Listen to one Random Tangent song and you could pigeon hole the band into a genre. But listen to more than one, and that becomes difficult. The Townsville four-piece creates music that moves them, which means it doesn’t always sound the same. Meg Williams (vocals), Brett Whitbread (drums), Dave Ollier (guitar) and Scott Douglas (bass) first performed together in 2015, and are now gearing up to release their first extended play. We caught up with Random Tangent drummer Brett Whitbread to find out what to expect ahead of the band’s Mad World EP launch at the Loona Lounge this Friday night.
What does it mean for you and the band to have your original music supported so much locally?
Random Tangent have been playing live original music in venues across Townsville and North Queensland for the past 18 months and we really get a kick out of the enjoyment people get out of our performances, and we love the feedback and energy we get back from the crowds. The support they give is definitely appreciated and it is so satisfying when someone comes up to us and tells us that one of our songs strikes a chord with an experience they have had. Our recent support of Regurgitator on their North Queensland tour at Airlie Beach and Townsville was great, as we were able to play to some larger crowds and really get our music out there. It is great to know that we have connected with so many people on a personal level.
We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved as a band by completing the recording of our debut EP, and have enjoyed making the music together, learning a lot from the experience. Our band is so pleased that we are at the point we can release our Mad World EP to the public so they can enjoy the music every day as much as we do. The local music scene is getting extremely exciting, with heaps of Townsville bands releasing great music, and to see the numbers of people getting involved in supporting local bands and their music really shows that live music is alive and kicking!
How do your songs come about? Is it collaborative or do you all come up with different ideas?
I normally write the song lyrics and some melodies which is really unusual for a drummer. I remember when I first started writing songs, I learnt quickly that for me, the songs can’t be forced out, they need to evolve naturally through either life experiences and emotional events, or subjects that I am passionate about. Generally, they just “come out when they are ready” and I feel compelled to write the lyrics down. The melodies sometimes come when I am developing the lyrics, and sometimes I get a melody going on a guitar with some hooks, and the words just flow depending on what I have been feeling. For instance, Lone Ship, a song about solitude and the negative voices in your head came to me after I had a really bad day and was feeling very alone, yet Love Bomb, a playful song about the differing emotional needs of men and women, came to me when I was on a short flight to Cairns. I literally had the lyrics written between eating the massive Byron Bay cookie handed out during food service and the plane’s descent, with the guitar hook already in my head before we landed!
Usually once I have come up with the concept song I will record a basic concept track (trust me, very basic) and then I will present it to the band. We then jam the song out whilst Dave adds some incendiary hooks and solos, Scotty brings the bass line to life, Meg adds the attitude to the lyrics, and we polish that turd until it shines! Sometimes the melodies will be provided by either Dave or Scotty, and Meg has been coming up with some really cool lyrics lately. We are really growing as individuals, and as a band, and I am really looking forward to the next chapter because I can feel some awesome new music coming on in the next year. Then we can focus on our next EP or maybe even a whole album.
For people who haven’t heard you play live before, what should they expect at Loona Lounge?
Attending a Random Tangent performance is more than just listening to four people playing music; it is a high energy journey through our band’s collective psyche, sharing our life experiences and a connection, whilst having a really fun time joining in with our random antics! Our sounds are edgy with guitar solos that will have you playing air guitar for days. I’ve played music with Dave, our guitarist, on and off for years and I can confidently say that he is the best guitarist I have ever played with. He shreds like no other and I feel so lucky to have met him. Scotty, our bass player, is the class clown of the band and when he’s not laying some really solid bass lines he is cracking jokes and just being the crazy larrikin we have come to know and love. Meg sings like it’s her last night on earth and I love how she puts everything into her performance. If you haven’t connected with her by the end of the show then you better check your pulse. And finally on the drums, I just can’t help myself and have to play my heart out every time because I just love drumming and believe that drums are there to be hit. Putting all of that together, prepare to be engaged like you’ve never been engaged before. We love what we do and I get a real buzz out of connecting musically with these crazy kids. You might even see some visual surprises to complement our music on the night to bring our EP release performance up to the next level. We are really excited about this gig!
And what should we expect from Mad World?
Random Tangent by name, Random Tangent by nature! It is really hard to classify our sound because the songs are so different from each other. When we started two years ago, we were thinking we were going to be a punk band, of which some of our earlier songs were, but as we developed things took a different course. The songs off the Mad World EP range from the heavier Undertow and Spaceman which are sort of a quick pace hard rock with a crunchy guitar sound, to Should’ve Known Better, a power ballad with a delicate and innocent start, flowing on with a really emotional feel escalating gradually to a dominant crescendo; Mad World is rocky with a strong guitar hook and a chorus that totally allows Meg’s powerful voice to open up and raise the roof, giving you goose bumps; Love Bomb is a risqué rock song full of attitude with an equally strong guitar hook; and finally my personal favourite, Lone Ship, which has a rich and enveloping, yet slightly tormented sound complementing the moderately twisted lyrics of personal doubt, and uncertainty. They really are a mixed bag, but they are connected through a common instrument sound and playing technique with Meg’s unique and high energy portrayal of their individual themes and emotions.
What are your dreams for Random Tangent five or 10 years from now?
That’s a really difficult question. We started this band after doing a one-off Divinyls tribute gig, and we really hit it off with each other and decided to make some original music together. Things have just sort of evolved from there and the songs started to flow out of us. It has been exciting supporting a number of touring bands and we are proud of what we are achieving. We have a number of songs up on TripleJ Unearthed (please vote for us!) and hopefully we will get some broader attention from that leading to some more support gigs, and our dream scenario would be to get the opportunity to play some festivals on the East coast. One can only dream…. In the meantime, we will continue doing what we love, playing to the cool people of Townsville and North Queensland. There’s nothing better than playing music in front of people in the paradise we call home.
We would love to see as many people as possible down at The Loona Lounge at The Commonwealth Hotel for our EP release on Friday. It’s going to be a rad night with support bands Why Wait and Batphink playing as well. We will have lots of reasonably priced merchandise including our EP, T Shirts, Stubby Coolers and Stickers on sale as well. The atmosphere at Loona Lounge is just so lush with really intimate lighting, enough couches to rival Harvey Norman, some totally cool people, and lastly, awesome local original music! Come on down and party with Random Tangent!
Catch Random Tangent‘s Mad World EP launch at the Loona Lounge, Commonwealth Hotel this Friday from 6pm. Entry is $10, with support from Why Wait and Batphink. For more information, follow the Loona Lounge on Facebook.