It’s Monday night in Melbourne’s north. A decent turnout fills the newly renovated Northcote Social Club – the venue’s Monday Night Mass program usually draws a strong showing, but there’s a certain energy in tonight’s atmosphere.
It’s been a while since the last Gold Class performance; not too long, but long enough. We’re on the cusp of their debut album, It’s You, and even for the initiated, this show is something special. This is the start of something good.
The week prior, guitarist Evan James Purdey and vocalist Adam Curley sit at a Fitzroy bar. It wasn’t too long ago – around a year and a half – that they put together the initial idea that became Gold Class, debuting last year with the single ‘Michael’. “It was one of our first songs,” Purdey says. “That was after three rehearsals. There was one rehearsal where it was long, dirgey ten-minute jams, then after that we pieced together song ideas. After a few rehearsals, that was one of two or three songs we had. In terms of deciding to release it, we just thought it had a chorus.”
“That was October last year,” adds Curley. “We started playing in January, with our first show in April. We were sitting around, and Evan said he had some guitar ideas he’d been playing around with. I think I wrote some vocal stuff to those parts, then that was all scrapped by the time the four of us got together. We just started from scratch.”
“That’s been the modus operandi: to put something together then deconstruct it completely until there’s a song,” Purdey says. “It’s laborious, but it’s good. You think, ‘Thank fuck!’ when you get to the end and you have a song.”
There’s a sense that Gold Class arrived fully formed in the live setting – a notion compounded by It’s You, resolute in its vision and dynamic. “I don’t think any of us are particularly interested in releasing three EPs then a record,” says Curley. “What’s the point of that? The record should just be the songs you have, the songs you’re playing live, on an album.”
“It made it harder to separate the songs,” says Purdey. “We couldn’t have done an EP or two EPs – this is a body of work and we put it out as one whole package.”
“There aren’t any loose ideas that go through, we’re all pretty dedicated,” Curley says.
“There’s no messing around,” laughs Purdey.
The live force of Gold Class’ performances is undeniable, a frenzy of elements anchored by Curley’s stoic and soaring vocal prowess. “I don’t think the show itself has changed, I think we’re better at it,” says Purdey. “Less nervous. We’re starting to play again on Monday, so I’m getting those first show jitters all over again.”
“It’s nice in that sense, having not really played, having talked about the record then jamming again, realising that’s just what we are,” Curley says. “We don’t have to think about it too much.”
On record and in the live setting, Gold Class comprise each member’s distinct element –puzzle pieces that can stand in isolation, but click together so wonderfully. “Mark [Hewitt, drums] is a mind reader,” Purdey laughs. “He can play everything. We’re jealous, so we make him play drums. A huge part of getting him to play in this band and a reason we’re thankful he was available is that he is so easy to communicate with as a musician. You can say something pretty abstract and he’ll go, ‘Oh yeah,’ and know what you’re talking about. You can get all Captain Beefheart – ‘Play like a yellow tree,’ sort of thing.”
“That’s probably the case with all of us,” Curley says. “There aren’t many musical terms that get thrown about, they’re all pretty abstract ideas. Everyone seems to be on the same page generally, understanding what each other is talking about. We do talk about keeping things pretty minimal. If anything gets too elaborate, or too grandiose, it gets cut down pretty quickly.”
“Space is important, making sure everything has its little room to play in,” explains Purdey. “When it gets too big, that’s when we start to strip it back, that’s when the deconstruction happens.”
Gold Class exude strains of the post-punk greats, yet still with distinctly Australian elements of tone. “I think in the past few decades there have been a million Australian bands we have been influenced by,” says Curley, himself a Queensland expat.
“I don’t think it’s a post-punk thing,” says Purdey. “It might be a Melbourne thing, or a Brisbane thing. For whatever reason, it’s been interpreted as post-punk, by us and people listening to it. There’s not much getting around the fact that it has that feel to it. It’s just a product of watching Bird Blobs or Dirty Three or The Drones. You listen to that when you’re younger and then turn that into something else when you work with different people.”