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Perth Band 'The Siren Tower' on National Tour for single 'King River'

Home > Melbourne > Concerts | Music | Music Venues | Nightlife
by Leona (Devaz) Fensome (subscribe)
Savour | Capture | Write
Published November 2nd 2013
There's something in the water in Perth. They say it's been like that for years. People are getting affected and it's creating something big - a music scene that is alive, well and totally kicking.

Right in the middle of their national tour, Perth four-piece folk outfit 'The Siren Tower' are bringing their style of music to fans far and wide. It's a long cry from the heavy rock days of leader singer Grant McCullough's former band 'Heavy Weight Champ', and drummer Brody Simpson's 'Antistatic', but the boys are doing well promoting their new single 'King River' and album 'A History of Houses'.

One of those 'classic formula bands', guitarist Mark McEwan tells me the band still believe in albums. They focus their attention on getting the single out with the album, as opposed to bands that release a single and go to town on the online stuff. "We lean more towards the classic way of doing things".

When asked to describe their music Mark laughs, "It's always a tough question when we're asked what we sound like. We are big believers in letting people think what they want. That's something we strive hard to portray, not being specific with any type of pigeon holes. I guess we are a band that likes to tell stories and we won't compromise in how we do that".

All members of the band have played in numerous other bands. "It was a bit of a strange meeting of the minds with us. We've all played in heavier genres before we came to this band, but we found this new way and new focus kind of exciting - this came out very early on. We drew on the past experience from being in more high energy, heavier bands".

"We do think of ourselves as a folk band, as it's based in narrative. We'll be the first to say we're the most 'un-folk'band. We never stand around quietly. In saying that, I am not going to downplay there are a lot of gentle moments on the record".

"Grant and Brody came out of two bands in Perth that were quite well known, both of those bands finished up around the same time and they had quite a close friendship. They started hanging out as friends, who now didn't have a project to focus on. That's basically how the band started. Those two throwing around ideas for something that was completely out of their comfort zone".

When Grant and Brody started writing songs and really enjoying the process, they enlisted two members from other Perth bands . When Grant wanted to expand the band into a five-piece, he called on Mark. This seems to be a relatively common practice in Perth. "I think it's natural to think of the people you know who are friends. We are lucky enough to have friends who are pretty decent musicians and good people. That's always been an asset. We've all been around in the music industry for a little bit and don't compromise in the way we present the art."

Mark is surprised at how the Perth scene has been somewhat overlooked, "in the last 10 years there have been many a documentary about Perth and why is it producing these notable acts. It's a pretty amazing place to be in. We're sort of lucky to have a lot of peers in this scene who are doing amazing things. Not only nationally, but internationally - a lot of friends we were kicking around with six to seven years ago are now prolific international bands"

With November 9th being the Perth home coming show, Mark reflects there is one bad thing: the timing. "When you book shows you are booking them six months in advance quite often. That particular night is the conclusion of the WAAMI festival. Obviously we didn't know that when we booked this show. The reality is practically every other venue will be free entry in Perth as part this."

The rest of the tour has been somewhat smooth sailing. They've been well received on the Eastern board, with the groups Facebook fan page a flurry of activity. Mark tells me the comical relief is credit to lead singer Grant. "He'll love to hear you say that he is really funny. This is one thing we struggle with. Even though we project a sombre tone (in songs) it doesn't mean we are the most depressing people on the planet, sitting in corners and writing poetry. We are a bunch of morons in a sense and we like a good time".

The band's hands-on approach does not only extend to their social media management, but also to their incredibly evocative video clips. "Grant comes from a film and TV background, which has been a huge asset to the visual side of the band, so I guess he takes the forefront when we go to do a new clip".

Some the band's film clips are directed by Melbourne's Tim Brade another good friend who goes back a while. Mark explains the band shoot their own videos for cost cutting and because they need to have full control.

"We have a necessity of doing things in a 'guerilla fashion!' Brody and myself own a recording studio in Perth, our current bass player is a visual artist and a graphic designer, so he does a lot of the print stuff. And we do have a lot of friends. We do the marketing ourselves and we're very much self-driven and self-managed at all levels. We've been around long enough to know how to do things and how to make them happen."

The band know that the industry is about knowing the right people. "It's a very strange balancing game to know when to keep plugging away yourself or when to go external. There's absolutely no denying the music industry is in a very different way than it was 15-20 years ago. Just in terms of how it is run (production, marketing) it's controlled by major labels."

"We're still fed our media content from international markets, especially the States. If you're listening to the radio (even an independent) it's still majority international content. I think it's an idea of having to be told what's worthy of checking out."

The boys love Melbourne for this very reason. "It's one of our favourite places to play. It does undeniably have one of the most thriving music scenes in Australia at the moment I believe. That is down to the average person's mentality towards the art".

"For whatever reason, and I still don't understand it, people include that as part of their everyday life. They just go out to a venue and see a band with absolutely no agenda, or idea of what is going to be on. That is sadly becoming rarer and rarer."

Mark believes in being heartfelt when producing music, and staying true to who you are. The band are tight knit on this approach. " We do believe in being very truthful in what we face in the industry. There's been a lot of open letters being written by very large American bands just basically saying: 'I may portray this act that I am very successful, but I'm still not making any money, I'm still struggling. We believe in being honest with the fans and saying we're here because we want to be here".

You can catch the band at their last show for this tour in Perth on November 9th.

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Why? For great folk music.
Where: National tour finishes in Perth on 9th November.
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