Last week, when South Australian band The Scoundrels released their debut EP It’s Not That I Don’t Want It, I Just Didn’t Expect It, we were immediately on board with their cathartic indie-rock sounds.
So fresh off the EP’s release, we caught up with members Jacob and Riley for a complete run-down on the inspiration and themes behind each track.
Fresh off the release of their debut EP, we caught up with South Australian outfit The Scoundrels for a complete track-by-track run-down.
When You’re Not Alone
JACOB: Living in the same house as your ex-girlfriend is weird, listening to her have people in her room, not quite sure if she’s moving on or not is also weird. It’s set after the pain and after the sadness, moving on, not moving on, do I love you or do I love someone else, is having sex with someone else making me forget about you? Probably not. The song, coupled with the last song on the EP tells one continuous story of losing love and moving on.
When we recorded the song with Matt Hills, I spoke to him about Five Years by David Bowie being the biggest inspiration for the music in the song, he suggested we lean into that, hence the drums fading in during the intro, go listen to five years after you listen to this song, it’s a not so subtle homage.
The song always sounded quite big to us but I think the biggest thing that we got from recording with Matt was his ear for layers and building sound with additional melody rather than just kicking on another distortion pedal. This culminated in what he called the ‘cowboy choir’ that you hear during the chorus.
When I heard it all come together after we’d done the first mix I’m pretty sure I cried, the songs themselves were filled with so much emotion and to have it playing back to me after dreaming about recording my own songs for so many years was so overwhelming. It was a very special moment I’ll never forget.
RILEY: The next track is Sail Away. This one’s a bit of a punk-grunge anthem type sounding song. It was one of our first tracks that came together and pretty quickly too. I’d written some simple chords and lyrics a few years back when going through a tough time and asked Jacob to play something cool over the top.
Much like a magician with the rabbit out of the hat, Jacob pulled out this really cool riff and it made me smile from ear to ear. As usual, it didn’t take long for Kodie and Ben to lay down some rocking rhythm and next thing you know we were playing it live!
Sail Away probably leans more on my favourite grunge influences; Nirvana, Cloud Nothings, The Pixies. Simple pop sensibility with a dash of grit. In a nutshell, this song is about mental health challenges and finding it difficult to cope with change when you’re already facing a mountain of adversity. Hope you enjoy.
RILEY: This is a song that took a long time to come together. I’d written parts of it going back as far as 8 or 9 years. I had, I think, these five sections, which at the time, I believed were all different songs but gradually over the years began piecing them together.
At band practice for the first 6 months, every once in a while we’d use certain sections of the song to jam out, but I could hear it all coming together as this one aural expedition. After many practices and months of testing my band mates patience, it finally came together and I really couldn’t be more proud of this track.
I think tracks like this reveal my influences such as Deerhunter and Modest Mouse, especially with the reverb-laden guitar and way the lyrics are discharged in the second part of the song. It’s another song that tackles the difficulty of issues such as depression, anxiety, self-doubt and trying hard not to give up when all may seem perhaps lost or highly unbalanced. It’s so much fun to play live.
JACOB: Growing up, I was raised on a diet of a lot of Britpop by my mum. This song, in particular, feels reminiscent of that. It has its quirks and a lot of inspiration was drawn from the works of Pulp and Jarvis Cocker. The song itself started out as observations of what I’d seen of ‘fuck boys’ or ‘ordinary boys’ around the pub scene and their not so attractive behaviour toward women.
The song evolved when I began look more introspectively at some of my own behaviours in regards to my relationship at the time, becoming more of a subtle confession of my own ‘ordinary’ behaviour.
The song itself has three distinct parts I’d glued together. The intro is a beefed up version of a riff I lifted from an old spacey folk song I’d written as an 18-year-old, the main part of the song is a jangly guitar pop song chorus paired with a psychedelic delay-filled verse, Riley’s maniacal laughs in the background of the verse adds to the hysteria of it all.
The outro is probably my favourite part. Loud distorted guitars, ascending and descending the scale, Riley and myself squealing sex noises like a couple of naughty, naughty school children. I used to get embarrassed playing that part live, but there’s no avenue for shame in rock n’ roll.
RILEY: Much like Sunflower and quite the opposite of Sail Away in structure, The Swells was a song I wanted to feel like you didn’t quite know where it was going to go next. I’m all for simplicity and a simple verse-chorus structure, but I find it really fun to challenge one another sometimes by throwing out what ifs instead of always finding the easy path.
Another tune of ours, like many, that started out as an eastern psych jam which we’d sometimes play for 20 minutes and then lead into another track and jam for 30 minutes. One day I’d just woken up, was laying in bed and had this thought as the main riff oscillated through my mind; what if the song just stopped, slowly picked up again and was almost reborn as another larger beast entirely?
I guess that’s when the riff came into my head, I nutted it out, took it to practice and yeah, it feels really great to belt this one out. In short, this song is kind of about the human relationship we have with death and time, witnessing it, feeling it, thinking about it, fearing it, romanticising it…
The Swells draws upon influences such as Jim Morrison of The Doors and more contemporary bands such as The Black Angels. Having spent a few months in India and also a few between Cambodia and Vietnam, I think my experience there paired with Jacobs love for playing Eastern scales always tends to shine through in one way or another when we are creating new tunes. I had a lot of fun recording this one with Matty Hills.
If It’s Over (Kill It)
JACOB: This song was written in a moment of pure brokenness, inspired by the sinking feeling dragging one down after experiencing the breakdown of the relationship you thought would be forever. A prequel of sorts to the first song on the EP, When You’re Not Alone.
The song basically fell into my lap. I’d written the basic chord progression earlier that day, it felt like a poor man’s version of Exit Music by Radiohead and the infamous Hotel California, nothing too special. But that night after a few too many pale ales in a cold shed, all the emotion poured out of me.
Lifting a line from Kylo Ren in Star Wars Episode 8, “Let the past die, kill it if you have it to,” the cathartic wail of ‘kill it’ in the chorus became the band’s battle cry as we brought each live show to a gut-wrenching close. It’s a simple four chord song at the end of the day but subtly adding layer upon along the way, it comes to life.
The acoustic guitar, the vocals, the piano, the bass, the drums all adding their own little part building and building until my final wail in the last chorus which leads into Riley’s mind-bending solo to take us further out to sea, deeper and deeper, until we finally hit the bottom.
It’s Not That I Don’t Want It, I Just Didn’t Expect It is available now. Listen above.