You once played with Gaslight Radio a few years ago and I hear some similarity between the bands. Were they an influence?
Nick: I don’t really know their stuff.
Matt: We always get the odd influence question “Have you heard of this band? You sound so much like them”, when we never have heard of the band.
Nic: We’ve got weird influences, it’s very eclectic.
Matt: It really helps that most of the time we’re all listening to different things while writing. It’s not like we’re all stuck listening to the same album, everyone’s going through different periods which really does help with songwriting and even putting the guys onto different music that they may not have heard before.
You started off playing Beatles and Blur covers. Care to reveal songs in particular?
Nic: We tried “Tender”. We did the entire Let it Be era. We did so much Beatles. We were all into George Harrison solo stuff as well. We attempted a lot, but some sounded better than others.
The working titles for some of Thieves’ tracks displayed a sense of humour and wordplay (“Death from a Bruv”, “Funeral for a Trend”, “Cocaine Christians”),
Nick: This album is probably more commercial than Guillotine, and that was a conscious thing. We wanted to make a commercial album. We like pop music. In the choruses the titles are so obvious you just don’t want that to be the title.
Matt: We’ll come in with these titles and it’ll be a fight with management or whoever who’ll say “you can’t call the song that!” .
Nick: They’ll say “What has that got to do with the song?” It’s got everything to do with the song.
You mentioned Thieves is more commercial sounding. Will it feature the Australian Philharmonic orchestra perhaps?
Nic: Ah no. The commercial side — well it’s like Guillotine but a bit warmer, and a little bit fuller. But it’s not Guillotine with strings. We entered this knowing more so what album we didn’t what to make, than what album we did want to make. I think we got that from watching so many bands who we love making horrible decisions on the second album — too many slow songs, or too many songs or…
Matt: …or taking a long time to do it.
Nic: Which is another reason we trying to make it a year to the day. (Ed — Nearly. Thieves was released thirteen months after Guillotine)
Is the current break-neck schedule making up for the three years between forming and the first album?
Nic: Yeah, although that was more of stuff beyond our control. Problems with management and the like. That sorted itself out and the album finally came out.
Was the live and acoustic “Sitcom Mattress” a one off?
Nic: That was a definite one-off. We literally wrote it that morning. It was filmed at six in the morning and we’d written it about three hours before. The time that we played it was the first time we managed to get all the way through it.
Matt: We could see you guys laughing through it as well
Nic: (laughs) Because there’s this stupid lyric that Declan changed at the last minute. It’s about a sitcom actress, you go into her room and she’s killed herself and he’s describing the room. There are McDonalds wrappers and all this sort of shit, and he says the room smells of, it’s supposed to be semen and he sang “ce-ment”. We were also playing it in two different timings. I didn’t realise what was wrong until I watched it back, he was playing 3/4 and I’m playing 4/4, or something.
Do often write acoustically like that?
Nic: No not really. I write on acoustic but we don’t sit around with acoustics. It wouldn’t get the vibe I think.
You received an AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association) award for Best New Independent Artist in 2007. How are important is industry recognition like that?
Nic: It’s good. I never won anything, in school, either academic or otherwise. So it was nice.
Matt: You have an idea on how the band goes over, although being in the band itself is a bit different. But certainly when things like that happen it ads to everything. It’s great.
Nic: It was a nice one to get. It would be well cool to win an ARIA but it was a nice thing to win the independent thing. ARIAs are unfortunately dominated by label major bands and AIR is some sort of sanctuary for us guys who don’t necessarily believe in the major label way.
Five years ago when you first started out did you imagine you’d be getting these rewards and research the level of popularity you have?
Nic: I’ve always dreamt about it. The nicest thing about the last eight or nine months is to been able to cross things off that you’ve always had a dream of doing. It’s still a very long list. It’s been a great last year. I never expected it. I never expected success which I think a lot of bands do and it’s a cold reality check at the end of the day sometimes. But I’ve always been grateful for what we have achieved and if it all ended now I’d be happy…To an extent.