been the forsaken ambassadors of Australian pop for years, issuing perfect pop songs from
the sidelines as their contemporaries stole the spotlight. On the eve of their debut album
release Klaire McLean asks The Earthmen what's it like to be Australia's formost rising
Scott Stevens and Matt
Sigley, singer and bassist respectfully, stride into Warner's Melbourne office with an air
of relaxed confidence befitting a band on the cusp of major success. Their album Love
Walked In positively shines with melodic pop ethos and assured musical knowhow. From
the opening moments of the suave Whoever's Been Using This Bed, it's evident The
Earthmen have created a masterpiece of enduring pop perfection.
Not perturbed by the personal pressures of
recording, The Earthmen opted to recruit producer Daniel Denholm, known for his work with
Frente and Max Sharam, instead of an expensive and over rated overseas producer. Their
choice proved to be an apt one for their distinguished, lush pop sound.
"It's such an enormous expense for how
much of a difference it makes," Scott says of their reluctance to use a foreign
producer. "We'd love to record with all these different overseas producers, but we
recorded with Brent Clark previous to the album and he said try out this guy. We tried him
out and he was really good and at that point it wasn't an issue - going for some overseas
producer for the sake of overseas".
"To get the sound we wanted to get, we
could by using him," concludes Matt.
After catching a live show for Polygram
Publishing, Warners were eager to sign up The Earthmen. So impressed by a demo that they'd
received a week earlier and the strength of their live show, Warners offered The Earthmen
a five album contract that was hard to refuse. Whilst the deal upped the ante for the
band, The Earthmen are keen for it not to interfere with their direction or sound.
"They don't necessarily say 'You must
sound like this', of course", says Scott. "They were really great with all the
art-work and all the recording was how we wanted it to sound. And if anything, being on
Warners has forced us to take it a bit more seriously which has a better effect on our
"Well you've got to play well if you
want people to buy your records" adds Matt.
The songwriting came as a logical
progression, with the songs on the album being cast from the creative impulses of Scott
and guitarist Nick Batterham.
"About a third of the songs came from
old stuff and then we were writing right up until the recording," explains Scott.
"So it wasn't like we'd held back these songs for years, for some time after the new
millennium we'll have these great songs. So we had a whole album's worth of songs, we
write songs as they come about. Also the whole thing about holding back songs seems to me
like 'I'll never write another songs as good as this ever again, so let's just hang on to
it', whereas the notion should be to write stuff that's more relevant, even better and
where you're at."
A constant emotional balance is struck
lyrically and musically on the album. Although many of the songs deal with the
deterioration and difficulties of relationships, to their credit The Earthmen never let
the darker themes overpower the integral buoyancy of the music.
"A lot of your favorite songs have the
counter point of light and dark", considers Scott. "And it's funny because it's
not necessarily a contrived thing, that counterpoint, but at the same time you don't want
that minor key, Goth, I'm so lonesome I could die kind of thing. Even when the songs
aren't happy I hope there's a sense of space, some sort of release in them, because
they're not all songs about dead end situations. I wrote all but two of the lyrics, so in
some ways it's quite personal because all of them are about first person issues - they're
all about my friends."
So in that way, do you feel you have to
distance yourself from the songs?
"Sometimes it's weird though, you find
that the song is actually written about something and the meaning's changed," says
"There are certain songs you don't
want to sing forever and there are certain songs you don't play anymore because they can't
mean anything. And we're all lucky enough not to have any hits, we can always bury the old
songs that don't mean anything to us. Which I think is important, it's like rehashing old
On a personal level the release of a full
length album is an important step in confirming the band's self-confidence and stuatus as
"It's an indefinable thing. It reacts
on you internally rather than obvious external things," agrees Scott. "It is an
important thing for us, a lot of thought went into the album and interestingly enough it
seems to affect other people more than it affects the band. Because it seems to be that
until you've got an album out you're not quite valid. We always seemed to be one of those
bands who people used to say 'You''ve heard of them, but you don't know what they sound
Whilst the band are playing it cool it
seems thier parents are glowing with pride in their sons. "It's actually nice for
your parents to feel that what you're doing is valid," says Scott. "Not that you
do this kind of thing for your parents. Like when we were on Midday about a month ago we
though it was hilarious and funny, when they actually went 'Ah, that's great!', they think
it's really cool. Despite the fact that your're still having trouble feeding
"To do what we've been doing and to
have your parents either disown you or support you, and our parents have always supported
us. And that's a nice thing that it's something that they would like. Because a lot of
stuff you do in a band never surfaces."
"Not really on the playing side, not
when you're in a pub every night", adds Matt.
"And never when I was drinking and
smoking cigarettes. Now I can now that I'm clean living", laughs Scott.
"Now it's all behind closed
doors", quips Matt.
So with the success of Drop City and
Deadstar, is Australian pop about to have an renaissance?
"Who knows, it'd be nice to prophesise
like that, most genres come back in one way or another", muses Scott. "I sort of
think that the pop thing in Australia is having a harder time than when it started up. I
think that what we all thought was alternative when we were young is now so mainstream on
a general level, and now a lot of things are co-opted into the mainstream. Indie was a
real buzzword, it was a kind of popular 7" fanclub and it was never to be accepted by
the rock, Triple M type."
"It's all blurred now", murmurs
"Commercial radio is happier to grasp
overseas music than it is local stuff", argues Scott.
"But then commercial radio isn't all
the same now. Different stations have different styles, they're all commercial",
points out Matt. "There's somethings, you'll hear on one station that you won't hear
on another. You'll get rockier stuff on Triple M than you'll get on TT FM".
"What's the worst thing is that radio
in Australia doesn't play very much local content" continues Scott. "There was a
situation in the seventies and the early 80s when radio was right behind Australian music,
and Australian music was selling heaps, it was a really vital scene. Now that's changed so
much. I just don't think that marketing decisions and corporate decisions relate to
anything local. Although Warners push local acts a lot and Warner and Polygram have a
really strong local base."