BIGSOUND SHOWCASE for Guards of May : Eyeing the future

It’s 4pm day one of Bigsound and my head is spinning with music industry jargon. So, I ‘m standing at the bar at the Flying Cock when I ran into hard-working publicist and heavy music guru Tim Price. I didn’t get an interview with Guards of May organised, I tell him. And he laughs and says “hey this is Jimmy, do you want to talk to him now?”

I’d wanted to talk to five piece Brisbane outfit, Guards of May when I heard they were showcasing here at BIGSOUND. A month ago they released their first full-length album Future Eyes and it immediately got radio play, as well as lots of chatter on my social media feed. Not bad considering the heavy-prog-rock tag they seem to attract.

Bass player and back-up vocalist Jimmy Harden spoke animatedly about the feedback they’ve had since the album’s release. He was stoked at not having had a bad review yet.

“The reviews have… pretty much been universally positive,” he said. “Which has been … oddly comforting.”

Harden shared his surprise at the breadth of publications who’d reviewed the album and felt that even those renowned for their constructive critique of music had given positive reviews.

“The Courier Mail has done a review,” he said. To my utter surprise. They said something along the lines of ‘really positive debut,’ and everything from Rolling Stone to more local outlets, The Music and other street press. It’s been a real cross section of reviews,” he said. And he boasts about album sales from all over the world .

“They’re buying the music from Bandcamp,” he said. “We can see people from Germany, Brazil. Considering how many places you can go to listen to it at no cost, it’s really humbling.”

Future Eyes is the band’s first full-length album and Harden says, for that reason, it will always have a special place in their hearts.

“We’ve been around for about five years,” he said. “And have produced one UP at that time. The album, pretty well, was a three-year process. Not intentionally. We recorded the album in 2014, we took a year to finish mixing and mastering. But the writing process was probably another two years before that.”

“We recorded and released, or drip-fed, a couple of singles to keep us touring and writing. But the entire album took three years, to write, produce and finish. We are fanatically slow – but at the same time, we wouldn’t do it any other way,” he said. And they must be happy with the process, because he tells me they’re already talking about the next record. “We’re having those discussions about how we want to work and how we want to write moving forward.”

When they launched the album, the Guards of May toured it down the east coast, with shows in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. But this week they’re showcasing here at BIGSOUND. And after they finish here, they take three weeks off and then they’re on the road with Dead Letter Circus – starting at Perth and working their way back to Brisbane. You can tell that Jimmy is really excited about that because he says “I’m really, really excited about that.”

I ask Jimmy to tell me about the album and its sound in his own words and he says it sits in an interesting space. “I think we’ve always been really good at having dynamics… you’ll have moody sections, you’ll have rock sections, you’ll have soft sections, you’ll have electronic sections,” he tells me. “The way that Future Eyes came out – it sort of just flows – but I’m biased, I’ve listened to the damn thing a thousand times or more.”

“To listen from start to finish, to me, it just flows really nicely. While for example, the guitars might be considered heavy in some sections, Richard’s vocals are quite soft or high, like pop accessible vocals – it’s not like it’s screaming, but then you’ll have these riffs…. and then you’ll have other sections where it’s flowing and moody and the guitars will be more ambient. It’s quite a mix of influences across that spectrum,” he said.

Jimmy again says he’s excited about the band’s showcase at BIGSOUND, tonight, but he knows it’s a hectic schedule. “I don’t mind whether we’re playing to a full room or just three people,” he said.

One thing I do know… I’ll be there.

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Guards of May will showcase at BIGSOUND, 8.00pm, Thursday 10 September at the New Globe Theatre and then you can catch them as they cross the nation on tour with Dead Letter Circus. Their debut album Future Eyes was released 14 August and is available through Bandcamp.

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