EP Walkthrough: Perth punk super-duo Onslow break down their self-titled debut EP
The project of Make Them Suffer's Sean Harmanis and Voyager's Scott Kay unveil a defining five-track introduction to their new project.
A couple of months ago, we had the exciting opportunity to introduce the world to Onslow, a newcoming Perth heavy-rock duo formed by two well-established heavyweights within the scene: Make Them Suffer's Sean Harmanis and Voyager's Scott Kay. At the time, the pairing were introducing the new project with its debut single Let Me Rust, a rich blend of alt-rock and punk that seemed to encapsulate the creative release strived for within the new project, which was spurred amongst COVID-induced downtime with tours all but slashed for both members' other acts.
"We’ve been friends for ages through music and decided to collaborate during COVID to write something completely out of our comfort zone," the duo introduced the project, leading with its debut single: "Let Me Rust was the first song we wrote and kind of the catalyst for our collaboration, Sean sent the tune to Scott for feedback, and he really vibed it, so we decided to work together from there on out."
As it turned out, Let Me Rust was the catalyst not just for the project as a whole, but for an entire, self-titled debut EP that arrives today; a five-track EP that showcases the many, jagged edges of Onslow as they properly introduce themselves with their debut EP, and with it, make an entrance into the headlines of Perth's growing punk/rock world. The Onslow EP seems to showcase the band's many sides, with smatterings of heavier rock genres spread through its five tracks as they twist and turn through different energies and textures, which together, represent the multi-faceted web of Onslow's sound.
As Sean Harmanis explains, a sense of creative freedom was really the hit-home point for Onslow, as the project allowed the pair to experiment and move out of their comfort zones without the expectations and audience familiarity that comes with both Make Them Suffer and Voyager. "After having an opportunity to sing on the most recent Make them Suffer album it ignited a flame and a desire for me to channel and hone that more," he says. "After trying to write songs for a few months at the beginning of Covid, I decided to show them to Scott, a long-time friend and guitarist that I have always admired and respected. I needed to hear honest feedback on the songs, riffs and ideas. Scott vibed with them and had some ideas of his own to bring to the table. From that point on we decided to see where it would take us."
From there, the EP quickly grew out into five tracks; five tracks that really represent Onslow at their most free-spirited and uncontrolled. "The songs are mostly about general life, although overall I actually gave very little thought to the lyrics. The lyric writing process was more about what words came naturally or sounded good, rather than the meaning of the songs," Sean continues. "To me the release was more for me about proving to myself that I could write songs rather than trying to make the songs too personal. Scott was such a guiding light through the process, both bringing amazing ideas to the table and also giving me a lot of confidence in my guitar writing."
It's one hell of an EP that introduces Onslow as a hard-hitting addition to Perth's punk and rock world - not that we expected anything less, from two people so synonymous with these sounds. You can take a dive into the self-titled debut EP below, and underneath, read a track by track walkthrough of the release, which breaks apart its themes and creation one song at a time.
Saving Face is a track that brings me back to playing big rock riffs when I was 14. It reminds me of when I first started discovering heavier styles of music but hadn't yet dipped my feet fully into metal. I wanted a sound that was like early era Silverchair, but with more modern production. I think it sets the tone for the EP well too.
Let Me Rust
Let Me Rust was the first full song Sean and I completed and feels like the anthem of the release. The song is like if Deftones were told to write a song akin to Smashing Pumpkins. It was also a lot of fun laying down backing vocals for this one. We layered harmonies at the back end of the chorus, and I got to flex a little bit of that high school choir muscle in the studio. Also, getting to just yell 'Woo!' extremely loud into a microphone is a great time.
Gauze has my favourite guitar hooks out of the whole EP. The opening riff is a hell of a lot of fun to play, as well as the guitar break before the chorus. This tune was fun to put together as there are plenty of smaller details in the track. The tones shift a lot underneath the vocals, but the vocal hooks bring it all together neatly. Gauze was the comfort track for me; it reflects where I'm at currently with what I want to hear in a song.
Limbs feels like the most experimental track tonally. The almost spoken word vocal style in the verses and weird guitar tones shifts the EP into what feels like a more apathetic space akin to being a careless teenager. However, I love the bridge in this track, as it pulls you out of that feeling for just a moment.
Freddie Mercury is a homage to our love for atmospheric and ambient music. The sheer simplicity of the chords gave us a huge opportunity to layer idea after idea over the top. It's also challenging to write, because you want that build to feel gradual rather than terraced, so it's about asking the question of what changes and what stays the same as the song moves forward.
I love that the EP ends on this track; the last chord of the song is completely unresolved, and I guess symbolically that means a lot to me right now, both with life and with Onslow. What I've loved about Onslow so far is the fact that we feel free to do what we enjoy, with no restraints that being in other bands for years can place upon you. I'm excited that this project affords us that freedom.