If you were to rank Australia’s local bands in terms of most treasured, Sydney punks Our Past Days would rate pretty highly. Whether you’ve supported them from their home state or merely observed from afar, it’s been a certain pleasure to see the outfit get to a point where they’re releasing their debut album ‘Keep Safe‘ to a base of dedicated fans and excited scene-goers.
Frontman Matt Doherty described the release as a “collection of songs that have stemmed from different events and memories throughout our lives”. But it isn’t a concept album, not at all. These tunes are “all about their own personal little thing that went on, whether it happened to myself, whether it happened to Mikey [Kerr, guitarist], whatever. They’re all events that have taken place or things that made us feel a certain way”.
The value of ‘Keep Safe‘ doesn’t just lie in its emo-punk method of sonic moment capturing but the authenticity that it’s delivered with. As Doherty puts it, it isn’t a “let’s get our friends and leave this town” record. “We’re all honest guys, all five of us I think, we’re not pretending to do anything” guitarist Justin Williams added. “I think we all write honest lyrics, not cliché lyrics. Like the typical pop punk lyrics, whatever they are. We don’t sit down and go ‘Yeah, let’s write a pop punk song! Let’s have pop punk lyrics’”.
Funnily enough, not having generic genre-ascribed lyrics isn’t the only thing that these guys are trying to avoid about pop punk. When asked about whether the general description of “emotive pop-punk” felt right for them, Doherty identified that Our Past Days “kind of want to get rid of that three letter word in the middle”. “I wouldn’t really associate the new album with pop punk anymore. I guess you could say punk, I think emotive punk… if that’s even a thing. We’re emotive symphonic nu-metal blacklisted punk rock”, cheekily adds the singer.
But it wasn’t necessarily a planned move to back off from the pop punk label with ‘Keep Safe‘, but it’s certainly a step back that’s been taken. On hearing their 2015 single ‘Bloom Where You’re Planted’, Williams acknowledged seeing “a whole genre change”. “I thought, ‘I feel like this is it’. And I personally think we should stick with the genre we’re on now”.
“I don’t think we’ve ever sat down and gone ‘Alright, let’s write a pop punk song’ or ‘Let’s write a melodic song’. Whenever we sit down and write, it’s sort of like: ‘Hey, that riff sounds cool, you should play this over that’. And half an hour later or three days later, or whatever, we have a song and we go ‘yeah, that’s cool!’ But then the next time we sit down and write we write something that sounds – you know, that song might have been really depressing and slow and then angry at the end – whereas the next one that we sit down and write could be super upbeat and you wanna grab a friend and have a boogie with a beer. We don’t sit down with a mould at all, really”.
Whether or not Our Past Days are following a formula doesn’t even seem to be a valid issue to bring up: the unstructured and expressive way that these guys write is evident even from the first track on the new record. Their integrity in terms of their sound hasn’t just been noticed by the general scene but was certainly picked up on by Greyscale Records, the record label product of Short. Fast. Loud. main man Joshua Merriel and all-out behind-the-scenes-of-the-scene legend Ash Hull. When asked how ‘Keep Safe‘ became the flagship and the first release of the project, Williams ascribed it to simple fortune, saying “We are all privileged to be the first band on the label, all of us. Honestly, I think it was just luck, to be honest.”
So what’s next for the Sydney outfit? Hopefully a lot. These guys have enough fuel in the tank to take advantage of the opportunities that the release of ‘Keep Safe’ is going to present for them, so enjoy the tunes, hit up a tour and keep yourself posted on their…future days (I’m really sorry). Before letting them both go, there was one more thing we had to get to the bottom of, and that was why all the press releases we’ve seen about Our Past Days have mentioned their fervent love of Maxibons. Doherty told us the story.
“Mikey [Kerr], Oli [Gardiner] and I went to watch the Brisbane band She Cries Wolf at the Red Rattler in Sydney. And Oli bought himself a Maxibon. We were in between bands and he ate the Maxibon. And just as we were about to go in to watch Life’s Ill I believe it was, he got really, really upset because he wanted another Maxibon. And I said ‘No, no, no, we’re going in to watch Life’s Ill now’ and he got really upset. Actually, for the whole time that Life’s Ill was playing, he was standing there all sad because he didn’t have another Maxibon”.
That’s how the Maxibon obsession started, but according to Williams, it hasn’t stopped. “The whole way through The Wonder Years tour, every night was just Maxibons”.
Oh, and just in case you didn’t already know, Doherty’s got a reminder for you: “If anybody likes the chocolate end more than the biscuit end they are wrong” [a-fucking-men! Blokes & Their Ice-Creams would have been proud – Ed]
‘Keep Safe’ drops today, (Friday, September 2nd), via Greyscale Records. Get it in ya.