Neon Tetra Drop Run From the Ruins
Olivia Gliku | On 11, Dec 2017
If you find yourself missing groovy funk tracks from the 80s, we may have found the perfect band for you. Neon Tetra are an Adelaide four piece contributing to the resurgence of one of music’s most fun genres.
We were joined by Neon Tetra’s drummer, Oscar Westell. He told us about the band’s origins, including the fact that their name comes from both an aquarium in a Chinese restaurant, and Dave Smith’s Tetra synths, and where they’re heading next.
To start off, Oscar gave us a crash course in who’s responsible for what in the band.
“Frontman is Josh Allen, he’s the vocalist and guitarist. He’s a very deep thinker, emotional, and sensitive guy. Falls in love a lot, and out of love a lot.That leads to a lot of material coming from him, which is great. He’s an awesome frontman, loves to getup and dance, and show off a little bit, which is what you want. Yeah, full of energy.”
“We’ve got Liam who’s on bass. He went to school with Josh and Dan, they’re all actually originally saxophone and trumpet players. They’ve transitioned to rock music from classical jazz and training at school. Liam’s a party boy, he’s my mate. We go out for beers and go see gigs all the time. He’s a really sensitive guy as well. We got through a pretty rough together patch last year, and that’s kind of, like, strengthened us as a band and definitely the rhythm section. We can gel quite a lot, and get, I guess, on the same level on stage and groove together, even though I’m sitting down on the drums. He sort of comes over and includes me a lot into it, and that makes it kind of special.”
“Dan is the real driving force of the band. He’s a James Morrison scholar from Sydney Conserv[atory] of Jazz. He was putting like ten per cent into the band, until I came along last year. They sort of grew up together at school, and nothing really came of it, and I sort of started managing the band a lot more. Dan started putting a lot more of his composing skills from his jazz background into the music, and now we’ve got this Motown, Disco Rock Soul EP in the works for next year, because he’s really keen on the direction we’re going in. I’m really excited to see a skilled saxophonist get up on the synth and start experimenting.”
“We’re all great mates.”
Neon Tetra’s latest track, Run From the Ruins, is the perfect example of their groovy sound. The track’s demo came together over a Sunday, and eventually the final form came together. Oscar talked us through what inspires the sound you of Neon Tetra’s latest and upcoming releases.
“Over the last summer, especially, there was some really great parties that we were going to. A lot of this disco music, especially in Adelaide, is starting to have a resurgence with a lot of younger people. Because it’s such an expression of, like, the anti-dark feeling that the media and the world is going down. It’s like a big celebration of life and partying and good times. You”ve got KC and the Sunshine Band, Cool and the Gang. Even Melbourne bands like Sex on Toast and stuff. Really nice disco, fun, exciting kind of sweaty dance floor feeling, but with a lot of should and love behind it. That’s kind of what we really enjoy listening to. Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield are big inspirations to Dan and I. I come from a soul-funk drumming background, so that’s kind of been the direction we’re going down, because its like, we’ve got nothing to really feel bad about, in a society like Australia. We’re so distant from all that trouble, why not try and give a little bit back to the world that’s positive and full of joy?”
On the 23rd of this month, Neon Tetra are kicking off on tour. They’ll be playing in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne till late January. Oscar told us that audiences should expect a “really groovy, soulful kind of disco-rock vibe through the whole night” plus some covers. They’re writing a whole new set list, and have Hecta Osharn, Swamp, the Bellafontes and Joint Ventures.
“[We’re] so excited, of course. Like I said, we’re great mates, so it’s kind of like an end of year trip in a way, or a new year trip. We’ve worked really hard to get the music out there and we’re just having a great time doing that, and people are responding very positively. To be on the road, and the excitement of the unknown, I guess, how many people are at the show, people who’ve heard about you, to rock up and have a listen to you live. I think that’s where we win most of our audiences over, is our live shows, ’cause they are full of energy and fun.”
“We’re bringing our mates with us again, like Joint Ventures, who have just started releasing some Californian style, like downtempo trip hoppy, sample based hip hop. They’ll be setting a mood and a groove to lead into the night. So, they’re another great bunch of fellas that live with a few mates down in Adelaide. To have them on the road is going to be great fun. I guess we’re just looking forward to it a lot. It’s going to be a great time, no matter how many people rock up.”
After they wrap up touring, you can expect to hear some singles from Neon Tetra’s upcoming EP to appear across the first few months of the year. With more collaborations on the way, including film clips choreographed by Erin Fouler, and fellow Adelaide creatives, Neon Tetra are set to keep pumping out tunes over 2018. You can find all the details about their tour, and their latest news, here.