Pepperhead

There’s always a story to Pepperhead’s lyrics, and it is usually not too abstract. The Sydney four-piece have always tended to write about real life – real people, real events, real experiences – and their latest EP, Words To The Wise, is no different. Constructed using burly melodic hooks, meaningful words and simple, robust arrangements, Words To The Wise is a modern day Aus Rock classic, and a sheer testament to honesty in music. Kieron Haycock from the band answers some questions for Hi Fi Way.

How has the build-up been leading up to the release of the single Watch You Fall?
Watch You Fall is the second single from our new EP Words to the Wise. We released the first single Psycho Sideshow at the back end of 2019 and were waiting for the right time to release the rest of the EP. We managed to get a run of gigs scheduled for April including our first mini tour of Queensland so planned the release of Watch You Fall and Words to the Wise to coincide with that. Unfortunately, the current situation has put a hold on our live plans but the release machine kept on turning. We’re pleased and excited to get the EP out. We’ve had these tunes ready to go for a while.

Was the process of making the EP Words To The Wise as challenging as you thought?
This is our second EP so we had some experience to fall back on. We record at Housefox Studios in Sydney which is also where we rehearse and write all our music so it’s a comfortable space for us which helps. Ryan Miller who owns and runs Housefox produced, engineered and mixed Words to the Wise and also worked with us on our first EP. He knows our band well and was a massive help in pre-production making some great suggestions on refining the tracks and helping us make them better. The songs themselves have been around while and have been in our live set for some time so we were already comfortable playing them.

How is the band making the most of the lock down right now?
We are at our best when we collaborate so in that sense it doesn’t help. Our writing process is to get in the rehearsal studio and jam songs out together. Songs could start with guitar, bass or even drums and then Louisa puts the melody over the top. We’ve had songs come together in twenty minutes or weeks/months but it’s the four of us playing together that makes them work. Lockdown will prevent us doing that of course but does give plenty of time to work on ideas to take back to the band once we get through this.

Financially is it tough times as well?
We all have full time jobs in addition to the band and each of our respective jobs is feeling the current situation the same as the rest of the world. The band is something we’d love to do full time at some point but for now we need other ways to pay the bills. The independent music scene is tough for sure and we have utmost respect for those that can make it as full time musicians.

Sonically, how would describe your music?
This is always a tough one. Between us we have a very diverse range of influences and are also trying our best to create our own thing. Heavy music with female vocals can be a bit like that If you have to put a label on it. We would probably say alternative rock with a twist of punk.

Who would you consider to be the biggest influence on your music and why?
As I said it’s diverse. Louisa (vocals) loves Muse, Pixies and Ben Folds, Mark (drums) would say Radio Birdman, Celibate Rifles and the Stone Roses, for Dan (bass) it’s everything from Metallica, to Guns ‘n’ Roses, to Biffy Clyro and for me, Kieron (guitar), it’s Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age and the Foo Fighters. Foo Fighters is a common link between us all but if you trace the roots back further much of it leads back to punk which you can definitely hear in our sound.

Best piece of advice you have been given?
We haven’t had much to be honest. Ryan offers us plenty of advice in the studio and is a bit of a mentor when it comes to the music scene in general. We just try and be as real and authentic as possible.

How did the band get together?
Louisa and Kieron used to work together, bonded over music and began playing together. We demoed some original songs, roped in Dan who is a longtime friend and found Mark on Gumtree. It clicked straight away and the four of us have been playing together since 2015.

Are you looking to tour more broadly once the madness settles down?
We’d love to. Getting a break, getting gigs is tough. The Sydney music scene is challenging to say the least and we hope that the few music venues that were still putting on live original bands pre-the madness are still around after. We plan to reschedule our Queensland tour with The Goldhearts (an amazing band who have been a massive support to us) and would love to get down to Melbourne and out to Perth.

What’s next for Pepperhead?
We’ve got more new songs ready to go so would love to get back in the studio before the end of the year and we can’t wait to get back to playing live.

What’s something interesting that most people wouldn’t know about the band?
Our first ever gig was at a packed Annandale Hotel in Sydney, a stage which has seen the likes of Jet, The Vines, Baby Animals, You Am I, Hoodoo Gurus, The Black Keys. No pressure! We were in good company and like to think we gave it as good as any of them.

Interview By Rob Lyon

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