Saturday, October 24, 2009

Interview: GRAND ATLANTIC - Making Waves

Sunday, June 17, 2007 

With Brisbane currently seeming to challenge Melbourne as THE music city of this great brown land, that the latest hype from there is a band more in common with the articulate psych-pop of The Zombies and the epic rock of Muse than Wolf-anything should set eyebrows even further aloft. Grand Atlantic, would, as their name suggests not be too interested in understatement, though beneath the ISC songwriting awards and burgeoning press hyperbole accompanying their brand new This Is Grand Atlantic release, there beats four very human hearts in the form of Phil Usher (Guitar / Vocals), Nigel Smith (Guitar), Sean Bower (Bass) and Scott Mullane (Drums), the former of whom is currently wresting with stage (and not industry) props for their Brisbane album launch; building a giant letter G and an A to be exact. 'I have these crazy ideas then I feel I like I have to go through with them, they'll have light bulbs and glitter on them'.

This launch also sees the addition of a timpani player, brass, and string quartet which gives you some ideas of the canvas which Grand Atlantic work. Melbourne shows will see the songs stripped back somewhat, which will go some way to proving these songs of Usher's are as strong as judging panels say.
"Winning the awards hasn't really changed anything, I mean it [the ISC] is quite a prestigious competition and the judges are amazing, but like most competitions it's a bit of a wank. There are so many people out there doing music you do anything you can to get noticed, and I'm pouring my living self into what I'm doing and I want people to hear it. We're not the best band in the world, or the best looking guys in the world but we're doing our best, and when you see other things out there that you deem to be not as good as what you're doing then you think: 'Fuck it, I deserve to be heard as well'. In the industry I think people do take notice of the awards, but bands you play with and listeners don't give a shit. I mean, if you can't rock then what does it matter?"

Where great songs come from is a timeless question that few have the answer to, Usher though, has his own theories. "Man, I'm obsessed! I think that songwriting is like trying to tickle yourself. When I try to write a song I'm trying to send shivers down my spine. Ultimately you're trying to please yourself first, because to be honest I want to write music that I'm proud of. I usually do a demo of the song, play it to the guys and then we start from scratch again."

This is where that canvas comes in. Grand Atlantic's production brings to life the '60s influences wrapped up with a modern sound' which describes their debut CD This Is Grand Atlantic and has been turning heads since last year's lauded EP Smoke And Mirrors.
"There were no rules when it came to the studio. Even if the ideas sounded crazy we wanted to try it. When we were recording we were always thinking 'how can we best serve the song?'. We were able to take our time because our drummer Scott ran the studio we used, even though we had to work around other projects we could go back and re-record things until they were right so it took longer than we wanted it to but we're really proud of the results. It comes back to what I was saying about being obsessed with the songs. I don't sit down to write a rock song, you go with where the inspiration comes and if you can fit a variety of songs within a framework - which I think we've done - then it's a wonderful thing."

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