Interview :: The Frowning Clouds

September 5th 2011

Australian garage rock is experiencing something of a slight 60s revival. Victoria is leading the way, with the likes of bright young Melbourne bands Fearless Vampire Killers, The Greasers and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard fronting guitar-riffs and lo-fi drums worthy of a go-go dance-off. The revival is also running strong interstate with Brisbane newbies Dune Rats and Velociraptor joining the ranks already forged by Sydney’s psychedelic sirs Richard In Your Mind and The Laurels.

The lo-fi gritty melodies of 1960s psych and garage rock found their way to the streets of Geelong, a Victorian suburb known for their dominant AFL team, their still-existent Timezone and a giant Egyptian-themed bar shaped like a Sphinx.

Through time and space, the 60s weaved their way to the sound systems of five Geelong dudes. Calling themselves The Frowning Clouds after a Moody Blues lyric, they were hungry for music once played. “We just heard it and loved it. We started on mainstream stuff like Bowie and The Beatles and Stones early on and pretty soon found our worlds revolving around music,” says harmonicist and vox-man Nick Van Bakel. “Just digging deeper into the past and then getting all the 60s garage comps has helped us find a niche. There wasn’t really one specific sound, just all the good shit from the 60s.”

Frowning Cloud friends Zak Olsen, Nick Van Bakel, Daff Gravolin, Ben Maton and Jake Robertson found each other through schooling and skating, gravitating together through a love of niche, nostalgic tunes. “Some of us went to school together but we pretty much all met through skateboarding when we were younger. Then similar music taste brought us together,” says Van Bakel. “We were drawn together by a common interest of an uncommon music.”

Although the quintet hail from Geelongian streets, their sounds have been captured between Sydney walls. Their debut 7-inch was recorded at the Sydney abode of Straight Arrows frontman Owen Penglis and their new album is currently underway at vintage analogue specialists Hanging Tree Studios in Surry Hills, responsible for the likes of Jack Ladder, Kirin J. Callinan and Mylee Grace.

With track names like ‘All Night Long’, ‘Lovin’ You’ and ‘Time Wastin’ Woman’, The Frowning Clouds are a time capsule of swaggering, sun-drenched psych-rock delivered straight from the garage of 1965. Taking cues from early Rolling Stones records and finding a sound akin to niche 1960s US garage bands such as Californians The Chocolate Watchband and The Electric Prunes, The Frowning Clouds know a good fuzzy guitar sound when they crank it. The fivesome also hail inspiration from the Back From The Grave series, a line of compilation albums chock a block full of 1960s garage rock released by notoriously nostalgic Crypt Records in the 80s. Most of the tunes on the compilations tend to thrash and wail about hangin’, drinkin’ and lyin’ to girlfriends, as well as hangin’ with drinkin’ and lyin’ girlfriends.

The Frowning Clouds are yet to carve their own niche, but with an album on the way and audiences already raving, the boys from Geelong are psyched to bring the past to the present with a nouveau Jagger swagger.

Who: The Frowning Clouds (supported by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard)

Where” Goodgod Small Club, Liverpool St, Chinatown

When: Saturday 24 September, 8pm


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