The Falls are my favorite musical anti-couple… Is that a thing? Melinda and Simon used to be a couple and they decided to make sweet music together (seriously, like the kind you play on a guitar). Things went sour, but then the rainbows came back, and then they broke up. Now they are a couple of people who write, record, and play songs together. Clever and endearing, the songs they write actually tell the tale of their relationship. They’re epically soulful folk tunes, but with enough pep to get you through the most intense existential crises. Their debut EP, Hollywood, has gained impressive airplay in Australia, where they reside, and is set to drop in the states on September 17th. They’ve already toured with giants such as The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men. In a recent chat the band told me about the thus-far-short history of the project and what they plan and dream for in the future.
Izzy Cihak: I love your take on and story of how “couples” of past and present create music. Do you have any profound wisdom on such matters? I’ve met a lot of musical couples recently with quite cool output, but I also feel like if Kim and Thurston continued to work together, they might have managed some of the most badass Sonic Youth recordings in about a decade.
The Falls: Creating music with another person is a very intimate thing to do, so it is no surprise that many romantic relationships between two artists become creative as well. Since we first met, we have been writing music together. When things were good, we wrote songs, when things were bad, we wrote songs. So, I guess, in the end, we didn’t want to lose the one thing about us that really worked, and that was the music. We both bring different things to our music and we can’t imagine doing this without each other. Now that we are not together, writing feels even easier, as we seem to approach each other with a new confidence… We don’t hold back any ideas now and challenge each other more. I think it’s giving our songs a new strength.
My profound wisdom – breaking up with someone doesn’t always have to be the end of a relationship. Sometimes it’s the beginning of a better kind of one. It’s definitely not easy, but sometimes it’s worth it (and some other times you just want to break something over their heads – ha).
IC: What have been the highlights of The Falls’ career, thus far? You’ve shared stages with some pretty noteworthy acts and been recognized by some pretty big deal outlets.
TF: The past 12 months have been a bit of a whirlwind with shows with The Lumineers, Passenger, and Of Monsters and Men, but the most incredible moment to date would have to be the one that was the most unexpected and spontaneous – it was at Blender Gallery (Sydney) and we were playing the opening night of an exhibition of Graham Nash’s photographic works. He was in the back signing books and we were in the front playing songs by the people he’d photographed, including Joni Mitchel, CSN, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan. Just having him in the next room made it the biggest gig of our lives, but then, as he went to leave, he stopped to listen a while. We began to play “Helplessly Hoping” by Crosby, Stills & Nash, and after the first verse he joined Melinda on her mic to fill in the missing third harmony. We finished the song, he shook our hands, and disappeared into the night. I don’t think we’ll ever top that moment.
IC: Keeping in line with that, are there any acts that you dream of sharing a bill with, whether entirely realistic or not?
TF: This is a tricky one, as there are so many bands we’d love to play with… dream bill… how about Ryan Adams and Neil Young? We’d die! Also loving Father John Misty and Jake Bugg right now. Be so great to play with them.
IC: Your debut EP is about to drop in the states. What were the release’s biggest influences and inspirations, whether musical or not (This may draw a bit on my first question.)?
TF: The songs on this EP are very personal, but were not consciously so. The first song, “Please,” is one of the first songs we ever wrote together. The last song, “Hollywood,” was finished in the studio as we recorded it and was largely inspired by the time we spent playing each week down at the Hotel Hollywood (Surry Hills, Sydney). When we began to put the songs together, it became clear that we had (almost subconsciously) documented our entire relationship in our songs – it was the story of us. How we met, fell in love, fought, made up, and broke up. The EP is called “Hollywood,” as we realized how significantly the Hotel Hollywood was tied up in all of this and that it represented such a significant time in our lives, personally and musically. We were listening to a lot of music from the mid to late ’60s and early ‘70s, like Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel, The Rolling Stones, and The Byrds, when we wrote and recorded it, and I think this has come through most strongly in the way we harmonize together.
IC: A lot of my favorite acts of recent years have been from Australia, from the very popular (Kate Miller-Heidke) to the very avant-garde (The UV Race). What are your thoughts on Australia’s music scene?
TF: It’s so good to hear that Australian music is reaching your shores! We are very lucky to have a very diverse and vibrant music scene in Australia. I think what I’m loving most about it right now is the festivals. We have such incredible landscapes in this country and there is nothing more magical than soaking up the sun and the sounds outdoors in the Australian bush. My favourite this year would have to be Splendour In The Grass, with an honorable mention going to the Darwin Festival, which was a truly beautiful experience!
IC: I understand you’re planning a US tour in the near future. What can we expect of the live experience?
TF: Our songs are very personal, very raw and very honest. I think our live show is too.
IC: And what about post-tour? Have you started working on new music? If so, what can be expected of your upcoming sounds?
TF: We are writing a lot at the moment and are itching to get back in the studio. That said, our debut EP was such a defining piece of work for us, personally, that we would like our debut album to be just as significant. While this first release is very much an indie folk record, we hope to show the scope of what we are all about in our first full-length and are taking our time crafting the songs and exploring new sounds.