Seven-piece band Approachable Members of Your Community are an interesting bunch of blokes.
While their music is great, they’re so much more than just their tunes. LunchBox caught up with saxophonist Nicholas Gerstel.
Like their name suggests, they are, in fact approachable members of your local community.
“We wanted a name that reflected our comedic nature and how we like to engage with things in sort of a comedic lens, so we tried to think of a name that reflected us in terms of that,” Gerstel explains.
“But also we sort of thought about how we like to think of ourselves as just pretty average guys, pretty approachable, pretty people that will have a chat to you.”
The name also links to the group being pretty involved in their communities.
Four of them volunteer for YouTube events, and one of them is on the university board.
The band of seven met back in high school. They all played in the high school jazz band led by their music teacher.
“We love him. He’s from the Netherlands. He’s like our sensei and we just spent years in that project and then we all gradually left school at different times.
“Then early in 2017, we just got together as a collective just to start jamming without insurance, have a bit of fun. There was a local family who had host like an annual lunch or an annual festival and they wanted us to play at it, so we wrote a few songs.”
The group are extremely tight-knit and have a lot of great memories together, for example, going into state.
“With going in state comes a lot challenges but it’s fun to get around those. For example, the challenge of prepping all our gear.
“With seven members we have a lot of gear, so getting it around and also just the experience of meeting the industry and seeing who we’re gonna be working with is really exciting.
“Also being able to use our platform for positive gains in the world. For our first video clip, we thought it was a good platform to raise awareness for our friend who is going through a transitioning through her gender. We wanted to make sure that we used our platform for positive reasons and not just to boost our egos.”
Their latest EP, If There’s Anything You Need, Please Don’t Hesitate To Contact Us, dropped on May 25 and the boys feel excited to have it out there.
“We haven’t released a full body of work yet. We released a couple of singles, three to be exact. So we’re really excited to get a body of work out there, see how it goes, see if people liked the sound and if they do, then we’ll just keep rounding out a similar style of music.”
Just like their band name, the EP title is a lengthy one, but has a funny meaning behind it.
“We were sitting around a board table the day after our sold out gig and we were thinking about EP names. We were under a bit of a time crunch and we didn’t know whether to go short and sweet or long and, I guess, comedic like our band name. We were just throwing out ideas and I guess a classic line is when you finish an email and say if you need anything, don’t hesitate to contact us, so we just sort of lingered towards that.”
Nicholas described the EP’s sound as “some loose indie-rock.”
“It’s got some interesting chord progressions, but it’s pretty easy to digest. A lot of the lyrics are catchy, repetitive and they sort of stick in your ears so it’s approachable music, I’m gonna make up a genre. I just think it’s pretty easy listening, but it is interesting in terms of musical progression.”
“We all like to grow up on, I guess, indie, alternative music, so a big inspiration was Unknown Mortal Orchestra. A lot of the jazz chords that we have in there are from ’70s bands like Steely Dan. I guess just growing up without much classical training allowed us to be free flowing in how we write music. “
With the release of their EP came the release of a music video for Velcro, which Nicholas said was a heap of fun to make.
“It was a day of fun with our best friend photographer, Julia, and we just had a lot of fun with certain objects.
“Everyone got their designated object and it was like a trial to see how could you use those objects in a not correct way. You get these shoes, these Velcro shoes, that save you, they give you energy, they give you life and you can turn into this master salesman who can use these objects in the right way.
“It was a lot of laughs, it was a lot of giggles and I’m really excited to have released it.”
Last month, the band sold out their headline show at The Toff In Town, Melbourne, which was an “absolutely exhilarating” moment.
“I think that was our first time in our band’s experience where we played songs and heard the lyrics being sung back to us so that was an unreal experience. I actually turned to our guitarist, Matt, and just looked at him with an awe of disbelief. It was just really exciting.
“The crowd was buzzing, everyone was so kind and friendly. Walking out after the show, everyone was quick to say congratulations. It made us realise that this thing could keep going for a couple more years and so.”
Approachable Members of Your Local Community are an ambitious group with big things planned for their future.
“We want to release an album next year. We want to record two singles, build up a hype, album potentially late next year. We want to go touring, we want to support big bands, we want to help out the music industry, we just felt lots of ambitions. I think one of them is to hopefully play a festival. Like a major sponsored daft festival in Australia, that would be unreal.
When Approachable Members of Your Local Community say they want to support big bands, they’re talking Client Liaisons, Fear of Blues and Mallrat.
“These amazing Australian local grown artists really embody the Australian spirit, I guess. Yeah, it’s just really exciting to see.”
But, no matter what their future holds, Approachable Members of Your Local Community know one thing is for sure – their image goes far beyond their music.
“We’d just like to be thankful for what people have done for us so far in their support and also that we recognize quite a privileged platform we’re working with being all males, so we just want to say that we recognise that and we wanted to really give the opportunity to people we work with and give us the support also. Be on a great platform to release art.”