Interview: Sydney’s Highline in the rehearsal studio, “Enough For You and Me” & the joy of The Lansdowne

Highline are a four-piece indie rock band hailing from Sydney. The band formed out of high school and their music is an exciting mix of indie rock incorporating some brit-pop elements. It’s characterised by sweet guitars and emotive melodies lending itself to their own familiar yet exciting brand of rock.

Today they release their first single of 2022, the melancholic “Enough for You and Me”. The track is a song about reaching out to a friend when the need arises, when a warm emotional embrace from a mate is needed to get you through a bad day. The track was produced by Jack Nigro at Grove Studios.

Take a listen to “Enough for You and Me”

Since breaking out in 2019, despite the lockdowns, the band has managed to sell-out shows at venues such as the Oxford Art Factory, The Lansdowne and Mary’s Underground. They’ve already released two EP’s, and released a slew of singles, including “Chasing Heaven” and “Staying Sane”.

I caught up with Sam, Rhys, James and Jim for a yarn about the song, their career so far, influences and what to expect down the track. We then headed into the rehearsal room, as they prepare for their first gig of the year, a headline show at The Lansdowne, on the 16th March (2022). Ticket links below. Given The Lansdowne is soon to shut as a live music venue, the boys are particularly fired up for the show.

 

Sam Rigney

Hey guys – great to see you all. How did “Enough for You and Me” come about?

Sam: It evolved a lot through different stages, probably over a year and a bit. My first voice memo was back in September 2020…

Rhys:  We played it for the first time in January 21. We wrote much of it that day and had a gig that night. James was convinced he couldn’t play it, but we said, yeah, you can do it

James: We didn’t have much in the way of words, but …

Sam: It was very much a song that developed through the live performances that we did. We wrote a lot of it in a couple of weeks leading up to a support gig. A seated show to about 50 people, which we stressed out about way too much. And then every gig after that, we built on it. At the Oxford Art Factory, we added synths to it. The whole song was built super organically through rehearsing and trying new things as opposed to a set writing session, which was how we did the songs we released on the previous EP.

Highline interview
Sam Rigney

Rhys:  Even the arrangement was changing the week before.

Sam: We were messing with it on the fly which was different to the previous EP, where we dissected it and spend dedicated writing time. Last year we intended on releasing the EP and touring, so we wrote this through the period, but not in that structured way that we had previous

Did you have the lyrics early on?

Sam: We did – it was always around this subject of not being super happy with the situation you are in, like working 9-5, and wanting to meet up with someone to feel better. We did however change a few nuances as time went on…..

James:  About 2 weeks before we went to record it we made a pretty big change. It was initially about a girl, and ended up being about your mate. Not changing too much, but tweaking pronouns.

Highline interview
James Priest

Sam: We’ve identified we probably need to steer clear of the whole “girl & boy” thing which has been a prominent theme across our songs

Rhys: Not steer clear – just diversify!  (laughs)

Sam: Which is completely my fault – that was 2 weeks before we went to the studio. We had the bones from day one, but we kept adding little things bit by bit, over the course of 6 months

It shows a lot of confidence in the songwriting and the production, the jangly guitars. You’ve let it run for 4 minutes, there’s plenty going on…

Sam: We did question the length initially

Jim:  We tried to shorten it – but when we left out bits, it seemed to be missing something

James Priest

And Jack Nigro at Grove Studios – you’ve been working with him for a while now

Rhys: It’s where some of the confidence comes from. He was really pumped about the song.

Sam: He really loved this one from the start. He is good at putting in his 2 cents when he needs to, but this one he just let run.

So what do you see as your musical influences?

Jim: PLANET definitely, a communal one also is DMA’S

Sam: We have very different influences. Mine would be Catfish and The Bottlemen

Jim: Across the 3 of us (excluding Sam) – there’s ’60s and ’70s rock – older stuff than Sam – less catchy stuff I guess. But in terms of more recent stuff – we all like Oasis, PLANET and DMA’S

Jim Osborne

Rhys: Of this century, I’d say Arctic Monkeys would be my absolute favourite band. Aussie bands – can’t go past DMA’S and the first few Tame Impala albums

Sam: I’d argue there’s a lot of influence but doesn’t necessarily come through in the music. It’s a bit more nuanced perhaps

The way everyone writes, but the basslines and riffs are inspired by bands like Led Zep and Pink Floyd etc

You should listen to the One-Guitar podcast. He bought a Gibson J-45 guitar and gives it to a new artist each month. He’s got Johnny Took, Paul Kelly, Sarah Blasko – some great artists. He gives them the J-45 and gets them to write a song, and then interviews them about it.

Sam Rigney

Johnny Took did one which was a love song about Haley Mary. He also talked about his love for Bluegrass. He loves heading off to Bluegrass festivals – it was pretty sick. That as a collective is our favourite band. We love them.

So, your gig at the Lansdowne, you’ve got to be looking forward to it

Rhys: Yeah – we played Feb 2020 – we were so excited – there was a big guy in a trench coat there from one of the major labels, and he said you’re going to be signed tomorrow!

We said – holy shit – we went to their offices the next week, and thought that gig was the best thing ever.

Sam: Then Covid hit, and we never heard from them again (laughs). He ghosted us! However, It still stands as out as the best gig ever!

It was really cool – we’ve played a few times since, but that first gig – was just insane. The mosh was fun

Our first Lansdowne gig was special, it was the first time we went into a real Green room where you can see the tags of other artists. We got to write our name on the wall! We are lucky to have one last hitout there.

Sam: My dad played there !

What did your dad play in?

Sam: He was in funk bands – they were pretty cool, but he is now very dad-rock! He was stoking about getting the 1am Monday shift at the Lansdown in 1982. He is gutted, like the rest of us that The Lansdowne is closing

What’s up for the rest of the year?

Rhys: This release, then The Lansdowne and Canberra shows. We should be doing our first interstate tour later in the year which we are looking forward to.

Rhys Hope

We go through a big flourishing of ideas, consolidating these ideas then we get them down and record to masters. We are just on the back end of that consolidating and recording a bunch of songs.

Sam: We’re heading down south next week to a farm for a songwriting period. We’re looking forward to then hitting the road and playing to audiences.

Do you guys enjoy being in the studio?

Rhys: The studio’s great – we love it ….

Rhys Hope

Sam: The Grove is our favourite place to be. We were lucky enough during both lockdowns to retreat back to there. To see each other and create music at the height of lockdown. In the same place that DMA’S and other great bands have recorded is pretty awesome.

So I believe you guys started out in a School Jazz band?

Rhys: ha – probably more like a Michael Bublé cover band (there was then quite a discussion about how many Buble’s songs they covered.. I’ll spare you)

And at that point – it was time to finish our beers, and head to a rehearsal studio setup by Nick Stillone, who is a longtime friend of the band as well as an up and coming producer. Nick produced the band’s recent B-side release “Things Just Change Sometimes” and plays with the band for their live shows.

 

Highline interview
Nick Stillone

Justin Stewart Cotta

Upcoming Highline Tour Dates:

  • Wednesday 16th March – The Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney, NSW – Tickets HERE

“Enough for You and Me” is out now. You can keep up to date with Highline via their Website, Facebook and Instagram.

 

All images by Bruce Baker

Bruce Baker

Probably riding my bike, taking photos and/or at a gig. Insta: @bruce_a_baker

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