H. O. L. Y. Crap! Just when you thought Ocean Grove couldn’t evolve more than they …
Take two friends from Adelaide, add captivating song-writing, infectious fun, and a hard working attitude; what you get is a punk-rock duo named TOWNS.
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It’s been an eventful two years for TOWNS. They first captured our attention in 2017 with the release of their debut single I Don’t Mind, a prelude to their 2018 EP Television. Their eclectic style saw fans gravitate immediately and in turn took TOWNS to the stage with bands like Turnstile, Press Club, Slowly Slowly, and Die Die Die.
In 2019, TOWNS joined Dear Seattle on the full stretch of their Don’t Let Go Australian Album Tour. As the first cross-country tour that saw the boys away from home for nearly a month, vocalist and lead guitarist Aston Valladares spoke to us about the experience, what they’ve learned and what is coming next for TOWNS.
“It was our first big tour together. We’ve done a couple of one-off, here and there shows interstate, but this was our first proper run where we weren’t coming home and we just spent a solid three weeks away.”
TOWNS were the only band, other than Dear Seattle of course, to secure a slot and each one of the tour destinations. To be included at this level, on a first full tour, can be intimidating to any professional, but luckily TOWNS’ first tour experience was one they’ll always remember.
“We made the cut somehow,” he laughs. “I think because there’s only two of us we sneak in pretty easily, and the guys were so accommodating to us! We’ve played shows with them before – we played their EP tour when they came to Adelaide, then we also did a couple of their Maybe single release shows when that came out. So we’d had a bit of experience with them, but it was a little nerve-wracking as this was going to be the first time we were committing to a relationship on the road. You always hope that the people you’re playing shows with every night are gonna get along with you or like you, but they literally became some our best friends. It was so easy, I couldn’t imagine doing it with any other band and now I’m like, well how do we top this? It was the most perfect, friendly experience of all time.”
If you ask any aspiring musician or performer, they’ve probably envisioned what the touring experience would be like; what they would do in each city, how they would travel and what luxuries they would enjoy. The TOWNS guys were no exception and even though the experience was one to remember, expectation and reality very seldom match up.
“When we were looking at all the cities we had so many plans of what we wanted to do in each place, and I think as soon as you arrive you’re literally just so tired from the transit that you decide to nap instead. The second we got into Hobart we wanted to go to Salamanca Markets and go see MONA, we ended up falling asleep for four hours in the hotel and then by the time we got up we had to go to the venue. It was a lot of late nights and lots of sleepy mornings.”
“There were a few little phrases that stayed on with us too. The word ‘Mac’ got thrown around a lot, for McDonalds right, because we thought we were gonna be eating at nice restaurants and having lovely brunches but it ended up just being Mac all the time. We became those seagulls from Finding Nemo. I was so excited for vegetables when I got home.”
A lot of people spoke about post-tour blues and I definitely felt it for like a day, but I’m already immediately planning everything else and excited for that, I’m always trying to keep my brain going and onto the next thing.
And now, with one tour under their belt, Aston and Dan have already learned a lot about what they can do when TOWNS embarks on their own cross-country tour.
“We definitely learned a lot of little things. Even just booking flights, we learned what times we should book flights for, as opposed to what times we did book flights for. We were so confident going into it, thinking 6am is a fine time for a flight and then you realise no this was a terrible idea, what was past-me thinking? So we definitely will take into account scheduling a little more.”
“But I think one of the best take aways was that talking to people is one of my favourite things. Just going out after we played and meeting people, even the staff you meet at the venues, I think we can safely say that we’ve got friends in every state now. It just makes Australia feel more like home. It always used to just be Adelaide for us, but now we know how much else there is out there.”
As the old saying goes, there’s no rest for the wicked. So straight off the back of the Dear Seattle Tour, TOWNS have jumped into the studio to work on their next single.
“A lot of people spoke about post-tour blues and I definitely felt it for like a day, but I’m already immediately planning everything else and excited for that, I’m always trying to keep my brain going and onto the next thing.”
“We’re in the studio at the moment with John Grace, who did Dear Seattle’s album and was recommended to us not only by them but also our manager. He actually mixed Safe To Stay so we heard that and thought ‘wow this exactly how we want it to sound’. So we spent a couple days with him, went in with like ten demos and we had to narrow it down and pick one to be the next single. We spent the next two days recording and it’s such a different sound for us, something that we’ve never done.”
“I think me and Dan [sic], we listen to such random stuff so we’ve never tried to put ourselves in a box. This song, we really opens ourselves up a lot more and John helped us do that too. Every weird decision that came out we were like, let’s just do it! It’s still got the TOWNS style, very guitars and drums driven, but then we started to focus so much more on the melodies, the hooks and making it more vocally driven. Dan is actually singing more in this one and I’ve pushed my vocal range higher than I think I’ve ever gone. It was lots of fun but we really pushed to do the best we could do. I think TOWNS fans will like it, but I just really hope they like it.”
“Safe To Stay kind of set up a certain aesthetic that people think of TOWNS as, but we want to be like, hey we can do this too. We’re both inspired by so much and we want to do everything possible without making people annoyed at us for being so frazzled all the time [laughs]. And this definitely won’t be the last song released this year.”
With a (tentative) release set for August this year, is it possible that this next experimental track will be the defining moment in TOWNS’ band history? Will we see a debut album from the duo as a result? What we do know is that TOWNS are continuously working to keep fans singing along and having fun, because what is a band if not an lightning rod for curiosity, enjoyment, and happiness for all.