Perth’s new supergroup, Onslow, is gathering fans like crazy off their debut self-titled EP (our review here). With Sean Harmanis of Make Them Suffer and Scott Kay of Voyager joining forces to create some nostalgic alt rock tunes, the result is something extremely catchy and showcases some new aspects of the musicians that, in our books, are nuggets of gold.
So, of course, we had to give them a call to find out more about how Onslow ended up being Onslow. The full audio is below but here are some snippets of the interview. On getting together, Scott explained that Sean randomly messaged him on Facebook and said he had some demos that he’d been trialing with a few different Perth musos and wanted to see if it would work with him. “I had a listen to the stuff and it was sick. I felt like it was a style of music that I’d always appreciated in my younger years, but hadn’t had an excuse to come back to and write music for. And I heard a ton of awesome potential in all the ideas and it just needed some fleshing out and some guitarifying, really.”
“Pretty much I just needed someone to tell me how terrible, if they were terrible, my ideas were and to improve them essentially,” Sean added.
“It was nice to have these blueprint ideas of songs and a certain vibe or mood that we’re going for, and being able to interject and put my ideas on top of that rather than having that intense obligation to come up with the catalysing idea,” Scott explained, “So that was really liberating for me if anything because it took the pressure off.”
The one question that all friends have asked each other: if we had a band what would we call it? So why not put it to a fresh band who definitely went through this process. “It was actually kind of good,” Scott said, “Because Sean would just be like ‘Hey what do you think of these random names?’ It’s funny because so much of is phonetic and you just listen to it and think, does that sound like what the music sounds like?”
“I personally liked the name because the others were more genre restrictive, whereas onslow could be anything if we wanted to come out with a completely different future release,” Sean explained. And if you want to hear what other names they were tossing up between, you’ll have to listen to the full interview. It’s worth it, I promise.
But we also spoke about how it felt for them to release music from a project that is not as established as their other bands. Coming from such well-known Australian bands, how do you go handling a new project?
“For me it was definitely more nerve-wracking and scary because I’m showcasing a new side of my voice with singing,” Sean said, “And there are gatekeepers in metal and I think I was anticipating the worst and that all the Make Them Suffer fans were going to tear the project to shreds. Overall, I was pretty stoked with the response of it and how people did receive it.”
Scott adds, “Really, on the whole it’s been super positively and you kind of get a boost with us already being in established bands and it’s cool to see some of the fans or majority of the fans come on board and think it’s sick too. I’ve had a whole bunch of friends who aren’t really big on heavy music and so they don’t necessarily come to my shows but have always been supportive of me, and are now sending me messages saying these new tracks are sick. So, it’s nice to see people who have known you jumping on board and becoming new fans as well.”
And I’m sure you’ve all noticed how good Sean’s vocals are. So where has he been hiding them?
“It’s just that Make Them Suffer has always been Booka, and previously Louisa, doing the cleans and me doing the screams,” Sean explains, “But I’ve always written most of the choruses for MTS and sometimes I’d demo track the choruses and then Booka or Louisa would come in and sing, and I’d kind of gotten used to my version of the demo so was like I kind of like it better with my voice.
But I started to really enjoy that and enjoying demoing and writing clean vocals more than screaming vocals because there’s more you can do. You’re not only thinking about it rhythmically, but the melody and I started getting really into analysing and thinking about what makes really catchy vocals. And I think the rock genre really facilitates that where a song can be based around the vocals rather than the vocals based around the guitar.
It’s just been something I’ve been wanting to try for ages and have chipped away at over the course of a couple of years with a 30 second demo here and there, and then it just turned into this thing and here we are.”
Scott also admitted he was blown away with Sean’s vocals and goes on to explain, “One thing that’s really nice about playing with other musos that you respect is that mutual respect as well. Like I love coming in and being blown away with other people in my band’s work, I think that’s awesome! And I really was blown away with the ideas that Sean was coming up with. And it was kind of cool as well because he’d be like ‘Oh, do you wanna jump in there and do a bit?’ It was this casual thing where I was like ‘Oh sure why not, I haven’t done any backing vocals on a record for like 15 years.’ So, some of the backing vocals on there is myself, and one ‘woo!’”.
For the full interview, listen below. We spoke more of touring possibilities, future Onslow music, Glitter Fish (?), Voyager’s keytar, and do we have any Magic: The Gathering fans out there? Well, we ended up talking about that too. Give it a listen. Expect banter.
Interview by Ebony Story
Stream Onslow‘s self-titled EP here
Onslow – Onslow EP tracklisting
1. Saving Face
2. Let Me Rust
5. Freddie Mercury