At the time of the interview, lead singer Jon O'Neill was, "currently organising support for the tour, it's looking pretty good." A self-confessed fan of the "acoustic, very intimate gigs," he recalls playing with Dylan Wright at Brighton Up Bar (Sydney) "late last year. We released 'Heavy Hearted Girl' off the Julia EP and that particular tour, in my eyes, made us a better band."
Being on stage has become a staple for the sextet, with an appearance on The Musician Speaks (TSM) in November last year. The show, filmed live and hosted by jazz singer and pianist Jade Leonard, allowed the audience to be a part of the process from start to finish – including bloopers and multiple takes. He says this is indicative of the production side of music. "There is a whole lot of stuff that goes on like Jade (TSM), just to get that shot was a whole day's work. A three-minute video clip could be a month or two in planning, it is a lot of work."
For the frontman, shying away from hard work is not his ethic. "I love what I do and I wouldn't to it otherwise." Two defining moments have really helped shape and define their sound. The first being the band's Pozible campaign, "we started with an ambitious $10K" which he confides they thought, "wouldn't have gotten anything. We put it up on social media to promote it and we did a few acoustic gigs at Oscar Mike in Hawthorn." It turned out other people loved what they did too, with the band reaching a fully funded$11K. "The first time, in my head, I was like – this is just an acoustic show. It was a big turning point, also a powerful turning point for Gabe (guitar, keyboard). We got $11K of people of that invested in us, we had people that also believe in what we do."
Reflecting on the experience, he remembers it being "a ball of positivity. It was phenomenal and we were taken aback. We'd worked so hard at doing something we love doing. It was an amazing experience."
With solid direction, the band became "more comfortable with each other." Letting them go, harnessed the creative energy and raw talent. "With the instrumentation, I knew Gabe wasn't going to do something silly over the top of it, there was a deep trust and Wayne Connolly really nurtured that – no matter how silly or fun the idea was."
Allowing Connolly to embed himself into their world enabled the band's metamorphosis, a deeply profound and visceral stamp, which is clearly evident in their evocative music. "He is a beautiful person, he feels a lot like a part of the band, he knew exactly how to get the best out of everyone. I never heard Jamie drum like he did." For O'Neill the memory is lasting, "I can't speak highly enough of him, it shows in the amount of ARIA's he has."
While their harmonies and melody set perfectly, O'Neill is adamant each member still brings something very different to the table. "Everybody says, 'you have got six people, it must be hard to organise everyone!'" He laughs and adds it's really quite contrary to this. "Jeremy is really good with numbers, so I don't have to worry about it. Jaime is very switched on in the music scene – everyone has a forte. It is awesome." When asked what his forte is, the incredibly amiable and insightful singer goes quiet. He pauses after a long moment and offers, "that is a really good question."
After much deliberation he surmises, "I am really good at giving those Braveheart speeches!" I cajole him and suggest he becomes a speechwriter, perhaps complete with jingles playing in the background each time he speaks. "Haha! Maybe if I get some royalties, I could put a theme song behind it." Jesting aside, he confirms his strength is "seeing the best in people as well. I think that sums it up." It really does, his humility is reflected in not only his answer but in the songwriting and emotion packed in the band's lyrics.
Being the bands "dreamer" prevents him from "getting bogged down in the small stuff, "you would never see where you need to go otherwise."
The live tours allow for his second forte to come to life, which means he's not overly focused on the band's social media and day-to-day admin. Instead preferring to get out and met fans, "people need to put a face to a name. At the end of day everybody is human. I think I am pretty good at talking to people … not saying that I am a talker! I just like to cut out all the bullshit and be somebody that is genuine and earnest. As an artist we are putting all our emotions and everything out for everybody to see, it feels good when something resonates."
FOREST FALLS TOUR DATES
Wed 6 May | Workers Club | Melbourne
Sun 10 May | Workers Club | Geelong | w/ Revolution
Wed 13 May | Workers Club | Melbourne
Thurs 14 May | Bondi Bowling Club | Bondi | w/ Jenny Broke the Window
Sat 16 May | Gaelic Club | Sydney | w/ Bears with Guns