Mansionair Discuss Shadowboxer and Upcoming Tour
Mansionair’s debut album, Shadowboxer, comes out tomorrow and they’re heading straight to the U.S for a huge tour before returning to Australia for a run of shows around the nation.
The band has achieved a lot in just the last year and they’re continuing to take over the world with tour starting tomorrow along with the release of Shadowboxer. They’re best known for their single ‘Astronaut (Something About Your Love)’ which recently made certified gold or perhaps you would know them from their collaboration with Odesza on ‘Line of Sight’ which was recently nominated for a Grammy.
They’ve just finished up the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival tour and we had a chat with lead singer, Jack, about all things Mansionair.
Firstly, we had to ask about Laneway. “That festival’s exceptional, we go to the Sydney show every year. To play it is always an honour, it’s like summer camp. It was a good time. We got to sneak in some new songs from the new album and I think it was the first time we played a song of ours called ‘Alibi’ which was good fun to test that out. I really enjoyed it.”
We’ve heard a run of singles in the lead up to the release of Shadowboxer, with ‘Shadows’ being our latest taste but there’s more sides to the album. “There’s definitely a lot of sides to this record and the singles that we’ve already released are one part of that. I would like to think that the rest of the record that people have yet to hear is perhaps a little more intimate and kind of meanders more on certain ideas. I think for us, we always wanted to write a whole range of songs that perhaps didn’t fit into the single timeframe. I would say the singles shape the different elements of the record but I think we go deeper in other songs than we have yet. So I’m very excited to see what people think of the rest of it.”
Jack also has a great way of dealing with nerves ahead of the release of the record. “I think there’s always – I mean I wouldn’t know because I’ve never released an album before – but I feel like there is a very common feeling of not being scared but anxious to some degree. I think with it being done and untouchable now and just sitting there waiting til Friday when it goes out to the public. I don’t know maybe I’m a little bit oblivious to it and I’m trying to forget about it. There’s nothing more I can do and I’m at peace with it. And I think after three years of working on it and five years of us being in a band together I think we’re all just very happy with the fact that the process is done for that album. And that we’ve got the first record out of the way and we can continue writing perhaps with a little less care in a positive way.”
Having worked on the album over a three-year period, the inspiration behind Shadowboxer is varied. “[It’s] maybe the same story in many different ways depending on the location where we were when we were working on it. I think a lot of the early songs of the record are very much about coming of age in our early twenties, living in a city environment, in the hustle and pace of it all. I think that kind of travels through the record and I guess where we ended it in a cabin in California at the end of last year so it was a bit more a peaceful relaxed environment. I think there’s all those different sides to the record and I think there’s also a really strong theme of water that flows through the record. Just because I think I would swim three or four times a week as we were writing and it’s amazing how what you do during the week when you’re creating subconsciously leaks into the songs.”
There’s also a few tracks Jack is excited for everyone to hear. “I speak for all us when I say this, the last track on this album is, I think to us, the perfect version of what we always wanted to be. The track’s called ‘Heirloom’ and it was so much fun to work on and it pushed us a little further. It definitely pushed me lyrically, I had never written something with some a heavy subject matter and taking inspiration from quite a dark story that was someone else’s. It was the first time I’d ever written in that way. Musically it tows the line between an electronic band and a rock band I guess which is where we sit.
“There’s another song on there called ‘Harlem’ which to me is an incredible example of cinematic Mansionair and we’re incredibly excited to show those two songs as well as some more deeper cuts and some interludes that we’ve been holding onto for quite a long time that perhaps didn’t fit in the single format. I kind of would say all of it but those two tracks in particular I’m excited for people to hear.”
They’re finishing off their North American tour with a couple of sets at Coachella as one of the few Aussie bands making their way over to play. “It’s quite a strange thing to see your name on a festival poster that you’ve looked at since you were fourteen. There’s definitely that amazement but I think after years of touring as well, there’s so many different ways to put on a show and I guess at the end of the day that’s all we’re doing is standing on stage in front of people and singing some songs. I think I’m trying to take that feeling into Coachella and not be so taken aback by the craziness of it. I was fortunate to sing on Odesza’s main stage last year at Coachella so I feel somewhat prepared to do this with our band. I feel like we’ve got so much ahead of us, we’ve got six weeks of touring before we get to go play that and I’m probably thinking of more of the immediate future and Coachella’s somewhat of a distant memory.”
Getting radio play in the U.S and spending a lot of time there means they’re beginning to draw some serious crowds. “I guess I think it stems from spending a lot of time touring over there in the last year or so. I mean America is such a huge country and such a passionate music society. I think both with ‘Astronaut’ kind of gaining some interest over there on the radio and there’s just a real strong presence of us over there and we’ve just managed to slowly build up a bit more of a story and place ourselves over there. It’s such a fun place to tour. There’s not many places where you get to talk five to eight hours and be in a completely new city that’s entirely different to the last one so we really enjoy our time over there.”
With an Australian tour just announced for May and June, here’s what you can expect from a Mansionair show. “Well in terms of the setlist we always try to build the energy straight away and try and get the crowd involved fairly quickly. We try and linger around that feeling and perhaps dive a little further into something a bit more introspective and take it down and build it back up again. We try and end it like a dance party and then I guess as far as preparation. We’re all pretty quiet, we keep to ourselves before a show to get into the right mindset. Maybe have a tequila or margarita if they’re there. It’s always a little different but we follow quite a strict routine.”
Being able to break out of Australia is difficult for a lot of artists but Mansionair have been able to make it work. We asked Jake for some advice for any aspiring musicians. “I love this question because it makes me think of how I landed myself here in this position. I would say that you need to write stuff and work on your craft so much that you kind of have this free, loose feeling towards your creativity. I think you need to throw it around a little bit more and stop caring too much about all the little things and all the promotions and the marketing. Just try and work out what you want to say and why you’re saying it and who you are and how that fits in your creative lifestyle. I would say playing shows since I was thirteen started shaping that and putting yourself out there as much as you can.
“It does sadden me – and I don’t want to touch on it for too long – but I feel like I’m in this position and I think the rest of the band would say this too. We’re in this position because we were able to play shows in Sydney and gig around in Sydney and it still breaks my heart that most of the venues that I would play in when I turned eighteen and a lot of venues we played in when we were starting out are no longer there. So I think there’s a real onus on getting yourself out there and playing as many shows and putting yourself out in front of as many people as you can. Whether it’s a pub gig or a wedding gig. I think people want to hear your music and people want to support you if you’re doing good.”
The second half of the year seems more relaxing than the first half for Mansionair. “When we come back from Coachella we’ve got our Australian tour which just got announced and we’re excited for. We’re playing some of our favourite rooms and we get to play the Metro [Theatre] in Sydney which is gonna be really fun. It was the first venue that I ever went to as a punter. I don’t know I might just have a week or two off then I think we might just get back into writing, find a nice place in Northern NSW or Southern NSW to get cracking on the next project.”
If you missed them at Laneway Festival this year, they’re playing shows all up the East Coast and in Adelaide and Perth. Tickets are available here.
What: Mansionair Shadowboxer Tour
Where: Woolly Mammoth, 633 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
When: Saturday, June 15th @ 8pm
How Much: $30
Website: link to website
More Info: 18+ event
Feature Image Credit: Jess Gleeson