Before this year, it’d been a while since we’d heard anything from Northeast Party House.
The Melbourne six-piece had been steadily slinging bangers for years, gracing us with Hottest 100 hits and dancefloor-filling albums. Tracks like ‘Calypso Beach’ and ‘For You’ were all over the radio, and seeing their name on festival flyers was expected year after year.
Then the band took a step back. In the three years since their last album, 2016’s Dare, they’d pop up occasionally for a DJ set or a live show of old material, but no new music slipped out.
That changed in July this year. The boys dropped ‘Magnify’, their first new track since 2016, which reignited the NEPH fanfare. It was followed up with the equally impressive ‘Dominos’ – an upbeat, catchy, house party-esque banger that confirmed that, yes, the band were back, and maybe even better than before.
With a career spanning nine years – including the notable hiatus – how have the band managed to stay so relevant? What is it about Northeast Party House that keeps Australia hanging out for more?
Founded by vocalist Zach Hamilton-Reeves, guitarist Jack Shoe and synth player Sean Kenihan back in their school days, NEPH have seen a lot of changes over the years. They’ve had band members come and go before settling on the six-piece we know today, with guitarist Mitch Ansell, drummer Malcolm Besley and bassist Oliver Packard making up the later additions.
In 2010 they got their big break on triple j Unearthed, but even before then they were making waves on the Melbourne party scene. Thanks to their riotous live shows and onstage energy, it was around this time that guitarist Ansell first saw the group, recalling that moment to Beat Magazine last year.
“I rocked up [to a gig] and they had all their friends there in this packed room, and I just didn’t get it. It was loose and wild and there were strobes and streamers and I was just like, ‘Man, I dunno’,” he said.
As their popularity grew, they upgraded from living room gigs to tours around Australia and beyond, but this ‘playing at a mates house party’ vibe carried throughout. Blinding lights, onstage antics and full-throttle energy earned the boys their reputation as one of Australia’s leading party bands, and anyone who’s been to their shows would attest to the buzzing atmosphere they create.
After all, it’s not hard to curate a killer set when you have an electrifying sound.
Their debut record Any Given Weekend got dancefloors heaving with its indie-rock jams, but it was the follow up, Dare, that really saw the boys claim their crown. Speaking to The Brag in 2017, vocalist Hamilton-Reeves reflected on their evolution between albums.
“We wanted it [Dare] to be better, more polished, less of a focus on ‘boring’ rhythms. The whole of Any Given Weekend is just the same rhythm in every song, kind of the same BPM, so we tried to mix it up a bit from that.”
Although the guys proceeded to go into hiding after the release of that record, their return to the music scene this year was met with fervour from fans – and for good reason. Their comeback tracks ‘Magnify’ and ‘Dominos’ are both quintessentially NEPH, but with a newfound finesse. Produced under the guidance of The Presets legend, Kim Moyes, the band’s new material is catapulting them further into the electro music world.
They’ve wasted no time in showing it off either, having just wrapped up a Magnify single tour of the country. This is sure to be the start of more new music and more shows from NEPH. Next up, they’ll be taking to Strike Bowling QV on Thursday November 21, playing on a custom-built stage across the top of the bowling lanes.
Prior to and following the gig, punters will be able to bowl on lanes either side of the stage, while enjoying free food and drinks all night long. Northeast Party House have played in an underground train station and have performed in the snow but a bowling alley will certainly be a first.
Northeast Party House are playing at Strike QV on Thursday November 21. Doors open at 7pm. To win tickets, head to Strike’s website.