The Attics latest Single is Instant Feed, that takes a look at social media and the need to feed it. Cameron Wade from the band called in for a chat and is our feature guest this episode.
Their music been described as “Jangly guitars, ear worming bass hooks and percussive layers (that) melt into a heady blend of dream-pop and soaring psych-rock“. Cameron is also a Director of a boutique annual Festival, that we also discussed…
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(Transcript of The Attics’ Cameron Wade chat below, check to delivery in audio)
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SHOW NOTES: The Attics episode
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In The Box:
- Thinking About You – Press Club (Official Music Video)
- Superstar – Pinkish Blu (Official Music Video)
- Party On The Couch – Jasmine Rae feat. Rachael Fahim & Missy Lancaster (Official Music Video)
- Monument City Lights, 1973 – Kate Ceberano, Steve Kilbey and Sean Sennett (Bandcamp)
- Counterfiet – Talya Mae (Official Lyric Video)
Feature Guest: The Attics’ Cameron Wade
- Official Bandcamp
- Twitter – Facebook – Instagram – Soundcloud
- By The Meadow Festival (Official Site)
- Canary – Band (Official Site)
- Instant Feed – The Attics (Spotify)
Madison Cunnigham: Recommended on ‘socials’ by past guest Rachel Eckroth
- Who Are You Now – Madison Cunningham (Album)
- Pin It Down (Official Music Video)
- Tour Dates (Official Website)
Next Episode: Brewed By Belinda
More details on playpodcast here, thanks to Matt from them.
[Radio Production – notes: Instant Feed is The Attics related tune to spin]
Theme/Music: Martin Kennedy and All India Radio
Web-design/tech: Steve Davis
Voice: Tammy Weller
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For direct quotes check to audio, first version of transcript by Donald G at REV
John Murch: The Attics – The band’s name comes from a three-piece American group.
Cameron Wade: It was probably a series of things that all seemed to fit together very nicely. There’s a band from the U.S. called The Antlers that I was heavily obsessed with for several years. And there was two albums they had that were quite pivotal and quite formative for my taste in music from when I was leaving high school. And one of those records was called In the Attic of the Universe. And it just so happened that at the same time we did our band practice upstairs in my parent’s place, and it was just underneath the roof of their house. And where I wrote the songs in my bedroom sitting on the bed, the roof of the house just sort of sloped over my head as well. So all three things coming together and me as an 18 year old going, “Oh, this must be,” or whatever I was at the time. So that was a good name for the band.
John Murch: That was back in 2011 or so, so we’re talking eight or nine years ago.
Cameron Wade: This was the first band that I was ever in. So I think some of those early years, they don’t even probably reflect at all on what we do now, who we are now, what we think about, and what guides the way that we write now. But I think everyone that’s playing in bands and writing music has to have those experiences to get to where they want to be, or get an idea of what it is that they want a band to be for them.
John Murch: What ignited you to decide that music was something that was part of Cam’s life?
Cameron Wade: I found that jumping on the internet. After you’ve done your homework and everything else at night, I could just get lost and just go for hours just going down tangents of band after band after band. That’s probably where I really started to get into pop music, I guess.
John Murch: You have actually played IndieWeek.
Cameron Wade: I went over and traveled and did a tour by myself without the band in the US. One show across the border into Canada. A very different sort of setup. I write a lot of our music with programming software now, so I had to rely more heavily on that to play as part of the band, and then change the songs a little bit to suit that setup. But it went really well. Played a show in New York, a show in Detroit, a show at Toronto, which was packed.
John Murch: You mentioned that you played Detroit.
Cameron Wade: There’s a dive-bar called Old Miami, and I remember us emailing the guy and it was very weird email conversation, interested in having me there and it was just a matter of finding the right night. And then eventually he found a band that was a local act that draws quite a big crowd and has a good following there, and in a suitable vein. And I remember getting an email back maybe a month or so after I first contacted him and he eventually said, “Oh yeah, you can come and join this line up.” So I played in this dive-bar in Detroit with some soul electronic headliner. I don’t know why it really fits the guy booking the venue, but it was a fun night again, it was packed.
John Murch: As a musician, was there a sense of responsibility to give them, the audience, your all and maybe to warm them to your music?
Cameron Wade: I think maybe even more so. If you play here so often that a lot of the people who come to see shows, he would just get another opportunity to come. And you might get that second, third or fourth chance. We pay this. I like your callings. I’ll come back and watch it again and again. And then the other day I was never going to get that. But you also feel sort of responsible for the art. I mean maybe a lot of people in those small dive-bars are not going to go out and watch big touring Australian bands. So you kind of got a small responsibility to represent small scale or emerging Australian music well as well, I think.
John Murch: I note that you’re the festival director of By The Meadow Festival.
Cameron Wade: You’ve done some serious research. I don’t think there’s many places where we connect the band with the festival. We obviously had our chance to play it before because it’s our festival. But we don’t tend to talk too much about it. But it’s almost overwhelming now, that the festival’s taking up a lot of time. It’s sometimes taken priority over bands, the band kind of being half asleep, with the first part of this year, we’re dealing at the 2019 festival and that’s why our music’s coming out in the ladder half of the-
John Murch: It’s a fascinating idea, both the festival as well as a band that is focused on doing a festival.
Cameron Wade: It started out on a 21st birthday party and then the next year there was another 21st birthday party, and the year afterwards we didn’t have any 21sts, but kept it going as a festival. And thinking my mind growing up and going to festivals with my mother, there were things that you’d always go to them. And I I don’t know why, maybe other people have the same feeling. But I want to curate my own lineup. I want to pick the bands that come play these things. Once we sort of started that, the 21st in that direction, Oliver was life, “Well, I’m not letting go. I want to keep doing this.” And it’s sort of grown to what it is now. I think people are pretty happy with it. We’ve got a really supportive crowd and a lot of return customers who have been five or six years in a row now. So I think we’ve built a really nice, what I like to call a temporary community for the —.
John Murch: Who have you had on board and who are you looking forward to in the future to have on board?
Cameron Wade: Last year we had Lucy Dacus in the US, which was amazing, all the way through to local acts with cult followings like Vasco Era, which were maybe half the people at the festival probably weren’t even in high school when they were really doing their thing. But they were received really well. That was just true from last year as well, that’s particularly exciting.
John Murch: Outside of your own festival, what’s been one of your favorite festivals you’ve been to?
Cameron Wade: I went to Dark MOFO this year, which was eye opening and I’m definitely inspired. At a more local level, things like New Years Eve here and then Meredith and Golden Plains. Yeah, for us they’re definitely very much what I sort of aspire we ought to produce. Maybe not something so big, but something of the same sort of following or the same sort of appreciation from their crowd, that would be where I want to be.
John Murch: Speaking currently in the capacity of Festival Director of By The Meadows Festival, what’s some of the most challenging aspects as a Festival Director to get things off the ground?
Cameron Wade: I guess the biggest thing is the financial side of it. We’ve always sort of tried to steer the festival away from sponsorships and corporate money, and in favor of sort of I guess one example, all the alcohol that we sell through our bars is produced within about 20 minutes to the site. But that’s sort of denied us the opportunity to go out to someone like Coopers or Mountain Goat and ask for thousands of dollars to pour their beer at the festival. So financially we probably stick ourselves in a bit of a hard place there, but it’s something that we believe in and it just means that maybe we need to be a bit more careful when we come to taking risks with money elsewhere because we don’t have the amount of guaranteed money coming back in every year that other events might have.
John Murch: Keeping it local as well, you do invite one band that is from the local area. How successful has that been to engage local scene in that way?
Cameron Wade: Yeah, we only started that more recently and I think maybe it’s because now I spend a lot more time in Melbourne and probably could even be a little bit ignorant to what’s going on back home, and where I grew up. But there’s definitely stuff around and we sort of worked with the local music magazine to get that off the ground and communicate that we want to grab someone locally that’s doing cool stuff, and probably more aimed at a younger band to get them on a stage and share it with some other bigger acts and give them that experience. We had loads of interest, so last year was the first year we did that, and we’ll probably do it again next year.
John Murch: What I’m also hearing is there is still a huge connection for you back to the home area of Australia where you’re brought up. Can you talk to me about that?
Cameron Wade: Myself, my brother and Steven the bass player were born in Colac, which is over on the edge of highways in national park, their little rainforest, whatever you want to call it. The band probably started there just because we were all … Ben’s a little bit younger, but further, Steven and I were leaving high school was when we were thinking about starting this band, we were just half at that time. And we would always go back there to practice even though we’d be up in Melbourne or wherever we’d be. That’s where the band sort of started. For me, it’s still connected to Colac, and if we ever have shows where we want to go and ride a heap of new songs and really focus on that, then we’d probably go down there and lock ourselves in a room in my parent’s house and do that writing there sometimes. There’s definitely still a big connection to the home.
John Murch: The latest single is called Instant Feed. It is a critique look at-
Cameron Wade: In a way it’s probably meant to be poking fun at things more than anything else. And even at us as bands, sometimes I always have to preface this conversation because I’ve had this with a few people now. And I’m going to sound like a grumpy old man when I start talking about social media like this. I find it really annoying sometimes how heavily intertwined we’ve become with digital media and just how much time a young man has to spend now curating an Instagram for ego, keeping a Facebook profile up to date just to make sure the music is successful. It’s probably happening now, there’s probably music going by the way side because they don’t have an online presence, they don’t want to be pushy or put their face out in front of everyone, or show 24 hour feed of what’s going on at the bands band practice, or what’s going on at bands living room, or what’s going on when the bands having dinner.
Cameron Wade: It’s just sometimes a bit much for me as someone in a band whose responsible for running our social media channels. I just wonder why it has to be like that and why music is not being selected totally based on good music. There’s always other factors that are coming into it now. In the end I’m just having a bit of a laugh at that fact that always people are so wound up in making sure they broadcasting every 10 minutes of their life into their feeds.
John Murch: You said in an interview which dropped in the last 24 hours, that it is also a case that older generations as you were suggesting there, it’s a bit of an old person thing to say, found things shocking like the Charleston. So is it a case of just working through how to use this new medium of expression?
Cameron Wade: That was my grandma. She used to Say, There was all these old stories and one of them, have you ever seen the Charleston boy? Have you seen that? And she’d be going on about how shocking it is. And she’s a Dutch migrant, and she thought people doing that dance was just outrageous. Showing too much skin or being too provocative, or whatever it was. And I’m looking at it, I looked it up on YouTube and I’ve gone with, “There’s hardly anything wrong with that and I’ve seen a lot worse than that now.” So reflecting on that, that’s where the lyrics for the song came from in a way. That that became normalized eventually and we’ve progressed far beyond that in terms of what people can do in entertainment without being pulled up.
Cameron Wade: And maybe the way that we are so intertwined with social media is something that I’m looking at now and going, “It’s shocking and it’s frustrating that but people in front of your home, seeing this, just such a, maybe it’s only a surface level invasion of social media now and in 20 years time it’ll be so deeply intertwined that Instagram and Facebook will just be like, “Why would anyone ever have been worried about their level of involvement in people’s lives?”
John Murch: You’re in this pivotal position that that of a musician as you said, who’s trying to use this new interface to actually promote your feelings and your ideas, and your emotions through music. How does that sit with you? Obviously it’s in the lyrics of the song, but when you’re there and you’re about to post something on social media, what’s your gut telling you, Cam?
Cameron Wade: Yeah, it’s always uncomfortable. Because you’re not necessarily posting what I think or the way that I would talk, but you’re posting in the way that you hope to get the most engagement. So even that sits wrongly with me. You’re thinking so much about what you are going to say because it’s going to be stuck there and you can go back and change it but you don’t. So it’s like you’re always on the record. It’s a little bit frustrating. You’re always on the record as someone that you’re probably not. You’re on the record as someone that you’re projecting yourself to be, or a band that you’re protecting yourself to be.
John Murch: Greatest output you should produce is that of your music, of the records, the piece that you produce.
Cameron Wade: Yeah. I think that’s the whole point from my perspective. And I find it really frustrating that it’s not what can you do? Back in the day you’d rely more on a publicist to do all this sort of building for you, but now you’re more supposed to be doing it yourself. So maybe it’s always been there, but it just wasn’t so much the band’s responsibility in the past.
John Murch: We’re currently in conversation with Cameron Wade. He is the member of The Attics. He joins us on the back of a brand new single called Instant Feed. The album is said to be a 10 track in the next year or two, probably in 2020.
Cameron Wade: We’ve always aimed for 10. I think 10’s a nice round number that says, “I’ve made an album.” There’s definitely a lot more made. We’ll get to 10 and we’re happy to release. And we’ve probably finished seven of them. And the timing really only depends on when we can get the last three done. I’ve been spending a lot of time with our sound engineer in Julong mixing recently, and we’re churning through a lot of it at the moment. So hopefully we get the last three done as soon as possible and aim for a release in over Summer. December would be optimistic, but January, February is probably looking realistic I think.
Cameron Wade: There’s a lot of tracks that I wouldn’t consider really seeing as singles on there, but they’re also some of the tracks that I’m proud of so it’s just that maybe if they won’t necessarily hit the radio an instant sort of, this is a radio friendly type track. But there’s some other, I don’t know what you call them, slow, but there’s some quiet songs as well that are on there that I’m really happy with, really excited to get out.
John Murch: Are they a little bit longer as well? Is that why you’re suggesting maybe not radio?
Cameron Wade: Yeah, a little bit longer, but maybe a little bit more like songs that have got few minutes of quiet verse of the introduction, but the radio friendly songs are more likely to hit a chorus in the first 30 seconds. These ones maybe don’t that.
John Murch: You’re working with a engineer in Julong, you mentioned. Who are you working with? What’s going on there?
Cameron Wade: Two different people in making the songs. One guy we’re we working with, he is an old school teacher. But [Milo 00:14:11] bought his guitar and took some of his classes at school, and then he records with out stuff in the front room of his house in the suburbs of Julong. It’s the most uninspiring place to drive into and think I’m going to go out and write some music. But it’s such a welcoming environment in his house, it’s kind of like recording in a bedroom, just so laid back.
Cameron Wade: His name’s Isaac [Barrow 00:00:14:31], he plays in Canary, a band from Julong. Yeah, he’s fantastic to work with. And then we work with Steve [Schram 00:14:37] as well in singing some of the singles. He’s got a bit of the magic touch on guitar based pop music, so we like to give him a bit of a go on sort of our shorter more poppier tracks.
John Murch: Back to Canary. What’s your favorite Canary tune?
Cameron Wade: Canary tracks have always been so interesting but I like listening to them because I always find little surprises in them. But it’s definitely not the type of band that I would go out and buy the record and fanboy for ages. But still there’s something exciting about the song. It’s like you just want to pull them apart, “How did they do that?” Or, “What were they thinking when they did that?” There’s something just so intriguing about it that, yeah, I don’t know what I’d call any of my favorite songs. I listen to them all the time. We go in to back space and we start working on this mix for this new Canary song. And they write so much music, it’s overwhelming sometimes I think.
John Murch: Oh, they’re absolutely brilliant. That conversation with the producer, how comforting is it to share the story through the music with the producer of how you want it to be?
Cameron Wade: Like I said, we’re just very relaxed and very much like you’re recording in a living room. So there’s no pressure texture in asking for direction or giving direction, either way. And I don’t know whether that’s conducive to great songwriting or not. It’s a very comfortable place to work. And the other polar extreme is when we do get into and give a song to someone like Steve Schram, and just say, “I think this is what this song’s like. And you get it back and he can either nail it and it sounds exactly like you thought, or he’s gone a totally different direction, but generally it’s still amazing.
John Murch: You mentioned earlier in our conversation you head back home quite a bit to get the inspiration, the vibe for writing and producing the songs at a band level. Where else do you find inspiration as a musician these days, Cameron?
Cameron Wade: Probably just from listening to a lot of great music. For the festival, obviously I spend a lot of time trolling around the internet, figuring out who’s releasing what and what’s new, and what’s different that people are doing. And that probably inspires a lot of what we’re doing. And then probably ideas a lot of local bands as well. We manage to get out and see a lot of stuff here in Melbourne on Friday and Saturday night. And you always end up leaving out of people’s shows feeling inspired to do more or do something different. There’s inspiration everywhere. Normally it comes in spurts too, I think. You can’t just go, “I’m going to sit down and write today,” because sometimes it doesn’t work. You just got to be open to, you might be just noodling around and get tired and you come home with something, and that’s going to be a song. And you might just record that on a phone and go, “I’ll come back to that later on.”
John Murch: What I found with Instant Feed, and maybe it’s not the case, is it felt like the guitar was the base of the song and then everything else came after. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Cameron Wade: Yeah, the guitar riff in the verse came before anything else in Instant Feed. And then I jumped on Abelton and wrote the rest of the song around that riff. And it is the only song I think we’ve ever done like that. There’s been songs where I’ve had chord progressions or vocal melodies, or whatever that I’ve written to chord progressions and then taken them them into to sort of flesh out the idea. But this is the first one where a riff on the guitar has sort of guided the whole phone.
John Murch: How important are guitars in the band?
Cameron Wade: Different songs to different levels, I think. I always think that they’re probably the only thing that remains from where the band started, so I think they’ll always be there. And I think for performing live they’re kind of critical for vibe as well. But probably the whole set up at the moment is probably the minimum that we could get away with to capture a nice live vibe. We tried, we lost a drummer to a older band two or three years back when we were sort of still playing in that garage rock type rock. That Tame Impala were forging the way forward at the time.
John Murch: What are some of the social issues that are coming up on this record? Apart from of course, those I’ve mentioned in terms of Instant Feed and the background for that.
Cameron Wade: A lot of references to probably relaxing as people as well. We have a few songs on there, just lyrical content encouraging people to take a step back and take a moment and whatnot. And there’s another song with reference to social media. Like I said, there’s three or four that are yet to be finished so when they’re yet to be finished it’s probably because there’s no lyrics written. The record’s taken so long to do, I feel a little bit that it warranted that cohesive nomadically. But that music to me sounds like it all sticks together well and fits together as an album. If they’re actually listening to what they lyrics are going on about, they’re probably going to be jumping from space to space between every single song.
John Murch: How important is that when you’re listening to an album that it does have thematic?
Cameron Wade: I didn’t find it important at all. Musically an album’s got to flow. The songs have all got to work together. You can have one in the middle that wrecks it an entire album, it just doesn’t fit. But lyrically I couldn’t care less if they’re telling a different story on every song.
John Murch: You mentioned about relaxing a little. How do you relax?
Cameron Wade: People close to me would tell me that I don’t. We run from the festival straight back into doing the band stuff as soon as the festival is up. The only time that I really find myself relaxing, probably gauge it by when I finally get a chance to read a book, and that’s normally just when I get away on holiday. I don’t tend to do much.
John Murch: Makes sense that you’re writing songs about people relaxing then.
Cameron Wade: Preaching to myself.
John Murch: What book do you normally pick up and read if you get a chance?
Cameron Wade: I’ve been reading more Murakami books for the last, I think I’ve read 20. Like I said, it’s always when I get a chance to go on holiday and I’ll burn through two or three of them in a holiday, or a long weekend or something. I’ve done that, that’s basically all I read. Until I’ve gone through his whole catalog I don’t know if I’ll pick someone else up. Murakami, he’s a Japanese author. He writes these really bizarre stories that sometimes I think that I’m understanding what he’s talking about and then I get to the end of them and I decide that I still don’t know what he was on about. They’re just mind-blowingly unpredictable, and I think I like that about them.
John Murch: Is that also how you like to live your life as well, a little unpredictable?
Cameron Wade: Maybe in the music that we’re making? In my day job I work as an engineer so probably the other way around. In that space, very, very predictable.
John Murch: Talk to us about how you balance those two, the creative and the engineering side.
Cameron Wade: Engineering, in a way, it is creative. You’re trying to balance the needs of a lot of people and a lot of stakeholders who want to get something out of whatever it is you’re working on the project. And you have to come up with the creative ways of being able to feasibly do that. So being able to build something or make something that meets all those requirements that different people are asking of you.
Cameron Wade: So there is creativity in being an engineer. But I do find that I like to start my day at work early and leave early, that at 4:30 I can get out of work and I can come home and work on musical work from the festival. And that is then, it is a step up of creativity and balance. And if I didn’t work my day job was an engineer I wouldn’t be able to indulge in being in a band, or being confident that I could support a festival because sometimes these creative spaces don’t make the money that they need to live off. So you need to sort of be really sticking with what you’re doing. If you want to support these things musically, you need to take some time to make the money to support it.
John Murch: How long’s this festival been going? You said it was a couple of 21st.
Cameron Wade: This year was six. So we’re working on 2020 which will be number seven. We’ve put in a planning permit over our community events for a few more years. Yet we have to sort of sit back after each year and make a call on whether we think it’s worth continuing or whether it’s taking too much time, or how we’re feeling about it. So we have to take stock after every event and make the decision. So I don’t know how long we’ll go for.
John Murch: Are you surprised that it’s gone six? And I don’t mean that in a negative way. Are you surprised?
Cameron Wade: I don’t know. I don’t know what we thought when we were starting it. I don’t know how serious we thought it would get or how big we thought it would get. I’m not surprised, because I’m opened to where it heads and to try and to follow it, and encouraged to go where it wants to go.
John Murch: I’ve been absolutely fascinated having a chat to you, Cameron Wade. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for your time today.
Cameron Wade: No problem. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.