With a new album on the horizon, I figured it was time to catch up with Sounds of Oz favourite Andrew Matters from William Street Strikers. Read on to learn more about the Adelaide rock band’s new music, courting controversy on social media, and Andrew’s scariest time on tour.
Your new single Wrong Way Home got an official release this month giving your fans a taste of the new album. What is it about this song that made you decide to release it as a single?
Our new single “Wrong Way Home” was chosen as a first single for two reasons. Firstly, because it is a straight forward surf rock song it came together really organically in the studio and just sat right straight away so it was easy to mix and produce and get past our discernment. The second reason was that it sounded good to us and we knew that our core group of listeners would like it so we felt comfortable that it would be liked and embraced by those who are already into the band.
How indicative is “Wrong Way Home” of the rest of the music on the album?
The song is probably not that indicative of the rest of the music on this album. We have gone back to what we do best and that is being diverse. With this new album, it is a real hodgepodge, probably more than Keep Left is. It’s time for us to do reach out again and after seven years we really took our time with this one and just went with whatever direction came up at the time of writing with no stylistic limitations.
How has the process of putting the album together this time treated you ?
The process has been a lot of fun but also quite testing at times as we’ve had to spend a lot of time in the studio which doesn’t have the same spontaneity as jamming or playing, nor is it the same process of how we usually record which is more urgent to try and capture a more live feel. This has obviously caused frustrations and creative differences and tested each of our patience at times but we have been in this game collectively for some time so we know when to drop off and shut up and do what we have to do for the greater good, as opposed to throwing tantrums and letting things get in the way of progress.
Your website says the album is forthcoming. When can we expect it in stores?
We are aiming for February. We have to wait for the film clip to be finished so everything is synchronised.
It’s been a couple of years since To the Motel. How have you grown as a band since then?
Well I have started to play guitar live for one. We have started to use a plethora of different instrumentation which will be evident on the new album and we have begun to fuse a few different styles. I think we have grown and are very well oiled which is allowing us to reach out a bit. We are also comfortable with our position within the Australian music community so this is reflected in how we go about things as opposed to when we were scuffling around. We’re more relaxed.
You’ve been doing the occasional gig. When can we expect a national tour?
Yes, that is true. We have just been taking shows that have been offered to us and focusing mainly on this album. We did so many shows for years and where we are situated, there’s a limited audience so we decided to do a few less shows for a while so as not to over do it. After this album we have plans to do an East Coast tour and only think of of gigging for a while as we have quite a back catalogue of recorded material now that gets regular airplay, so we feel comfortable that this body of work combined with the new album should carry us for a while and we want to get out and play as much as possible for a while.
You guys have been around for quite a few years now. What’s your best touring story that’s fit to print?
OK, one night when we were gigging in Sydney. Instead of going to bed I decided to take a drive around the coast in a car I wasn’t very familiar with. I corralled my guitarist and we went along a dirt road on the coast and rolled it into a ditch. We rang the guys to come and get us in the van. They ran out of petrol en route. So we decided to hitch a lift. We got picked up by a complete sociopathic drunk freak in a powerful car. When we got in he hit the door lock, we were hostage and he proceeded to floor it and nearly fish tailed us into various trees. The other guys were trying to appease him with comments like “Don’t wipe us out man! It’s a great car for sure. Just let us out here.” I was paralysed with fear and couldn’t speak. He kept going from ten kms an hour to one hundred and eighty in bursts until he finally got bored and let us out. I think that’s the closest I’ve been to shuffling off this mortal coil.
I love reading your Facebook page because you’re not afraid to tell it like it is. What issues are firing you up at the moment?
Well I like to put up things for the sake of argument for sure. I found the TripleJ Hottest 100 Taylor Swift debate to be very interesting in light of its history and some of the songs that have managed to get a run in previous years that may not have been considered apt. I also find from following music journalists and blogs that there seems to be a lot of sheep. Not too many are willing to run with anything contrary to the pack which defies logic and the whole purpose of critiquing art. On the other hand you have one or two who’ll be deliberately contrarian and go against the tide which is just as ridiculous. So I’ll deliberately post things that highlight this where possible. They’re not a protected species and neither are musicians for that matter, and that’s how it should be.
We just celebrated Australia Day. What’s your perfect way to spend the holiday?
For me, I like to relax and just do something relatively unassuming. I enjoy it for what it is and love this country but I tend to appreciate it rather quietly in my own way as opposed to large gatherings with fireworks. I did eat a sausage sandwich and went to a thong throwing competition by default when I went for to get some food at the pub, so I guess that counts as being a participant.
Is there anything else on the horizon for the band that you can tell me about?
The only other thing that I’ve not mentioned is is that we will be doing a a couple of shows to film with some recruits for a one off. We’ll have piano, a rhythm guitarist, some extra percussion and some singers. It’s important for us to get a really good live document of our band at this time for posterity.
Image used with permission from Andrew Matters