PREMIERE: THESE GUY
WHO IS IT? - LP
Written by Brodie Popple
If you've been around the Brisbane music scene for the past two years and haven't seen These Guy perform live then clear your calendar as this dynamic trio embarks on the release of their second album WHO IS IT? on the 3rd of February. Hosted by The Foundry, These Guy play perhaps their last show indefinitely as Joe Saxby, Josh Coxon (AKA Simi Lacroix) and Eddie L'estrange (AKA Pleco Sounds) prepare to move from The Brown Snake to Canada. The lead single from this album titled 'Hey What's the Big Deal?' takes the cake as the most infectious tune dropped this year. The whole album has this 80's synth pop feel mixed together with Saxby's melancholic yet buoyant vocals, topped off with that beautiful saxophone. It's the kind of music that leaves your dial smiling and your toes tapping, I had a chat to Joe about this release as well as a few other burning questions, check it out below:
Your last album 'Lunchbox' was released mid June last year and now to follow that up eight months later with WHO IS IT, is impressive to say the least. What's the songwriting process like for Joe Saxby, is there a lot of collaboration going on in your house or is it a more solitary process?
Joe: It’s pretty solitary mostly. I sort the songs out as much as I can before taking them to Josh and Eddie, then they add their own parts without me interfering. It works well like that because I’m usually really sick of the songs by the time I’m finished with them, so they add their own fresh perspective and it just tidies up the vibe.
Josh: The process is very good because Joe is the guy, he brings a 3/4 track to Eddie and I and we sprinkle our sprinkles on it in the hope that it will enhance the end product. Joe trusts and believes that that’s exactly what we’ll do in a 'first thought, best thought' kind of scenario, and 99% of the time that’s exactly how it goes down.
WHO IS IT? sports a pretty eclectic variety of instruments and sounds, where was the bulk of this album recorded?
Joe: We recorded all the drums and some other bits and pieces in our good friend Alex L’Estrange’s studio Luv Basement, but I recorded pretty much everything else just at home in my room. Bedroom production is a really cool and unique form of recording that no one else has really started doing yet, so I’m pretty proud of myself that I invented it.
Josh: Yes 3/4 of the guitars were recorded in a marathon 90 minute session in Joe’s bedroom at Ferny Hills - straight into the box, as they say. Very little time was spent fart arse-ing around in QUT studios this time which reflects in an album that has a punchy, direct, non-laboured over vibe? For example, I spent the afternoon of Australia Day last week tracking the guitars for “Give Me A Buzz” and then the next day the track was being mastered - that’s the These Guy methodology for ya baby.
What do you draw a lot of inspiration from?
Joe: It’s hard to say really. In terms of other artists, I’m inspired by people who just make a lot of material and do it in their own very distinct way. People like Ariel Pink, Sean Nicholas Savage, Arthur Russell, Julia Holter, Panda Bear, Caribou, etc., etc. I had a bit of an epiphany while making this album where I realised that the artists I respect the most are the ones who just make what they want to make, when they want to make it. The rest sorts itself out. I was kind of worried about putting out another LP so quickly after the first one, because I don’t want to overload people with my shit, but it’s just the way I do business.A lot of different things inspired me to make this album though. I basically wanted to make the uncoolest music ever. I wanted to try and put the listener in a weird position where they’re hearing someone be so hyper-sincere and honest that it’s uncomfortable. The biggest inspiration for the first track, “Hey, What’s The Big Deal?” was a song by New Edition called “Cool It Down”. I tried to copy the really cheesy, fake-sounding drums and the obnoxious level of sincerity in the lyrics. But with the album generally, I just wanted to create a very uncomfortable yet HD space. It’s claustrophobic and weird, but definitely a pop album.
Josh: Guitar-wise I am inspired by the style of session guitarists such as Michael Landau, Michael Thompson, Paul Jackson Jr. and other faceless guys (google 'em) whose job it was to find a place to contribute to the song without dominating it. But obviously in trying to channel what they did it can only be reflected through the lens of the wonky post-everything zeitgeist in which we find ourselves, which thankfully seems to suit These Guy just fine but mainly I’m inspired by the song that Joe has written duh?!
The artwork for 'Hey What's the Big Deal?' as well as a lot of your prior work like Suburban Restaurant is superb, is this something you've put together yourself?
Joe: Thanx. I’ve done all of the artwork for our stuff except for “Hey, What’s The Big Deal?”, which my girlfriend Alice did. I’d say pretty much everyone in Brisbane would be familiar with her work, she’s done all the stuff for her band Tempura Nights, for Good Boy and heaps of other posters and things for a bunch of bands and labels, etc.
Your older release 'That Fucking Guy' deals with some familiar archetypes and now in WHO IS IT we have 'Internet Gurl'. The relatability of these archetypes makes the song. Are you a silent observer or do you draw these themes from personal experience?
Joe: I guess a bit of both. “That Fucking Guy” was all about personal experience and most people would probably be surprised to know that it’s about looking at yourself very unfavourably. Someone asked me recently, “is that song about a drug dealer?” It’s not.“Internet Gurl” tells more of a complicated story I think. I don’t want to go into it too much because everyone should have their own interpretation, but it’s basically about trying to make money off people using the Internet. And that’s something I think we can all relate to.
Joe you're well known in Brisbane as not only a great singer and song writer but also a gun saxophonist, how long have you been playing for?
Joe: I’ve been a sax boy since I was 10 or 11, so like 11 years now. I got into it seriously when I started taking lessons from an amazing Canadian sax tutor in high school. He changed my view on it from “something I do because my parents have made me” to “something I do because it’s actually sick”. It’s paid dividends because people hit me up now and ask me to record a sax solo for their song. It makes me feel really, really cool.
If you don't mind me asking, what's motivating the move to Canada?
Joe: Just wanting to try something new and unknown. I’m a bit too comfortable in where I’m at right now, so I just want to shake myself up a bit and try something freaky. Canada’s a place I’ve always wanted to see and I’m really interested in the music scene there, so we’re just going to give it a go and see what happens.
Josh: Change is a dad.
Of course, the question on everyone's mind, will These Guy continue by name in Canada or will we be seeing something different come forth?
Joe: Yeah, we’re moving as a band so These Guy will still definitely be a thing.
As well as These Guy, will we be feeling the electrifying stylings of Simi Lacroix and Pleco Sounds into the future?
Joe: Most definitely. I think the move might fuck with Simi’s head a little bit because he’s a very fragile guy and he loves Brisbane more than life itself, but we’ll all do our best to keep doing what we’re doing.
Josh: I will be packing Simi in my carry-on baggage should East China Airlines allow it, however Theseys will be #1 priority boarding. Can’t help but be interested to see how Simi will go down over there and the fuckstain does provide me with much joy.
What are you guys going to miss the most and miss the least about Brisbane?
Joe: I’ll miss the incredibly nice people we’ve met here and the beauteous circle of collaborators we’ve built up. But at the same time, the environment can feel a little bit insular sometimes. I definitely won’t miss how horrible the weather can get in summer.
Josh: I’m going to miss most playing T20 cricket on Sundays with my team “The Riplords" as well as the comfortable lifestyle, friendships, access to family etc. But I'm equally excited to try achieve the same in a new setting. Will miss Fortitude Valley the least. Also looking forward to more than three weeks of non-hot weather a year.
What has been the most memorable thing to happen to These Guy in the last couple of years?
Joe: I think the launch show we did for Lunchbox last year was really memorable for all of us. It was so nice seeing all the fresh faces in the crowd that’d come to see us and actually dance without feeling weird about it. It felt like our special night.
Josh: Yep the album launch last year at Black Bear was just a perfect evening. Hopefully this Friday will be of a similar ilk.
If you could curate the perfect 'Briscore' event in the modern day, who would be on the bill?
Joe: We would definitely have to get Savage Garden and Simi Lacroix to co-headline. Then I’d also want to track down this guy whose CD I found when I was working at 4ZZZ. His name is Adrian Raimund Duda and he is a real guy. I forget the album’s name but it’s mega lo-fi and fucked. The first track was this really cool song called “Hot Land Australia” which is all about how hot it is in Australia. Towards the end, he just starts bellowing “HOT LAND AUSTRALIAA!!!” over and over again, while an insane MIDI-programmed drum beat goes insane in the background.
Josh: A Savage Garden reunion would be a true affirmation and a clinic from the Brisbane Heat 2016/2017 Big Bash League Semi-Finalists in between bands would really encourage some physical activity and tactical know-how.