After the sold-out Drawn Together concerts earlier this year, many thought the machine that fuelled Cog would go back into recess until they unleashed another round of new music.
The fact the band – who have only started touring again in the last couple of years after a prolonged hiatus – saw fit to release new music at all was enough to satiate long-suffering fans, with many content to wait patiently until the boys from Byron Bay were ready to capitalise on their phenomenal return.
It was almost by surprise that in September they announced three shows close to home the week before Christmas, with drummer Lucius Borich admitting he felt the band owed it to their fans.
“Because we’ve done quite a lot of playing off the back of singles that has been really cool and helpful to get the band moving forward and have some momentum,” he said.
“On the last tour for the single release of ‘Drawn Together’ we came to a decision that we’re going to have to think about the next serious step within the business side of the music and what we want to do next, so the consensus was to try and get as busy as we can all things considered and try to write an album. We don’t really want to announce ‘hey we’re doing an album’; we don’t really want to announce ‘hey this is when the albums gonna come out’, but to keep ourselves active and let people know that we’re still a band planning on writing music these shows help cap off this end of the year and tell people that we’re still alive and well.
“We always explain what’s going on when we do shows – Flyyn (Gower, vocals) usually does a bit of a chat and lets people know what’s happening – so it gives people a bit broader picture of where we are and where we’re going. It did sneak up and usually we have been putting a song out and then we’ll do a tour but this time we’re going to try and attack it a little differently.”
One potential downfall of doing multiple tour cycles in the same year without new material is the propensity for the current shows to follow the same format, thus reducing the overall impact, especially for a band like Cog who pride themselves on their connection with the audience. Despite this scenario, Lucius stands by their decision to push forward.
“We’ve got to keep ourselves… we have the three songs that we have released in the last two years in terms of recent songs that we’ve done,” he said. “We still like playing them and there are fans that haven’t yet seen those songs being played and with the catalogue that we have we’ll just continually mix it up like we always have.
“If you want to keep being a good band you have to be playing.”
“It’s not like we play a lot but if we make the decision to play it’s not only based on the fact we want to provide music for the people but also we want to keep playing so we can perform and be good at what we do (laughs). It doesn’t work when you sit at home and say ‘hey, we’ll take a break for three years and write an album’. You’ve actually got to get out there and work your muscle memory and your vocal cords. It can be quite a frustrating time in one sense because you don’t play that much – Australia is a big country but it’s got a small population – so you can’t over-play as a band at the same time. It’s a tricky balance you have to get right between keeping some space between you and the audience so people feel like they want to come and see you again or not playing and suffering the lack of touring.”
While being renowned for doing things their own way at their own pace, Cog are also respected for their honest, up-front approach with their fans. They refuse to play the publicity game at the expense of their fans. In a world where self-promotion is increasingly giving way to misleading statements, Cog have maintained a straight bat, particularly when it comes to future endeavours.
“We don’t want to let anyone down or give false expectations,” Lucius shrugged. “We just want to be able to write what we can, record what we can, be 100% confident with it and then put it out. We don’t want to let anyone down in that department. We’re up against… obviously were not in our young twenties any more and free of responsibilities – we’ve actually got a lot pinning on us now which is something we have to surrender to and that’s okay because its the natural order of just being adults and having a family and children.
“I would be more inclined to think realistically if we were to go out and tour a new album we would probably go out and do five or six new songs. You have to learn the songs and rehearse the songs before you go out and play them. When you write the songs – different bands do it in different ways – but we don’t necessarily just get in the room and learn to play it. Over time it’s like putting together a complicated puzzle and then once it’s done it’s like how did we put that puzzle together? (laughs) How did these chords go? How did we play it? You’ve got to re-learn everything after you’ve recorded it because as soon as you’ve recorded one song you jump from that and then you start recording and writing another one and that one gets dropped in terms of you’re not practising it every day. You just move on to the next thing.”
Witnessing Cog live is more than just going to a live performance. The connection between the band and the audience is at times electric, with each song invoking emotions and feelings that vary according to the listener. You can almost feel the music fuse itself to your senses and with each passing note the feeling of belonging saps more of your essence before leaving you mentally and emotionally exhausted. It is something few bands are capable of achieving, with Lucius admitting the band rides every high and low from their perch on stage.
“Yes I definitely feel just as much as the crowd,” he laughed.
“There are some nights I come off and I’m better than others. There are some when I come off and think I could go on and do that again – I don’t know where that comes from (laughs). We come off and we’re pretty exhausted, that’s for sure. I think that’s why we only like to do two or three shows in a row instead of five shows because we don’t want to lessen or cheapen the experience for the people if we’re too tired. We prefer to keep the shows more minimal and have the energy to deliver a good show than maximise and play a heap of shows but be exhausted while playing.
“Anyone will tell you a lot of the overseas bands that come out to Australia, by the time they get here they’re fucked and they sound shit. How many times has that happened? I’ve seen bands like that myself that have just done a world tour when they just aren’t on but sometimes they start in Australia and they’re on fire. There’s a respectful element to it because people are coming and paying to see you play and you want to deliver a good show – so you don’t want them to leave saying you were half-assed because you look exhausted because you’ve just done six shows. That’s kind of how we feel.
“We’re definitely a type of emotive band and I think for us to get in that space of playing we have to really dig emotionally deep in ourselves to make and keep it integral and keep the marriage of the music and what we’re saying and also how the music sounds. It’s definitely not ‘here we go, we’re going through the motions of just another gig’. It’s not like that at all. There’s a lot of bands that sound and come across that way in that they don’t look interested or they’re not delivering a passionate show… I’d much prefer to see a passionate show than a perfect show. I don’t mind if they make mistakes but if I can see the passion coming across to me that speaks a lot more. Hopefully, we’re that way with our audience.”