City Over Sand go waaaaaay back. At least to the late 1990s. Brad Hosking (bass) and Dan Carroll (guitar and vocals) lived across the road from eachother in Helensvale.
“We’ve been playing together for twenty years,” they tell me. Along with Jules Keshan (drums), the band mates are best mates.
“Actually Sunday is the first gig Jules has ever missed,” Brad said. He’s referring to the A La Carte in the Park where they played to a very appreciative audience – eliciting praise on social media after the show.
“We had a band called Fluid and we sort of played out of Griffith Uni,” Dan continues with the potted history. “We played around the traps for a long while, put out a couple of records and then morphed into the Dan Carroll Band which was a solo project.”
“Which is when I came on board,” Brad interjects. That was the early 2000s. “Brad came in to play some keys and then just stayed,” Dan added.
Brad is a multi-instrumentalist. He plays keys, bass and guitar. He also produces all the records at his Blind Boy Studios. Dan admits that Brad wears a lot of hats.
“So the Dan Carroll Band morphed into City Over Sand, I guess,” he continues. “It really developed into a cool partnership where we create music just for the love of it. We’re not doing it for any other reason really – we’re just trying to write good songs and produce good songs and make good records.”
Brad says at one point the band fell into a trap of writing songs for a purpose – radio play for example. “We just decided, fuck it,” he said. “Let’s just do our first full-length album, release it on vinyl and just make the songs we want to listen to.”
Which is where City Over Sand are at right now. Writing, recording, hanging out in Brad’s studio and making songs that they love. They admit they’re in a unique position – having access to a studio without it costing them a heap of cash and with a talented producer in the band.
As City Over Sand the lads have put out an EP and a couple of singles and performd a string of live shows, but this is the first time that they’ve worked on a project like a full length album and they mention over and over again that they’re doing it for themselves, writing the songs they want to write and producing them the way they want to release them.
“We’ve mixed the first track, that’ll come out Septemberish,” Dan said. “Then the record will come out after that. I’d say the new year. The record’s kind of half done.”
It’s a standard question to ask a band: how do you approach the songwriting process? But in this case I don’t have to ask it. Dan and Brad start discussing it amongst themselves. Dan is most definitely the songwriter in the group.
“I guess I bring the songs to the guys and they get fleshed out, I guess. The core of the song is there and it gets worked up between the three of us from that position,” he said.
“From my point of view I take more of a producer’s hat straight away and see how we can take a good song and turn it into a great song,” Brad adds, saying that most of their songs are being written to BE recorded rather than played live.
“In a nutshell, our mantra is to have a great product and great songs,” Brad said.
Dan agrees, as we speak about the bands’ daytime jobs – Dan works in Council’s cultural unit. “I’m not twenty years old any more. I’m not looking for a record deal. I’m not looking to tour the world – it’s kind of therapy in a way, it’s how my time is best spent. I’m still doin it after so long, because it’s part of me. I have a beautiful young family and a job and I get to play music and create and do it with these guys.”
We wrap up the interview by talking about upcoming gigs, with a Marketta show looming large. These guys will be supported by Mitch King who will open the night. He played before City Over Sand at A La Carte in the Park just last weekend.
“We’re looking forward to Marketta, we’ve kind of started a new cycle of gigs and we’re fortunate to have hooked up with Polly (Snowden). We played Winter in the ‘Vale and we’re lined up to do Summertime Sessions. They’re great gigs. Really we’re just testing the new songs and for us it’s all new and fresh and exciting.”
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City Over Sand + Mitch King play Miami Marketta on Friday 11 September