Turning The Tape On With Tape/Off

12 July 2018 | 11:36 am | Rod Whitfield

"We're guys who grew up listening to Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Pavement."

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Content warning: This news article contains discussion of sexual assault and rape. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au

It's important for audiences to be educated as to just how much time, work and effort goes into making an album. From the seeds of song ideas forming in the writers' minds through to the finished product, it truly is a monumental effort. Sometimes that entire process can take literally years. Sometimes artists emerge from the studio at the end of that journey despising what they've created, even though their fans end up loving it, because they have listened to it over and over and over. So much so that they are sick to death of it, or it has driven them crazy. Or both.

Brisbane-based punky alt-rock act Tape/Off have been four years between drinks. Their debut album Chipper surfaced in 2014, and it's taken them until 2018 to incubate and complete their imminent follow-up Broadcast Park. Drummer Branko Cosic, speaking from his workplace near the Gabba in Brissie, tells us he has miraculously bucked this trend, however.

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"The good thing is, I actually still like it!" he exclaims with mock surprise. "I don't know if you get many artists who, after they finally put a record out after working on it for quite a while, especially bands who go down the DIY path, I don't know if you'd find many who still like what they're about to put out into the world. They get kind of a bit PTSD!

"I didn't like Chipper when it first came out, because it was a bit of a hectic experience putting it together, but I still really like Broadcast Park and still can listen to it."

Maybe assisting this situation was the fact that the creation of Broadcast Park was a very collaborative, grassroots, organic process, in true punk rock style, as opposed to a bunch of musos working on their parts in their own home studios. "We all wrote every part of this album in the jam room," he reveals. "We practised and practised and practised, played a lot of gigs with those songs, and then recorded it, and I think that makes for a better listen and a better record."

So the songs were heavily road and bandroom-tested before you went into the studio? "It wasn't that we were searching for feedback or anything like that," he says. "I just think we needed to play them live first, and figure out if a lick should go here, or if it worked better if we did a third verse here, or if this chorus went for longer, or whatever.

"We nutted all those things out first and then hit 'record', which I would recommend as a better way of making a record."

Cosic struggles just a touch when asked to describe his band and the album's sound, style, songs and vibe to someone who may not have heard them any more. "I imagine it like I'm explaining it to an uneducated work colleague. It's just... loud music," he says with hesitation.

That's a little broad? "Yes, it's very broad!" he laughs self-deprecatingly. "I just explain that we're guys who grew up listening to Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Pavement, and that early '90s grunge movement. That said, I don't think it sounds like a grunge record, it sounds a little bit more angular than that.

"So it's an angular, loud record!" He laughs again, "to put it into three words."

Another feature of the album is its subtle touch of punk and grunge-style anger. While Cosic is a happy-go-lucky, affable fellow himself, he confirms that he and the band are a little pissed off about what is going on around the world right now, and that is reflected in some of the album's lyrical content and general imagery.

"Yeah, we are [angry]," he concurs. "There are a lot of not nice things about the world at the moment. From our point of view, it's kind of easy to write about. It's really hard to write nice things about the world in 2018, because there's so much evil going on. You can't walk through a park these days without being raped or murdered.

"Then there's the President of the United States, the faux leader of the free world, him running the place isn't fun either."