The Nation Blue have just released their new album ‘Rising Waters‘ and continute to raise the bar for punk rock bands all over the country.
Guitarist/vocalist Tom Lyngcoln was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
Can we start with your name and what you play in the band?
My name is Tom Lyngcoln and I play the guitar and make mouth noises.
You guys have just released your 4th album, ‘Rising Waters’. According to the press release, the album was "written just south of crack alley on the peninsula and then later in an aboriginal community in the Kimberley." Is this actually true? I can’t tell what’s truth and what’s industry "jokes" anymore. Tell us about the new album?
Yeah totally true. Crack alley is Frankston and my dad and I have a workshop down on acreage south of franga and that’s where a lot of the writing and overdubs were done. The other side of that coin is the community in the Kimberley where my wife and I headed for a few weeks to teach the kids how to play some instruments that their school bought. We put on a concert in the desert and everything.
The new record is a lot more personal than its predoceser Protest Songs. It deals a lot with things we have done to other people and some pivotal things that have happened to us. For me personally its a difficult record cause it addresses a lot of my head trauma.
The new album features some, "softer", songs I guess you could say. You guys don’t seem interested in releasing the same record twice, do you sit down and purposely plan stuff like that or has it been more of a natural progression?
There isn’t much pre-meditation beyond the wayward theories in my head. Half the time I don’t even verbalise them for fear of public ridicule from the rest of the band. For this record I started out writing songs with quiet verses and loud choruses – the Pixies formula…but once the flood gates opened it was the usual clusterfuck of bastards whose remains we sorted through to produce this one. You can hear that initial theory on songs like Restless, Trespass and I See Colours, which were some of the first songs penned.
Its always gonna be a natural progression…we’ve never adapted to current climates or tailored our music to capture a trend…we’ve pretty much stayed the course the entire time we have been around and, if anything, deliberately avoided trends. Because the band don’t subscribe to scenes we have been outcasts since leaving Tassie and as such whenever something we did opened the gates to some clique, we’ve done whatever we can to pollute that niche group of people and close the door behind us. That theory that there is safety in numbers is total bullshit. If you’re a lone sniper you stand a much better chance of killing a General.
What’s the feedback been like from some of your diehard fans, especially to the first few tracks on the new record?
Luckily for us, our outsider status has appealed to a certain type of person who kinda subscribe to what we do. So our diehard fans as it increasingly turns out are pretty open individuals. From what we can see we’ve picked up a bunch of pretty interesting people as fans and that’s been deeply rewarding because we get to know many of them real well and they are a massive source of inspiration. I like to think of it as harvesting stray souls and its those individuals that I find hugely attractive. They too tend to resist herd mentality. So whatever we throw at them they seem to take on board..whether they like it or not I don’t know but based on the launch the other night the same heads were there.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you guys have been living in Melbourne for quite some time now (after moving from Tassie). Why make the move?
Anyone who has lived in a small town will know that there is a point where you have to get out. It really had nothing to do with music..we even lost our old bass player Andy at that point and the band could have easily folded and it wouldn’t have mattered. Places like Hobart inspire cyclical migration patterns and we left when everyone else we knew was leaving too. There is a point where your friends decrease and the level of deviance and willingness to get involved in new levels of fucked up behaviour signify the end of your time somewhere….you leave or you get carried out and that’s how it was for me.
Do you think moving to Melbourne helped open you up to a whole new audience?
Obviously, purely based on population there were significant opportunities that we didn’t have access to in Tassie. Down there we played to the same 50-100 people for four years and the same venues. Then through bands like Warped, Ricaine, Blueline Medic and Magic Dirt we were introduced to different places and people on the mainland that pushed us into more unknown territory. It was the new options that we found exciting and new challenges that we had to meet that probably got the band through its 13 year existence. The other thing to consider is that the internet wasn’t really a factor 10 years ago…hell, I remember trying to download some John Frusciante tabs in 1996 and it took an hour…music couldn’t be shared the same way it is now, so much of the communication for underground bands came by word of mouth or zines or record stores like Augogo and Missing Link sending out newsletters. Hobart was completely devoid of record industry contact and that was a great and unique thing. The isolation allowed people to simply play music without pandering to all the bullshit we have since born witness too here in Melbourne…The downside, while kind of nice, was that you played to the same people continuously. So Melbourne was a breath of fresh air but the were a lot more alterior motives for people’s involvement in music here.
You guys have played with some big bands, including STADIUM ROCKERS the Foo Fighters. What was that experience like?
Hell on earth. As a band there is a tendency to keep up momentum and continue climbing in a steady fashion. I would make an argument for a band plateauing and knowing when that point should come and not pushing beyond their appropriate capabilities or skillset.
On the Foo Fighters tour we walked on stage to Goanna’s “Solid Rock” every night and now when I hear that song I feel sick. Matt our bass player busted his knee three songs into the first show in Brisbane and played the rest of the tour in a wheelchair. I cut myself wide open every night to try and stop the nerves from driving me insane and the shows were just a trail of wreckage. Great fun really but well above what we are mentally equipped to handle. Apparently we played to about 50,000 people in one week…i feel bad playing to 50 so I can’t handle all that extra post-expulsion guilt that I feel after unloading on people.
Dave Grohl apparently loves you guys. Has he offered to give you the band a leg up? Maybe throw you a U.S tour or give you a million space bucks?
Ha, he was a lovely bloke and said some kind stuff. He should have sent us home after the first show but he allowed us to live the fantasy through which was mega cool of him. They chose us so they could have just as easily washed their hands of us too..but, despite the amputee and the cutter and the horrendous smell, they enjoyed the circus enough to let us play on. No space bucks but I heard that he doesn’t believe in AIDS and after the first show I was covered in blood and he came up to say hi and I put my hand out instinctively and he shook my bloody rancid mitt.
You guys have also played quite a few places overseas. Brazil, U.s and Europe. What has been your favorite place to play?
This one is easy. Brazil. The most intense place I have ever been. The only time I have been scared during shows. The first day we got there 200 cops raided the favela at the end of the street and there was automatic gun fire for about 20 minutes. That was day one and we were there for almost three weeks playing with an awesome crust punk band called Jason. Jason had just got a friend Barbar to fill in on drums for them for the tour we played on and Barbar’s previous band was called Los Hermanos and had split up four months earlier and were one of the biggest bands in Brazil. So we ended up playing shows ranging from 50 to 5000. Each one had the same intensity though..kinda ominous and gnarly. We slept on floors in train stations on our gear most nights and sometimes in heavily fortified apartments that we weren’t allowed to leave. We caught busses everywhere to avoid car-jacking and made eye contact with no one. As far as gringos go you couldn’t find three better examples. Its one of those experiences I will take to the grave.
What’s on the horizon for The Nation Blue? Do you guys have any aspirations to maybe move or tour more overseas at this stage, or are you content to just take it as it comes?
We are happy just recording and playing shows when we can. After 13 years we are lucky enough to be able to not see each other for six months and then pick things up pretty quickly again after extended breaks and get straight back into the heart of the thing. I think its called trauma. Its definitely not connected to our brains. Our hands just vaguely know what to do through endless repetition of the task and its easy to step back into it and do it authentically cause all the negs come flowing back.
I would love to tour overseas again but am at a stage where I have too many responsibilities to other people and new projects and am totally content following them. I don’t think the band will ever do a cappo last tour or final hurrah cause it will always be there lurking like a shark in the surf. You can’t see it but you know something is wrong.
All your album covers seem to have some kind of dwelling on the front and ‘Rising Waters’ is no different. Are you able to tell us…um…why?
You know what’s weird…you are the first person to ask that! And now that I have been asked I don’t know what to say..for me its like a chronology of the band on one level. Things get more ragged and desperate as they continue, instead of development and comfort. I like regression.
I find homes terrifying too, I don’t want to know what obtuse human behaviours go on behind closed doors. Even some of the houses photographed have horrible histories like those near Richmond Station on the back cover of Damnation were owned by Dennis Allen and all sorts of criminal activities took place there. As of Protest Songs we have started taking the pictures ourselves too and I am constantly on the lookout for heavy houses. I have amassed quite a collection that someday I would love to exhibit.
What are some bands that get you excited these days?
There are scores of them and they all deserve praise. Some of my favourites are The Dacios who feature one of the finest singers in the country in Linda Johnston and her brother Bean plays guitar like it was wrought in hell from the lost souls of accountants. No Anchor and The Holy Rose from Brisbane are both most blowing. Heinz Riegler is a bonafide genius. Karl Smith who I am lucky enough to play along side in Lee Memorial is a total freak in the same way that Angus Young is – he is able to create wildly different scenarios from the same primary colours. True songwriting!
Magic Dirt have always blown our minds and we have been playing with them since we first moved to Melbourne and would cut off our cocks to support them. They have been our biggest mainland influence and I reckon in the last 8 years we would have played with them at least 35 times which is a lot for a band like us who only play 10 shows a year. So they account for at least half our shows and I wouldn’t know what to do without them.
Other bands that we love are: Further, Six Ft Hick, Deaf Wish, Zond, Dick Diver, Fourteen Nights At Sea, Spod, Tucker B’s, Transcription of Organ Music, The Scandal, Bowcaster, James McCann, The Stabs, Vulgargrad, My Disco, Grey Daturas, St Helens, Witch Hats, Midnight Woolf, Ruins, Batrider, Dick Nasty, Kes, Sir, Whitewoods, Mindsnare, The Drones, Fuck I’m Dead, Matt Bailey, Hayley-Beth, Lakes, Gaslight Radio, Straightjacket Nation and whoever else stumbles into our orbit.
What are you guys up to for the rest of the year?
We are touring til the end of the year doing as much as we can. We have shows in most states and will make daylight appearances at a couple of festivals too. I am going to do a cage dive with great whites too which I am even more excited about than anything else!
Thanks for the interview mate, any parting words for the kiddies out there?
Don’t use mobile phones.
The Nation Blue‘s new album ‘Rising Waters‘ is out now. The band are playing a bunch of shows throughout September and October. Head to their Myspace page for all the dates and venues.