Interviewed by Isobel Armstrong
Isobel: First up we'd like to know your story. Give us the basics: who you are, where you met, and how this happened!
Shaun: We are - Shaun, Zac, Mike and James. Zac and I have known each other for a long time, we grew up on the same street. Eventually in our early twenties we traded in skating for guitars and after a few different jamming situations we were writing songs with James, who I met through my brother/uni. After about six months into being a band (and writing some fairly confusing music) Mikey joined and our sound became a lot more defined.
I understand Spilt Cities has been gigging a fair bit around Perth. How have those experiences been?
So far so good, I would say we’ve been pretty lazy on the gigging front lately but we’re hoping to play a lot more this year. Through 2015 we definitely played less gigs but they were certainly some of the best, including supporting mewithoutYou (a big deal and real influence for me and Zac) and the WAM Saturday Spectacular which was just great fun.
What other acts are you guys related too around Perth, if any? I understand there's quite a bit of overlap within the muso scene.
Perth is most incestuous. Mike is also a member of Lanark and both Mike and James play in a band called Steppes. Both very different to us, and each other, and are both great.
I've been listening to Whirlpool and I think I picked up a bit of Smashing Pumpkins in there. Am I wrong? Who are your other influences?
Probably not one that was in the forefront of our minds during writing, but I can definitely see where that’s coming from. We all like Smashing Pumpkins and given the dreamy-distortion dynamic going on I can see how it would be likened to them.
We’ve got a pretty big range of influences, with Whirlpool I think the ones we were throwing around the most were Interpol, Mogwai, Title Fight, a bit of Warpaint, maybe some of The Smiths. When a friend of mine heard it he mentioned Bloc Party, which I didn’t really think of, but it’s cool that people will have their different points of reference for the sound.
I've noticed Spilt Cities classify themselves as emo and post-hardcore (alongside the indie tag, of course). Where do those influences come from?
When the band first started Zac and I were listening to a lot of Sunny Day Real Estate, Rites of Spring, tonnes and tonnes of 90’s-early 2000’s American mid-west emo bands as well as more contemporaries like Brand New, Thursday, mewithoutYou. I think a lot of people think of pop-punk when they hear emo but it was originally a break off of the punk/hardcore music, just a lot more emotionally charged. There is definitely a lot less post-hardcore going on in our music these days, I think we’ve learnt how to take the aspects of it we like into a different format, but the emo branding encompasses so much music these days. There are a lot of current emo bands like Foxing (and others with names far too long to quote) that I would liken us to, and it really just comes down to having a sombre, emotional quality in an indie rock format.
Is it a goal of yours to blend post-hardcore and indie genres? Or did it happen naturally?
I guess it was a goal, but we never really sat down and said ‘Okay we’re going to be this kind of band.’ I think because we share a lot of influences, our writing process is a lot of balancing whatever elements people are bringing to the table. There is always an, ‘Okay how much can we experiment in this song’ aspect so that it stays fresh, which I think there was less of back in the day for us. Now we’re willing to work at a song for much longer rather than declare it finished and because we write as a collective more now, rather than Zac or I bringing almost finished songs, we push each other a lot more to get out of our comfort zone.
What is 2016 going to bring for you guys?
Definitely more gigs, more releases, maybe even more pedals.