Melbourne’s Client Liaison have managed to achieve a lot as a duo still young on the scene. Bolstered by an ability to craft irrepressibly catchy synth-pop tunes and tap into the Australian pop-cultural and socio-political zeitgeist circa 1987, they’ve developed a strong, like-minded following.
The band’s latest single, Free of Fear, comes ahead of the band’s performances at White Night Melbourne and Secret Garden Festival 2014, and came accompanied by a video that embodies what the guys call “the Client Liaison Sentiment” – Diner’s Club cards and Ansett Australia logos.
Music Feeds recently caught up with the cosmopolitan duo of Harvey Miller and Monte Morgan to dissect the unique cultural landscape of ’80s Australia, catch up on their recent tour with Miami Horror, and hear why power walking was once such a potent symbol of Australian federal politics.
Music Feeds: Considering how singular the band are in terms of your sonic and visual tastes, how did you guys get together and realize you shared the same vision?
Client Liaison: We’ve shared similar interests for a long time which have now fused into what we tend to refer to as ‘the Client Liaison Sentiment’. From the re-evaluation of Australian identity to attitudes towards international business of the ’80s, such tendencies have formed the fictionalised narrative seen in our video clips, imagery and performances.
When in each others company we aim beyond this fiction choosing to actualise this narrative in real life; only staying in hotels that align with our appropriate ’80s/’90s decor or visiting Parliament House for breakfast while on tour. The Client Liaison Sentiment is all encompassing, happily occupying our outlook on the world around us.
MF: There’s a strong theme of Australiana in the band’s output, but would you say the synth-heavy style of music is quintessentially Australian? Bands like AC/DC and Cold Chisel tend to reign supreme.
CL: Not necessarily. Traditionally, bands who have addressed Australia as a source of inspiration have done so from a pub rock trajectory, despite this, we see no conflict between the subject matter and sonic style of our music.
MF: Your End of the Earth clip tied together some of our most treasured cultural icons. Can you describe the drawing board process behind selecting what went in?
CL: The workflow was rather simple. We started a bookmark folder with flagged YouTube videos and burnt DVD rentals, slowly collecting clips we loved. Once we’d amassed enough clips we started putting it together.
Understandably we couldn’t include every point in Australia’s history so, in accordance with our generation, we mainly focused on sentiments of the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s.
MF: What is it about John Howard power walking that makes it such a potent symbol of Australian culture?
CL: What was a strict daily routine, even when traveling abroad, meant that at least one of the major Australian news networks would use a cut away of Howard power walking when reporting on the days happenings in federal politics.
Arguably one of the lamest forms of exercise, power walking came to personify how out of touch Howard had become during his later years in office. This was definitely something we wanted to exploit.
MF: What would be the equivalent for Melbourne specifically?
CL: In terms of potent symbols concerning Australia? I don’t think we could go past Melbourne’s now defunct high end department store Daimaru, which prior to internet shopping was one of Melbourne’s only avenues for purchasing high end homewares, furniture, fashion and food. We really like this video which features Daimaru in Melbourne.
Watch: 1988 Melbourne Central Ad
MF: Your work shows an affinity for brands and logos — the Diner’s Club logo on the keyboard, Ansett Australia featured in the Free of Fear clip — where does that come from and why is it so pervasive in the band’s output?
CL: The re-appropriation of known yet forgotten or redundant iconography helps communicate the era which informs Client Liaison, further building on the aforementioned Client Liaison sentiment.
MF: You guys have been hitting the festival circuit hard as well as supporting Miami Horror. How do Client Liaison win over crowds that aren’t necessarily there to see them?
CL: We like to channel a traditional sense of showmanship and theatre into our live shows. Visuals, clothing and dance moves, as well as unfaltering energy and engagement. We hope to convey the seriousness of our songs on stage while also inviting people to let go and have fun.
MF: How have the Miami Horror shows been going? What have you taken away from the experience of playing closely with another band who dabble in synths so heavily?
CL: We had a blast. Their professionalism was really encouraging, allowing us to take away much more than we expected as a support band. New friendships and great advice – we look forward to playing with them in the future.
MF: When Free of Fear was released, Harvey said that people can be judgmental about what a band chooses to put out. Have you guys experienced that already?
CL: Not particularly, we’re yet to receive any criticism as we’re too small to rightfully warrant any. Our main concern was to cover a few different bases early on. I think with Free of Fear we did just that, poking our heads from the late ’80s into the early ’90s.
See Client Liaison at White Night Melbourne and at Secret Garden Festival 2014 – details below. Their latest single, ‘Free of Fear’, is available via Bandcamp now.
Watch: Client Liaison – Free of Fear
White Night Melbourne 2014
7:00pm Saturday, 22nd February – 7:00am Sunday, 23rd February 2014
Northern Lights Music Stage, Melbourne CBD
Secret Garden Festival 2014
Saturday, 1st March 2014 — SOLD OUT!
Downes’ Dairy Farm, Sydney