Perth power pop trio and legit supergroup Rinehearts will release their debut album Can’t Do Nothing through Cheersquad Records & Tapes this Friday, May 10. They’ll be celebrating the launch at Bassendean Hotel (aka The Basso) that night, before a further run of shows across WA and Victoria on a national tour including The Fire Station, Busselton on Saturday, May 25. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with guitarist and vocalist Ben Ward to find out how the band featuring current and former members of Snowman, Screwtop Detonators and Leaches’ DIY approach led to unexpected yet pleasing results on the record, and what their namesake Gina might make of their work.
Congratulations on releasing your debut album, how you would describe the process of recording it and the feeling of releasing it in three words?
Super happy joy-joy.
We first heard from you with your debut EP in 2016, but had you been playing for long before then? How did the Rinehearts come to be?
No we’d been together for a few months really before No Front Teeth Records put out our first EP. We’d all been in bands for years beforehand. Myself and Mitch (Long, bassist) were playing a benefit show that Ross (DiBlasio, drummer)’s band was also a part of and we hadn’t seen each other for ages. At that stage I had three or four demos recorded I’d been messing around with at home. I asked Mitch and Ross to have a jam over a few beers and it all clicked pretty quickly. It was meant to be low key, but here we are putting out a full length record through a label we really dig (Cheersquad Records & Tapes). Who’d have thunk it?
I can certainly hear a number of musical influences in your sound, but do you think there is one act that you can all agree on that you admire most?
It’s pretty hard to pin down one act, we like a broad range of music, I guess mainly guitar driven pop, rock and garage. But if we had to pick one it’d be Big Star. Their songwriting, melodies and the overall feeling of their music is unbelievable.
And how about the disagreements… were you always on the same page about writing the songs for the album or is a bit of give and take?
It started out as rough demos that were shaped by the three of us in the studio. We throw all our ideas in, and everyone has a chance to be heard. Then the songs work or they don’t. It’s pretty enjoyable seeing what they’ve become now compared to where they started. Ross was instrumental in the layering or after thoughts once the main tracks were laid down. He added keys and post production stuff. I’m impatient so I’m really glad he pushed for that! Mitch has a great ear for power pop and keeping it rough where it needs to be. There were no real disagreements, just constructive criticism, which is totally necessary!
Is it true you recorded this yourself in your living room? Was that because you felt the DIY approach worked with the character of your sound?
Al from Bergerk Studios recorded both the EP and album in Ross’s living room, yes. We wanted to keep it completely DIY and make sure we enjoyed the process. We’ll do it again once the next album is ready, it really agrees with us and our sound. There’s no real time constraints and Al is a pleasure to work with. It’s all coffee and chats rather than dollars and stress!
And were there any songs that took a new direction once you started laying it down on record? Anything where the finished product surprised you?
Yeah totally. Every Minute, Every Hour was one we hadn’t finished writing before recording and it took on a real life of its own. When the roughs came back we were like, “woah, this is cool.” Then Ross added a guitar solo to the end of it. Which he enjoyed doing and we also had Nici Ward and Olga Sigurthorsdottir come in and do backing vocals. There’s also trumpets on I‘m Not There. It was good to leave things a bit openended to have room to listen to once the roughs came back.
On the new single You Don’t Have To Lie you’ve said it was about “hiding someone you are or being something you aren’t… And is reminiscent of the heartbreak that comes from juvenile love.” Do you think that somehow touches on a theme that covers the whole album? Was there a particular mood or message that you felt tied these songs together?
Listening to the album I think there’s a definite theme of relationships and what people go through. It somewhat reflective but not always of my personal situation. You Don’t Have To Lie is about a girl who cheated on me in high school, as corny as that sounds – I think everyone has gone through that at some stage. Some of the songs are about things I’ve seen people go through over the years and my observations. Fortunately I’ve had an amazing relationship with my partner for many years. Not Going Anywhere is about her. Sometimes things aren’t as literal as they sound, and sometimes it’s just meant to be fun. I feel like I really thought about the lyrics and I’m really happy with them. It’s not political, it’s not a maze of metaphors, it’s just what came out.
You’ve got a number of shows coming up across WA and over east but your launch this Friday at the Basso is definitely one to look forward to. What can we look forward to on the night? There’s some pretty awesome other bands on the bill as well I see…
We’re so excited to share the night with our friends and family. The records will be available on the night. We’ve got some guest vocalists too. We’re playing just about the whole album and a few songs off the first EP, which seem to be crowd favourites! We’re good friends with both The City Views and Zerodent, so we’re honoured to be sharing the stage with them at our favourite local pub. Zerodent are also off to Europe soon so they’ve got fire in their bellies, and The City Views have just dropped some amazing new tunes too. Can’t wait!
Other than this album launch and tour what’s next for the Rinehearts in 2019 and beyond?
We’ve got a tonne of shows coming up that’s for sure. Catching up and playing shows with our friends’ bands in Melbourne is going to be a highlight and we’re excited to play with Japanese garage band New Rock Syndicate. There’s talk of heading to Europe next year, and we’re writing our second album at the moment. So pretty much full steam ahead. We’ve got a really good team behind us now which is helping things along nicely.
Finally, do you think Gina (Rinehart) would enjoy your music? What would her favourite song be?
I think she would definitely dig it and shake her money maker out on the dance floor. Her favourite song would be Can’t Do Nothing. I can totally see her dancing to that. What a time she’d have out on her yacht.