Sydney’s coastline is well known for boasting some of the most gorgeous beaches in the country. What might be less known is its proclivity for producing bands that perfectly capture the carefree attitude of the sun and surf.
However, over the past few years there’s been an increasing spotlight on bands from the beach, as acts like Winston Surfshirt, Ocean Alley and Lime Cordiale prove that one doesn’t need to be from the bustling inner city to find an enthusiastic audience.
Over the last three years the local scenes in small coastal towns seem to be almost tripling in size
Whether it’s a certain lack of pretension or simply the product of being surrounded by the ocean, music produced by those from the coast feels a little more focused on a good time rather than climbing the ladder of success.
One such band that reflects their surroundings is indie-rock quartet Letters to Lions, who are about to embark on a national co-headline tour with Brisbane pop outfit Zefereli, in support of their excellent sophomore EP Grays Point.
The coast plays a big part in Letters To Lions’ music
“I guess the ‘beach culture’ is ingrained in us”, they say, pointing out that their surf-tinged sound is less of a conscious decision and more a natural influence of their environment.
The band, whose music is a hazy wash of jangly guitars, infectious melodies and laid-back, danceable rhythms, were introduced through mutual friends in their last years of high school and began making music together with the intention of playing house parties and friends’ backyards. As offers to play more “real” venues and audience sizes increased, the outfit grew from a relaxed jam band to something a little more serious.
“We’ve always played that sparkly sort of indie rock and roll – it’s just evolved over the years from improvising at a backyard party to writing real songs.” While their attitude towards making music may have matured, the group are reticent towards lofty ambitions of chasing rockstar glory, expressing only a desire to continue playing shows and visiting other parts of the world.
“Our only real goal is to make music together and whatever happens, happens. Our most notable highlight was going to Canada for a national tour. When we started this, the dream was to travel the world playing music and now it’s starting to happen”.
Letters To Lions are about to embark on a coastal tour with Zefereli, formerly of Brissy faves The Cairos
With the impending approach of summer and the promise of warm nights ahead, it seems only natural that the band are about to head out on tour. That they’ve paired up with Brisbane’s Zefereli seems like a perfect fit. The act, which features ex-Cairos member Alistar Richardson and collaborator Clea, are a reverb-soaked haze of guitars and vocal harmonies. The two bands have already shared a couple bills together recently, including a hometown gig as part of Hi Fi Days, an outdoor festival that took place against the backdrop of the Cronulla beach.
“Zefereli are great,” say the band. “They’re lovely guys who aren’t afraid to get grubby, that’s what we are all about”.
All the coastal bands are doing it in their own way, if you’re making music you’re kicking goals in my eyes
The two bands will play a slew of shows together across the country throughout December, including consecutive dates at the Chippendale in Sydney, as well as a stop in Wollongong – another beachside location that’s been consistently producing great acts for years.
When it comes to coastal acts that are currently kicking goals, the band point out punk outfit The Ruminaters as well as good friend Ruby Fields – an artist whose vibrant indie-pop has seen her blow up over the past 12 months. “She has turned it up over the last year so we are frothing for her. I guess all the coastal bands are doing it in their own way, if you’re making music you’re kicking goals in my eyes.”
Letters To Lions point to Ruby Fields as another coastal act kicking goals
The turn to the coast could be an understandable effect of Sydney’s city and surrounding suburbs being in a unsteady period of difficulty – particularly as more and more venues for mid-level acts are forced to close amidst lockout laws.
Letters to Lions agree – “Sydney’s city scene seems to be in a bit of turmoil for bands at this kind of level in their careers. I mean, over the last three years the local scenes in small coastal towns seem to be almost tripling in size.”
The vibe is that everyone who plays music locally is mates, it’s sick
The communal aspect of the beach environment could likely be another factor in the success of Sydney’s beach bands. Letters to Lions – a band whose genesis largely stemmed from seeing each other at all the same backyard parties – suggest that, rather than vying to compete with one another for a moment in the spotlight, acts from their area focus on their personal connections with one another. “The vibe is that everyone who plays music locally is mates, it’s sick.”
Whatever the cause for the sudden buzz surrounding these bands, now seems like as good a time as ever to escape the inner-city bubble and turn your attention to the coast.
Letters to Lions and Zefereli play a double-header at Sydney’s Chippendale Hotel on December 1 and 2, followed by Wollongong on December 3. Their new EP Grays Point is out now, and you can give it a listen below.