Four al­bums in, the Tassie pub-punk pow­er­house have made the am­bi­tious master­piece they al­ways wished they could.

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

Five years ago, this scribe caught Luca Brasi play a ~2,000,000-deci­bel set to a crowd of flan­nel-clad punks in a beat­down dive bar ac­cen­tu­ated with the faint scent of mid­dle-age re­gret. It was far from the kind of set­ting you’d want to take a first date to, but to stand in a hu­man tsunami – drenched in sweat and dodg­ing wave upon wave of crowd surfers – was the only way to truly ap­pre­ci­ate the anti-gaudy and in­tensely hon­est brand of noise the Tassie pub-punk pow­er­house wore so fever­ishly on their sleeve… But god­damn, how things have changed.

Their lat­est king hit to the eardrums, Stay, is as hon­est as any­thing the Brasi boys have thrown us in days past – if not moreso. It’s dirt-raw and never veers too far from the fist-pump­ing jam ma­te­rial our mates have al­ways de­liv­ered, but all things con­sid­ered, it’s also a much more grandiose record. Stay takes it­self a lit­tle more se­ri­ously than prior ef­forts have, melodies and rhythms show­ing the vir­tu­os­ity of a band that sat down and re­ally

thought about them­selves be­fore step­ping into the booth. It’s a nar­ra­tive echoed by lead gui­tarist Tom Busby, who – amidst frozen shud­ders in­flicted by the harsh Tas­ma­nian win­ter – sounds ut­terly re­lieved that LP4 is fi­nally in the bag.

“We worked harder and pushed our­selves fur­ther than ever,” he says. “I think it’s cer­tainly our most com­plete record – it’s not a bunch of songs that we’ve just slapped to­gether... Not that we’ve ever done that! We’ve al­ways tried to make our­selves a well-rounded record, but I think we’ve done it bet­ter than ever this time around. I think it ebbs and flows pretty good, and we weren’t too fix­ated on what was ‘punk rock’ or not. We might have thought about that a lit­tle too much in the past, but when we were fin­ished with this one, we were like, ‘Huh, this is kind of chill’ – well, chill for what we thought we would ever do! And y’know, there were some times I was pulling my hair out while I still had it, but al­to­gether, we had a f***ing awe­some time writ­ing and record­ing it.”

With ex-Kiss­chasy front­man Dar­ren Cordeaux in the pro­ducer’s chair (along­side long­time col­lab­o­ra­tors Jimmy Balder­ston and Nic White), Luca Brasi were free to ex­plore a much groovier and more easy­go­ing vibe in their song­writ­ing. Yeah, it’s less heavy-hit­ting than we’re used to, but not so much as to say it’s a vice rather than a virtue, be­cause in place of the crunch­ing riffs and scat­ter­paced drums lie tow­er­ing sound­scapes and rol­lick­ing buildups that lead into glo­ri­ous, goose­bump-in­duc­ing pay­offs.

Stay is best de­scribed as am­bi­tious – it feels like the al­bum Luca Brasi have al­ways dreamed of con­jur­ing up, and af­ter close to a decade at­tun­ing them to the process, they hit the stu­dio with the con­fi­dence needed to kick such a dream into re­al­ity.

“I’m glad you used the word ‘am­bi­tious’,” Busby notes, “Be­cause that’s def­i­nitely the vibe we had go­ing into the writ­ing process. I def­i­nitely feel like there’s a lot rid­ing on this al­bum, be­cause we know that if it does re­ally well for us, we’ll be able to bump ev­ery­thing up an­other notch. And we re­ally want to be able to do that soon, be­cause we’re all get­ting older. I mean, when we started this band, we were all 20, 22, 23 – I’m the only one of us that hasn’t hit his 30s yet! Two blokes in the band have kids now, too, so it’s get­ting harder for us to go as hard as we used to be able to. I kind of feel like this is our last big… Well, I prob­a­bly shouldn’t say that in an in­ter­view, but I feel as though if we just worked our asses off while we still can, then we can take what we’ve achieved so far even fur­ther, and that’s a re­ally ex­cit­ing prospect to us.”

Ob­vi­ously, we’re go­ing to press Busby on that lit­tle ‘last big’ quip – last­big­what!? Could the end of Luca Brasi be im­mi­nent, and could Stay end up be­ing their de facto swan­song? “Well,” Busby stut­ters, “Ev­ery time we fin­ish a record, I’m like, ‘Holy f***. I don’t know if I could pos­si­bly do that again.’ That’s kind of how I feel right now.”

But don’t start tear­ing up just yet, be­cause like in any mid-set speech from the band’s front­man, Tyler Richard­son, our mate on the gui­tar is keep­ing pos­i­tive. “But y’know,” he con­tin­ues, “It’s like that for a while, and then you pick up a gui­tar one day, you come up with a sick riff, demo it, send it to the boys, and all of a sud­den you’re like, ‘Righto! Let’s start it up again!’ “Es­pe­cially af­ter the last one [2016’s IfThisIsAll

We’reGo­ingToBe], I was so drained. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I have it in me to do this again – not at this cal­iber.’ Y’know, it’s easy to write those re­ally shit punk songs. When I’m on the couch, those just fall out of me! But writ­ing th­ese big­ger and more am­bi­tious songs… At the mo­ment, I feel like go­ing, ‘ No! No way!’ But I’ve said that be­fore. I re­ally hope [ Stay] isn’t our last record, and I mean, we’ll prob­a­bly give writ­ing a new crack in a few months time. But I def­i­nitely feel like this is our best record, and when the band is done, peo­ple will say this was the one that re­ally de­fined us.

“But mind you, Dave Grohl said the same thing about InYourHonour, and he f***ed it on that, so…”

Stay is also an im­pres­sive re­lease for just how gru­elling it was to get over the fin­ish line. The past two years had seen the band busier than ever – Busby was buck­ling down at Uni and work­ing in kitchens to earn a scrap, Richard­son landed a full-time teach­ing gig, and Pa­trick Mar­shall (rhythm gui­tar) and Danny Flood (drums) both had daugh­ters. That’s not even touch­ing on the bat­shit men­tal tour­ing sched­ule they’d jug­gled in­be­tween it all, so as ex­pected, writ­ing for Stay was a lit­tle more tax­ing than your av­er­age punk al­bum.

“It took f***ing for­ever,” Busby sighs with the force of a thou­sand suns. “The first two songs we started writ­ing were ‘Got To Give’ and ‘The Calm And The Ease’, and that hap­pened a cou­ple of weeks af­ter If

ThisIsAl­lWe’reGo­ingToBe came out. So it took two years to write ten f***ing songs!

“There were other songs that didn’t make it, where I’d spend an en­tire week or two work­ing on some riffs, then a month later re­alise they ac­tu­ally came from a Blink-182 song and have to scrap it. And that did hap­pen! I was lis­ten­ing to Spo­tify at home one day and a Blink song came up on shuf­fle, and I was like, ‘Huh, this sounds like a demo I did six months months ago that we just started to work on lyrics for… Ah,shit.’ I was so em­bar­rassed. The boys ab­so­lutely roasted me for it, too, and I just had to be like, ‘Yeah, fair call.’

“So writ­ing this al­bum took ages, but like I said, we just wanted it to be re­ally spe­cial and re­ally great. And when we got a few proper songs out of our­selves and we had a good idea of where we wanted to take the al­bum, that spurred us to keep go­ing. I think we’re all re­ally pumped with what we got out of it in the end.”

Per­haps even more re­mark­able than the al­bum it­self is the fact that, thanks in no short part to the band’s ex­cru­ci­at­ingly long­winded writ­ing process, the fi­nal prod­uct came to be with­out any grand propo­si­tion or Mis­sionIm­pos­si­ble- es­que blue­prints.

“We didn’t re­ally set out to go, ‘Okay, this is the kind of record we’re go­ing to make,’ or, ‘We’re go­ing to make this sort of mu­sic now,’” Busby says. “It just kind of hap­pens by ac­ci­dent. Last time we did, though – last time we said, ‘Let’s make a re­ally fast and punchy sort of al­bum.’ We wrote ‘Aero­plane’ first and then went, ‘Okay, let’s do a whole record just like that from go to woah,’ but it didn’t re­ally end up work­ing out like that; we had some slower jams on there and it took a re­ally dif­fer­ent shape to what we ini­tially en­vi­sioned.

This time, we just fo­cused on the simple phi­los­o­phy of mak­ing the mu­sic that we wanted to lis­ten to. We just wanted to push the melodic side a bit more so that when the songs kicked in and got heav­ier or fuller, it re­ally made an im­pact. We were chas­ing more of those ‘kick in the gut’ mo­ments in­stead of just palm-mut­ing power chords for three min­utes and call­ing it a song.”

Some of that stylis­tic evo­lu­tion was borne of ne­ces­sity rather than choice, though. “For the first time in this band,” Busby ad­mits, “We’d write a gui­tar riff or put to­gether a few sketches for a song and go, ‘Hold on, we’ve done this al­ready.’ I’ve never had that feel­ing be­fore, be­cause y’know, usu­ally you’d write a riff and you go, ‘Sweet, new mu­sic that we can work on!’ But this time we had to go, ‘Well, that sounds cool, but we can’t do any­thing with it be­cause it’s just a vari­a­tion of some­thing we did in the past.’

“So that made it pretty frus­trat­ing at times, but it also gave us the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore some dif­fer­ent kinds of ideas. We’re still the same band, but it’s like we’re in the next chapter of that band.”

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