Having trudged their way through Sydney’s live circuit for the past two years, The Tsars are a band who prefer to let things take a more natural course. Letting their following and sound develop without trying to be the biggest best buzz band of the moment, in the time they have been around they have earned themselves some fans while refining their songs and approach to music. Soon to start recording and album or EP, the band preferring to wait and see what happens before deciding, we caught up with Tsar Reg Harris ahead of tomorrow’s show at the last Mum of the year at World Bar for a quick chat.
Music Feeds: So you guys tend to shy away from shameless self promotion, why is that?
Reg Harris: I think up to this point it has been a combination of shying away from that, but also just laziness and lack of time. You see some bands who shamelessly self-promote and build hype so much that it actually leads to people disliking them, so obviously we shy away from that, but at the same time we’re not afraid of promoting ourselves and tying to get our name out there. Now that we have more time to focus on the band we’re going to up the ante a bit for sure
MF: Sydney can be a very competitive city when it comes to live music. So many bands, so few venues and gigs, have you had trouble getting yourselves out there considering you’re laid back approach, or have you found taking it easy has paid off?
RH: Yeah, it’s definitely true that there’s a real lack of venues and live music nights in Sydney at the moment (and the council don’t seem to be helping that at all) and there are a lot of bands, but we’ve never felt it’s competitive. Everyone’s in the same boat and are pretty friendly and willing to help each other out. We’ve never felt any difficulty getting ourselves out there. I think Sydney bands are really lucky that there are such supportive venues like the Annandale and the OAF and a station like FBI to help out, which make it a lot easier than it would otherwise be to get yourself out there.
MF: You guys are planning on working on a release soon, any word on how things are progressing?
RH: Well, a release is something we’ve been planning for huge amount of time and we’ve actually recorded before for the purpose of making those songs into a release but it never eventuated. We’ve finally got our shit together though and we’ll be recording an album’s worth of songs in January and February and then we’ll decide whether we want to release them all or just an EP.
MF: How do you approach recording as opposed to playing live, do you try and capture the live sound or do you try and use the studio as an instrument itself to try and craft something that stands aside from the live show?
RH: It would definitely have to be a combination of the two. We record live because we feel it keeps the vibe that we want. Lately we’ve started using the studio as more of a tool though, I’d say. We record with drum and bass producer Royalston, who’s a good mate of ours and a wizard in the studio. In the latest demo, ‘Garden Lounge’, he added a lot of vibe to it through post-production.
When it comes to playing live, i think we can pretty well replicate most aspects of the recording, but the live versions of the song definitely change after having been recorded.
MF: Would you say you have a preference between the two?
RH: I probably couldn’t say, both are great, just really different. We always have a heap of fun at gigs though.
MF: You’ve been around for a few years now, how has the sound progressed in that time? Looking back at your early work how does it compare and what has changed?
RH: The songs are a lot more in-depth now. When you’re in a band with the same people for a while you seem to develop a sort of collective head space over time and you just all know what’s up. Our latest stuff is a lot more progressive and sectional than our older stuff and it just seems to keep developing. Also I’d say there’s more of an emphasis on the relationship between the drums and the bass.
MF: Has the writing process changed much? How do you work now when it comes to writing songs? Is it based in jamming or do certain members come with songs that the band then toy around with?
RH: The writing process hasn’t really changed that much at all actually. Occasionally one of us will come with an idea with most of the parts written and it will be tweaked and slightly developed from there, but most of the time someone just comes with an idea based on one instrument and then we jam and let it develop collectively from there.
MF: You playing the last Mum of the year this Friday Dec 17th, are you excited? I heard the last time you played things got a bit crazy?
RH: It should be a heap of fun, we’re all looking forward to it. MUM is always sick whether you’re playing or just chilling. I always think of it as a big house party with bands and bars.
Ah yeah, last time we played there got pretty hectic, we were playing upstairs and it was packed out and like a sauna up there and everyone was hell rowdy. Sam’s guitar even got broken by a block of cheese. Hopefully it’ll all happen again downstairs on Friday.
MF: Other than that show though, is there anything else we should be keeping an eye out for in the coming months?
RH: We haven’t got anything solidly planned for the coming months, although something will definitely pop-up, but the main focus will be writing and recording. I think we’re going to take off to either Louis or Mitch’s farm for a week or so and just solidly write and rehearse before coming back to record everything we’ve got and then releasing it.