INTERVIEW: Liam Guinane (WINDWAKER)
In case you've been living under a noise-cancelling rock, the Aussie heavy music domination is alive and well, and one of the groups at the forefront of putting local heavy tunes on the map is none other than Melbourne-via-Wagga Wagga boys Windwaker.
For a group who have only been in action for three short years, and already with a few line-up mix ups along the way, what ultimately speaks volumes louder than their pounding intensity and razor-sharp tones is their dedication to innovation and the ability to create music that is remarkably identifiable and genre-defying. In a world where every man and his dog and his dog's iPhone can release their own music, it's a rare feat to hone in on a sound that is distinctly unique - but somehow the Windwaker lads have found their niche that straddles metalcore, prog and a dash of post-hardcore, all while also tackling the technical sides behind the recording desk.
Having just come off a string of interstate shows and with a brand new single and music video under their belts, there's a heap more noise to come from this thumping quintet. But before they head back into the studio, The Soundcheck chatted to their freshly minted guitarist and vocalist Liam Guinane to talk in-house production, new music and some insights into Windwaker's sonic shape-shifting ways. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hi Liam! So great to talk to you today! I believe you've recently had some epic trips on the road with your recent tour, how did all the shows go?
LIAM GUINANE: They were a lot of fun actually, they were great! They far exceeded our expectations, actually. They were a little bit different to our normal shows, unfortunately our singer Will (King - vocals) had to pull out of the whole tour cos he got the flu! So, I had to step in on the vocals for the tour on short notice! But it turned out to be a really fun time, we kind of had it like Windwaker-karaoke, as such. We got people to grab the microphone off me and do their best Will King impressions (laughs).
TIANA: I like this, it could be a fun thing to try from time to time! Open mic night!
LIAM: Absolutely! My focus was just to make sure it was as fun as possible, so people got their money's worth coming to the show!
TIANA: Well good on you boys for carrying on despite the difficult circumstances! And thank goodness you have some of those vocal skills up your sleeve!
LIAM: Thank you so much. Yeah, pulling out was definitely not an option. We had to make it work, one way or another, so we're glad that we could!
TIANA: So to get a really dorky question out of the way...and you may laugh at me and make fun of me forever if I'm wrong...but Windwaker...is that a Zelda reference?? Or am I just completely off the mark here?
LIAM: No, you're absolutely right with that! I'm not one of the original members, but from the stories that I've been told, basically the original lineup locked themselves into a room, had no name and literally after hours of just being deprived of the outside world, they somehow came to the name 'Windwaker'. But it's absolutely a reference to the video game!
TIANA: Great, yet again I've just outed myself as an epic dork, but at least I was right!
LIAM: No, not at all! Trust me, we're just as dorky!
TIANA: But on to more important matters, you guys just recently also released an absolute corker with your new single 'New Infinite', and I've spied it's already been added to the Homegrown and Heavy playlist on Spotify...and you've even drawn some favourable comparisons on Unearthed to the likes of Underoath...how does it feel now that this track is kicking around out there in the world?
LIAM: It's kind of cathartic in a way! We're super happy with it, it's kind of the first piece of music that as a band we've all been involved with. Prior to 'New Infinite', with our EP 'Fade', a lot of effort's focused on our drummer Lalic (Chris Lalic - drums), who was the main songwriter. And with 'New Infinite' and onwards into this new material that we're planning on putting out later this year, it's been an equal effort among all of us in terms of songwriting. And even with the production of the track as well, Lalic and I are both engineers and producers so we definitely worked hard to try and get it to sound the best as what we imagined in our heads. And it's exceeded our expectations with how well it's done.
TIANA: And as you have just mentioned, there's a little element of DIY to this track, which is extremely well-polished, it's obviously no surprise you guys know what you're doing. On that front, written and produced by you guys, as well as mixed and mastered...you guys have clearly gone to a lot of trouble to tackle all of these aspects. But was this something that the band had always wanted to do, or did it stem from their previous experiences making 'Fade'?
LIAM: So the last EP 'Fade', we went to a producer and that was a good experience for us because, as I said earlier Chris Lalic our drummer is a engineer and a producer and he produces bands. And I think we were a bit conscious at the time of getting in our own head a little bit, and that experience of having someone outside of the band working on the song structures and production and technical side of things was a good learning experience for us to see what we would sound like without us doing it. This time around, we all contributed a lot in terms of songwrtiting, but the DIY thing kinda came from...we had about 5 or 6 people kinda do test mixes of our song, and it just sort of came down to us specifically having an idea of what we wanted it to sound like. And I guess we kind of had the advantage there! So we just ended up liking ours the best in the end, and that's kind of the track that you guys hear now.
TIANA: Well it's come up amazingly, and it wouldn't necessarily be an easy thing to choose that path and remain objective, but you made the right decision I think, and everyone else seems to agree with me!
LIAM: Thank you so much! That's so nice of you to say.
TIANA: And we not only got the brand new tune, but you guys also threw down a pretty epic new music video to go with it, and I feel like it perfectly complements the explosive and melodic crescendos going on in the track...was this an enjoyable process, do you guys enjoy this filming aspect as well?
LIAM: Yeah, absolutely! This time around was one of our first experiences working in collaboration with a director and cinematographer, and also something that is involved in visual effects. So we worked with Kez from Crystal Arrow (Crystal Arrow Films), and he did the filming and the directing of the video. And it was such an enjoyable experience, he's such a down-to-earth guy. It was great to be able to be in control as well as collaborate with him on an idea of what we wanted the video to be. We were absolutely exhausted by the end of it, we shot that video I think two days before Christmas, and so it was a really hot, scorching Summer day and we were in this tin, shed-like thing which is that white kind of brick-wall environment seen in the clip. And we had done so many takes of the song and we were so exhausted and sweaty that day. But even despite physically being so drained after it we were so happy with the result, and so happy to work with Kez on that video.
'NEW INFINITE' (WINDWAKER)
TIANA: Now I know we already mentioned you guys recently coming off some tours, but it's not the first time Windwaker have toured obviously. The group itself has only been together for three years, yes?
LIAM: Yep that's correct, with many different line-up changes!
TIANA: Three short years and a bunch of line-up changes, that's impressive in itself! And then some of the bands the group have been on tour with just blows my mind, there's been Voyager, In Hearts Wake, Algorithm, Miss Fortune...to name just a very small few! But you guys kind of seem to have this seemingly seamless appeal across quite a wide variety of genres. And Windwaker seem to frequently be labelled as 'metalcore'...but do you feel like that label is actually accurate?
LIAM: Yeah, I mean...that's a very good question to ask because I think we generally consciously try to cover a lot of bases! And 'New Infinite' I feel is a testimony to that, and I suppose even some of the new material, to kind of tease that a little bit, we're kind of trying to cover the bases of having a great pop sensibility while still kind of maintaining some level of heaviness. All our members, we kind of have very mixed musical backgrounds and interests. So...metalcore I think probably...it's sort of a very broad term, but I guess it would be in the same way that we would call certain bands "alternative", you know? In alternative you can have two different bands that sound completely different, but still remain under the same label umbrella. We've been baffled by it as well (laughs), that we just kind of work on these weird different line-ups, we get asked to play a prog show one week and then, I don't know, Gravemind the next week, like full deathcore. It's kind of bizarre to us, but we're totally fine with it! Totally not complaining on our end!
TIANA: You're heavy music chameleons, I've decided that's what your genre is.
LIAM: Oh, that's awesome! Hopefully I can borrow that term!
TIANA: I'll allow it! Now you mentioned how everyone in Windwaker have very different interests, I'd love to find out what you grew up listening to? Do you have quite a broad musical taste?
LIAM: Yeah, personally I'm a big punk and emo kid, that's kind of my background. And I'm also very big on hip hop and electronic and pop music. I actually don't listen to a lot of heavy music personally, I have bands that I like that are heavy but I wouldn't say I'm listening to heavy music all day, every day. I know our guitarist Jesse (Crofts) is full into death metal and that kind of stuff, and our drummer is into 2000 Australian rock music like your Silverchairs and your Grinspoons...so I guess that's probably where we cover all of those bases a little bit.
TIANA: Well I think it'd good to have that balance, and also then you've got the added bonus of driving each other crazy when you're on the road!
LIAM: Oh yeah, the tunes that get played on tour are so eclectic, it's not even funny! Someone's always either happy or really unhappy all simultaneously. It's great (laughs).
TIANA: It's the ultimate bonding exercise, you're not truly friends with someone unless you've annoyed the absolute crap out of the other person!
LIAM: (laughs) Absolutely! Definitely absolutely.
TIANA: Being based in Melbourne now, you guys have some pretty bat-shit crazy good bands down there...have you got any particular favourites on a local level, either at home or around the country?
LIAM: We're very good friends with the Diamond Construct, they're one of our favourite bands to tour with. We had such a good experience with them last time, and when we were up in Sydney recently a few of them came by and watched us and it was just such a beautiful reunion again! In terms of Melbourne bands, we're also pretty good friends with Arkive, and also Gravemind who I mentioned earlier. I would love to one day tee up Thornhill, I'm personally friends with a few members, and Will is as well, and we're always constantly talking to each other. I would love for our schedules to line up one day and get on a bill together because that would be mad!
TIANA: Yes, I would attend the hell out of that show, just saying.
LIAM: Excellent! Good to know, I will try and tee that up for you (laughs).
TIANA: That's so very much appreciated! And throwing the net wider, whether it's at home or international, are there any bucket list bands you'd love absolutely love to share the stage with?
LIAM: Hmm...that's a good question. Off the top of my head, all the super heavy metal bands that you'd expect like Periphery and Meshuggah and stuff like that. I know personally I would love to play a show with Karnivool, they're one of my all-time favourite bands. And to name a few, I know TesseracT are coming out soon, we'd love to play with those guys.
TIANA: They sure are. That would be pretty spectacular! Now I know you guys have a lot more to come this year, you've had a crazy busy year already, but are there any secrets you can share about what's in the near future for Windwaker?
LIAM: I can definitely talk about how we plan to put out an 8 track EP later on this year, we're actually next month heading into our studio to do some pre-production for that. The songs are pretty much written, but we wanna really make them the best that they can possibly be...and not to hype it up too much, but we feel like out of the songs we have together, 'New Infinite' is probably the weakest one. We're really happy with the direction with which we're going with this EP, it's heavy but as we spoke about earlier we're still trying to maintain that pop sensibility and catchiness to our music that I think people seem to really adore. I know I'm personally getting more and more opportunities to sing on this EP with Will, with a dueling act a little bit which I'm super excited for our listeners to hear!
TIANA: Well that's super exciting, and thank you so much for chatting today! Can't wait to hear the new stuff very, very soon!
LIAM: That's so lovely, thank you very much for talking to me Tiana!
WINDWAKER'S NEWEST SINGLE 'NEW INFINITE' IS OUT NOW VIA ALL THE USUAL MUSIC HAUNTS, AND IF YOU'RE IN MELBOURNE YOU CAN HEAD ALONG TO THE BOY'S SINGLE LAUNCH THIS SATURDAY.
TICKET INFO AND MORE BELOW:
BY TIANA SPETER