After what probably feels like the longest album promo ever, Sydney rock and rollers Lime Cordiale are finally taking their album 14 Steps To A Better You on the road. They released the record to much praise in July last year, but the pandemic delayed the album tour until this October.
Good things come to those who wait though and brothers Oli and Louis Leimbach won’t be taking a second of the tour for granted. After a year of playing COVID-restricted shows to as little as 80 people, they have an even deeper appreciation for the magic of live music. They’ve been lucky enough to do a few small gigs since the album’s release, but this will be the first time for many fans to experience it beyond the hits and in the flesh.
The 14 Steps To A Better You tour is also gearing up to be their biggest yet. They’ll be hitting up stages in Brisbane and Melbourne as well as back-to-back gigs at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion and the Fremantle Arts Centre.
Pandemic be damned, Lime Cordiale have still managed to pull off some iconic gigs in the last year. They sent the internet into a frenzy when they were joined on stage by British actor, rapper and DJ Idris Elba at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre in March. This wasn’t a one-time collab either. In between filming Thor: Love and Thunder in Sydney, Elba joined the boys in the studio to jam on a few tracks. The new tunes will feature on Lime Cordiale’s forthcoming EP, which should be ready to bless our headphones in a few months.
Ahead of the tour, we caught up with Oli to chat about getting back on the road, going from fans to friends of Idris Elba and the alleged curse of the Hordern Pavilion.
Music Feeds: The ‘14 Steps To A Better You’ tour is going to be your biggest one yet. How are you feeling about it?
Oli Leimbach: Yeah! Big show wise, for sure. I think the biggest show that we’ve headlined was a COVID-restricted show, like a month ago, in Melbourne at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Yeah, it’s crazy that a COVID-restricted show could be the biggest one. We were planning to do a tour in 2020, but it just never happened. We’re used to doing smaller shows and doing just a shitload of them. So this one’s like our biggest tour in terms of numbers for sure. It’s just crazy. We’re just not used to doing it. You know 12,000 capacity venues or whatever they are.
It’s a different experience for us as well, preparation-wise, to get everything together. I don’t even know what we’ve got to do, but we’ve got to start doing something. People are asking me for the setlist now and it’s April and people are like “so we need to know the setlist for the tour” and I’m like “what?!” We normally decide like an hour before we play. It’s a completely different experience.
MF: You’ve already played a few shows since the restrictions were pulled back. After having a bit of a break, what were those gigs like?
OL: Yeah, I mean, the biggest run that we did was when we went over to Perth. We did two shows with like 1,500 people or something, where they were all standing and it was at this venue with verandas of crowds. So when you’re on the stage, you look up and there’s like five levels of people standing there and that was the best feeling ever. Just to see people standing and not being told to sit the fuck down. And it was pretty incredible. We went straight to Brisbane after that and it was the same thing and then up to the Sunshine Coast and then back to Sydney and unfortunately in Sydney, for some reason, everyone was still sitting down because it’s the Nanny State.
But it was fantastic. It was such a good feeling. And it’s feeling like things are opening up more and more. The music industry and festivals and shows were the first things to get closed down. Just last weekend there was that case in WA. We were in Melbourne about to do the big Anzac Music From the Home Front show and everyone was freaking out because this guy got on a plane to Melbourne as soon as he got out of quarantine from WA so everyone was like, “Fuck, is this going to get closed down?” because it would be the first thing to close down. It’s like “Alright, there’s a few cases in Melbourne. Shut every music venue down. Keep the footy going, but we’ll shut down this music?” They think there’s something scientifically in the air when a guitar plays that COVID spreads through musical vibrations quicker.
MF: Yeah, something to do with 5G and electric guitar, right?
OL: Yeah, exactly (laughs).
MF: Have you been nervous playing these shows?
OL: Yeah, we were playing 80 people capacity shows last July. So that was scary on another level. They’re really intimate shows. There’s something about the crowds, where you can hide behind the noise of the crowd and you’re not looking at one specific person. You’re just seeing a bunch of heads. It was like we started again. In a way, we got used to playing these small shows and then we played 120 somewhere. Then we might be lucky enough to play 350 and then it would just kind of climb up. So when we were suddenly doing like 1,500 again, it was like the scariest shit, because we were not used to it. We hadn’t done it for six months. We don’t take anything for granted now. All of the nerves came back!
MF: It feels like there’s a new energy when you’re in the crowd too. Do you guys feel that from the stage as well?
OL: Oh yeah, sure. Some of the funniest shows we’ve seen are where everything is seated but then everything just gets up. It’s like there’s not enough security to control it. It happened once in Brisbane. It freaks everyone out, because you’re like, “Oh, shit, this is what’s gonna close down the music industry in Australia.” Everyone was told to sit down but they just stood up, started dancing, ran down the aisles, and then just jumped up on stage. And we’re like, dancing on stage thinking “This is so wrong” and it’s weird to think how wrong it felt because that’s just pretty normal. But yeah, it is a great feeling.
Everyone’s just like, “I’m standing! Look at me!” (laughs). I guess it’s like the feeling when someone gets up on another person’s shoulders, you know? You’re like “Ahh, I’m up in this weird space I shouldn’t be in.” And it’s kind of like all you’re doing is standing up.
MF: Yeah, standing is the new crowd surfing in 2021. Is there anywhere you’re especially excited to take this tour?
OL: I’m actually really excited for the Fresh Produce Festival before that. Because it’s rural. And I thought there’s something that’s really fun about that. But for this one, we’re from Sydney, and it’s always kind of scary and weird playing in Sydney. All of our friends come and the backstage area’s way too full and you sort of forget that you’re playing a show because everyone’s distracting you.
I love playing in Fremantle. It’s a great town. There’s great food and great people. It’s funny, you sort of get used to how different everywhere is in Australia. I mean, we’re so the same all over compared to the states or something where everyone’s completely different in every city. But yeah, I just enjoy everywhere for the differences.
MF: You’re doing back-to-back nights at the Hordern Pavilion. How does it feel playing iconic venues like that, especially being from Sydney?
OL: Yeah, we’ve been to heaps of shows there, from when we were like 15 years old and didn’t even know where we were. Like when your mum just drops you off and picks you up. But yeah, it’s crazy. I’m wondering how it will feel because I still go to shows there. We’ve seen like Kings of Leon, Tame Impala and Blink 182 bloody ages ago. I feel like I even saw Avril Lavigne there or something (laughs). It’s pretty funny.
I was actually talking to The Rubens because they’ve done the Hordern. And they said it was a bit of a downer afterwards because there’s so much preparation behind it and it’s so big. Everyone talks about it so much. Then it’s like, “That was that. Who knows when the next time I’ll be playing this venue will be?” I also remember, like, one of the first times I ever met Chuggy (Michael Chugg), he was talking to another industry dude in his office. That guy was saying, “Flume is doing the Hordern Pavilion and it’s a mistake because he has blown up too quickly.”
And, you know, “if he blows up too quickly, there’s gonna be a massive downfall”. But like how wrong he was because he’s one of the biggest artists in the world right now! But, it’s like when people have all these theories behind the venue. Like “Lime Cordiale are doing two Hordern Pavilions? Where do they go from there?”
MF: Oh my god. The curse of the Hordern Pavilion. I never knew! You’ve played a few shows since dropping the album in July, but are there any tracks that you’re especially excited to play on the tour?
OL: The album’s been out for a little bit and it’s an album tour, so I’m excited to play some album tracks that we’ve never played live before. Even when we played ‘Unnecessary Things’ at the Enmore and it was on Live at the Wireless, I was reading some comments and people were just like “Woah, I wasn’t expecting that song to be played!” So I’m pretty keen to do some of the ones that aren’t so popular or we’ve never played. It’s a bit of a challenge for us as well. It’s a longer set too. So we’ve got to think about what we want to do. You can’t please everyone but I kind of want to put some solid old ones in there as well.
MF: Yeah, why not? Educate the children! Speaking of the Enmore, I have to ask about when you brought Idris Elba on stage and basically sent the internet into a meltdown. Can you please tell me how the hell you two managed that?
OL: Yeah, it sort of fell into our laps, which is so funny. We were already fans of his. We knew that he was a DJ and one of his songs with Sean Paul called ‘Boasty’ is our pump-up song before we went onstage. We’ve been playing it like in the green room for like six months. We actually haven’t played it since we’ve been mates with him because it’s kinda weird (laughs). But that was our pump-up song.
Then we were on tour and someone was like, “Hey, Idris heard your music and I know you’re looking for a feature for that song. So do you want him to come in the studio and try it out?” And he himself is pretty nervous. He has kind of always done features, I think, from home from his own studio and hasn’t been in the studio with a band before. So he came in a bit nervous and felt a bit out of his element. And even when he was doing the feature on the track, he was trying to get comfortable with it like, “Maybe I’ll sit, maybe I’ll stand or maybe I’ll go in the booth.” It took him a little while. So we were just like “Dude, we do a lot of takes with our vocals and we’re pretty fussy as well.” So we were just trying to make him feel really comfortable. We smashed that out pretty quickly and then he sort of just showed us this other little idea he had.
— Lucy Smith (@lcysmth) March 14, 2021
MF: I heard that you were working on an EP right now as well. What can you tell me about that?
OL: Yeah, I guess we didn’t realise that we were gonna do that. We sort of just went into it. We only really got to know Idris in his last few weeks in Australia. He was just booking in time every day off he had on the film shoot, coming to the studio, which is surprising for us. He was so enthusiastic. He’s a solid musician. We weren’t doing that because he’s a famous actor because that would be the most stressful situation ever. He has great ideas and I think the best thing in the studio is someone who just says “yes” to everything and he was so open to trying everything. He gave us permission to explore different territories, you know?
MF: So is the EP entirely collabs with Lime Cordiale and Idris Elba?
OL: It’s completely split down the middle. There were four of us in the room, we completely wrote these songs from scratch. It wasn’t us writing music and giving it to him to sing it. It was all of us very equally putting this music together. We’re still working on it, we’re still polishing it up a little more. There’s not much more to do, though.
MF: That’s so cool. Do you know when you’ll release it?
OL: As soon as possible! I just want to get everything recorded. But yeah, hopefully in the next couple of months.
This October Lime Cordiale will undertake a nationwide tour with their biggest headline shows to date. The tour will mark the first chance the band will have to take their 2020 album 14 Steps To A Better You on a tour around Australia. See dates and details here.