Ancient Free Gardeners
Although he doesn’t believe in drawing comparisons, Ancient Free Gardeners’ James Milsom can’t complain about various press describing his band as something of an Aussie Radiohead with a hint of Interpol and a whole lot of Paul Kelly. And while Milson claims he is mostly flattered, he also warns that debut album In Consciousness And Out is about to change people’s minds.
“Our first release was an EP and all the songs on it were very introspective,” explains Milsom. “I was listening a lot to Bright Eyes and so all of it was just about being sad and nobody really understanding you… This album attempts to move away from that. “It’s still introspective,” he qualifies, “but I wanted to write about something else rather than complaining about being sad. So it’s an odd album in that it doesn’t have a concept theme, but there is a concept I used in my approach.”
Not that their self-titled EP was anything to be ashamed about – far from it. Receiving airplay on American college radio as well as in the UK, the record garnered rave reviews in local press hailing Ancient Free Gardeners as one of the most exciting indie bands to come out of Melbourne. Milsom claims it certainly provided the push towards a full-length if anything.
“It got a bit of exposure overseas – there was some interest in the UK as well,” he recalls. “The only thing was that we were pretty limited in several ways, in terms of limited resources and limited knowledge of how anything works, to be honest. It’s really hard to say whether it would be possible to go overseas, it’s just a tough one because everyone would have to take a bit of a gamble. We’re sort of all in a stage of our lives where we’re thinking, ‘Are we really still doing this or not, or are we moving on with our professional lives?’”
If In Consciousness And Out is anything to by, that won’t be necessary. With acclaimed producer/engineer Tim Johnson (Stereophonics, Nick Cave) in their corner, Milsom says while writing and recording was a daunting three-year-long process, the experience and results have been well worth it in the end. He just doesn’t plan on repeating it again. “I feel really proud of the album actually,” Milsom states. “I think if anything is a bit odd about it, it’s just that the recording and writing process was done over three years. So you’ve got songs on there that have been around for five years and you’ve got some which were only three months old. So when you think about it, there’s a bit of a diverse range of songwriting skill over there, because I’d like to think I’ve improved as a songwriter over that time.
“It was so different from doing the EP because the EP was recorded in a beach house over the weekend and mixed straight away, whereas this was done professionally in a studio with a big name producer. I’ve also been listening to lots of different styles of music. I’m into lots of Australian bands like The Drones and Augie March… Actually, I met Augie March and they thought I was a creep,” he chuckles.
Following the release of the Augie March’s 2006 album Moo Your Bloody Choir, Milsom became an instant fan and perhaps got a little too excited when he accidentally spotted guitarist Adam Donovan walking past his front door, oddly enough. “I had a weird moment in my mind where I decided to run out and just chase him down the street to say hello… I must have got a bit too excited and got my inner fan-boy on because when we happened to see each other at an event a bit later I tried to chat to them but it didn’t go that well. I just though, ‘nah, I’ll get through this without them making the connection I was that guy’, like they wouldn’t even remember, but they identified me as ‘the freak that chased the guitarist down the street in Carlton’. And I was trying to be their friend and they were bagging me right there in front of me! I don’t know, maybe I would have done the same.”
ANCIENT FREE GARDENERS launch their excellent debut album In Consciousness And Out at The Workers Club this Thursday November 11. They’re supported by Lights On At Heathrow and Tobias Cummings. In Consciousness And Out is out now.