OUTRIGHT_HC_0030

Melbourne band, OUTRIGHT are set to release their debut LP 'Avalanche' on October 3rd. While this LP has been a long time coming, OUTRIGHT aren't the sort of band to approach things in half-measures. These aren't songs structured in the studio or lyrics written on the way to the studio. There is a lot of passionate, heart-felt blood sweat and tears that goes into this band and listening to their new record this shines through ever so brightly. We caught up with singer Jelena and bassplayer Brett for a chat.

All live photos by Phillip Hatton

OUTRIGHT has just begun preorders and released the first two tracks off your debut LP "Avalanche", how much of a personal achievement is it for you to have completed your first full length?

JELENA: Completing our first full length feels like another cool addition to the list of rad experiences we've had just by doing this band. I'm stoked every time we write something new, play another city or just have a really good show. The best part about this achievement is that we have a lot more to share this time, and a great reason to celebrate it doing all of the above.

Been a few lineup changes in OUTRIGHT since we probably last did an interview? Who's in the band now and who's out?

BRETT: From the 7" lineup, there is still Brad on guitar, myself on bass, and of course Jelena on vocals. Josh joined us on drums for the 7" release tour, so it was great to get to write the songs with him this time around, and Allan joined us on guitar in late 2013.

So has OUTRIGHT relocated to Indonesia as well? Facebook seems to think you have?

BRETT: Yeah, we definitely have a large number of the people from Indonesia who follow us on Facebook, with a decent percentage of them thinking that they are following a different hardcore band from over there with the same name. As much as we try to let them know that we are not the band they are looking for, especially when they post the other Outright's lyrics or photos of a band that is clearly not us, we haven't really found anything we can do that makes a difference.

There are some kids in Indonesia who genuinely do want to follow us, as we have done interviews in zines over there, so we have ended up just rolling with it, because the last thing we want to do is accidentally remove kids over there who are into what we do, and want to support it.

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Did the lineup changes play a bit of a hand in delaying the song writing process for your debut album "Avalanche"?

BRETT: It definitely did, although we managed to continue to write throughout. The main thing that slowed us down was that at a number of points during the year we had to change focus back to our existing set to get a fill in guitarist up to speed for a run of shows, which stifled the creative flow a bit.

By the time Allan joined, we probably had close to half of the album written, but a bunch of other half written songs and ideas we could work with, so having a full line up again contributing, and with his awesome skills now part of the mix, that was when it all finally started coming together.

Where was the album recorded and how long did it all take?

BRETT: We recorded at 3 Phase Studio here in Melbourne with Joel Taylor, who is a good friend of ours, but also a great engineer. The bulk of the album took 7 days to record in the main studio, however we ran a bit behind schedule so some of the vocals were completed after the fact at Joel's home studio, and we booked an extra day back in the main studio for some additional gang vocals, acoustic guitars and stuff like that. In total, recording was spread out over six weeks as Joel had other projects he was booked to work on as well as having to postpone some of the vocal sessions due to Jelena being quite ill and unable to track, so we were glad to finally have it all done.

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How did you find the studio process for recording the album? Are you comfortable with hearing your own voice in the studio?

JELENA: I find the studio process more and more intriguing every single time we record. Because I'm not a musician, it all feels like a physics experiment to me. It blows my mind how every tiny element in the instruments, the equipment, the leads, the pedals, the room, can be changed or affected to create a different outcome and produce something you didn't even think of. It's so fucking cool. Having an extra set of ideas and the expert skill of someone else in the room is such an important asset too. Joel Taylor really made it a comfortable but productive time for us.

As a vocalist, I find the experience really rewarding. I love the nervousness and the total exposure it imposes, that forces you to really dig deep, challenge yourself and somehow channel all of that composed energy, breath and meaning from the words into one small piece of equipment. I get so excited about laying things bare and ripping them (and myself) apart to see exactly what can be better, stronger or different. There's so much potential in that space that makes me stoked for the final outcome and all the lessons gained along the way.

I'm comfortable with hearing my own voice because it's mine. I don't apologise for how it comes out because it's natural and sincere, and there's only one me. After going through days of playback I started to feel a bit like, "rah rah rah stop yelling already" haha but I think any recording artist feels a bit that way once cabin fever sets in after countless consecutive 12+ hour days on the same 11 songs! In the end, I felt totally free and supported throughout the process. I knew what I wanted from the songs but still wanted to see what I could get out of ME. In recording, I think we found a cool balance between pushing ourselves and just letting it happen. I couldn't be happier with how that worked out.

It sounds like you've got a lot more control over your voice and developed more of a pitch range since the demo and 7 inch. How much of a learning process has this been for you?

JELENA: Thanks for the kind observation! Every day is a learning process and I find that my lungs and throat have stronger days than others. Sometimes it's just about being well and getting that balance right, and others it's about trying not to think too much at all, and just letting the energy and focus deliver the results. Having better control of my voice was important to me so I could use it as an instrument in itself – not just noise over the top of guitars and not just a parrot for the words. I'm highly aware that hardcore punk is a limited space for that but this process has taught me that each contribution has a role and I wanted to do these songs and my band mates some justice by giving them my best. I'm also conscious of the extra level of scrutiny applied to women in this context and wanted my best argument against dumb critics to lie in the results themselves.

Got a personal favourite track off the album? Any reason why?

BRETT: I don't think I've been involved in a record before where I would have found that such a difficult question to answer, as it seems to change each day. The best I can do is talk about some that really stand out for me, and what resonates with me.

The first song Troubled is one I have to include, because issues of gender inequality and sexual violence are still as prevalent as they ever were, but even in the advent of a rise in discussions on feminism, which is great, there is also a rise in people pushing back against it with the "not all men" and "I don't need feminism because...." attitude. The lyrics Jelena wrote for that song, represent a voice that often doesn't get a lot of space in hardcore, and especially breaks down what is the reality of women across the globe in terms of why despite all of the progress, we still have a long way to go to make this world a safer and more equal place.

Another one that I'm really into is Forging On, because it represents what I have always loved about the creative energy in the recording studio. Prior to going in to record, it was the song that amongst the band really never quite felt right, but it came together perfectly, and the finished product just rips, as well as now being one my favourites and so much fun to play.

Finally, I'd have to say The Collapse is the last one I'll mention, because it is really personal for Jelena lyrically, and so beautifully written, whilst being such a heavy and crushing song, and finishing off with a melodic guitar lead that still blows my mind each time I hear it. I don't think I've ever been part of a song that so perfectly captures the mood of such traumatic events and the pain and hope that intertwine as we try to make sense of life, and how easily it can all change in a moment, yet have effects that last a lifetime.

I could keep going, but it's probably best I stop so that people can get their own impressions of the songs when they hear them!

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You're releasing the LP yourselves through your own label Reason and Rage? How are you finding running a label and having a hands on D.I.Y. involvement in everything?

JELENA: Yes we are! I honestly couldn't imagine doing it any other way. Sure, it takes up a ridiculous amount of my time and can often cause some stupid amounts of stress, but when the process is so expensive for the band and so personal to us, and when the people listening to and buying it mean even more to us, it makes perfect sense to do it ourselves and maintain that connection. I reinvest all the income to cover the band costs as well as the label's, we have complete creative control, we can plan and schedule everything exactly how we need to, we can make sure that all the people we work with are ones we respect, get along with and want to support, we feel comfortable maintaining a level of punk integrity, and it just feels like a logical extension to deliver the product you've created if you're the one who believes in it most.

It can be said that we may not get the exposure and promotion that we could from going through a larger label, but that's never been high on our list and we're already finding a lot of that help coming from people who just like or care about us anyway. Far out, Taylor Young who mixed our record liked it so much he insisted on sharing it with friends in the US and we got an insane offer from a label there the next day. Doing it DIY meant that we could deal with them directly and make plans on our own terms, supporting a person and label that operates exactly like we do, and not having to involve contracts and variables to complicate things (more news on this later!).

I just need to hurry up and release something that Life.Lair.Regret Records or Lethal Dose Records haven't already beat me to haha. Then we can call Reason and Rage a real label and not just a means of self-release.

You sold out of the first press of the " Dedication" 7inch and are now on to your second press. Did that come as a surprise?

BRETT: It absolutely did, especially given how quickly it sold out, as we didn't even have any left for the last few shows on our launch tour. We are so appreciative of all of the support we've received since the very beginning; it's been very humbling. We originally didn't want to do a second press because the intent was to get moving on writing an LP and to put the money into that. Every time you press a record, there is always a risk that you'll end up with a heap of them left over and not recoup your costs, especially when digital downloads are another factor diminishing vinyl sales, and we were aware that interest tends to slow down after the initial launch period.

We were probably a bit stubborn about it, because although we had the songs online, there were still plenty of people wanting to get a copy on vinyl. The delays in getting a permanent lineup restored so that we could finish the LP, probably dragged this out longer than we had originally intended, which is why we ended up doing a repress.

Who's behind the artwork for the LP and how did that all come together?

BRETT: The artwork for the cover is by Duncan Pepe Long in Auckland, New Zealand, who is an old HC kid who I have known for a number of years. We originally met back when he was playing guitar in the NZ bands DSM and Evil Priest, but more recently he has become an incredible portrait artist and his work is simply mind blowing.

When we were considering who we might get to do the art, we were really excited by the idea of getting Pepe involved, as we really had no idea what he might be able to do for the record, but knew that he has amazing skills in a range of mediums, and has a HC background so gets where we are coming from with the ideas and concepts in our lyrical themes.

Our good friend Pat Galvin did the layout, and also did a brilliant job in taking the one off monotype print that Pepe created for us to make it work for the LP.

How is the response to the band in Melbourne nowadays? Does it surprise you when you think back to the OUTRIGHT's origins as a mere thread on Broken Glass?

BRETT: We get a lot of support these days, which is great, and the feedback on the new songs both online and that we have played live has been overwhelmingly positive, which makes us really excited for when everyone can finally hear the full LP.

As for the origins of the band, it's not really unlike the origins of most bands, big, small or otherwise. Everyone has humble beginnings, and having been around for a number of years personally, I've had the pleasure of seeing some less than impressive new bands go on to achieve incredible things as they continue to develop. This record feels like that coming of age for Outright too, in the beginning it was about just existing, and the first few shows and the demo represent that period, then it became about being a 'real' band and we were able to write a 7" that we are still really proud of.

This LP is just the next phase in our evolution as we learn, take risks, experiment with ideas and grow as a band. There are still some common threads that have stayed constant from the beginning such as being honest and genuine in what we write and represent, and especially that we want this to be fun, both for ourselves, and anyone who comes to our live show.

Having you been doing much with your vegan bake stall Bake Down The Walls of late? Any new recipes on the burner (pardon the pun)?

JELENA: A pretty hectic schedule and some better efforts at taking time for my own self and wellbeing has meant that BDTW isn't pumping quite as regularly as it used to. I still love to bake and share recipes, I'm just not running the stall at every show because I simply can't fit everything in right now – career, band, label, zine work, relationships, fitness, activist projects, adventures, LIFE! Still, I'm so stoked that every stall I do hold remains a sell out and is always lot of fun, no matter the crowd or the venue. Even more rewarding, is the increase of contributors, making it the co-operative initiative I always believed it could be. At Break The Ice Fest this year, we proudly raised a total of $1700 for the Women's Domestic Violence Crisis Service and Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary. Not bad from a bunch of 50c cookies and $2 cakes while kids watched rad bands play. Once Outright tours this record and life settles down a bit, I'll be looking forward to having BDTW pop up a lot more again and I'll start work on the food/art/punk/activism zine I've been meaning to do for years. Maybe bringing some of my Gianduia Moussecakes to the table too?

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Got a pretty top-notch looking launch show planned in Melbourne with Comeback Kid and Rotting Out. Are OUTRIGHT hitting the road in support of the LP?

BRETT: Yeah, that was definitely a stroke of luck. It was a case of taking lemons and making lemonade, because we found out within a matter of minutes of each other that the CBK/RO tour was happening around the same time and was going to impact a couple of our dates, and also that the festival we were originally going to launch at in Adelaide had been cancelled.

Through a heap of negotiating and hard work as well as a few lucky breaks such as getting a slot on the CBK/RO Melbourne AA show, we now have a launch tour which takes us to Melbourne, Sydney, Launceston, and Brisbane, with Adelaide and Byron Bay shows just being finalized now also.

Any final words or thoughts?

BRETT: Thanks again for all of your ongoing support of us, and all of the other great punk and hardcore bands out there. Your site provides an amazing opportunity for local bands to promote what they do, to a global audience, and in a scene where connecting with each other has always been an important part, I'm sure you (and everyone else doing similar things in other scenes) aren't thanked often enough for what you do.

"Avalanche" is now available to pre-order in 2 different 'Creation' and 'Destruction' colourways here.

Be sure to catch the band on one of the dates below...

Outirghttour

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