By The Seats Of Their Pants

28 March 2013 | 11:07 am | Cam Findlay

"Now that we’ve had the latitude of recording an album, we really feel a freedom to experiment a lot more, in a constructive way. Even Dave’s songwriting has matured a lot from those first songs."

You may remember the track Fly from last year. The keyboard is what you may remember the most about it: the repetitive and driving, yet light, key tone was almost a spitting image of LCD Soundsystem's piano riff in All My Friends. Or maybe it was the vocals. Hearkening to British bands like Snow Patrol, the melodic refrain was broken apart by choreographed shouting: “You'll be alright my friend/It'll be just fine again/We'll run back home together/It'll be like we were never”. Either way, you probably remember the song, and whatever emotive connotations it brought to you. Don't let that be your judgement on Nantes, however. There's a fair bit more to them than a shared love of LCD Soundsystem.

“Things are going pretty well, man,” guitarist, vocalist and the man behind that key tone, Josiah Eastwood, says jovially from his home in northwestern Sydney. We're just trying to get ready for tour, that's sort of the focus at the moment. And we're trying to get the songs tuned up. We're at the stage where we're going through rehearsals and that kind of thing. So we're experimenting with how the live show's going to work. We're trying to find different ways of making it fun live, and little transitions and stuff like that. But it's fun, it's a good place to be.”

That whole process of trying to work out how the live show is going to go, especially when looking at the long slog that is a national tour, is especially pertinent to Nantes. Though they've been going for a few years now, the idea of touring as a band is a fairly new prospect. Eastwood and David Rogers, the chief vocalist and frontman, have been the core duo during the gestation of Nantes, and Rogers himself has been behind the lyrics and feelings of the songs. Eastwood explains a little of the history of that partnership. “It really started off with Dave writing a few songs in his bedroom. He went around and asked a few of his mates who were musos what they thought about them. We were sorta into them, so we just really started it as a recording project. The plan wasn't really have a band; the plan was really to experiment with recording the songs, and to just have a play-around with them. That was where we were at for a while, and then Dave put the first song we did on triple j Unearthed, and that got a little bit of attention. That song turned out to be Fly. And sort of as a result of that, we somehow became a band. It certainly wasn't us deciding that that's what we wanted to do. It's weird how that, usually, a band comes together and forms out an idea of what they wanna do, and then they go out there and get people to listen to their music. But we had this situation where we had to form a band, because we entirely fell into it.”

With that, you can't blame Nantes from wanting to be prepared for this tour, when they eyes of the music scene will be on them. Following the huge success of Fly, they found themselves in a situation where they had to get touring – and fast. “We realised that, because of the song becoming so big, we actually had to sort our shit out and get playing live,” Eastwood says. “But we weren't really prepared. We kinda had to get the whole thing together really quickly, and a lot of the guys hadn't played in a band before. So we found ourselves going around and playing live gigs, and we had no idea what we were doing most of the time. It totally came together by accident, really.”

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That was back then, though. Nantes have become the talk of the town (at least in their hometown) due to their supreme technical abilities, moving melodies and all-'round captivating sound. Surely, by now, they must be happy with how their live show has developed. “Oh man, do you want the real answer?” Eastwood laughs. “Well, we've always had fun on the road. That's always the first port of call when we're playing shows and stuff. It's definitely what we love about playing music; the ability to play with other people and knock around with the crowd and stuff. We really love that. But still, it's been a pretty rocky road. We've changed line-ups a few times. The first tour was really really fun with the guys we started with, but it didn't really continue and build up as much momentum as it should've, or at least as much as we hoped it would. So we had to kind of stop and reset halfway through the year. But with the new record out, I think it's come together a lot better. We all definitely share that live touring bug, as much as Nantes is a product of recording. We love being out there.”

The record that Eastwood mentions, Beingsbeing, is Nantes' debut. Don't expect it to sound like Fly, though. Where Fly was a summertime road-trip song, Beingsbeing is incredibly complex, and very dark at times. The orchestration goes from simple to complex in a heartbeat, and claustrophobia interchanges with open, atmospheric textures. It's not what you would assume from that first single. “I definitely do think that the album is form a completely different state to our early stuff,” Eastwood explains. “I feel like we're in a very different place now. It's gone from something that we were just messing around with to something that's a lot more focused. And I guess with that, there's a lot more vision in the ideas and the songs we write. And even from that album, we've kind of stepped forward. Because the album was written a while ago now, we've had a chance to focus on new ideas. Now that we've had the latitude of recording an album, we really feel a freedom to experiment a lot more, in a constructive way. Even Dave's songwriting has matured a lot from those first songs. We aren't really looking back at that, we're just excited about what we're doing next. It's something I definitely want to keep doing.”

Nantes will be playing the following dates:

Saturday 30 March - Amplifier Bar, Perth WA
Sunday 31 March - Newport Hotel, Fremantle WA
Thursday 4 April - Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane QLD
Friday 5 April - The Loft, Gold Coast QLD
Wednesday 10 April - Beach Road Hotel, Bondi NSW
Thursday 11 April - Transit Bar, Canberra ACT
Friday 12 April - Yours & Owls, Wollongong NSW
Saturday 13 April - GoodGod Small Club, Sydney NSW
Friday 19 April - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC
Saturday 20 April - Ed Castle, Adelaide SA