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Bollard have experimented with the natural order of sound and have cultivated something quite particular.
With new album Trawlers the Melbourne quartet zip together a mutation of their personal influences, creating an angst-ridden album that’s one part spoken word poetry, another part that harks back to 90s Britpop, with many more parts forming a sonic puzzle that are well worth the time to piece together. Bollard, evidently, think outside several boxes and not just one.
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“We don’t think in terms of genre,” says frontman and guitarist Tom Walsh. “We much prefer to work with a genre forming around us rather than us conforming to a genre. We have a lot of influences from rock but also jazz, shoegaze… It wasn’t, ‘Let’s make a rock album, let’s make it poppy,’ it’s from what we feel.” “[It’s] just our different influences and seeing what happens when we start playing, trying different elements as we go along,” adds bassist Luke “Scotty” Scott.
If you like layer cake, you’ll like Bollard. They mix together multiple audio ingredients, their sound dense and moist, and their approach to songwriting a cavalier cherry on top. With four members all contributing ideas, Walsh and Scotty agree that for Bollard, variety is key. “We all write the songs,” says Walsh. “I think it’s good not to have a primary songwriter because four minds are better than one. If you can get four minds to work together, that’s the hard bit, but you end up producing something that most likely would be better than one mind. A lot of the time we start with a riff and build.
“It’s nice for it to go through all of our hands to get to somewhere where we’re happy. We add different bits, take bits away. Every song is written in a completely different way but they begin as an idea on guitar or bass and are built from there.”
I think it’s good not to have a primary songwriter because four minds are better than one
[ Tom Walsh ]
The Bollard boys make it all sound very simple and their explanation of how they get together and jam their ideas out, dare it be said, seems very standard—but at the end of the day, the album is so totally out there one is at risk of falling off the edge of this plane of existence. Trawlers is a very transcendent experience–there has to be some kind of special ingredient, some kind of active trigger Bollard have to be able to convey this very unique style. Walsh ponders the thought, finally saying, “Probably patience, time.
“We’d written a lot of bad songs before we got to the good songs. You have to know when to chuck ‘em out, know when to jam on songs for a long time. Sometimes songwriting is not that simple and you’re totally fighting to get something working. We’re always pretty keen on challenging ourselves with how we take on sound.”
“I don’t know if we have a secret ingredient. I think a lot of artists don’t really know what they’re doing,” laughs Scotty. Bollard it seems, have closed their eyes, taken the plunge and hoped for the best. Time, for Bollard, has been both their friend and their nemesis in penning this album. “We had time to get it all together but we’ve thrown a lot of songs out,” says Scotty. “Maybe it’s the experience of all being on the same page and writing stuff we all ended up really liking.
“We came together because we love a certain kind of music,” continues Scotty. “When we stopped saying, ‘Let’s be another Sonic Youth’—because you can’t emulate that type of thing—we started bringing in other influences. Tom’s influenced by a lot of lyric based music, Benton [guitarist Benton Ching] is really into jazz–that’s when we started to find our own sound.”
Ultimately what Bollard have done is to take different aspects of their personalities to create this odd and endearing love child. It was an experiment, a gamble, but one that has paid off. Bollard are neither conscious nor conceptual with their music, they merely feel. “There are certainly things that string everything together,” says Scotty. “at no point did we say the songs were gonna have a theme,” adds Walsh, “Even the sounds made to run together in this way, but in short, no it’s not a concept album but there’s a real theme of tension that runs throughout.” Tension; the perfect word to describe the disconcerted feeling Bollard extract from one’s soul with their matchless material.