Under The Radar Volume 3: The Mouldy Lovers (Brisbane)

Over the next month I will be showcasing a few little-known Australian bands or musicians in a series I dub-Under The Radar.

Head to the West End of Brisbane and no doubt you’ll hear about The Mouldy Lovers. This eight-piece gypsy-ska collective have been making waves in their sunny hometown and on unearthed. New track "Wake In Fright" sits comfortably in the top five of the roots chart, and top twenty overall. A song with a tricky time signature, that explodes into an up-tempo, traveling side show party. With a new album on the way and a few local festivals under their belt, I had a chat to the instrumentalist and vocalist Louis Whelan via email.

How did The Mouldy Lovers come together, given there are eight members which such varied talents and instruments?

Believe it or not we actually started as a 2-piece folk act. Fresh out of High School in 2010, me and my friend Jade Channells, who is no longer in the band decided we'd like to start making music. We mostly did covers at first but quickly started writing these quirky folk originals. I had traveled around Europe in the summer of 2009/10 and after getting back to Brisbane found myself an accordion after seeing so many overseas. This really changed our direction and we started trying to find some more instruments to add to our sound. I made a poster looking for more musicians and plastered West End with it, leading to our Trumpet player Matt Hsu. From there it all just built up slowly with members coming and going over the last 2 years. Our current line up is really strong and we don't predict changes anytime soon!

I picture you guys traveling the land in a gypsy van sharing your music and crafts with the masses, how far off am I? Are there any plans for interstate touring?

You're not far off at all! Although we travel in less of a gypsy van and more of a tofu truck (Toyota Tarago) as Matt calls it. The Mouldies will hopefully be launching our debut album, Yonder Ruckus, with an east coast tour in January next year. If all goes to plan we will be hitting Newcastle, Sydney, Woolongong, Melbourne, Byron Bay, Toowomba and Brisbane. If you live in any of these towns keep your eye out for a grey Tarago full of screaming idiots, most likely blasting The Specials and having in car food fights.

Your EP Kakistocracy has a distinctively European feel, yet is abruptly multi-national. How was the recording experience with such a large group of musicians?

At the time we had quite a low budget for recording ($500) so the recording process was just as abrupt as the music on it. In one night we managed to set up the studio, mic, our instruments and basically record the whole EP straight. The budget for the recording of our upcoming album is closer to $4000 however, so we've really had time to take it easy, think about the songs and get them to sound exactly how we want them. It's been great and the rough cuts are already sounding fantastic!

A stand out track for me is "Vodka In My Moustache", with shades of The Skatalites. What is the story behind the track?

Normally our songs take months and months to take their final form, however "Vodka In My Moustache" was really a breeze to write. One night at practice I showed the band a little riff on accordion and from there, within a few hours, we managed to smash out the whole song. We've tried to change up the structure a few times since but have never been able to best the version we put together on that first night. To be honest I can't remember how I came up with the name, I just yelled it in practice and it stuck!

I have to say the nerd in me was pretty pumped to hear the Tetris theme song on Kakistocracy. Do you play this live?

Hell yes we do, it's a really fun song to get the crowd going! It seems to hit home for anyone with an inner nerd, much like yourself, which we really like to see!

You hail from West End in Brisbane, which is quite multi-cultural. How much does this influence your sound?

West End is hugely inspirational to us, as I'm sure it is for all the bands/musicians in the area. With such a thriving community spitting out amazing artists of all different sorts every year it would be hard not to be inspired. While it doesn't so much inspire us musically it really adds to our energy which is like 50% of our appeal on stage!

How is the local music scene in Brissy?

Last year we played at a lot of dedicated music venues such as The Zoo, The Globe, X and Y, Alloneword, The Hifi, etc. However this year we have played more at festivals and one off events, as such I can't really give much of a comment on the regular music scene in Brisbane. One thing I love about the music scene in Brisbane is that there are lots of different festivals popping up year to year. Too Poor For Splendour and Winter Solstice Festival are two of our personal favorites to play at annually. One of the venues we have played at a few times this year is The Joynt down in West End and if you haven't been there before, I highly recomend it! They get all the good touring acts, it's just a shame the space isn't a bit bigger.

When can we expect an album, and how does the writing process go with so many members?

January!!! The way we write songs varies quite a lot song to song, however normally it goes like this: Someone writes a riff on their respective instrument and shows it to the band. We jam it out in practices and people begin to write specific parts for themselves. We then coordinate all the parts so they work together, especially in relation to the horn section, and add dynamics to the song such as time, key or even genre changes. On the album we are going to have 6 different vocalists including 2 guest singers!

What does the next year have in store for The Mouldies?

Debut album release to CD and 12" vinyl, a new music video, an east coast tour, festivals and whatever else 2013 throws at us!

Keep up with The Mouldy Lovers' gigs and download their EP Kakistoracy at: