Premiere: DRAFTDAY show versatility with debut EP, When I Went Away

Premiere: DRAFTDAY show versatility with debut EP, When I Went Away

The EP's premiere, which welcomes the release a day early, also comes with an EP walkthrough from the Darwin band.

A city that definitely doesn't get talked about enough in the Australian music conversation is Darwin - a shame considering it's a hotbed for rising talent that's often overlooked due to its geographical isolation from the rest of the country's musical hubs. Over the past few years, we've seen an uptick in talent arise from the NT; musicians such as Stevie Jean, Serina Pech, Caiti Baker, Tasman Keith and so on emerging as talented faces often left to fight for their place in the conversation, especially contrasted across much of the country's other major cities.

DRAFTDAY is an example of another rising talent from the top-end, but their sound is one that doesn't really align with the other names we just mentioned. Since forming with a pair of singles last year, the Darwin-based five-piece have emerged as a fresh-faced new addition to Australia's alt-rock output; this pair of singles - Soap and En Soi - bringing the group attention that'd later be built upon with the release of more singles, such as this year's Mess I've Made and Misspent.

As it turns out, those latter two singles formed the introduction to the group's debut EP, which today, premieres on Pilerats a day early ahead of its official, worldwide release tomorrow. Titled When I Went Away, the EP is very much an introduction to the group and the many facets of their music; showcasing a sense of versatility and range between sounds as they also show their growth and evolution even in the few months since their last work - a difficult feat to achieve in the space of just a few songs, but one the group are able to pull off without hesitation.

It's an EP that really dives into it from the get-go. The already-released Mess I've Made erupts into frantic alt-rock, laden with a certain, rough-around-the-edges grit that gives it an almost grunge-like quality, while Misspent - also already released, as mentioned - builds upon it and takes DRAFTDAY into a punk-y zone; commanding vocals and explosive guitar melodies battling it out above a percussion section with somehow keeps everything in line, despite being quite frantic itself.

From here, however, is where DRAFTDAY's versatility shines. Aster strips things right back for a minute-thirty of delicate indie, before eventually reaching a somewhat climactic moment that gives the track a more post-rock, shoegaze-esque spin without taking away from Arran Barker's sharp vocal, which is definitely at the centrepiece of much of the EP's work. Meanwhile, A Perfect Light opens with ambience that soon grows into a cinematic, heavily-layered instrumental - a breath of relief amongst the madness of the rest of the EP, in a way - while White Fences rounds it off by going back to the start; a more energetic explosion of DRAFTDAY's signature sound that introduced us at the project's beginning.

There's something really great here - When I Went Away feels like a solid introduction to a group that shouldn't be overlooked - so take a dive into the EP below, alongside an EP walkthrough from the band that delves into the EP's inner themes and creation, one track at a time:

1: Mess I’ve Made

There was no question in opening the EP on this track, it set everything else up in an absolute way. Everything that precedes stems from what’s stated on this track.

With Mess I’ve Made, we set out to write something that would describe an initial sense of fear or remorse. In this case it was standing back after a breakup and thinking ‘How could I have hurt someone that I loved?’ The song centers around stating your errors in order to then work through them, rather than trying to be stoic and avoiding any acceptance of mistakes. Setting groundwork for you to become better by saying This Mess I’ve Made.

2: Misspent

Misspent was originally an experiment for us in exiting our comfort zone, leaning into an aggressive sound that we’d not really touched on previously. The track hangs on this repetitive dirge of a riff that's backed by a staggering beat, to us it feels like we’re on the edge of it all falling apart.

The lyrics are allowing childish, negative and self-centered thoughts to come out, it felt important to write something that showcased the not so ideal thoughts/words that we consider when adjusting to any form of loss.

3: Aster

Before I go, I’d hope to see you bloom. The way you did, in your old bedroom’ was a line that had been sitting in a notebook for a while, it always struck a nerve in how simple and hopeful it sounded. Predicting an end is the background to Aster - Aster: A flower relative to a Daisy - it was placed in the center of the EP as a point to regroup thoughts or say goodbye to a lot of things that had changed in our individual lives over time.

This was the only song on the EP that entirely came from sitting down with an acoustic guitar and writing the track out on paper, it’s vulnerable throughout. But a feeling of being okay despite all error sets in when the whole band kicks in.

4: A Perfect Light

A Perfect Light is inspired by movie soundtracks, how they connect with a visual or how we relate our own experiences to a film score. We wanted to create a piece of music that would accompany a late-night drive, with no real destination or reason for driving. A way to reflect, feel and find a sense of elation in simply being.

A Perfect Light constantly evolves, builds and swells as instruments and samples fall in and out of the track alongside a mantra like vocal line, before hitting a crescendo that feels like a conclusion, an understanding.

5: White Fences

The summarisation of a year of longing, regret, hurt, growth and self-doubt.

White Fences is the longest track on the EP and brings it to a close by dissecting every aspect explored in the previous tracks. It’s about embracing yourself as this constantly changing mess of emotions, actions and experiences, admitting your flaws, praising all that is positive in your life currently and coming to an acceptance that this is all there is.

We wrote this track over a period of a month, where we would come together in the studio and keep building upon the original demo. It felt like we were just putting our all into this one, we knew it was the closing mark on this EP and this past year, the anthemic lines combined with such a push/pull of musical emotion is almost like going through a photo album of something you wish you could have changed. Closing on the lines:

And I think I’m fine, moving on.
Safe in my skin, safe in knowing you’re not alone’.

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