INTERVIEW: Tam Vantage

Tam Vantage – Guitar/Vox, Chris Korczynski – Lead Guitar, Rowan Docherty – Bass Guitar, and Jack Molloy – Drums make up Melbourne’s new wonder band.  Setting Sun is a EP that is so worth the listen.  This band has it all;  clever (but not too) lyrics, ringing guitars, wonderful rhythms, and good looks.  You can’t get better than this.  The sound might remind some listeners of The Lemonheads or Sugar, but with that modern twist.  Tam is only releasing 150 EP’s to purchase, although you can purchase it on Bandcamp, which is certainly worth it.  I can’t wait for more from these guys.  The song is in my head for a long time.
AudioFuzz sat down with Tam to talk about his music and more.
AudioFuzz: How long have you been playing and writing songs?  How do you choose the subject matter;  do you ponder the subjects for days, or do they just pour out?
Tam:  Hi Phil, I’ve been writing songs since I was 17. I’ve been playing instruments since I was 8 years old – I started with Piano then taught myself guitar.
Writing is pretty fluid. It’s hard to define. I tend to write the ‘guts’ of a song very quickly and spontaneously. If I’m in a fairly emotional or sensitive state then the chords, structure and a basic concept seem to come out of nowhere in say, half an hour. I reckon that’s where the feeling and emotion comes from. Emotions are inexplicable. I wouldn’t want emotions to be explained, they’re better experienced. But then I spend a much longer time refining the song. I get more analytical and controlling with the lyrics and instrumentation from there. That’s where I give the song a purpose, and where I try to highlight an idea for the listener or lead them in a certain direction.
Subject matter is everywhere. I’m always thinking about songwriting. I feel so overwhelmed by the amount of information coming at me. I couldn’t explain how I choose specific subjects. In a broad sense, I just write about my relationships with people, how I feel, or trying to paint a picture of a situation or painting a character portrait.
A. Is there a Melbourne or Australia scene, or is it extremely varied?  (I know, dumb American question)
T.  Not a dumb question! There’s definitely a scene, in that everyone in the indie circles knows each other and intertwines. But the results are so varied, there’s no set sound at the moment. Little pockets creep up. The different indie labels also end up being their own scenes. For a while there was notably a lot of lo-fi indie guitar jangle pop. It got labeled as “Dolewave” – (In Australia being on “the dole” is a term for being unemployed and living off government payments). It almost felt like a derogatory term though, and since it got labeled, people seem to have made a point of avoiding being “Dolewave”. The whole thing’s a joke to me. Personally, I’ve spent most of my time on the outside of scenes, as an observer. I’m friendly with a lot of people across the board, but I like my independence. And Melbourne has been a good place for that. I tire of scenes and clicks and groups. I like specific bands or artists for they’re individual merits. Some of my favourite’s in Melbourne would be Lost Animal, Deaf Wish, Go-Genre Everything and Pikelet who are all truly unique and incredibly talented, as well as confronting at times. Melbourne music is thriving and has been for a while, there are so many places to play and there is a lot of amazing music being made.
A.  I love that fact that there is so much emphasis on jangling guitars.  What are some of your influences, sound-wise?  Who do you listen now?   I hear some of the Church in your stuff.
T.  Yeah, I love The Church. They were a big influence on me when I started playing guitar and writing songs, along with The Go-Betweens, The Triffids, The Clean and The Chills. Those last 2 were from New Zealand, and the rest are all Australian. I think I gravitated towards them because they had elements of 60’s British music in them, which is where my music listening started, but it was more local and made me feel like I could do it too. Two local people who influenced me a lot were Popolice and Dane Certificate, they are indie pop geniuses who are completely unknown, it’s hard to even find they’re music online, Dane Certificate doesn’t even put most of it up. Also because Australia is isolated from the rest of the world, there’s a sense of isolation and deep sadness, however it’s also a very privileged country and all those bands are humbling and beautiful and appreciative and hopeful. Jangly guitars create are very hopeful and humbling, but melancholic sound.
But I listen to everything. I like aggressive music, I like soft gentle music, I like hip-hop and pop and grindcore and metal and the list just goes on. Seems to be the way these days.
A.  A year ago, I got to interview the Kin.  Great guys.  Have you ever played with them?
T.  Nah I’ve never heard of them. I had a quick look and I get the feeling they’re coming from a pretty different place to myself and most of the Australian music I’m interested in.
A.  Any chance of you touring the states?  I certainly would love to go to Melbourne to see you.  It is on my bucket list.
T. I’d love to tour The States, but I’m completely independent and there’s not much chance of it at the moment. I’d need some sort of interest from labels or for my music to catch on for that to be an option. I don’t have the money or resources. If you make it to Melbourne get in touch!
A.  Any causes do you support?  Or is music the most important aspect of your life (I know it is in mine).
T.  Not really. I just focus on music, getting by and on the people I know. I certainly have a lot of opinions about the world and society and morals and equality etc etc. but I don’t try too hard to inject it into my music and I don’t have any causes I vehemently support. The western world is built upon a convenient blindness and an inescapable hypocricy, I see it everywhere, but I see it in myself as well. I can be very critical but I also try to be understanding. The world is so complex, I thing being understanding of others is important. But to answer your question, no I don’t support any causes, and yes, music is one of the most important things in my life.
A.  Any question that I didn’t ask?  Anything you want to tell our readers?  I know I want more to hear more of your music soon.
T.  Yeah, one thing I’d like to mention is that I have an album coming out later this year. It’s quite different from the EP. And once that’s released I’ll be working on something quite different again. I don’t like to repeat myself, creatively I’m aiming for a state of perpetual change. Keep an eye out.
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