Hanging Out With Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

We caught up with guitarist and vocalist Tom Russo and drummer Marcel Tussie of Melbourne rock outfit, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, to talk about their latest EP: French Press.

Having just dropped their follow up EP to their debut entry: Talk Tight, Melbourne pop-rockers Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are powering through a slew of performances in the US before gearing up to bring their show back home.

Following the success of their first EP, Rolling Blackouts CF knew they were on to a good thing and chose to follow the same process for writing and recording their sophomore effort.

Produced by Matt Chow and recorded in their northern suburbs practice room, the sound of their new EP doesn’t stray too far from the feel and sound of Talk Tight, with its contrast of easy surf-pop beats and tension inspired by punk and alt-rock.

That said, there has been some evolution in their sound. French Press offers a bit more cohesion and sophistication, which the guys put down to experience and the chance to experiment during the recording sessions.

‘The first EP we punched out in about four hours, but this one we did over a few sessions,’ explains Tom. ‘It’s a tough way of working compared to getting the recording all out in one go, but it was good. We worked a bit harder on it.’

The opportunity for trial and error served the band well, with depth and clarity shining through the airy and spirited tracks.

‘We’re a bit of a jam band’, Tom says, explaining their collaborative writing style. ‘There’s a few core writers but everyone contributes.’

The use of narrative elements also helps them create relatable and thoughtful tracks. ‘We normally try to make it say something, something mundane that sort of suggests something bigger.’

For instance, the title track tells the story of an inter-continental Skype call between two brothers, reflecting an overarching theme of disconnectedness and idealisation for other places, which perhaps reflects the bands own feelings while travelling on the road.

That same sense of “being there by not really being there” is echoed in the band’s first professional film clip for the single French Press. Directed by Jamieson Moore, Tom and Marcel explain that the filming process was a lot simpler than they would have imagined at first.

‘We pretty much just threw a party at our friend’s house in Footscray. Just put on some drinks and pizza and tunes and everyone showed up and it was actually a pretty fun party,’ Marcel laughs. ‘It was killing two birds with one stone, really.’

Known for their surfy pop sound, it would be easy to think Rolling Blackouts CF originate from the Byron Bay or Surfers Paradise, but they are as much a part of the Melbourne music community as can be.

‘We’re definitely from the northern suburbs of Melbourne. The sound is an imagined beach, rather than a real beach,’ Tom explains. The pair admits they’ve always created a nostalgic sound from “where you’d rather be”, and a beach is just a place as any other to find some inspiration.

Despite their success in the local scene, and now overseas, the boys remain pretty modest.

‘I think we got really, really, really lucky, in a city so full of good bands and great venues. It’s a really strong community where everyone supports each other and has each others’ back,’ says Tom. ‘It’s an amazing time in Melbourne music. It feels like there’s so much great stuff happening, especially compared to other cities on Australia that have regulations choking them.’

Tom and Marcel credit the success of the Melbourne music scene to some of the best small music venues going around, including Old Bar, The John Curtin Hotel, Howler and The Gasometer.

Following their US tour, Rolling Blackouts CF will be bringing their imagined beach and good vibes back home in May.

‘We consider ourselves a live band and we record things pretty faithful to the live sounds,’ Tom says, adding, ‘I think they translate really well in a live setting and they’re fun to play. It’s always good to be playing new material in a live setting.’

Supported by Jade Imagine, Great Outdoors, Bitch Diesel and DJ Broadway Sounds, the boys say listeners can expect some great support acts and plenty of fun at their shows. Plus maybe even a disco later.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Photos have been supplied.

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