Written by Brodie Popple
Photographs by Christie Crawford
Flowertruck recently released their debut album Mostly Sunny, an incredible and widely anticipated follow up from their dreamy debut EP 'DIRT'. Since the release of DIRT, the band have been bouncing all around the nation forging themselves as a staple act in Australia's alternative music scene. After the release of the first single off the album Dying to Hear this time last year, Flowertuck have garnered support from music lovers around the country as well as overseas, with the self proclaimed 'internets biggest music nerd' Anthony Fantano supporting their releases. Mostly Sunny is a beautiful follow up, from catchy 80's style synth hooks to the ever present howl of Charles Rushforth's voice. This album is brand spanking new, but already feels like a record you found in your parents vinyl collection, somewhere between Split Enz and Talking Heads. Tracks like Komichi and Falling Asleep are undeniably infectious, leaving a big ol' smile on your face. These toe tappers are beautifully contrasted by the more sombre tones of Rain and the beautifully melancholic track All My Girlfriends Are Zeppelins. Flowertruck play tomorrow night at The Foundry with some help from local mates Chakra Efendi and sleepclub, and if you want to plant a grin on your face you shouldn't miss this show. I had a chat with frontman Charles about life, music and his five tracks that helped him along the way:
After the release of DIRT you guys were shot into the lime light and played some incredible shows, what was the most challenging thing for you between the release of the EP and the LP?
It’s very easy to enjoy being a buzz band. Someone recognises you on the street, someone gives you free pastizzi, friends you haven’t seen in a while ask you wide-eyed ‘how your band is going?’. It’s bliss. I mean I could never ever in a million years imagine a world where people listened to my music by choice (apart from my parents and select friends placed under duress) so I was simultaneously amazed and petrified when DIRT came out and people started to take us seriously all of a sudden.
The hardest thing about all of that is that the real work is still miles ahead of you. I was juggling uni, a four day a week job and like three bands at the time. I’m not an organised person, I’m not even a particularly hard working person but the way I’ve always coped with that is my extreme talent to do lots in a very small space of time. But then the fear sets in. The fear you aren’t doing enough to capitalise on the moment, the fear that you need to replace those press photos, the fear that you haven’t written lyrics for that new song, the fear that the free pastizzi are gonna run out. You become the architect of the titanic that hasn’t crashed yet. Everyone’s saying what you’re doing is amazing but all you can think about is the impending explosions in the boiler room that will boil alive dozens of blue collared boys from Arkansas.
I was pretty much feeling this way all the way up to Mostly Sunny. A strange thing happened towards the end though; you get used to fear. You’re able to inspect it’s dimensions a little better once you’re more familiar with it. So what if the pastizzi run out? I’ll just go back to stealing food from woollies via the self-serve check outs. That’s not so bad? But then there’s a knock at the door and in comes the New Fear. He’s wearing the skin of the old fear on his face and saying that in ten years’ time nobody is going to want to look at you naked and that your band sucks. I’m looking forward to facing off with him regularly over the next year or so.
Your live set see's a bit of moving and shaking and swapping of instruments, when you're writing and recording are you all collaborating on the music together? Do you go away together and work on things or is it mostly one creating and teaching the others?
I am lucky with flowertruck to be joined by three other people who are A) very good at their instruments and B) not offended by someone who isn’t telling them what to do. We work on things together all of the time and then sometimes I go away and write some words using the iPhone notes app and boom you’ve got a song. It’s not a very romantic way of approaching song writing but it’s the results that matter. However, when you get into the routine of doing that, very very occasionally, you’ll get a moment where you’ll be on the bus or watch an old lady fall over on Marrickville road and an entire song, lyrics and all, comes into your head in the space of three seconds. Like a fruit bat on a power line. These songs are very special to me.
In your songs like Tourmaline, your lyrics are very visual with images of the bush and ancient geology. Do you draw a lot of inspiration in your writing from your surroundings or does this come from somewhere very internal?
I don’t want to tell you which songs are or aren’t fruit bat songs as that might devalue the rest of them, but Tourmaline was a fruit bat song. It happened one night when I was picking up pizza for my housemates. I came pack two hours later with no pizzas and lots and lots of iPhone notes. I was reading a book of the same name by Randolf Stow, it’s about this catholic water diviner that tries to dramatically change a post-apocalyptic mining town loosely run by a Taoist. The punchline is that God is very close and very far away. I’m not a religious person but something about that crossed my wires I suppose.
Which song off the new record did you have the most fun with writing?
Ironically, I think it was dying to hear. It’s very hard when writing to express the ore of what you are feeling. You get very good at skirting round the edges of it because it’s not always a very nice place to visit. Sort of like Canberra. I blurted out the first line one night at home and before I knew it I was driving around sunny ACT having a surprisingly good time. It’s still a very hard song to get right when we play it live, but I’ll never forget watching Sarah track her part in the studio on a grand piano.
I know for a fact that like myself, you're a gardener and a good one at that. Was your love of gardening what generated the name Flowertruck? And also what would be your ideal flower in said truck?
I have a confession to make Brodie. I’m not a good gardener. I’m just very good at pretending to be. Remember when I came over and you were showing me your natives? I had no clue what they were I was just waiting for you to call them by name so I could abbreviate that name in conversation. That’s tip number one in pretending to be a gardener. When I worked as a gardener my primary occupation was mattocking the life out of thorny-viney-things and carrying buckets of shit. Those moments never inspired me enough to stop and ask someone for the name of the thorny-viney-thing. I later discovered it was ‘Jasmine’. My garden would have no Jasmine in it.
I'm very curious and I'm sure a few other people are too, as to what 'Komichi' means?
Well, I read somewhere once that there’s a word in Japanese for the sounds you make when you are agreeing with someone. Those ‘mmm’ and ‘ahh’ sounds. I thought that word was Komichi but I think it’s actually Eichi or something. Last week I had a Japanese fan email us and ask what Komichi meant, I haven’t got the heart to tell him that I bastardized his language for an indie hit.
Before we get onto your songs, will this Foundry show be the last we see of Flowertruck in Brisbane for 2018 or is there plenty more on the horizon?
I’m beset by romantic day dreams about moving to somewhere in Queensland by the beach, teaching myself to surf and finishing my science-fiction novel. Brisbane has a very special place in my heart. As long as there is Flowertruck there will be Brisbane. There will also be more Flowertruck this year.
Song 1: Rooms of the Magnificent
Who it's by: Ed Kueper
When you first got into it: Last week crawling through Ed’s back catalogue on Apple Music
What it means to you: It’s the perfect morning song, horns and Spanish guitar on toast.
Why its stuck with you: I love the opening line “evening comes just like a holiday”.