Meet Onslow, a newcoming alt-rock duo launching from Perth hardcore royalty
The newest addition to Perth's rock/punk space is the brain child of Sean Harmanis (Make Them Suffer) and Scott Kay (Voyager).
If you haven't heard of Perth-based newcomers Onslow yet, we couldn't blame you - the duo didn't share their debut single until just last Friday. However, there's a strong chance you've heard of the groups the two members of Onslow - Sean Harmanis and Scott Kay - arrive from; the project being a new source of creative inspiration and release for Harmanis (known for his work in the always-incredible Make Them Suffer) and Kay (who is an imprint in Perth's heavier rock space, thanks to his roles in Voyager, Statues and Absent Heart).
Born through COVID-spurred collaboration, Onslow is a newly rising alt-rock/punk project from the duo that takes the heights of their past projects and dispenses it through a new sound and energy, capturing the nostalgic dominance of past heavyweights like The Smashing Pumpkins and bringing it forward to 2021. The end result is something incredibly exciting, placing anthemic vocals and charged riffs together with warping percussive pacing and flourishes of experimentalism that give the alt-rock backbone this almost punk-like energy.
Their debut single Let Me Rust came out on Friday, and with it, brought the perfect example of this sound. It's an introductory moment to what Harmanis and Kay aim to bring with Onslow and the musicality they attempt to show it through; polished with its class and refinement yet still a little rough-around-the-edges and personal in classic, early-2000s-esque punk/rock fashion.
"This tune was probably the main catalyst for starting the band in general," says Sean on the single, before diving into the intimate themes of the track and the context of which it came from. "To me, the song is about feeling as if you’re going to waste. At the time, I was struggling to find purpose and felt as if I very had little direction in my life. Between Make Them Suffer tours I felt an increasing sense of isolation and separation from my friends and normal life at home. This led to some unhealthy habits.
"The lyrics ‘Let me rust. Drink me empty. Turn to dust, slow and steady’ are about the vicious and unhealthy cycle I felt I had fallen into and the increasing sense of isolation that paired with my reclusivity," he continues. "Musically, I tried not to think about it too much. I just see each section as a bite-sized moment from my favourite bands of my early adolescence. They come together to form the alt-rock Frankenstein that the song is."
Alt-rock Frankenstein or not, we're hooked - and there's no doubt plenty more to come, too. In the meantime, take a dive into Let Me Rust below, and better introduce yourself to the new project via the pairing underneath:
Tell us about yourself?
We’re Onslow, Sean Harmanis (Make Them Suffer) and Scott Kay (Voyager, Absent Hearts). We’ve been friends for ages through music and decided to collaborate during COVID to write something completely out of our comfort zone.
What’s your music like? What does it sound like? What kind of themes does it usually cover?
I like to think of our music as just a combination of all our favourite Alternative Rock bands from the ’90s and early 2000s. Essentially the bands of our adolescence. I’d say, among others, we draw influence from bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo, Deftones, Radiohead and Pixies. Thematically the lyrics are mostly just about personal hardship. It’s so important to us that our music is a medium to vent and express ourselves, and so, as a result, most of the songs are about our thoughts, feelings and just life in general.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
Well, Sean is pretty familiar with lyrics and song arrangement, and Scott is more fundamentally a guitarist. So usually, for us, Sean will write sort of a song's skeleton, chords, lyrics, and riffs. When we team up, we’ll assess what needs changing in the arrangement and riffs, and Scott will add his flair to the guitar. Let Me Rust was produced by our long time friend Matthew Templeman. The biggest thing that we’ve found in writing this style of music is that we can’t think about it too hard. Coming from a predominantly metal background, we both find that metal songs require so much thought and attention to detail, while our philosophy for Onslow is to kind of just go with the flow. We just want to sound like a well-produced version of your first high school garage band.
Can you tell us a bit about your new single, Let Me Rust?
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. The song is about how Sean was feeling at the time, which was kind of obsolete, especially in the downtime between Make Them Suffer tours. Rust is a degradation that happens over time, and that pretty much sums up how Sean felt about himself.
What do you have planned for Let Me Rust?
Well, it’s our first single, so at this point, we’re just trying to get the name out there as much as possible. There’ll be plenty more to come, but now we’re just super eager to show the music to people, get a feel if people are vibing it and get the name out there!
What do you want people to take away from your work?
I guess music, for me, has always been about evoking a mood or feeling. If people find the music does that for them and relate to it on either a lyrical or musical level, then perfect!
Where can we find more of your music?
You can find our music on Spotify, Triple J Unearthed and YouTube.