Friday, July 10, 2009
Filter-mag.com have posted an article about The Morning After Girls who just released their new digital only album "Alone"...
Every Man An Island: Embracing Isolation with The Morning After Girls
by Liz Countryman | 07.10.2009
If you’ve been lucky enough to catch The Morning After Girls at one of their few U.S. shows, you may not have realized that while five musicians were thrashing around in front of you, back where they’re from, it was already the morning after. That’s because the Girls (all men, by the way) hail from the land down under—about as far away from the States as you can get. Now settled in New York City and armed with a new album, Alone, they’re more than eager to rediscover themselves.
The Morning After Girls have been through their share of transformations, but the creative core of the band—co-frontmen Martin Sleeman and Sacha Lucashenko—has remained consistent since the two first met through a mutual friend in Melbourne. Within days, they were playing 16-hour sessions in a “small garage-shed situation” in the industrial suburb of Footscray. “We’d get up, start playing around lunchtime, and go until the next day,” recalls Lucashenko. “Mind you, I’d only known this boy for a few weeks.” Before long, The Morning After Girls had become part of Melbourne’s thriving, if insular, independent scene.
Although Australia gave the band its first taste of popularity, Lucashenko and Sleeman appear ambivalent about their native country, seemingly for both practical and emotional reasons. While Melbourne’s cold winters are good for staying indoors and writing music, the local scene, says Lucashenko, can get “claustrophobic” and the capacity for popular success in a remote country of 20 million people is limited. “You hit a brick wall there,” says Sleeman, “and it isn’t just the geography that’s a hindrance to a band’s development—Australia’s major cities are separated by 12-hour drives—it’s also the largely conservative mentality of the culture. Anything left of center is dismissed…and music can be seen as a metaphor for the general Australian attitude of being scared to be proud of who you are.”
Perhaps it was their country’s cultural identity crisis that gave The Morning After Girls one of their own. Between 2006 and 2009, the band took a hiatus from touring in the U.S., and during that time they underwent some personnel changes, losing three members and replacing them with three new ones. The details of the rift are hazy, but at least two things seem to be certain: that the changes were an effort to better the musicianship in the band, and that Sleeman and Lucashenko were at least partly responsible for the decision.
Relocated and reconfigured, the band is excited about its new surroundings and already claiming them as home. “I couldn’t feel more relaxed than when I’m in a chaotic environment,” says Sleeman. “If you walk through the city with open arms and attitude, it gives you so much back.” And the invigorating yet isolating experience of living in a city like New York couldn’t fit better with the themes of the Girls’ newest album. Written in a period ranging from six weeks to six years ago, and done “all over the place...from various bedrooms to hotel rooms,” the songs on Alone deal with the alienation caused by the same technologies which are intended to connect people. According to Sleeman, the album suggests that we’re better off embracing our isolation than trying to escape it. “The greatest strength that you can feel is when you feel totally alone,” he says. “When we came to realize that was a good thing, we felt peace.” The album’s themes are brought forth not just lyrically, but through its instrumentation as well. Awash in layers of echoing guitar and keyboard, the songs invoke a decidedly urban species of solitude, the kind one might find in a packed nightclub. “On the album, we were conscious of space,” says Sleeman. “We wanted to give a feeling of space when you hear the music.”
For a band trying to establish itself within a new and diverse musical landscape, The Morning After Girls haven’t spent much time trying to catch up on the latest musical trends. Instead, Lucashenko and Sleeman keep their headphones set on classical and pick up only what happens to be playing in the crowded rooms they find themselves in. “Life influences me more than anything—I’m not someone who listens to that much music on my own,” says Sleeman. Isolation may have become one of their generative themes, but it seems also to have hindered, at least for now, their appreciation of their own musical moment. “There hasn’t been a very good record released in the last five or six years,” says Lucashenko, “that’s probably why we’ve been getting attention.”
Although Lucashenko and Sleeman have grown accustomed to hearing comparisons to bands as influential as My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, they don’t dwell on those assessments enough to feel the artistic and historic weight of them. “It feels like a lack of imagination,” says Sleeman. “We’d prefer an original description.” Lucashenko agrees, adding that, while flattering, that kind of contextualizing, a convention of rock criticism, leaves an absence. “I think we sound like The Morning After Girls.”
But just what that assertion really means is still unclear. Alone has a clean excitement about it, and one does hear traces of bands past who’ve similarly dealt in fullness and texture. Exactly how this band will add to the conversation remains to be seen, but with a new continent under their feet and so much ahead, The Morning After Girls have every opportunity to figure it all out.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 9:57 PM