Brisbane’s rowdiest upcoming punk outfit Semantics have today announced the next phase of their blossoming music career with a legendary signing to iconic US punk label, SideOneDummy Records. The label is home to launching bands like Title Fight, PUP and fellow Brisbane rockers Violent Soho, so Semantics are in excellent company here, joining a long line of heavyhitters. To celebrate this new partnership, the band have unleashed their new single, ‘Sleep At Night’.
This latest track sees Semantics hone in on the upbeat sonics of what has seen their local following grow exponentially since they hit the ground running at BIGSOUND 2019. ‘Sleep At Night’ acts as a cathartic release for vocalist Callum Robinson, challenging his own self-sabotaging ways while also evolving Semantics‘ style to sound tighter and more nuanced than previously. The song’s catchier, rockier yet still emotional as heck, and I definitely see why SideOneDummy has signed them on!
Thomas Dreux & Phil Bender-Simon from the iconic LA label share their excitement about their brand new addition:
“We’re thrilled to be working with Semantics. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with the music when we came across it earlier this year. They are a super talented group, with amazing songwriting that absolutely blew us away! We’re excited to release ‘Sleep at Night’ and announce the signing, and we are all looking forward to what’s coming next!”
We caught up with Callum and bassist Maddy Tunstall to tell us more about their dreams coming true and what lies ahead for the band for the rest of the year…
So how are we guys doing? Congrats on your brand new single, ‘Sleep at Night’. Tell us a bit about it?
Callum: ‘Sleep At Night’ is us beginning to go into a new kind of wave of songwriting, while holding on to a lot of things that we’ve done in the past and things that are still familiar with an audience that knows us, but a few new features kind of added in.
I feel with the new single you definitely held onto what fans love about your previous music. It’s upbeat and it’s energetic, but it’s also a little more fine tuned and catchier as well. Who are your biggest influences musically?
Callum: The number one band for us always tends to be PUP. They’re the biggest influence in the way of catchy hooks, high energy, creative lyrics and creative music. A lot of it is very tongue in cheek, but then it’s kind of all serious at the same time, so they tend to be the number one driving force and influence. Also them as people as well are just super inspirational. They’re hard workers and they’re just super creative, so they motivate all of us a lot.
It must be even more exciting that you’re now on the same label that launched Pup. How does that feel?
Callum: It’s absolutely insane to think SideOneDummy were the label that put out most of the debut records that kind of sit closest to all of our hearts. You’ve got Pup, Jeff Rosenstock, Title Fight, Microwave and Soho’s Hungry Ghost was released through SideOneDummy. It’s insane to imagine we’re on the same label that put out all those albums.
It’s super exciting for you guys and sounds like an absolute gamechanger. Given they’re a label in LA and obviously with Covid and international borders at the moment, are you guys going to record the album here or are you hoping to head over there?
Maddy: We would love to head over there but, yeah.
Callum: We built a studio here in Brisbane, so we can record the album ourselves and then send it over to an engineer in LA to do the mix and master.
What can we expect from the upcoming album being your first full-length?
Maddy: It will be very much our own unique sound. A lot of different influences from punk to even some country to even some hardcore in some aspects, but a lot more refined. I’m going to say it’ll be a lot more well-written than what we’ve done in the past. But it definitely feels very much us, but like we’ve grown up a little bit. I’m really excited for everyone to hear what we got planned.
Do you have a producer locked in yet or anyone in mind that you’re looking to work with?
Callum: It’s me. We’re self producing our album. A big part of the reason that we’re building our own studio is so that studio time’s pretty expensive and we want to go fairly hi-fi. We can have the gear set up, have it ready to record and do real takes through proper equipment, but also have the time to try different things out and we’re not on an engineer’s clock, who’s 80 bucks an hour kind of thing for us to noodle around and try something different. So yeah, we’re self producing.
With SideOneDummy being who they are and with the reputation they have, they’re super hands off creatively. Basically if they like you, then they like you and they want you to make your music and they don’t really have anything to say about it there and chime in and say, “Oh we want a hit. We want…” I don’t know what the bigger labels do, but they don’t do that. They just say, “Fire away. We like your band. This is your music. So go ahead and make it. Send us the masters when you’ve done and we’ll share it with the world.”
That’s why we all think so highly of them because it’s so obvious in the diverse kind of roster of artists they’ve had and all the completely different sounds and really crazy and weird songs, and it’s not all just hits and singles. Most of it is album music and we’re all album people. We listen to albums front to back. They’re a label that really embrace that as well, so we’re really excited to be a part of that.
To celebrate ‘Sleep At Night’, you’re heading out on tour with another upcoming Brisbane band, Bad Neighbour. I gotta say, the Brisbane music scene is really coming up on top at the moment. What are your thoughts on the local scene?
Maddy: I’m really excited to see what’s coming out of Brisbane at the moment. We’ve always had a really good, strong music scene here, which I’m super thankful for. Especially since Covid, a lot of people had that extra time in their houses to write music, get together, that kind of thing. Seeing bands like Bad Neighbour come through, it’s really, really cool. It’s really encouraging to see the amount of talent that’s coming out of the city.
Callum: Or it’s intimidating sometimes because all these little bands like us and everyone’s so talented and everyone deserves the world, honestly. Everyone in Brisbane, everyone’s such a hard worker. Everyone’s so creative. Everyone’s so friendly. We have such a healthy community here in Brisbane. Everyone gets along, from the small bands all the way up to the top. Everyone’s friendly. From bands like us, Bad Neighbour, Hot Reno, Buzzing Towers, all these kinds of bands. All the way up the line with Beddy Rays, Bugs, and Violent Soho. Yeah, they’re all mates. They all come out to gigs and we all hang out together and there are no rockstars in Brisbane. It’s great.
I feel like everyone’s a little more on an equal playing field in this city…
Callum: There’s just total mutual respect and kindness. We’re all musicians, we’re all poor and we all just want to play gigs together and hang out and make friends. So it’s brilliant that everyone is so forthcoming in Brisbane about it. And there’s no cliques. It’s all just a creative, supportive community. It’s amazing.
Yeah, it is. I definitely back that. I love seeing all the bands support one another as well. So as a fun and final question, what helps you sleep at night?
Maddy: I won’t say what actually helps me sleep at night, but aside from the drugs and alcohol aspect of it, I actually enjoy meditating a lot. I struggled with insomnia for many, many years of my life and I got into meditation and I really enjoy that. Other than that, reading a good book, watching some good anime before bed and a cup of tea. Those all help me sleep at night.
Callum: I really like the Calm app and you put on the Jasper Lake track and it’s got little birds chirping and rivers running. Yeah. Obviously with the song, it’s not the first time I’ve written about my slightly problematic drinking habits and coping mechanisms just to kind of switch off. But songs like this are meant to be like a bit of catharsis and try to realise that and get real with it and kind of confess it and then hopefully try to deal with it. I also watch a lot of anime before bed. I play a lot of Minecraft with the boys. That probably keeps me up at night, actually.
Maddy: Yeah, that doesn’t help you sleep.
Callum: That does feel like a 3:00 AM lyric right there. But, no, the Calm app is brilliant. When the dogs aren’t barking, that helps. Things like that.
I love me a good meditation too! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to chat with me about everything coming up in the world of Semantics. All the best and hopefully we’ll see you at the show!
Interview by Tamara May @citylightstam
Stay tuned because Semantics’ forthcoming full-length album is coming out sometime in 2022 on SideOneDummy Records!
Stream ‘Sleep At Night’ here