It’s been a while between drinks for Perth lads Eskimo Joe, but the boys are back and better than ever with their latest record.
‘Wastelands’ sees the trio venture into bold new directions with producer Burke Reid, swapping the raw croons of ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’ for a lively electro-synth-driven sound that’s sure to get the crowd moving.
Following a string of intimate venues on the Winter Warmer tour earlier this year, the band are set to headline the Gorgeous Festival, alongside the likes of The John Butler Trio, Lanie Lane and Blue King Brown.
Before the boys set off on the iconic November festival, we caught up with guitarist Joel Quartermain to talk about their new album.
Wastelands is definitely an inspired new sound for Eskimo Joe, what made you want to switch things up on this record?
I think we’ve always been a band that’s kicked back against what we’ve done on the record before. This is probably the hardest we’ve kicked back since the last record, but we just felt it was time to do something a bit different, take a few more artistic risks and venture into territories that we haven’t been before. It just seemed like the right time to do that.
What can listeners expect from Wastelands, compared to your earlier albums?
I’d say the songwriting is still classic Eskimo Joe, but the way it’s been dressed up is a bit different. What we’ve always tried to do, and what we pride ourselves on, is writing good tunes. We spend a lot of time getting to the point where you can sit at the piano, really dress it all down, and have it still hold up. So you can expect something different, but at the core I think it’s still Esky.
There’s a really decisive vintage-electro feel to it, what kind of influences inspired the change?
We were listening to a bunch of different stuff, but definitely groups like LCD Soundsystem. They really know how to morph machines and musicians – you’ve got drum machines and all kinds of stuff going on, but there’s also a band playing along to it. We didn’t program anything on the record, it was all played live, but we were playing around with a lot of different instruments like them.
Do you think making albums has gotten easier over the years, or is there a constant pressure to change things up or to top your last record?
Yeah, I mean, it got a bit too easy to make a classic Eskimo Joe rock record, and that’s why we decided not to do it this time. It was starting to sound like we were in cruise control. So for this record we wanted to shake it up and sound a bit more naive or dangerous, or something like that. It certainly wasn’t an easy record to make, it was a lot of hard work, but at the same time, it was a really creative period for us.
Why did you decide to crowd-fund the album?
It was the first independent record that we’ve done, and albums are expensive to make! It just seemed like a good way to fund the record, and we’re lucky enough that our fans got on board. We think of it as the ultimate preorder – you know, when you preorder your record and show up on the day to pick it up, even though you’ve never heard it before. It’s very humbling that our fans would buy a record that we hadn’t even written yet, so we’re very lucky.
And how has the audience response been so far?
Yeah, really good! I mean, we haven’t played any shows since the albums been out, but we’ve been throwing in three or four songs into the shows that we’ve done leading up to this point, and the response has been great. The new stuff is heaps easier to move to, it’s not as rigid, it’s got a bit more groove, so we’re just finding the girls are busting out dance moves, and so are we! So it’s good fun!
You’re going to be headlining the Gorgeous Festival this November, what else is on the agenda?
Yeah, we’re really excited for it all! We’re doing a tour of Australia over October/November, and then we’ll be playing at the Gorgeous Festival, so we’re keeping really busy! We’ll be in a town near you soon I’m sure!