Meet Up Late, who promise to be 2020 break-outs with u left me on read
The Sydney-based rock outfit's debut single Friends made them one to watch, and now with a second single, it's clear they're a break-out force in 2020.
If you've been paying any attention to the heavier rock realm over the last twelve months, chances are Up Late have come across your plate sometime this year. The group are somewhat of a supergroup made up of various New South Wales band members, but with Up Late, they're forging a distinctly unique and forward-thinking sound that's in its own lane, avoiding the boxes and limitations that are often placed on bigger bands (and, in turn, encourage side projects, supergroups or even jam sessions like the ones resulting in Up Late).
Their debut single Friends showcases what we mean perfectly, and it's gone on to become one of the year's most exciting debut singles as a result. It's a distorted, rough-around-the-edges explosion of angst, capturing the intersection between hip-hop and darkly-lit rock that has been heavily emphasised in the international market but not so much down here in Australia, except for a few up-and-coming development acts - like Up Late - who are thinking outside of the box and avoiding genre constrictions with singles like Friends.
Alongside a remix by Moonbase that took the track's heaviness and merged it with a club-ready setting, the track is synonymous with the forward-thinking prowess of Australia's music scene, elevating the group as one to watch throughout 2020 that now, with a second single arriving today, feels more certain than ever.
The group's second track u left me on read begins a little more mellow and subtle, capturing that angstiness of 2000s punk before exploding into a quick-paced rush of genre-fleeting maximalism that feels aggressive and assertive, but not so much so to prevent you from coming back. It balances between that fine line of 'too much' and 'not enough' that's become increasingly difficult as bands go louder, stronger and weirder with every release; contrasting the rough core blend of rock and rap with these almost 90s boyband pop vocals that helps bring everything together.
It's clear that with these two singles behind them now, Up Late are a band that thrive on experimentalism and pushing boundaries, and that makes them an incredibly exciting asset to Australia's rock world whose every move will be just as unpredictable and out there than the last.
u left me on read is a brilliant track that you can check out below, so do so while you meet the group's lead vocalist Max. Keep an eye on Up Late, it's clear they're going to be something special.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi I’m Max and I sing in Up Late, a.k.a the toughest yet most emotional boyband you’ve ever met. We’re from Wollongong and we make pop music with distortion pedals.
At 14 I was playing pubs and clubs across Sydney in a hardcore band and at the same time, I was producing trap beats for artists like Bones. Jack and Jordan have been playing together in bands since they were 15, and Jesse and Marcus play in a Thrash Metal band. A few of us went to high school together - I remember seeing Jordan cover The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus in a music class and thinking “damn this dude is way cooler and more musically talented than I’ll ever be.” So I stepped up and sang a Bring Me The Horizon song at school assembly and we’ve been friends ever since. That’s probably where all this started.
What’s the vibe music-wise?
It’s bright and aggressive, there’s a real dichotomy to what we do. We’re internet kids - we listen to as much Lil Durk (Just Cause Y'all Waited 2 AOTY??) as we do Bring Me The Horizon. Our vibe is Soundcloud, Instagram, Tik Tok. We don’t pretend like we’re Justin Bieber or Amy Shark but we do take influence from them.
It’s about breaking down genres, pushing sounds further - “how can we make this hit even harder?” “How can we make this chorus catchier?” “How can we make this lyric feel like we’re actually speaking to you?” We’re still the same 14-year-old kids at the local PCYC stage diving to Parkway covers so that’s where our distortion and energy comes from - but we’re also the same teenagers who downloaded Live.Love.ASAP from Datpiff in 2011. There’s a real bi-polar quality to our influence, and I think that’s where we found our sound.
Most of our songs start in my bedroom, I live above a gym in an old brothel. I think those ideas of dysfunctional romance, love, and self-esteem play a big role in the lyrical themes. On the flip-side, though there’s a certain fun side to the darkness we sing about - I don’t like to take ourselves too seriously, and that’s why we’re able to push our music in such a left-field direction
In the end we’re creating our own brand of pop music, and that brand is in-your-face, industrial and distorted.
What’s the songwriting process like?
We demo relentlessly. Mostly in my bedroom late at night (no pun intended). It’s no secret that we wrote 60 songs together (No, seriously. I can show you the folder on my laptop - there’s actually 60 Up Late songs in there) before we landed on Friends. Normally a song starts with four piano chords and then I hum a melody and pick an idea or a lyric I like and start with that. The notes section on my phone is filled with one-liners and lyrics. That’s always a good place to start. Our demoing process is haphazard, I’m not a very methodical or organised person so I tend to just throw idea after idea at the wall until they stick. That’s where our producer, Nat J. Sherwood comes in. He’s integral to our process. The Up Late flow chart is normally this:
1. Demo 10 songs in my bedroom
2. Nat picks one he thinks is good
3. We spend a session re-working it together
The first time I met Nat we sat together in his studio in Leichardt and listened through about 40 demos together. We’d pause them every 10 seconds and talk through what we just heard, what we were trying to create. I think we sat there all night, just listening to song after song. He really understood what we were trying to create. He’s really good at synthesising our whacky ideas.
What’s u left me on read about?
U left me on read is literally about three and a half minutes of anxious thinking. You know that feeling when you send a risky text? Or you see those three little dots pop up but they don’t reply? When you want nothing more in the world than for that person to reply to your text? You know that feeling right? Well that’s exactly what the song is about. If you feel that feeling - play this song, and forgot about that person, even for just 3 and a half minutes.
What does 2020 have in store for you?
2020 is going to have a lot of dancing, singing, crying and loving. All the emotions we want you to feel when you listen to our music. That’s what 2020 has in store for us - a whole lot more music. We’re probably not going to release an EP or an album anytime soon. We write and record music every week so we just want to release song after song after song - whenever we feel like the time is right. And like I said, some of that music will make you want to dance, some of it will make you want to sing, some of that music will make you want to cry and maybe you’ll want to love after you hear an Up Late song? U left me on read probably doesn’t make you want to be in love... but maybe one day we’ll write a song that will.
What do you want people to take away from the project?
This is a tough one. I think I want you to listen to an Up Late song and then climb a mountain, break up with your boyfriend, start a band - you can choose the order. I think if you can listen to Up Late and escape for three and a half minutes then we’re happy.
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