Interview: Red Riders

BBM: Hey mate, what you up to?
I am lying in my room, still in bed.

Happy with how the new record has turned out?
Yeah. Well, it’s only been out for about ten days and we’ve got some good comments on MySpace and stuff so as much as you can tell from that.

It was completed very quickly – do you like working that way?
We like working that way. It’s good not to think about things too much and we like a fly by the seat of your pants style. The whole writing process took a while longer. Probably since the end of the last record so it would be about 18 months.
I mean we don’t churn out 20 songs a week or anything. I would go through periods of not writing anything for a few weeks. Songs just happen I suppose. I don’t really understand where it comes from and I kind of like that.

How do you think it differs from Replica Replica?
It’s more of a cohesive album. Whereas Replica Replica was 10 snapshots this is more like a big picture. Replica was quite black and white: this is filled with colour.
Sonically, there is more in it too. We mucked around with a lot more sounds.

At what point did Brad Heald [The Vines] join?
We recorded in February and March this year and he joined in November. We’re good friends with Brad and the Vines. And when I heard that the Vines were going through a rough patch I sent him a text saying I hope everything was okay and that we should meet up for a beer.
We got talking and I asked if he played guitar [as well as Bass] and he said yes. So it was like ‘dude come down and play’. And we played a show in December together and it just clicked. We actually just signed him up to the band with the lawyers this week. So it’s like ‘locked in motherfucker!’

So will he not be playing with the Vines then?
Oh no, he’ll still play with the Vines.

Like an adulterous woman.
[Laughs]. We’re sort of his secret mistress.

You tend to have more fun with them.
Yes, they’re dirtier!

Your bio mentions a particular track possibly being left of the record and Ivy League being utterly opposed – was it the track ‘Ordinary’?
That’s the funny thing, everybody presumes it would be one of the singles. But our record label are funny. It’s a track called ‘Never Gonna Be Enough’.
Our label have never really pressured us and they have always given us so much freedom. They let us do what we want. I mean we don’t need too much convincing. They just joked with us and called and said they would ring NSW Mental Health if we didn’t put it on.
We were in the studio for so long that we got confused about what was good and bad. The songs we though we were going to make at the beginning we never did.

The opener ‘Tomorrow/Today’ sounds a lot like the Cure’s A Forest to me. Were you aware of that when it was being written or recorded?
I grew up listening to them. My sister was a big fan. I’m aware of it that they influenced us but it’s such a subconscious thing. Like they are such a part of my make-up.
So it’s not like I was being cynical and saying ‘let’s write a Cure song’.

On another track ‘The Beginning of the End of the Night’ there’s this phrase ‘this Darlinghurst disease’? What’s that mean?
I suppose just getting messed up and always being drunk. Just those massive nights we had where you’re sort of waiting for it to end.
I mean, I live in Newtown…I was unsure referring to a place. One of my favourite records was by You Am I and it was littered with references to Sydney. Very specific. There is this whole cultural cringe sometimes, where nobody wants to sound like they are an Australian band. It’s almost more of a compliment if you are told you sound British. I mean some of my favourite bands who make Australian music were the Church and the Go-Betweens.

Do you think Australian music is sometimes too hung up on validation from outside?
Yeah definitely. We’re like this little kid that needs validation from its older siblings. It’s not that I’m ‘proud’ to make music that’s Australian: it’s more a case of not proud but not ashamed.

So you don’t mind being referred to as part of a Sydney scene?
Not really. Part of me – and this is going to sound a bit lame – is a big fan of community. And the stuff I like is often playing with bands. I mean most of the creative element here is a lot more underground than, say, Melbourne where there are a lot more places to play.
Dappled Cities are a great band, so I would be honoured to be mentioned with them. The only thing I wouldn’t like is if we were seen as some sort of Sydney fashion band. I would hate that.

You’ve supported some quite well known bands. Who were your favourite guys to hang out with?
Well, we did the tour with Dappled Cities and it was just like hanging out with your mates. And the Living End are the loveliest guys you could meet. I mean the biggest bands we played with, like Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol, are also are really nice guys too.
It’s like that have nothing to prove so they are just really cool. Snow Patrol came to our dressing room after the show and gave us a bottle of Jameson and Moet and were like ‘thanks for playing’. We were like no ‘thank you’.

So do you prefer touring to the studio?
I used to love touring a lot more than the studio but this time I really enjoyed seeing the album come together. But I do like touring. I like the atmosphere of drifting around towns. You are there for a reason but you don’t really know anyone either.

Lastly, do you have any celebrity fans that have surprised you? Or odd fans even?
We played this show for Triple J in North Queensland. And we found out that Phil from Grinspoon has this folder. He has a big ‘My Love is Stronger Than Your Love’ sticker on his folder [a track from Red Riders’ first record]. And when we looked over to the side of the stage he was singing as well. That’s cool, and so many other bands that we would have liked growing up.
Oh and I went for this interview in Melbourne. There was this girl who got my number for it – it’s usually a linked call but for some reason she got my number and was asked to delete it afterwards.
And didn’t.
So I started getting these random sexually explicit texts. Like ‘I’ve just cooked lasagna and I’m by the watering hole, or whatever….hungry?’ I’m like, what the fuck, I’m in Sydney!
Or ‘If you’re ever up for a night of random, meaningless sex…’

Still got that number!? Hook BBM up!