Kashmere Club are an alternative rock three piece from Melbourne, Australia. Their latest EP, Lost & Sound, has to be their best yet, with plenty of strong punchy riffs and solid musicianship all around, lyrics that will be swimming around your head for days after listening. They are the real deal, with old school rock n roll swagger inside them, they are sure to be around for a long while making music together. The band’s ethos is one to live by, firstly put in the hard work, enjoy every minute of it and also give back to your fans and I couldn’t agree more.
I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to interview the band, so I caught up with the vocalist and guitarist of the band, Billy O’Connell, to discuss everything from the possibility of some international touring to their songwriting process. Read on to hear what he said.
Can you give us a brief history of the band?
Well, we all grew up in a rural farming area not too far away from each other and although we were all musicians from a young age, we never knew more about one another than each other’s names. Then after we all had finished high school and individually moved to the city, we all had common ground of being new to the Melbourne scene. From here, we started playing together as a bluesy-rock outfit at any venues that would have us.
We recorded our first EP in early 2011 in an iconic St Kilda studio, which had been previously graced by the likes of Oasis and Franz Ferdinand. When the EP went out to the public, we started scoring some bigger and better gigs such as a support with Aussie roots legend, Bonjah – this was also the gig that The Living End’s, Chris Cheney saw us play which led to him producing this latest EP.
So far this year we have played a couple of really big local festivals, had airplay of our first single ‘Soldier’ right across Australia and travelled up and down the Victorian coast countless times, building on our live following.
Describe your sound in three words or less.
Honest, warm, big-hearted.
You just released your second EP, Lost & Sound, last month. How has the response been to that so far?
The immediate response at our launch night two weeks ago at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar was much bigger than we expected. The room was at capacity by the time we went on stage. It had been two years since releasing an EP, so I think people were pretty keen to hear the new material live. We’ve only had positive feedback so far and everyone I speak to seems to have a different favourite track which is pretty rewarding as a songwriter. We’ve almost sold out of our first run of physical EP’s and the iTunes sales are ticking over every day.
Give us an insight into your songwriting process. Where do you start and how do you put a song together?
As the singer/guitarist of the band, I usually start the process with just a stripped back folk song, played on a pretty rough acoustic guitar in my bedroom. Before I can even go near a new song though, there has to be a pretty strong emotion behind the writing or some sort of key event I feel strongly about – otherwise the process doesn’t feel organic enough for me. Once the story is down, the melodies are solid and the lyrics are penciled in, I’ll take it to the band and this is where the song sort of gets produced. Nathan and Jono in particular are really clever with putting dynamics in all the right places, particularly with Jono’s singing experience and his ability to work with extra melodies to really lift the song into a “full noise” number.
Are your songs all written from personal experiences or does inspiration come from anything and everywhere?
I’d say a mix of my observations, philosophies on life and real person experiences. Our first EP, ‘Roundabout Girl’ tended to be a bit more of an angsty, young guys’ outlook on the world. ‘Lost & Sound’ is definitely more personal and the 5 tracks basically encapsulate my own life events around the time of writing. A break-up might be in there somewhere…
No matter what I am drawn to write about, I am always writing it from an angle that I feel will allow other people to draw meaning from as well.
You live for gigging and playing music, you’ve not got any gigs lined up at the moment though. Are you taking a little break or can we be excepting a full run of tour dates to be announced soon?
We definitely do live for gigging. If we were in a position to do it every night we would, for sure. Having just finished our EP tour, which took in 6 dates across regional Victoria and ended in Melbourne, we are taking a little break to get some new music underway. I don’t think we have advertised them yet but we are playing a couple of festival slots towards the start of summer and supporting a couple of really strong local Melbourne bands for their EP and single launches in the coming months. We are planning to release a new single at the start of the New Year and will be touring again in support of that. Hopefully this will include the East Coast of Australia, which we haven’t explored yet.
Any chance of some tour dates outside of Australia to be announced in the near future?
Over the last couple of years we have started to connect with some audiences in the UK, US, New Zealand and pockets of Europe.
International touring is definitely something on the cards but I think we are really keen to build a bit of a relationship with acts in those areas before heading over. If you have some bands in mind, send them our way!!
What’s your favourite aspect of performing live?
Engaging people and doing things I’d feel stupid doing in any other environment. Sharing a moment with band mates and an audience in a sticky-floored bar on a Saturday night, full of people from all different walks of life is pretty special. It’s that perfect break from the everyday, and musicians the world over chase that their whole life because it never gets dull. My goal is to try and make people feel like they have been a part of something a little bit different or show them something they may not have seen in a while. That gives us kicks.
If you could create your dream line-up for a gig. Who would you choose to be on the bill?
It would be at Red Rocks amphitheatre in Colorado. Led Zepplin, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Ray Vaughan (RIP), Kashmere Club and the Kaiser Chiefs just for good measure.
Now that’s something I’d like to see. What are your thoughts on the music scene in Melbourne? Is there quite a buzz around the city surrounding music, and are there any venues you recommend checking out?
Melbourne definitely seems to be Australia’s hub for live music and the arts as a whole. There is a ridiculous amount of live venues here and it wouldn’t be hard to gig 7 nights a week if you wanted to. The ‘scene’ here is like that of a hamlet in the countryside – you only have to play around Melbourne for a year or so until suddenly you are linked to every musician by about 2 degrees of separation at most. It’s a really accessible scene in terms of starting out and getting gigs but the sheer volume of bands puts some healthy pressure on artists to stand out and differentiate. If you are ever in Melbourne, The Espy Front Bar is a must see. It’s always a full room of cool people and always the tightest new bands. For a balls-to-the-floor, real grungy, local experience, Cherry Bar is one to check out too – always showcasing up and comers on the scene and great international rock acts.
We’re big supporters of new music here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies. Having said that, are there any new artists that have caught your attention recently that you’d like to share with us?
On a local level here I’d definitely recommend checking out Fraser A. Gorman, he’s a really transfixing dude to watch perform and he’s kind of reviving an early Bob Dylan approach. Super cool band behind him too.
Also check out sweetheart, Vance Joy – our bass player Jono plays on and off in Vance’s live outfit. This guy’s pipes will flatten you!
Do you have any tips for new bands starting out, any advice that you could give them?
Be patient, goddamn. That’s number 1. And I also think the order of things is important. Mega bucks on press is useless if you haven’t even learned to play with your band mates yet. Above all, do it for the right reasons. They can be varying but I think as long as it feels natural to you, that’s the main thing. Anything faked is horrible.
You’re very active on social media, twitter and facebook in particularly. How important is to for you to connect with your fans that way?
Off the stage, we definitely feel that Facebook is currently the main platform for interaction with our audience. It’s really important that we maintain a connection with people in between shows. We have also realised that it’s important to be giving your followers something in return. It needs to be a two-way relationship. A lot of bands will use social media to purely announce when a gig is on or where to buy their merch, but I think it’s about more than that. People need to feel engaged and like you are giving them the next best thing to a live gig while they sit at their computer. Stupid videos, competitions, shout-outs, crowd photos so that people can tag themselves. This all helps more people to find out about our music and keeps people who already know us interested and up to date.
A special thanks to Kashmere Club for this interview and for more info on the band, check out the following links below.