Icing On The Cake

11 December 2012 | 6:45 am | Tyler McLoughlan

"I’d be pretty disappointed if I got seven tracks on an album, but it’s a lot bigger than what you’d expect an EP to be… So we went with mini-album…”

Armed with a name that somewhat contradicts their ethereal indie rock and certainly the elegant vocal styling of bow-tie wearing frontman Jordan Sturdee, Battleships have seemingly come from nowhere to finish as a front running up-and-comer of 2012.

“The bass player Jon [Bowden] and I, who also write the songs, we grew up together on the Sunshine Coast and we'd been friends since we were really young. Both our parents' had four boys so we had these fixed play dates, sometimes forcibly,” Sturdee chuckles of the solid origins of Battleships. “But we always wanted to start a band when we were in school; we tried a few times to start weird bands, and whatever was the trend in music we'd give it a go, but it was nothing sort of serious – we just mucked around. We were always writing songs together but Jon and drummer Dan [McMurray] moved down from [the] Sunshine Coast to Sydney about five years ago to get away and start doing some music and eventually they pestered me enough to move down with them and start Battleships.”

With their first singles gaining almost immediate traction at the beginning of the year, Battleships sailed the initial wave of radio and blog enthusiasm until the timing was right to float their first proper release this month, a mini-album titled To You.     

“The first two singles that we put out had carried longer than we'd expected; In Retrospect lasted almost five months sort of thing, and then Your Words was the same thing – it got a lot of airplay so it really pushed back the making of the EP. And by the time we got to making it, we wanted it to be a good summation of what we were and what the music was that we were playing. I don't know that four or five songs is a very accurate depiction, so we added a few extra on there. And then we had to work out what we were gonna call it 'cause it's not really big enough to call it an album. I'd be pretty disappointed if I got seven tracks on an album, but it's a lot bigger than what you'd expect an EP to be… So we went with mini-album…” says Sturdee by way of explanation of their chosen release format.

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“Our drummer Dan pretty much recorded it all with a lot of his own gear and some borrowed as well and we just used a school hall – the hall that our Jon works at – and it's like one of those old sandstone buildings, you know like 100-year-old sort of thing… I think that's a lot of where our sound comes from too – the real echoey, reverby stuff; a lot of that is purely naturally the hall,” he admits. The sound of To You was also bolstered by the mastering skills of Don Bartley (Silverchair, The Vines).

As UK attention from the likes of Elbow frontman Guy Garvey via his BBC6 radio program stimulates overseas opportunities for the outfit, Battleships close 2012 with their first national headline tour, and a coveted New Year slot at Peats Ridge. “That was gonna be our first ever festival but we won the spot on Homebake [via triple j] so that will be our first festival – so that's two pretty cool places to be playing before the end of the year…” Sturdee says. “I think we were just happy to be getting into Homebake for free, let alone be playing as well!”

Battleships will be playing the following dates:

Thursday 29 November – Alhambra, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 30 November - Solbar, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Sunday 2 December – Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Saturday 8 December - Homebake Festival, The Domain, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 29 December to Tuesday 1 January - Peats Ridge Festival, Glenworth Valley, NSW