The next big thing out of Wollongong? We chat with the dudes from Pacific Avenue

I love The Gong for two reasons. The first is that my beloved baby sister lives there. And the second is because they produce some of the best bloody music in this country. Adding to the list of acts I already love out of the area (think Bec Sandridge, The Walking Who and Hockey Dad), comes Pacific Avenue.

We caught up with the boys following the release of their new single, Girlfriend.

Following the release of their gritty new single, Girlfriend, we caught up with Pacific Avenue to talk about their genesis and a massive year ahead.

Just a bunch of young guys doing what they do best, it seemed only natural for them to take it to the next level and create a band. With Harry O’Brien on vocals and guitar, Ben Fryer on lead guitar, Jack Kay playing bass and Dom Littrich behind drums, they are a sweet bunch with a bright future.

In the name of warming up the conversation, I jumped straight into the place where everyone wants to begin. How did the band come together? “We all grew up in Kiama and Gerringong,” says Kay, “with each of us doing our own thing musically and performing here and there.”

“Us boys all knew each other from growing up around the traps and we started to play together around local venues. One time Ben brought Harry, who was doing solo stuff at the time, to a jam and we created musical fusion!

Seemed like the stars aligned with us all clicking pretty well, and soon enough we started to pump out a couple of tunes…Wollongong is pretty much the centre of music around us, with organisations like Yours & Owls giving stacks of local bands a go alongside some pretty massive acts.”

Built on a foundation of some red hot influences in reggae and indie pop, Pacific Avenue have transformed their sound yet again with Girlfriend, a grittier and more determined direction for the band.

As the boys explained, it was down to a change in their listening habits that the song evolved into what it is today. “At the time when we were writing both In Your Arms and Drive Away we were listening to a lot of bands like Ocean Alley which influenced the songs and gave them a more laid back, cruisey kinda feel.

But lately we’ve been really into bands such as Catfish & The Bottlemen, Gang Of Youths and also nineties rock in general, which is why this new track has a bit of a rougher sound in comparison to the first two singles. We like to think the song also channels a bit of the attitude which was around when writing the lyrics, giving it a rougher feel.”

When I asked what their favourite acts were, I was glad to hear a slew of Aussie names and of varying soundscapes. “The classics are definitely Crowded House and Powderfinger as well as recently we have been loving Sticky Fingers, Violent Soho and Gang Of Youths.” 

Perhaps this is the secret to their transient sonic style? A carefully curated blend of accessible favourites and challenging new sounds.

“There is stacks of local talent on the South Coast and it is awesome that there is a bit of a music hub in Wollongong which gives the talent a platform to perform.”

It’s always great to get a glimpse into the mind of the artist, songs aren’t born out of nothing and with the track titled the way it is, I knew there had to be a story in there somewhere.

So the new single, Girlfriend, is basically about a French girl that Harry fell in love with at a show one night,” says Kay. “But turns out she had a boyfriend, which prompted the line ‘I’ve got your girlfriend on my mind’. This sparked the whole theme for the song and we just ran with it from there.” 

If you you’re digging what Pacific Avenue is doing then the opportunity to see them live is just around the corner, hitting up the legendary Sounds of The Suburbs this September, the boys will be playing alongside some choice acts, including Goons of Doom and Body Type.

I was keen to see who else Pacific Avenue were looking to catch live, mainly so I could scope out how we could hang on the day. “Really been looking forward to seeing Camp Cope, cause we haven’t seen them live. Skegss are always a hoot. Also WAAX and Israeli Chicks, they’re sick!” 

The event will hopefully see the introduction of some rad new material, with an EP hinted at sometime this year, the guys confirmed that it is indeed not too far away from getting a release. “We have a few tracks up our sleeves that we’ve been playing at shows lately. So we are trying to pump out those in the studio at the moment! The plan is to get our five track debut EP finished around the end of the year.”

Pacific Avenue are already stacking up some pretty impressive supports. It’s the way to go to build exposure and these guys definitely seem to be on the right path, even if a bit surprised themselves at the response they’ve been getting.

“Yeah that was pretty surreal. Supporting San Cisco and Thelma definitely showed us the level of professionalism that it takes to be successful in the music industry today, which kind of inspired us to work harder at everything. The local uni bar pretty much just heard some of our stuff and gave us a shot; we were super stoked!”

You can catch Pacific Avenue as they launch Girlfriend at Rad Bar in Wollongong on the 10th of August.