“I can’t imagine trying to go through this without three of my best mates by my side”: A chat with Dear Seattle

Since forming on Sydney’s Northern Beaches back in 2013, Dear Seattle have become one of the country’s most beloved bands. With their vulnerable, heartfelt, and distinctly Australian brand of punk-rock, the band have earned themselves a huge national and global following, slots on some of the country’s biggest festival stages, and the attention of Violent Soho’s James Tidswell; who would go on to sign them to his Domestic Lala record label.

Next month, the band will performing at The Grass Is Greener Festival in Cairns, and we’re pretty bloody excited. But before then, we caught up with vocalist and guitarist Brae Fisher to chat their ideal festival lineup, being in a band with your mates, and the importance of lyrical introspection.

My writing is never to appease anyone else, it’s something that’s just for me“: Dear Seattle’s Brae Fisher talks dream festival lineups, lyrical introspection, and being in a band with your best mates.

HAPPY: The past few years have obviously been pretty large for Dear Seattle… how have you wrangled the wheels of change throughout this transition into a bigger spotlight?

BRAE: Honestly, it’s been tough! I guess the key thing fans often don’t see is the amount of time, effort and money it costs to be in an “upcoming” band. There’s a couple of key stages to being in a band; the first is where the band is a bit of a hobby and a side project and you fit it in around work so you can afford to live comfortably. The second is where we currently sit, which is right at the point where every dollar earned by the band is reinvested into it, and you’re touring frequently or writing, designing, planning, whatever, for the better part of your week. It makes it hard to keep money coming in, but it’s exciting as hell and I feel like it’s a rite of passage before hitting the stage where the band is something you can live off.

HAPPY: Sydney’s Northern Beaches, a place whose identity falls in the murky waters between sun-drenched larrikinism and privileged rebellion. How much do you feel growing up (or at least high-schooling) there has guided your sound?

BRAE: Hahahaha I love “privileged rebellion”. So on point. Honestly, I don’t feel as though the Northern Beaches as a place really impacted our sound. The only way I could imagine such is that there was a big scene for surf rock, reggae, psych etc. and none of us were really into it, so we looked elsewhere for musical guidance. As people, it definitely impacted us, but what we choose to express in our music is just different I guess.

HAPPY: You tapped local film legend Tyler Bell to shoot the video your most recent single, Maybe, a clip that by all accounts looked like it would’ve been a hell of a time in the making. What was it like working with him and how important do you reckon video is in capturing a song?

BRAE: Yeah what a dude! Super talented and extremely easy to work with. All ideas were considered and it was just such a nice open dialogue in the planning stages. Hats off to him! In terms of the importance of video, I feel like it’s less about capturing the essence of the song, and more about capturing the character of the band and its members. Video is the most telling insight into the lives of band members, and we feel it’s extremely important to stay genuine in that – we never try to be what we aren’t or try to portray an “image”. Probably why all our videos include barbecues, mates and beers hahaha.

HAPPY: On the topic of local legends, how has it been shooting through the ranks along side your good mates STUMPS? Is there a bit of healthy rivalry between the two of you?

BRAE: It’s been awesome! I don’t feel like there’s a rivalry there personally. STUMPS is quite a new band making headway in their own scene, whereas we’ve been around a bit longer and we’re tackling different objectives. It just feels like we’re in different stages at the moment so it’s not really worth comparing, but we’re just a big support network for each other. Anything we can do to help each others bands as they try progress, we will!

HAPPY: Richard Branson listens to Maybe and thinks… “these fellas have got the goods.” He decides to give you a blank cheque and asks you to create your dream festival. What would that look like?

BRAE: Metallica, Rage Against The Machine, Radiohead, Oasis, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers (with Frusciante), Blink-128, Offspring, Turnstile, Anderson Paak, Post-Malone, Rex Orange County, Bon Iver, Slipknot, Foo Fighters, Jon Hopkins and enough money on the side so that we can pay off all of our debts and never work again.

HAPPY: The lyrics in a lot of your music run through this pretty vulnerable channel of introspection with candid reflections and coming of age funnelling their way through your signature brute, beer-spraying force. How does making music effect you with the way you soak in the world around you?

BRAE: You’re right, there’s a lot of introspection that goes into DS. I guess the main reason for it is that the purpose of my writing is never to appease anyone else, it’s something that’s just for me. In life and writing, I am constantly trying to change the way I see the world or the way I manage my experience of it to make it better and better. You’re only here once, so there’s no reason to let yourself get bogged or to not try and better yourself throughout it.

I try to write a little every day, just about how I am feeling or how something is affecting me, and that leads to a huge bank of insights that I can either turn into a song then and there if I feel it’s substantial enough, or, I can reflect on it later and see how I’ve grown from that point. I really enjoy that process cos it means I am constantly reflecting on myself and becoming aware of my faults and strengths which I can then work on as a person! If people find the music relatable or inspiring, that’s just a bonus to me.

HAPPY: It’s always sweet seeing bands that give a solid sense that they’re good friends and obviously you boys fit that bill. How much of a difference do you think it makes having the backing of a crew of mates when your making music or out there on tour?

BRAE: In my opinion it’s crucial. I can’t imagine trying to go through this without 3 of my best mates by my side through every moment. You celebrate the wins together, and you help each other through the struggles. You care about each other more as friends than you do as band members or business partners, and that’s something we’ve taken into every part of our band, be it management, booking, record label or touring party, everyone is our mate first and is there for each other for the right reasons.

HAPPY: With recording, jamming, touring and just generally doing life, shit can get intense quite quickly. How do you guys decompress after a show or when things are getting a little nuts?

BRAE: We’re still figuring that out hey hahaha. I know I’ve started taking time to myself right after shows just to catch breath and shut the fuck up somewhere quiet for a while before joining everyone for a beer and a hang, which I feel that really helps. I think in general, it’s a matter of knowing when you need rest, when you need a moment, when you need to be with friends or be alone, when you need food or a shower or whatever. Just listening to what your brain and your body is asking for at the time, and providing it wherever possible, to me is the most important thing.

HAPPY: Your first self-titled EP obviously threw down the gauntlet and you’ve backed it up a cracking single, how is the debut album coming along?

BRAE: Man it’s shaping up real nice. We’re just putting the finishing touches on it and the plan and then we will begin to get things cracking! It’s such an exciting but daunting feeling, but we’re all so hecticly proud of what we’ve done on this album and we just can’t wait to show everyone.

HAPPY: Dear Seattle have been given the nod for The Grass Is Greener next month, a festival born of the idea that locals know best. What are some of the home grown acts you’re keen to check out?

BRAE: We’ve seen The Jungle Giants a couple of times over the years and they never disappoint! Also, we love hanging with the legends in Luca Brasi so we’ll be there for sure.

Catch Dear Seattle live at The Grass Is Greener on October 27th at Cairns Showgrounds. More info here.