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Riflebirds

Rowan Roebig, the driving force behind Melbourne alt-country-rock band Riflebirds, believes there are plenty of fantastic things happening in Australian music right now. So, this makes it an ideal time for the release of Riflebirds’ debut album, Detours & Collisions. An established figure on the local music circuit, Roebig released a couple of albums under his own name before forming Riflebirds a couple of years ago. And he couldn’t be happier about where things are at.

“It’s a genuinely exciting time around Melbourne music at the moment,” he says. “There’s a bunch of bands around that are doing really, really well. You don’t have to go very far from the inner city to see some amazing bands. Whether it’s bands like Immigrant Union, who have just released their album as well, [or] Jen Cloher – In Blood Memory, that was one of our favourite albums of the past couple of years. It’s underrated, but an extraordinary album.”
 
A very selfless character, Roebig seems more interested in talking up other bands than speaking about his own act. “Another band would be Ron S Peno & The Superstitions,” he says. “We’ve been lucky enough to play two support gigs with them, at The Reverence in Footscray and The Retreat in Brunswick.
 
“A couple of our members went to Boogie Festival over Easter as well,” he continues. “There was bands like Pearls, who are just fantastic, and The Peep Tempel. I guess when it all adds up, it’s just an exciting time right now. There’s just some really inspirational acts that are doing well.”
 
Riflebirds’ debut album is more or less an extension of what Roebig was doing as a solo artist, with the added personal and creative touches of the band’s other four members. “With the two albums that were under my name, they were recorded at Soundpark in Northcote with Idge [Andrew Hehir],” he says. “We just wanted to stick with that vibe. We really like that studio – we like playing there, recording there, and recording with Idge – so we stuck to that plan.
 
“I recorded those two albums under my name, but didn’t play any live shows,” he continues. “It was just a recording project. As the second one was done, the band started forming. We did play a few gigs just under my name for a few months, but then it became clear that this was really a band, and the other four members really have a massive say in what goes on and contribute really heavily to the sound of the band.”
 
Riflebirds are launching the album this Saturday night with a big show at Yah Yah’s. Roebig believes the band’s evolution into a five-way unit has made them a stronger, more diverse live act. “I guess that playing the shows that we’ve done in recent times, over the last year or so, we’ve been lucky enough to develop a live show,” he says. “I think we have a good energy about us live. I think some of the earlier songs were quite… I think you might describe them as cosmic country or alt-country, country rock or that type of thing. But now there’s more alt-rock in there, or psychedelic rock. It’s just a bit more energetic, the new stuff, a little bit more rocked up. I think that comes from playing live; you get the sense that the audience wants something a little more. And I think that’s reflected in the album too.”
 
BY ROD WHITFIELD

RIFLEBIRDS launch their debut album Detours & Collisions on Saturday June 13 at Yah Yah’s, with support from The Ridgetown Porch Band and The Conclusions.