INTERVIEW: Mitch Grace + Tim Byles (FAR AWAY STABLES)
Tomorrow aka May 12th is set to be a pretty exciting day - but not just because it's Friday, it also marks the long-awaited release of brand new music from Sydney alt-rock legends Far Away Stables. The band's new album 'Between Rage and Serenity' is set to be a scorcher if singles 'Caldera' and 'Phantasm' are anything to go by - but before they unleash their latest opus, bassist Tim Byles and guitarist Mitchell Grace took time out of their busy schedules to chat inspiration, band evolution and how the X-Men may have played a small part in their new album coming to life.
CHECK OUT THE VIDEO ABOVE FOR EPIC TUNE 'Caldera' FROM NEW ALBUM 'Between Rage and Serenity'
TIANA: HI TIM AND MITCH! SO FIRST UP, I HAVE TO ASK ABOUT THE BAND NAME BECAUSE WHEN I FIRST HEARD OF 'FAR AWAY STABLES' I THOUGHT IT MIGHT'VE BEEN A REFERENCE TO SILVERCHAIR'S 'LIVE FROM FARAWAY STABLES'..?
TIM: You're actually probably the first person to get it.
MITCH: Yeah, we get that question quite a bit, but we always have to explain that that's where it's from. No one's ever actually made that connection before so congratulations!
TIANA: WIN! NOW YOU'RE SYDNEY BOYS SO IS IT JUST THAT SILVERCHAIR ARE A BIG INFLUENCE, OR IS THERE A LINK UP TO NEWCASTLE?
TIM: Nope. We just love Silverchair! They were the band when we were kids that were putting out albums like 'Neon Ballroom' and 'Diorama' - and they were just an awesome Australian band. We've always loved them.
MITCH: Always pushing boundaries and expecting more of themselves and showcasing that an Australian band could be a force to be reckoned with. We'd been together for a little bit and we didn't have a name and that sort of came up one night and we thought it sounded interesting and original and unlike anything else we'd ever heard, name wise.
TIM: It seemed weird at the start, but now I guess just like every band we owned the name and now that's just who we are and it doesn't feel weird to us anymore. It feels like us, that's who we are.
MITCH: Plus every other band name was taken, basically.
TIANA: NOW KICKING BACK A BIT IN TIME, HOW DID FAR AWAY STABLES FIRST START? DID YOU ALL KNOW EACH OTHER OR DID YOU MEET AS A RESULT OF WHAT YOU WERE INTO?
MITCH: It's kinda cool because we all sort of came together as friends first through music. Myself and our drummer Cam (Cameron Bury), we were jamming in a band before this and we were looking at starting more of a "rock" project because that's where our hearts lay musically. And I was actually out busking a long time ago and Tim happened to be walking by - we struck up a conversation and chatted about music for a bit, and then became friends just through that chance meeting. And Brendan (Brendan Sheargold - Far Away Stables singer) and Tim met at a music concert. I think they sort of joined forces so they could push their way to the front together. And our other guitar player Nick (Nick Palmer) went to school with me and we were really good friends, and we had a bond over music as well. We were very into the same bands, and when it became apparent that we wanted to start a band we all sort of just came together through all those experiences, knowing that we all were in the same boat in terms of what music we loved and what we wanted to play and - yeah, it all came together through a love of music really!
TIANA: YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE, OBVIOUSLY YOU'VE HAD YOUR EARLY EP'S, YOU'VE HAD YOUR PREVIOUS RELEASES, MOST RECENTLY BEFORE THIS NEW ONE WAS 'ATLANTIS' IN 2014 - AND ALONG THE WAY I'VE NOTICED YOU'VE ATTRACTED DIFFERENT LABELS INCLUDING "PUNK ROCKERS", "ALT ROCK"..."AN INTRIGUING HEAVY ACT" WAS ONE OF MY FAVOURITES, BUT HOW DO YOU GUYS ACTUALLY LABEL OR DESCRIBE YOURSELVES? DO YOU HAVE A GENRE THAT YOU SPECIFICALLY AFFILIATE YOURSELVES TO?
TIM: We say Alternative Rock just for lack of a better term because it encompasses everything. If you were to label yourself as a Post Hardcore band or a Rock band, it just limits you far too much.
MITCH: Yeah, we don't like to get too specific with genres because then people will expect something a little too specific and we don't want to be too pigeonholed. Not to say that every song on the album is pretty much drastically different or anything like that, but we like to have a wider palette of instrumentation and influences - and Alternative Rock seems to be just a bigger, wider kind of thing that we can be accepted under.
TIANA: AGREED. NOW YOU GUYS HAVE QUITE A BIG FOLLOWING LOCALLY, BUT YOU'VE HAD AIRPLAY IN THE US, AND EVERY REVIEW I'VE READ OF YOUR LAST ALBUM 'ATLANTIS' HAS BEEN SO WELL RECEIVED AND SO CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED...WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS?
TIM: I think just being really talented and being really humble (laughs).
MITCH: Mmm. I don't know. I mean it'll be more apparent when we put the new album out, but I like to think that the songwriting has become better, I guess. We were very enthusiastic and a little bit younger when we put our first EP out.
TIM: We took a very methodical approach to writing. We listened to a LOT of music, and we sat down and analysed songs and thought "What made that song great? How can we emulate that?" - and take the good parts of this song, take the good parts of that song, what makes one song good and what makes songs bad - just figure that out, basically.
MITCH: Checking little techniques and ideas, structures and little things like that. And as Tim said, just talking about music together and trying to define what it is we loved about certain songs and how we could incorporate that into our own music as well. We also took a lot more time with this album. It seems every time we do a release we're taking more and more time - so hopefully that'll show in the album as well.
TIANA: AND SPEAKING OF THE NEW ALBUM - 'BETWEEN RAGE AND SERENITY' IS OUT TOMORROW WHICH IS EPIC NEWS. I'VE HEARD YOU GUYS PREVIOUSLY SAY THAT THIS IS THE ALBUM YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO PUT OUT, AND THAT OBVIOUSLY PLAYS INTO WHAT YOU WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT. AND THERE'S BEEN A FEW SNEAK PEEKS ALREADY WITH SINGLES 'CALDERA' AND 'PHANTASM', BUT CAN YOU GIVE ANYTHING ELSE AWAY, OR WILL ALL BE REVEALED TOMORROW?
TIM: I'm hoping people find it a life-changing, cathartic experience, but that might be wishing too much.
MITCH: Hopefully for anyone who is a fan or has been a fan for a while, I don't think it'll be too different. I think it's just a more evolved, polished, more mature version of what we have already put out. You know, still within the genre of what we kind of are, but just in our heads we think it's just better musically than anything we've done before. It's just rock album! It's got heavy parts, it's got soft parts, it's got old-school sounding instruments as well as newer more electronic instrumentation as well.
TIM: Yeah, we've got harps, we've got synths, samples - everything combined in a way that makes it all still stand together as one.
MITCH: The one thing we're very excited about is to just put it out! And actually see what people think of it!
TIANA: NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ALBUM TITLE ITSELF, 'BETWEEN RAGE AND SERENITY' - ON PAPER IT SEEMS TO GIVE AWAY SOME POTENTIAL THEMES, BUT WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE TITLE?
TIM: Well, we're actually big movie fans and despite how, I guess, innocuous and deep the album title seems - it's from an X-Men movie.
MITCH: X-Men First Class.
TIM: And Charles Xavier said that quote in it, and it's just always resonated with us and we thought it'd be a good album name. And we sort of built the album concept around that title. Not so much the themes related to the movie, we just thought it was a really cool line.
MITCH: Yeah, it seemed to have this huge deeper meaning behind this small little collection of words and it was a powerful moment in the movie I guess as well. We always thought it was very cool.
TIM: It's one of those phrases that can represent both tone, music and lyrics. And that's the depth of the album - it's not so much a concept album in terms of a linear story, but it's definitely a conceptual album in that we used 'Between rage and serenity' as a guide of how we wanted to structure it. Sort of like when you're doing your HSC and they give you that one picture that you have to write an essay on - and that's kind of what we did with this phrase.
TIANA: I'M GONNA HAVE TO GO RE-WATCH THAT MOVIE NOW!
TIM: We'll get our check from Marvel soon, I'm sure. (laughs) Or sued. I'm not sure.
TIANA: SO YOU GUYS ARE ALSO GONNA BE DOING A SHOW IN MELBOURNE COMING UP, THEN A HOMETOWN SHOW IN SYDNEY TO CELEBRATE THE RELEASE, AND I'VE HEARD RUMOURS THERE MAY BE A FEW KICK-ASS EXTRAS, MAYBE SOME LIGHTING AND LIVE RECORDING?
TIM: Yeah, so in Sydney we're gonna be doing our first ever light show, which we've never ever done before. It's pretty cool, cos everyone knows a light show makes it awesome.
MITCH: We've had lights at shows before, but not a specifically tailored light show. Also smoke machines, and hopefully get a few cameras down there filming it from different angles.
TIM: We were gonna get pyrotechnics, but we found out we can't have fireworks indoors. So that was a bit of a bummer. We might just buy a whole bunch of sparklers.
TIANA: OH WELL THAT'S PROBABLY A CLOSE SECOND, RIGHT?
TIM: Yeah, a middle ground. Between rage and serenity.
TIANA: GREAT CALLBACK. AND ASIDE FROM YOUR OWN TOURS, YOU GUYS HAVE PLAYED WITH HEAPS OF BIG NAME BANDS INCLUDING PARAMORE, THE OFFSPRING, NORTHLANE TO NAME A FEW. WHAT'S BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE GIG SO FAR?
MITCH: It actually was Paramore. That was the definitive kind of gig for us. We'd played with a band called Billy Talent probably 6-8 months before that and we had known who Paramore was and we knew they were big enough to get super excited about. And that was our first foray into a big kind of show. And in terms of bands that were quite relevant at the time, they really inspired us as well and we were big fans. I remember the day we got the email, and the Paramore show was already sold out before we got the call-up. So we knew there was gonna be a big crowd there, and we were hoping the crowd would get down there early to get a good spot.
TIM: We like to think the crowd knew secretly that we were gonna be on the show and that's why they bought tickets.
TIANA: CLEARLY EVERYONE ELSE GOT THE HEADS UP THAT YOU WERE PLAYING BEFORE YOU DID.
MITCH: It was very, very exciting you know, the whole day building up to that moment walking onstage. The lights went down and everyone started screaming - and we thought that they thought we were Paramore and that they were gonna be really disappointed when the lights came on and saw it wasn't who they were waiting for. But the energy kept up through the whole set and everyone responded well to the music and we were able to engage with them. Walking off after that and then meeting people after the show who came up and chatted to us, we were just standing by the EP's and people were buying our album, buying the support band's EP and that was kind of the moment when we thought "this is what we want to do". Even though we already knew that, that was just the catalyst to how hard we've worked over the past few years and led up to this moment. We've just been chasing that feeling that we got that night.
TIANA: NOW THIS MAY PUT YOU ON THE SPOT A LITTLE BIT, BUT IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE FAR AWAY STABLES IN THREE WORDS, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
MITCH: Very. Un. Educated. (laughs) I'm assuming uneducated is two words?
TIM: I was gonna say Handsome, Epic and Awesome. But we like to think we put a bit of intelligence into our band. Or I suppose that's not the right word, not to sound conceited. But we try to make thoughtful music. We want it to be epic.
MITCH: In three words I would say: Riffs, Rock and Reverb So they're the three R's to our music.
TIANA: AND IS THERE ANY BAND THAT YOU GUYS HAVE ON YOUR WISH LIST TO PLAY WITH?
MITCH: I reckon I could say the top 3 that Tim's about to say.
TIM: Definitely. Let's say the first one at the same time. One. Two. Three...
MITCH + TIM (simultaneously): Muse.
TIM: The big reason I'd love to play with Muse is because obviously I love them, but I'd love to see how they do their live show and how they do their production.
MITCH: Yeah, they just go above and beyond.
TIM: The only way I can describe them in terms of their ambitiousness is 'obnoxious'. And I love that, I love how obnoxiously ambitious they are, and that's what I'd love to strive for one day.
MITCH: There's heaps of bands we'd love to play with, but in terms of bigger bands that we love there's Muse, 30 Seconds to Mars is another one that we'd really love because we're similar-ish and quite inspired by them. Bring Me The Horizon would be a good one, that new album they released 'That's The Spirit' is very similar to us, I think it'd be cool playing a show with those guys.
TIANA: WELL THE RATE YOU'RE GOING, IN THE NEAR FUTURE I'LL HAVE ELBOWED MY WAY TO THE FRONT OF A MUSE SHOW AND YOU GUYS WILL RANDOMLY SAUNTER ONSTAGE. WITH SPARKLERS.
MITCH: Hopefully! Then to be escorted off by security.
TIM: But at the same time, I'd also love to play with someone like Ariana Grande or some ridiculously not appropriate show like that. I wouldn't be oposed to that.
MITCH: Also thinking of some of the smaller bands that we have played with - they are bands that I'd always wanted to play with from the start as well. Bands like The Getaway Plan, they've always inspired us, especially me musically. We've shared the stage with them a few times over the past couple of years and it's been incredible.
TIANA: WELL GOOD LUCK WITH THE ALBUM RELEASE TOMORROW, CAN'T WAIT TO HEAR THE REST OF 'BETWEEN RAGE AND SERENITY' AND KEEP KICKING GOALS!
TIM + MITCH: Thanks! Bye!
'Between Rage and Serenity' is out tomorrow - get your hands and/or ears on it on Spotify, iTunes, or any of the other music usual suspects. More info below.
BY TIANA SPETER