Singer-songwriter-guitarist Joe White explains how he and his Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever bandmates Tom Russo, Fran Keaney, Joe Russo and Marcel Tussie have wrung out their individual and collected pasts – looking out from, and looking into, the spaces between tour life and home life – on their extraordinary second LP Sideways To New Italy.
Who are we hearing in the spoken-word portions of album opener The Second Of The First?
We’re hearing an old friend Mayada, and my partner Hannah. They are both old friends of everyone in the band. It was important for us to bring our friends and loved ones into the making of this record. After being away so much we felt we needed to honour our roots, and this felt like a true way to do that. It really symbolises the approach to this record, which was trying to move forward and be adventurous while acknowledging where we came from.
Beautiful Steven is some seriously romantic poetry to Melbourne; who/what is the titular Steven?
Steven is a fictional character in a fictional story about a real place. The song is set in the high school Tom, Joe R and Fran went to. It’s a look back at the rough days of being a teenager in a Catholic all boys school, and being secretly in love with the cool kid.
The fantastic Sunglasses At The Wedding never breaks out of its hi-hat beat into a full-kit rock rhythm; it gives such a sense of atmosphere to the story. Did the beat ever exist in a different way?
Yes it did; this song went through a few different styles. It ended up being a song that we had a lot of fun with. It became a chance to get creative and use atmosphere to our advantage.
The piano in Not Tonight is very mesmeric, with the repeated chord in the chorus, and meandering accents throughout. How/ where was it recorded?
Yeah, that piano really became a feature of that song. It was recorded on the grand at Head Gap. The rhythmic notes in the chorus kept getting pushed further up and up throughout the mixing process. Those meandering accents were exactly that: I they might have been Fran just messing around, and we fell in love with it and made sure we kept it in there.
Fran has said that on tour, he felt “everywhere and nowhere at the same time – and no one in particular.” Has the current state of restrictive travel come to colour or deepen these feelings about the frenetic nature of touring?
I love touring. I hope I never lose the wonderment that comes with overseas travel. The frenetic nature of touring is often mellowed by the long time spent in the van, looking out the window and contemplating the world around you. I think all this time away from playing shows and touring is only ratcheting up my excitement for the chance to do it again.
Sideways To New Italy by Rolling Blackouts C.F. is out now via Ivy League.
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