Interview :: New Navy

November 4th 2011

The age ol’ story goes like this: group of friends ditch their small town beginnings for the big smoke, play a couple of gigs, and fame almost immediately ensues. It’s the typical tale of the lucky guys, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Well, New Navy must have rabbit feet and four-leaf clovers to spare because these guys are currently playing out the ultimate band story. They’ve got the attention of the nation with their recent single ‘Zimbabwe’, a record deal with Future Classic and their debut EP, Uluwatu, landing at No 3 in the Independent Music Charts. Phew.

Ok, so maybe it takes a little more than the favour of Lady Luck to infiltrate the industry and commandeer airwaves like this outfit have with their tropical tunes. Ben, Matt, James and Jamie have been collaborating for years and it took some hard work and bad tour food to perfect New Navy’s bop-inducing beats, but now they’re sailing out into the big blue of a national tour to celebrate the debut EP.

FBi: Tell us how New Navy first formed. Did it all begin in a nautical setting?

New Navy: Indeed. We were all at sea, aboard a sturdy vessel. Abaft the fore hatch, peering over the portside bow, James noticed a lone guitar adrift in the distance. “Abandon ship!” Admiral Benjamin cried. We all leapt from the hull into the flowing sea, except for Mathew, who was raiding the galley for waterproof staples before making his way to the poop deck.

Not really. We’re mates. We went to school together, and we all like music.

Your music has just erupted onto airwaves across the country. Which bands do you take your musical cues from?

We’re extremely overwhelmed at the response from radio stations and the listeners! Our influences range from numerous genres and time periods, it’s hard to name just a few. But definitely Talking Heads, The Beach Boys, Battles, The Cure, The Skyhooks, Minus the Bear, Pink Floyd, Foals, VHS or BETA, Klaxons.

And how would you describe the sound of New Navy?

Biodynamic beach bop. A summer cocktail of pop melodies, shiny guitars and jungle beats.

Your debut EP, Uluwatu, has received massive acclaim. Tell us about the hard work it took to perfect each and every track.

The songs started on acoustic guitars and percussion, then were translated to electric guitars in a band room then laid down into squiggly lines in Freefall studios. We added some extra percussion, whistles, claps, clicks and a marimba all in Jamie’s bedroom. And then we hurled it all at Jono Ma to sex it up a bit. It sounds easy when said like that, but it was tiring work. Four men listening to their own songs over and over again in a confined space, often re-wiring them as they were recorded, and thinking “are they sounding any good?” There were a lot of late nights, healthy arguments, red wine, coffee beans and laughter.

What inspired the EP title Uluwatu?

The EP is named after the place where the songs were conceived. Uluwatu is a beautiful place in Bali, Indonesia, named after a nearby Hindu temple of the same name. We flew over with acoustic guitars, sat on the cliff, drank lukewarm Bintang and wrote a bunch of songs.

To date, you’ve toured with the likes of The Holidays, Midnight Juggernauts and Wolfmother. W


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