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Joe Agius of The Creases: “In the beginning it was definitely not serious at all”

the creases

LAST year, Brisbane’s Joe Agius and Jarrod Mahon decided to record a song and make a video one weekend as a bit of a laugh, doing it under the name of The Creases.

Little did they know that legendary UK label Rough Trade would soon have the band in their sights, and things were about to get a lot more serious.

“In the beginning it was definitely not serious at all,” Agius says. “They found the song and video on a random blog and e-mailed us. The Creases was kind of like a fun, joke band we had on the side, and then after we released the single for Rough Trade, we got more serious with it and realised that we could do it for real. It was suddenly an opportunity for us to tour and do all the things we wanted to do. It’s definitely different to a normal band, where you can chip away at it for a year and figure out exactly what kind of band you are and gig a lot, but we were thrown in the deep end pretty quickly. We had to make sure we were tight live, and had a good plan. We don’t mind the pressure; we actually work better under the pressure.”

The link-up with the label lead to a UK tour and now the young quartet have released their debut EP, entitled Gradient, but Agius is already looking forward.

“The EP has been a long time coming,” he says. “It’s a bit of a mix of stuff. There’s one song that’s more like the first single, and there’s a really shoegaze-y kind of track, and some more post-punk kind of stuff. It’s a pretty big mix, but still all sort of in the same category. Mostly pretty similar to ‘Static Lines’. We’re super-psyched for everyone to hear it. It’s taken ages for this EP to come out, so we just want to try and have a smaller gap between releases and move on to what will probably be an album. We’ll start demoing for our new album next month and then record it later in the year. We’ve probably got half an album right now, but we haven’t actually started writing properly.”

The sudden thrust into the spotlight has forced the band to adapt in other ways, with education and employment cast aside.

“I deferred before actually dropping out of uni,” Agius says. “I don’t think I’ll be going back, hopefully. Aimon [Clark, bass] has quit work then got employed again, but we’ve quit a fair few things for the band. It was hard in the beginning; my parents weren’t happy with me dropping out of uni to play in this band they hadn’t even heard yet, but I think they feel better about it now. I think once we started touring and they started seeing a good reaction and our music being played on the radio and stuff like that, they definitely felt a lot better about us dropping out of uni and work.”

The band began as a duo before going through a couple of changes and settling on the current line-up of Agius (vocals, guitar), Mahon (guitar, vocals), Clark (bass, vocals) and Gabe Webster (drums).

“When [our original drummer] dropped out, it was a pretty mutual thing,” Agius says. “She was doing law and was pretty far through a degree. At the time, she had to weigh up what she had to do. We were getting a bit too serious and she just didn’t have the time. Gabe is actually our third drummer; he played in Gung Ho in Brisbane. Gung Ho have kind of gone on hiatus; I don’t know what the go is with that band, but he joined the crew and it’s working really well. It’s good to have a confirmed line-up.”

With an appearance at Splendour in the bag, Agius is looking forward to a busy few months ahead for the band.

“Playing Splendour was the highest goal I ever set with music,” he says. “I would always go and tell my friends that next year we’d be on that triple j unearthed spot or whatever. It’s really scary, but super fun. We’ve got a few more tours with other bands, which will be announced, and we’re writing and demoing for an album. We’ll probably be doing some of our own shows as well.”

GRADIENT IS OUT NOW.

For Forte

Live review: Peace + Millions + The Creases – The Zoo, Brisbane – 19/9/13

Peace

I recently interviewed Peace frontman Harrison Koisser and he told me how much the band was looking forward to coming to Australia for the first time. “I’ve heard the lifestyle is different but the ideas are the same. It sounds like something we can get along with. I want to feel it,” he said. Tonight, in Brisbane’s best venue, the young English quartet will get a taste of that feeling, which probably involves a lot of heavy sweating in their leather jackets while blasting out a series of more-than-decent indie-rock tunes.

As I make my way from the traffic lights outside The Royal George towards the welcoming stairwell at The Zoo’s entrance, gladly escaping the god-awful blare coming from the Kaliber Lounge, the four lads of Peace are ambling along just in front of me, all shabby Converse and stick-thin legs, looking nonplussed and generally pretty cool with life, and like me they grab a spot to watch the support acts. Local indie-shoegazers The Creases are first up tonight, and they play a set full of heavily-distorted guitars, plenty of fuzz all round, shared vocals between members, and a bit of jangly pop thrown in for good measure. With support slots coming up soon for some bigger bands, these guys are worth keeping an eye on.

Next up is Millions, who have a different but equally good vibe, and a higher level of musicianship. The audience responds well as the band work through some new and unfamiliar songs throughout the set, and despite there not being much crowd interaction – as with all the performances tonight – the band, and particularly guitarist Ted Tillbrook’s impressive riffs, keep the top quality tunes coming; a highlight being ‘Stone Roller’ from last year’s Cruel EP.

Peace have recently toured with Mystery Jets, The Vaccines, and Palma Violets, so it’s tempting to lump them all together by describing their existence as some sort of resurgence in English indie guitar bands, but in truth, they play a style of music that has been around the block several times. Their sound is almost like a Brit-pop revival with more than a hint of psychedelia, and probably quite apt for this place and time, given that a large percentage of the Australian music-loving community is pissing their pants about Blur making their way Down Under very shortly. In saying that, they are a talented bunch of guys who aren’t into rehashing riffs, sounds, or styles from any previous era, and can put on enough of a show to make you forget about all the blog buzz and hype surrounding their debut album. Such attention has probably done them a disservice, as they’re a kick-ass live band first, bunch of pretty indie-boy pin-ups second. The quartet launch straight into their up-tempo set, only pausing to say hello before fifth track ‘Float Forever’, which Koisser introduces as “a slow one”, and the big choruses of ‘Toxic’ have heads nodding venue-wide, after he begins the track with just his solo guitar and voice. ‘California Daze’ is still probably their best song and would sound amazing at an outdoor summer festival, as it does in a small venue, and despite the ‘next big thing’ tag a large section of the music media has tried to force on the band, tonight’s gig is definitely a triumph of substance over style.