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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


Children Collide's fourth album, Time Itself, is out now! We caught up with frontman Johnny Mackay to chat about the record, their forthcoming tour and so much more!

Image: Supplied.

It's been a long time between drinks, but Children Collide are back with their new album, Time Itself. Ten years on since the release of their last full-length record, the trio have delivered another stellar body of work, bringing a timeless quality to the collection of songs.

Children Collide are set to embark on a mammoth national tour, kicking off in Adelaide on November 19. The tun of shows will continue on to Perth, Fremantle, Belgrave, Melbourne, Ballarat, Wollongong, Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle, Brisbane and Maroochydore, before wrapping up on the Gold Coast on December 11.

Time Itself is out now! Read our interview with Johnny Mackay below.

Congratulations on your new record Time Itself. The collection of songs marks the first full-length album from Children Collide in a decade. What new knowledge and experience are you bringing into the sessions working on the new record, that differs from creating your debut album and subsequent albums?

It feels like ten lifetimes worth of stuff jumped in our brains between then and now. And it all just lead in a circle right back to the start. There was no point in reviving Children Collide unless it felt like friends jamming in the lounge room because we love making that kind of music. So I guess there was a playful humility there without the naivety that probably made us think we knew exactly what we were doing during earlier albums.

I dare say our collective taste has become somewhat more informed too.

Is there something you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?

There are infinite great rhythms in the universe and a trillion mind blowing stories and we’re all here to explore as many as we can. Make stuff you love and you’ll never feel like you wasted your time.

Time Itself brings the fearless nature we’ve always loved from Children Collide, exploring complex themes and concepts. Could you unpack the conceptual nature of the record for us...

Lyrically it’s all over the place. I listen back sometimes and realise I sing a lot about abstractly communicating with a higher power….which is interesting as I reject all organised religion but recognise I’m tapping into some kind of collective unconscious or universal creative vibration when I write. Songs should feel like dreams or telepathic experiences and be open to subjective interpretation. The listener is part of the story.

You began working on the album prior to the pandemic, there are some timely moments on the record. What are your thoughts listening back to the album now?

I’d like to think we made something timeless, not so much of it’s time...but yes it is weird how some of the themes and feelings seem to resonate in these strange days. For a time-based medium music transcends time itself in a lot of ways. It’s a moment, once written, then later recorded, then performed. That same moment existing across multiple timeframes.

How did the album evolve and change as you were creating it, and were there any tracks left on the cutting room floor that you think might have a life in the future?

Yes! We have a bunch of half finished ones we are still working on for the next album and there was also a Fascinator track called International Waters we almost finished in Children Collide style but when we went to mix I felt like it was too much of a mess. Now I’ve just this week re-recorded it with the same producer in the same studio for a new Fascinator album. The album didn’t so much evolve or change as we made it, more the producer tying all the songs together into a cohesive family of sounds under one roof.

Which three songs off the album would you play to someone who has never heard your music, to make them an instant die hard fan?

Mind Spider, Turrets, Trampoline.

You’ve released some great visuals throughout the album’s rollout! Talk us through your process when it comes to conceptualising the music videos and imagery and how involved are you with the development of the visuals for Time Itself...

Art: A long time ago Heath found the ɔ||c symbol in some witchy rune book and we commissioned an artist to make a felt sculpture for the Monument cover. This time I hit up an Iranian artist friend Arash who’d done some stuff for Fascinator and got him to illustrate the symbol as a satellite, clouds, stonehenge and finally islands for the album.

Videos: After so many years doing Fascinator at first it gave me anxiety to relinquish any creative video stuff, but it turned out to be a nice part of the journey to relax and trust the amazing people who’ve chosen to work with me.

Uh Oh was Chelsea’s vision. She did a bloody good job directing that one. You’d have to ask her about the concepts but I love the style and humour she brought to it.

Trampoline was our talented friend Cybele. Her treatment lined up beautifully with the imagery in my head and we had a lot of fun making it.

Funeral for a Ghost, Man of the People and Turrets were all from the same shoot in Melbourne. I was trying to channel the 60s/70s German music show Beat Club which is one of my favourite YouTube holes to dive down. I also drew on performance scenes from old Sonic Youth videos. Then I kinda just went nuts with effects and punished myself by having a big ol’ render fest on my little laptop for days.

You’re set to hit the road this November on a national tour! What can audiences expect from this run of shows?

We were lucky enough to get in a little touring this year and it just kept feeling better and better each show. The vibe between the three of us is strong and has started to get to that telepathic connection you want on stage where we are in a kind of group trance from the first note until we walk off. I can’t wait for more.

The tour will be a massive return to stages across the country for you. How have you approached crafting a set and overall live experience after the pandemic brought a halt to live music?

Same way we always approached it I guess. I’ve not ever played in anything that feels as strong live as Children Collide. It was nice to realise that hasn’t changed. Also the reaction to new songs and new bass player have been bloody great! We have nice fans.

The past eighteen months have taken its toll on the music industry, specifically the touring sector, but also in terms of making that in person connection with audience members and creating a shared feeling and experience. How important do you think live music is not only for yourself as a musician showcasing their art, but also for the audience members who resonate with your music?

I think for a lot of people on either side of the barrier it’s a big part of their identity. I’ve seen friends really crumble not being able to realise their full selves during this time. A couple of mates just had to straight up leave the planet.

One nice thing I noticed on the few live shows we did as well as a couple of dance parties I DJ’d was how much folks appreciate it now. It’s aligned with my whole thing doing this band again. I used to somewhat take it for granted. Now I’m grateful for every second on a stage sharing our thing with other happy humans.

What lasting effects do you hope audience members walk away with after attending one of your performances? (be that any messages, feelings, etc.)

Massages, fillings. I hope they feel the same kind of release we do. It’s a special kind of energy.


Biggest influences?

Psychedelic comedy and nature documentaries.

Dream collaboration?

John Williams

Album that has had the most impact on you?

Geez….that’s hard. Eden Ahbez - Eden’s Island has been a staple past few years.

How do you define your musical style in 3 words?

What is love?

Best song of 2021 so far?

2021? I’m still trying to finish the final season of the 70s.

If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?

I love making soundtracks and I’d have a crack at anything from Star Wars to Fellini.

Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?


What was the first song you loved to sing?

Boney M - Daddy Cool...I didn’t even know that memory existed until I just thought about it.

A song you would love to cover on tour?

Rock Lobster

Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?

Any Fela Kuti record.

First concert you went to?

Me performing for my aunties.

Best concert you have been to?

See above

First album you ever bought?

I think it was Talking Heads or The Cure.

Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?


If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?


Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?

I can’t remember.

Guilty music pleasure?

Saying no to requests.

If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?

Pink Floyd in the early Pompeii.

A song you would love to cover on tour?

G’day G’day by Slim Dusty - you asked this twice but I like both answers.

An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.


What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?

Don’t listen to me.

The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician? was already too late.


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