ONE looks at Tall Poppies and is…
instantly transported to a finer time. There is something classic, vintage and stylish about the guys. I speak to them about the new track, Now, and how it got started. They tell me about future material and how the band came together. I was interested to know whether the song’s story of being jilted is something drawn from personal experience; what it was like filming the video – and how they will see the year out...
The band talk about the music that means a lot to them; why the 1960s is an important decade; why the band relocated from Australia to the U.K. – and whether there is an interesting tale behind the name ‘Tall Poppies’.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, Sam. Very well! We’ve been busy prepping this week for the single launch-party.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
We’re an Indie-Pop four-piece (now) based in East London. We comprise of Australian twin-sister frontwomen, Catherine and Susan, on vocals, guitar and bass; Diarmuid Nugent pulling at heart-strings on violin - and Doug Fink keeping the beat on drums.
Now is your new single. It is immediate and fresh! It sounds like it came together quickly. Is that the case?!
Yes. It was recorded after we thought we had already completed the album. It burst out one day while we were jamming in the living-room. It did capture a moment, and so, we took it to Atlas Studios in Dalston and tracked it over a weekend.
Now documents being stood up on a grey night. Has that happened to any of you? What would you do, to the culpable, if they stood you up?!
Yes. It was based on a true story - as most of our songs are. The culpable never had a second chance to repeat the offence…
There are strings and hazy beats; some 1960s touches and gorgeous harmonies. It is a busy brew! Do you think your material reflects the artists you idolise? Who were the artists you all grew up listening to?
Yes. The sound is busy and we all have quite a spectrum of influences...
The sixties vibe does stem from Beach Boys/Pet Sounds. We grew up listening to solid Pop songs - including The Beatles, and later, David Bowie and Kate Bush. Our (Cath and Suz’s) mother was an Elton John fan.
Too Low for Zero holds a special place in the heart.
The video is kind of trippy and cinematic! What was that like filming?!
It was great fun. We took the band shots at The Joint in Kings Cross on the wettest night of the year. We all arrived looking like drowned rats - but luckily we had a comb. Catherine and Susan then took the rest of the shots in Western Australia on a quick visit home. That was awesome.
The beach-goers didn’t seem to mind Susan running around with massive orange hands...
Can you tell me how you all came together? What is the origin of the band-name, ‘Tall Poppies’?
Catherine and Susan have been writing songs together since childhood; entertaining the local neighbourhood. When we moved over to the U.K., we started out as the oh-so-original ‘Susan and Catherine’. It soon became evident we needed a stage name, as people would forget them, so the more memorable ‘Tall Poppies’ was agreed upon.
It is a term used when referring to people who are resented - who are of high status. In the Australian music industry, it’s the ‘I liked them when they weren’t popular mentality’ but, according to Wikipedia, it originates from Greek mythology. Anyway; it suited our colour scheme too - as we like to wear red and have dark hair.
After the move to London, we soon met Diarmuid - who played violin on one of the songs for a set - and rapidly became a permanent fixture. Doug joined soon after having met Diarmuid through work and voila.
Here we all are.
What was the reason for the band locating from Australia to the U.K.? Do the music scenes differ greatly?
We had been playing and recorded our first album in Perth. It’s a beautiful city on the beach and there are some great venues and awesome bands - all with quite a quirky vibe. It is, however, one of the most isolated cities in the world. It was either move to London or Sydney to pursue the dream.
We chose London as the British scene was and is a real inspiration.
Do you think we’ll see more new material next year?
Yep. We have an album to release March 2018...so stay tuned!
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
Susan: I have been listening to Whitney. They’ve got a cool jangly 1970s sound that is rather refreshing.
We’ve been enjoying Mac DeMarco. It’s good to hear an artist that doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
IN THIS PHOTO: Whitney/PHOTO CREDIT: Amanda Leigh Smith Photography
Doug: Little Mammoths are the new band of former Noah and the Whale bassist, Matt. They’ve been touring their new material this year.
Also; Drive-By Truckers. They are a bar-band for the twenty-first century.
Diarmuid: Julie Byrne’s Not Even Happiness is excellent.
If you each had to select the one album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
Catherine: This is a difficult question to answer - as there are so many albums that have special meanings to us. I’ve always found that when I’ve bought a Divine Comedy album something good happens in my life; new opportunities or romance. I’ve been buying the back catalogue and new albums, sporadically, when I feel like I need some good luck in my life.
Susan: Likewise: I’ve got a few on the list! I do have a soft spot for the chocolaty tones of Jens Lekman’s album, Night Falls Over Kortedela, with his nostalgic arrangements, uplifting melodies and humour that permeates his songwriting.
Diarmuid: Björk’s Homogenic is a favourite
It was very exciting to hear at the time it came out. I listened to it through the headphones at the Virgin Megastore. It was striking to hear the Classical string arrangements work so well on such a modern Electronic album.
Doug: Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (blushing face) for his musicianship and dreamy sonic landscape.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Don’t let anything hold you back. Be as different as you like. Embrace all the spiffy tools there are for you to make your own way - without worrying about some man with a cigar in the middle.
What tour dates do you have approaching? Where can we see you play?
Aquarium in Shoreditch on the 8th December (consider it our Xmas gig).
In the New Year, we’ll announce more dates to come...
Christmas is not too far away. Do you all have plans already - or will you be busy working?
We’ve got some quality family-time planned and will be making use of the time to write some new material, too.
Susan: I’m planning on getting to know my new keyboard a bit better.
2018 will be a big one for you! What are your ambitions and aims for the year ahead?
We’ll be putting out the new album, Let’s Go Out, in March next year.
We’re going to sort some gigs to tour it - and following that get down the new songs we’ve been working on.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Thanks very much for the interview.
Susan: My choice is Divine Comedy – Tonight We Fly (you can play it at my funeral, too)
Catherine: Heartbreaker - Dionne Warwick
Doug : Jackie De Shannon – Put a Little Love in Your Heart
Diarmuid: Jóga – Björk
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