Just Do It

24 October 2012 | 6:45 am | Brendan Telford

“We certainly have been fairly dormant, which is largely our own fault.”

With the ever-shifting climate that surrounds indie music in Australia, it's easy to forget that there was a time when jangly, articulate guitar rock ruled the landscape. Bands like Gaslight Radio, Bluebottle Kiss and Sandpit were scavengers of eloquence within noise, which led to the release of some incendiary releases. A band that floated on the fringes of this is Knievel, the Sydney-based quartet fond of crafting expressive rock with strong pop sensibilities, yet just like the aforementioned bands, Knievel drifted away after the release of 2002's No One's Going To Understand In My Way. But unlike those bands, Knievel never truly went away, instead biding their time to burst forth again with more resonance than ever before.

“We certainly have been fairly dormant, which is largely our own fault,” the affable Wayne Connolly admits. “We've played sporadically over the last ten years, but often without any fanfare or publicity. A lot of bands we admire are doing that also, keeping things low-key and manageable. In our own mind it doesn't feel that bad, but we've been busy doing our own things, building studios and whatnot, and you look up and it's been ten years. Now that we have a new album coming out, it makes sense that there is a modicum of fanfare around it.”

The new album is Emerald City, and it's an instant reminder of why sunny-yet-literate guitar rock has been a staple of the Australian musical consciousness for decades. Connolly asserts that new material was always on the cards.

“I think part of it comes from having a band that love playing together, and we feel like there is a lot of untapped potential here,” he laughs. “We started writing and recording about two years ago. And we also have access to a good studio, right at our fingertips. Everything felt good so we kept going. We hammered out ten songs in five days, pretty much the album – it just took me one-and-a-half years to write the lyrics.”

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Connolly's lyrics are renowned for looking at the darker corners of human interaction and relationships, and whilst there seems to be a concerted effort to steer away from such introspections to offer a sunnier disposition, those fervent ponderings are still evident on Emerald City. Connolly admits that when it comes to writing, happiness doesn't always provide creative inspiration.

“At first I felt that we had covered such territory before; I didn't want to repeat things I thought I got right already,” Connolly states. “But you can't dictate these things, otherwise it won't come out at all, so you let things come to you in their own way. I realise that I don't have much of a capacity for writing uplifting songs, and most of the music I like, such as My Morning Jacket, isn't uplifting in any way; it's all pretty solemn. And a lot of the songs on the record surround that isolation a lot of people feel when they live in cities. I moved in from the country and you always feel like you are trying to fit in somewhere, and realising everyone is doing the same.

“We weren't afraid to reflect; we aren't a young band that spends a lot of time trying to get on triple j anymore. But once you're a musician, you're a musician for life, you never truly stop. You look over at New Zealand – amazing bands like The Clean, The Verlaines, The Bats, they never hung up their boots. They play when they want to play and are still incredible bands. You never stop to think maybe no one wants to see you play or that no one cares; you just do it.”

Knievel will be playing the following shows:

Friday 26 October - The Hideaway, Brisbane QLD
Saturday 3 November - Yah Yah's, Melbourne VIC