Tristan Higginson – Waxflower ‘We Might Be Alright After All’
Brisbane pop punk outfit Waxflower have been growing from strength to strength since their inception in 2018. After a solid slew of singles that brought you back to nostalgic, Australian emo/pop punk of the 2000s, the band have unveiled their debut EP, We Might Be Alright (our review here).
The EP uncovers vocalist Tristan Higginson’s own personal struggles with mental health, which kinda just makes this stellar debut a little more relatable to any vulnerable listener. With the boys’ first label release under Rude Records, these Brisbane upstarts are only just getting started and have come a long way from being that band who “reminded us of Kisschasy”. I caught up with Tristan on the verge of their big release to find out how he’s doing now, how the band are finally coming into their own identity and sound and how it feels to be an Australian band in this exciting alternative music landscape right now.
Hey Tristan! The pop punk scene in Australia is pretty incredible right now. Would there be any bands that you guys would be keen on teeing up a gig with one day?
We’ve played with Eat Your Heart Out in the past, but we haven’t played with them since ‘Again’ came out. Obviously it would be amazing to tee up Caitlin to do her part live. Other than that, I would love to play some shows with Towns. I think they’re one of my favourite alternative Australian bands at the moment.
Pinkish Blu, Yours Truly and Stand Atlantic are all top tier bands that I would love to play with. I’m trying to think of any up and coming bands that I’m super into in Australia. I’ve been listening to a little bit of Those Who Dream. The scene is definitely in a really cool place at the moment. There seems to be lots of bands popping up and the bands that have been around a while are doing well, so it’s super reassuring.
Definitely. I feel like with the international border shut at the moment I feel like we’ve got it pretty good here regardless.
Yeah, we’re pretty lucky, especially compared to the US at the moment. Just in terms of how the countries are handling COVID. So the fact that shows actually starting to happen again is pretty wild.
Last time we caught up, it was just as you were releasing ‘Again’ and now your EP, We Might Be Alright is finally out! You guys have really come into your own sound on this EP. I’ve listened to it a lot already and I kind of love the concept behind ‘Fake Frown’. What’s that song all about?
Yeah, that’s an interesting one. It wasn’t originally going to be on this EP. We had another song written that we were almost certain was going to take its place called ‘Soak’. We ended up going down to Sydney in pre-pro and for whatever reason we turned away from ‘Soak’. I don’t think it fit the theme of the EP in general. We’ll probably revisit it in the future, but we were going through the demos of songs we had from 2018. I had ‘Fake Frown’ from 2018 and I had always loved that song in the back of my mind. It kind of popped back up and we approached some of the lyrics again.
In terms of the themes of the song, there was a point in my life that I talked about for a bit in terms of like struggle with anxiety and panic disorder. I think it was more so leaning into it, not so much giving up, but almost reveling in the downfall itself. It was an interesting kind of reflection on a period of my life and the intersection between having those feelings and then being overcome by them and kind of taking your hands off the wheel.
Lyrically, that song is probably up there in my favourite songs on the EP. I think that and then ‘Food For Your Garden’ are really two of my favourite songs that I’ve ever written lyrically.
Yeah, it’s a lot more punk rockier than the singles you’ve released. But also, I love how catchy ‘Food For Your Garden’ has been. I couldn’t help myself and had to put it on TikTok!
That’s so sick! I keep putting off making a TikTok. I just don’t have the time but I know I need to and I’m also very shy on camera so I don’t know exactly what I would do. I think the two songs that close out the EP are the more heavyish, straight down the middle, pop punk, alternative rock songs. So if people weren’t vibing the more pop singles, then I think they’ll probably find something in those two songs.
Definitely! I feel like after listening to the EP, the fans will probably think less of Kisschasy and more Waxflower!
I was thinking that as well, especially listening to back to ‘Cut Your Teeth’ and ‘Back To Back’. I think the way that I approach singing has changed and the way that we’ve approached songwriting has changed a little bit because we’re just doing it so much more. You start to find your own voice. It’s really interesting to look back on what we’ve done and how it compares to the new stuff. I’ve definitely noticed those similarities myself. But then again, I would love to be compared to Kisschasy every day. They’re one of my favourite bands so that’s super nice of you to say.
Aww, my pleasure! I also love how the overall topic of mental health is woven in throughout the EP through too. It’s definitely an important issue that we should all talk about as well. What was your songwriting process like, coming in with such positive, uplifting songs out of a heavy issue?
Usually my songwriting comes from a place of how I’m actually feeling in that moment. A lot of that earlier Waxflower stuff was me in the middle of being in the throws of anxiety and panic disorder and also going through a hectic breakup, and it was all kind of coming down around me.
Over the last two years, I’ve been clawing my way back from that and the last year and a half has been really really good for me, just in terms of my mental health and everything else happening in my life as well. So all I can really do is write about experiences that I’m having and any of that positivity is just rooted in whatever’s happening in my life, which is good. It means that things are going well.
But because I’m a fucking emo kid and I always have been and all my favourite bands are all sad, I worry that maybe I’ll lose the ability to write the songs that I would connect with for people to connect with. I think in terms of whether it’s happy or sad music, this EP is probably happier compared to previous Waxflower stuff, but it still has those heavier themes than radio pop for the most part.
Which is why the EP title We Might Be Alright fits so perfectly!
Yeah, we can’t be too certain. The next one will just be called Yeah, We’re Fine But.. We’ll leave it on a cliffhanger every time.
Kinda like Simple Plan with No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls and then Still Not Getting Any!
Yeah! I feel like the writing just gets a little bit sillier every time as well. Some of the lyrics in ‘Food For Your Garden’ and ‘Not Alone’ are a little bit tongue in cheek and that was something that I wouldn’t have done this time last year or two years ago. But that’s something that I’ve always really loved in songs. I’m a huge Ben Folds fan and Motion City Soundtrack and Say Anything and just some of those lines that fly off out of nowhere. That’s some of the stuff that I really resonate with, even in the music we’re demoing now. I think we’re leaning even more so into that because I can only write so many songs about being anxious. It’s still something that I deal with in my day to day life. I’m always trying to find a balance between what I’m writing about and trying not to be too indulgent in what I’ve been through.
So what’s next for Waxflower now? Is there a tour on the cards?
Ah, yes, there is a tour on the cards! It’s kept getting pushed back with everything, but it’s finally been announced. It’s so exciting! As of right now, we’re also just writing music and plan to head back into the studio soon so that should be really exciting as well. We’re basically going full steam ahead, just continuing what we’re doing and trying to make the most out of international borders being closed and things starting to open back up. I’m basically just hustling forward.
Amazing! I’m pretty keen to hear ‘Food For Your Garden’ live too! Thanks heaps for catching up with me Tristan!
Thanks so much for having me. It’s always really nice to chat with you!
Interview by Tamara May @citylightstam
Waxflower’s EP, We Might Be Alright is out now through Rude Records. Grab it here
Waxflower – We Might Be Alright EP tracklisting:
1. Again (featuring Caitlin Henry)
2. Fake Friends
3. Food For Your Garden
4. Not Alone
5. We Might Be Alright
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