Interview: Different Beings Being Different proves West Thebarton’s worth as Adelaide’s new rock heroes

The debut album from West Thebarton – Different Beings Being Different – will finally be unleashed on to eager fans this Friday and we can safely guarantee that for the Adelaide fans who have been on the journey with the seven piece since the beginning, this is the perfect culmination of what’s been a grind of a career over the last three years.

Pangs of nostalgia and a familial love hit hard with each reference to Adelaide watering holes and the venues that have held the band (and their other projects) up through the years; a portrait of terrain well trodden by these musicians who have been quick to establish themselves as a South Australian rock behemoth still gaining speed.

To speak with any of West Thebarton about their successes up to this point, and the impressive international and domestic commitments they’ve already got in the calendar as 2018 enters its second half, there’s no ego. And there never has been.

“It’s so humbling.” vocalist and guitarist, Ray Dalfsen says. “Growing up in Adelaide, you watch bands slog it out and you watch bands really hustle; you’re used to seeing them piss off to the east coast before they get a record deal. I guess Bad//Dreems were the vanguard of that here and it feels really nice to be like, ‘You know what; I’m kinda setting the precedent for bands being able to stick it out in Adelaide’. To do well and show that that slog and hard work, playing to ten people in the crowd early in your career, is worth it if you’re ready to capitalise on things and ready to put in the hard yards.”

Set to release Different Beings Being Different on the newly formed Domestic La La record label, helmed by Violent Soho‘s James Tidswell, West Thebarton have found themselves in the same company as Dear Seattle – making this roster one that has started out strong.

“There’s this funny photo of Tom Gordon with Tids at the 2011 or 2010 Laneway Festival,” Dalfsen laughs. “It’s pre-pubescent looking Tom with his idol and it’s really surreal to think, ‘Oh shit – we’re on a label with not only someone who gives a shit about us, but someone who is so passionate about our music,’ after we’ve been listening to theirs for so long.”

“Around 14 months ago, when the album was all done and stuff, we were ready to just put it out ourselves. Somehow that’s grown into releasing it on Domestic La La. It’s definitely been a learning curve and it’s definitely been a cool ride.”

West Thebarton (Credit: Michelle Grace Hunder)

The ride is only just beginning too, with a massive national tour set to take West Thebarton through June, before their first international jaunt awaits. With festival appearances at Reading and Leads, Pukkelpop in Belgium just the tip of the iceberg, the band is making their entrance to the UK and European market a memorable one.

“We’re all really humble people, you know that.” Dalfsen says, looking ahead at the band’s next few months. “I don’t think we’ve ever bought into expecting those things; it is still so awesome playing these gigs. When we got told we were playing Reading and Leeds, we were freaking out. When we got told we were playing Splendour, we were still freaking out; when the line up got dropped, we were all just talking about how good it was going to be just to be at the festival. Then we realised, ‘Oh shit – we’re playing this festival, how awesome is that?'”

“We’re all just super hyped and that’s what makes the band so fun, in the first place. We get to do things that are just awesome. I’ve been watching videos from Reading Festival since I was a kid. Arctic Monkeys videos from 2007. To think that we’ll be playing Reading is just awesome.”

Approaching these shows obviously brings some nervous apprehension, but sometimes it also pays to feed into this energy and churn out the frenetic live shows Australian crowds have been associating with West Thebarton for some time now.

“I went to Primavera a couple of years ago,” Dalfsen says. “I was thinking, ‘How’s this going to go?’ – like, I doubt The Replacements could speak Portuguese and everyone was just vibing on it because it was a rock and roll show. Run the Jewels was the same – it was an awesome show and it didn’t matter than it wasn’t in the language. The language barrier doesn’t exist, as much as a cliche that is.”

“A good friend was telling me a couple of weeks ago, ‘You only have one debut album.'” he furthers. “You only have one debut album, so lap it up. That’s all that’s really going through my head; we’re getting all these chances and I’m so thankful for them because essentially, we’re untested. We haven’t had a debut album and we haven’t played to international crowds who have never seen or heard us at the Exeter before. We’ll get that chance and I can’t wait. Us playing live is really our strong point, so showing it to crowds overseas is going to be nuts.”

West Thebarton (Credit: John Goodridge)

Before they tackle international shores though, there’s this little matter of their Australian tour to conquer first. With Pist Idiots and a slew of selected local bands on for the ride, West Thebarton are aiming to bring Different Beings Being Different to the stage in full.

“We’re making sure the tour is going to be tight,” Dalfsen says. “These are the biggest rooms that we’ve headlined to date. We’re going to be playing a longer show and we want to play the album in full. We haven’t been playing it in full, so that’s something we’ve been rehearsing. We’ve been actively writing new songs as well. Because there’s seven of us, someone’s always got an idea.”

“I’m in the pre-season at the moment, I think that’s what we’re all thinking. Being at the eye of the storm is the best descriptor of it, I think things are really going to kick off and it’s going to be awesome fun. It’s going to be us doing what we do best.”

When you listen to Different Beings Being Different, the authenticity that you see bursting through each West Thebarton show is presented in a pure and unadulterated fashion. There’s anger, there’s euphoria, there’s reflection and there’s an unashamed love of the genre and the environment each member has come up in musically; it’s made this debut album the best snapshot possible of where West Thebarton has come from and the band they are now.

“With “Reasons” as an example, one of the songs around the middle of the record, I had this desire to really show off raw emotion, all those feelings that it made me feel.” Dalfsen explains. “Even when I sing that song live, I feel angry. I feel pent up anger and so much frustration. It’s really funny because when we were recording that, I was getting really angry with myself because I wasn’t happy with the vocal takes. I kept on going at it and I think that is a defining moment of the record because I knew how I wanted things to sound, and it was just getting there that was the tough bit. When we got there, I think all that raw emotion really shone through.”

“I guess that’s a way of describing our career. It’s just slogging it out and it’s really working at it; we know what we want, and it’s getting there.”

Different Beings Being Different is out May 18th via Domestic La La Records.

WEST THEBARTON TOUR DATES 
Buy tickets and pre-order the album here

June 7th | Rad Bar, WOLLONGONG
with Pist Idiots, White Blanks

June 9th | Cambridge Warehouse, NEWCASTLE
with Pist Idiots, Blue Velvet

June 10th | Northcote Social Club, MELBOURNE
with Pist Idiots, Self Talk

June 22nd | Badlands Bar, PERTH
with Pist Idiots, Last Lions

June 23rd | Mojos, FREMANTLE
with Pist Idiots, Flowermouth

June 29th | The Zoo, BRISBANE
with Pist Idiots, Deluso

June 30th | The Gov, ADELAIDE
with Pist Idiots, Stork, Wing Defence