TAYLAH SCHRADER chatted to guys from CALLING ALL CARS about recording their new album Raise the People, being blown up by Green Day, and bringing back good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll in the Aussie music scene.
As their long-awaited album Raise the People goes haywire on Australian airwaves, it’s difficult to reconcile the blokes sitting across from me who bemoan a lost opportunity to try Reuben Hills “really fucking great fried chicken with chilli in a basket,” with the rock band breaking the stereotypes of Australia’s rock ‘n’ roll scene.
They are Haydn, James and Adam, members of alternative rock three-piece Calling All Cars; three exhausted Melburnians who, despite having arrived in Sydney at 4am for the final leg of their 2014 Australian tour, still managed to convey a sense of honest fun. Particularly as they describe the antics of their first big gig, which involved trying to avoid being blown up by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. Drummer, Adam Montgomery, summed up the event: “Armstrong ran on with a scarf over his face and started letting off pyros. I didn’t know what was going on, I was like ‘Shit, I’m on fire!’”
After a year of what felt like a hiatus for their growing fan-base intermingled with torturous teasers, Calling All Cars officially released their latest album, Raise the People, in early May. Interested in where the band felt the album was taking them, I asked what the fans should be prepared for this time around. Lead singer Haydn Ing mused for a moment, giving Adam an opportunity to step up to the plate: “It was a natural progression, because we did two albums of pretty much just straight up rock n roll… during the writing process and recording I think we were a little bit more free with our choices and we didn’t get too tied down about how we’ve got to replicate this in a live scenario or as a tradition[al] three-piece kind of sound.”
Calling All Cars spent most of 2013 recording Raise the People, but a series of songs were released at the end of the year, including Triple J favourites, ‘Werewolves’ and ‘Standing in the Ocean’. The title song, ‘Raise the People’, was also released and it seems that the group’s followers are growing as a result.
Despite a temporary lull in general interest in the Australian rock music scene, it would appear that people are finally starting to get back on the bandwagon, so to speak. Australian rock bands are on the rise again, as evidenced by groups like Calling All Cars, Stonefield and Birds of Tokyo. All have assisted in bringing back the quirky and unusual alternative sound distinct to our native rockers. The new album was forged from the band’s unpredicted turn towards experimentation, but the guys all expressed a fundamental desire to keep the purity of their sound alive and well, “We’re a three piece, and we’ve always played music as a three piece. Our sound just arrived from playing in a three-piece and not trying to overcompensate individually but kinda just making it work.” So fans, don’t have to worry too much about them ‘changing for the man’; these rockers are heading back to basics for this one. All three attribute their high expectations of themselves and the experimentation in Raise the People to their fans: “I think once we just started doing the experimentation stuff… we were like cool, let’s just go with that. There’s no particular expression behind it and every song is different,” said vocalist Haydn Ing.
The guys have a knack for shrugging off compliments in the same way as those guys who slept at the back of the classroom but somehow passed exams without a hitch shrugged off responsibility. “We’re super critical of our own shows, so there’s always room for improvement. I can’t ever think of a time where we’ve ever gone ‘Oh that was great! That was a perfect show!’” said Ing.
Since 2005, the trio have been slowly but steadily making their way to the top of the Australian rock scene. Busting into the Australian music industry is a tough gig for anyone, but for rock ‘n’ rollers, the battle is even harder. As Haydn explains, “I don’t think rock is in the most healthy state it’s been in. I mean it’s starting to get a bit of a vibe back again, because there’s the Brisbane bands… they’re kinda bringing it all back.”
When pressed about who they felt was bringing a new and exciting flavour to the rock scene – here or abroad – the guys were divided. Up there amongst the rock gods of old, the band spoke highly of UK duo Royal Blood and Queens of the Stone Age. According to the guys, both bands are making music in a rad way.
Of all the precipitous aspects of music careers, none are as risky as the live show. Concerts and gigs can make or break a band and over the years the group has seen dramatic changes to their gigs. Pumped to see more and more people, the guys were stoked at seeing how the attitude of their fans had also changed. It’s now “Less dude-sy, there’s way more girls which is cool,” explained bass player James Ing, while his brother Haydn added on, “There’s definitely more actual dancing, as opposed to fist-pumps and stuff.”
The greatest thing about live shows according to the boys is “having a huge audience shouting your lyrics back at you… there’s a connection with the crowd that makes you go, ‘This is fucking awesome!’”
Calling All Cars left Australia on May 5, leaving their homeland for a six month tour around the UK and Europe. On base there was an air of nervous excitement. They will be returning to Australia at the end of the tour, with a hinted new album already set in their sights.
Taylah tweets @TaylahSchrader