SKILLET w/, Red Gazelle & RedHook Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney Thursday 15th November, 2018 …
Thanks are owed to After Touch for their sensational new EP, You Wish This Was About You. “We’re really excited,” gushes vocalist Max Pasalic, “We worked really hard on it and I’m glad people are digging it.”
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Shaking off the persona that went with the band’s former name of Easy Life, as After Touch, Pasalic and co. are a weaponised outfit, arming themselves with an arsenal of electronic undertones, hardcore flourishes and an atmospheric darkness; like an tank rolling over everything in its wake. Laughing, Pasalic explains, “Early on we adopted a straight forward form, heavy riffs and a hardcore sound. As we grew a bit and learned to play our instruments better, we experimented with different sounds. When Jack our guitarist learned more chord shapes and whatnot we developed a more melodic sound.
“When we started playing that music live we started to really prefer the songs that were a little more experimental, a little more ambient, a little more emotional.
“Instead of trying to shy away from our electronic backgrounds and hardcore influences, we decided we might as well use all the resources we have and create something quite different – we realised pretty early on in recording this it wasn’t an Easy Life EP any more, it was something completely different.”
That covers the progression of the production side of things but what of the music once they touched on those emotive elements Pasalic mentions? As After Touch, the guys certainly rock the boat in terms of an emotive journey with tracks like single Use Me and Cherry, and something must have bene going through their minds when they wrote these songs. You Wish This Was About You is nodding towards something that isn’t only what After Touch are feeling and experiencing when they write and play them, but what they want other people to take from it. “All my favourite bands, all my favourite albums growing up were always the ones that were really emotional and felt very personal,” says Pasalic.
“When we were beginning to write these songs I remember the first lyrics were without a real story and didn’t mean anything to me. Literally as we started to track them, demos in a home studio, the lyrics didn’t mean anything, they didn’t evoke anything in me.
“In the last three or four years I went through different intimate relationships that ended in a toxic, bad energy, and I realise last year I was gravitating towards this subconsciously. The idea behind the story of the record is, again, I’m someone who seems in a weird subconscious way to enjoy this chaos, and to enjoy this pain.”
There’s no pain someone can inflict upon me that I can’t take – it’s a self-empowerment idea.
The sound supports the story. Instead of writing something that was all about love songs, After Touch threw in some personable tales, so instead of their songs becoming about someone else, it was all about them, their change and their experiences. “When we started to write, Use Me for example, that whole song was different. Our engineer said the track wasn’t working, but I had a line in my head, Make It Hurt, and I kept thinking of it over and over again for the hook. He said, ‘What does that mean?’ and aid to him, ‘When I’m at my worst or I realise I’m gravitating towards these relationships of toxicity, it means there’s nothing someone else can do that I can’t do to myself.
“There’s no pain someone can inflict upon me that I can’t take – it’s a self-empowerment idea.”
Pasalic was out to regain control through his music. “Another thing that runs between the songs is this addiction to love and feeling,” he says. “When you hear Cherry in particular, that’s literally about feeling so addicted to someone you can’t regain control of yourself or your emotions and you become so utterly enthralled with someone, at the end of the day, if you put someone on a pedestal they might still be bitter on the inside.
“As much as you like their exterior it’s never what you want it to be.”
That pedestal metaphor is superb because in a sense, the band aren’t just putting up said subject for scrutiny. It’s almost like the guys have done the same to themselves, turning 180 to now become After Touch. “I agree,” says Pasalic, “We realised early on in recording, ‘Why do this half-arsed?’ Like I said, with the lyrics and everything it was like, ‘Well why should I just write fake stories when I have lived through all of this.’”
How After Touch move forward with this new lease of life, with this new found confidence, is a path that only they can reveal once they’ve travelled it. “I feel like we’re very excited with the new sound,” Pasalic says. “We’ve never been more excited to play these songs live and I think they’ve definitely given us this fire, like a rebirth in a way.
“Not that we were self-conscious of our last album, but this is something that has pushed us in a way that’s almost empowering – we were so proud to release Use Me, it was one of the best days of our lives as a band. We were confident people were going to enjoy it and understand and feel something.
“Like I said before, my favourite songs and albums were always deeply personal and deeply emotive, and I think that shines through with us – we’re very excited to play these songs.”