On March 30 Big White are set to release their sophomore album Street Talk. Despite taking a long stint since their debut LP Teenage Dreams in 2015, their momentum is reaching critical levels heading into the newbie.
Precluding the album with singles On And On, How Did You Find Out and Right Before Everything Dies, the band recently jettisoned over to the States for an appearance at SXSW and 10 extra dates to boot. Before they hit the tarmac on the other side, we caught up with Elmo on the synths.
Big White are one week away from dropping their new record Street Talk on Aussie soil… but they’ve got to make it home from the States first.
HAPPY: Hey, how’s things? What are you up to at the moment?
ELMO: Hey Happy, Elmo here – everything is great and we are on the plane heading to the US.
HAPPY: As returning faces, what’s a SXSW strategy you won’t be repeating this time around?
ELMO: Well, the first year I lost my wallet on the second or third day in Austin, and the second year my ID from that wallet was returned to me by surprise in Dallas, so I probably won’t be repeating either of those strategies.
HAPPY: Who are some of the fellow Aussies you’re happy to see on the SXSW ticket this year?
ELMO: Death Bells, Death Bells, Death Bells.
HAPPY: Following SXSW I see you’re touring the states again. Are you going at it as bare as you did last time, or do you think you’ve learned a few new tricks?
ELMO: If anything I’d say we’re going at it ~barer~ this time. Last time we had a lush RV cooking potato gems and pasta whilst simultaneously driving 100 miles per hour. This time we’re getting a modest Chevrolet Malibu or similar.
HAPPY: You’ll be back in time to see the release of Street Talk, was this a marked choice? Not wanting to be away from the home crowd when you dropped the record?
ELMO: Sometimes things just work out, you know? It’s nice when that happens, isn’t it?
HAPPY: Bad Friday is on release day. Bringing a few streamers onstage to celebrate?
ELMO: Actually we were so keen to do that but now you’ve blown our surprise, probably not.
HAPPY: How did the writing work for you on Street Talk? Three songwriters is a lot more than some bands could chew.
ELMO: It involved morning swims, walks along the beach, learning to surf, $7 loaves of artisan sourdough and big home cooked family dinners. When there’s food, we’ll chew it.
HAPPY: The album has a really feelgood vibe, like everything is coming up in your life as you’re hearing it. Where was that coming from?
ELMO: I guess it was captured during a time of change. Some of us had just moved out of the house we met in and others were finally learning how to pay rent and split water bills. We had many colourful characters visit us throughout the recording process as well – Chester the Hitchhiker and Trevor the Expert to name a few.
HAPPY: Is making positive music a consideration for you, or something that just happens?
ELMO: I actually find a bit of darkness in some of the songs personally. I guess they’re executed in a way that makes light of the situation without bringing the listener down. It’s not really something we consider, I think it just happens to turn out that way.
HAPPY: How do Bowen and yourself fit into the mix, in a writing/recording sense?
ELMO: Bowen is the drummer/genius audio engineer, and I get deep in my synth vibe.
HAPPY: What gear did you play on for this album? Are there any synths that stay in the studio?
ELMO: I played a KORG SV-1, Critter & Guitari Bolsa Bass, Proteus rack synth, microKORG and software synths. I usually play a KORG Minilogue live but that one’s staying home this tour which is probably for the best because a key on the microKORG was broken during transit. The Proteus and SV-1 usually stay in the studio.
HAPPY: You finished off this record on the South Coast. Does if feel like an ‘Australian’ record? How Did You Find Out? definitely has a strong hometown vibe for me.
ELMO: Yeah it felt pretty Australian – there was an old wallaby hanging around the property and we were sinking XXXX Golds, or mangoes as we affectionately call them, a nickname adopted from Snowy of The Ocean Party who was helping us record.
HAPPY: Did any other mates jump in on the recording?
ELMO: When Snowy wasn’t busy pressing record or writing in his cat calendar he played saxophone. Maddy Miller lent her hands for some claps and we had a children’s choir trio doing BVs on a track as well. Those three angels go by the name of ASK: short for Asha, Seanna and Kurtis.
HAPPY: Looking forward to the album mates! Cheers for the chat.
ELMO: Anytime, Happy.