretty punk-y fucking garage-y music. So to come into a more intricate, sort of, what’s the word…

Isaac: It’s also as a drummer, it’s the melodic side of it that we certainly, in terms of understanding key signatures and the technical side of that part of music, that Nat has less to do with because obviously he’s drumming. At the same time, he’s got a good ear for it. So it’s been very much a matter of me and Liam will sit down, or Liam will basically knock something out, and then I’ll put a bit of input in and then Natty will come on top and suss a drum beat I guess.

And we’re at the end of the year, so I wanted to ask each of you, and I will start with you, and that’s your favourite moment of the year for the band, and your favourite album or song of the year, if you can’t think of an album of the year looking back on 2017.

Liam: Today was pretty up there, honestly. Other than today, we played a gig at Botany View in Newtown and that was so fun, we had a heap of mates turn up, it was a Halloween theme kind of thing, absolutely wild, it was heaps of fun. Album of the year for me is pretty easy, Crack Up by Fleet Foxes, is an absolute masterpiece. A lot of my drawn out progressive songwriting style is come from that. And a lot of earlier Fleet Foxes stuff as well. I’m a huge fan of their work, so no brainer.

It was a divisive record, I mean there were fans that really couldn’t sink their teeth into it.

Liam: Yeah, I’ve heard that.

Which I liked about it. I think they pulled a Pet Sounds on it a little bit.

Liam: Definitely, for sure. Well I went and saw them at the Opera House earlier in the year..

Isaac: Yeah, I was at that show too.

Liam: I went and saw it twice I loved it so much, and I think that was a big reason for why I liked the album so much because they played that record basically in its entirety at that show.

I love it when you see an artist that you know you like already and they play a shit load of new stuff and that gets you, that’s how you get into the album, and then you don’t know if you like the album more because of that.

Liam: Yeah, definitely.

And yourself?

Nat: For me, I think my favourite album of the year would have to be Ty Segall‘s self titled that he’s put out again. I think he’s done two self titled albums, so it’s a little bit confusing. I think the one he put out this year is fucking absolutely insane. Just the way he records, he’s got so many different sounds panning from one side to the other, in places you would not think they would be. I think actually listening to it with good headphones on it’s an actual journey.

And your favourite moment of the band?

Nat: My favourite of the band, I think having this show pop up, and as well as having the Howler EP drop. I love listening to this album, I think it’s a really well produced piece of work, I think that’s a great achievement in itself. There’s been a couple of things I can’t really put my finger on one thing, but it’s been a great year, it’s been fun.

Isaac: I can’t even think of any albums that have been released this year. I dunno, it’s all good; anything Meg Mac‘s doing is pretty fucking red hot.

Did you see her last night?

Isaac: I did, I was up the front Meg!

Number one fan right here!

Isaac: Right on, and I guess I agree with Liam, Botany View was awesome, it was nice having the Halloween party and that go on, and we sort of tailored the music to it, like having an organ, a raspy organ sound for a certain part of it. It felt cool, but getting the festival tops it. Playing up on that stage was pretty fucked up.

Follow Mild West online, here!