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ROGUES Darkness and light

Rogues


After teasing us with their first single of the same name six months ago, Perth four-piece Rogues have just released their debut EP Double Vision. It carries on in the distinctive style of previous work from the group, but showcases an expanded palette of ideas and influences that have been crafted into five punchy and refined tracks. The EP sees the group re-imagine the mastery of groundbreaking artists such as Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears through the enthralling world of new sounds and ideas that opened up to them in the studio. BRAYDEN EDWARDS talked to drummer Cristian Galindo to get the story behind the release and the “balancing act” of incorporating new sounds and classical composition into something they have made fresh and undeniably their own. You can listen to Double Vision now on Spotify. 

Rogues certainly seem to have a well-defined sound for such a young act. What do you put that down to?

I suppose it comes down to the strong relationships we have established within the band. Although we have been active as Rogues for just over a year, we have played music together for almost 10 years, and have seen each other grow both personally and musically through that time. I think that bond allowed us to have a clear idea of where we wanted to take our vision on this first EP, and to naturally create a sound that represents us.

There are evidently some retro influences on your sounds from the bands that first brought electronic music to rock music such as Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears. Given there is now a whole world of digital programs and gear that wasn’t available to those artists back in their heyday, how do you go about re-imagining that aesthetic?

I don’t believe technology really gave us any massive breakthroughs in this record, but it did give us the benefit of accessing a huge range of sounds very easily. For us it’s usually more about understanding how those old-school sounds were created in the first place, and putting our own take on them. By doing this you always end up learning so much about what went into those records, and can then merge that with other more modern influences to create something that feels timeless, much like those artists would have done back in their day.

You’ve said that you draw influences from some artists that people might not expect given your genre and all. What were some of those and how did you manage to channel it into your style?

I would say some of the stronger “genre-crossing” influences on the record are hip hop artists like Kanye and The Weeknd. We have a lot of appreciation for the production value in that genre, which isn’t necessarily prominent in most rock music. We tend to bring a lot of that minimalist, beat-driven production into our music, but always aim to do it in a manner that is authentic and that actually serves the emotional purpose of the music. Songwriters like Kevin Parker from Tame Impala are seriously good at achieving that balance, and we take a lot of inspiration from that.

How does your bassist Zach’s training in classical composition influence the band’s approach to writing music?
It ends up being a bit of a balancing act to be honest. Sometimes it makes it easy to overthink what you’re writing, particularly for this genre of music, you know, rock or indie pop. We usually feel it’s better to be a bit more in the moment and feel it out. Having said that though, we do find it hugely beneficial to have someone like Zach in the band with that kind of background! It’s definitely pushed us to think outside the box and take the music in a more unique or unexpected direction.

Rogues
The new EP Double Vision by Rogues is out now

And when you took these songs to the studio did any of the songs take a different direction than you might have expected once you started thinking in more depth of how it would all work together?

Yeah, big time! Coming into the studio, we had some fairly solid arrangements together, but the vibe just wasn’t quite there. We knew we wanted to put out something with a nostalgic old-school aesthetic, but to begin with the pre-production demos had a much more polished sound to them. Thankfully, our producer Matt Gio showed us a bunch of lo-fi recording and mixing techniques that actually sounded more like the vision we had in our heads. We were truly lucky to work with someone so talented, and we certainly couldn’t have achieved what we did on the record without him!

We’ve talked about how your style is well defined in a musical sense on this release, but how about the lyrics? Is there a tangible theme or vibe running through that ties everything together?

I think much like our music, our lyrics do tend to be fairly dark, but at the same time we always make sure that there are clear signs of hope and strength within them as well. Most of the stories in our songs are actually based on personal experiences of members in the band. In the writing process, we like to talk about some of the harder times that have impacted us recently and in the past, and we flesh out both the positive and negative outcomes of these experiences. Our main goal is personal and creative honesty in everything we do, and so we find that this is the most natural way for us to write lyrics, which we hope is something that people can resonate with.

There’s a lot of cool production techniques on this EP weaving new types of sounds and effects into the songs. Is it going to influence how you play these songs live?

Absolutely! We generally tried to write and produce the songs that we wanted to hear with little to no regard as to how it would be played live. We felt if we considered it during the writing phase it would become almost a constraint, and that’s exactly the sort of thing we were trying to avoid. When it comes to the live situation, we play as many of the electronic sounds live as possible. This puts us in situations where Zach might have to switch from bass guitar to synth, or sometimes Luke even has to play synth parts on guitar using some pretty crazy pedal effects. Staying true to the recording has definitely been more challenging than ever for us, but figuring it out is a whole lot of fun and it’s totally worth it when it works out in the end.

And what are the plans for 2018, can we expect some more live shows from Rogues now this EP is finally out?

We’re definitely planning to play a lot more live shows. We really took most of 2017 off to produce the record, so now it feels right to focus on getting it out there. There may be some small tours around WA or the eastern states at some point, but everything is in planning at the moment. Currently we’re gearing up to shoot a new video for the next single off the EP, so that will be something to keep an eye out for very soon!