Brendan Maclean launches his debut album with its first single, Hibernia
The Australian musician's first single of the year features an all-star cast including Donny Benét, Kira Puru, Ainslie Wills and Montaigne.
If you haven't heard of Brendan Maclean, you're missing out. The Australian master-of-all-trades has basically been everywhere in the Australian media world at one stage of his career and if there's one thing you should know about Maclean, it's that when he dives into a new project, he gives it all he's got - no matter whether it's radio, comedy, acting or music. After 2016's funbang1 EP - which included the catchy synth-pop dream of a lead single Tectonic and the v-NSFW, award-winning House of Air clip - the Sydney-based name is devoting the second of 2018 to his music, kicking things off with a brilliant new single Hibernia and the long-awaited announcement of his debut album due early next year. Hibernia is the first taste of Brendan Maclean's modern era, with his dynamic and catchy synth-driven sound taking centre stage once again as he leads an all-star ensemble through a dizzying four-minute display of pop that almost sounds like Robyn meeting Arcade Fire in some strange, twisted fate.
As mentioned, the single features an all-star cast of some of Australia's best, from Sarah Belkner in the production chair to names like Donny Benét, Alex Bennison and Evan Mannell giving the single that synth-heavy sheen. Then there's the choir, which itself features some of our favourite acts of the moment in the irresistibly cool Kira Puru, the recently returning and much-celebrated Ainslie Wills, and Jess Cerro, perhaps better known as the ARIA Award-winning Australian favourite Montaigne. There's a lot to love about this team, and there's a lot to love about Brendan Maclean and his long-awaited return, so listen to Hibernia and get the dirt on what's to come from the man himself below:
So first off, Hibernia is your first major single in a while now. What has been going on between the release of funbang1/Solo and today?
After House of Air, I needed a break from creating anything. It's been two years of talking about it so I won't flog that horse again, but you know, for that project came from a place of real anger and frustration at being treated like shit by the Australian music industry - thus the punchline of the video. But just because your protest art becomes infamous or successful doesn't mean you've dissolved people's anxiety around me being too "this" or too "that or too "not signed to EMI." So I still needed to actively step away from songwriting.
Solo came out, an EP of funbang1 offcuts, which let me country hop with a USB in my pocket riding the unexpected wave of interest that comes when you release a sexually explicit music video. Then out of the blue, I got an audition that required me to cry in a public toilet in London for an ABC drama called Fucking Adelaide. I nabbed it, flew home and started filming almost straight away. It was a great circuit breaker for my brain, and I wasn't surprised to find myself hungry to get songwriting again when the show wrapped.
Do you mind telling us a little bit about the single? What it’s about, how long it’s been in the works, the team behind it – stuff like that.
My producer Sarah Belkner and I had recorded a shitty voice-memo of that pumpy-synth pattern on an electric piano at Hibernian House once. If you've never been there, Hibernian House is a hippy high-rise in Sydney but also kind of a fire hazard, ala Homer Simpson yelling, "Enjoy your death trap ladies!" Anyway, I dug up that old file which became the basis of the song, and then simply envisioned flicking a ciggie into the cramped stairwell.
Put Donny "The Don" Benét on bass and voila, you've got yourself a Murder Disco Ballad.
Accompanying you on the single (and the full album release) is a choir made up of some incredible artists - some of the best in Australia. Can you introduce us to the team accompanying you on the single and what drew you to these names?
People must be looking at the choir thinking on this single thinking, "has Brendan snapped???" And well, yes, I have snapped, but I certainly didn't book three of the gutsiest singers in this country for just one bloody song! Across the album the choir become kind of sirens guiding me through the stories - so I needed more than "backing vocalists." I needed storytellers and vocalists willing to follow me down a pretty deep rabbit hole. Also, it's my debut album and I needed the best, and Kira Puru, Ainslie Wills and Jess Cerro are the best. You don't skimp on that shit!
And as just mentioned, it’s the first single from your upcoming album due early next year – which I know has been a long time in the making. Can you tell us what we should expect from the album and anything else you have planned for us?
And The Boyfriends will be a curve ball for sure. Who knows if people who liked funbang1 will like it at all, then again I assumed people who liked Stupid would hate funbang1 and I was wrong - so now I leave expectations up to the audience. Having put in the work and reflecting on the incredible ensemble that lent me their talents... that give me strength and some sense of agency. You know? With Hibernia, I feel like I can finally let go of playing this high-kicking f*g the Australian media wheels for fifteen minutes each Mardi Gras and get on with being a musician. I've got my proof now and it's not in a video, not in a backstory or a gimmick, it's in the song.
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