Deciding to ditch their old name, aesthetic and songs doesn’t sound like it was a hugely gut-wrenching decision for the members of Melbourne’s thoughtful pop-electronic foursome Sons. While guitarist Kyle Tickell concedes the shed skin of San Fran Disco “shaped what [they] wanted to do”, the idea was to pull things back: simplify, imbue true meaning, and create an EP for which they could be really proud. The new band name in particular communicates their presser’s assertion that “everything is equal and opposite at the same time, at once self assured and vulnerable, unusual and strangely familiar.” It’s such a small word, demanding nothing, and yet every man is a son. Tickell talks macro and micro on the cusp of the boys’ self-titled EP launch, to be held at the Prince Bandroom.
“For now we’ll use San Fran as a bit of a launching site for Sons., but after that we just don’t want to have anything to do with it,” laughs Tickell from the home he shares with brother and bassist Lachie. “We’re only playing one song [from those days], which we never actually recorded, and everything else is brand new. By the end of playing San Fran shows we were so over playing those songs and it was just not what we wanted to do at all. We thought, ‘We’ll start something completely fresh.’” The name change symbolised a concerted, definite break from the past. “We love the name, but it’s pretty ambiguous to find on the internet,” Tickell says. “It’s been tough in that sense, because we’ve had a lot of people say they can’t find it.”
Aside from this, it sounds like transferring their fan base wasn’t the headfuck you’d imagine. Some good old-fashioned nepotism amongst band-related roles has ensured each of the band members’ large, interlocked friendship groups have remained informed, and the guys weren’t afraid to utilise their mate’s skills to craft the new band identity either. The design work of close friend Dan Evans features in Sons.’ posters and promo material, and perfectly imparts the understated theme. “He’s got his own design studio in the city called Motherbird,” explains Tickell. “It’s him and two other dudes who are doing really cool stuff, and we got them on board.”
Kyle, Lachie, drummer Carey Watkins and lead singer and keys player Nick Acquroff are all self-taught, and the DIY theme has extended to their studio in Moorabbin. “Nick’s dad had a factory there and so we basically just built a rehearsal space in there. It’s a big warehouse-type factory, and we rent that out. It’s our HQ,” Tickell says. “We have a baby grand piano in it. Me and Carey used to work for a removalist, and the lady there said, ‘Look, we’ve got no idea what to do with the piano. If you guys can get it, you can have it for 250 bucks.’ It was the greatest thing ever. It’s an awesome old piano, and it helps with the really basic writing of the songs.” Tickell says they’ve all learned to play piano quickly since grabbing the baby gem, and that all songs begin their life on the keys. “You can tell with our music, I think,” he ponders. “They’re songs that could be stripped back to just keys.”
Tickell himself “can’t afford a million guitars”, but he does have his two “old faithfuls,” a Gibson 335 and a Fender Telecaster. “I love guitars,” he says warmly. “I think they’re the sexiest instrument ever.” I mention the clip for The Good The Bad track 030 in which the heroine makes out with an electric guitar, and Tickell says, “I have dreams like that! It’s weird. I can’t tell what’s sex and what’s guitars and music. They come together.”
Despite having enjoyed recording in a small studio, the band prefer a big stage to perform on, and are looking forward to their upcoming gig at the Prince. “It’s probably our favourite venue to play. Just ‘cause it’s so big, and we’re all pretty big guys, and we’ve got lots of shit on stage,” Tickell explains with a smile. “We love the Prince; it’s by far one of the best venues in Melbourne for sound. Also they allow you to smoke. We’ll play any place that allows you to smoke in the back room, that’s the deal.” With their walls of alternately haunting and joyful synths, hopeful Brandon Flowers style vocals and modestly electro beats, Sons. should have no trouble filling the Bandroom with dancing admirers.
BY ZOË RADAS