Out of Sydney, soul rock outfit Slow Nomad have released the a string of damn smooth singles, and now they’re gearing up for a record.
Happy sat down with lead singer and keyboard whiz Max Harris to catch up on their latest movements, and why they finally decided to start making proper music.
From wafting, psychedelic jams to three-minute radio edits: how did Slow Nomad hone down their sound into what they’re producing today?
HAPPY: Tell us a bit about how you guys got together and why you started making music?
MAX: We kind of grew up playing together in a way, so we’ve formed a pretty tight musical understanding which really helps with songwriting, particularly when we do some of our weirder stuff. Ben and Dylan formed a techy punk outfit as teenagers while Joe, Luke, and I busked our way through high school doing folky stuff on regrettable instruments like ukuleles and banjos. Naturally that evolved into writing these formless, forty minute dreamy psych jams. At some point we brought Dylan and Ben in and they told us about this controversial thing called song structure and we started to make indie soul-rock.
HAPPY: Your new single Swoon, can you talk a bit about the track and where each of your skills lie when it comes to getting everything together?
MAX: Swoon started as a jam I had with Joe. The opening riff, verses and chorus were mostly all there when it came to the rehearsal room. From there everyone added their own flavour to it. The beauty of jamming it out in the room is losing track of how it all gets pieced together. Really everyone is just throwing ideas around and influencing the shape of the sound and in the end you kind of listen back and go “how did we end up here?” But honestly the song was changing pretty much up until its release. Drums were initially tracked at Parliament Studios with Phan Sjarif and then the rest done at Dyl and Ben’s studio, Mad Picnic to later be brought back to Parliament to be mixed by Phan. It was both a blessing and a curse working out of our own space as we could theoretically take as much time as we wanted. At some point we just handed it back to Phan, hoping he could wrestle it into something that sounded pretty.
HAPPY: Tell us about your influences and how you began developing the sound for this single?
MAX: Well Ben produces some hip hop and was in a punk band with Dylan, who’s now also in a ska band, Joe makes weirdo experimental drone music, Luke’s got more of an alt-rock background, and I grew up playing jazz. There’s definitely an experimental core to what we do, and I think that’s largely because our influences are pretty diverse. It’s always been important for us to carve out a unique sound. We’re not aiming to make music you’d necessarily classify as ‘experimental’ but we like to play with expectations, and you’ll really hear that in Friday or The Other Island. It’s also important for us to make every song feel distinct. With Swoon we dipped more into our soul and reggae feels and went for a vibe that lets you sink into a groove and get cozy.
HAPPY: You guys are a part of more than one project… from what we hear Joe is actually moonlighting with Behind You…
MAX: Yeah, Joe is the instrumentalist/producer for industrial-electro post-punk duo Behind You. His bare ass features heavily in their new video and live visuals too, so “moonlighting” is a good way to put it. Dylan’s also a drummer and songwriter in an incredibly dope ska seven piece Angry Little Gods, and Ben produces some great local hip hop artists. Basically when we’re fun you can thank Dylan, when we’re sexy you can thank Ben, and when we’re angry, noisy and bizarre you can thank Joe.
HAPPY: Can we expect a record any time soon? This is a great single to lead into a new full-scale release.
MAX: Cheers! We’ve actually been back at the Mad Picnic studio working on pre-production for what’s starting to look like a six track EP. We’re self-producing, so the process is pretty lengthy and disorganised. Mainly disorganised. And also mainly lengthy.
HAPPY: You’ve made some pretty big gains on Unearthed recently, were you expecting such a big response?
MAX: It was definitely a nice surprise, we really appreciate the love we’ve been getting. It feels great to get music out there so the response has been really cool.
HAPPY: So according to the socials everything has been a bit all over the place, Luke travelling, forced hiatus, then in the studio and now a bunch of shows and a single release. How are you managing it all?
MAX: I’m just stoked that we’re back. Luke being in Europe and us not being able to gig meant we got tucked away recording, working on new material and recharging our batteries. I think we all feel pretty energised and excited about the future and about continuing to develop and explore.
HAPPY: Lastly, the name, Slow Nomad, Where did it come from and what does it mean to you?
MAX: I mean to be frank the name doesn’t have the most thought behind it and most of us are ambivalent about it at best. That said, I have a mate who always hated the name, but whenever she was tripping she said she felt like a slow nomad. We’re big on the psych-vibes so I’m happy to go with that as an explanation. Even if it’s some bullshit.
Slow Nomad will be hitting up Brighton Up Bar tonight alongside Pirate Club, so if you dig what you hear then head along for a boogie. Details here.