There’s something unique about A Little Province. They’ve got a drummer who also sings. It’s not unheard of, but it is uncommon. Abe Mac is that drummer come vocalist who also works in tourism and sales by day. He says, yes, it is hard to do both drum and sing.
“It takes a bit of the concentration off when you start to do that,” Abe said, but tells me they have a new drummer coming to help out on a few songs to mix it up a bit. He says they considered getting another singer instead but it’s harder to find one that represents what they want to do.
Abe is joined by his bandmates Rhys Edwards (bass) and also a woodwork teacher and audio engineer, Yosir Le Cerf (guitar) and also an environmental regeneration worker and Rohan Orenshaw (violin) who works in carpentry and construction. I’ve met them on a sunny but chilly day in Surfers Paradise and we’re chatting while they eat Vietnamese food.
These four men who make up A Little Province, have been writing and performing together for five years from their homes in the Byron surrounds. Their first single Time was released earlier this year, from their debut self-titled album. And they have plans to tour through September and October.
They’ve been labeled progressive rock. Yosir says they definitely have elements of that. “We’re not just straight up rock,” he tells me. And the others agree. Rohan says many of their songs have that progressive rock sound – with strong builds and lots of rest and Rhys says they’re definitely not folk anymore.
“Progressive rock… at the moment it represents our sound the most,” Rhys said. “We’re not folk, we’re not indie, we’re not pop.”
When I ask how they discovered eachother, Rhys laughs and credits an unforeseen magnetic attraction to northern NSW, where he’s been for seven years.
“He moved next door to me and Rohan,” Yosir said
“To meet these guys is what drew me here,” Rhys said. “I moved to Lismore. I came from Cairns, was working with music up there. Essentially it was production that brought me down here.”
“I could hear they were playing music in their garage,” he said, sweeping his hands towards Rohan and Yosir, “and just walked in and started listening. Yosir said they became friends before they started playing music together, coffees over the fence, a few beers and just hanging out.
Yosir tells me they’ve been playing together “proper” since 2011, rather than as a folk trio. “I think we just wanted to experiment with sound more. We wanted to build soundscapes; making everything electric gave us that opportunity to get more creative.”
Abe says their fans are blown away each time they see them. The change in the band’s sound is dramatic for fans.
“They’re blown away with the sound,” Abe said. “Saying we were progressing, with ‘such a big sound now’. We try not to see ourselves as a heavy band but a lot of people see us as being a lot heavier than what we used to be.”
I’m curious as to whether it’s harder to get gigs now, with that transition from folk to prog rock? Abe says that going to electric guitar has limited the types of gigs they can do – restaurants for example. “But it’s opened up way more headline slots, rather than supporting,” he adds.
This debut album comes on the back of two EPS they’ve also released as a four-piece. “The response has been positive on the single Time,” Rhys says. “And that’s been the focus
“People who’ve had our music in the past, they’re loving the new record. Basically it’s what they’re hearing live, a lot more than the last EP – a representation of that big sound we’ve been trying to achieve in the last year or so,” he said.
And Abe says it was a little bit of a challenge to recreate that live experience – the energy and the volume. “It does translate pretty well from the album to live,” Rohan adds.
“The mixing process was pretty long, not frustrating – but we went through a lot of back and forward to get the sound bigger and polish it up a bit,” Abe said before Yosir adds that it took a long time because of ‘our laziness’. “We’re much quicker these days,” he said.
I’m curious about the band’s move to engage a publicist, which is how we made the connection to be here today. Rhys says “if we keep doing the same thing, we’re going to keep getting the same results. It’s like sewing new seeds in a new garden to see which plants fruit from this. It ties in with this single – let’s do something different,” he said.
“It gives us the opportunity to just focus on making music and booking gigs,” Yosir said. “They get it out there for us. We’ve come so far on the bare minimum – it’s surprising that we’ve gotten anywhere.
When we spoke (which was a month ago now), A Little Province were finishing up their Time tour. But they already have their next tour penciled in for September and October to coincide with their next single release.
“After this tour, we’ll be focusing inward again,” Rhys said. “Recording our new record. It’s getting mixed today, actually and will be mastered by end of next week.”