EP Premiere: Finn Pearson - Sweat & Vermouth
Boorloo/Perth-based singer-songwriter takes us through his new EP in-depth as it premieres ahead of its February 27 release
Five months on from dropping his single of catchy, jangly, indie-folk-rock, Hard to Find, W.A.’s Finn Pearson is ready to unveil his new EP, Sweat & Vermouth, out February 27 and premiering on Pilerats today!
Across five diverse cuts, Sweat & Vermouth showcases Pearson’s development as a songwriter over the last few years as he finds himself more embracing the alt-country side of things as opposed to the indie rock and folk vibes of his previous singles.
Ahead of the EP dropping on February 27, alongside the release premiering on Pilerats, Pearson has also been kind enough to tell us all about the EP, including breaking down the story behind each track - have a listen and get to know below!
Sweat & Vermouth’ is a body of work that I’m incredibly proud of. To me, every track on the record truly feels like it’s in its final form and it really is a summary of the past few years of music for me and the band. It feels like a departure from my previous releases, taking a slight detour from traditional folk-rock and landing more in alt-country and indie-rock territory. Emotionally, it tracks a lot of my early-twenties anxiety and feels underwritten by the pressures of trying to function as a self-employed, self-managed artist whilst also attempting to study, play enough pub gigs to survive, and somehow between all of that focus on myself. On a narrative scale, it explores themes ranging from escapism, alcohol abuse, the scourge of domestic violence, and the rugged light and shade of Western Australia’s urban-rural divide. The production assistance from Timothy Nelson and Josh Dyson, as well as Dan Carroll’s studio prowess and the incredible musicianship of Jake Hatch (bass), Riley Brewer (drums), Max Lockitt (guitars) and Claudia Tero (violin, backing vocals) breathed a new life into all of the songs and I’m forever grateful for all of their contributions to the EP.
1. Catch Your Tears
The opening track of the record really zeros in on a particular form of dive-bar angst that I was feeling for a while back in the fledgling days of 2020 after playing about 200 gigs the previous year and almost burning myself to the ground in the process, at the expense of some of my positive relationship with music. ‘Catch Your Tears’ reflects the alienation and anxiety I was experiencing at the time. It’s probably the most self-indulgent track on the EP, even for a pretty self-indulgent guy like myself.
2. Easier This Way
‘Easier This Way’ is by far the newest thing on the EP. The embryo of the tune began somewhere out near Jerramungup whilst I was on a solo tour barely a month before we were scheduled to begin pre-production for the project. Timothy Nelson selected it from a shortlist of my demos even though it was barely a verse at the time, we finalised the arrangement with the band in the studio while the tape was rolling, and it all came together from there. It tracks a common theme in my music, which is leaving town to run away from my feelings. Take it from me, it's definitely not a long-term solution. It draws on my fascination, as a city boy, with regional WA and the history behind a lot of the one-street places we all drive through en route to bigger things.
3. Hard to Find
‘Hard to Find’ has always felt enigmatic to me. Crashing almost fully formed into my head from what felt like nowhere a few years ago, it has since taken a highly convoluted route through various bands, demos, arrangements and sensibilities to get to where it is now. I’ve always liked how it works equally well as a solo tune and as a pedal-to-the-metal rock tune, and in the final form we met somewhere in the middle with an homage to 80s Australian indie-rock bands such as The Go-Betweens. The lyrics, somewhat unfortunately, seem to become ever more prophetic to me as time passes. Oh, and it’s the only song of mine that I’ve ever put a synthesiser on.
4. Sweat & Vermouth
TW - Domestic Violence, Murder
Now we’re into the serious part. Near where I used to live, I used to hear ongoing and quite frankly horrible domestic violence which, due to legal complexities and the victim being sadly unable to come forward, was able to rage unabated for years, until the perpetrator died of a heart attack. I’d be lying if I said I mourned his passing much. Anyway, with this experience in the background, I attempted to address my constant discomfort with the traditional model of the murder-ballad which always seems to sort of relish in the ghoulery of something like a murder rather than addressing the actual human anguish of it. Inspired (at least in perspective) by Alice Sebold’s novel “The Lovely Bones”, ‘Sweat & Vermouth’ is probably the darkest song I’ve written to date.
5. The Gathering Dark
The closing track of the EP was very nearly not a part of it at all. We were only scheduled to record the previous 4 tracks, but Jake made me promise to record this last one too, so I booked an extra morning at the studio and live-tracked ‘The Gathering Dark’. From memory the final recording was either the first or second take I did, and then Claudie came in and worked her violin magic. The song sits halfway between hope and fear, written after returning from a weird little music festival out in the middle of nowhere with my head turned upside-down and full of cloud-stained sunsets, live music and beautiful people doing weird and surreal things. I remember feeling like I was at a crossroads, finishing my time at WAAPA and choosing where to go next, on the cusp of moving out of home for the first time and trying desperately to figure myself out. I don’t think I succeeded, but at least I got ‘The Gathering Dark’ out of it. It felt like a nice way to wrap up the EP, and I’m glad I persevered with it.
- Finn Pearson, February 2023