'Love isn't a battlefield, it is a David Lynch circus … I can't remember why I was saying it, I was thinking about what people say about love, one of them being that 'love is a battlefield' and I thought, not really. It is a little bit Mulholland Drive, in a battlefield you tend to know your enemy!'
Frontman for band Humans as Animals, Nicholas Mitchell is energetically regaling his backstory behind the outfits new single Her Name. With the debut album launch of Eukaria on Friday August 1st, the band are set to unleash their sound to Melbourne audiences on Thursday 14th August at The Evelyn Hotel. If the video for Her Name is anything like the band's live performances (which I'm led to believe they are), punters are in for a theatrical ride. The clip showcases the band's musical and 'acting' talents, it's a hilarious parody of dating, relationships and navigating the world of love.
Mitchell reveals it was the most personal song, of which he wrote in about an hour, based on an idea similar to iconic movie High Fidelity, 'if you are doing top 10's of everything, I kind of took that and was like, this is my top four. This dating stuff is what everyone is engaged in, (bar a small part of the population that somehow managed to get it right…) nobody has any idea what to do or how to function. It starts off when you are young and you have absolutely no idea, it gets slightly easier, then it gets slightly more confusing. If you do end up in a relationship where it works, you have no idea why!'
The band are really happy with the music video, being the first they've ever done. As they function without a manager, the five members are extremely hands on, with Nicholas helping to produce it. 'It's an awesome experience just to get your head around what needs to be done. Just like doing an album, all this stuff (pre-production) is prep work and then on the day, all you are doing is sitting down and you do it over and over and over.'
Humans as Animals
Life being like a broken record has also been a source of inspiration for the band, with bass player Fab Giacomelli writing Staring at the Ground based on his work as a concreter. Yes, all band members work in separate jobs while injecting a whole stack of time and momentum into their music (Mitchell is a manager at the much-loved stomping ground of Cookie). 'It is an improvised track that really explains a very humdrum and repetitive job. He has been brought up in the suburbs where is a lot of repetition and if you are not into that, it is super detrimental for your wellbeing. He has a disliking for that lifestyle, because he has been doing it for so long.'
Mitchell explains there is a certain eerie, uncomfortable kind of sound the band is drawn to in this track, an unsettledness, 'like something is creeping under the carpet, we play it with that sort of intensity. It creates this mood which complements the theatrical side of us, it's got this slinky bass and creeping in between shadows, it slowly gets going and then the ending has a nice contour to it that reminds me of snakes and macabreness.'
The debut album Eukaria has seen a similar trajectory, after incubating for the last two years the band are excited and grateful to be releasing it to fans and the massive support crew who've collaborated in bringing this to life. 'In rehearsals Hugh (guitar) had an epiphany, he said "after two more Sundays the launch is two years worth of doing this stuff!" When asked why the process has spanned close to twenty four months, he laughs and explains, 'we do spend a lot of time getting the music right, we'll sit on songs for awhile and then just drop them - like last night we just dropped another song because it wasn't sitting in with this set we wanted to do. The song was a little bit more high energy, intense and this set is more laid back. You can't be too precious.'
Changes in the line up of the drummer, also contributed to the long timeframe. Now onto their third one in a year and a half, Mitchell explains you end up spending a lot of time reading people. Learning that each member is a different player, a different person. The EP was originally recorded last year, with the former drummer needing to leave due to his career as a robotics engineer. The new drummer Chris Uson has been with the band for three months, "with each person you are dealing with another human being, who has his own back story, his own needs. He's from the Philippines and he's had a whole life we've known nothing about. At first I thought I might've been coming on too strong, as a drummer it is high pressure to come into a band with a singer who is a drummer as well. We learnt pretty quickly anything that is to be said about drums might be better not coming from me.'
Mitchell confides he understand this well, the feeling like there is 'some leering dude over me.' He explains band dynamics present an interesting interplay, 'you learn to get what you want, while trying to get along personally. The real difficult part and the part that really matters is getting to know the person on a personal level. Then they are going to get you, get the music and want to be part of it.'
This is a pivotal point for Humans as Animals with each member contributing to the band's songwriting process, 'you only have so much time to say something and it is so important, it really has to flow and then you really have to match the intention of your song behind the words, the sound of the music that is coming at you, suggest instrumentation, anger, sadness, greyness... it really is a shitload of fun!' It is this spirited enthusiasm that comes out loud and clear in the bands live shows, with the band name Humans as Animals and quirky album title Eukaria lifted as a term from engineering\biology, 'I am sorry if I screw this up but I am going to give it a go - it is a cell, a combination of a bunch of different elements, a whole bunch of things to make one thing. As all the songs are written together and individually - the metaphor works really well.'
The band itself has been a real labour of love from many talented people, and Mitchell explains they are hoping to collaborate with more artists. Now with backing from Australian record label True Music, the bands ideas will be getting some much needed air time. 'True Music is helping us get involved with other artists like Dark Squid (Canadian based shadow puppet company), we just haven't had that before.'
For Mitchell, who originally hails from Namibia, he is keen to forge a stronger sense of community in the music and arts industries and is also working with fellow Namibian and Melbourne based hip hop artist One Sixth to do this, through a series of side projects involving a creation called 'Bilack' and their 'Monstermentary', 'it's that whole idea of a manifestation of everything negative being portrayed as Bilack. It's nothing to do with the stuff we write, they are stand alone songs. Each of us has to write twenty minutes of music on this concept, it is garage style, more in-house personal expressions.'
With Mitchell's infectious passion for pushing the Melbourne music scene forward he sees local venues as being key to creating that movement, by developing the relationship between punters and artists alike, 'if you are going to get lazy playing it is not going to happen, there are a couple of great venues that are really supporting up and coming bands - they should be really nurtured.'
If there's one thing audiences can be assured of is that the band do put 100% behind their performance as well, Mitchell laughs and explains' 'Shelley will probably yell at me for saying this (amazing Melburnian singer Shelly Segal the driving force behind True Music), but I don't like this thing when people break the performance to say we have cd's for sale, I like to keep the audience enthralled from beginning to end, we are definitely theatrical.' For the upcoming gigs, stage actor Michael Wahr (Warhorse) will be the MC, 'and do all the talking from the beginning to end. He's even done Shakespeare! When it comes to this theatrical element I am super committed.'