25 Nov EZRA MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS SECOND STOREY WINDOW
Based in Sydney, Australia, Second Storey Window are a six-piece band that makes self-described ‘purply-orange’ music. It’s indie, it’s magical and their music has intrinsic vocals and dream-like guitar stringing to suit. Comprising of Andrew Feeney, Matt Eaton, Reuben Barthow, Lachlan Stockbridge, Joey Eaton and Jay Barthow, Second Storey Window already has two EPs to their name.
‘Minutes’ which was released in 2011, followed by ‘Trip The Wire’ in 2013, sees the band on a journey of discovering their sound and their identity amongst the indie crowd in the Australian music scene. Inspired by North American bands such as MuteMath, their sound is a multifarious combination of indie/pop and a little bit of folk. Picture driving in the Australian country with some friends and ending up on the beach on a summer’s night – that’s what Second Storey Window sounds like.
Ezra Magazine sat down with frontman Andrew Feeney to talk all things beginnings, inspirations and what makes music special.
First thing’s first, why did you decide to start a band?
Second Storey Window all started with a handful of songs that I had written and demoed in my home studio in Sydney. My long time friend Matt (who plays drums) and I had talked about doing something musical together for a number of years and Reuben, (another friend and our first guitarist) and I had already started jamming together so we made a time and just jumped in. At the last minute I asked a couple of other friends to join us and to my surprise everyone was free at the same time!
I was the central connection at that time so everyone else was meeting each other for the first time at our first rehearsal. We booked some gigs and released our first EP ‘Minutes’ in 2011, and it’s just kind of grown from there. The lineup has changed a couple of times since then which has led to some sound experimentation as well, but it’s been great to have so many great musicians involved. This year our ranks grew and we now have six members (Lachlan on bass, Joey on guitar, and Jay on guitar plus myself, Matt and Reuben). There are two sets of brothers in the band (Jay and Reuben, Joey and Matt) which makes for interesting dynamic, but it’s loads of fun.
As time has gone one, it’s morphed from being my own project to being a much more collaborative band effort. Our current EP ‘Trip The Wire’ is a testament to that. We spent quite a while honing our sound before we put this one out.
Where did your musical side develop/come from?
I’ve been heavily influenced by a lot of classic North American indie rock bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Arcade Fire and Wilco, plus a heavy dose of British rock (Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Doves, Elbow, etc.) and I guess this does show in my writing. Amongst the band there is a wide variety of musical taste and talent, from folk to hip hop to classic heavy metal, so we all kind of bounce off each other. It’s pretty ridiculous really how varied our tastes are but I think it’s a great thing. I like to think the guys help keep me from ever getting too pigeon-holed stylistically and everyone definitely brings a bit of unique flavour to the sound.
Who influences you the most and how do you adapt that into your music?
I love bands that can build a sound which feels bigger than the sum of all it’s parts. Other-wordly if you will; larger than life. We have a very ambient sound with lots of synths, live side-chain compressors, and very long delays so I guess this is kind of our version of that. Stylistically I’ve built my base on the 90s and 00s bands I listed in the last question, but I’m always hungry for new sounds to keep things fresh. The artists I respect most are the ones who write songs that feel like they were always there, as if it already existed and the artist just discovered and captured it. You know, those songs that just grab you from the start. At the moment I’m influenced a lot by the local Sydney indie scene, bands like The Jezabels, New Navy, Cloud Control and Jinja Safari. The old ‘Sydney’s music scene is dying’ line is no longer valid. There are loads of groups putting out great records here at the moment.
‘Second Storey Window’ is an interesting name for a band. How did that come about?
At our first gig we were actually called ‘Andy and the Fiends’. The announcer read out ‘Andy and the Finds’ and that’s when we figured we needed to think of something a little more catchy. As the number of bands increases, the naming of them is less about being clever and more about what hasn’t already been taken. We talked about it and we decided that most of our favourite bands have terrible names, but that didn’t matter in the end, so we just picked one. We used to joke that we’d make up a different story for every interview about its origin, but the honest truth is that it’s basically arbitrary. If we could go back and do it again, we’d probably think of something without a ‘British English’ spelling (storey) because Google thinks you just can’t spell and corrects it to story!
What makes music special to you?
That’s a pretty deep question. I guess I’ve often thought about music and what an abstract concept it is. I mean, it’s vibrations in the air, which move a membrane of skin inside our heads. Why do we love it so much? What is it about music that can affect us so deeply? For many people, music alone without lyrics or any other significance, can be enough to move us even to tears in the right circumstances. It’s a pleasure which transcends even our emotions, and we tend to enjoy it in every possible emotional state. There’s something almost pleasurable or comforting about brooding over our hurts to a melancholic record. It’s as if hearing our emotions expressed helps us come to terms with them. It’s a uniquely human thing, and it’s a bit of a mystery really.
Tell us something that is uniquely ‘Australian’ that you love doing.
I guess I love the outback bush. I grew up in the country and I’ve always loved the humble bush-walk, and the Australian landscape. I’d love to set up my studio on a few acres up in the foothills somewhere. Maybe one day …
What was the first album you fell in love with?
When I was a kid we bought our first CD player and a relative gave us a copy of Dave Brubeck’s ‘Time Out’ album. I wasn’t really into jazz at that time, and my musical skills went about as far as a couple of chords on the guitar, but something about that album grabbed me and I listened to it over and over. The tunes were so smooth, but so natural and interesting. That album was an anomaly for me, and it wasn’t until years later I got a lot more heavily into jazz. It turns out most of the songs on that record are in unusual time signatures but I never noticed before. That’s how masterful Brubeck was, it all felt so natural.
What do you enjoy most about playing live shows?
I love taking people on a journey. You start off gentle and you build, sometimes so slowly the audience don’t even notice the changes. When it’s going well people get pulled in until they’re right there with you, wanting you to climb higher and wider and deeper. When it’s going really well you get lost yourself and the music is pulling you along just like the audience.
What was the experience like recording the ‘Trip The Wire’ EP?
We recorded Trip The Wire at my house, plus a little drum tracking in my friend’s kitchen. It was a lot of fun, although we were restricted by the space and the equipment as to how much we could do it ‘live’ as a band. This meant a lot of overdubs and a lot of sitting around for those not recording at any given time, but I guess any recording artist will tell you that’s pretty normal. Recording in your own space means you’re under much less pressure and you can really take the time to get it right.
We mixed it in studio one at The Grove studios on the NSW Central Coast with Josh Telford who did a phenomenal job in a beautifully equipped analogue studio. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Josh on a number of occasions and he never disappoints.
5 things you wish you were told before embarking on a musical career?
You know I think people were telling me the right things, but I wasn’t really believing them. Things like:
1) You have to work hard – Even the ones that get a ‘lucky break’ end up working super hard to stay in the game. There’s basically no short cuts, and it starts with making great music.
2) It probably won’t work out – Well, statistically it probably won’t, and that’s fine because there are much more important things in life.
3) There is a price – Heaps of people have hobby bands, but for those that seriously want to take it to the next level there is a price to pay. No professional musician has not had to make sacrifices of time, effort, money and often relationships.
4) You’ve got to stick at it – When things fall apart (and they will) or don’t work out (and they won’t), you’ve got to take it in your stride and keep going. It’s an opportunity to learn and adapt. It doesn’t work out perfectly for anyone, and the best musicians learn not to be discouraged by the failures and persist.
5) Have fun – It sounds corny or obvious but it’s easy to forget. Rehearsals can become arduous, setting up and packing up a chore, even gigs can be a drag when you’re tired or not in the mood. You’ve got to decide to enjoy yourself, and work at it. If you can’t do that then you’ve got to really consider why you’re playing music at all. If you can’t enjoy the journey in the moment, then you’re probably chasing an experiential ‘high’ that you will have trouble repeating. This is something I constantly remind myself of.
If you could tour with any person/band in the world, who would it be and why?
I can’t speak for the other members but for me it would have to me MuteMath right now. They’ve got so much energy and talent I’ve very nearly thrown in the towel a few times because it just makes you think “What’s the point, when that’s what I have to measure up to?”
Any news on upcoming tracks or live shows?
We are currently working on a few new singles for early next year, plus some remixes. I can’t wait to show you!
Photography provided by Second Storey Window for Ezra Magazine.