In between stellar singles and festival appearances, we sat down with Queensland eight-piece Late November for a chat on all things touring, creating, and how “things have changed a lot since the start.”
Earlier this year, Late November shared their hangover-induced single Mr Invincible, which served as a clamorous, guitar-driven warning call of the dangers of a particularly boozy night out. Now, the Queensland band have followed up the single with latest drop Deadweight, adding to an already promising discography where masterful instrumentation meets gritty vocals, with thoughtful lyricism to boot.
“Deadweight is a manic and desperate exhalation of negativity and uncomfortable feelings,” Late November said of the single in a press statement. “The lyrics confront the inner darkness and anxiety of maintaining relationships, as well as the tendency to place overwhelming pressure on ourselves to meet expectations that may not even exist.”
Alex Thomas, who serves as the frontman of the Townsville eight-piece, said Deadweight has formed part of the setlist of almost every Late November show since its creation, becoming somewhat of an “anthem for the audience to scream out their demons to.” Deadweight and Mr Invincible join fellow recent Late November singles Fishook and Bird Brain, which arrived in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Fresh off the release of the single and with an appearance at Brisbane’s Super Fun Day festival under their belt, we caught up with Late November for a chat about making goofy beats, connecting with Dune Rats, and the “beautiful things set to happen in Townsville this year.” Read the band’s full Happy Mag interview below, and listen to Deadweight above.
HAPPY: Why did you pick Late November as your band name?
LATE NOVEMBER: We got together as a group in late November and it basically just stuck with us.
HAPPY: Your new single Mr Invincible details the regrets of a night on the drink. Why is this topic so rich for songwriting?
LATE NOVEMBER: I think it just oozes relatability. Even outside of drinking specifically, everyone has had at least one time where they’ve not known their limits, and that kind of thing sticks with you. We find songwriting is really just an exercise in relating to people, and overstepping your own limits or boundaries is universally relatable, even if you choose not to drink.
HAPPY: Mr Invincible is a self-produced track. Can you tell us a little about what the recording process was like?
LATE NOVEMBER: We hired an AirBNB in Lucinda, just outside of Ingham FNQ, and spent a full week just trying to make as much as we could. The pressure of time constraints and paying by the hour was out the window and it felt like we had full creative freedom. Our newest member and old friend, Hayden Dunlop, hadn’t joined the band by this point, but was adamant that he was going to fly up from Brissy and bring his equipment to lend us a hand.
After the first day we were all thinking ‘this guy gets what we are trying to do’ and a week later he was a part of the band, and it feels like he always has been. Hayden had previously mixed and mastered for us, but to have him in our makeshift studio really took it to the next level, and I feel like it’s reflected in the track itself. We’d spend the days working on Late Nov tracks, and then we’d spend the nights making goofy beats and rapping over them. I hope those never see the light of day.
HAPPY: The single is also accompanied by a hilarious music video. How did you think of the concept for the video, and what was it like to shoot it?
LATE NOVEMBER: We’d originally come up with a more grand concept, still using that ‘head tracking’ look, but with us being spread up and down the coast, getting us in the same city with enough time to shoot something is already hard enough. Despite having to compromise, I’m pretty stoked with the way it turned out in the end and I wouldn’t change a thing.
It was shot in our AirBNB the night before we left, and we strapped a tripod to ourselves, one leg inbetween our legs, and the other two cutting into our waist, and all bound together with a myriad of belts. It felt strangely erotic to be strapping your best mate up with this contraption. The 8 of us took turns just wandering around the house and singing the song, and it fit it pretty darn well with the themes of the track, despite not explicity trying to tie them in together.
HAPPY: As a band from Townsville, can you tell us a little about your creative community and music scene?
LATE NOVEMBER: We were pretty blessed to be coming out of high school just as the music scene in Townsville was booming. I remember the first time everything clicked and I realised this is what I wanted to do, and it was seeing local band ‘The Broadcast Fiasco’ (now ‘Rob Howe and the Guillotines’) in the live room of the local recording studio, ‘The Rec Room’, with around 30 people packed into this tight space, this intimate setting really made me connect with the band, and I wanted to make something like that of my own.
At the moment the scene in Townsville is recuperating from Covid, but there are some good people making good things happen, namely Jake Reid and the team from Otherwise Bar, Sam Wright and Nicole Cross from Neighbourhood, and Townsville Folk Fest. There are some beautiful things set to happen in Townsville this year that I can’t chat too much on just yet, but we are very excited to be a part of it!
HAPPY: You’ve been making music together for several years now. How has your dynamic as a band evolved over time, and what have you learned from each other?
LATE NOVEMBER: We’d be going on 8 years strong now, and things have changed a lot since the start, with 3 members added and all of us being split between Townsville and Brisbane, and other changes that we are still learning how to manage. We’ve gone from rehearsing 3 times a week, to only once or twice before shows, and it’s seeming to work so far, the writing process has been tricky however. It’s a real penpal relationship. We’ll send guitar and vocals off to the guys in Brissy so they can add bass and drums, then we’ll add tenor sax and trumpet up here, and they’ll add alto sax down there.
There’s a lot of back and forth, at the moment, which gets us keen for those weeks like the one in Lucinda. Most of us used to live together and work together, so we spent most of our waking hours with each other. We learned a lot about each other, and I think it’s only natural for that to spill over into the band. We try to be understanding of if someone needs space, or needs to yarn, and we try to make sure everyone is on the same page as much as possible. Basically the longer we’ve been together, the more of an understanding we have of how each other functions, and how we can work with that, and just more empathy for one another.
HAPPY: What did you read or watch growing up that fuelled your passion for music?
LATE NOVEMBER: For Alex it was the Foo Fighters documentary “Back and Forth” that really kicked him into gear, and for most of the other boys it was seeing local bands play. Namely: Lost Boys, Rob Howe, Lost for Ideas, King Social, and the like.
HAPPY: What are your upcoming plans for music now that Mr Invincible has been released?
We’ve got a massive year ahead, we just played at Super Fun Day, and we’ve got a couple of shows up and down the coast for the rest of the year. We are headed over to Japan for a 7 day tour between Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, which we are stoked for! Our next single Deadweight comes out on the 24th of March, which us a bit of a tonal change for us, but is a crowd favourite, so we are super excited to have that out.
We’ve got an EP coming out mid year, and also another single after that. We’ve got a nice suprise for the 5 year anniversary of our first EP, Lost in the Debris as well. We are planning to make it down to NSW, VIC, and SA late this year too. This is definitely our most stacked year to date, and we are over the moon.
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HAPPY: You performed at Super Fun Day festival recently. What was the highlight of that appearance, and did you have any backstage stories with fellow lineup acts?
LATE NOVEMBER: I think the highlight for most of us was being able to play on a festival stage of that size and such a high level of production. The set felt so fun, comfortable and exciting which makes all the effort and long drives worth it. It was also really beautiful to see our supporters turn up as soon as the doors opened to see us, there is always a small fear of playing in front of no-one when you’re the opener.
We managed to squeeze in a cool photo shoot with Brissy photographer, Amy Jones, where at one point all 8 of us squished into a portapotty. Dune Rats, who are lovely and hilarious, witnessed all 8 of us piling out of the portapotty and jokingly shouted that we were doing some illicit activities. We would also like it to be known that Dale from Ocean Grove is the loveliest person you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.
HAPPY: What makes you happy?
LATE NOVEMBER: Witnessing our efforts make a positive difference in our personal lives and careers, while also seeing healthy contributions to our scene back home in TSV. Every time we put more effort in, we get more back, and that’s gotta be one of the best feelings in the world.