BORNEO are the Sydney band championing eclectic pub rock like it’s 1985. With their key influence in Midnight Oil, this is an act who have taken the energy of the golden era of Australian live music and given it a fresh coat of paint with a synth wave pop brush.

Lifted along with single Only One off their sophomore EP, set for release next year, track Alert! comes with a killer music video, and while you could be forgiven for assuming that BORNEO are just another bunch of loud boys jumping up and down in their mum’s garage, when you peel back the layers of the lyricism behind Alert! it seems that there is a hell of a lot more to the crew than meets the eye.

In introducing the single, they pose the question “Are you the spaghetti? / Or are you the can?” to this we came up with a resounding… what the fuck? But in sitting down with the band’s co-frontman, Tim Pembroke, this phrase has a lot more depth to it than you may think. In his words: “It makes people question their own identity. Like you are you as a person? As we grow up, society tells us it gives us a name… all these things we take a hold of and grasp onto to form an identity. We’re asking that question, ‘Am I the spaghetti or am I the can?’ Really asking yourself is that who I am, or am I something greater, am I more than that, am I more than what I’ve been told?”

And as we went on to discuss, this is becoming a common thread in the high-energy rock bands we are seeing push through Australian music. Whether that be punk, garage or hard rock, the hyper-masculine and shredding aesthetic of those such as West Thebarton, Hockey Dad, Pist Idiots and Good Boy seems to melt away when you look deeper into the messages they are putting forward.

Touching on the struggles of being a young man in today’s cultural climate, of being in love and the ups and downs of mental health, these are not young men taking their voices lightly. Like their forbearers these band are utilising the machine of music to say something bigger, and make a loud noise while doing so. As Pembroke continued, “One of our biggest influences is bands like Midnight Oil and Rage Against The Machine, and a lot of hip hop, which is all about the message. Within those writers, they all have a natural feeling to want to communicate something more.

“I remember I read a book about Rage Against The Machine and the singer Zack de la Rocha was asked if he’s ever written a love song, because Rage Against the Machine has never written a love song. And he said ‘Well in fact all our songs are about humanity or about our care for people. We feel like we write songs that are the true love songs.’ And that’s something that’s always stuck. We’re at the beginning of the road and working it out, but yeah, we want to naturally try and communicate messages in our songs. Not that there is anything wrong with a cheeky pop love song.”

They’ve just come back from annihilating Hey Sunshine Festival in Cairns, and while the weather might have been less than ideal, it seems that BORNEO can make even knee-deep mud seem like a great time. “It was a really well organised event. The funny thing was that it pissed down with rain all day and I was talking with Anthea, the festival organiser, and you could tell that she was slightly disappointed. But it didn’t matter, people just embraced it and I’d never seen the Belligerents play before.”

But Northern Queensland isn’t the only far-flung location the boys have found themselves in. Take a squizz at their social media and it won’t take you long to be yearning to book a ticket to Alice Springs. And the band apparently only found themselves there because of their shared love of Peter Garratt. Tim relayed the story with fond reminiscence in his voice. “Initially we bought tickets to go and see Midnight Oil play in Alice Springs. Because all their shows had sold out for their current tour and the only place left was Alice. So we had a bit of a Facebook thread going and someone went ‘What about Alice Springs?’ and the next minute we bought tickets to Alice. We had a two week road trip out to Alice and last minute we managed to land a slot on an open mic they had there every Sunday at this really awesome little music bar. And so it happened the night before the Oils on Sunday night, a lot of people were in town to see Midnight Oil and a lot of the locals, it was such a great town and we felt very lucky to be able to do that.”

So when can we hear more from BORNEO? They’ve got an EP on the way and from all accounts the boys have already set their sights on the next project. Pembroke was enthused as he relayed the details, “It’s just been mastered, it’s pretty well ready to go… Then we’re going to do a little single tour, just a couple of shows in Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast and then work towards the album coming out in March next year. We’re really happy, happy with the songs, and it’s a bit of a part two on the first EP, a lot of that high-energy stuff, but I think we are more refined. We’ve learned quite a bit as you do. It’s ready to go so we’re already looking towards the next thing.”

For now you can be sure to catch BORNEO at The Leadbelly in Newtown on 25 November, and possibly get a little peek at the upcoming record.