Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird Invite You To A Smoky Cocktail Bar With New Record

11 October 2019 | 9:43 am | Alasdair Belling

Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird frontman Lachlan Rose tells Alasdair Belling that, thanks to the support of the wider industry, the future no longer looks "like this big, shining, distant dream".

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“I’m actually just sitting outside the State Library,” Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird’s frontman Lachlan Rose begins. “I’m about to go into Melbourne Writers Festival.

"I’m attempting to write junior fiction at the moment in the time between records. I just got into the habit of going to the library and reading and writing kids’ books. It’s a nice balance.”

Rose is juggling that new artistic pursuit with touring and promotion obligations, following the release of LP, New Romancer. Meshing synth-pop with rock, indie and jazz influences, New Romancer, is distinctly atmospheric. As Rose explains, the record is designed to conjure a very specific place.

“I wanted it to feel like a night-time record that was inviting you into this intimate bar. That’s the best way I can describe it,” he says. “I’d always struggled with encapsulating an LP or EP with an aesthetic, but with this one I could really clearly see this kind of dark smoky jazz bar with a neon sign.

“I’d ask myself, ‘Does this song sound like it could belong in this bar that I’ve created?’”

There’s a cinematic flavour to New Romancer, with a scope akin to the soundtrack of a Baz Luhrmann scene. 

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“[The idea] came from Blade Runner, the score and the film… and also lots of old romantic films from the ‘50s and the ’60s,” he reveals. “All these things were floating around in this storm, and the image of the bar revealed itself.”

Jazz bars often come with a healthy dose of the blues – as do the songs on New Romancer.

“Our producer, Matt Neighbour, who’s worked with The Avalanches helped with that... They do a similar thing with their string arrangements where there is this sheen of class, but underneath it all things were really dark and twisted.”

New Romancer drops barely a year after the band’s debut record Electric Brown – an impressive feat given the ambitious arrangements on the album.

But, for Rose, even a few months is a long time to work on something. “These songs have taken several months to make which is still a long time… You do realise that you get to a point where you have to be ok with something's rawness.”

“It has a pretty concentrated theme here," he says. "It felt like the songs were just pouring out, and at the time they didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but then I would look back and think, 'Oh wow, that was actually really poignant.'"

In May, Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird performed at The Great Escape festival and conference in Brighton, England. 

“The best thing about conferences is that you can see the industry in front of you like an organism,” says Rose. “It’s all online these days and it just seems infinitely vast, but at events like The Great Escape, you can literally see it there in front of you.

“We went over there [... and then] we realised, ‘Oh, we belong here,’ and you realise that you’re ready for that experience. It made the future seem like not this big, shining, distant dream.”