VERGE COLLECTION People watching

In the current crop of Perth bands, Verge Collection are well placed to lead the charge for guitar-based pop. They have toured nationally a few times and with new single Feelin’ Old out now and debut album Flaneur released Friday, March 30. Before the whirlwind of activity that will accompany the full length release (including a launch at Jack Rabbit Slim’s on Friday, April 13), CHRIS HAVERCROFT spoke to band leader Ben Arnold about the coming long weekend’s performance for the Town of Victoria Park’s Twilight Trio series. Things kick off at 5.30pm on Sunday 28 January at John MacMillan Park, Kent Street, East Victoria Park.

Your debut album is coming out. Does it feel different to the anticipation around the other releases and a culmination of what the band has been working to up until now?

Not really to be honest. It’s good to get it out but it doesn’t feel like its the ultimate. It is just one thing that has been done, and then we can move on to the next thing. The best part about it really is that we can now move on and stay creative and get the next thing started.

Do you have a constant collection of songs being written or do you agonise over them a bit more?

If I am in the headspace for it, then it’s not a very long process. I can usually get a song started and finished within a day. Every time I lose my job or something (like that) happens then i get a whole shitload of songs done. Then when I get another job, I get back into the grind and I don’t write as much again. It’s a weird cycle.

Do you lose jobs on purpose so you can write more tunes?

Subconsciously I reckon I probably do. My headspace is not really in work. I have found something that I am interested in doing with music, so it makes it hard to get excited about a career job. I am losing proper jobs, I am losing casual jobs in between. I really don’t give a fuck about the 9 to 5. I have a job at the moment though, so I hope it sticks. Its a hard thing to marry up in your head because I am still quite a consumerist and I do want expensive shit, but I don’t want to have to work for it.

How did you get involved with locals Rhubarb Records as the label to put your record out?

I think it was through a friend who is a massive collector of records and he met Dylan (Sainsbury – Rhubarb Records owner) when he was doing the first Rhubarb Jam compilation. I think he put my name forward as someone to be on the record. Dylan had a listen and got behind us. I thought that he (Sainsbury) was mad putting out records, but he has done really well. He’s selling lots of records and has just opened his second store. He’s a lovely guy.

When people see your band for the first time, do they think that (drummer) Barry Elverd was your high school teacher and that is how the band formed?

It kind of feels like that some times. At times Barry is really serious. He’ll put up with your shit to a degree, but he has a cut off. I thought he was going to be super responsible. On our first tour, we thought we’d pay him $20 a day or something to be a tour manager and hold all the credit cards and make sure the hotels are all sorted. It didn’t work – he was the loosest dude. We found out he’s not as responsible as we thought he was, so we just divvied up the jobs from then on.

It’s a pretty exciting time to be a Perth band at the moment with the likes of Stella Donnelly and Boat Show having the spotlight turned firmly in this direction. Hopefully that will spill over to extra attention on your album too…

We might possibly exist in slightly different worlds at the moment with Boat Show and Stella Donnelly doing the festival circuit. We aren’t on their level, but we do alright and have our own thing going. I think it has been a good time to be in a Perth band since Tame Impala really kicked off. It kind of goes in waves. As soon as someone gets picked up, everyone re-examines the city.

We are really hoping that we get some radio play. It can’t be overstated how important it is to have some national radio airplay. We went on a national tour last year, and we did really well and sold out some venues, but there was no way in hell that we would have been able to do that without the initial success of (breakthrough single) Our Place. It’s like a gradual growth, but every time Triple J pick up a song its really stupid how much of a spotlight it is.

We do get played on community radio and that is why we have a reasonable fan base over east, but Triple J airplay is probably the difference between making money and doing this as a hobby. I want to make a living off of this. This is what I want to do with my life. I know it can be a pipe dream, but airplay is the difference between whether it can sustain you or not.

We got to go there in 2016 and it was nice to be part of the actual music industry. It was a nice little taste. Triple J appeal to the demographic of people that would and do listen to our music. We write summery songs for the most part with a bit of an ironic or twisted take on something. It is for young people and Triple J as the voice for them. They have been really good to us, but we’d love to get everything on high rotation.

Recent single So Vain is a different sound for Verge Collection. Does the album have many curveballs like that?

The single itself has been well received. With the album I ultimately hope that people enjoy it. I would like it to take us further outside our fan base, but that would be a bonus. I like to think that musically it is all very different. There aren’t a lot of overdubs or things like that, but there are a few different styles on the album. The lyrics pretty much carry through with a sentimental and a structural narrative style. That is what keeps the consistency.

Flaneur is a fantastic album title for Verge Collection. It really captures what you are about.

I really like the phrase. It is pretty much a fancy word for people watching. We were going to tell people that it is a French word for flannelette.