Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Sounds Like Winter's coming...

Initiated in late 2013 as a songwriting partnership between Ant Banister and Ash Rothschild, as a fully fledged band, Sydney’s Sounds Like Winter have quickly become one of Australia’s leading proponents of dark, melodic post-punk and darkwave synth.

Ash Rothschild was best known as the frontman for nineties electro-alt.rock band Caligula. Ant Banister’s prior background in music, production and a raft of other creative media stretches back to the mid eighties, and is far too extensive to chronicle here, but has included indie-electronica projects like Nanotech and The Flow, and synthpop band Lunar Module.

Early 2014 saw the release of Sounds Like Winter’s first single, ‘The Dark’, accompanied by a strikingly ethereal promo clip directed by Lachlan Peterson. With an atmospheric guitar/bass/synth combo displaying the melodic influence of The Cure, New Order and Joy Division, ‘The Dark’ also showcased the brooding vocal harmonies of Banister and Rothschild, calling to mind Depeche Mode, or even Pseudo Echo.

Sounds Like Winter - The Dark from Sounds Like Winter on Vimeo.

Leaving Banister at the helm, Rothschild soon departed to front bombastic schlock-rock outfit, Graveyard Rockstars, but retains a creative role from the wings as a ‘ghost writer’. 

While Sounds Like Winter’s formative stages have been characterised by a revolving cast of personnel, guitarists Andi Lennon and Tommy Webbster have emerged as mainstays. Both are formerly of Sydney goth/punk/deathrock 4-piece Howl, and Andi was also the driving force behind indie/glam rock/goth pop project Thatch Noir. More recently, the Banister/Lennon/Webbster nucleus was consolidated by the addition of current bassist Jamie Pajuczok, while newest member Leticia Olhaberry will rejoin the group on drums following their return from New Zealand.

The band’s aptitude for marrying early eighties melodicism to slick, contemporary production values was again at the forefront of their next offering, ‘Hollow’, released mid 2014. Modern electronic alt.rock elements combine with an icy synth echoing Joy Division’s ‘Isolation’, while a deceptively catchy hook belies a bleak perspective underpinning the song; the day-in/day-out drudgery of life as a nameless, faceless cog within a sprawling, grey corporate machine. Latterly, ‘Hollow’ reappeared on the Australasian darkwave/industrial (etc) free download compilation, ‘S.I.N.G.E.D Volume II’.

Sounds Like Winter - Hollow from Sounds Like Winter on Vimeo.

March 2015 saw the band’s next release, ‘Sanity Is Calling’ (another Rothschild co-write), featured on the popular international goth compilation and conservation fundraiser, ‘For the Bats, Vol. II’. Without signalling a complete departure from the band’s established sound, ‘Sanity Is Calling’ takes a decidedly more guitar-driven approach, inspired more-so by the band’s post-punk/proto-goth influences than previous synthpop-inflected singles. Coupled with the international exposure via ‘For the Bats’ and a video mash-up of classic black & white horror films, ‘Sanity Is Calling’ immediately broadened Sounds Like Winter’s appeal to the current wave of post-punk, deathrock and ‘old school’ goth revivalists.

Sanity is Calling - Sounds Like Winter from Sounds Like Winter on Vimeo.

With buzz around the band steadily growing, last night (19 August 2015) Sounds Like Winter dropped their latest video single, ‘Ishmael’s Bones’. And what a stonker it is too – my immediate response to the track was to call it “bone-rattling, sea-swaying Australian swamp-goth of the highest order”. Described as a “tribute to the brave souls who set out against all odds to explore this planet”, the band’s cultural heritage and identity bubble to the surface with nods to the rhythmic bump’n’grind of Aussie swamprock (The Birthday Party, The Wreckery, The Scientists et al); to Ant and Andi’s shared vocal invocation of gruff, shadowy Victorian characters lurking below decks; video stills of barbed wire, nautical maps and old maritime imagery; through to the closing maudlin auld sea-shanty that bids us farewell. Immediately compelling, ‘Ishmael’s Bones’ are brimming with both style and substance.

Ishmaels Bones - Sounds Like Winter from Sounds Like Winter on Vimeo.

Already being championed by specialist DJs, clubs, radio and webcasts from around the world, and now fielding offers to tour Europe and North America, Sounds Like Winter are about to embark on their first offshore jaunt to New Zealand with shows at Auckland’s Whammy Bar on Friday 11 September and Wellington’s Valhalla Tavern on Saturday 12 September. 

Supports include Undiscovered Moons of Saturn, HUMANiSER and DJ Frankie Flesh in Auckland, and in Wellington, Splintered In Her Head, Todd Manion (Bat Nouveau, Aus) and DJs Batbones & Syria of Club StrangeHouse (Melbourne/Brisbane).

Sounds Like Winter online: VideosSoundcloudFacebook