An honest chat with the pioneering songwriter.
The series of events that have transpired this year caught us all by surprise and have thrown a spanner in the works for everyone.
Though RVG have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus shitstorm.
The Melbourne-bred band had just stepped out of rehearsals and onto the stage, ready for an Australian run of shows supporting Pixies ahead of a hefty 2020 touring schedule.
Then, as the situation snowballed, they watched on as their months of planned gigs fell away in front of their eyes.
“I haven’t processed what exactly is going on right now,” confesses the band’s frontwoman and namesake Romy Vager. “It feels like there’s a now and then there was another world [pre-coronavirus].”
For Vager, the release of the band’s second album Feral has been a buoy amongst the tumultuous sea of uncertainty whose rising tide has all but drowned the music industry.
And though she is excited to unleash Feral into the ether, Vager admits it’s been difficult to connect to the songs on the record, considering the state of things.
“It’s hard for me to find any meaning in the songs that I’ve got and then what’s going on in the world – I can’t quite see it,” she says.
While Vager is experiencing a sense of disconnect, it feels safe to assume that many will find Feral has entered the world exactly when it’s needed most.
Exploring themes of isolation and frustration, the record is somewhat of an ode to feeling one step removed from everything around you.
“I generally feel outside of most things,” explains Vager. “Quarantine hasn’t been the biggest adjustment for me because I feel like I do spend a lot of time apart from everything, and these songs reflect that.
“These songs are about me, but also about other people who maybe struggle a bit connecting with society,” she adds. “Without that connection or without a constant stream of that connection, you can go a bit weird, you can go a bit feral.”
It’s been three years since RVG made their grand debut with A Quality of Mercy, though Vager says its follow up came together quite smoothly. It was simply a matter of finding time between their seemingly non-stop tours to record the album.
“It wasn’t like we were Guns N’ Roses working on Chinese Democracy,” she laughs.
Inhabiting everything from the perspectives of a Christian neurosurgeon on the single of the same name to those of Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Feral sees Vager building on the clever, sharp-tongued brand of lyricism that saw RVG name-checking The Herald Sun and the right-wing idioms of its readership on A Quality of Mercy.
Despite having garnered praise for her ability to wield words, Vager doesn’t see herself as a great songwriter by any means.
“I struggle with songwriting. I overthink things a lot,” she says. “It sort of has to happen by surprise, in a way. A lot of the songs that end up with the band, I make little demos for them, but I have to make the demos quite quickly before I start to hate everything.
“I just wait for things to come, more than anything,” she says. “I’d love to be prolific but I’m not. I’m just, maybe a bit lazy as well.”
Whether it’s by chance or design, there’s no doubt the ‘ferals’ among us will find a sense of comfort in her words; particularly amidst the uncertainty of a coronavirus world.
Feral is out now via Our Golden Friend.
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