Why being on the road is the only normal for Northeast Party House
The perfect New Year ’s Eve party is a mythic beast, as rare and elusive as it is desirable.
You can set out to a shindig with all the best intentions in the world, but nine times out of ten you’ll still find yourself in a corner of some cramped apartment at quarter to midnight, chatting to your partner’s mate’s neighbour while necking some cheap red wine and wishing you were drunker than you are.
And yet there are the lucky few out there who know how to nail a great New Year ’s Eve party, blessed sods like Oliver Packard. The bass player for celebrated rising stars Northeast Party House knows how to send off the depleted old year in style.
“A couple of years ago we put on a show at Ding Dong Lounge for New Years,” he says. “At the pinnacle of the night we blasted Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, showered the audience and ourselves with champagne and confetti cannons, all the while our drummer, Malcolm [Beasley], crowd-surfed his way to his wife who was at the back of the audience to give her a New Year’s kiss. It was a special time.”
It looks like the fortunate bugger is going to have an even better time this year. He and his band are set to host the party of all parties at the Corner rooftop, leading a massive lineup of local legends. It’ll be the perfect way to cap off a packed year for the band, one that has seen them tour extensively off the back of their latest release Dare.
Indeed, while others in Packard’s position might be exhausted by all that hard work on the road, for the young muso it’s more difficult to spend time off it, back at home. “Being on tour almost feels like real life to me,” he says. “When we finally finish the shows and come back home it feels super weird and it’s difficult to adjust. I always feel like I’m late for soundcheck or have missed my flight and am wondering where the rider is.”
Surprisingly for Packard, the year’s real highlight wasn’t one of the larger shows the band played – one of their numerous packed-out headlining gigs – but the smallest. “I’m a real sucker for those gigs at small venues, where the crowd is right in your face and the six of us can barely fit on the stage,” he says. “Our [album show] in Hobart was just that: messy, dirty and loud. Before any music was even being made the crowd was getting real loose. I copped a headstock to the face when I got a little too close to Mitch [Ansell, guitarist] as he pulled some moves. Loved it.”
Unlike so many other musicians, Packard has neatly dodged the bullet of stage fright, and for him, taking to the stage to perform is as natural as drawing breath. “I was that annoying kid always doing drama, musicals, debates and was the first to put their hand up for any sort of attention, so performing is second nature to me.
“As a band it really comes about through an interaction between the members and the crowd. If you see someone getting into it, it really drives you to feel what they’re feeling and, usually, start head-banging with them.”
Ultimately, that’s why Packard is so obsessed with touring, and the rigours associated with making it as a full-time musician: he loves the crowds that flock to him and his band, and is always driven by the need to make them proud.
And make them proud he will in the New Year. 2017 looks like it’s going to be a special one for Northeast Party House. “It’s already looking to be fantastic,” he says. “We’ve got our own studio that we are decking out and are going to immediately start working on new tunes from January. We’ve got some big shows and tours in the works that we’re all super hyped for. I feel after the atrocity that was 2016, 2017 is going to have to make up for it in a big positive way. Can’t wait.”
By Joseph Earp
Northeast Party House will take over the Corner Hotel on New Years Eve with Bleeding Knees Club, The Pretty Littles and more. Dare is out now via Stop Start/Inertia.