Northeast Party House

Northeast Party House

For fans of Northeast Party House, the agonising wait for the band’s new record has been epic.

But now the time is nigh: the group is all set to drop Dare. We’ve already been treated to a taster of the record – lead single ‘For You’ made a massive splash on triple j recently – and if you haven’t heard the tune yet, we recommend hitting the old internet (or just flicking on the radio: it’s on high rotation) because it’s the kind of anthemic, unashamedly optimistic track that modern pop and rock is lacking these days.

That’s not all the boys have up their sleeves either: they’ll be hitting the road this month for a massive album tour, with so many stops lined up that there’s literally no excuse for missing them – which is nice, actually, as it’s been more than a year since we saw them grace an Australian stage.

“The writing of Dare spanned over a pretty long time,” says Northeast Party House’s guitarist Mitch Ansell. “We pretty much kicked it off when we finished [debut album] Any Given Weekend. We didn’t really write too much together initially: we’d all go off into our bedrooms, turn the lights off and not eat for a year while we got it done.” He laughs.

“I mean, we’d write our own little things then email them to each other and get feedback,” he says. “It wasn’t until January this year that we finally got the demos together and put them into a playlist. We culled a lot, then started working at a friend’s studio in Brunswick where we had all our gear set up in this little office kind of space. It was pretty funny, but it worked. It was all business, but we got a lot done and the songs really started to develop. This time we wanted to do a smarter album, just in terms of the songwriting on it, and we wanted it to be a little more melodic. Basically we wanted songs that told a story but were really fun, and tunes that we’d like to play live.”

Dare was composed internationally as the band travelled back and forth between Melbourne and London. The result is an album that was written largely as it was recorded, with Northeast Party House taking on all the production in house and their drummer Malcolm Besley doing all the mixing and mastering himself.

“We were in London and we were at a point where we realised we were running out of time,” Ansell says. “We booked a few sessions at Hackney Road Studios and got a heap done. Then we went straight into the studio when we got back, and we were writing and recording at the same time.

“Say I wanted to write this riff,” he continues, “we’d get that tone, the final peddles, amps, et cetera, and whatever we recorded was the final take. Malcolm [Besley] was there recording and mixing, and then we all individually produced bits. It was a full-band production in a lot of ways. We trusted Mal as a sound engineer. He just keeps getting better as the years go by. I think because we were still writing at the same time, it would have been too weird to have someone else come in from the outside.”

The writing of Dare was a two-month process, and though Ansell and his bandmates opened themselves up to sonic experimentation, they did have a strong goal in mind: the songs were written to be performed. It’s obvious that Ansell adores the live experience, and he speaks enthusiastically about returning to Australian stages.

“We always think of the live show,” he says simply. “It’s our favourite part of this whole band thing, so we always try to curate the live show. When you have an album tour, you’re gonna play a lot of new songs, but the album actually comes out on September 9, which is the same night as our second show. Seeing as how a lot of the people who come to our shows won’t really have absorbed the album yet, we won’t drench them in too much new stuff, but there’ll definitely be a few new songs in there. It’s gonna be a bit of a mix.”

He continues, on a roll now. “It was interesting playing overseas for the last year. They were quite calculated shows: we’ve been at these festivals where you have like 500 bands from around the world all meeting up in the same place. It’s open to the general public, but the focus is on bringing in the different labels and managers and such.”

Despite the acclaim the band have won themselves overseas, there really is only one place Ansell and his mates currently want to be. “We’re psyched to get back to Australia,” he says. “There’s a different culture with music in Australia. We have a pretty passionate fan base here. Overseas, people kind of sit back and appreciate it, whereas in Melbourne say, where it all began with our mates being super young and super loose, you know what you’re gonna get. You can go nuts.”

Dare is out Friday September 9 through Stop Start/Inertia. Northeast Party Houseappear at Metro Theatre Friday September 16, with Polish Club and Twinsy.

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Northeast Party House

Northeast Party House

Let’s hope Tony Abbott never hears Northeast Party House’s song ‘Youth Allowance’. A dance-rock banger, its frenetic chorus repeats, “Let’s all get on Youth Allowance!” and “Disco biscuits, Youth Allowance!” as if government financial assistance is the ticket to easy weekends of non-stop partying.

Maybe if you’re a musician in 2014 you’re so broke that people on Youth Allowance look like they’re swimming in money? But if the government finds out you can afford to leave the house on it, they’ll have something else to cut.

Let’s not think of that. The state of the nation is depressing enough, and Northeast Party House aim to make you forget these things. As their name suggests, they’re here to make you party, although they haven’t actually been to that many parties. “Due to our quite dependent synth element to the band we haven’t played a lot of house parties,” says synth player Sean Kenihan, “because usually they don’t have a PA that can handle the noise that we want to produce through it. The guitars are fine because you’ve got the amps and stuff, but we’ve got quite a synth-driven element, which you can’t really reproduce at a house party.”

It’s been like this right from the start, when the band’s founding members – Kenihan, singer Zach Hamilton-Reeves and guitarist Jack Schumacher – were attending the Melbourne Rudolf Steiner School together. They added guitarist Mitch Ansell and drummer Malcolm Besley later: “We just came across them across journeys,” says Kenihan. The band’s self-titled debut EP included the first song they wrote together, ‘Dusk’, which starts off sounding melancholy but pretty quickly turns it around with lasering synth stabs and an epic guitar solo.

“That first EP is very accurate as to what we sounded like early on, though there were a lot of songs we never recorded ’cause they just weren’t very good,” says Kenihan. “They were mainly loud, over-the-top, energetic, synth-driven party songs that we made to get people dancing and have lots of strobe lights. We had a hype man at the time when we started called Moritz, who used to control a DMix onstage, which controlled our strobe lights, and he used to hit a lot of crash cymbals and that kind of thing and hype the crowd up.”

Hyping the crowd up worked out pretty well for Northeast Party House. They played their first headlining show at Melbourne’s Blue Tile Lounge, “which should only fit really about 30 people in there but about 150 of our friends crammed in there. It was ridiculous, there’s some footage online of it.” That footage ends with Hamilton-Reeves ecstatically shouting, “We got a crowd surfer!”

Big moshes and constant crowd-surfing have become a feature of their live show, encouraging the band to step up to match the crowd’s energy. “We all love to dance. I think onstage we move a lot, much more than most bands do. I think we have to now. It’s more us competing with the crowd for how much we’re moving. When we used to move onstage it used to be trying to get the crowd into it, and now it’s completely turned on its head a lot of the time. Our last show at Brown Alley [in Melbourne] was completely out of control.”

Northeast Party House have been surprised by the strength of the reaction, though most of the time it’s a pleasant surprise. The songs on their album Any Given Weekend, which they released in May, are more in line with the intensity of their audience, like the chunky guitar riff that guides ‘Youth Allowance’. “But before the album was released,” adds Kenihan, “none of our music really married that kind of image. That was more of a live thing that started to happen and it’s a reputation that’s kept going.”

Working on the album has kept the five-piece away from its audience for most of this year. The band’s last show was on New Year’s Eve, supporting Midnight Juggernauts, who of course played at midnight. “That was a fun gig. That was at the Prince Of Wales in Melbourne, just over New Year’s Eve. It was us and a whole bunch of DJs, that kind of thing. It was a good night. Some good, fun vibes. It wasn’t too over the top, it wasn’t like playing a festival over New Year’s or anything, it was good to be able to go out, and see friends afterwards.” They were also treated to the unusual sight of John Safran performing a DJ set. “It was hilarious because John Safran is such an intelligent man and such a terrible DJ, simply because that’s not what he does.”

Now that the album’s finished, they’ll be able to get back to touring, which they’ve been looking forward to for a long time. “That’s the way it is with bands – I think by the time you release one thing the band’s already excited about the next thing that’s happening,” says Kenihan.

But what comes next won’t be radically different for Northeast Party House, who are planning to stay pretty close to their roots. “I guess our album is energetic party tunes – a lot of it – as well. It’s not like our goals have changed, but I think the music’s progressed or matured a lot.”

Any Given Weekendis out now through Stop Start. Catch Northeast Party House at Newtown Social Club on Saturday June 28, tickets available online. Also playing at Beach Road Hotel on Wednesday June 25, The Lair (Metro Theatre) on Sunday June 29 and Newcastle Small Ballroom on Wednesday July 2.

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