Perth five-piece Yalla Yalla formed in 2014 with brothers Dave and Tim Watkins getting together with similarly minded musos to create a distinctive sound that can only be described as Australian progressive rock. Yalla Yalla are now on the verge of releasing their most accomplished work yet in the form of the Tides EP, preceded by the uplifting and monolithic single Aquatica. Tides will be getting a celebratory release this Saturday, January 19 at Jack Rabbit Slim’s with Fuzz Toads, St James Sirens and Lights Of Berlin. ANTHONY JACKSON had a chat with lead vocalist Dave Watkins to get an insight into the band’s short but prolific history.
Congratulations on the creation of your EP Tides and it’s first single Aquatica.
Tell me about the formation of the band? Tim and you are brothers, have you always played music together? How did you get together with the other members?
Tim and I started off playing two piece guitar and drums just for pure enjoyment growing up. Ben Harvey and I started a band in early 2000 which ran until 2005 with Tim joining the final chapter. We then re-formed in 2015 after an amazing casual jam with Ben blowing our minds with his spacious orchestral sounds. Our good friend Conrad Pene jumped on board in a heartbeat as bassist. After the Centre Yourself EP release he moved to guitar with Alex Capes filling his position on bass, securing our current line-up. Our silent member Ben Upton has been filling in for Conrad over the last few months and will be joining us at the launch in addition to Conrad. It’s all very exiting, and will make for a sound that’s larger than life.
What music and other artists do you feel have influenced Yalla Yalla, I’m hearing a uniquely Australian progressive rock sound happening, is this something that has come organically or something that you have worked towards?
I grew up listening to a lot of Seattle scene bands through the 90s until Mr Bungle came along and blew my mind. Ben and I share a common love for Radiohead but he is more ‘The Mars Volta’ and I’m more ‘At the Drive-In’. We are all into Cog, Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus as Australian Rock influences – Tim and Alex lose their minds to them. Conrad is influenced by various blues and jazz with his favourite band being Thin Lizzy. Ben Upton also being a mad drummer, his influences are similar to Conrad’s and span decades, notably Alice in Chains.
It seems like Yalla Yalla have sprung up over night, but Aquatica isn’t you’re first release?
Our first Official release was The King off of the Centre Yourself EP which followed soon after in 2015. Our single in late 2018, Not Ordinary is from the upcoming Tides EP. Aquatica is the second single lifted from that record.
The production on Aquatica is huge, how did you record the track and where? Can you tell me about the process from first writing it to it’s release?
When we first wrote this song at Pen Cap Chew studios we recorded it on a live Facebook feed which was taken down soon after. Listening back to that, it sounded fairly complete so it was really one of those songs that just… happened. We recorded with Troy Nababan at Crank Recording and Hammerspace. We can’t recommend Troy enough. We recorded guide tracks for the whole EP ourselves to help with the recording process and production. Aquatica is the key track featuring percussion from some of our favourite drummers around Perth, which gives it a huge thunderous bridge. Timmy was not sold on the bridge initially and felt that it was missing some energy. He wanted percussion, but not with his feel. The outcome was better than we could have imagined!
Tides is launching this weekend at Jack Rabbits Slim’s. What can punters expect from the show? Who are the supports and why did you choose them for the launch?
For this one show we are going to perform the percussion parts from the record live. We will have three guitarists and will be playing the whole EP in it’s entirety to create an experience similar to listening to the record, but much better! Fuzz Toads have the fattest live sound and are just downright ferocious, St James Sirens play technical aggressive prog-rock. This show follows their Dead Letter Circus WA tour support. We heard Lights of Berlin’s huge new single Masquerade and they sounded like a band that we definitely should be playing with. We have a great live stage show prepared for you all with an 80% chance of wet dreams that night.
What else coming up for Yalla Yalla in 2019? Will you be releasing more singles off Tides? Any other big shows or plans for the year?
We’ve been talking about various things, like a double-vinyl release. We should be visiting our buddies in the south for a few dates soon and are in conversations about taking the Tides EP tour over east depending on budget and funding.