Ivy St Interview

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Ivy Street’s 2009 debut album ‘Picture Machine’ exhibited the abrasive sound of Tasmanian share-house youth inspired by obscure NZ post-punk bands. Their recent material, ‘Courting’ is concise and focused, trimmed back and honed down to the bare essentials.

Milk Bar (MB) recently talked to singer and lead guitarist, Thomas Hyland (TH) about their move to Melbourne and their forthcoming album ‘Courting’.

MB: Ivy St originally formed in Hobart and made the move together to Melbourne. What’s it like to move an entire band interstate and did it impact the music you make?

TH: It was a long process. In 2009 when we released ‘Picture Machine’ we were all still living together in Hobart.

Moving to Melbourne didn’t necessarily change the decisions we were to make as writers, though our own context had changed.

For the most part I feel like we make the same music as we always have, but we’re just a few years and responsibilities down the line.

MB: What are the differences between where you’re at now and then? Where do you currently draw inspiration?

TH: Through ‘Picture Machine’ I think we were honing in on an idea of what the band is and can be on a native level. We drew inspiration from Hobart itself, or bands like The Gordons, or just generally being young.

As ‘Courting’ started to take shape, I think we are probably starting to ask ourselves ‘What do we want of Ivy St?’.

Nowadays I have a hard time drawing inspiration from music that’s exploring the same kind of ideas I want to explore with Ivy St.

I tend to draw inspiration from walking, essays, straight writers, classical music, visual art, history or films. It’s not always a choice. Given that Ivy St is a collaboration it’s hard to say where things come from.

MB: What was the recording process of ‘Courting’?

TH: We took a long time to get the songs up.

It probably took about a year before we wrote a single song we were happy with, and even that one didn’t make the album.

We had to get good at playing with each other again.

The way a lot of our songs work , we needed to be in the same room together, often looking out for small cues from each other.

MB: The album’s artwork is transfixing. What’s the story behind it?

TH: That’s Rob O’Connor. After ‘Picture Machine’ we released a 7” and gave Rob a copy of the songs and asked if he’d be up for painting something. He came back with two pieces he referred to as “Christ dismantling his cross” and “Proud of nothing ‘cept being alive”.

I posted him an early copy of the album and within a couple of weeks Rob had sent back a bunch of different work, including this piece. He’s worth looking into.

‘Courting’ is out March 4, released independently via ivyst.bandcamp.com . Ivy St embark on a national tour in May.

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