Interview: Afterthought

Ironically, Afterthought were the first band that we asked to do an interview for Pinnies. I caught up with the Sydney pop punk outfit to chat about seated gigs, on stage gaffes and their upcoming EP.

Pinnies: What have you been up to since gigs have been cancelled?

Tadhg: Just recording the second EP which has been good, so mostly just that. We played at a wedding actually a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know if that counts. But we played a gig in October after shows could kind of resume. It was a seated gig at the Factory Theatre where we played two sets to two different crowds, sitting in different rooms. It was kind of weird, but it’s fun to just play music again, even though we’d typically be playing music that’s danced to quite vigorously.

Pinnies: How have the seated shows been other than that?

Luke: Ah pretty good. I really appreciate the seated show, mostly because I’m a real music nerd so I feel like it’s a great setting that people can actually appreciate how good some of the some of the guys are in the band. If you’re dancing around and singing along to Max, you won’t really notice just how much of a weapon he is, and you won’t really notice that Marty plays sweet bass lines all the time or that Ryan’s a ‘G’ on the guitar and Tadhg’s a virtuoso as well. So as a music nerd, I think it’s a great setting to really appreciate the music that’s going on.

Max: Yeah, it does bring a bit of pressure with it though, because it means everyone’s listening intently to the tunes. But you know, it’s good they’re listening I guess (laughs).

Pinnies: Can you tell me a little bit about the upcoming EP?

Max: I mean, it was a long time coming. We’ve been sitting on some of the songs for a little while, and some of them have changed a bit which is exciting. Sort of starting with the idea and then, however many months down the track, it sort of becomes its own thing which is cool. And like, watching them sort of shift and go down different paths is exciting. Some of them are a little bit of a different sound, but you know, it’s stuff that we’re excited to write and excited to play and sing and I think it sounds pretty good.

Tadhg: I know for myself it’s probably the proudest I’ve been and the happiest I’ve been with anything we’ve written because a bunch of the songs are really different to what we’ve done on our first EP. I’m very happy with where they are, and I think they’re sitting in a much nicer spot in terms of what we all like musically.

Luke: I feel like it’s more of a general overview. It’s five tracks and it’s under 20 minutes and they all fit the same kind of feeling, but they still all have their own little world and they’re distinct in their own ways.

Pinnies: I heard you boys are making your first ever music video too.

Tadhg: Yeah, so Luke bought a camera sometime in the last two years, and he was filming a bunch of stuff when we were writing and demoing and recording stuff in my room for the EP. So, he was filming a bunch of that and he’s putting together a video, which is a mash up of different clips of us writing the songs on the EP to make a little music video for one of those songs.

Luke: Yeah, it’s supposed to be a little home video/behind the scenes kind of deal which fits the vibe of the song pretty well.

Tadhg: We haven’t really done it before, so it’s kind of new territory for us, which is exciting.

Pinnies: Have you been listening to any artist or songs recently that inspired the EP?

Luke: I’ve been listening to a lot of The Story So Far, like a lot of The Story So Far. I don’t know if that’s changed my drumming at all, but it certainly makes me appreciate the catchiness of some of those tunes. I don’t have any part to play in writing Max’s melodies, so I get to just appreciate how good and catchy they are. And it’s hard to write a catchy song, but I feel like Max does a great job at doing melodic stuff.

Max: Aww stop it, stop it.

Tadhg: When I was writing (the EP) I was really heavily listening to a band called Alpha Wolf. They’re this Australian deathcore band which is very different to what we write. I listened to a lot of that and some guitar parts in some ways were influenced by them. But also, recently I’ve listened to a lot of Taylor Swift and Knuckle Puck. So, another two very different artists, but I feel like a combination of those three were really inspiring for writing a good song, how to structure a song well and how to have a song feel familiar without being ‘samey’ or dated or too repetitive.

Max: I feel like for me, being the singer and trying to write the vocal parts, I mean, any song I listen to I’ll be listening with that ear of like, ‘What can I take away from that? What sounds good? What doesn’t work?’ And I mean, yeah, listening to a lot of stuff in the build-up to recording the EP. A lot of Aussie bands, stuff like Trophy Eyes and Slowly, Slowly – I listen to those guys a lot and I know they can write a catchy song. So, I listen to them and sort of see how that works and yeah, what ideas I can translate into an Afterthought style song. Then also sort of bigger, more poppy items like The 1975. I take a lot of inspiration from that band just because they do fun and interesting and sort of weird stuff sometimes. And they kind of experiment with their own sound and other sounds at the same time.

Tadhg: I’ll jump on that real quick. I don’t listen to The 1975 that much, but I listen to a cover of one of their songs by a band called WSTR and when I was listening to it, I just noticed that the whole song was very simple, it’s like the same type of thing the whole way through, but it’s still incredibly catchy and incredibly interesting the whole time. So, the last song on the EP, a song called “Embers” was basically me trying to do a musical experiment which was, ‘Could I write a song that just uses one chord progression?’ And it’s the first time we’d done that, so that song is just three chords, C, E and F and it was completely inspired by The 1975. Just trying to see if we could write a song where it’s not the chord changes and riffs making it interesting but rather the arrangement, melodies and texture that bring out the biggest interest.

Pinnies: What was the recording and production process for the EP like?

Tadhg: When we did the first demos of our songs it was always in my room. I have a recording set up in my bedroom and we would just record there, so that’s how we demoed. Then we worked with this guy called Rich, and he’s an absolute legend. He’s incredibly good, lovely guy, really knows what he’s talking about and loves music. I think he loves the songs on the EP almost as much as we do. We were working with him to do some pre-production, so we went to his place, his studio across two days just to hash out the songs, change some things around and really refine them into the songs that they are now and the songs that like, they really should be. Then we spent around 10 or 11 days over the Christmas to New Year period recording drums first in a studio in Castle Hill. Vocals we did last at that studio as well, and then bass, guitars, synths and other production things were all done at Rich’s home studio. Now he’s fixing them up and mastering them and they’re sounding great.

Luke: Yeah, hopefully everyone gets a bit of a glimpse into that whole process with this video we’re putting together. It should have a bit of every part of the process.

Pinnies: Do you reckon it’ll be even more satisfying to release because you’ve been sitting on the songs for a while?

Tadhg: One hundred percent. I know there’s some stuff on that EP which has kind of been sitting for a long time. We released our first EP in 2018 and we didn’t release another song until last year, so a bunch of this EP has been waiting for a long time. But I think it’s also really satisfying knowing that it’s been such a long time since we’ve written and recorded music that’s been released. Like “Blink,” a song we released last year, was written at the same time as our first EP, so musically it’s very similar. Then “Rainfall Blues” is kind of a taster into what we’re doing now with this different style, because that was written a bit later. But a bunch of this stuff had been ideas that were sitting and stewing for a long time, but now that we’re all much better songwriters, we kind of looked at it with fresh eyes and changed some things and realised that some parts didn’t work. So, it’s a really nice blend of older material that’s been refined and a bunch of newer stuff we’ve written, which I think has some of the best parts, best melodies and best lyrics that we’ve written to date.

Luke: I was really happy as well with the drums this time. I feel like with the first EP, I wasn’t quite happy with how the drums came out. They just didn’t quite sound how I wanted them to, or how they sounded in my head. If you want a bit of a glimpse into how the sausage is made; the first EP, Full Circle and “Blink,” I didn’t actually play drums on them, they’re both programmed drums using samples. So, you can kind of get away with it sounding like real drums, but finally on this EP and on “Rainfall Blues” as well, I was able to actually slap the skins and record them, so that’s a whole different experience. To then release stuff that I’ve actually played on was super fulfilling, instead of stuff that I wrote, and I could play, and I played live, but wasn’t actually there for the recording. Yeah, just heaps stoked for people to hear that.

Max: That man slaps a mean skin, he’s a fiend on the kit. And I mean with a bunch of those songs as well, we played a couple of them live at some of our gigs and hearing the crowd’s reaction and then talking to them after the show, we’ve had heaps of really positive feedback. So that’s super satisfying as well. Then to be able to put them out and go, ‘Hey, you know those songs we play live, and you liked? Here they are’ – really keen to sort of do that, it’ll be very, very satisfying. Well worth the wait.

Pinnies: Do you have any funny stories from gigs that you’ve played?

Tadhg: Yeah, the last show we played where we played two sets for two crowds. During the first set, Ryan broke his high E-string, and I was like, ah, that’s rough. And then in the second set, and I think it was maybe the same song, he broke the same string again and it was really, really funny.

Pinnies: The cursed song.

Tadhg: Haha yeah, but Ryan fortunately brought double backups, so we got through the show.

Max: He went off stage on that second set to fix his string, so he left us just standing on the stage, trying to fill time while he was furiously out the back winding his strings up. Then he comes back out and just rips into the last few songs on the set. That man, he’s committed.

Pinnies: Did you just play a bit of elevator music or something while he was gone?

Max: Oh that’s exactly what they did (laughs). They just went straight into some jazz fusion or something.

Luke: Yeah, Marty and I are always itching to whip out some Jazz. But probably my favorite Afterthought story is when we were playing a gig at a place called the Valve Bar. It’s unfortunately not a place anymore, which is quite sad because it was a sweet venue. But we were playing at the Valve Bar and at the time I was 17 years old and it was it was an over 18s gig. But I’m pretty sure I’d been told that it was all good and I could play, I just had to have an adult there with me or something like that. So, we do the load in, set up and kind of hang around, I think we went off to grab kebabs or something for a little bit and came back. Then we played the gig and obviously after you play a show, you’re quite sweaty and there was a 7/Eleven down the road. So, you know, we went to grab a Slurpee and as I was walking back into the place, the security guard kicked me out and it turns out I wasn’t actually supposed to be there the whole time because I was underage. So I got kicked out of my own gig.

Max: That is a great story.

Pinnies: I always think about that whenever I go out to see a younger band; like, what would happen if one of them was underage at an over 18s show? 

Tadhg: There’s the answer.