Interviews Music

INTERVIEW: Babaganouj

No, this is not an interview covering the deliciousness of that beloved Lebanese dish.

Indeed, Babaganoouj is also one of Australia’s most promising and invigorating bands. The pop-rock group was the brainchild of lead singer and guitarist Charles Sale and Harriette Pilbeam in 2011. His vision caught wind throughout Queensland’s underground music sale, napping up drummer Jack Gleeson in 2011 and Ruby McGregor soon after. The band was conceived from its own scrumptious recipe – start with influences like Big Star, Yuck, and Lemonheads…add some of Brisbane’s most ambitious musicians…and throw in dashes of enthusiasm and charisma. The result is still going strong.

The band’s personality can be summed up in one instance: the Genre tag on its Facebook profile simply says: “Psychological thriller starring Harrison Ford”. The group’s Can’t Stop tour, coinciding with the titular track’s release, is one of many reasons to take notice of future endeavors. The concoction of scintillating lyrics, unique flourishes, and soothing melodies are enough reason to catch them live and pick up every release. Ruby is one of Brisbane music’s most personable figures. Chatting with Tom Munday, she spilled the beans on the band’s origins, their work with producer Magoo at Applewood music studios, and the Brisbane music universe. Bon appetite.

How did the band come together and form its signature sound?

So Charles got on board in 2011 but he was looking for a bassist for the song he started writing, which I guess is where our sound comes from initially. Then Jack joined a year later and then I joined a year after that. I think, in regards to our sound, it has just become a natural progression of what we are all into and our mutual interests.

What separates Babaganouj from other groups in your genre?

I think maybe our attitude towards it all, I think we all just like really hanging out and making music obviously. Yeah, I do not know what it would be that sets us apart but maybe just our underlying friendship.

You joined Babaganouj in 2013, what was the transition like between your songwriting/recording/performing process and the group’s?

Well, I guess my previous experiences had mostly been me and Harriette, we used to be in a band called Go Violets, which was pretty similar to how we do things in Babaganouj. The music is a bit different so maybe I had to adjust to a different way of playing. I went for playing drums to playing guitar so it took me a little while to sink in but I guess, because everyone is such good friends, the recording and writing processes are super easy and everyone is keen to give in ideas.

You all hail from Brisbane, how does Queensland’s music scene standout from the rest of Australia?

I think it is just a really excellent sense of community in Brisbane. Everyone seems to play in everyone’s bands and we go and see each other play as much as possible. I guess I do not have too much experience in the other hotspots like Melbourne and Sydney but I think the Brisbane community is pretty tight knit and everyone is really interested in what everyone is doing. I think that is probably something that sets it apart like everyone seems to be friends with the venue owners and bookers as well.

What styles and influences does each member bring to the group dynamic?

I guess Charles is just super laid back about everything and always up to trying everything new. Jack’s music tastes are firmly rooted in the 1990s and just looking to a lot of Back and stuff which I think brings kind of a different dynamic because Harriettte and I share a lot of the same musical tastes. I am not 100% sure how to answer that [laughs], I guess everyone is a little bit different and somehow we kind of pull it together.

You had a massive 2014, releasing two tracks and performing with the Preatures and The Lemonheads, how did these successes boost your confidence and inspiration?

It made us super excited and kind of made us feel like things were starting to happen which is always a good feeling. I think we were maybe a little bit humble by the whole experience as well, I do not think we realized that people could like it as much as we do. Being able to play with the Lemonheads especially for us was absolutely humungous, they were our number one inspirations. I think we just felt super lucky and really proud of everything.

You released your latest single, Can’t Stop, in March, how did the track come together?

It is actually a pretty old song, it is an oldie but a goodie of Babaganouj’s. We all have always really liked it like before I joined Babaganouj it was my favourite song that Babaganouj played. Babaganouj was also my favourite band touring around Brisbane [laughs]. I think we all just decided that now was the time we had to do something with it, if we were gonna do it it had to be now. Being able to record with Magoo really helped us with it like in the studio we ended up adding stuff and I think the song is quite different now to how it was.

Magoo has a great reputation, what was the dynamic like between everyone in the recording process?

I think we were all just actually very excited to be working with him. He is such a cool guy and super down to Earth. Recording with him was really easy. I know I was a bit nervous about doing because I know he is like a bit of a big shot, and thought I was not going to know what to do, but he was great and really personable. It was really easy, with recording I think it is important to feel really comfortable while you do it and he really put all of us at ease. I know, in particular, it felt very comfortable and really appreciated his input and suggestions. He made the whole thing super easy and super relaxed.

What is your favourite aspect of the music making process i.e. songwriting, recording, live events etc.?

I think my favourite part is probably when we get to play shows or get practice when we are nutting stuff out. I think it is super exciting when we get to play with cool bands as well, which is most of the time. I do not think I have ever been particularly dissatisfied with any of the bands we have played with. I think my favourite part is definitely performing, I do enjoy recording, but I sometimes get frustrated having to play the same thing over and over again.

Babaganouj recently wrapped up a tour across the east coast. For more tunes and information, hop onto their kick-ass Soundcloud realm.