ARTIST INTERVIEW: The Wellingtons

WellingtonsWith The Wellingtons music is fun again. Their upbeat happy pop tunes and vibrant energy ensure that listeners can’t help but enjoy the experience. Speaking recently to band members Zac Anthony and Kate Goldby, it sounds like they are as happy with their musical style as we are in listening to it.

‘We’re aware there are plenty of sad, unjust things going on in the world right now. So I think if we can get people’s feet tapping, theirs hands clapping and have them singing and smiling then that’s a great achievement. At the same time we also hope to have a song or two on each record that will maybe show you a sadder side of life or tell a story to give you a new perspective on things.’

Made up of four band members The Wellingtons bring together individuals each with their own musical experiences and their own views to add to the mix. However there are definite advantages in coming together to collaborate and combine their musical efforts. ‘I think we all come from a pretty similar place musically, we all have a good idea of what the song needs and try to add our parts to compliment the song. Sure different influences will affect what those parts and suggestions are and contribute to the overall sound of the final song.’ This collaborative approach is also evident in the way that melodies and lyrics are written, ‘Zac writes the chords and melody and most of the lyrics then I (Kate) tell him what to change!’

Given the advantages found in pooling their talents and energies I wondered whether The Wellingtons were hampered by trying to achieve perfection with their music. ‘Yeah absolutely, it takes a lot of work to get a song ‘right’. I (Zac) run over song structures, melodies, and instrumentation in my head all day so by the time I bring it to the band its 95% done. I also home demo and arrange everything on my computer. I like to think of our tunes as being pretty well crafted which takes time. It can be a lot of work but it’s also very satisfying to get the end product. I like complex harmonies and layering and there can be differences of opinion about when a song is finished which is a very hard decision to reach when there are whole group of people involved!’

Aside from building a solid fan base in Australia, The Wellingtons have been cultivating an impressive overseas following, in fact launching the latest album in Japan late last year. These overseas experiences have had an influence on the band and their musical style, ‘We’ve been ordered by the people of Japan to use more keyboards and female harmonies, so there’s your hot tip for our next album!’ ‘The general positive response we’ve received from our first two albums overseas has inspired me (Zac) just to keep doing what we’re doing, and doing it well. There’s even a song on the new album about our Japanese fans! It makes a big difference to know people are eagerly waiting to hear the new album, it spurs me on to do my best!’

While the band’s overseas travels have influenced their music, have they noticed any differences in how their liver performances are received throughout the world? ‘America was a similar vibe to Australia, generally pretty receptive but you have to win them over. Japanese audiences on the other hand were so enthusiastic, excitable and loud! They’d sing along to the songs, dance and clap in time, then they’d line up for autographs and photos afterwards!’ ‘Some Japanese fans brought us gifts which was ace. They were also silent between songs, waiting and watching, very polite and damn cute too! It’s not about egos or social standing there, like Australia and the U.S can be a lot of the time.’

With the release of their second album For Friends in Far Away Places not too far away I thought the approach to this recording may have been a smoother process than the release of their first album Keeping Up With The Wellingtons. ‘Our first album was recorded in four locations with three different producers and For Friends in Far Away Places was recorded with two line-up changes in three different places too, but surprisingly both sound reasonably consistent!’ Zac elaborates, ‘I think we learn a little more each time we enter the studio so each time you go in you’re a little more prepared and know what to expect. The band has a pretty consistent sound really, the song writing process was the same for both records. I’d somehow invent a chord progression while attaching a melody to it and then once I’d crafted it a little and written a structure I’d show the others and get them to help out with the lyrics that sucked or ones that I was stuck with.’

Once released though the second album won’t give the band much time to themselves for rest and relaxation. ‘Being a self managed band that’s pretty much been the case for the last three years. It’s a heap of work but as good as playing live and song writing is, if we don’t do the management side of things like booking tours, contacting record labels, and arranging promotion then our music wouldn’t get heard and wouldn’t have a life.’

It can be easy to forget that being a musician is more than just the music, there is time spent in writing, recording, performing and promoting to make sure the musical career continues to flourish. This can result in a juggling act between competing priorities. ‘I (Kate) would say it’s more difficult trying to find a balance between working a day job to save money for recording and touring and actually doing it!’ ‘It’s really hard to find time to write songs actually, particularly when you’re touring new countries, or recording, doing interviews, managing a band or working a day job that affords you to do all of the above. That’s always on my (Zac) wish list, more time to write songs and maybe even some time to relax!’

While we hope that they do find that elusive time off to rest and recuperate from time to time let’s hope that they don’t disappear for too long, we would miss all the happy positive energy which they so successfully spread throughout the world.

I originally wrote this article for ‘The Dwarf‘.