THE LULU RAES
17th Feb 2018
The Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale
Interviewers – Nik Solomou and Chantelle Angileri
“Eddie and Taras met when they were in highschool, at different highschools. Taras went to a highschool in the city that noone has ever heard of for some reason, and Ed went to pretty much the prison highschool of the Eastern Suburbs. they were pretty much in a cult together when they were young, doing heaps of intense “spiritual workshopping”, but that ended sort of badly (and goodly, but it was overall probably a good learning curve). A while passed and they had a few bands, but then decided to be serious, real serious. they met Marcus at the beach one day, at the boat ramp, and knew that he played bass and he was noticeable cuz of a huge scar going down where his heart is. Plus he was just chilling a lot and going to AIM a bit so it was easy to nab him. Taras met Tom’s sister in india, and she said her brother wanted to learn some piano, so he taught him some piano, but he (Tom) was a sick drummer as well so they got him in as well cuz Taras promised that he’d take him in if he ever started a band (it wasnt a movie-like promise, it was just Tom was a real quick learner and could play heaps of instruments so it was a no brainer). Angus came last, he was a friend of Tom’s, and he was pretty much in when he helped the band cover that earth wind and fire song that goes “and gliiiiiiideeee like a seven-forty-seven” (their song titles always are jumbled in my mind).”
Amnplify has been following you guys for a while now, and the way you guys present yourself on your social media, you seem really down to earth, a bit quirky, and seem like you have a really good time together. (Marcus:“…And we’re very sarcastic”) There are a lot of artists that work really hard to promote a certain image, or convey the fun in what they do, but it seems like it comes really naturally to you guys – is it something that you cultivate intentionally?
Taras: You meet a lot of bands, see all this stuff, see them do all the image stuff, and it’s a lot of work – and we’re just real lazy, hey.
Marcus: It’s so wanky, like saying ‘We’re so cool, our musicians are cool’.
Taras: It’s wanky, but it does work. Even I get sucked up into it, and I’m like ‘Wow!’ …but sometimes, when I know them well, I’m like you guys are just losers but somehow everyone’s been duped.
I guess it does work to a certain degree, but perhaps somehow not trying to cultivate an image, people get a chance to see the real band. Do you think if people can relate to you when you’re not trying, that’s when you know you’re really onto something?
Marcus: Maybe it’s a real good cover for insecurity, ‘cause if we’re never serious then people can never take us seriously. And then if we fail and we suck, it doesn’t matter – we were joking on you bra!
…When suddenly interrupted by a guy called Nick – Marcus: “I’m so sorry about him. I’ve known that guy for at least 45 seconds and that is just typical Nick behaviour”…
I read your Facebook bio, just to get a sense of how you guys met. I have to say, though slightly convoluted, it was very interesting!
Marcus: Yep, that’s because it was written by a man that didn’t finish high school.
…In amongst the mentioning of old high school shenanigans, cults, and chance encounters, I have to ask about the scar mentioned. What is the scar on Marcus’ chest?
Taras: You’re going to need to take a photo of this bad boy! (Taras unbuttons Marcus’ shirt…joking with each other- “I don’t want to get ‘me too’-ed”).
Taras: Let the scars shine!
Marcus: So the back story: I was born with a hole in my heart in my heart, and a lot of times, when babies are born with holes in their hearts, the cardiologist will say ‘You don’t need to get it operated on, it’ll just close up overtime’. This particular one, was a hole with a flap. So it was almost like a heart murmur (immitates murmur sound: Doong-doong-shhh, doong-doong-shhh) that caused an irregular blood flow. So they cut me open, pulled my heart out of my chest and stitched it up. Which, if I ever wanted to be a real romantic poet, I’d try to use something like that.
So how old were you when that happened?
Marcus: Quatro!…that’s Mexican for four.
Taras: Is it really? I thought you would say spanish? I thought you were going to get the racism out before the interview!
So you guys all met in that crazy way, the band came to fruition as it stands now…how did you then come up with the name?
Taras: We were with Eddie actually, the singer, and for some reason, Eddie was talking to a friend and was like “What do you think of the Lala Rains?” …and I don’t know why ‘the Lala Rains’, but he just said that. The friend was like, ‘oh that sounds like my name!’ And her name was Lulu Ray. And so, a year ago, Lulu was in a pub in the hinterlands of Scotland, in a town with the population of barely 500 people. She was having a drink and was just talking to some Scottish guy, and he said (Taras says in a Scottish accent) “You know, there’s a band called the Lulu Raes?” And she was like, “How the fuck did you hear about them?”, ‘cause we’re not, I’m gonna give you a bit of a hint, we’re not actually that big. (Followed by banter in a scottish accent between the boys…something relating to Billy Connolly).
When you heard that story, did you feel that was a kind of ‘Wow, we’ve made it’ moment?
Marcus: I think we just have ‘we made it moments’ everyday, really.
Taras: There was something today, actually!
Marcus: Yeah, the flag drop! …We’ve got a little surprise. We’ve got a very expensive show for everyone tonight… (The show concluded with the unveiling of a Canadian flag that predominantly spanned the width of the stage, that was unrolled from above ceremoniously.)
How long did it take for you to feel like you’d achieved something, in the trajectory of where you’d like to journey, in the experience as a band?
Taras: You know what? Tonight’s actually a really good night. We’ve been away for a long time, over a year, and haven’t played any shows, haven’t released much stuff, and you feel like the whole industry is quite fickle.
Marcus: Because people will forget about you.
Taras: Which is fair enough! I’m not expecting anyone to remember…but then to sell it out is like, ‘Fuck Yeah! Wow!’ That’s real good.
Marcus: …Yeah there was some really great marketing going on. I called all our friends cucksuckers like three times.
Taras: It worked!
Marcus: Well there was that chick who was like ‘oh what? All the tickets are gone!’ and I put on the list – on my own list…I’m a good man.
Taras: Did you? Good on you!
Taras: And I thought you had no love left ‘cause of your leaky heart… know what I mean?
Do you guys get nervous before a gig?
Marcus: I did actually get really nervous before one show. We were supporting Sticky Fingers in Melbourne, and 170 Russell was sold out! And the show was fine, and obviously I was brilliant, and Taras was brilliant. But I came off stage, and I sat down in the green room, sweaty and threw up everywhere. That’s the only time I’ve ever been nervous. Actually I think Eddie gets a bit nervous. I think we’ve concluded that I play like shit when I’m drunk, and the other boys play like shit when they’re drunk, but for some reason Taras, if he’s wasted, he plays really well. Taras doesn’t drink day to day, weekends and shit, so then when he drinks before a show, it’s like he grows a personality, you know? It’s like he understands what it’s like to be an entertainer, rather than just a little coward.
Taras: He’s right. I’m a coward. I realised I was nervous today, and that I must be cripplingly numb. Because I was walking through here, and thought, ‘I have not eaten all day’. And I was not even hungry, and I’m always hungry!
Obviously you guys get on like a house on fire – there’s a lot of love here! But like any happy family, there’s always one trouble maker, isn’t there? Who is the biggest trouble maker amongst you?
Marcus: I am probably the biggest shit-stirrer. Because I do all the work, but I’m also lazy, so I need to be prodded to do the work. …But then again, I think doing a thankless job, is the opposite of lazy! …oh look at us, we’re so dysfunctional!
Taras: It’s beautiful!
So to that end, have there been any notable pranks?
Marcus: In the van, if you talk about really disgusting stuff, Eddie starts dry heaving, and retching like he’s about to vomit.
Taras: Like proper – he gets all salivery.
Marcus: So we do these nine hour drives to Melbourne, and we’re an eight seater van, and he’s driving, being a fucking legend doing most of the driving! It’ll be kind of quiet, maybe we’re just listening to music, and then someone will pipe up and go, ‘Hey, psst, Eddie, imagine getting all the dirty socks from your room, and just ringing them out into your mouth, and then vomiting them out into a bucket’.
So Eddie is the main target?
Taras: Definitely. We pavlovian dog-him, because anytime he tries to assert himself, we just whip out one of those, and he backs off and says ‘ok! I’m sorry!’
Pranks aside, do you have any rituals or routines you’ve developed in preparation for a gig?
Taras: I went to the beach today. Can’t regret that. Went to the Bondi rocks.
Marcus: Classic Bondi. But I’m getting over the rocks now. I’m all about the shore, all about catching waves now… I think since I got the car…I just bought a car.
Taras: See I’m not really…catching waves is really nice, actually. But I just don’t like the sand. I used to surf a lot but I’ve just got too many other hobbies.
What are your other hobbies?
Taras: Well I like the music writing. …Actually that’s about it now really.
How do you guys navigate the writing process? Is it collaborative, or does someone write something and bring it to the group?
Marcus: I think we’re really intolerant of people bringing in half-baked ideas. Kind of go back to that laziness thing: If you’ve got an idea, see it through to the end, and teach it to the band. We’ve had more success like that…
Taras: ….We’ve done some good things as a band, though.
Marcus: Well ‘Change My Tune’ came from just jamming. I think Eddie played that riff first.
Taras: Yeah exactly. But with five people, to evolve a song it’s kind of hard, because say someone wants to change one chord, if you try and change it, and it doesn’t work, you’ve just ruined the vibe, and everyone has to stop. But if it does work then you still have to teach it and relearn it.
Marcus: And as well, playing music and everyone being in the room is fun. It’s not work mode. I would say you’ve got to be in work mode to write.
Taras: But we’re going to change that because we’ve just started building a recording studio in our practice space, so we’re going to go in for actual days of writing, where it’s not just that jamming.
The Lulu Raes
have just released their latest single
You can check it out HERE.
How long would it take to create a new song? Your new track ‘Fade Away’, for example?
Marcus: ‘Fade Away’ is actually an old one.
Taras: It took a while. The gestation period is really long. It’s about a year to a year and a half old. But the initial idea happens, and then you make a demo, and that usually sounds real good, and then you bring it into the recording studio and it sounds shit.
Marcus: And the Label goes “What the fuck? Make it sound like the demo!” And then you use all this money to make it sound like it did originally.
With such a long gestation period, how do your feelings about the song change as it develops? Do you still love it at the end of the process?
Marcus: When you get to play it live, I think you do.
Taras: Oh totally. And also, I feel like the more and more that we’re writing, or especially for me, it’s more about …you’re just uncovering something that’s already there. Does that make sense? So instead of building something up, it’s already a block, and you’re just taking stuff away till it becomes what it needs to be.
Marcus: I was listening to Courtney Barnett on the radio yesterday speaking about her new song. She said ,“It’s about haters and people on the internet”. The way she explained it seemed really condescending and kind of stupid. She kind of said, ‘Well you know, I just had a bit of a verse, and that had nowhere to go, and then a bit of a chorus that I had nothing for it to go in, and I also had a bridge part, and I just kind of put them all together’. But she’s obviously put in a lot of time and gone through a process of, just like Taras said, uncovering the song – and it only took like ‘oh hang on, this goes here, put that there’ and then you’ve got yourself a really fantastic song, about haters. And everyone’s got haters. Shake it off? That’s about haters!
About the past, do you have any career highlights? Is there a performance that stands out, or has been the most memorable thus far?
Marcus: Oxford Art Factory for our EP tour was a highlight. I had just gotten back from a three week holiday in Japan, and obviously we weren’t practicing. I wasn’t overseas practicing, so all of my callouses just wore away. So I played that gig, and my finger got so blistered that it just blew up into this big disgusting cherry blister. And we played Canberra the next night. Three songs into that, it popped. And like, juices shot down the front of my bass…
Taras: So highlight. Career highlight.
Marcus: But that show itself, was a highlight! I think that might have been the first time we played ‘Sunflowers’, which is a very dear song to me.
Why is ‘Sunflowers’ particularly special to you?
Taras: Because he was the mastermind behind it.
Marcus: Yeah I guess because I wrote it.
Taras: He did it.
What inspired you to write that song?
Marcus: It was actually a very charming love song, to impress my at-the-time girlfriend. And I told her ‘I wrote this for you!’, and she goes, ‘No you didn’t, you fucking liar! You just wrote it so you’d have a song to play at gigs, you arsehole’. I was like ‘Noooo! You’ve got me all wrong!’
Taras: You did actually write it for her though, didn’t you?
Marcus: I think that I did, yeah a bit of it…
Taras: Well she’s not your girlfriend anymore!
Marcus: She got another song now…But getting back to memorable performances! The one we did at Port Macquarie was pretty fun.
Taras: I really liked the one we did at Bondi Junction.
Marcus: Oh yeah! We played at a bar called ‘El Topo Basement’. It’s part of the Westfield Bondi Junction, and we used to go there when we were eighteen, and it was like the happening spot to go on a Wednesday night. We played there, and that was one of the nights where Taras got shitfaced. There’s a song where he’s got this big, obnoxious, synthesizer keyboard solo. He picks up his keyboard, which must weigh like thirty kilos, gets on the speaker, and plays a solo like that! Note perfect, by the way.
Taras: But then I think I got a bit bashful.
Marcus: Like you suddenly realised, ‘This isn’t me!’, put the keyboard back on the stand, and then kind of retreated back into the show.
Taras: I hope that doesn’t happen tonight! Because you get fatigued half-way through, and you’re like, ‘Oh shit! Is this the bed that I’ve made for myself?!’
There is so much energy involved in performing though! I went to see Gang of Youths play last year, and each of their gigs were two hours. They were performing with such high intensity, consistently, for two hours every night. …It blew me away, not only the mental fortitude, but also as the physicality of their tour. Do you have a certain timeframe in which you prefer to play a show?
Taras: I love them.
Marcus: When your songs go for eight and a half minutes, you can do that I guess.
Taras: With our gigs, I always feel like if we go over an hour, I feel like I’m going to bore people.
Marcus: Yeah, you don’t want people looking for that spot in your set to go grab a beer, or go out for a cigarette.
When given a two minute warning till the end of the interview:
Taras: Two more minutes? With us?
Marcus: Why, what happens after two minutes?
Taras: That is so cool. That’s never happened to us. Someone saying go away because our time is precious…Like, we’ve got nothing to do after this.
Marcus: Just chill in the green room.
Taras: I’m gonna be like one of those people that say , ‘Do you actually know who I am?! Okay?!’
Marcus: Alright. Prediction: If any of our band members, not that I think they will ever be able to pull ‘Do you know who I am’, but if anyone ever pulls that line, it’s fucking Angus.
Marcus: And he’ll say that to someone, and they’ll be like ‘Nope’.
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