With the release of latest single ‘Nothing Left To Say’ earlier last month, Lennox Heads based indie rock band Wharves should have been looking to consolidate their name in the UK with a tour scheduled for May, but like most of the entertainment world have had to re-evaluate things significantly with the current Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe.
“It kind of puts everything on hold in terms of physically touring,” said vocalist/guitarist Matthew Collins, “and it restricts any income except for publishing deals. If our song was used on TV or an ad or something like that – which we have actually just got one of those – it can help us out while this is going on. You’re not sure how long it’s gonna be so we don’t want to book plans to go to the UK and have them postponed again. We just have to take it as it comes with that and make plans that are changeable. We are trying to get on top of live streaming and producing content from home rather than just sit around for six months. We want to capitalise on the time we’ve got rather than be upset about the situation.”
One thing Wharves can control is their music, and according to Collins the reception to ‘Nothing Left To Say’ has been one highlight in a prolonged period of disappointment.
“It’s been really good!” he enthused. “We’ve been doing a bit of a crowdsourced film clip for it as well so we’ve had a lot of friends and fans doing dances in their isolation to the new track. I think everyone is really enjoying that.”
‘Nothing Left To Say’ sees a slightly different musical direction for Wharves, with their usual guitar-driven sound expanded upon with the use of synthesisers and electric percussion.
“It’s a bit of a tricky one,” Collins pondered. “I don’t know what completely led us to experiment as such but we got labelled as a bit of a guitar rock/guitar band and the way we look at it is there’s way more modern technology than just the guitar at the moment. We thought we would give it a go and experiment and see what happens rather than be bunched in with a lot of the rock stuff. It was a lot of fun and cool learning how new technology works with music and keeping a bit more of an open mind to it.”
With an EP to follow, Collins reveals that the direction taken with the lead single is something that will permeate through the rest of the recording.
“It’s gonna follow that a bit,” he nodded. “The other stuff might not be as in your face but we are definitely gonna run across a similar vein sonically although the mood will be slightly different with each song.”
The band met while studying the Bachelor of Contemporary Music at Southern Cross University Lismore campus in Northern NSW. After rehearsing together for a University showcase event, band members – guitar and keyboardist Michael Watson, drummer Fraser Rojo Perrott, bassist Scott Finch and lead singer Matt Collins – found their sound and formed WHARVES.
“It’s part of the WHARVES story that we met through studying music at Southern Cross. The access to world class lecturers and facilities really helped kick start us as a band,” Matt said.
“Also, being surrounded by like-minded musicians with similar ambitions is a great reason to study music at University, and the Northern Rivers is a hub for creatives – especially musicians.”
While admitting to being a highly creative band, Collins also credits producer Steven Schram with having significant input into each musical twist and turn undertaken by Wharves.
“We write a lot and create a lot,” Collins said, “but we can also be a bit indecisive as a group (laughs). We have a really good producer that reins us in a little bit but also pushes us in different ways. He has a really strong opinion about things so if we are a bit unsure if something is done or if it is a good idea or not he has that opinion of no or yes that makes it easier for us to orientate around it. I think that helps. As well as experimenting we’ve also been focussing on one particular drum sound or things like that as well. There are certain restrictions I’m putting on the songs as well as expanding them so it has some sort of cohesiveness with the sonics.”
While the EP has always been slated for a 2020 release, Collins admits the exact release date has also been affected by the current climate.
“It’s a little bit up in the air,” he sighed. “This Corona thing is affecting our touring and timeline a bit. We’re still writing and doing music that we are yet to record so I think we will have another new song in the next couple of months and then probably before Christmas we should have an EP. Hopefully, as the restrictions ease and slowly get under control, we want to go to the UK before the end of the year as well.
Even before the release of ‘Nothing Left To Say’ Wharves have been making an impact on the UK music scene.
After successfully touring with DZ Deathrays through Europe and the UK in 2019 the band are looking to capitalise on their growing success and are eager to get back after having to postpone May dates.
“We got a great support with DZ Deathrays,” Collins recalled, “and they have done about nine tours there and we jumped on the back of one of theirs. We met a promoter while we there that really liked our sound and felt like it resonated – which we have always felt ourselves. We have always felt we were more of a UK sounding band than an Australian sounding band, and we are getting more radio and things like that than we are getting here at the moment. We’re getting BBC and Radio X – whose audience is about eight or nine times bigger than JJJ. It’s pretty exciting so that’s where we are focussing most of our attention. We have more fans here in Australia but we want to push that overseas market as well.”
You can check our Wharves on Bandcamp as well as follow their socials for updates on new music and touring plans when they become available. Southern Cross University is currently offering its popular Bachelor of Contemporary Music program online. More at: scu.edu.au/study-at-scu/music-and-creative-arts/