DORK x LIVE AT LEEDS: IN THE PARK: Radio Free Alice hit the UK, and might just be planning to stay

With their sights set high, the Melbourne-based quintet are embarking on their first UK tour, armed with a new single and an eclectic upcoming EP. With an appearance at Live At Leeds: In The Park to come this weekend, catch up with our latest DORK x LIVE AT LEEDS: IN THE PARK festival guide cover feature.

Words: Stephen Ackroyd.
Photos: Madeleine Purdy.



Nestled in the cosy confines of Folklore, a charming London venue, Radio Free Alice are gearing up for their second-ever UK show. The Melbourne-based quintet, consisting of Noah Learmonth (vocals, guitar), Michael Phillips (bass, saxophone), Jules Paradiso (guitar), Maayan Bar Natan (keys), and Lochie Dowd (drums), has just kicked off their inaugural UK tour, and the excitement is palpable.

“We played YES Basement in Manchester a couple of days ago to kick off this run,” Noah reveals, as the band settles into the venue’s bar area. The tour marks a significant milestone for Radio Free Alice, who have been making waves in their hometown’s thriving music scene.

The band’s origins can be traced back to Noah and Jules’ high school days, when they started playing together at the tender age of 14 under the moniker Machine Gun Etiquette, Noah explains. “The band’s been through a few iterations, but about two and a half years ago, Michael and Lochie joined us after we moved to Melbourne. I met Michael and Lochie through Melbourne Uni. We played as a four-piece for about 18 months until Maayan joined on keys. We met Maayan through the music scene in Melbourne. We played in another band together called the Daily Commuters, and that’s how we got close.”

Melbourne, it seems, has been a catalyst for Radio Free Alice’s growth and development as a band. “Melbourne is brilliant for music. So many talented, interesting bands, and it’s an extremely inclusive community,” Noah enthuses. “There are about a dozen local bands that are prominent in the underground scene, and no one in the industry knows about who could easily be massive. For us, the move from Sydney to Melbourne was huge.”

Now, with their sights set on conquering the UK music scene, Radio Free Alice are embarking on their first tour across the pond. “We arrived in the UK a few days ago. So far, we have only played one show in Manchester with the Belair Lip Bombs and Cardinals, which was great. Manchester as a city seems sick, too,” Noah recounts. “We’ve been located in London, staying at a friend’s place – specifically the couch – so most of our time has been spent walking around the streets checking out a lot of the touristy stuff. We went to a comedy club last night actually that was a donation-based pay system and the comedians were actually hilarious. We pissed ourselves.”

We really hope not literally.

“Melbourne is brilliant for music. So many talented, interesting bands”

Noah Learmonth

The band’s long-term plans involve a potential move to the UK, and this tour serves as a way to test the waters. “We’ve got our sights set on the UK as somewhere we will probably move at some point, though we’re not quite sure when yet. This stint in London, which should end up being like three months, coming in and out, is a little sample of what life could be like if we move. I guess we’re mostly looking forward to experiencing what it’s like to live in the UK as a musician,” Noah reveals.

While the band admits they’re not the most seasoned travellers (“I wouldn’t say we’re great at travelling. We’ve already stuffed something up at customs that we were meant to do. We’ve never missed a flight, though, so that’s something,” Noah admits), they’re excited to immerse themselves in the UK music scene. They’re particularly looking forward to catching Baxter Dury when they hit Live At Leeds later this month. “We love him. To hang with Baxter would be amazing,” Noah gushes.

Radio Free Alice’s latest single, ‘2010’, is a testament to their knack for crafting introspective, relatable tunes. “Lyrically, the song is about being young and wanting to be in love in an outlawish sorta way. It’s kinda about a boy fantasising about a Thelma and Louise type romance, but the closest he can get to his Louise is writing his name under hers on a bathroom stall. It’s about teen loneliness, I guess,” Noah explains.

“We’ve got our sights set on the UK as somewhere we will probably move at some point”

Noah Learmonth

The band’s songwriting often revolves around themes of young love and relationships, but their upcoming EP promises to be more diverse. “I often find myself telling stories of young love, which I sorta hate but can’t resist sometimes. At least that was the first EP. Basically all the songs on that are about relationships. This one, aside from ‘2010’, is more eclectic. More extrospective, but always sentimental on some level,” Noah shares.

One of the more intriguing songs on their upcoming EP, ‘Spain’, was inspired by a rather unusual moment. “The chorus line is, ‘We could be arguing in Spain’. That song was inspired by a moment I witnessed, which was a middle-class couple arguing overseas, and I thought it was funny how arguing at an exotic holiday destination is a staple of middle-class success. Having the luxury of going to a place like Spain only to have a ‘couple’s row’,” Noah recounts.

As for their long-term goals, Radio Free Alice aren’t shy about their hopes and dreams. “We are an ambitious band, and we try not to be awkward about that, although it feels like sometimes you’re supposed to be. Playing the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury would be nice,” Noah admits.

With their infectious energy, relatable lyrics, and a sound that blends post-punk sensibilities with a distinctly Australian flavour, Radio Free Alice are poised to make a mark. As they hustle off to continue their first UK tour, it’s clear that this is just the beginning of an exciting new chapter. And hey, maybe we get to keep them for a while, too. Wouldn’t that be nice? ■

Radio Free Alice’s new single ‘2010’ is out now. They play Live At Leeds: In The Park on Saturday 25th May 2024. Get tickets and find out more at liveatleeds.com now. Follow Dork’s PLAY Spotify playlist here.