Luca Brasi: Good Vibes, Good Times
Tassie summer-punk stalwarts Luca Brasi have been making some pretty huge waves recently – their third full-length, If This Is All We’re Going To Be, dropped in the Top 20 on the ARIA Charts, made it to the coveted slot of triple j’s Feature Album, and led itself to two enormous tours: one in support of fellow Poison City powerhouse The Smith Street Band, and a headline run hitting some of the country’s most respected venues. BLUNT caught up with bassist and vocalist Tyler Richardson to talk Tassie, touring, and the gnarly recording process that led to Luca Brasi’s biggest album yet.
If This Is All We’re Going To Be is easily the tightest sounding record that the band has put together. What made you want to go with a more dynamic, fluid style this time around?
That was the whole background with the direction we were trying to head in for this record. The first one [2011’s Extended Family] was kind of like, ‘We’ve got 10 songs, we’re 20 years old and none of us have been in a band; let’s go and record them, and then see what happens’ – and then it was like, ‘Holy shit, we actually have a record!’ Then the second one [2014’s By A Thread] was like, ‘Alright, we kind of know what we want to do, let’s keep these elements [of Extended Family] that we like, and try to do what we want to do.’ But now, it’s kind of like, ‘We know where we went wrong, let’s go this way!’ And I’m pretty sure this is easily the most coherent record that we’ve put out so far.
So this is the first time you guys have all recorded together as a full unit, right?
This is the first one that we’ve written together as a full unit – it was like, the least disjointed one. We all used to live separately in two different cities, so it was a bit of work on the last two records. But for this one, we were all together the whole time, and it was just such a better and more fluid process.
How did it work on past releases? Would you throw ideas back and forth and then record your parts together?
Yeah, it was a lot of that and a lot of home computer demos; flying back and forwards, that sort of thing.
Musically, the record is still just ‘good times, good vibes’ kinda jam music – did being together and having time to breathe before hitting the studio help you get into that energetic headspace?
Totally, man. [Thomas] Busby (vocals) lives across the road from me now, and Pat [Marshall, guitar] lives, like, five minutes away, so we had that time to just mellow out. Even when we were writing, we could be like, ‘Alright, let’s have a break, chill out and get back into it’ rather than just, like, ‘Fuck! We’ve got two hours before I have to leave for Launceston, let’s smash this bit out, fuck!’ We had time to step back and look at things from an objective viewpoint.
What was it like working with the one and only Georgia Maq on “Count Me Out”?
So sick! She’s a good mate, she’s a total ledge! Pat was originally doing those lines, and we were just like, ‘Let’s get Georgia to do it!’ I sent her a text saying, ‘Come to Tassie and play a show, and would you sing on this song?’ And I sent [the song] to her, and she was like, ‘I would love to do that’ and we were like, ‘Fuck, we’d love to have you’ and then it was just… It was magic.
You guys have never shied away from your heritage – I mean, there are massive banners that just say “Tassie” behind you when you play live. I’ve heard you actually recorded If This Is All We’re Going To Be in Tasmania for the sole reason that… Y’know, Tassie. Is that true?
That was basically one of the big reasons, the other one being that we still work full-time or study full-time, so if we can do a record here, we can save that three-week or month block for a tour instead. We were working, knocking off and then going straight into the studio for 12 hours – until 4am – and then repeating that for a few weeks. I mean, it was gnarly – it’s not the ideal way to do it – but y’know, by doing the record here, we’ve got that month to be on the road.
You’ve been touring across Australia for a fair few years now, and all I can think about is how insanely expensive it would have been to keep trekking in and out of Tassie as an up-and-coming act. Do you ever look back on the early days and go, “Yeah, nah, I’m kinda glad this worked out”?
[Laughs] Yeah man, it was fucking gnarly to begin with – it’s gnarly for any band in Australia to go anywhere, but like you said, especially for us, it’s an extra $1,000 on top of going anywhere at all. So in those days, it was kind of like, ‘Yep, let’s go to Perth as many times as we can this year – let’s do this as many times as we can, and we’ll just figure out a way to make it work’. And I’m really glad we did, because we had the opportunity to make it work and make it worthwhile, like, we can actually be a real band now.
What was the local scene like in St. Helens, or I guess Tassie in general?
St. Helens, where we came from, is this tiny little town – I guess something like down the peninsula in Melbourne – so… There’s nothing. There’s no scene. Hobart was rad when I was 18 – there were some awesome bands coming out of there, and I have very fond memories of looking at those guys and thinking, ‘Fuck’. This was before I even played in a band or anything – I was never thinking that I’d [be a part of the scene], but yeah, I was so stoked on what those guys were doing.
“If you think you’re going to be in it for fame and money – or whatever else you think you’ll get out of it – then you’re probably doing it for the wrong reasons.”
Do you still keep up with the bands that are killing it in the Apple Isle today? Who are some sick up-and-coming acts we should keep an ear out for?
A band called Speech Patterns! They’re fucking rad. But yeah, very much, man – I’m actually going to a show after this [laughs]. We just like music, no matter what it is. There’s a band called Dog Dreams out of Hobart, they’re rad too. Band from Launny called Sumner – they’re sort of like, this totally different indie thing. So there’s a lot of cool stuff happening!
You guys have stuck pretty solidly with Poison City over the years. I think they’re interesting because with most indie labels, a band will sign to one and then once they get big, they’ll jump ship to a major label. But with P-City, everyone on there sticks with them no matter how many records they sell. Is it the vibe, or, why is that?
I think you’re dead right, man. I just sent a text message to Andy like a second ago – the guy who put our first record out and still does everything for us – and it’s like, you’ll go up to the shop and Andy still works there. It’s just a little family of legends. Y’know, we’ve had opportunities to go in other ways, but it’s just not something that we’re interested in doing. And now with the way [Poison City] are growing the way they are, it’s crazy how much interest and respect that label has.
Over on the touring side of things, you guys are about to head off on a national run with The Smith Street Band. You’re both Poison City powerhouses, and you both have a similar sound that’s also still different enough to make for some nice contrast. When are the eight of you gonna sit down and smash out a collab?
So there’s a little project in the works with me, Craig [Selak] from The Bennies, Tom [Lanyon] from Ceres and Chris from Smith Street. We started up a little while ago – we’ve only had one solid jam, but yeah, we’re looking to get some sort of a release happening pretty soon.
Do you reckon it’ll be a full-on album or is the project just a little ‘side’ thing?
Hopefully! I think we’re just going to sit on songs until we have enough for a record – I mean, it’s going to be hard because it’s rare that any of us are in the same state, let alone the same city – but we’re gonna see what happens! That one jam session we had, we only played one song, but we drank through… I think it was three cartons of beer. It was actually such a refreshing experience.
So there was an interview with the AU Review where you said, “All that time going out [on the road], you learn a lot of stuff you don’t realise you’ve learned”. Being in a band and touring your arse off for the past seven years, what would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learned?
Just… Don’t be a dickhead. I mean obviously that applies to everything, but you meet dudes who are just… Like, I don’t understand how you can have such an ego about something as big a privilege as it is to play music. It’s not often that you’ll meet someone like that, but when you do, it’s like, ‘Fuck you, man. Maybe go and do something else.’ If you think you’re going to be in it for fame and money – or whatever else you think you’ll get out of it – then you’re probably doing it for the wrong reasons.
Luca Brasi / Moose Blood / The Hard Aches
Wednesday August 17th – The Basement, Canberra
Thursday August 18th – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Friday August 19th – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Saturday August 20th – The Zoo, Brisbane
Thursday August 25th – Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth
Friday August 26th – Fat Controller, Adelaide
Saturday August 27th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Sunday August 28th – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
The Smith Street Band / Luca Brasi / Joelistics / Jess Locke Band
Friday June 3rd – Metro, Sydney – SOLD OUT
Saturday June 4th – Max Watts, Brisbane – SOLD OUT
Thursday June 9th – Capitol Theatre, Perth – SOLD OUT
Friday June 10th – Capitol Theatre, Perth – SOLD OUT
Saturday June 11th – The Gov, Adelaide – SOLD OUT
Thursday June 16th – Max Watts, Melbourne – SOLD OUT
Friday June 17th – Max Watts, Melbourne – SOLD OUT
Saturday June 18th – Max Watts, Melbourne – SOLD OUT