If you’ve hung around the bars and venues of Melbourne for the past seven to eight years, you’ll have heard the term ‘jangle’ get bandied around a bit. It’s a somewhat catch-all term for Flying-Nun-via-Australiana loose guitar pop, and Angus Lord from The Stroppies knows it all too well. As one of the outfit’s primary songwriters, we sat down with him to chat about The Stroppies’ new one, Whoosh!.
The Stroppies are currently touring – head to the article’s end for details.
To begin with, what was the experience of forming The Stroppies? What was the thought process?
It can probably be traced back to me meeting Claudia, who’s my partner, and the other main songwriter in the band; she’s originally from London and I met her while I was touring there with Twerps. She was ready to get out of London and so it didn’t take much convincing to get her over to Melbourne. The songs that are now part of early Stroppies are the first things we ever did together, which coincided with me buying my first four-track.
The Stroppies seems like a new era for you as an artist. Would you credit Claudia with pushing you into a new phase of songwriting?
Yeah, totally. I think it’s just that thing of having someone around who can tell you “that’s okay” – just a smidgin of encouragement, when you might be about to douse whatever recording equipment you’re using in kerosene. That counts for a lot.
To my understanding, Claudia hadn’t ever touched a fretted instrument at all, and she just starting doing it with a conviction that was somewhat infectious. I thought it was so exciting. She’s ‘Weapon X’ when it comes to The Stroppies – someone without the formal training for all their ideas, so they end up coming out somewhat fractured or refracted through the skill-set, and that just makes for really interesting songs.
Do you feel like you’re ‘there yet’ with The Stroppies, or are there ideas within Whoosh! that you already want to expand on?
It feels like the end of a certain culmination, of three good years of work. I don’t know where it’s going to go from here. It feels like the capping of a period, like we’re a real band now, and Whoosh! is a solid, official release. The narrative of the band did start as a weekly exchange, a place where – for me, personally – I could comfortably explore things or ways of expressing myself that I wasn’t always so confident with.
You’ve said previously that you named the album Whoosh! because it reminds you of how pop is both transient and absurd, characteristics that the word shares. How to you write music that is absurd and transient in times of hardship or struggle in your life?
Well… I don’t think the expression is transient or absurd, I think that the form is. The way we consume it, and the things that make it ‘good’, lend themselves to absurdity or transientness. If you want to get completely metaphysical, everything is absurd and transient – or varying degrees of both. That’s a great creative catalyst for me. Whether it’s obvious or not it’s a recurring sentiment and theme in what I write about.
Most of the time when I’m writing, I’m not writing from my own perspective. I’m in awe of people who can write intimate or confessional songs, things that can translate profound emotions. I’ve found a good device for my songwriting is to write from the perspective of an imagined character, and then inflect how I feel about things through them.
I feel like if I can not be me, I can be myself a bit better. There’s nothing worse than exposing yourself in a hackneyed or clichéd way. It’s already a sort of narcissistic, silly thing to be doing – God! I’m not a self-apologist – I love watching music as well, but it’s probably something I should speak to a therapist about.
What would your question to the therapist be?
Why do I have to laugh at this thing I’m doing? I’m invested, and I’ve already shirked any sense of a regular trajectory. I might have done that whether I played music or not anyway.
Whoosh! by The Stroppies is out now via Tough Love.
The Stroppies are currently touring; dates and ticket links below!