Over two decades on from its release, Augie March revisit their seminal debut album ‘Sunset Studies’

Over two decades on from its release, Augie March revisit their seminal debut album ‘Sunset Studies’

Words by Marnie Vinall

We caught up with Augie March drummer, Dave Williams, ahead of the band’s shows at Melbourne Recital Centre as part of RISING festival.

In 2000, now-acclaimed Aussie indie rockers Augie March came onto the scene with their debut album, Sunset Studies. They’d already released a few EPs back in ’97 and ’99, but this was their first major record.

The album not only made an impact and established the band within the Australian music landscape, but it attracted a loyal fanbase that has stayed with them ever since. And so, to celebrate that momentous album and its significance to both the band and their fans, Augie March are dusting it off and playing it in full for two Melbourne shows.

The shows, which will take place on May 26 and 27 as part of RISING festival, were originally planned for last year. But, as with most 2020 plans, COVID got in the way and meant the album’s 20th anniversary celebrations will be held a year late.

Keep up with the latest festival news, reviews and interviews here.

Some could argue the postponement makes Augie March’s return even more special. For fans, it’s a revival of an old favourite album, one full of poetry, colour and character, with the extra wait adding to the anticipation.

As for the band members, Williams says it’s been a good opportunity to stop and reflect on the past 20 years.

“You know, have a look back on things. Some of those songs have not been played since 20 years ago,” he says.

“It’s good to take stock and occasionally stop and look around and also celebrate the music you’ve made and celebrate it with the audience who pretty much helped us all the way along.”

The shows will also be the first time the record’s been played in full since its recording. Williams admits it’s been a little spooky playing the whole thing from start to finish again.

“It’s been interesting to play through the songs,” he says. “Your body starts doing things it hasn’t done for 20 years… There’s a funny little nostalgia.”

Punters can expect to hear cult favourites from the album such as ‘Here Comes the Night’, ‘The Hole In Your Roof’ and ‘There Is No Such Place’.

But there are a few others Williams is keen to give a new go, including lesser-known tracks like ‘Angels Of The Bowling Green’, which he says have a certain mood which “will be interesting and fun to create live.”

“We don’t play ‘Asleep in Perfection’ that often, so I’m looking forward to playing that.”

“’Owen’s Lament’ will get a go, which is the final song of the big epic,” he adds.

Part of the excitement is the return to playing in front of an audience following the band’s cancelled 2020 shows.

“I’m really looking forward to that communal feeling, you know community coming together and that interaction that happens,” says Williams. “That interaction between an audience and performance is something that we really enjoy.”

He feels as though COVID-19 has broken down the fourth wall, in some regards, allowing artists and audiences to rebuild live art together.

“Everyone is sort of doing it together again. Learning about performing and witnessing it all together”.

“That is part of that magic of live performance, seeing art done in front of you,” he says. “You’re part of it as well… It doesn’t happen in isolation. That doesn’t happen without an audience. So yeah, there’s a real transaction there.”

The upcoming shows are made all the more special by being part of a large and vibrant cultural festival.

“We were really wrapped when RISING approached us to help launch the festival on the Wednesday, the first night,” says Williams.

“We are intrinsically a Melbourne band. This is where the band grew up and been able to ply their trade and learn the trade. So to do a cultural festival like this and to be asked to be a part of it feels great.”

“It feels great that we get to feature an album that is, you know, really instinctively Australian in its outlook of things and in the subject matter, lyrically and sonically,” he says.

“[RISING] is the start of something really significant, culturally, and something that all Victorians and all Australians can come along to and get something out of.”

Catch Augie March at Melbourne Recital Centre as part of RISING festival on Wednesday May 26 and Thursday May 27. Grab tickets here