photo credit: Hayley Francis
Tina Growls debut EP ‘Love Slaves’ is the perfect first recorded taste of them as a band. Each of the 3 tracks embodies a different side of the Melbourne-based three piece, using dark yet groovy alt-rock to explore topics on mental health and emotional stability. With uncomfortably obscure structural transitions and rhythmic variations, ‘Love Slaves’ keeps you on your toes and meticulously listening for that next shift, a welcome experimental change that immediately pulls you out of the complacent ‘lazy listening’ a lot of us find ourselves participating in.
You can grab the album here on Tina Growls bandcamp.
We asked front-woman Darcy to reflect on their journey as a band and their ‘Love Slaves EP’ launch that took place at The Old Bar January 3.
Dylan and I (Darcy) moved to the big-smoke (Melbourne) in late 2015. We were mostly just jamming for a year and a bit with the intention to start a band, which began with our first sort of background music gig in March of 2017. Music has always been a creative outlet and hobby for all of us so I think it was only matter of time before we started making our own stuff. Then when we met Lewellyn (drums) and started jamming it felt so empowering and fun and I’m always chasing that feeling.
Most of the songs we write have come from various riffs I’ll create intentionally/accidentally which then make up a part of the song. Then I’ll usually jam it out with Dylan in the lounge room at 1am in the morning. We’ve only had a few noise complaints. Then when we go to rehearsal Lew will have ideas for chord changes and structures and we’ll all argue about the rhythm and then we kind of go from there. I think the EP highlights some of our odd decisions with structure and riffs, but also is creatively interesting and I think at the end of the day that’s what we strive for; to create something we’ve never heard/makes the listener think wtf is this/this is weird.
When we started recording the Love Slaves EP we didn’t have many songs…5 or 6 maybe? The songs that we decided to record reflected the different styles/genres we were inclined to take moving forward. They were also lyrically and structurally more developed, but we really wanted to give the audience a taste of our experimentation and a ballpark of what we can do.
We recorded the EP in Ashlin Johnson’s bedroom. We did the temp tracks late 2017, drums in about April (?) and Dylan did the bass in a day. It took 3 months and Ashlin moving- house before we got the vocals down. I think we were all so busy and knew it would eventually happen so we weren’t too concerned about how long it was taking to make. It gave us time to change lyrics and work on things live that we then added to the final recording.
We kept the live performance of the tracks in mind when recording them. I mean we were gigging the songs quite a bit and they are likely to get boring if you don’t mix them up or at least add something fun to play. I think it worked the other way as well though. Ashlin helped us structure our songs differently in recording so then we changed how we played it live. There’s also a sneaky-frustration-scream in ‘Crash’ that happened when I couldn’t pitch the section leading to the chorus. Ashlin was giving me advice and I was trying so many things and nothing worked. Then I was like AHHHHHHHH and yeah it worked. I like it so much I’ve kind of started screaming (growling) in our live shows which I’ve found is a great way to let off any residual angst.
Our live shows are developing into something really special. I think we have a message that is more common for non-rock music. We touch on themes of mental health/emotionally sensitivity which is often reserved for punk music or singer-songwriters. Unconsciously a lot of our songs are quite emotionally heavy and intense. They are often about personal anxieties, psychological phenomena, mental illness. At the moment we are trying to tackle the existential angst of living in an accessible way. We’ve all had personal experiences coping/living with mental illness, so I feel like (at least for me) the band is a really supportive way to harness that energy and turn it into something soothing/aggressive/moody. It’s a very cathartic way to release all that nervous energy.
We prepared for the E.P launch by being sober, well-rested and fed (very rock and roll) and putting the finishing touches on our CDs (adding hand-drawn download codes and sticking them in the CD cases with electrical tape)
It was exhilarating playing the EP live to a big crowd. We always play the songs a bit differently to the recordings; usually adding/doubling sections, using fills and solos to add some spontaneity and the energy is always so different to recordings. I think the EP is a neat version of what we do live but we love the anything-could-fuck-up anxiety of playing in front of people. It’s thrilling.
In the end, the launch was rather successful! We were kind of shocked haha, I think we might all have low-self esteem so we were like whoa! People came! Everything ran so smoothly, people came, the other bands SLOMO and Bronze were fucking awesome, everyone enjoyed themselves, we sold out of CDs and we played with a lot of energy and passion. I felt like it was some sort of band birthday party that I didn’t want to end.
We’ve decided to save up some dosh in the next few months for an album. We really feel very inspired to refine our newer songs/the songs that aren’t on the EP and experience recording an album. We’re also working on merch and our live shows. Dad wants a Tina Growls t-shirt so I guess we’ll make some!
Catch Tina Growls join Meander at The Retreat Hotel front bar January 15th.