If you haven’t heard of WHARVES yet, it’s a name you’d better start getting used to. The Lennox Head four-piece were the winners of triple J Unearthed’s Splendour In The Grass comp, graced with the chance to open the main stage of the festival back in July.
They’ve also just released new single Love Decide, a barrelling tune steeped in shadows of post-punk and British indie à la Interpol. In celebration WHARVES are taking the track on the road, hitting up an extensive run of dates up and down the East Coast, including BIGSOUND.
We caught up with the band to chat about opening Splendour, the importance of playing regional shows and dabbling in synths.
Fresh from scoring the opening slot for Splendour In The Grass, we caught up with Lennox Head indie rockers WHARVES to chat their new single Love Decide, their upcoming tour
HAPPY: Hey guys, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
WHARVES: Hey, we are going very well thank you. We’ve just come down from the high of playing Splendour and have just released the new track Love Decide and kicked off the east coast tour to play it live to everyone. The first two shows have been awesome so we are pumped to do the rest.
HAPPY: British post-punk and indie seems to be a bit of a bedrock for wharves – where does this influence stem from and how do you maintain them in your songwriting?
WHARVES: I think the influence came about by us listening to bands of the 2000s like The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand and Interpol that were heavily really influenced by the original post-punk movement like Joy Division and The Cure. So through our favourite bands we listened to their favourite bands and obviously love them because it’s where those ideas and sounds kind of come from. In terms of our songwriting we never set out to sound a certain way, the songs come very organically probably just reflect our influences.
HAPPY: How did you end up working with Steve Schram? How did the sessions for Love Decide go down?
WHARVES: He was recommended by a friend and basically reached out about April last year. This is our third single we’ve done with Steven so we have learnt a lot from his methods and have grown to really trust his judgement.
HAPPY: Love Decide is a bit darker than anything you’ve done before. Where did this vibe come form?
WHARVES: It’s a song about control. You can’t control everything in your life so sometimes you’ve just got let it happen or get out of the way. All the vibe and sound is sympathetic to that idea so that’s where the darkness in the track comes from.
HAPPY: Is this a path Wharves are looking to go down moving forward?
WHARVES: Definitely not against that idea but before we write we don’t set out to like “let’s write a dark song” we just jam or play until something cool happens and then we keep working on that cool bit. But our last few have been a bit darker so could be something we naturally gravitate towards.
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HAPPY: You guys have dabbled with synths in the past and they definitely play a role in establishing an atmosphere on love decide – are they a big part of your live sound and songwriting process?
WHARVES: Dabbling is what we do best at Wharves. We are always looking at expanding our sound sonically and synths are definitely a key part in that. Often when we are writing, it’ll just be guitars, bass and drums. The synths make their way into our sound during the recording process. We are slowly introducing synths into our live set up as well. Scott has started using a Moog Little Phatty live and Mike has replaced some of the synth sounds with some tripped up guitar effects.
HAPPY: What kind of synths are we hearing on the track? Anything interesting?
WHARVES: There were two main synths used on this track. A Moog Little Phatty and a Korg Minilogue. The Moog was used from the bridge onwards and it added so much to the bottom end, it’s such a beast! We had a lot of fun with the Minilouge during this session as well; it’s such a versatile instrument. We used it for the pad sounds during the chorus and in the outro we were using it for these white noise filter sweeps for a bit more intensity.
HAPPY: How was playing splendour? You guys must have been stoked!
WHARVES: Splendour was unreal! ‘stoked’ would be a bit of an understatement to say the least! It was such a surreal moment finding out that we won the triple j unearthed competition to open up the festival. Being a part of one of the best live music festivals in Australia was not only an incredible experience but also a huge learning curve for us.
HAPPY: I can imagine trying to fill a stage like that would’ve been pretty daunting. How did you guys approach the show?
WHARVES: It’s pretty funny, the stage looks huge from the audience perspective and the whole lead up to the festival we were quite overwhelmed by that thought. But as soon as we got out onto the stage for soundcheck in the morning, it didn’t feel daunting at all – it felt right. We worked our arses off in the lead up to that show and that definitely helped us with our nerves. We rehearsed the set over and over, we had it timed so we knew exactly how long it was. Our sound engineer, James Boundy, gave us some invaluable advice leading up to that show and that was ‘the last thing you want to be thinking about on stage is your actual playing. You want to get up there and just enjoy every moment because it will be over before you know it’.
HAPPY: You’ve shared stages with some really great Aussie bands like Polish Club and Rolling Blackouts, are there any other local bands you’ve really been digging recently?
WHARVES: There are so many amazing local bands kicking around up here at the moment! Mini Skirt are one of our favourites, especially with their latest single Dying Majority – think Eddy Current mixed with Bad//Dreems. We’ve also done a couple of shows with a band called Seaside and they’ve recently released a dreamy track called Drifting.
HAPPY: It’s great to see you guys straying away from just playing major cities on the tour – is playing regional shows a part of your band ethos?
WHARVES: Absolutely! Since we are from a regional area we know first hand what it’s like for music fans who live outside of major cities. Australia is such a huge country and it’s filled from corner to corner with such die hard live music fans that it’s integral to try reach as many as we can.
HAPPY: Looking forward to checking you guys out in sydney! Any words for your fans heading to the shows?
WHARVES: Thanks heaps, we’re pumped as! Just come along and have a good night out. We’ve also been writing in between Splendour and the release of the single so there’s some newbies in the mix. We’re also playing alongside some amazing bands so make sure you come down early to discover what could be your new favourite band.
Catch them on tour at the following dates:
FRI 25 AUG | BEACH HOTEL, BYRON BAY NSW
SAT 26 AUG | SHARK BAR, GOLD COAST QLD
WED 6 SEP | BIGSOUND @ NEW GLOBE THEATRE, BRISBANE QLD
THU 7 SEP | BIGSOUND @ BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE QLD
FRI 8 SEP | LENNOX HOTEL, LENNOX HEAD NSW
THU 14 SEP | THE GRACE DARLING, MELBOURNE VIC
FRI 15 SEP | THE BRISBANE HOTEL, HOBART TAS
FRI 29 SEP | WAYWARDS, SYDNEY NSW
SUN 1 OCT | CAMBRIDGE HOTEL, NEWCASTLE NSW
SAT 7 OCT | LECHE CAFÉ, YAMBA NSW