The John Steel Singers | Smooth Sailing Horizons

Brisbane’s finest kaleidoscopic dream poppers The John Steel Singers have been keeping a relatively low profile recently, but with a new album not too far away from being foisted upon the public consciousness, Anthony Gebhardt took the opportunity to fire off a few questions to self-depreciating keyboard whizz Pete Bernoth on the current status of lads and the waters they’re about to charter..

So you guys are about to drop a new album called Midnight at the Plutonium yeah? Can you tell us a little bit about its gestation? The title is a reference to the Plutonium recording studio right?

“About to drop” might be a little presumptuous. At this point we’re aiming to release early next year but you’ll be hearing a few tracks soon. I think the first recording session for two of these tracks were done January last year and we’ve been working on it since then. A lot of the writing was done as a group while indulging in what we in the industry like to call “jamming” (the J is silent, pronounced yamming) which was super organic (alot of coconut water and kale and quinoa (prounouced kwee-no-aaaaah)) and it all came together pretty easily. We had our good mate Miro Mackie at the helm, he helped out when he could on Everything’s a Thread but for this one he was cracking the whip constantly and we were a hell of a lot more productive. …Surprisingly enough the track name Midnight at the Plutonium came first, I misheard Timmy say Planetarium and the studio was named in my honor.
Sound wise I understand that you guys are heading towards a ‘groovier, funkier’ vibe with this record. How did this shift come about?
Hah, god forgive me for using those two words, but yeah we started listening to smoother stuff while recording the last album and that came out of our souls when we jammed. I think better words to use would’ve been Yacht pop, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Yacht Club Band.

Does the band have a favourite track or moment on the new record, or does that depend on who in the band you ask?!
I’m sure it depends on the band member; we signed a contract agreeing that we will no longer talk to each other, let alone assume what someone else thinks. It’s been nice; I think we are a lot closer as human souls because of it.

How do you think your long term fans will embrace this evolution of your sound?
I really hope they still dig us. The sound is still melody driven and catchy but we write what comes naturally to us at the time. Not a lot of time is spent thinking about “will this sell?” or “can we get on MTV with this shit?” or “how many Itunes sales can we make from this record?” or “does this answer make me seem like a dick?”

What’s in store for you guys in the coming months on the touring front – I’m assuming you’ll be treading the boards again fairly soon in support of the new long play?
Ummm…. we’re playing Bigsound this year in Brisbane; you can catch us at The Zoo stage on Thursday September 10. Other than that I’m sure we will be playing shows around September / October, but then again I’m completely uninformed. Our gigging calendar has got to pick up in the near future.  

Any plans to head down the highway and play a Gold Coast gig in the foreseeable future?
I’d really like to! Anyone wanna throw us some cash to come down and play?

Are there any new overseas plans in the pipeline, either from a record release or touring perspective? And how were you received on your previous US and European sojourns?
Not that I know of. My plan (which will more than likely be ignored, cause I’m quite unorganised and generally unhelpful) is to see how the record is received in Australia and go from there. We’re getting old now. Gotta take it easy on the ol’ bones and liver.

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The John Steele Singers will be at The Zoo on Thursday 10 September as part of BIGSOUND.

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