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.

Classically trained pop string wizards Fourplay were conceived 14 years ago, with their initial vision being inspired by The Kronos Quartet’s rendition of Hendrix’s Purple Haze. After entering a UNSW band comp for a laugh, they ended up winning the damn thing with some eclectic cover versions of their favourite songs, and the rest is Sydney indie history. “We got invited to play at Byron Bay Festival, and it all just kind of flowed on from there. Although we’re all classically trained, we’ve got a lot of pop sensibility. None of us are classical musicians, but we all love playing our instruments, and we all just wanted to rock basically.”

Not only do Fourplay revel in the creative spirit by shredding out their own originals, they’ve continued to stoke the original fire with more ambitious covers of some of the other great eclectics of our time – Radiohead, The Velvet Underground, Cocteau Twins and Metallica. “Triple J started playing our version of Enter Sandman by Metallica which really put us on the map. When we played up at Byron for the first time, we had people moshing to the string quartet, and we still have that. There’s obviously something comic about it, but it’s really exciting.”

With such a huge mix of influences and styles, it’s no wonder that Fourplay have carved their own niche within the musical landscape. Each album is a colourful representation of the music they love, and has allowed them to stand alone as a singular entity yet cross so many boundaries. “We’re happy not to be pigeonholed. We’ve always stuck to the fact that we like so many different styles of music that our albums have always reflected that entire diversity, and we haven’t actually gone down one particular path. We’ve fit into lots of things, and yet not really fit into anything.”

So does this make Fourplay classical or just a straight up pop band? “I guess its a real combination of both, I don’t think we write like classical musicians, I think we write pop songs – a lot comes out of grooves. There’s one track on the new album that’s a little bit break beat, one is a dub piece. All of that comes from the music we listen to.”

Fourplay’s contemporary approach to classical music and their highly developed taste for rad tunes has allowed them to receive huge amounts of exposure rarely afforded a band of their ilk. “The ABC still play us a lot, and we’ve been played on TV, but commercial radio is not really interested in us. There are a lot of bands out there that have full careers and just don’t get played on radio much. Australian radio is very limited. Independent and community radio has always played us, but there is no real outlet for experimental music.”

Through their career, the band has risen from playing smaller acoustic venues to full blown tours in large capacity rooms, and it’s been a gradual transition from modest quartet to totally amplified touring machine. Fourplay just want to break down some barriers (musical and otherwise) and play at huge festivals with loud guitar amps – they wouldn’t have it any different. “I actually find it really hard to play not plugged in, I’m so used to being plugged in now! It’s like singing into a microphone as opposed to singing acoustically – it’s got a lot of power to it. It’s really fun to play with pedals. There’s about 3 loop pedals in the band now, there’s a lot of looping and setting up rhythms.”

As a string quartet living the life of rock, there have been many highlights during their 14 years of activity. “Playing with Brian Wilson at The Sydney Festival – we played in his band. I was a giddy fan, I was just blown away! When we launched our last album, we sold out The Metro, that was just so much fun. We toured Europe twice, and did something like 50 shows. We played to thousands of people at these big European Festivals. We’ve played with a lot of well-known musicians and bands like The Whitlams, Skunkhour, Screaming Jets, Deborah Conway, and the list goes one. We’ve had a really colourful and fun career thus far.”

Fourplay – 14 years and still going strong. Their latest album, Fourthcoming, is slated for release on July 3rd. Check them out at http://www.fourplay.com.au

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