Cable Ties reflect on releasing an album amidst a pandemic and where to from here

Cable Ties reflect on releasing an album amidst a pandemic and where to from here

Photo by Lisa Businovski
Words by August Billy

We caught up with Cable Ties’ Jenny McKechnie ahead of the band’s Melbourne Music Week appearance.

Melbourne trio Cable Ties released their second album, Far Enough, in late March 2020. Given the timing, the band’s scheduled tours of the US and UK had to be abandoned just prior to its release and they were also unable to perform any launch shows in Australia.

But singer/guitarist Jenny McKechnie, bass player Nick Brown and drummer Shauna Boyle will be back in front of a live audience for the first time 12 months when they play a double header at Melbourne’s Forum on February 20, joined by MOD CON and Little Ugly Girls.

“It’s pretty much the most exciting thing that’s happened in a very long time, so I will be extremely hyped for both [sets],” says McKechnie. “The only challenge will be if I get a little too hyped in the first one and give my voice a bit of a hiding [laughs].”

The scuppering of Cable Ties’ tour plans mightn’t be the biggest tragedy of 2020, but it still led to its own kind of heartbreak. Having recently inked a deal with US indie label Merge Records – home to artists as varied as The Mountain Goats, Caribou and Waxahatchee – the trio was staring down a full calendar of overseas tour engagements.

“We were supposed to get on a plane [to the USA] two days before South By Southwest got cancelled and then after that, we started to realise how much the whole year and next couple of years was probably not going to happen,” says McKechnie. “So that was a big shock and it kind of was a grieving process because the way we thought our lives were going to be was no longer.”

McKechnie didn’t spend the rest of the year wallowing in self-pity, mind you.

“I have a nice house and I got some chickens and a dog and I went full cottagecore. And I went back to uni,” she says. “I put my guitar in the corner and didn’t look at it or play it and deleted all of my social media and went into a little bit of a hidey-hole.”

Despite the obvious disappointments, 2020 was a relatively successful year for Cable Ties. Buoyed by the partnership with Merge, Far Enough received loads of glowing international praise. It was also widely celebrated on community radio around Australia and in December it picked up the gong for Best Rock/Punk Album at the Music Victoria Awards.

“It was a weird time to release an album, but it also felt really good to have something to put out into the world at that time,” McKechnie says. “We felt really disconnected from everyone and we couldn’t go to play shows so it was still really good to say, here’s this art we’ve been working on for the last few years and connect with people that way. The reception it got, we’re really, really grateful for.”

The themes on Far Enough reflect a growth in McKechnie’s personal outlook since the writing of the band’s self-titled debut record. The singer’s lyrics give her a chance to process and examine various forms of nastiness and injustice in the world. Throughout, she resolves to take positive action, rather than falling into all-out nihilism.

This is exemplified in the opening track ‘Hope’, which centres on the line, “It might be hopeless, but if I lose hope I bring on that ending.”

“It’s something I’ve always done – when I was a teenager I wrote folk songs with similar issues in them and it was about me sorting through these things in my head,” she says. “Part of the good thing about Cable Ties is the way that the music sounds and the way it feels, it forces me to try and take a bit more of a constructive approach to something.

“I want to do that in my own life anyway and that’s been something that I’ve been trying to gradually do more and more, but the music itself also demands that I pick myself up off the floor and go and actually do something about it.”

Catch Cable Ties at the Forum on Saturday February 20 as part of Melbourne Music Week. Grab your tickets from the MMW website

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