On crocodiles, nu-folk and their tour From Hell
Look at you -- not even wearing a waistcoat! You've been hyped as the latest nu-folk band, but you look nothing like Mumford and Sons. Is that beard even real? (fearless journalist reaches forward to tug musician's goatee).
We've become a bit of a Frankenstein, between what we wanted to do and what people wanted us to be. We've been kind of punching under the water, trying to veer away from the industry perception of what we are. They wanted us to be this nu-folk band. We wanted to go somewhere else.
Spending three months touring the US with Mumford and Sons wasn't a genius strategy for a group trying to shrug off the nu-folk tag.
There was a lot of pressure from our management. And we had this three-week block. Their take was, you may as well do it. It was either get really poor and go home $20,000 in debt, or do that tour. That kind of made our minds up for us. We'd met them before so it was an easy choice in that respect. Musically, it wasn't the best decision. It is something of a sore spot.
They're posh boys from London, you're from a town even other Australians consider remote. Was there something of an upstairs/downstairs dynamic?
They had this really flash tour bus. There was seven of us plus our gear in a 12-seater bus, which was really a converted seven-seater. We shared one hotel room between seven, for three months.
You're starting to sound like Martin Sheen at the start of Apocalypse Now.
We hadn't really toured before. We didn't quite understand what it would mean. We were buying Taco Bell meals because it was literally all we could afford. For about a month and a half, I had zero personal money. We'd get to a show and smash into Mumford and Sons' rider as soon as they went on stage.
It was like, 'bread, yes!' They were polite about it, but you could tell they were pretty pissed off.
Getting back to your origins for a moment, we understand your home town of Townsville is considered a bit of a hick settlement by other Australians.
The closest major city is 16 hours away. It is a port town. Cairns, which is a little further north, is a tourist town and is looked on differently. Townsville has a port and a military base and is thought of a hick town.
Townsville's climate is sub-tropical. Ever see any alligators?
We have crocodiles. They shut the beaches down all the time to let them swim across. If I saw one, I'd be like 'sweet, a croc'. Although, in fresh water they are really aggressive -- they will be mating and really territorial.
I Want That You Are Always Happy by The Middle East is released on June 3
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