Brisbane rockers The Iron Eye have kicked off their national tour, gearing up to play not just around Australia’s capital cities, but also heading across the pond to play a few shows in New Zealand. The trio recently released their new single, ‘Conscience Cleaner’, to rave reviews, and have already been enjoying airtime on Kiwi rock radio.
I caught up with the band’s frontman Nick Lythall, just prior to their first show in Sydney.
Welcome to Wall Of Sound, Nick – are you all ready for your tour? You’re starting tonight, I believe?
Yeah, starting tonight in Sydney at Frankies – we’re pretty ready!
Paint a picture for me – what’s the short story about The Iron Eye? Where are you guys from, and how did you get together?
We’re from all over the place – me and Antonio (the drummer) are from Coffs Harbor originally, and Dave (on bass) is from Victoria via Townsville. We all met in Brisbane – I’ve known Antonio for a while – and Dave joined us in Brisbane in about 2013/2014, and we’ve been slamming it out since, just playing shows around Brisbane and getting a few supports.
But this is our third proper jaunt around Australia, doing Sydney, Melbourne and our first time overseas actually as a band together, to New Zealand. So yeah, pretty excited!
Is this your first headline tour?
We’ve done a couple of small shows previously, where they’ve been mixed or a shared headline, but this is our first couple of shows in Australia that are headline shows, but in New Zealand we’re supporting a band called Dead Favours – they’re a kiwi band, so we’re the main support over there.
Your new single is called ‘Conscience Cleaner’, can you tell me what that’s all about?
The story is that we did have this riff and we slammed out this song. What you hear on the recording is pretty much how we played it the first time, it just flowed. And we just thought ‘that sounds pretty good, we’ll just lay that down.’
We did a little demo of it – I usually write all the lyrics and melody after we’ve written the music, so I needed some lyrics for the song, and I picked up a can from our little studio in Brisbane – a can of electrical contact cleaner, and that’s just the line I started chanting. And that was the song name up until we literally stepped in the studio, and I had to write actual real words, instead of chanting a brand name!
So, it took on the meaning of cleansing yourself of whatever ails you, I guess – but in this case it was a can of electrical contact cleaner!
It’s the smallest things!
Yeah, exactly, it’s funny where you get your inspiration from.
I’ve noticed your first song, ‘Different’, is a lot heavier compared to your latest one – your latest one has more of a Queens of The Stone Age feel – is that sort of a change of direction, or more the work of a producer to get that more rockier sound?
Nah, as a band we’re pretty diverse, a lot of our songs dynamically, even within a song, the song’s fairly dynamic and there’s a lot of variation and change throughout them. We grew up listening to music that had that sort of Nirvana principle of quiet verses/loud choruses. We’re into very dynamic bands – Zeppelin, Sabbath, Chilli Peppers, Muse, Queens of The Stone Age, Rage Against the Machine, you know that’s sort of our bread and butter.
The 90’s alternative rock?
Yeah, we took that on board. Our songs are all pretty dynamic, and so ‘Different’ was probably our sort of ‘ode’ to that sort of harder, industrial edge of rock. And then ‘Just Started,’ our single after that off our EP ‘Foreign Bodies’, that was more in that Arctic Monkeys/Queens of The Stone Age vein. It really just comes down to what mood we’re in when we’re writing music – sometimes we’re more chilled and groovy, sometimes we’re a bit angsty and angry – maybe the band bar fridge is empty, so we’re pissed off! (laughs)
You worked with Tom Larkin from Shihad on your last EP – is he back on board?
Yeah, so we worked with Tom on a couple of tracks this year and went down to Melbourne and recorded them a month ago. We usually just send him some demos and he’ll flick back some thoughts and we’ll have a video chat with him and his engineer, John, who we work pretty closely with as well on these tracks.
He’s good – he’s not overly hands on, he’s more about the bigger picture, and more about the general feel. So, he lets us take more of the creative control – I guess maybe he trusts us in that way because we’ve been playing for a while, and he lets us roll with the punches, and he’ll just try to shape the bigger picture, if you know what I mean.
Is there an album on the way?
We’ve only done a couple of singles at the moment, there is plans to record more, so whether it’s going to be an EP or a full-length album, we’ll determine that based on how the next couple of releases go. Maybe an EP length release, might be an album if we can write enough songs between now and Christmas. But early next year we’ll have a pretty clear idea of whether we’re looking at an EP or an Album.
Cool! Live wise, your national tour is heading into New Zealand – you’re getting a bit of traction across the ditch.
Yeah, actually most of the plays we get are from New Zealand – our single ‘Just Started’ got national airplay on The Rock FM, so it was getting spun pretty hard over there. And obviously the Tom Larkin connection, with Shihad being one of New Zealand’s biggest bands, that definitely played a part and I guess they’ve taken us on board and gotten really into the tracks, and they’ve shown heaps of support in the last couple of years.
So, we’re a bit overdue to get over to New Zealand and play some shows, because they’ve been big supporters of the band.
What can people expect from your live shows?
(laughs) Oh…bombast? That’s probably the word I’d use to describe it, people are kind of surprised about the amount of noise that we make and the energy that we carry live. And, I guess, every show is different – every show we play we put 110% into every single show. It’s a fully dynamic, emotional, angsty experience for everyone. And plenty of beer!
Awesome, so what happens next after this tour? A more regional tour around Australia?
We’re gonna play it by ear. There’s a couple of plans in place, but no real details yet – we’ll just get through these next few months, we’re in Melbourne next month, then we go overseas and do New Zealand and then we’ll come back and do Brisbane. There may be some more dates after – still finalizing details for that.
But yeah, it would be nice to get around and play some more regional shows – just get in a van, drive around from town to town every night and smash out a smaller tour, which is easy enough to do but also difficult to do in Australia, because everything is so far away.
Awesome, thanks for chatting with us Nick!
Interview by Simon Valentine @SimonValentine1
The Iron Eye – Cleaner Conscience Tour
Sept 12th @ Evelyn Hotel, Melb
Sept 14th @ Galato’s, Auckland
Sept 15th @ Churchill’s, Christchurch
Oct 5th @ Crowbar, Bris