Melbourne four-piece Four In The Morning have offered up their latest single Keep It Together, out via The Orchard. Filled with references to Nixon, Press Conference, and broken fire alarms, the song gives the sense of a slightly surreal and unhinged world, which is apt for 2021. As the band tells. it, Keep It Together started as not much more than a simple piano riff and some words. They then pushed it and twisted it and changed it until it broke repeatedly. It’s been everything from a boring indie banger to a slow piano ballad to an electronic glitch fest. But once the band landed on the song’s signature drum loop the whole thing clicked. Read on to find out more in our interview with the band
How has the build-up been leading up to the release of the EP?
It’s been two parts exciting, one part a total pain. We’d planned a whole heap of shows in the run up to the EP but have found ourselves back in lockdown, not even able to play music together. If you think about it too much it starts to hurt, so instead we’re focusing on the positives. The first single has been really well received, so we’re stoked to share the rest of the songs. The last few weeks we’ve been busy creating music videos for the tracks (I even ended up learning to animate in lockdown), and when we can practice it’s a hell of a lot of fun figuring out how we can best bring these songs to life on stage.
Was the process of making your EP as much of a challenge as you thought?
Yes and no. On the one hand literally everything that could have gone wrong in the making of this record did go wrong. We’d originally planned to record in July 2020, with the help of a Yarra City grant, but we had to keep pushing out the dates due to lockdowns. In the end, we didn’t get into the studio until the last week before Christmas, a few days before our grant money would have been taken back!
Over the course of the recordings, we’ve had one car break down, another nearly slide off the road, and we had a lockdown announced in the middle of a vocal session. What followed was a frantic few hours of vocal recording, a missed train, and a government funded taxi from Castlemaine to Melbourne – that got me home two hours after curfew. So yeah, ”yes and no” about sums it up..
The flip side though, is that the music itself has been a joy. Tweaking, and pushing, and changing the songs really did get us through last year. Our collaborative writing process was completely different in lockdown which landed us in places we may not have gotten to. When we could finally get into the studio, we pretty much played the songs the way they felt and captured the vibe of the live room. It was an amazing experience – so chill, so easy, and so much fun. It was like a year’s worth of creativity was allowed to run riot. A lot of that comes down to the skill of the producer we were working with, Jono Steer (Angie McMahon, Ainslie Wills, Leif Vollebekk, Julia Wallace). Jono is just such a calming presence who knows how to extract the very best from the musicians he works with.
Sonically, how would you describe your music?
We’ve had our music described as cinematic, which I like. I’m a writer first and foremost and try to write very visually. The band then build these beautiful soundscapes around the lyrics. Together, hopefully, it sucks you into the headspace of the songs. We try to use organic sounds that have been given a little bit of a dirty elbow to knock them off kilter. It’s atmospheric, melodic, dynamic and, if we’ve done our job right, a little unexpected.
Who would you consider to be the biggest influence on your music and why?
Part of what is so exciting about working together is that I think every member of the band would have a different answer to this. People hear a lot of The National in our music and it’s a comparison I adore. But it’s funny, Time Out of Mind era Dylan is probably a bigger influence for me and I’ve read that album influenced The National’s album Boxer quite a lot. We are also all big Radiohead fans, so I’m sure you can hear that creeping into our music.
Finally, Mick Flannery (an amazing singer songwriter from Ireland) has a huge influence on me. He creates these beautiful stories with fascinating melodic worlds around them that, as I said, is something we strive to do as well.
Best piece of advice you have been given?
I’d go with a lyric from a Josh Ritter song: “I’m singing for the love of it, have mercy on the man who sings to be adored.” It’s a great reminder to approach everything you’re doing for the sheer joy of it — if you’re doing it for any other reason, you’ve lost.
That or “don’t let your art become a wage slave”. It’s pretty much the same concept, just much more Noam Chomsky-esque.
How did the band get together?
I’d moved from Ireland to Melbourne and knew no one, so I just started playing open mics to meet people. It was a great way to make friends but I was always half on the lookout for band members. One night I was chatting to a friend of a friend about how hard it is to find drummers and he randomly put me in touch with Kiran. The two of us met up and jammed for a day, just acoustic guitar and drums. He’s a funk drummer and I’m an Irish folk nerd. It shouldn’t have worked but here we are. Now, he’s honestly one of my best mates.
Four in the Morning started with us and we had a plethora of different musicians come and go, but it wasn’t until Dan and Alex joined that things really clicked. They just fell out of the sky, gifted to us by the music gods (and Facebook musician groups). I couldn’t ask for better musicians or better friends. I guess we’re lucky like that.
Are you looking to tour more broadly?
Jesus Christ, yes! We’ve been cooped up inside so long we’re desperate to get out on stage in front of people. We did our first support tour with Ainslie Will and Leif Vollebekk in March 2020, two weeks before lockdown hit. We’ve been dying to get back on stage ever since.
The plan (though we’ve learned not to trust those) is to start off with a regional tour of Victoria once things are safer and restrictions ease. After that, we’re open for support slots, bar mitzvahs, christianings, Monday night open mics, or any gig we can get our hands on. Just get us in front of a crowd and we’ll do the rest.
What’s next for Four In The Morning?
Hopefully more recording and touring. I feel like we’ve really hit our stride and we’re just writing and writing and writing. If finances allow, we’d love to record an album soon. And we’re getting quite a bit of radio play in Ireland, so I’d love to tour back home once I’m finally allowed to get there.
Interview By Rob Lyon