We miss you, Boomgates.
While ‘supergroup’ may be a term bandied about with little regard to the legitimacy of the title (often leading people to read the line up thinking, “who the hell are these people?”) Melbourne’s Boomgates romp it in as a legitimate supergroup. The members probably laugh off any such notions, given their organic beginnings as a group of friends jamming over Coopers and Thursday night dinner. The friends just happen to be from indie giants Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Trial Kennedy, Twerps, Dick Diver and “a million other projects”.
With a string of singles independently released thus far, in a haphazard kind of way, debut album Double Natural is a welcome arrival for fans that have followed these rapscallions during the Boomgates’ “on season”. They make music when they can, they jam at any chance and record wherever it needs to happen but they’re still busy musos with a lot to do.
Guitarist, songwriter and all-round musical tastemaker Steph Hughes is full of cheek and charm, exhausted from a red-eye flight but doing her best to chat about the new album and the band’s journey to date. Her answers are as good-humoured as the band seems to be, starting with explaining what each member brings to this particular project. “The open chords and diva demands,” Hughes says.
In all seriousness though, each member’s resume is impressive and with so many competing schedules, it’s a complex exercise organising the five-piece to do something as exhausting as a national tour. “We all keep each other in the loop and try not to book gigs on people’s wedding days or anything like that,” she says. “I can’t even remember my own birthday, so booking gigs is wild. We give each other lots of notice.”
From their debut performance at the Super Wild Horses’ album launch a couple of years ago, Boomgates began earning fans and praise. Scrappy, infectious and country-tinged indie pop seems to be the order of the day for Boomgates with rock never entirely taking a backseat. The influences of the group’s other projects creep in at times and yet these moments manage to meld into something that the five of them can call their own.
Brendan Huntley’s vocals take on a different earnestness in this project, providing a change for any Eddy Current fans concerned they would simply get more of the same. With their debut 7” arriving shortly after their debut gig, Double Natural was, in a way, two years in the making as a host of singles trickled through between then and now.
“We made all the songs over a pretty long period of time in and out of Boomgates’ off seasons and on seasons,” she says of the writing process. “Sometimes in a jam room, sometimes in a backyard, sometimes on the phone. It all kind of came together like that, then we decided we better make an album. We made it in a big pink old church in the middle of North Melbourne and it was stinking hot, which I reckon makes for good moods.
“Shauny [Gionis] was ducking out for dips at the pool every now and then. I indulged in a lot of slurpees which you can really tell from the vocal takes. There was a poster of Neil Young looking particularly stoned that really calmed it all down in there.” When asked to describe the band’s sound in six words or less, Hughes’ answer is obvious. “Slurpee, slurpee, slurpee, slurpee – Neil stoned.”
Every inch of Boomgates’ music and energy translates the friendship of the group so vividly. They’re having fun, they love what they do and nothing is taken too seriously – punctuated by Hughes’ reply when asked whether the band have creative, emotional or economic motives for embarking on the Boomgates journey. “Economic!” she says, furthering the good humour with a justification. “Boomgates is actually part of a tax loop hole for my property development portfolio. [The] cat is out of the bag.”
Despite this heavy wall of lightness, Boomgates are still taking advantage of any opportunity they have to play the music they love. It may all be a lot of fun, but it’s not a complete joke and the unlikely super group are working hard at what they do, even while wearing a wry grin the entire time. The future isn’t without at least a few plans. The current tour is quintessentially Australian according to Hughes’ descriptions.
“We’re all driving around right now at the start of the tour, and having fun sleeping on others’ floors and reacquainting ourselves with the Dog on the Tuckerbox, the Big Merino, etc,” she says. “Will be sure to get the annual band snap next to the Big Merino’s balls. We’re playing a bunch of shows round Australia including this Melbourne one. There’s also Meredith coming up and others if you’re up for a drive.”
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