Apart from a vast host of local talent, mini-golf, camping, and the promise of a chilled-out festival atmosphere, Unify’s other big drawcard was having Perth heroes, Break Even reform. Now, the newly-active outfit hit the road in February and early March with Hopeless, Endless Heights, and Postblue for ‘I’d Rather Be Giggin’ 2015’. Once that tour is done, the band will knuckle down in the studio to write and record a new album, which is due for a release in later 2015. With Break Even back in the game, we spoke with lead singer Mark Bawden about the band reuniting, new music, and what he’s been up to in-between.
Hey Mark, how are you man?
Hey, I’m good thanks, you?
Yeah I’m not too bad thanks. Let’s jump into it. The big thing for you guys recently was Unify and I think that’s why a lot of people bought tickets to that, to see you guys play. How was Unify for you and the rest of the band?
It was fun, fun to be back on stage playing shows again. After having watched so many friends bands play since we broke up, it was cool to get back out there and sing some songs that we had missed and that a lot of people wanted to hear.
The friends I know who went said you guys played ‘The Bright Side’ in full, was that just to mark the occasion as something special?
Yeah, just something a bit special. I think that record is the reason people still enjoy us as a band. We’ve never done anything like that before so we though it’d be fun and it was pretty cool.
I heard a story that one of you guys were crowdsurfing to the Parkway Drive DVD, is there any truth to that?
Oh yeah, that was me. We played on Sunday, and so we came down on Saturday, camped out and enjoyed the most of it, and yeah, it was a wild night.
(laughs) Nice man. I really wanted to know why Break Even chose to reform now and not sooner or later?
Well, the guitarist, Steffen [Scuito] moved over to Melbourne to work as a tattooist. I started working as a tour manager and have been travelling ever since. Every time I was in Melbourne, we would catch up and we eventually just started writing music together. We weren’t really going to release anything until we had everything written but we got offered to play Unify and it was a pretty big thing. We hadn’t really spoken to everyone about playing another show. Steffen and I were looking for drummers and we ended up asking the old drummer [Simon Dreja] to see if he was interested, which eventuated into us starting the band again.
There is, or was, no bad blood between you guys?
No, when the band ended, it wasn’t bad blood. But we were very burnt out on each other. Being in a band can be a very hard thing. People don’t realise that, they think you just get up there and play a show and that’s it, but people have lots of other responsibilities in their lives. We committed so hard to trying to be a full-time touring band that it took a toll on all of us. It wasn’t bad blood, but we knew the band had to end. It just couldn’t carry on.
Glad to have you guys back now though. As you said before, you worked as a tour manager, what tours where you a part of?
I’ve travelled a fair bit. I looked after Violent Soho for the whole last year, was pretty busy with them. I help out a lot with the tours that Resist Records do. And I just did Every Time I Die which was pretty wild (laughs).
Late last year you guys dropped the new single, ‘Young And Bright’, I was keen to know if there is anymore material to come from you guys or is that for now?
For the time being, that’s it. With the band coming back, it’s a cool thing, but it’s hard to show that you’re in it for the right reasons. People think its more about money and stuff like that. One of the songs Steffen and I had, we gave to Simon to drum on and that ended up being a Break Even song. So we thought that instead of being a band that comes back with nothing to show for it, we did it in a way that we were happy with it ourselves and that people were stoked to see us back and continuing the music. There will be an album out at the end of the year, it’s just about putting all of the bits together really.
Sweet, cant wait for it man. Soon you’ll be hitting the road with Hopeless, Endless Heights, and Postblue…
Every band we’ve toured with before, except for Postblue. We know all of the guys. We did the last I’d Rather Be Giggin’ with Hopeless and so far, the shows are selling really well, and I think they’re gonna be pretty fun.
Correct me if wrong, but you previously performed in Hopeless after Break Even, yeah?
Yeah, when the band ended I wanted to keep involved with writing music and touring. I was approached by one of the guitarist in the band, as they needed a singer. Now I think everything happens for a reason so when Break Even ended it was perfect time for me to keep doing something that I love doing. So I gave that a shot, and I enjoyed it. But I was writing a record with them, and they had all of the music and I was doing the lyrics. I was writing lyrics that were more so for Break Even than another bands music, so I had a hard time trying to fill to Brett [Sutton] shoes and the music they write. I realised that it wasn’t best for and I had to let them know.
But you would be happier writing Break Even songs, than trying to force something out for someone else?
Yeah that’s it. I’ve never stopped writing, and I wont stop. Once Break Even finishes again, I won’t stop. I really liked the guys in the band and wanted to contribute to the record. It was an experience and I’m glad I tired it, but I’m happy that I stopped at the right time.
On the topic of touring, will you be treating the fans by playing ‘The Bight Side’ in its entirety again? Or just keep that as a one off for now?
Well, we play a lot of songs off that record. We’ve only recorded an EP, that record and a few other singles. A lot of the tour will have to do with ‘The Bright Side’ as I guess that’s what a lot of people want to see (laughs). We’ll keep the newer stuff for the actual record tour later in the year. From the February tour, we wont be playing any shows until the new record is out.
Will you throw it back to the ‘Young At Heart’ EP on this tour?
I think we’ve grown up a lot since then, and I think our crowd has grown up too. For us, as people, I think we enjoy playing the newer songs. We’d have more fun playing the ones we want to and let the older songs be (laughs).
Are there any plans to do something special for ‘The Bright Side’, maybe a re-issue on vinyl or something like that?
We’re looking to do another press with something special tagged with it later for this year. It’s all in the talks. It sucks to see people buying the record and they pay up to $200 for it, so I’ve always wanted to do another re-press so people can get the record for a normal, reasonable price and not pay a stupid amount. I think we’ll do it this year, maybe after the tour is done.
Back in 2012 when you broke up, The Amity Affliction released ‘Chasing Ghosts’ and with the song ‘Bondi St. Blues’, as I’m sure you know, they referenced ‘November 18th’. How did that feel when a band of that stature referenced one of your songs?
You know when you get goosebumps from songs? Well that was what that was like for hearing that for the first time. It was a really nice thing for the guys to do, especially to talk about something that is so serious. We don’t realise how serious suicide is and it’s nice to know that there are bands out there telling people that it can happen at anytime. It was a very good gratitude thing, and we’ve all been friends through the years. So it was nice to know that they still cared about a band that had broken up at that point.
Oh, for sure man. This will be a bit of a vague question I know, but will this album fit more with ‘The Bright Side’ or like the singles, ‘Hell’s Gates’ and ‘Young & Bright’?
We’re not too sure at the moment. We’ve got some songs from 2012 that we’re working with. We’ve also got songs that we just started writing. It’s going to be everything that Break Even stands for and sounds like. We’re just seeing where it goes really.
How do you label the bands music?
We were actually talking about this over the weekend. I would just label it as ‘music’ because I think a genre is just taken out of context so much. I do tend to say a punk-rock feel, but I’ve come to know that it is just music. Whether it’s just the heaviest thing or the softest, it’s people writing about their passion and feelings. On the weekend, Steffen said that he just calls it ‘rock n’ roll’. So anyone can call whatever they want, but that doesn’t really answer your question, but I just don’t understand the genre thing. I’m glad that Break Even are a band like that people cant really categories us. That’s a special thing, not being told that you’re not one kind of band.
Oh, that’s okay man, I get what you’re saying. I wanted to talk to you about the Perth scene. A lot of tours don’t make it out there, and there’s no Soundwave there this year either, what are your thoughts on the scene? I live just out of Melbourne so I’m never really stressed for tours.
That’s a good question. I understand why bands and promoters can’t afford to get over here due to the costs involved. Though I do feel like Perth has a very special feeling. When bands do come here, they just go loud. It’s a really good place, and not just for the music, but just because it’s a great place to come to. We have awesome shows, awesome venues. We have one of the only all-ages venue that’s still standing since the early 2000’s. I think it’s cool that bands can come over and play a all-ages show and not have to worry about finding the right venue. On the East Coast, that’s a hard thing to find.
There are awesome bands as well that have come from Perth and there are still great bands coming out now. I do think it’s hard for bands here to get out to the east coast because it is expensive, but an east coast band can drive up the coast and play wherever they want. I love hearing about our bands flying over because you just know that they’re already working hard just doing that.
Do you prefer all-ages over licensed or under age shows?
Yeah, I really prefer all-ages shows, even if it’s licensed/all-ages. Especially in places like Sydney and Adelaide, where you can choose to have licensed/all-ages. That’s what it should be like, there shouldn’t be anyone not being able to come just because of the age factor. Everyone’s there for the right reasons, to see bands, to see live music. I’ve been going to all-age shows for a long time now, and I could be one of the oldest people going to those shows in Perth. It does seem like these shows are becoming less and less but I hope venues try more, as that’s the only way the shows will get better.
Well, with that I think we’ll have to leave it there. I think I’ve picked your brains enough for today, thanks so much for doing this.
Oh, no problem man, great talk.
That’s okay Mark, and hey, I’ll catch you guys at the Phoenix show in Melbourne.
Oh sweet, make sure you come say hi, thanks for the chat Alex.
Break Even are touring national this February/March with Endless Heights, Hopeless, and Postblue.