It seems like there's a Western Australian invasion happening at the moment. Just as Brisbane seemed to rule much of the ‘90s, and as Adelaide lobbed quite a few bands over the border in the ‘70s, the influx of WA bands doesn't seem to be letting up. The Panics are about to hit town with fellow WA bands Split Seconds and Grace Woodroofe in tow. It's the first interstate tour for Split Seconds, who are still buzzing big-time over their recent barnstorming of the WAMi Awards. The band was named Most Promising Act and Best Indie Pop Act, while founder and frontman Sean Pollard was named Best Vocalist.
The tour with The Panics takes in a handful of gigs spread out over most of July. "It's going well so far," Pollard says through a crackling phone line and with a hint of hangover. "We had Sydney last night and Adelaide last week. We sold out in Sydney, so it was a pretty big crowd. It's the first time we've played Sydney as a band, so to play to a sold-out audience was really cool, man. Kinda overwhelming." Pollard says it's particularly mind-blowing to be playing a sold-out Corner Hotel on the band's very first Melbourne show although most of the audience will be there for the headliner. "It's got nothing to do with us," he laughs, "But it's been good to get on the Panics' coat tails and ride away!"
Pollard can't quite pin down exactly what it is about WA that seems to have spawned the current influx of bands touring the eastern states and appearing on radio, although he notes that it seems to be cyclical. "It happens every now and then," he says. "It ebbs and flows sometimes. We all disappear for a while to work on things for a couple of years, then every now and then a couple of bands come up at the same time, and I think the bands all help each other out." He also puts it down to online promotion. "It's a lot more of a reality now with the social media aspect of everything. It's a quicker process for WA bands to get out there without necessarily touring. This is our first tour and we've been able to kinda get a bit more exposure just off the backs of other things. I think it's becoming a lot easier for WA bands to get into the national consciousness."
The Split Seconds live band consists of six musicians, although the band started more like a Pollard solo project. "It started on my own, just putting together a record of a bunch of songs I'd written about a year and a half ago when I went overseas. I brought them back and just started cobbling musicians together one by one. The [self-titled] EP we did was recorded with me and a bunch of friends, including a couple of guys who have ended up in the band, but mostly just people who were around at the time who were playing instruments. We did have to strip that back a bit in terms of what we did live because it was really a studio record. We didn't think about how we were going to play it live when we recorded it. Luckily we didn't have to recreate too many string sections or anything like that."
The band is now recording a full-length album which will reflect the sound and feel of the live band. "There's no shortage of songs to choose from, so It's never cheap, and Perth is an expensive place to tour from, so if we want to tour it usually wipes out about a month of recording," Pollard says. "We're just taking songs as they come and recording them, not really looking at the big picture yet until we've got about six or seven songs down. We've got quite a few songs that we could put on there, but we're just trying to get the right ones to make sure it all sits really well."
By Peter Hodgson
The Panics, Split Seconds and Grace Woodroofe play at The Corner Hotel on July 15. The Split Seconds EP is out now.