It seems as though just about every single time I have written for Lunchbox, I have only ever written about punk or hard rock bands. This makes sense given that all of my life I have been drawn to artists such as this. I’ve just always found that something about this particular style of music has always grabbed me. Whether it be the lifestyles or the personalities involved – I’ve always found it so interesting.
However, there is only so many times I can use reuse terms such as attitude, grit, raw energy and headbanging. I’m a headbanger that’s true – however, even some of the most loyal punk/hard rock enthusiasts need to occasionally take the time to rest their neck, mellow out and reflect on their own existence with a therapeutic mixture of captivating melodies and equally beautiful harmonies.
Enter Betty & Oswald, the four-piece from Sydney who ahead of their slot at Bad Friday tomorrow, took the time to speak with me over the phone. Founding members Claudia Schmidt and Peter Sotiropoulos proved to not only be extremely insightful and interesting but also very down to earth.
Having started off as a duo, living in a small apartment – sleeping on a mattress they found on the side of the road -the two spent their days writing music together. They reflected on just how far they’ve come having added members Sammy Sudhaka and Harry Cramer to their roster.
“After we had the kids… life was never the same,” they joked.
“As a band, I think we did different things back then. We just travelled around as a duo. We had a different focus I guess – It was easier to travel – But now the focus is more on sounds and recording and playing shows – proper shows,” explained Sotiropoulos.
The two seemed extremely grateful for the joint efforts that have contributed to what the band is today with Sotiropoulos expressing, “The great thing about working with other people is you get surprised sometimes by what people bring to the table and it just takes things to a brand new level and you think ‘this is fantastic. I would have never thought of this in the first place.'”
It’s always interesting to delve into what inspires an artist’s musical output. Sometimes this can come in the form of musical influence, with Schmidt expressing her love for artists such as Cocteau Twins and Kate Bush and Sotiropoulos expressing that although it is not necessarily intentional, the broad range of music he listens to may have more of a subconscious effect on the way he writes his music.
“I think it affects [me] but maybe in a subconscious way… I listen to a lot of different music at different times so it depends. I love listening to classical, impressionist piano in the mornings. That’s so nice. It just sets the mood for the day,” he explained, “I don’t really go and write that sort of music… Too often,” he added jokingly.
As important as the influence of other musicians can be, one other important and often vital aspect that contributes greatly to the creative process for many artists is personal experience. As Sotiropoulos put it himself, “The way that things come out. I think they’re usually drawn from personal circumstances, situations, feelings and emotions. Even though they may be portrayed in a different way. I think they always start with an initial feeling or something you’ve experienced.
I find the most interesting writing is when you just kind of write freely and you look back in retrospect and realise what you’ve written about and you see the draws from your experience in life… Sometimes you don’t even realise it and you look back and realise ‘this is actually the way I’ve been feeling.'”
No strangers to the Australian festival scene the band is gearing up for their performance at the Bad Friday Block Party in Marrickville. It will be the band’s first appearance at the festival, however, they expressed a keen interest in playing on the same line-up as the likes of Mezko and West Thebarton.
Schmidt expressed excitedly, “It’s gonna be our first show in a while so it’s gonna be really fun I think. I haven’t been to the festival but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.” However, she soon followed this by filling me in on a minor setback that she had experienced a couple of days earlier.
“I sprained my ankle two days ago. So I might need a chair.”
“We had a wheelchair lined up,” joked Sotiropoulos, “I think you should still do it as part of the show”
When it was suggested that she look to Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl – who nursed a broken leg on stage while seated on a throne made of electric guitars – for inspiration as to how to cope with her injury, Sotiropoulos joked “Claudia’s definitely channelling that.”
Although the visual that this conjures in one’s mind makes an interesting contrast to the bands mellower signature sound, Schmidt has thankfully made a rapid recovery. I for one can say without hesitation that I am very much looking forward to seeing the group perform tomorrow afternoon.
March 30, Bad Friday, Marrickville