They Came They Saw

18 April 2012 | 11:58 am | Izzy Tolhurst

Melbourne three-piece Iowa are regularly commended for their musical sincerity and honest live performances. According to bass player Jordan Barczak, it's something they've always strived for.

“That's the main focus of the band. We all grew up on all the '90s bands, and they were great live performers and they wrote great songs. And that's the thing; we're just playing true to all our influences. We're not trying to fit into a particularly sound or genre, we're just doing what comes out and what we all feel comfortable and happy with.”

With their debut album, Never Saw It Coming, set to be dropped at the end of April, Barczak recalls the band's earlier days (the line-up is completed by drummer Matt Rooney and guitarist Dylan Stewart), and the creation of goals which are now – apparently unexpectedly – coming well and truly to fruition.

“We set out some goals when we first started, about what we wanted to achieve with the band… to do little things like record live and release the two seven-inches and move towards an album. So it's been good that we've been able to stick to those goals, and push the band forward. For all of us, this has been the most enjoyable band we've been in, and there's no conflict of interest when it comes to the style or direction.”

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It's also a recollection that's reflected in the album title, Never Saw It Coming, not to mention a tribute to some particularly indie rockers.

“The title came about from a Deerhunter track that really stood out to us, and I think when we were just brainstorming a list of ideas that one seemed particularly relevant. Mostly because we never envisaged getting to the point of making an album. We always said that we wanted to, but it was quite a journey from being self-funded and being able to afford the studio time and putting all the extra hours in to put the album together. So I guess why we like that title is because we were kicking all these little goals, but we never thought we'd get to that point.”

According to the band's bio, the debut was “recorded over two frenetic days,” which, beyond being the financial limitations of a self-funded band, provided a sense of urgency under which Iowa work best.

“The two days were a budgetary constraint, but the whole goal of the album was to have a really live, raw sounding album, and we thought the best way of doing that would be to record it at once. We were able to knock out the majority of songs in one or two takes, and I think it comes across on the album.”

For the musically naïve enquiring about the trio's ability to make such rich, loud music with but three humble components, Barczak chuckles, and puts to rest any concerns on the matter.

“I think we recently handed out earplugs to make it a little easier for the punters to digest. But it's not loud for the sake of sheer numbers, with heaps of amps and stuff; it's rich dynamically, and dynamically loud. It's all based around big drums, big guitar and big bass, and everyone knows their role. We're describing our sound as big, wide-pounding drums with bass cutting through, and almost acting as a rhythm guitar at times. And then Dylan's wall-of-sound of guitar. And I guess that's how we achieve the volume. At the end of the day, breaking down all the songs has always been a focus for us.”

Their name, however, required a little less dynamism.

“I was flying home from a long-haul trip, and I saw it in this list of independent record stores in America. So when we were brainstorming band names I looked through my phone and that one just stood out. That was it really. And there are names like Kansas, Phoenix, and Boston that are already gone, so Iowa was the next one!”