Winterbourne talk their new album, live shows and finding influence in Europe
Hear the first teases of their new album as they hop around the country this April.
Header photo and in-article image by Liam Oz (Pilerats) at the Island Records Island Party, Sydney.
We've been big fans of Central Coast duo Winterbourne for a while now, with the two-piece initially turning heads with their debut EP All But The Sun. It was a six-track release that on arrival, welcomed a sun-soaked take on indie-folk music not too far off what you'd expect from heavyweights including Vance Joy in present-day, often bringing together these tender and emotive vocals with softly-strung guitar melodies that felt perfectly in-line with what you'd expect from an act with years of experience busking and toying around with the more subtle moments of indie music. In the time since, however, the pairing have held a 'quality over quantity' mantra when it comes to their releases, with their only output since being another six-track EP arriving two years later - Pendulum, in 2016.
Now, however, times are changing. 2018's returning single Better came with the promise of a lot more music to come, something they're holding true to with a larger released planned for later this year as well as its second tease, Take The Golden, last month. Both Better and Take The Golden introduce a new era of kinds for Winterbourne, not just release-wise but in sound and personality too, reducing that soft indie-folk acousticness to a slight shading and instead beefing up the more electronic and pop-centric mannerisms that you couldn't really find in their past work - whether it be the rolling keys than retro-esque melodies that swirl underneath Better's crisp vocal, or the anthemic, festival-ready impression you get from Take The Golden - a single that unites the worlds of organic and synthetic instrumentation to offer a refined and slick sense of Winterbourne at their best.
"We had no real notion of the kind of song we wanted to create, and just set about coming up with ideas and putting the pieces together," the duo, composed of James Draper and Jordan Brady, said on the single. "Our approach to this song was different from any other we’ve done, and it pretty quickly became one of our favourite songs we’d ever written." It's not hard to understand why either. Recorded in Berlin with super-producer/writer Tobias Kuhn, Take The Golden summarised twelve months filled with touring and travelling throughout Europe, taking inspiration from the unknown and injecting it in a soaring single that'll be caught in your head for days; its bright chorus on an endless repeat.
There's a more significant project to come later in the year with a national tour planned through April (full deets and dates below), so to celebrate and get you keen on Winterbourne's big year ahead, we had a chat to the duo's Jordan Brady about their plans for the year, finding that European influence and what to expect from a dazzling live show you should definitely grab tickets for HERE.
We’ll jump into Take the Golden in a second, but first I wanted to talk about Better. It’s a bit of a new direction for you, with more electronic and pop subtleties coming through as well as your earlier, folk sound. Did anything in particular bring this on, or was it a natural shift in sound?
It was completely natural, it wasn’t a case of us saying ‘hey, let’s sound different now’. Our influences have always been pretty vast, and Better is a good example of us trying to cram all of the musical stuff we love into the one song.
Take The Golden is your latest single, and you worked on it with Tobias Kuhn – who has some big credits under his name (Milky Chance, The Living End etc.). Can you tell us about the single, its creation, and Kuhn’s involvement in the track?
Yeah, Tobias was a legend. We met him on our first day in Berlin, it was raining and we were jet lagged and buzzing and basically ready to try anything. Tobias started jamming on a drum loop around a bass line we made and we just kept adding ingredients until something felt cool. The chorus melody began as a verse melody, but by the end of the day we’d swapped it and the track has started to come together. We tightened up the lyrics overnight, came in the next day and finished it off!
The single comes after a long stint in Europe, did being thrown into a different environment like that shape the single – and perhaps the full album - in any way? How so?
It was a pretty big influence on Take The Golden, for sure. We went to James’ childhood town and watched the film Dunkirk, then drove from England to Germany, via Dunkirk beach. The whole trip was pretty emotionally charged so by the time we arrived in Berlin (which we instantly became obsessed with) we were ready to try a few things. In terms of the album itself, the trip might have reshaped the way we approached the songs, but most of the tracks had already been written by that stage.
It’s taken from your debut album, out later this year. You guys have released a couple of EPs in the past – what was the push to go into album mode? Or did it just feel like the natural progression for Winterbourne?
We’ve been itching to get an album out since we first met, but up until now we just haven’t had the songs. We’re album guys, even though nowadays it’s all about singles and playlists, we’re still very much living in that world of listening to an album, start to finish, over and over again. So it will be a dream come true when people can do that with our music.
Obviously, the album isn’t out for a while yet, but can you tell us about its creation and what we should expect from it when it arrives?
We feel like the record is a perfect representation of us as a band. It combines all the things we love about music, was recorded with our best mates, on our terms, with our favourite list of songs we’ve written over the past three years. It’s something we can give to people and say ‘here: this is Winterbourne.'
The album also has some big names working on it behind-the-scenes, in production, engineering and other roles. How does bringing in people like Andy Mak and Thom Mak change your approach to music and eventually, end up helping to shape the album’s final form?
Andy and Thom are huge influences; we’ve been writing and generally collaborating with them since we started out. Andy brings so much experience to the table and Thom is one of the best writers we’ve ever met, so the combination is flawless. Plus, we had Jackson Barclay behind the desk and making everything sound exceptional. Most importantly though, those three guys have been with us since the start, and they know how to make us laugh and how to get the best out of us.
You’re going on tour throughout April. We saw you play last week and the on-stage set-up seems quite technical – what does the live show constitute of and how does it all run?
It is pretty crazy, lots of pyro, lasers, that kind of thing. The most difficult thing is fitting into the panda costume but once it’s on, riding the unicycle really isn’t that hard.
Okay no, there’s none of that. Yet…
The live shows changes a lot, we’ve done tours as a duo, a trio, a four-piece and a five-piece. We’re still working out what we’re going to do for this one. To be honest, we’ve been working harder than ever on this tour, just because we made a record that sounds so freaking good and now we have to live up to that. It’s exciting to have this much material available, we love the songs and we can’t wait to give them a bit of life on stage.
You guys originally got your start through busking, which I know has shaped a lot of what you were doing right up to now. When it comes to your live show, do you think that having that involvement and experience with street performing has helped build or shape your live show? How?
I think it helped us understand an audience and get comfortable in front of people. Some artists get kind of weird about playing live, they play the song one after the other and then walk off stage. We like our set to be pretty transparent. We know that we’re just a bunch of guys making sounds up there, it’s kind of ridiculous to pretend it’s anything more than that.
What should people expect from the show if they haven’t seen you before?
Well, we’re going to make sounds, that’s for sure. Lots and lots of sounds. It’s a fun time, we chat and we laugh and we indulge and we leave pretty tired and dizzy. Beyond that, we don’t really know.
Follow Winterbourne: FACEBOOK