h

The Babe Rainbow

It’s midday on a cold and wet winter’s day in Melbourne. The view from the window of my temporary location in the CBD is Blade Runner scripted by Thomas Hardy; grey, bleak and defeating. It’s as inspiring as a besser block castle, as psychedelic as a Ken Loach movie. But on Golden Beach, 25 kilometres north of Byron Bay, New South Wales, it’s a different world. “We’re just sitting here on the beach,” says Angus Dowling, drummer and vocalist with psychedelic pop outfit The Babe Rainbow. “We’re just hanging out. How you doin’?”

The Babe Rainbow – composed of Dowling and his co-parts Kool Breeze and Dr Elliot Love-Wisdom – formed about 18 months ago. Each band member's family hails from northern New South Wales, a product of the green change movement of the early 1970s, which produced the original counter-cultural communities of the area. “There are still plenty of those people still around,” Elliot says. “They’re awesome – they tell stories about hitch hiking into Mullumbimby, picking up all these crazy people along the way. They’re beautiful people.”
 
The Babe Rainbow’s fledging oeuvre is characterised by instrumental colour and a positive philosophical outlook on life. “I guess our songs are just inspired by our experiences,” Dowling says. “Living around here is a pretty rich lifestyle, and that comes through in our songs. But nothing really concrete. It’s like poetry I suppose.”
 
So what about the misty-eyed optimism of their songs? Does that reflect the band’s perspective on life? Dowling and Elliot laugh at the question. “Yeah, we’re optimistic guys,” Dowling says. “We’re children of the sun. It’s not a bad feeling around up here. We’re happy.”
 
The Babe Rainbow’s new self-titled EP features the previously released single Secret Enchanted Broccoli Forest, a song inspired by the band members’ tenure working on a local organic farm. “It’s run by an old English dude,” Dowling says. “He’s the real deal – his ancestors were making charcoal for the King back in the 17th century, so he’s got plenty of knowledge of history. And he’s done a lot of good stuff for us – he’s a cool cat.”
 
Along with the new EP, The Babe Rainbow have written the music for a new surf movie. The PR material for the EP boasts that the band are purveyors of all things good and right in the world, a very lofty claim to make in a world that seems intent on reducing public discourse to a poisonous mixture of fear, loathing and xenophobic suspicion. Is it important in such times to remain positive, and to highlight the good that exists in the world?
 
“I think it’s important to lift your spirits and think about the good things and not just dwell in the negativity and stuff like that,” Dowling says. “I guess we don’t pay too much attention to the problems of the world.” Elliot agrees: “We just want to put some colour on the street.”
 
The Babe Rainbow are set to appear at this month’s Splendour in the Grass festival, and in the lead up, they’re heading out on a run of shows around the country. “We’ve just finished our first album,” Dowling says. “So at our shows we’ll be playing mainly songs off that album – that’s exciting, that gets us jittering.
 
Having recently played in New Zealand, in September The Babe Rainbow will pack their bags and fly across to France to play some dates, including a festival. From there, if the stars line up, The Babe Rainbow’s expansion will continue. “I think we’re going to see the world next year – that’s as far as we’ve got,” Dowling says. “Yeah, around the world with Babe Rainbow,” Elliot adds. But for the time being, they’re eager to connect with Australian audiences. “We’re looking forward to coming down to Melbourne,” Dowling says. “We need to freshen our spirits by coming to the cities every now and again.”
 
BY PATRICK EMERY

THE BABE RAINBOW play at The Gasometer Hotel on Saturday July 18. The Babe Rainbow will be released on baby pink 10” vinyl on Friday August 7 via Flightless / Remote Control Records.