Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have become an indie sensation after releasing their debut album, ‘Hope Downs’, in 2018. Their refreshing spin on the genre, dressing up the mastered guitar work in breezy lyrics, saw many fall in love with their laid-back Aussie beats. Now, after months of studio silence, they’ve resurfaced with two groovy singles and an album – second LP, ‘Sideways To New Italy’.
“It feels exciting,” says singer Fran Keaney. “It was a very intense process, making this record – in a good way. We worked harder than we worked before and we’re really proud of it. It’s good to have it out there with everything that’s happening.”
Though it’s never a highway all the way through – especially when your drummer wrecks his leg while playing football. “Marcel injured his leg,” co-vocalist Joe White explains. “Just before we started touring last year in May, he needed to have an operation, but he couldn’t actually get a proper one until he finished touring – then until we finished recording the album.”
So he suffered through it and out of the pain, past experiences and current passions, the new album was born. ‘Sideways To New Italy’ is named after an enigmatic town in New South Wales in Australia that built by a handful of Italian immigrants. It struck a chord with them as a weird way of reaching home.
While lyrically, it’s an open dialogue with their inner, probably more mature, selves, constructed of smooth, poem-like lines, the instrumental gets more of a kick than their debut. “Really sure of itself like the way that The Clash are really sure of themselves in everything they do. That kind of attitude we were trying to bring into it. Also exploring different rhythms and approaches to the drums which led us onto Talking Heads’ kind of path,” they say on the main influences.
What made the process of songwriting special, was the urge to come as one and work together on every aspect of new material, Fran explains. “The album is even more collaborative then what we’ve done in the past. We just wanted to go down different paths, find new identities, slowly, because you can write a song by yourself or you can write a few parts by yourself, and then you can smash it out with the band but realise that the song it already preordained and there’s not as much room for it to wriggle around. So these ones, we tried not to box them into early.”
Joe continues: “Essentially just came on a beat for a while and try to find some magic in it. We’ve done that a lot before, and we did more this time. A lot of songs have had a lot of multiple, different versions that have been tried out through the process. We explored a lot more than we ever have before. When we’ve found magic in a pace of music, then the lyrics will come after that. Lyrically we had a different approach because we are different people then we were. We’ve been touring for a year and a half, and that definitely influenced the way we saw the world, we saw the home. Therefore lyrics reflected that.”
‘Sideways To New Italy’ takes you on a hip trip from ‘Falling Thunder’, an exhilarating track with groovy guitars to, so laid-back that almost hazy, standout, ‘Sunglasses At The Wedding’. And there’s an airily beautiful newest single, ‘She’s There’, evoking Go-Betweens’ ‘Summer Rain’. “It’s almost a dream-like situation,” says Joe, “in which you want someone to be around so much that you see them everywhere. You see reminders of them everywhere. But then, in reality, they’re not there. That sounds very simple, but it’s like a reflection, an inner reflection and realising that the person you wish was there is not there. Even though you keep seeing them everywhere.”
Despite the success of their last album, they’re very much down to earth. Getting on with their lives as nothing has changed let them write songs that fans can connect to. “I don’t think it really changed everyday life. But these songs couldn’t really exist without that. Nothing do to with success. We’re not driving sports cars,” they say.
No need for sports cars when you’ve got ‘Cars In Space’, a before break-up bop and a real troublemaker. “When we returned to the track to touch it up a bit, the drums just felt to way too fast,” says Fran. “I remember I was laying on the ground of a studio thinking that the song was done. Killed. That there was not a chance for it to be resuscitated because Marcel’s leg was unable to be used for a few months. But then Joe put a shaker and a tambourine track on it, and it just made the whole thing sweet.”
They had so much fun recording the album that, despite the current situation, decided not to hold back the release. “We’ve been talking about how much we’re really enjoying music at the moment, how much it sort of almost feels like a being teenager again,” says Fran. Aware of the big wave of live streams and shifting of boundaries of what you can and can’t do online, they’re considering broadcasting a gig. Keep your eyes peeled.
While trying to make their best in self-isolation, they’re aware of the lasting ramifications it’ll have on the music industry.
“Nothing is gonna get back up and be normal again,” reflects Joe. “I mean, you can go so deep into this situation that it’s almost mind-boggling what could happen. But I’m sure that when it comes to money which is what makes everything work, it won’t be laying around to splash on things like music festivals, so I’m sure that will have an effect. But also, it’s strange to say, when everything does come back to normal, then we’ll be able to play. It’s gonna be very exciting. When you’re taking it away for so long and then bring it back, it might be more fun than it’s ever been before.”
And apparently, it was really fun before. Lucky enough, they’ve been enjoying a different kind of travel while touring. Finding themselves in weird, wonderful places, they’d otherwise never go. Meeting a bunch of beautiful people and letting themselves to look from another perspective. While dreaming about the future and waiting for ‘Sideways To New Italy’ to see the daylight, they’ve set their goals straight: “Tour it and make another record. Eat ice cream on the other side of the world.”
Taken from the June issue of Dork. Rolling Blackouts C.F.’s album ‘Sideways To New Italy’ is out 5th June.
Words: Aleksandra Brzezicka