I caught up with FOAM for beers a few weeks ago at the Rosemount, we chatted about their new EP coming out this week.
After a number of years already under their belt and a busy 2014, the year is only just starting to take shape for FOAM and, by all measures, it’s going to be the biggest one yet.
Joel (guitar and vocals), Harley (Bass and vocals) and Jackson (drums) all seem to be sharing the same headspace when I talk to them. It’s difficult to put a finger on it, but it’s an attitude I’ve seen before, one that undoubtedly lends itself to success down the track.
“ It was pretty alright, we did some touring with DZ Deathrays and we planned on releasing the EP last year but it didn’t really work out. So it was kind of disappointing that we didn’t release anything the whole year, but we played a bunch of shows which was good. So basically we didn’t put out as much as we wanted to”, says Jackson.
That slight sense of disappointment, coupled with a nurtured drive has seen the band take a different direction in terms of production and recording, one that put them far outside of their comfort zone with the new EP, ‘The Feeling Is Mutual‘.
“We recorded it with Andy Lawson at Debaser, we heard a lot of great things about Andy, so we thought it would be a good idea and he’d be a great guy to work with. Everything we heard from him was a little bit more polished, whereas a lot of our other recordings have been quite rough”, says Joel.
“We’re progressing towards where we want this band to be. It’s essentially been the same lineup since we were in high school, but it’s been a learning curve. Taking it to someone who wasn’t in our circle was the next step”, he adds.
This considered, high-effort approach wasn’t just taken to recording, but to the writing process that preceded it.
“[Writing] was a pretty extended process. We booked the time so far in advance and knew it was coming up that, more than ever, we really got it together”.
“Usually we write quite slowly. Not intentionally, but this time we booked a house down south, went away for a long weekend and demoed things. Just checking that everything was still good and there were things that were cut, which was a first for us”, adds Joel.
“We’re getting better at that over time – identifying what’s shit and what’ll work live. We’re getting a little bit fussier about what makes the cut”.
This is a way of thinking that has organised the flow of everything that surrounds the band, including the approach to their upcoming tour and the mentality of touring in general. The word serious gets thrown around in our conversation, although it’s less of a tie-wearing, investor-hunting serious and more of a ‘we want to be a successful band, we’ll do what it takes, we mean it’ type of serious.
“We’re just taking ourselves a bit more seriously than we previously did. We want to play more shows outside of WA”, says Jackson.
“I think the kind of band we want to be is the kind that needs to earn it’s merit by touring and playing live. We’re not necessarily the first pick for your [typical] Triple J rock band. If you don’t want to gear yourself towards that, you’ve got to go on your live reputation”, adds Joel.
“When I get back [from Europe] we’ll start to look at doing an album, because this’ll be our fourth EP really, I think it’s time. The reason we’ve held off is that we’ve wanted to find ourselves and our sound. No one just pops out a fucking great record or becomes an awesome band by kidding around.”
They know nothing’s easy, and they definitely realise nothing’s free. The three members of FOAM have worked part-time jobs for years now, financially floating the band’s endeavours from their own pockets, much like any hard working band does.
“This year we might be a bit more stable financially…maybe”, says Harley to laughter from the other two members.
Jackson adds quickly, “We personally will have no money, but FOAM might have money. Being in a band that tours and gigs all the time means that you have no money”.
Taking things seriously wasn’t a reality until now, simply because some semblance of FOAM has been around for almost ten years, throughout their teenage lives.
“Jackson and I started the band when we were 12”, says Joel. “In a way I think that’s why it’s taken us this long to take it seriously, because it’s just what we’ve done. Playing music through our entire teens”.
Jackson smiles and nods, agreeing with Joel. “It’s been our shtick. Playing music and hanging out. The realisation [was] made that you have to make your own success and do it for yourself, rather than being young and playing in a band hoping that someone will sign you”, he says.
“That’s when you really haven’t experienced the business side of it. The fantasy is broken pretty quickly”, says Harley.
Outside of financial constraints and the business side of the industry, there are other realities to being in an upcoming band as well. There are societal expectations, questions about success and the inevitable reality that most people really don’t understand.
“It’s funny, when you talk to your family about it, or they ask about it at Christmas. And they’re like “so, hows the band going? playing any gigs? have you thought about going on Australia’s Got Talent?”, laughs Joel.
Inevitably the conversation turns to something that’s been a hot topic in Perth for far too long now; venue closures. I ask FOAM, as a band who spends most weekends playing, what they think the solution is and realise that they see it pretty clearly.
“Not enough people go to gigs. It’s up to the people of Perth to go to more gigs, it goes back to the basic principle of supply and demand”, says Jackson.
Harley jumps in to add his thoughts, “I think it’s also the ridiculous expenses people have to pay in Perth. The people that go to gigs are generally not financially stable and this just creates a vicious cycle where something has to fail and in this case its venues closing”.
“It’s worth noting though, Babushka in Leederville has had the highest amount of growth as a new venue. That is something to be said in the face of venue closures.
The dark cloud of doom and gloom soon lifts as we quickly move onto another topic surrounding Perth and discuss the ridiculous amount of talented bands coming out of the city.
“Shit Narnia, they are the first band I’ve seen that can really pull off the Australian accent well”, says Harley.
“Skullcave is definitely something special, they are great mates of ours. And Hideous Sun Demon are really fucking sick, we played with them when I was like 15 and they weren’t even called Hideous Sun Demon yet and I was just like, fuck man these guys are incredible, and that was years ago”, says Joel.
As a final note, I ask each member to give me their advice for up and coming bands. While they assure me that they’re in no place to give advice, their answers supersede the maturity and intelligence of bands much bigger and more successful than themselves.
“Be pro-active and play as many shows as you can. Also accept the fact that sometimes you have to be relentless. Rehearse all the time, play all the time and just get better”, says Jackson.
“Work really hard. We are hardly the band to take advice from, we are hardly a success let alone an overnight success. But, know what you like, know why you like it and play it, don’t follow a trend. Make what you play matter and the only way you can do that is by doing something you really believe in”, Joel adds.
Harley keeps his simple, “Be nice to people, your connection with people is the best thing to have in this industry”.
FOAM are releasing their 3rd EP at The Bakery this Friday with support from Hideous Sun Demon, Super Best Friends, Shit Narnia and Skullcave. You can grab $10 presale tickets HERE.
FOAM will also be playing our showcase on the 18th of April at Babushka in Leederville. More info HERE.
You can stream/scream the new single from the guys below:
Words By: Matt Steyn