Interview: “Staying Sane” with Sydney’s Highline

Highline

Sydney’s Highline haven’t let a little thing like a global pandemic throw off their hard earned momentum. The quartet are back with a new single, “Staying Sane”, and with the promise of more to come. 

It was still early days for the band pre-covid. They’d released their debut EP and played their first ever shows across the summer of 2019/2020 to sell out crowds. So you’d maybe be forgiven for thinking they’d take a bit of time to regroup and get back out there. Not, Highline, once lockdown hit, they took the time to focus on their songwriting, and crack on with making their sophomore EP. 

Now as we’re beginning to navigate a world of vaccines and variants, the band have released the first single from that EP: “Staying Sane”. We caught up with the Sydneysiders to chat about the single, how their 2020 went, and what’s next for the future. 

We’re two months in 2021, your new single has just dropped. How’s 2021 working out for you all so far? Resolutions kept or broken?

2021 has been a lot of admin and sorting ourselves out away from the musical side of things. As soon as “Staying Sane” is out we can only hope it’s anything but that; playing, writing, recording and sharing the rest of our new music.

As for resolutions, you can’t break what you never had. We are really happy though with where we’re at and what’s planned.

Let’s talk “Staying Sane”. What can you tell us about the new single?

“Staying Sane” was the last song we wrote for the EP. It’s fast and is also our first real attempt to mix synth tones and jingly guitar with a classic drive-heavy chorus. As for the story of the song, it was written about the struggles experienced during post-breakup conversations. In this particular case, a former lover looking for your support.

The song is incredibly personal and vulnerable, but also a lot of fun.

As you’ve mentioned, the new single takes inspiration from the IRL experiences of your frontman. How is this different or similar to your usual approach to songwriting?

It is definitely our old school approach to lyric writing. Sam has written vividly about a lot of his experiences, and that’s continued throughout “Staying Sane”. What is awesome about this new EP though is that we go well beyond that in some other tracks as the rest of us really start to get confident with lyric writing.

Despite 2020 being a bit of a mess, you really managed to make the most of it, getting into the studio. After a big 2019, was the enforced break, a bit of a blessing in disguise?

Yeah it was. It really helped us focus solely on writing and recording new music. We went on a little writing trip in the countryside, and it was one of the best things we did together as a band.

It was the first time where we didn’t have to worry about gigs coming up and rehearsing old songs. We could just focus on the new stuff, which made it exciting and more efficient.

That being said, we really do miss live music. There’s nothing quite like a standing crowd packed in like sardines, getting into it. We did play quite a few covid shows throughout 2020, and it was pretty funny to play some of our upbeat songs like “Had to Be Said” to a seated crowd and see the mismatch in energy between us and the crowd.

We’d smash out the chorus and just see the crowd sitting down.

What was your experience of recording with Jack Nigro at Grove Studios?

It was great. Being at the Grove Studios was a really cool and fun experience. It was nice to get out of Sydney and go up the coast for a week to record. The setup there is awesome.

On top of that, working with Jack Nigro was pretty special. He gave some real good input, especially with things like song texture and guitar tone. He helped us get the sound we were after and most importantly, he was an incredibly nice guy to be around!

And what was your experience recording in a post covid world?

Covid didn’t affect the recording process too much. But, it did affect the songwriting process, we just had so much time together to write and think through what we really wanted out of these songs. I think there’s a real sense of maturity and understanding between the band in these songs that we have lacked in the past.

Is there more music to come from those sessions?

On top of the whole EP that will come out throughout 2021, we do have even more from those sessions last winter. They’re definitely unique compared to our other stuff; and they got a good reception when we played them live.

None of them are properly recorded yet, but we’re keen to do that soon!

Do you think your approach has changed since you recorded your debut EP and singles?

Definitely, it was ten times better this time round. Our debut EP was mostly written by Sam during school, before we properly formed. With the exception of the drums, the recording was really spread out, and not too efficient as we were writing some things on the go.

With this new EP about to be released, the writing was much more collaborative. We were also a lot more organised and had already written all of it before entering the studio. The leadup to this EP was also the first time we went away together as a band to write and to record, which was a really good idea.

The new single is out February 19th, do you have any single launch shows planned?

Our single launch is at the Oxford Art Factory on the 3rd of April! It’s Easter Saturday and should be a huge show

What do you have in store for the rest of the year?

We’ll release the rest of the EP, and then do an East-Coast tour. After that we’ll get our heads stuck into writing and recording some more music.

 

“Staying Sane” is out now. You can keep up to date with Highline via Facebook and Instagram.

Header Image: John Roman Creations

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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