We chat to the band in support of their new album, Day / To / Day.
Australian surf rock is often associated with coastal hubs like Wollongong, Byron Bay and Sydney’s Northern Beaches, with surf wax and salty hair.
Some of the genre’s biggest names like Skeggs and Hockey Dad tick these boxes to a tee, but Melbourne trio The Grogans are making their own mark on the scene.
Comprised of vocalist Quin Grunden, guitarist Angus Vasic and drummer Jordan Lewis, The Grogans make summer soundtracks that exude coastal vibes. Their jams oscillate between high tempo drums and rollicking guitars to hazy vocals over languid acoustic strums. Despite not being full-time beachside dwellers themselves, the guys manage to capture the essence of the laidback lifestyle with their own brand of surf rock.
The trio have been playing together since 2015, having linked up at high school thanks to a love of music and mutual friends. Though they were all dabbling in various musical projects at the time, The Grogans was the only one that really stuck.
“I was in another band at the same time we started jamming,” says Lewis.
“Yeah, I was in another little band at the same time and Gus was always in a thing with a couple other dudes as well, but in each band it was never like this,” Grunden adds.
“For me it was a bit more like, ‘I just love music, let’s just play in a band’, and this is still like that.”
“But we just kind of clicked with our music and each other, so it’s worked really well,” says Vasic, jumping in to finish his bandmate’s sentence.
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The easy back and forth between the boys is indicative of their dynamic, adding to each other’s statements to formulate fuller pictures and layering thought upon thought. It’s how they make their music too, with collaboration and a sharing of ideas being key components to their songwriting process.
“We all have a similar idea of what we like, and then we all have completely different ideas upon that, which is really good for making records I reckon,” Grunden explains. “We’ve got a good dynamic with similarities and differences.
“We’ll send each other demos being like ‘check this out’ and then it’s like ‘oh, let’s build off it’ and a lot of our songs come like that. We would never say ‘I wrote this song’ because if someone writes the guitar part to it, it’s all so collaborative so it’s just a joint sort of thing.”
For a band that work best when jamming in a room together, lockdown has made recording new material somewhat tricky. Lucky then that the bulk of their new album Day / To / Day was already written earlier in the year and the guys were able to put it together in between Victoria’s COVID waves.
“There were a couple of weeks where things sort of opened up, so we went away to Gus’ nan and pa’s place in Ocean Grove and just recorded the rest of what we needed there,” says Lewis of the album’s making.
“We did most of the album down there, maybe all but two songs,” Grunden adds.
The record is the band’s second studio album, although they’ve got a decent back catalogue of EPs and singles already under their belts. Sonically, Day / To / Day is still quintessentially Grogans, but listeners might pick up a few new influences that have crept their way in.
“I reckon there’s a lot more influences from the ‘60s, I think that’s a huge thing for this album,” says Grunden. “We’ve all been getting into those older cars and we listened to a lot of older records during this period and stuff, so I think that sorta just came naturally.
“Even songs like ‘Got A Girl’ that came out earlier, it’s just what we would write normally, like a surf rock song, but it just comes across a bit more nostalgic,” continues Grunden.
“We always set up our albums like we have our classic Grogans straight-down-the-middle surfy rocky songs that we write or whatever. Then we always seem to love playing acoustic so we’re like ‘ok, we’re gonna put some acoustic on it’ and then we’re like ‘ok, we don’t want it to be too soft’ and write a really rocky song. Then it sort of ends up being a shit show,” he finishes with a laugh.
Another influence that might not be so obvious to the listener but is to the band, was the setting in which the album was made. Nipping down the coast to Vasic’s grandparents’ place in Ocean Grove gave the trio a dedicated space to really knuckle down, but also peppered the record with acoustic nuances they wouldn’t have captured otherwise.
“Our album sounds like where we were in a way,” muses Grunden. “We’re so lucky that Gus’ family and Gus’ grandparents have this house in Ocean Grove, because while listening to it we’re like ‘oh, those drums were recorded down in the basement bit’.
“It’s just cool that we got to do it away from home, and it makes it feel different in a way.”
Having released the record as restrictions in Melbourne ease, the guys are hoping that they’ll get the chance to make up for lost time and play some launch shows in the not-too-distant future.
“I think we’ve had like one over-age gig and two maybe under-age gigs or something this year,” says Lewis. “We were supposed to go away the weekend that all the COVID restrictions came in, so it was good that we didn’t.”
“We’ve had stuff booked the whole time that we’ve had to either cancel or postpone,” adds Vasic.
“We keep booking in advance so we’ve got some stuff lined up already, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
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