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Beat, 24 July 1996
The Earthmen - Boy Wonders,
by Teresa Bolster
Emerging from onerous comparisons with ‘Britpop' and ‘next big thing' expectations, Melbourne's own boy wonders THE EARTHMEN play their trump card with brand new single Hug Me Tighter

Imagine spending weeks writing, recording and mixing an album's worth of material, only to discover at the end of it that you don't actually like what you've created. You dismiss the producer, discard the bulk of the songs and move on to the next stage of your career. Sounds bizarre? Maybe so but this is more or less how Melbourne-based pop-meisters The Earthmen spend much of 1995.

Publicly it was a quiet year for the band. While unbeknownst to most, The Earthmen were negotiating a deal with Warner and writing ‘hundreds' of new songs. With de rigueur producer Wayne Connolly The Earthmen holed up in Caulfield's Platinum Studios and worked furiously on what was to be their debut long player.

In the cold hard light of day however, things didn't sound so rosy. What exactly lead the band to take the deflating step of abandoning a major piece of work? As Earthmen Scott Stevens says, they simply felt that it wasn't the album they wanted to have representing them in 1996. "We sort of liked it," he says, "but we weren't enamoured with it. And we knew that by the time it came around to being released, which would be now-ish, half the songs we knew we wouldn't want to use anymore."

Speaking from the Polyester record store (he hasn't given up his day job) Stevens says that many bands suffer from the ‘time lapse' problem - with release schedules being what they are, six months to a year might separate an album's recording and its release. In that time, artistically speaking they could be a completely different band. And so Stevens hastens to add, producer Connolly deserves no share of any ‘blame' for the unsatisfactory results. "It wasn't anything against what he did, it was just where we were at. I worry about that a lot actually because the last thing we would have wanted to have done was insult Wayne."

Approximately one third of the material from that album has been rerecorded by The Earthmen and will surface on the debut album Love Walked In later in the year. Based around the songwriting partnership of Scott Stevens and Nick Batterham, The Earthmen have taken their sweet time reaching the debut album benchmark (aborted projects aside). Debuting in 1993 (??-ed) with a pair of singles - Stacey's Cupboard and Flyby - The Earthmen have release internationally successful EPS each year and July 1994 saw them tour the US and visit London on the back of the Fall and Rise of My Favourite Sixties Girl EP.

All the while The Earthmen have been touted as the ‘next big thing', with expectations for a killer album following them since their first batch of singles. A scarcity of songs has never been a problem, so perhaps part of the reason it's taken Stevens and Batterham three years to make an album is their insistence that the selected songs work as a whole. "When the album comes about, it's important that it is an album - that it's ten or eleven or twelve songs that fit together really well as a whole. That's really important for us, that it is an album, not just a collection of songs. Sometimes some of the songs don't fit in with some of the others."

And what of the Brit-pop tag with The Earthmen have had to contend with almost since day one? "It's a misnomer," Stevens says, "‘ Britpop' is a really facile journalists' term to start with. It's wrong to say that in England, so it's even more incorrect to say it out here. I can see some English influences, but if people want to use the word ‘Britpop' well, that's fine."

Hug Me Tighter is out now through Warner.

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