It’s a brisk night in Melbourne. A visceral shock after a year in Sydney. But tonight, tonight I am home for a brief sojourn and wearing a scarf for the first time since 2007.
I am not the only one feeling the cold. Striding to the beer garden table, two glasses of vodka and orange juice in hand, looking far warmer than I, behatted in a beanie bedecked with flaps is my pseudo-date, Armen Firman frontman Tom Whitty.
“They didn’t have banana milkshakes,” he says setting the drinks on the table, “But this does have fruit in it.”
All I can think as I take my first sip is, “Well there goes my objectivity.” Shocked at how it got bought so cheaply.
“Aside from tonight, have you had any rock star moments?”
“Not really…Once I was trying on some jeans at a shop when our music came on. I think someone working there just bought our EP and was sharing it with the customers, which was nice. It freaked me out a bit, because I assumed they must have known I was in their shop. I wasn’t sure who was responsible so I put my trousers back on and left. Does that count?”
“You were just looking for an excuse to give me a mental picture of you with your pants off weren’t you?”
“What about highlights involving you keeping your clothes on?”
“It’s just been cool playing music with my best friends for the last five years. Aside from that, it was cool supporting Jebediah last year. My friends and I used to get drunk listening to their music when we were 15, so it was cool to meet them. It was even cooler to discover they were such lovely people. Kevin Mitchell let me borrow his distortion pedal when mine broke which was cool of him.”
“I am suitably impressed on both counts. So back to you – Melbourne band, coming to Sydney – what are you guys going to do to knock the audience’s socks off?”
“Well, we’ve played in Sydney a few times before. The last time was part of Bertie Blackman’s tour for her last album, which was in 2007. We didn’t have any of our own music out then, so we were just playing shows and making friends really. This time around it is all about the product. We’re promoting our debut EP, Your Name In My Skin which is out through Creative Vibes. We are desperate to play outside of Melbourne. As great as it is to have Melbourne as our base, you can only play to the same people so many times, you know?
“Sydney people are just so into their indie music and such a warm fresh audience for us, so we really dig playing up there. Plus we dig being able to go to the beach the next day! As for what Sydney can expect from our show… I don’t know. We don’t plan our shows too much. We just get up and work with what we’ve got to put on what we consider a cool gig.”
“How do you guys prepare in order to ensure cool gigness is achieved?”
“It’s funny, everyone prepares differently. Personally I find it tough to eat too close to our set time, so I try to eat early and then have a few drinks and talk shit with anyone nice enough to have come seen us. The other guys are big fans of listening to music before a gig. Just before we go on, we try to spend some time together to get a positive vibe going, just so, you know, we enjoy the gig together and remember why we play music. For us, it’s about having fun with your best friends while sharing music that you’ve put your heart and soul into, with complete strangers.”
“Alright, so what if say, for example, I saw you back in 2007, why would I bother going again?”
“Fuck, that’s a bit harsh isn’t it, I thought this interview was supposed to convince people to come see us?”
“I am playing devil’s advocate, giving you a chance to spruik. Answer the question,”
“Our sound has evolved a lot in the last 12 months. It’s definitely ‘matured’, I guess.” He pensively stirs the ice in his glass, “That is a horrible word to use, but you know what I mean. We’ve become better songwriters and arrangers and I think now we are just starting to see the results of learning to write music after 10 years of practice, you know? Hopefully you’ll see five guys playing music that melts your heart and blows your brain, without actually killing you.”
“That wasn’t that hard was it?”
“No,” he says with a smile creeping over his gritted teeth, “But that’s your last vodka.”