Overnight Sensation

26 June 2012 | 3:28 pm | Doug Wallen

Sures secured an instant audience but are still finding their sound, Matt Hogan tells Doug Wallen.

It's no exaggeration to call SURES a young band. How long exactly have the Sydney duo-turned-quartet been around? “Maybe like seven months?” muses guitarist Matt Hogan. “Maybe eight.” They've made an eerie amount of progress in that time, graduating from being just another band uploading songs on triple j Unearthed to supporting such international touring acts as Best Coast, Real Estate and Wavves. Now they're signed to Ivy League and have a debut EP, Stars, which pairs the titular single with their earlier home recordings.

Hogan and singer-guitarist Jonas Nicholls had another band previously, as well as others “when we were kids”, but this one has already outpaced them all. Thanks to word-of-mouth Unearthed support followed by blogs latching onto the first two SURES songs that surfaced online – Poseidon and The Sun – the duo doubled in size and began playing to much bigger crowds for those support gigs.

Such high-profile slots would be daunting for any young band, but especially one well under a year old, with members ranging in age from 19 to 21. The upshot, then, is that SURES could build their on-stage confidence all the faster than a band stuck playing hole-in-the-wall venues to an audience that may or may not care. “I'm definitely not as nervous as I used to be when we got up to play in front of, like, anyone really,” Hogan admits. “We're getting used to it a bit.” SURES have now toured nationally, and are hitting the East Coast to support the EP and single.

If their success might seem like a fluke, the appeal of a song like Poseidon is undeniably instant. Doused in bottomless reverb and fuzz, it's got a gooey, up-all-night pop vibe that's completed by Beach Boys-worthy sighs and an early-Weezer turn to Nicholls' voice. (We keep expecting him to break into Jamie.) It taps into the slacker beach vibe that's everywhere right now, as well as the '50s nostalgia of everyone from The Drums to Bleeding Knees Club. As for the other song they debuted with, the two-minute The Sun hangs on wide-eyed harmonies.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

So are The Beach Boys huge for these guys, or is it more Beach Boys-influenced acts like Panda Bear? Neither, it turns out. “The harmonies are sort of folky. You don't really hear folk music in our influences, but we both like Simon & Garfunkel and that kind of thing.” Actually, if you strip the surf guitar and reverb from The Sun, the vocals tip close to, say, Mumford & Sons.

Despite signing to a well-known label and having their first official release, SURES didn't screw with their homespun vibe. Of the EP's five songs only the title track was re-recorded. And even though that was done with producer Dann Hume (Evermore, Lisa Mitchell) as opposed to in GarageBand on Nicholls' computer, it's not a radical departure. “We just ran [our] version through a better desk. We used all the same plug-ins. We didn't even use amps. We wanted it to sound like GarageBand, but just bigger.”

The next step, of course, is working towards an album. SURES already have an album's worth of newer songs, but they want to write plenty more before they begin to narrow them down to the strongest batch. That puts their debut album back to next year for a probable release. In that time, who knows how the band will evolve? They already have a habit of changing course from song to song. “When we started the band,” recalls Hogan, “we were still learning how to write songs. And we're still learning now. Every song sounds really different, because we don't know how to write in a specific style. You can hear that on the EP. It still works in a way that's cohesive, I think. I guess we're still figuring it out.”