Newcastle five-piece 1929indian have been steadily building up a reputation for being a bombastic and entertaining live act and with the release of their debut EP, The Dreaming, being dropped this week, the band are only going from strength to strength. Ahead of their Adelaide show this Friday, I call up the band's keyboardist Ruth Macdonald for a chat about how things have been going in the band's camp and what they've got planned for the rest of the year.
Hey Ruth, it’s Sose from The AU Review – how are things going?
Hello! They’re going good!
First off, congrats on the EP being released today! How does it feel to have your debut out?
Really good, it’s been a long process getting everything together; we also released our film clip last week, so everything coming together feels really nice!
Does it feel like a safety blanket’s been taken away? I assume that you all would’ve been so close to the making of both the EP and the film clip.
Yeah definitely, especially because we’ve never done anything like this before! It’s unchartered territory, so we’re just feeling our way through it and hoping for the best.
I’m sure it’ll do fine. I’ve heard such good things about the band as a live act as well as how good you are on record…
We do try and make our live show our main focus because with some of the bands we really like, when we go and see them play, it’s like ‘Oh it’s not as good live’…I’d rather it be the other way around, for people to listen to the music and like it and then come and see us and be like, ‘Whoa that’s awesome’.
For sure. The press releases I’ve read for 1929indian mention the large amount of new wave and 80s influences that have been incorporated into your music; as a band, did you find that you all grew up sharing this love for these styles, or was it something that developed as you began to work together?
We all grew up with very similar musical instruments; when New Order came to Australia a few months ago, we all went and saw them together, not so much as a band, but we all love that music. We were all pretty lucky that we’re all into the same thing!
Did you find that creatively, you were all heading in the same direction?
Our drummer has been playing drums since he was about six years old and he’s really good, so the way we’re heading is that we’re trying to make drums more of a prominent part of the music. It has that real stomping feel from the bass drum.
That’d be really good to have featured as a live component, too.
Yeah, he hits the drums very loud and very hard. [Laughs]
I also read that you have been together as a band for a few years now; can you tell me a bit about the moment you all came together and decided that you wanted to make music your number one priority?
Yeah, Brendan [Cann], the guitarist, he started it all. He’s played in a couple of bands before and he’s always played music, his family is really supportive so he’s always had all the gear growing up! That started with him and then the drums came in and then it was drums, vocals and guitar and they were jamming together and then they asked me; they really wanted a keyboardist and they knew I grew up playing classical piano, so it was a bit of a difference from playing classical piano! We managed to find our bass player after, but we’re all… not from the same group of friends, but I guess in Newcastle everybody knows each other, so it’s just one of those things! We just all knew each other a little bit, but now we’re all really good friends.
Cool! I took a look at how 1929indian have been going in terms of online success; “Women in Cages” has been doing really well in terms of the attention it’s been receiving online as well as through community radio. For a band who has got that blanket ‘indie’ term applied to them, have you found it hard to grab the attention of the broad public and the larger stations such as Triple J with this label over the head of the band? Especially when there are so many other ‘indie’ bands coming out lately?
Yeah I definitely think it’s harder and it comes back to what I was talking about before, how sometimes you’ll hear a song on Triple J and you’ll think it’s really cool and then you’ll go and see this artist who has maybe won Triple J Unearthed…you’ll see them live and you’ll think, ‘Oh that song’s really catchy on the radio, I didn’t even realise they were playing the same song’. I think it’s hard because they’re like, ‘They’re not doing anything too amazing in their live show, but obviously they must be doing something right’. Whether that’s just getting the right promotion or getting that one lucky break that gets you in there…I think it has a lot to do with luck!
Yeah, definitely; I think this whole industry has a lot to do with luck, no matter what facet you find yourself working in!
But going back to the live shows, like we were saying before, all the reviews I’ve been reading for your band points to the large and developed live shows for a band that has only been together for a short amount of time. Considering the amount of time you’ve spent honing the live show as well as writing and recording, what’s the best thing you’ve noticed about the developing live persona?
I mean it is funny, the difference between playing at a pub that might get a really a good crowd and it’s really fun to play at, but they might have a really shitty sound system and a tiny stage. It’s not as if we’re a massive group, but we’re still five people and it can be really tough, but then when we play on the larger stages, with a proper sound guy, it’s amazing. When there’s not such a good sound guy in those smaller venues…for us, mixing the keyboards and everything, making sure the balance is right is kind of critical to our sound, so it can be tough sometimes, playing in the smaller venues! I guess that’s all part and parcel of it though!
Totally. Have you played Rocket Bar in Adelaide before?
No, we haven’t. I haven’t even been to Adelaide! Some of the other members of the band have, but I’m really excited, it sounds awesome! I’ve had a couple of friends play there and DJ there and I’ve heard it’s a really good venue.
It is good, but it does have quite a small stage.
Oh really?! [Laughs]
Yeah, but I’ve seen bands like Hunting Grounds play that stage and have an awesome sound there before, so you’ll be right.
Oh well that’s good!
The tour kicks off in Melbourne and then continues into August – what’s your schedule looking like afterwards? Is it busy?
Afterwards, we’re going to start working on our newer songs that we’d like to record and I guess start investigating into who we want to record with and if we do it in Sydney or Melbourne, or maybe even go overseas somewhere. I think we’ll be busy working out all the logistics.
Awesome stuff. Well thank you so much for taking the time out today, it sounds like 1929indian have a great amount of fun to be looking forward to on this tour!
Thank you very much and thanks for taking the time to chat with me!
No problems! I’m going to try and get down to Rocket on Friday at some point to catch you guys performing, it’ll be a wicked night.
Oh awesome, make sure you come and say hello – that’d be good!
Alright, cool. Thanks again, Ruth!
No, thank you Sose, I might see you on Friday!
1929indian will be playing Rocket Bar on Friday, 13th July. Tickets through www.moshtix.com.au.