Six years ago, you probably would have found Sydney’s Dear Seattle rocking out at an emo night somewhere on Oxford Street. Influenced by American hardcore bands they knew and loved, the outfit were quite happy paying homage to their genre of choice.
Just a couple of mates playing together and having fun, they weren’t thinking much about where it would all take them. Times have changed since then.
These days, the band – comprising vocalist Brae Fisher, bassist Jeremy Baker, guitarist Lachlan Simpson and drummer Josh McKay – serve up a delicious blend of punky, garage rock. Melodic choruses, relatable lyrics, and an attitude of honesty has won them listeners across Australia.
It was only February this year that they finally released their debut album, Don’t Let Go, which is still getting radio spins and scoring them festival slots. According to Fisher, it’s a bit of a dream come true.
“That’s always the dream, when you first start out as a band,” he says. “Releasing that debut album is always something that you’re going to look forward to.”
The guys had already released EPs and a spattering of singles, but Fisher says putting together a full record was a different process.
“I liked the freedom of being able to explore a lot of different things,” he explains. “When you’re writing a single, you’ve got to try and pack a catchy chorus and a certain structure that keeps people’s ear engaged.
“As much as we try and stay away from templates and formulas and stuff like that, it is like a natural thing. So, it’s kind of nice, on an album, writing songs and knowing that six or seven of them don’t actually have to line up with that formula.”
Fine-tuning the Dear Seattle sound has been an evolutionary process, but one thing their music has always been is relatable. From musings on money and creative passions, to songs about anxiety, heartbreak and even his father’s passing, Fisher’s lyrics are honest accounts of life.
“[Relatability] is definitely the crux of what Dear Seattle is,” he says. “I think a lot of it is just the emotional temperature of it being quite introspective, and quite self-aware. Not necessarily self-critical, but self-deprecating, and being able to look at things in our lives and being like, ‘Oh, I can laugh at that’, even if it’s something really terrible that happened to me.”
Despite their firm grip on the music scene now, it wasn’t too long ago that the Dear Seattle story almost ended before it had really begun. In December 2016, they uploaded their breakthrough single ‘The Meadows’ to triple j Unearthed, but had plans to part ways shortly after.
“Little did we know that everyone in the office was on Christmas holidays, so it just fell on completely deaf ears,” Fisher laughs. “But I had planned to go to South America, I was going to be blogging for National Geographic, and I was going to be over there for like two years.”
“Then like three weeks before I was supposed to leave, David Ruby Howe picked it up and was like, ‘How the hell did I miss this?’ After that they did a big article saying, ‘You’ve got to check this band out’, and then it went insane on social media. So, we were just sitting there like, ‘What do we do?’
“At that point I was like, ‘Okay, well this thing doesn’t come ‘round very often’ and it was obviously quite time sensitive, so I decided to stay.”
With a number of festival appearances scheduled for the summer, Fisher says he’s especially keen to be heading back to UNIFY Gathering in January.
“I think it’s really important for us as a band, because while we’re not in that hardcore scene anymore, it’s what we grew up with and that’s who we are as people and as musicians.”
Catch Dear Seattle at UNIFY Gathering from Thursday January 9 to Sunday January 12 at Tarwin Lower, South Gippsland. Visit unifygathering.com for tickets and more info.