Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (RBCF – a mouthful, I know) are no strangers to the tireless grind that comes with being musicians.
“We all started out just kicking about, playing barely any shows just writing songs in our bedrooms and not really doing anything with them,” explained Joe White
Having played in numerous projects before settling with the current incarnation of RBCF, getting acquainted with Ivy League Records and later Sub-Pop was the catapult the band needed.
“We never really had this great ambition until the record label came along and gave us a kick up the ass and made us realise what we could do.”
While RBCF have found more success over the last year, playing shows at South By Southwest and more recently Coachella – with the act announced on the Spilt Milk lineup just this morning – the band want to make sure they stay true to their roots.
“We really enjoy and continue to be a part of the down to earth Melbourne music scene.”
While it may seem like the internet has taken over in terms of helping musicians fall upon new ears with widespread use of listening platforms such as Spotify and Bandcamp, there is still room for the old school tough it out, nowadays almost punk in a postmodern way, radio based approach.
“One of the great things about Melbourne though is that the two radio stations PBS and Triple R still hold a lot of respect with everyone. Getting spun on the breakfast show is still something that you really revere and that’s a pretty old school approach that still works as a local thing,” White muses.
RBCF want to make sure that they champion the local Melbourne music scene as much as they can.
“We’re trying to just keep grounded and keep in touch with our home community as much as possible and try to do it right”
However, doing it right has a different definition for each person. The way one person perceives right and wrong varies based on the values and ethics they hold.
The boys from RBCF believe doing it right means doing it “kind of organically rather than following an approach that can seem like you’re just parachuting somewhere for no reason.”
Doing it right has led them to their current position. With their first full-length release Hope Down released on June 15, I thought it was time to get serious.
So, in quintessential ‘Tommy’ fashion, I asked Joe about the fears RBCF hold as a band.
“We’ve always been afraid of what we call the top down approach rather than from the bottom up approach. So playing Coachella it’s like how the fuck did we get here? Did we really earn this?”
“Are we truly as deserving of this as so many other Melbourne bands that haven’t had the luck that we’ve had with record labels and exposure? So I guess our fear is still real, it’s a fear of being resented for the way we’ve gone about things.”
Fear is a big part of living, you can’t escape it, but you can use it. Use it to propel yourself forwards instead of letting it hold you back.
The innate fear that comes with living in today’s day and age can be heard throughout their album. The well-thought-out, literary-like lyrics paint a vivid story.
“Across the whole album there’s a bit of a thread of dread or despair that comes with the enormity of the current political or social climate,” White elaborates.
“We get excitement out of the lyrical side of things as much as we do the musical side of things. We like telling little stories, little snapshots, like fly on the wall moments in a character’s life because we like to create characters in a song and then whatever happens in that song is a fly on the wall view of it.”
The lyrics of the second track on the album, entitled Talking Straight, read like a novel akin to fine aged whiskey. Lyrics such as those found on Talking Straight are no longer heard in mainstream pop music.
I had to ask what the track was about, especially since I had interpreted it as the story of how technology has made us more connected than ever before, but more alone than at the same time, i.e. less face to face interaction and relationships.
Boy was my interpretation off.
“I overheard someone say that they were constantly terrified of the idea that humans are the only intelligent lifeform in the entire universe, it’s like what if we actually are? What if this is it? What if we’re the sole life form and all the responsibilities that come with that and what it means.”
“So the verses are reflecting that; the fear of that and the chorus is more just trying to find the person who’s going to make you feel comfortable and being with them to not worry about so much.”
27 Sep, The Courier-Mail Spiegeltent (as part of Brisbane festival), Brisbane
28 Sep, Factory Theatre, Sydney
29-30 Sep, Yours & Owls, Wollongong
5 Oct, Rosemount, Perth
6 Oct, Jive Bar, Adelaide
12 Oct, Workers Club, Geelong
13 Oct, Corner Hotel, Melbourne
17 Nov, Spilt Milk, Commonwealth Park, Canberra