Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
It’s been a wild four years for the Wollongong emos formerly known as Easy Life.
Self-released in 2014, their eponymous demo tape sizzled with an angsty, hardcore-influence sound that informed us the band had anything but their namesake.
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Local gigs and pub jaunts on tap kept them afloat in the heavy scene, until 2015’s Ambient Activity EP edged them into a bleaker, more heartstring-pinching emo flavour—a vision fully realised on their UNFD debut, last year’s (painfully underrated) There Can’t Be This Much Water In The Sky.
The EP established Easy Life as one to watch in Australia’s ever-expanding alternative scene, and within a short few months, the quintet found themselves enjoying slots opening for some of Australia’s biggest and most revered touring bands, and kicking festivals off on a high note with some much-frothed over mainstage billings. The problem is, Easy Life’s next chapter is so far removed from their current trajectory that it beggars a whole new incarnation of the band.
Thus, it’s with equal measures of curiosity and hype that we introduce you to the unforgivingly energetic, synth-laden and scream-flourished world of After Touch.
Weilding an ambitious new style described by the band as ‘stadium sadcore’, After Touch are barging out the gates at full throttle with a five-track EP, You Wish This Was About You, tentatively slated to hit shelves in September via UNFD (though a solid date is yet to be carved out). It’s billed as an atmospheric rollercoaster ride through the ups and downs of early-20s dating, driven by searing guitars, emphatic vocals and glittering production notched with synths and strings aplenty.
The EP’s lead single is the groovy and gauzy Use Me, a neon-emo banger that sees frontman Max Pasalic bleed his heart dry over a timeline of chaotic relationships that pour out in song with hazy synths and an inimitably fierce chorus. Cop the teaser video for the cut (and its jaw-dropping music video) at the bottom of this page, then gear up for its official drop on Wednesday, July 25th.
Simultanously the live debut of After Touch and the last hurrah for Easy Life, the band will hit Wollongong’s iconic Rad Bar on July 26th for an intimate headline show slated to feature the last ever performances of material from Easy Life’s 2014 demo and Ambient Activity.
To learn a little more about this exciting new chapter, we caught up for a quick yarn with Pasalic.
Let’s kick it off with the obvious one: why are you putting the name Easy Life out to pasture?
We were playing as Easy Life for about four years, and when we started the band, we were all pretty young and we didn’t really have a good gauge on what our sound was supposed to be or what we wanted out of the band. And I think as we kind of progressed and moved forward, we started to realise that what we all wanted collectively was quite different to what we were actually putting out as a band. I think we made a lot of fumbles pretty early on, so coming into this new record, we saw an opportunity to almost start over, in a sense. When we finished [recording the EP] and we were listening back on the mixes, we said to ourselves, “Is this really Easy Life anymore?”
We all decided that it was best to have a fresh start and to move forward into … Not so much a new band, but a new look for the five of us collectively. It’s definitely a different atmosphere. With the last EP, we were trying to kind of lean towards this sound and this whole kind of aesthetic that we were crafting, and I think we just kind of fumbled it towards the end—it wasn’t 100 percent what we wanted to do. As we kind of progressed through this recording process, we were all a lot more in-tune with each other and the things that we all wanted.
What’s the significance of the name After Touch?
A lot of the songs that we recorded for this EP deal with relationships—people being together and moving apart—and we really liked the idea of ‘Touch’ because that’s a bit of a motif throughout all of the songs. And I guess the whole ‘After’ idea came from us saying that this band comes after another band. We decided that ‘After’ and ‘Touch’ together sounded pretty cool and it represents a lot of what we were trying to get at with [the new EP], so it just felt right.
So the first release that you legends are putting out as After Touch is this massive, vibe-heavy anthem Use Me. What’s the backstory behind this track?
The lyrical content is kind of like a collage of all my experiences dealing with romance, and all of the relationships I’ve been through in my young life. I think that a fair bit of them ended in this kind of negativity, and I started to realise as that progressed, that maybe in this kind of weird, almost like … Maybe ‘sadistic’ isn’t the right word, but I was kind of gravitating towards these toxic relationships and these kind of feelings that I was having. So the idea behind the song is that although a lot of these things are negative and can be really difficult to deal with, you can use them to be someone new and to feel something new.
That teaser clip for the music video has us insanely curious, too, because it doesn’t give much away, but there’s definitely some wild shit going on. How would you sum the video up in three words?
Sexy, dark, and violent. I think people are going to be really stoked with it, but also very surprised with where we ended up.
I’ve always wanted to push my voice into a different kind of area, and my vocal style on this EP is far different to what we did on There Can’t Be This Much Water In The Sky. So expect a lot of singing and a lot of massive choruses, strings, synths … We’ve been calling it ‘stadium sadcore’ [laughs].
[ Max Pasalic ]
So that drops on the 25th, and then your last ever show under the name Easy Life is going down the very next day at the Rad Bar. What have you got in store to make this show extra special?
We’re going to go back through our last few releases, and we’re going to play most of them in full. I guess the idea of what we’re trying to do with the set is that we’re going to start where the band kicked off with that real hardcore sound, and then take it through to the new After Touch sound. So we’re definitely going to be playing Use Me, and we’re also going to play another new track that we haven’t announced yet. And we’re going to bring a lot of our friends that might sound a little bit different to us—it’s going to be a pretty mixed bill, but it was important to us to book bands and book it in a space that have done so much for us.
What is it about the Rad Bar that you’d say makes it a step above any other venue in the region?
I mean, on top of it being like a shoebox venue where everyone’s jumping off the walls and jumping off the stairs … After we signed to UNFD, we played a lot of really iconic venues like the Enmore Theatre and Manning Bar, and those venues are awesome and we love to play there—y’know, the feeling of playing to hundreds of people in a crowd is amazing—but there’s just something that you can’t put into words when you walk out onto a floor and there’s 80 people and you can’t even move, and they’re all right up against you.
I remember at the last show we played there, Jack [Rankin, guitar] couldn’t even turn around because there was just so many people crammed into that little shoebox. Jai and Mark and all of the people who work there have always been super supportive of us—they even gave us a slot at the Yours & Owls festival again this year, and we’re going to be playing the Rad stage. So we were like, “Well, there’s no other place that we want to play this show!” We could have pushed it and tried to go for a bigger venue—not trying to sound big-headed or anything—but it just wouldn’t feel right. It had to be that venue one last time. All of the songs we’re going to be playing—that’s where they all started! The Rad Bar is pretty much our home.
I remember that last show, trying to squish myself into a corner and not fall down the stairs! I saw DJY fly from one wall to the other and, like, three dudes dive from the balcony. Only at the Rad Bar.
Only at the Rad Bar! I remember for the last song, we did a Kids Like Us cover and I just threw the mic in the crowd, and I went to hop up on the stairs … I got right to the top and I just tripped and fell and did a front-flip, Swanton Bomb thing into the crowd—I think I landed on DJY, and I completely broke in my in-ear monitors [laughs]. The whole thing was just crazy, but that’s the only way we can play Rad Bar. You’ve gotta jump off the stairs!
And this show is going to be the last time you play most of your old music, isn’t it?
Yeah. It was important for us to make sure a lot of the people who were there from the start got to hear all those songs one last time. I mean, we’re saying right now that we won’t be playing 99 percent of them, so I don’t know … Moving forward, we might play Fading Away, because that’s definitely our banger track and I know so many people where, every time they come out and see us, that’s what they want to hear. So I don’t know, we may play that, but the rest are pretty much out for good. So if you really want to hear all of those old songs, come out to the show!
You’ve got this five-track EP just around the corner as well, You Wish This Was About You. Judging from Use Me, it sounds like you guys are heading in a much more experimental direction with your sound on this EP. What can you tell us about that?
We went into [the studio] with the mindset that we wanted to use all the resources we could to make it sound as larger-than-life as possible. Not so much on Use Me, but on some of the other tracks, there’s a lot of string arrangements. Use Me is very synth-heavy as well, so that’s definitely something we incorporated. Like I was explaining before, when we started Easy Life, it was definitely … Not easy music, but music that we weren’t 100 percent on. I’ve always wanted to push my voice into a different kind of area, and my vocal style on this EP is far different to what we did on There Can’t Be This Much Water In The Sky. So expect a lot of singing and a lot of massive choruses, strings, synths … We’ve been calling it ‘stadium sadcore’ [laughs]. It’s something different and I think people are going to be very surprised, but I think they’re going to enjoy it.
How did the creative process for this EP differ from There Can’t Be This Much Water In The Sky?
One of the biggest things we decided to do, that we’ve never done before, was we demoed all of the songs before going into the studio with our bass player Kurt [Haywood]. I think we came out of the writing process with 16 songs, and ten or 11 were actually demoed, nearly in full. We just whittled those down to the top five, and I think in doing that, we gave ourselves the room to really push those five songs to the best they could be. With a lot of those songs we wrote, it might have been, like, one riff or one vocal part or one synth line or something that we were really into, and we’d take the best parts of all of them and turn it into these five songs. I really couldn’t be happier with them. I’m super proud of all of these songs, and I’m really excited for people to hear them.
After Touch will play their final show as Easy Life at the end of July. Cop the full details below:
Thursday July 26th – Rad Bar, Wollongong (18+)
with Amends, Skylerwhite and Birdshow
Tickets are available now via moshtix.com.au