INTERVIEW: Ben Smalley (LOOSE END)
Overthinking and pop-punk often goes hand in hand, but for Melbourne rockers Loose End the act of rumination gets a refreshing spin with their polished brand of heavy and melodic pop-punk.
Hailing from Victoria and starting life in a bedroom, this endearing quintet have since spent their short time together crafting and developing their tunes, while staying true to their overall mission statement: to make music they want to hear.
Recently releasing their poignant single 'Jordan Street' from their forthcoming EP 'Overthinking Everything I Know', there's no doubt we've got a whole lot more fiery nostalgia to come from the Loose End lads before their EP releases on November 30th. But before the next adventure, Tiana stole some time with frontman Ben Smalley to chat writing, revelations, and space shuttles. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hi Ben, thanks so much for chatting today! I’ve been really digging your stuff, especially your latest track ‘Jordan Street’. I initially thought it was going to be about Michael Jordan, but there’s obviously a much more personal narrative at play with this one. Can you talk me through the backstory with this track?
BEN SMALLEY: I did read the other day that they are making Space Jam 2 which is awesome. Thank you so much, that’s so kind of you. I was at Drama School and getting close to graduating, while simultaneously recording the new EP. It was a time where I was fortunate enough to be doing exactly what I wanted all day, every day. Which was an amazing feeling but I did know in the back of my mind it would all be coming to an end soon. With no way of knowing whether or not my career to pan out and my dreams would be become a reality. Or whether I would be stuck in the same café job for the next 20 years. That is what the song is about. The other side of chasing your dreams, the part where most of us end up. From there I started reflecting on my earlier life and having these amazing nostalgic moments of my high school band. I know it probably is just the nostalgia but they seemed like easier times.
TIANA: And the accompanying music video is not only stunningly shot and produced, but also a great complement to the track thematically. How did the concept come up for this one?
BEN: Aiden Rice is a genius. We were lucky enough to be good friends with him and we met up a few times, and just workshopped a bunch of ideas. As the song is about the darker side of chasing your dreams. We wanted to show a young kid who had that beautiful innocence and passion that only someone so shielded from the realities of the world can have. Then cut to the young kid, 20 years down the track and he has now achieved his childhood dream but it’s not everything he imagined. There is a lot of baggage that comes along with it. We found the space shuttle set through our bass player Jack. He works with a guy who was working on this short film called Transmissions (By Writer/Director John Hewison - it looks amazing check it out) and they had wrapped shooting but the set was vacant. They were super kind and offered it to us. From there everything just came together.
JORDAN STREET (LOOSE END)
TIANA: ‘Jordan Street’ is a peek into your sophomore EP ‘Overthinking Everything I Know’ – what was it that made you pick this one for the first single?
BEN: As a band we felt that Jordan Street was the best introduction to the new Loose End. Lyrically it really sums up the EP as a whole, hence why we picked a line from it as the title. Also musically the song really shows the progression we have all made individually and as a whole.
TIANA: And with regards to the upcoming EP, is there anything else you can reveal about what to expect from ‘Overthinking Everything I Know’? As a side note, the title could practically be the title of my autobiography…
BEN: That is really awesome, you are not the first person to say that. It wasn’t until we released the name of the new EP until we found out how universally relatable the title is. It is comforting in a weird way to know that everyone else overthinks everything day to day. The EP has six tracks on it all which are completely different in their own way. We have more pop-punky songs, metal songs and then bigger ballad tracks. Screams, rock guitar riffs, clean melodic leads, funky bass lines and insane drums. Also our pop-punk tracks aren’t about ex-girlfriends which is a new.
TIANA: Loose End officially formed I believe back in 2016, and you had your debut EP out last year – how did you all come together to form Loose End way back when?
BEN: Loose End was a project that I started in my bedroom just writing songs that I wanted to hear. I couldn’t find any other members that wanted to join, but I had studio time booked in. Thankfully my good friend Rhys Brennan saved me and helped write and record the guitars. The first drummer pulled out of the band 2 weeks before recording and we were starting to panic. Rhys knew of Jackson, who is now the drummer, expect he lived in Horsham which is like 4 hours away from Melbourne I believe. He listened to the tracks, drove down the next week and smashed out the entire EP in half a day. From there Jackson introduced us to Schmidty, Mitch and Jack.
TIANA: I’ve read that you all have a wide range of influences. Loose End obviously sit in the heavier realms of the pop-punk label and have some clear “sound likes” (e.g Trophy Eyes, Hellions) - but what influences did you all have coming into this project?
BEN: For me personally it was The Story So Far, Neck Deep, BMTH, Turnstile and Catfish and The Bottlemen. Also Trophy Eyes and Hellions are two bands that we all really look up to, so to be in the same sentence in them is awesome. Thank you.
TIANA: Outside of the obvious ones, what music are you personally currently really into at the moment? Are there possibly any surprises lurking on your Spotify playlists?
BEN: Mac Miller’s latest album Swimming. That album is incredible. He really was a special guy. A lot of Turnover in preparation for seeing them in December. I have also recently really been getting into Elvis Presley. My parents didn’t listen to him when I was growing up, so I haven’t ever really listened to him. All his songs are so damn catchy. If you get the chance, go on YouTube and check out Jim Carey’s post-nuclear Elvis impression. It is one of the best videos I have ever seen.
TIANA: with regards to crafting a Loose End song, what’s the process, is it a collaborative process? Is it an “anything goes” kind of thing, or have you guys honed a method that really works for you?
BEN: This EP was the first time we all actually worked together on writing, so it was a huge learning process. At first I was quite nervous about how it would pan out but it turned out to be very organic. We met once at a week at Schmidty and Jack’s apartment, one or two of us would have an idea and we would just run with it. Recording it on my laptop, listening back and just fine tuning each track. No one was a diva and took lead. When someone was on a roll the rest of us sat back and just let them spill their guts. It was a really fun way of working. I can’t wait to start writing for the next release.
TIANA: Being a Melbourne band, you’re amongst some stellar local heavy talent there. Who are some of your favourite local bands, whether playing with them or just checking them out live?
BEN: We are so unbelievably lucky to live in Melbourne with the amount of great talent out here. Our good friends Reside, Bridge The Border, Better Half and Future Static are all awesome Melbourne bands and even better people. Definitely check them out.
TIANA: And looking slightly wider, do you have a bucket list band you guys would absolutely love to tour with one day?
BEN: Oh this is a tough one, umm, for me it would have to be Bring Me The Horizon to see what they are doing at the moment is incredibly inspiring.
LOOSE END'S NEW TRACK 'JORDAN STREET' IS OUT AND ABOUT IN THE WORLD NOW. FOR MORE LOOSE END INFO, HEAD HERE
BY TIANA SPETER