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A hangover on a Wednesday morning is pretty much how life goes for LOSER frontman, Tim Maxwell. “My life’s pretty much a weekend!” he giggles. There are worse ways to live, so we should tip our proverbial hats to Maxwell.
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It’s not all play and no work for Maxwell and his fellow Melbourne alternative rockers; LOSER has just released their first full-length studio album, Mindless Joy, the follow-up to 2018’s EP Restless Noise. It’s the kind of release that may firmly mark LOSER as your favourite band (so far) this year. In a refreshing throwback to grunge, Mindless Joy takes elements of yesteryear and modifies those nuances, giving them an upgrade to suit the now, and of course, reflecting that winning LOSER personality.
What’s striking about this release is how quickly LOSER have moved past the “supergroup” label they had when they first came together. Made up of former members of The Bennies, The Smith Street Band and Grim Rhythm, LOSER have taken their respective experiences from previous projects to form something incredibly cohesive and seemingly effortless. “I started music for myself before LOSER was anything–once I asked the boys to join the band I was overwhelmed, I didn’t think they would do it,” admits Maxwell. “We were good friends–we are good friends!
One song could sound like Tom Petty,” he says, “It’s not like ‘I want to sound like Nirvana’–I want to use those bands as an influence but not rip [them] off entirely, you know?
“We’ve been in this band [together] for two years. You think of it as a long time but it’s such a small timeline and so much has happened, it’s crazy!”
Indeed, LOSER have experienced a whirlwind of activity in less than two years to be able to come up with what they have, Maxwell commenting that to suddenly be on the Falls Festival main stage this past December and January as a crazy and surreal moment for LOSER. Such worldly experiences have of course help shaped the covert cohesiveness of the new album. “I’ve been writing [music] for 13 years now,” says Maxwell. “I’ve been chopping and changing between styles.
“I grew up on classic 70s rock music, my dad heavily influenced me with blues–I’d be getting up and going to jam nights when I was 13 [years old]. I sort of go through phases.
“I guess the way I write for this band, for LOSER, is what I actually truly wanna play. What actually means the most to me.”
Maxwell mentions Foo Fighters as one of, if not the strongest influences behind his music, and it’s good he brings it up. There’s no escaping the heavy post-grunge influence in Mindless Joy, but it’s a label Maxwell doesn’t want you to get too hung up on when listening to the new release. “One song could sound like Tom Petty,” he says, “It’s not like ‘I want to sound like Nirvana’–I want to use those bands as an influence but not rip [them] off entirely, you know?”
“It goes back and forth–it’s not like one song’s grunge, the next song’s grunge, they all vary, and that’s what I like writing.”
The album isn’t a world away from Restless Noise but it is the next step up. Mindless Joy has some amazing things going on–song Melting, for one, is uniform yet clever. “That for me is where the Oasis influence comes in,” says Maxwell. Perhaps this album is therefore, a sum of all Maxwell’s parts, the lovechild of the musicians he’s loved all his life. “I could say that for sure,” he laughs. “It’s always daunting when you come into an album–there were a lot more songs in the pile.
“I think we didn’t want to take such a big step forward into what those other songs were going to be. They were a bit more like (I don’t want to use the word), stadium rock. A lot more Smashing Pumpkins–I’ve got to stop referring to bands!”
Of the tracks left on the cutting floor, though Maxwell says LOSER didn’t want to go too big too quickly, what they haven’t used they will learn from moving forward. “The biggest deal was, once we started writing for what was going to be [this] album, we didn’t want the genre to jump straight away. I just want to progress all the time but in the right way.”
When asked if that means Maxwell takes pleasure in keeping people guessing, he pauses and says brightly, “Of course!”