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THE GRATES Team Barista

The-Grates

After nary a musical peep from much loved garage-pop crusaders The Grates since the wind-up of Secret Rituals’ touring cycle, the Brisbanites have returned with a rock salt blast of an LP, the raw and ready Dream Team. LACHLAN KANONIUK reports.

The Grates’ Dream Team is an album created on the band’s own terms, an extension of their newly hardened DIY ethic – a flipside from their US base for previous LPs.

The wholly independent approach was forged in Southside Tea Rooms, a relatively new Brisbane café/bar operated by originals Patience Hodgson and John Patterson (now married, with a lil’ bub on the way), finding a balance between hospitality proprietorship and musical output.

“When we came back from the States, we released Secret Rituals and had just been touring, and were excited to be back in Australia and back with friends,” Hodgson states. “That first year just got away from us pretty quickly. It often does if you don’t pay attention.”

Upon their return home and inspired by the small bar scene in the US, they decided to open their own café/bar, because, especially three years ago, such a thing hardly existed in Brisbane. It was mostly unfamiliar territory for the pair, and they spent two years working hard to keep their heads above water.

“That first two years of any business is really hard,” she says. “There were a lot of reasons we wanted to do that, it was so insular in America. It was just me and John after Alana (Skyring) left.”

They hired Ritchie Daniell as a barista and now he’s their drummer. “We didn’t even know he was a drummer. The only reason we hired him was because we’d hired his girlfriend, then the day before she was supposed to start she told us she’d taken another job, but she said her boyfriend was desperate for a job so we should hire him. It was just one of the things we couldn’t believe had happened, but it was turned out to be the best things.”

When the opportunity for musical creation came beckoning, Hodgson and Patterson managed to turn any sense of free time into fertile time. “There was a little period where we didn’t have the bar licence to open at night, it took five months to get,” says Hodgson. “That’s when John said we should start writing songs, because it would be the least busy we’d be for ages. At the time we were working 30 hours a week, and when the licence came through, it would be 80 hours a week, it was gonna be insane. In those three weeks, we smashed out a whole bunch of songs.

“As soon as we got the opportunity to take a little bit of time off from the shop, we started playing, getting Ritchie on drums. Then it all came together really quickly,” she reasons. “We started playing with Ritchie around a year ago, that was when we starting forming the live relationship. It was probably less than six months ago when we said, ‘Let’s release an album, let’s get together every Tuesday, getting the concept of the album’. It felt good to do it all really fast; it didn’t feel like we needed to write.

“Our old record label had the mindset of us chasing a commercial path. I just wanted to do whatever we wanted. Maybe it was because we’d been our own bosses for the last few years, and we can do whatever we want with our shop. Then when it came back to the band, having other opinions just didn’t work for us. It was a natural thing for us moving on to being indie, not answering to anyone we didn’t want to answer to.”

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