Meet The Shanghai Sally’s, the boisterous Melbourne rock band that can’t sit still

Meet The Shanghai Sally’s, the boisterous Melbourne rock band that can’t sit still

words by Greta Brereton

We chat to the pop rockers about how they’re faring.

Melbourne’s in lockdown… again.

It feels like groundhog day for everyone staring at the same four walls of their makeshift office and for many, the novelty of this whole work-from-home business is starting to wear thin. It’s especially true for bands whose craft relies so heavily on real life, real time interactions; jamming, collaborating and writing together.

Just ask Melbourne group, The Shanghai Sally’s.

“I’m sending countless Google Drive links like, ‘Hey Ross I’ve got this idea’, and Neil [Kemister] saying, ‘Hey, what is this like?’; it’s getting old, it’s getting really old,” says guitarist Hayden Mitt.

“So much slower too,” adds bassist Ross Davidson. “We’ve just started doing another batch of recordings and it’s taking so long.”

It’s a shared struggle for many music makers in the city right now, but particularly for a group who had been starting to gain traction in the local scene. To date, the boys have four singles under their belt, having released their latest track, ‘Medicated Disaster’, earlier this month. A lockdown launch wasn’t exactly what they had in mind, but they were keen to get the song out into the world.

“This was the fourth and last of the batch of songs we’ve done over this year and I think this was going to be the one that we really pushed hard,” explains Davidson. “If we could have had a big launch, we would have. If we could have tried to play a few shows out of Melbourne too, we probably would have. It’s a bit unfortunate that’s not what’s happened now.

“We had this schedule of releasing something every month or so and it was nice to keep that rolling to get this batch out. Just to show people, ‘Hey, we’re still here, we’re still doing things’.”

Prior to COVID, the band were flourishing. They were accruing support from a local fanbase that was multiplying with each live show and were excited to see that audience growth continue. While they might not be clapping eyes on a crowd anytime soon, they’ve been busy finding other ways to keep listeners – and themselves – entertained.

“I was like, ‘Alright, I swear I can make a music video from isolation’,” laughs Davidson of the clip for their track, ‘Better Than Me’. “I sent out a whole bunch of ideas to the boys and went, ‘Right, take these shots’, and tried to make a music video out of it.”

“That kind of stuff’s been really cool to keep us occupied and shows the lighthearted fun we have with our music. Everything we do is a bit of a homebrew.”

This is reflected in their social media channels too, where they’ve been whipping up a bunch of iso-content.

“The creative stuff we’ve been pushing has been really fun and really engaging,” says vocalist Kemister. “People love the stuff we do cause it’s real silly and has clearly been cooked up after being stuck in your room for five weeks.”

Whatever they’re working on, having equal input and a supportive space to share ideas is their key to success. This cohesion is admirable, especially since they’ve only been playing together since late last year.

“Coming together as four musicians of quite different backgrounds is probably the biggest strength of this band,” says Mitt. “It’s sometimes really difficult when you’re all coming from the same perspective and saying ‘that works, that works, that works’ and it just becomes this really unilateral music experience. Whereas all of this is converging into one in an incredibly creative way.”

But they couldn’t do it without a little outside assistance.

“My dad has been helping us out as well, because he does some mixing and whatnot, so we run things by him,” says drummer Ben Ingvarson.

“Ben’s dad’s an absolute legend, he’s been holding us all together,” Davidson adds. “We’ll get all our tracks done and recorded and we’ll just send him like forty tracks of absolute chaos.”

The boys are gearing up to release some of this cleaned-up-chaos later this year, with fingers crossed that they’ll be able to sneak in a cheeky show too.

“I would love to play a gig very soon, that would really do it for me,” says Kemister.

“Unfortunately going to have to wait a little on that, but the wait will make it all the sweeter when it happens.”

‘Medicated Disaster’ is out now. Give it a whirl on streaming services and follow their antics on Instagram.

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