Sydney quartet The Sooks play The Abercrombie Hotel this Thursday night, so Daniel Clarke caught up with lead singer and guitarist Lani Bagley and drummer Steve Cardwell to find out more about the band, their origins and unique indie pop sound.
Music Feeds: So first off, tell us a bit about the band. How did you guys get together? Had you played together before?
Lani Bagley: Our drummer Steve and I had played together on a few of other projects previously, but none of them had quite made it to fruition. After our most recent project wrapped up, neither of us had anything in the pipeline, so we just started working on some material that I had been writing. We started off jamming with a few people to develop our sound further, but nothing quite slotted into place until Ben our bass player came onboard. The line-up was finally cemented once Andy our new guitarist joined us a couple of months ago, and now I think we are definitely settling in to some solid songwriting.
MF: Having been in a diverse range of bands, was it hard to get an idea of what kind of music you guys wanted to play? How did you decide on the sound of The Sooks?
LB: When we first formed we were working on a bunch of songs that I had written as a creative release for myself. It was quite chilled out, acoustic folk pop by default. However our sound really started to evolve with Andy’s arrival – his guitar style really permeates the songs I’ve written with a tasteful complexity… not to mention the songs he writes! Andy’s material props up the sound with his upbeat pop/rock sensibilities – with the occasional exception of course.
MF: Further to that, how would you describe that sound? What is it that separates The Sooks from other bands out there?
Steve Cardwell: It’s an Indie Pop Rock explosion all over your shirt with a few Eastern influences to give that lasting savory flavouring in your mouth… right up until the psychedelia arrives – enter stage left.
MF: So who takes the reigns in the studio? Is it a great big collaborative effort, or is the song writing side of things more of an individual thing, with everyone else adding their own parts over the top?
SC: It’s an organic mix of song writing and jamming. There’s a number of tracks that Lani and Andy have completely pulled together on their own, then there’s several which just started off as ideas and eventually wound up in a song. It’s all very democratic; everyone has a hand in structure, style and harmony.
MF: What’s been the hardest thing about establishing yourselves as an independent band? I’ve read that you’ve only really been playing live together for a few months. Was it hard to get out there and start booking gigs? Is the Sydney scene healthy for new and upcoming bands at the moment?
LB: There are plenty of gigs out there, just not so many venues willing to show their gratitude. So yeah, I think finding the funds to progress is probably the biggest challenge. We haven’t had problems finding venues that will give us a chance to have an audience, that’s a great thing about the Sydney scene. The recently publicized venue closures definitely suck balls, but it shows that we have to keep encouraging people to actively support the live music scene in order for it to thrive.
A wise punter once said ”If all the people who moaned about venue closures actually got off their asses, went to live gigs and bought a drink, the venue wouldn’t need to close in the first place.”
MF: Now, you’ve been writing and recording your debut EP recently. Any word on when that comes out?
LB: We’re aiming to release the EP early in the New Year. The recording process has been more about gradually collecting tracks we’re happy with rather than getting them all done at once, so there’s never really been a date set in stone as yet (Watch this space for an early 2010 release from The Sooks).
MF: What are you most looking forward to in the coming months, as far as the band is concerned? Any grand plans on the horizon?
LB: Finishing the EP is definitely a priority for sure, and we’ve got some great gigs coming up that we’re pretty damn excited about…
There’s Thursday 12th November at The Abercrombie Hotel in Chippendale (The Abercrombie and I go way back, so that should be awesome) and the other one I’m really looking forward to which is the Beach Road Hotel in Bondi on 5th January. I always love playing there because all the Eastern suburbs kids who don’t dare venture into the Inner West come out to play, and it’s always great to see them.
Catch The Sooks, with very special support acts The Morning Papers and BMXicans, at the Abercrombie Hotel on Thursday 12th November. $10 entry, doors open 8pm.