OK kids, pens down, time to use your imaginations. Pretend you’re an alien, you’ve been flying through space for hundreds of light years in your inter-galactic spaceship, supplies are running low and the other guys in the crew are really bugging you. Anyway, the radar beeps and there on the screen is a little blue and green planet, which the wiki-computer tells you is Earth. “Bonus,” you say in your alien language, “let’s set down there and see what’s goin’ on – maybe some good food, some good company, some good tunes.”
The computer tells you it’s the year 2008 on Earth, which is great. Sounds like everyone will be advanced, tastes will be well honed. You can’t wait to get away from your smelly alien buddies, get yourself to the nearest pub, sample the local brew and rock, alien style, to whatever tunes are goin’ down. So that’s what you do but, on your way to the pub, you tune in to the local radio station (you know, for re-con purposes) and you do a double take. Hang on, didn’t the computer say it was 2008? Because the radio is awash with synth-driven, post-punk totin’, nu-wave recyclin’ fluro rock… “What is this?” you ask yourself, “1985 or something?”
Ha, well you could totally be forgiven for thinking that. I mean, when will this electro rock phase die? Anyway, we’ve strayed far off the track here, so let’s rein ‘er in and introduce the subject of today’s lesson (pun not intended but we’ll run with it anyway). Grafton Primary, a band which isn’t fully immersed in what our little alien friend finds out of place, is certainly drawing a fair bit from the period.
“I guess I do like a lot of music from the 80s but at the same time I don’t want to do, like, a tribute to an 80s band,” muses one-half of Grafton Primary, Ben Garden. “There are aspects of it that sound 80s and there are aspects that are very 2008 as well, it’s not a deliberate thing, we’re just showing our influences and you can’t really hide them. There is a big, and from where I’m sitting, on-the-way-out 80s thing. It’s massive now and I see younger kids doing heaps of 80s stuff that sounds almost like they’re doing a pastiche of the 80s you know, where we just sort of incorporate influences.
“I grew up in the 80s but I guess we just didn’t try and sound like something directly from the 80s, it’s more just an overall aspect to our sound,” Garden goes on. “In saying that, there are 90s influences in there for sure because that’s when Josh (Garden, vox / synth) and I were in high school and I guess where most of our musical growing up was done. There is a lot of music out there that just sounds like you’re in 1985, it’s great, but it’s just not what we do.”
Grafton Primary (which takes its name from the primary school they attended as children) isn’t entirely mired in that 80s sound. Some influences and vibes are very 2000s, which isn’t that surprising given this has been the time they’ve been around, musically.
“Josh and I started writing songs about four years ago, and that wasn’t really serious, we didn’t even play any live shows. It was just purely mucking around in the lounge room,” Garden recounts. “Josh was living in Melbourne and I was up in Sydney and we didn’t get that much done and it wasn’t very serious, but we eventually decided that Josh was going to move up to Sydney so we could spend more time on it. We started playing shows about two years ago and we added Robbie (Mudrazija, live show only) on drums a year and a half ago. It’s just evolved ever since.”
Evolved is one word my friends, “taken off” is another – perhaps riding the 80s revival wave. Either way, Grafton Primary has the spotlight trained well and truly on them right now and, if you want evidence, look no further than their list of supports and their inclusion on the entire upcoming Parklife tour.
“Yeah, we’re playing Parklife, we’re stoked about that,” Garden enthuses. “It’s perfect timing for the album too, which is out on September 13, and the tour starts on the fifth in Melbourne.”
That album is Eon, the duo’s second release after last year’s Relativity EP, and one which is sure to garner serious attention in this fluro musical world of ours. What do you think about that you little alien? Oh, he’s already gone.