Being a musician isn’t easy, but there’s nothing City Calm Down would rather do

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Being a musician isn’t easy, but there’s nothing City Calm Down would rather do


After the release of the album, the band got to work writing it’s follow up, Echoes In Blue,  almost immediately, though this time around they took their time smoothing out the kinks. The band were ruthless in ensuring every element was nothing short of perfect, whether that meant scrapping and rewriting an entire chorus in the studio, in the case of ‘Distraction/Losing Sleep’ or recording into the wee hours to nail down ‘Blood’.

“We didn’t really feel In A Restless House created any pressure for us. I don’t see it myself as being a great record,” says frontman Jack Bourke. “I definitely appreciate that people like it but, if you measure yourself against great bodies of work by other artists then that’s where the pressure comes from.

“You strive to achieve the level of, complexity isn’t the right word it’s more, I don’t know, beauty. So many amazing songs I love are simple songs so to achieve what those bands have achieved as songwriters is the measuring stick, I think you’re always kind of working towards that.”

Pairing the band’s signature style of synth laden rock with lyrics centralised on themes of finding balance between creative interests, a career, personal relationships and family life, Echoes In Blue is hardly abstract, and whilst the message is often carried through fictional stories and characters, the feelings behind them are sincere. 

“It’s not strictly autobiographical in that the scenes that I’m detailing are personal events, but it’s autobiographical in the sense that the narrative is real, stemmed from the way I was feeling at the time that I wrote them,” says Bourke.

“I was feeling stressed out, overworked and the record was very much a way of exploring the way I was feeling and creating, or almost just projecting into the future – not all of the songs, but a number of the songs – like, ‘if this is the way that I live my life for the next two years or the next three years, what effect does that have on the people around me?’. It’s sort of a number of disparate narratives all connected back to the way I was feeling so in that sense, it was autobiographical. Not in the detail, more in the emotion.”

The feeling of being overworked is justified for a man who juggles a successful career as a musician with his nine to five ‘day job’. Rather than hindering his creativity, this taxing schedule has served as a source of inspiration for Bourke, not only forming a common theme across the album, but specifically making way for the track ‘Blood’ which details a time when the two worlds collided.

Of course, marrying the rigid structure of an office job with the fluctuating nature of a career in music meant many late nights in the studio for City Calm Down, which certainly caused tension in aspects of Bourke’s own life. 

“They’re two very different ways of working, being in a band versus working at a nine to five job and they overlap a lot more than I’d like in terms of the encroachment on each other’s time,” he says. “I go through these phases where I’m like ‘Oh, god I can’t keep the two worlds separate’, from a time perspective. They’re definitely different spaces to be in emotionally.”

It is a sad reality that relying on music as a sole source of income is not a viable option for many musicians and Bourke recalls a time when he saw Midnight Juggernauts at The Corner Hotel as a teenager and thought to himself that the band’s three sold out shows would certainly be highly lucrative. The actuality of relying on the profits of sold gig tickets to sustain a band, in their case, of four members over lengthy periods came as a shock.

“I’m always surprised by just how the finances of a band are just almost oppressive in many ways. I’m not talking about a record label contract or anything like that. There’s a big difference between when you as punters say pay $50 for a ticket you kind of go, ‘oh, well it’s 2000 people in a venue, $50 a ticket, that’s $100 000’ but once you’ve paid for everything across a tour, there isn’t really enough money left over to support people across the tour over a year or two.”

Proving that they are compelled by passion more so than monetary gain, City Calm Down will embark on a massive tour following the release of Echoes In Blue this April, making their way across the UK before returning home for a national run of shows.

“In many ways we feel like when we play the music live, that is the true expression of the songs that we’ve written and we do things differently live than we do on the record, more so because we think something sounds better live that might not work on the record and vice versa.

“I guess it just gives us an opportunity to explore the songs that we’ve written again and really get to perform them in a way that we originally felt we wanted to perform them when we wrote them. It’s that energy that really drives us.”