In May of this year Miles Away released their fourth LP titled "Tide". It has been five years since the band released the acclaimed "Endless Roads", but the wait was well worth it. We caught up with frontman to find out how "Tide" came together and what the future holds for Miles Away.
It's been a few months since your latest album "Tide" has been out. Given the length of the whole recording process to actually record release, does it feel like it came out ages ago now?
Oh for sure, to me it feels like the record came out last year and that we recorded two years ago. Then you think about how long ago we actually started writing some of the first songs that made it onto Tide. At first I was so over those songs because they felt old and stale compared to the last couple that we finished before the recording which felt new and fresh. But now I have had a break from them and they feel new again so I think maybe we can start playing them.
There was a five year gap between your last album "Endless Roads" and "Tide". Why did it take so long to put out new music?
I guess there were a couple of reasons why it took so long. Firstly as most people know Crowey our main songwriter moved over to Berlin. At that point we were all trying to figure out what we wanted to do in the future with the band and in our personal lives. After a good five years of playing a lot of shows and touring around, we all kinda just knew we wanted to or needed to slow things down. We didn’t see any real rush for us to release new music or to keep playing shows every couple of weeks. Most importantly we didn’t want to deal with deadlines and rushing to put out music that we weren’t fully happy with or wasn’t solid. So I guess we took a break and got on with our lives outside of the band, and waited until we were ready and almost missed doing it a bit. Also though there has always been Crowey, Cam & I in MA, we probably didn’t have those other permanent members to facilitate writing a new record straight away either.
Rumours were circulating for a while there that the band was over? Did that discussion ever take place?
So many times we’d talk to people and they thought we’d broken up, or people would just keep asking the question since we were laying low. Over that period we definitely had some pretty straight forward conversations between the three of us to figure out what the plan was for Miles Away and whether we all saw a future. We all agreed that the three of us had to be 100% into it and behind it, otherwise it was done. Some days we’d feel like maybe we’d run our course, but then other days someone would bring up a touring memory or say they had listened to or wrote something that gave them that familiar feeling.
Listening to "Tide" it certainly feels like Miles Away have reached the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. For you is this the band's opus? Could you happily end your musical output with "Tide" and feel no regrets of what ifs in doing so?
I think, and all bands have to say this, that it is our best output yet as a band. The way we went about this one was extremely different to any other time we’ve written and released a record. I could stop here for sure, because I think that maybe the time between thinking about doing something new again with Miles Away could be even longer than our last hiatus, but who knows? Throughout doing the band, I’ve always had the idea of doing another band on the side or something a bit different musically so if we ended with Tide, I’d have no regrets at all and would probably try to do something new.
Do you feel like records have a much shorter shelf life these days? Like people move on from a new record onto something new really quickly?
No doubt in my mind about that. I was actually thinking it myself the other day at work when a song came on my shuffle. The song had actually only come out a couple of months prior but it felt like so long since I’d actually listened to it, or listened to that particular record that it felt ‘old’ already? I think we’re just in a different age when it comes to listening to and being a part of this music. I find that I’m pretty slow checking out a lot of new bands these days because I have my favourite bands or records and they are my go-to when I wanna listen to something. That and the fact there are just so many bands out there today. I feel like when I was growing up there were less bands and almost like a hierarchy system when it came to what you ‘should’ be listening to. Like you knew if the band was on Equal Vision, Victory, Rev, Epitaph, Burning Heart…whatever…then you’d buy it have on high rotation for a long period of time. Looking back I’ve got to say that is questionable with some of the stuff that came out. That’s not to say in this day and age things aren’t good or better, it’s great that there are so many bands and people doing bands and it’s easier for them to get their music out there. And there are just so many ways to release music and for people to listen to music rather than just go down to the music store and buy a copy or tape it off a mate who has money.
There seems to be a lot of references to your slice of Australia, in that of Perth in the lyrics. Having travelled the globe extensively do you find it changes your appreciation of not taking for granted the country you've grown up in?
I think I definitely gained more perspective from travelling and seeing different places, cultures and ways of life. In a way already appreciated Perth and Australia, because my family emigrated here in the early 90’s from the UK and it was such a culture shock to what I was already used to growing up. But I spent my most influential years here that shaped the person I became today. I always try to throw a few references to this beautiful place we are able to call home because it shapes who we are and the freedom we are afforded. Something we should never take for granted in my opinion. I think on Tide these references come through more and especially so tying in with the artwork or theme so to speak.
Also a lot of references to the ocean which personally I know plays a big part in your life. Is this record a kind of thank you note to the influential elements in shaping you as a person?
Over the course of the band I’ve tried to incorporate that ocean side of my life into what we do, and I think the older I’ve got the more and more it comes through because at the end of the day it’s one of my passions in life. Coming from England, I wasn’t really around the ocean, except when we’d go on a family holiday to Spain or something, but even then it was a different kind of feeling. When we came here one of the first things we did was go to the beach and since then I didn’t really look back…any chance to go and be in on around the water I’d take it, seriously hooked. The funny thing was the rest of my parents and brother didn’t really take to the ocean in the same way, so it was basically them dropping my friends and I at the beach and we’d come back burnt, salty and totally exhausted. As I grew up I kinda had a conflict between playing football (soccer), surfing, then came skateboarding and music too so there were times where different things I was more into. In the early stages of going to shows and then doing the band, I feel I lost a lot of contact with the ocean and surfing which I didn’t have to. Now I’ve come full circle back to what makes me tick, being in and around the ocean whenever I can. So yeah, in a way it is a thankyou and a nod of the head in respect!
The track "Balance" is quite powerful lyrically. Can I ask who in particular the song is about?
I wrote the song Balance with my partner/wife Laura in mind, the sacrifices she’s made over the years for us and how big of an impact she has had on my life since coming into it.
"Tide" looks like the perfectly designed record too, who's idea was the layout and design concept?
I think we all had certain ideas and visions in our heads about how we wanted the record to look and feel from the early stages of the recording process. From a singer or lyricists point of view there were certain themes or ideas that I really wanted to tie together. Adam and Cam probably gave me a lot of leeway when it came to getting those ideas included, but it’s never been a band where one person decides everything. Once we had discussed the general theme, album name etc… Adam & I worked closely with friends of ours to bring those ideas to life through the photography and design work.
What about the awesome photos on both the LP and 7", where did they come from and how did you source them?
With the photos it was important for me to use people who were either our friends or on the same wavelength in capturing the West Oz feel. Adam Del Borrello (Delby) has been a close friend of ours for many many years and he has carved out a great career in the photography game so naturally we hit him up first. He used to sing for the Perth band Alleged. For the weathered 7” the two Adams took a trip up the coast to get the shot, and for the Tide photography us three bolted down south early one weekend to capture everything we wanted. That was really fun to be involved in, not just getting the shots but hanging out like the old days. The cover photo for Tide was taken by Mike Maxted also from WA who gets some great surf and water photography up and down the coast. I’ve always admired his work so was really stoked when he was down to be involved.
You self released the "Weathered" 7" and yet did the LP on Resist Records. Why did you decide to release this way?
We did the same thing last time around with the “Memory Embraced 7” just before Endless Roads came out. Just that we like releasing our own records and being involved a bit, same thing with the Make It Count 10” reissue. Doing a LP is a little more hard work so we left that up to Graz!
How did the writing process for "Tide" come about? Seems pretty difficult with Crowey based in Berlin and a drummer based in Brisbane? Did you get to jam the songs much as a full band before recording?
Yeah it was pretty difficult at times. At this point Jackson wasn’t playing with us so we had a few different drummer friends helping us write the songs. There was Andre who used to sing for Gold Kids. Berlin and Sardinia aren’t so far away so Adam would jam with him when he had time or cheap flights came up. Also Adam’s roommate plays drums and he helped out as well when Crowey had ideas at home. Our friends Fendi & Fuzz here in WA helped the writing process here. Before the actual recording took place, Adam came home for a few weeks and we got in the jam room a lot, ironing out and making changes to any songs that we’d already sent back and forth via email. We also worked a lot on the vocal patterns and even lyrics because I wasn’t going to be in Boston with the guys. We setup really bad home recording jobs when we’d jam and then did some rough tracks with JP who’d record my vocals so we could go over the songs and changing anything before the proper recording.
How did former Defeater drummer Andy Reitz come to play drums on the record?
Throughout the writing process we knew that we’d have to figure out what we were going to do with the drummer situation. We knew Andy already through Defeater tours and Green Vans, and when floated the idea of playing the drums on Tide, he was pretty keen. There were a few other ideas, like Nate from Cruel Hand who had already played for us a few times or other friends around the globe that had also filled in. Obviously having a drummer based in the US would save us money in the recording process and Andy lives right near Jay in Boston so that was pretty perfect. Not to mention he’s a beast behind the kit, so in the end we were really happy he could be a part of the record with us.
Was the situation like hiring a session drummer and giving him music to play or did he collaborate to the song writing process?
Once we knew he was down in advance, Adam would send him the songs to learn or play how he saw fit. I wasn’t there when he actually recorded, but the guys said he definitely put his own spin or style on them. So it wasn’t like a session dude who came in a nailed it exactly like we told him to. There are a bunch of parts only he could come up with that makes it hard for anyone playing the songs in the future!
You actually didn't record your vocals with Jay Maas at Getaway like the rest of the album? Why the decision to do this separately? Was it a case of being handed music to write lyrics to or was everything already structured?
I recorded my vocals here in Perth with my friend JP who has his own studio. The only reason for this was because I just couldn’t get the time off work and had a really busy schedule when the other guys were free. I really enjoyed recording my vocals with Dean in NY for Endless Roads and would have loved to have gone to Boston this time around but it just didn’t work out. Fortunately recording vocals isn’t the hardest or most important thing, as long as you have someone who knows what they are doing and the right equipment. The music was written long before I had to do my vocals, so things were pretty planned. Of course some things changed over there that I had to work around, which was actually quite fun. With the time difference, they would send me a song and by the time I woke up it would be in my inbox and I could just go through it in my head until I had to do my thing.
Was it strange to not have any musical input on the rest of the band's recording?
I still had input even if the time difference made it a little hard. If I had any differing ideas or opinions on what I was hearing then I’d let the guys know as soon as possible. But it’s pretty rare I get involved in anything musically because I don’t play anything or pretend to know what things should sound like. If there was a decision to be made about a part in a song or anything then there would be a discussion between us and decision made basically on majority rule.
Bearded crooner Jamie Hay lends his vocals to the first track "terra incognito". How did he come to be involved in the record and how did he add vocals to the recording?
When we had been working on and eventually finished up Terra, the feeling was there was a part that we wanted someone else to lend their voice to. With the theme and lyrics of the song, we felt Jamie would suit the part well, but I didn’t know if he’d be interested. Thankfully he was and I think his vocals really add to the feel of the song. Recording wise, we just sent him the rough track and he went into a studio with a friend and knocked a few versions out. Then Jay added them in over there and that’s that. I don’t think Jamie even heard the song until it was out, sorry mate!
You also have Zach from Bane contributing vocals to the track "Let The Words Roll By". When you think back to the beginning of Miles Away did you ever imagine that members of one of your favourite bands would want to involved in Miles Away records?
No way did I ever think we’d be able to do stuff like that, let alone see or play with half the bands we have over time. We’ve been really really lucky as a band and created some really awesome friendships around the world along the way. When I first heard snippets of Zach’s part that he recorded I just couldn’t believe it, I played the 15 second part over so many times at work. I know that none of us could ever do that part justice live but I’m glad it’s there and I’m also glad about the rumours of Silent Drive getting back together because the album they put out was so fucking good.
Bane is a band you have formed friendships with through playing shows in a number of countries. How do you feel about their demise and going out on their own terms?
What a great bunch of guys, I’m glad they have been able to spend the last year or two saying goodbye to all the places they have been over the years. It’s sad they are breaking up but they have definitely left their mark and influenced so many.
Got a favourite Bane memory?
My favourite memory would be when we were both in Japan for FC Five’s last shows in 2012. That was a band that both Bane and MA formed a real strong friendship with and it was an absolutely amazing experience to all be there together and say goodbye, it was a really emotional time and something I’ll never forget.
Got a favourite song on "Tide"? Why that one in particular?
I’d have to say “Balance” for what the lyrical content means to me, but also I just love how that song turned out. I love the vocals that Dahei (from Japanese band Cleave) added to the song, he’s so bloody good…and it gives a really different feel to a miles away song.
You've recently married your partner Laura and you guys are proud parents of your spoodle Chile. Having spent the last decade dedicated to touring with Miles Away do you finally feel settled and happy with stability?
For sure, I’m more settled than I’ve ever been in life. I’ve found the balance I always craved with Laura, Chile and our little world surrounded by good friends and family… I couldn’t be happier with where I’m at. I also thank the other guys in the band for helping me find that point, because I ‘m sure I wasn’t that fun to be around sometimes haha. You live and learn!
Is touring and playing still a priority for Miles Away or do you feel taking the annual approach like a band like Mindsnare is the right path for the band? Any overseas tours for "Tide" in the works?
Touring isn’t a priority for me, don’t get me wrong, I love to get out on the road for a few days when everyone’s schedules and the stars align…but honestly that doesn’t happen very often these days. We put in our time spending weeks and months and years on the road putting life on hold. Unfortunately at my age I have bills to pay and a moderate amount of responsibilities too I guess. Now that we play usually a couple times per year, it feels really good when we do because we miss being together and a part of the scene so to speak. Luckily people seem to still be interested in the band even though we don’t play often so it makes it worthwhile when we can play a show. When it comes to overseas tours, I’d love to hit Europe and Japan again at some point especially now we have a new record, but it comes down to how much time we can all put in, if we can afford it and so on.
Hypothetical situation here. Say Farside reform and want Miles Away to tour the USA with them but Crowey or Cam can't make the dates? What do you do?
Haha. I’d hope that Farside or Popeye was just like us and wanted to do a weekend tour, and then we could make it work. We’ve played a few shows over the years without Crowey or without me, and it can work but I don’t think we’d end up doing the tour as much as I’d love to!
You played a bit of a disastrous All Ages launch show in your hometown of Perth launching the album. Does it surprise you that perhaps Miles Away has lost its appeal to the younger generation?
No it doesn’t surprise me at all, I wouldn’t wanna go to HQ and walk around the corner and see the rough 35 year old heads of Cam or I either. As much as I tried to stay in touch with the all ages scene in Perth over the years, I find it harder and harder to go to shows and so I don’t really know what the youth are into honestly. Also I just can’t stand HQ and the people that run the place, they fucked it up beyond belief and refuse to allow people in the know to get involved. Since “dudeman” left it all went downhill. I have some great memories of the place but unfortunately that’s pretty much like the only place to put on all ages shows here in Perth. What I see in general when we play shows, is that there aren’t many people under 18 going to shows. I think the last time we counted 4 or 5 who were actually under 18, and then the rest of the people there were people over 18 who had been to the show the night before. It would be great if there were no barriers and anyone of any age could go to a show if there was a bar or not, but there’s so many rules. All ages shows right now seem so expensive to organize as well. I guess you just persevere and hope the youth can keep it alive.
I imagine it must be pretty humbling to be able to sell out a show twice the size in a European country then have a paltry attendance at a home town show?
We don’t take anything for granted, of course playing to a packed house is usually more fun than playing to 5 people…but it is what you make of it really. We’re lucky to still be doing this. If you let a poor attendance get to you, or worry about numbers all the time I don’t think that’s healthy and you’re probably playing the wrong style of music anyway.
On your recent tours you've had Manhunt drummer Jackson playing with the band? How did the addition of Jackson come about?
Jacko! What a bloody legend, and now bonafide Perth resident too. Well I think after recording Tide we started to think, wait we’ll probably start playing a few shows here and there soon, so we better figure out who will drum. We had a plan that Rob from Gyroscope was going to play with us, which would have been awesome because he’s been a mate for so long, we jam at his studios and he has such a different style. But that didn’t work out, because he hadn’t played fast for so long haha. Then we wanted to use our other old Perth mate Cheddar who was in the band Boredumb. That also didn’t work out because he was working on other musical things over in Sydney. We knew it wasn’t viable to fly out Andy from the US whenever we played, or to get one of the euro mates either. The thing was we didn’t want a complete random or a session drummer or someone not interested in hardcore. Though none of us knew Jackson very well personally we had been recommended him by some mutual friends who we trust. When Adam got in touch with him about the possibility we knew from his response that it was gonna work out. It’s a pretty huge thing learning a bunch of songs in a couple weeks and then flying to the other side of the country to jam them in a room with 4 guys you hardly know, I know I’d be shitting myself. But he’s killed it and brought a new breath of life to the band seriously. It’s been great getting to know him and have him stay at our house, now he has joined the honor roll of roommates at the Bondi house which is a huge achievement in my opinion.
Jared Crowe finally got to record with Miles Away despite being in the band for pretty much that five year period. He must have been stoked?
Finally Little J gets his dues! Another guy who has brought so much to the band over the last years and who we are very grateful is a part of it with us. He seriously shreds as a musician too which is very helpful. But yeah, I’ve watched this guy grow up basically and he’s one of the most level headed guys I know. We threw him in the deep end five years ago and took him over to South East Asia with us and he’s been around ever since!
How many members of the Crowe family have now played in Miles Away? I only learnt there is a fourth brother the other day? Has he been earmarked as a future member of Miles Away?
Come on Willy, everyone knows there are 4 brothers! Dylan is the youngest and I’m going to say probably the funniest. He plays bass in The Others and also Hidden World. Who knows if he will ever play in Miles Away but that would be cool. Colin has never technically played in Miles Away but he was our roadie for a long time when we were out and about. There were a few times I tried to twist his arm into singing when I was ill on tour but it never happened. The Crowe’s really are the lifeblood of this band, all of our merch stays at their Mum’s house and is sent from there.
What does the future hold for the band and yourself?
Well we actually have some shows coming up in December which is exciting for us after a good six months of inactivity. It’s just a weekend in Syd/Melb/Perth but that’s enough for us! Adam usually tries to come home around Christmas to see family and friends so it works out good. I love playing shows that time of year because everyone’s winding up for the year and in holiday mode, and we got some great bands playing. I’m stoked to see Hitlist again because I love that band. Other than that I guess we’ll chat about what we wanna do next year and if we will play any shows here or overseas, take it as it comes you know?
For myself, just looking forward to summer and all that, taking trips up and down the coast. It’s Friday so I’m usually amped to have a beer when I get home from work, take my dog to the beach and watch Better Homes & Gardens, seriously.
Any final words or thank yous?
Thank you Willy for everything you’ve done for Miles Away over the years, we wouldn’t have done half of the stuff we have without your help in the very beginning. Thanks to Mossy at Annihilate for holding it down over here in WA for god knows how long, a legend who doesn’t get enough props. Thanks to anyone who still cares about or is interested in our band, it means a lot.
Make sure you check out Nerve Damage on our Syd/Melb shows, they rip.