I’ve heard good things about Australia and I’m just super excited to see what it feels like,” says John Hamson Jr. down the phone line in a strong London accent. As part of British alt-pop band Thumpers, Hamson (drums, vocals, bass) and bandmate Marcus Pepperell (vocals, guitar, keys) are about to touch down for their first-ever Australian tour.
The duo has spent much of the last year playing shows across the UK, Europe and North America. With just two intimate shows scheduled for this particular tour – one in Sydney and one in Melbourne – Thumpers are preparing to enter unknown territory. “Different countries receive your music differently,” says Hamson. “We did this really long tour with Chvrches last October in Europe. You know, you travel 200 miles, through different cultures and they react to your music so differently. How our music is received is such a big part of it.”
The birth of Thumpers was all about timing. Long-time friends and collaborators Hamson and Pepperell had spent countless years playing together in London’s underground indie scene. But after a rather unpleasant encounter with the business side of the music industry, they both found themselves needing to take some time away from everything. Hamson eventually found himself playing as a session drummer and performing live for Friendly Fires. Yet he was never quite able to find the same musical connection he’d had with Pepperell.
“When you’re playing other people’s music, it’s brilliant because there’s no strings attached, you just do all the fun stuff,” he says. “Like doing Glastonbury or whatever, there’s a shitload of people, but it’s not for you, there’s a bit of emptiness to it. That is the kind of thing I missed, I suppose.”
It wasn’t long before Hamson and Pepperell reunited, swapping ideas and sending demo tracks back and forth. Their friendship served them well, allowing them to reach their creative potential, but also enhancing their working relationship. “I feel like we’re very honest with each other, and I think that’s why you can have two people being the creative force. But definitely things take slightly longer when you’re recording because all the ideas have to come from two people,” says Hamson.
After some initial recordings and live shows, Thumpers began to play a number of increasingly high-profile support slots. Then, enlisting the services of producer David Kosten, the duo went into the studio to record debut album Galore. “[Kosten] was at the top of our list, just because we loved the stuff he had done with Bat For Lashes and Everything Everything. It was just really relaxed. He’s got such good taste and sort of reined us in when we were doing too much. It was a really good experience.”
The result is a modern alt-pop record, teeming with catchy melodies alongside unconventional drum sounds, rhythms and layered synths. “That sort of drum sound, it’s all really triple tracked and layered up, just to create something a bit weirder,” says Hamson. “I guess the songs are so poppy – to offset that popness, we like them being really melodic, but then [we have] stuff that’s quite harsh-sounding as well.”
Galore out now through Hub / Inertia. See Thumpers live with Swrls and GG Magree at Beach Road Hotel on Wednesday July 9. Also appearing at Newtown Social Club on Thursday July 10 with Tales In Space and Billy Fox, tickets available online.