Coming in hot from Southern California, identical twin brothers and experimental punk-rock duo The Garden …
The name’s Sarahj. Pronounced sah-raj. May as well get your lips around the name of Melbourne pop-punk five piece now because it’s one that may well be cemented on your lips for some years to come, particularly if the strength and downright magic of their second EP Afterthought is anything to go by.
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Afterthought, the follow-up to 2018’s debut EP Reaper, comes from a very personal, very honest place, a release rife with, at times, unbearably truthful lyrics upheld by a sonically overwhelming power—Sarahj. have prescribed themselves a therapy that is doing them wonders.
“When writing and producing the EP, there wasn’t a specific direction we were focused on,” the band said via email. “We wrote songs from our hearts and knew that as the second EP we wanted to show our growth and maturity through our instrumentation and lyrics.”
“We all felt that a heavier and darker avenue would complement our growth and [the] foundations of the songs best.”
Sarahj. use the words “heavy conversation” to describe the thematic input of Afterthought, words that carry true particularly through song Other Half. At times it’s certainly obvious Sarahj. are saying things through their music that aren’t necessarily taboo but sometimes people are afraid to say. “As a group we all struggle with mental health differently and we know that it’s a topic that is very difficult to discuss,” the band says. “We understand that it’s a sensitive subject so we love creating songs for people that struggle with mental health (or anyone) could relate to, to remind them that they’re not alone in their mental battles.
When one of us is struggling, we all feel their energy, as if they’re like a limb of our own
[ Sarahj. ]
“The idea of accommodating someone mentally is important to us and if that reflects through our music or helps someone through their struggle, it’s something we’re proud of.”
Somehow, Sarahj. relate to each other’s mental battles and as a result, the band have an indescribable ability to speak the same language and give it a soundtrack. “When one of us is struggling, we all feel their energy, as if they’re like a limb of our own, so we’re aware of the support we need to provide. We all have our own individual coping mechanisms and Sarah [vocalist Sarah Jones] (who writes most of our lyrics) copes with her mental health by writing a song about it. The thing that brings us together is emoting how we feel and putting that into our music.”
“We are lucky to all have each other in the toughest times but we know that not everyone has someone. Knowing If our song could ‘be that someone’ makes us happy.”
When a band is singing about opening lines of communication, it’s important for them to first and foremost practice what they preach at home. As Jones, keyboardist Jemma Mcpherson, and drummer Connor Mcauslan are all housemates, they’ve more of an opportunity to support one another than most. “The relationship we all have as a group and individually is incredible. We are familiar with each of our coping mechanisms and help each other through them, even in the most subtle ways. We always listen to each other and support them through whatever we can. We all cope with our lines of communication differently and through the years, we’ve learnt that about one another and how one does so. We all communicate and encourage each other in the best way possible and we all are quite strong on enforcing communication.
“Jemma, Connor and I all live in the same household,” says Jones. “One night, Jemma was going through a difficult time and Connor came home with her favourite vegan chocolate cake [to cheer her up]. We, luckily, always have moments like these and we are very grateful for them.”
As for what Afterthought sounds like, the instrumental textures and the layering of the band’s sound comes together in a stunningly clean composite, despite the often-heavy trudging through the thematic ideas. “Something we love about what we do is that each of us has our very own musical identity, with different styles, ideas, and inspirations. We love putting that all together when we write and record!
“Our individual sounds are so important to us, so bringing it together is what makes our sound.”
There are oodles of romanticism, elements of aggro and countless hints of all the different styles of music each member of Sarahj. likes traversing everything the band does–so how will they unpack all of that into new material going forward? “We’ve already started working on some new upcoming music and we’re so excited to explore a new direction along with our typical Sarahj. sound.
“Our goal is to always grow musically and artistically as well as stick to who we are.”