The bands new single, Trying, is out today! We chat to the band about their music and more.
Image: Gareth Owens
Australian/English band Greatest Hits have today dropped their new dreamy track, Trying. The song continues the 70’s and neo-psych/sunshine pop sounds the band have previously explored, but this time with a different kind of groove.
The mellow track was born upon frontman Ryan Cooper’s return to Australia, where he found himself “in conversations with people I hadn’t seen in ages. I noticed this subtle undertone in their questions, which made me feel like I was being plotted on some sort of weird “success” chart.” Cooper told us. Trying offers the perspective on an individual who embraces that challenge, trying to measure up to somebody else’s perceived idea of success.
When it comes to writing together collaboratively for the band, in our interview Henry Chatham told us, “It always depends on where we are, and who we’re with, but the main focus for the songs is that the rhythm section is groovy, and the melodies have to be hooky.” Trying is no exception to the rule. The beautifully crafted track is complete with catchy melodies, a killer bass line and thought provoking lyrics.
The release is accompanied by a stunning music video that incorporates second hand, borrowed, or personal items, presented in luxury form. The symbolism of these objects parallel the songs content, attempting to change perceptions in order to make them appear greater than they actually are. The music video continues the collaboration between the band and Cooper’s brother in law, Benjamin Robinson.
Directed and filmed by Robinson, the clip was shot in the idyllic landscapes of Maryborough, Queensland. Chelsea Foley, who grew up in the Queensland town, told us exclusively about filming the clip during the COVID-19 pandemic, “actually helped us – we were so limited in what we could do and use, that we just had to get creative. It also helps living in a stunningly beautiful country – we would have made a very different video had we still been in Leeds (UK).” The beautiful setting and phenomenal visuals draw comparisons to the island of Corfu in Greece.
Read our full interview with the band below!
Greatest Hits is Ryan Cooper, Chelsea Foley and Henry Chatham.
Tell us a bit how you each came into music…
Henry: Growing up, my Dad was always playing guitar. I wanted to give the guitar a try, but my Dad suggested bass – I think because I wasn’t very good!
Chelsea: My Dad was a touring artist, so I grew up falling to sleep under chairs at his shows.
Ryan: My family has always been musical – Dad played guitar and was always playing records. Mum was a piano teacher, so I learned that from quite young, but as soon as I got a guitar, I kind of left piano behind (which is a bit of a regret now).
The band has quite an interesting origin story, from forming in Leeds, to playing festivals in the UK. You then found yourself having to leave the UK due to visa issues. What was that rollercoaster ride like, and how has it been going from a 5-piece band to a 3-piece?
Ryan: Leaving the UK was kind of hectic. I’m normally pretty relaxed, but that was definitely a stressful time - trying to figure out our moves, and facing the prospect of leaving a big chunk of our life and music behind. It’s all worked out great though – we got to live in New York and Nashville for 3 months, on our way back, which was a really significant time for us. And then Henry decided to join us in Australia, meaning 3 of the original band are here. We play with another 2 guys live, who were also living overseas and had to return to Australia abruptly, so it’s really nice (and kind of crazy) that we’ve all found each other.
Your new single Trying dropped today, could you tell us about the song?
Ryan: Yeh, after returning to Australia, I found myself in conversations with people I hadn’t seen in ages. I noticed this subtle undertone in their questions, which made me feel like I was being plotted on some sort of weird “success” chart. I liked the idea of writing a song from the perspective of someone who just embraces that challenge - of trying to measure up to somebody else’s version of success.
Trying continues the great 70’s and neo-psych/sunshine pop sounds exhibited on previous tracks, how has the evolution of sound influenced your musical practice?
Henry: ‘Trying’ was a really different song for us when Ryan first brought it into the rehearsal room. It even stood out from the rest of the tracks right up until they were getting mixed and mastered - that’s when it found its place. It’s more mellow, and maybe if ‘Phil’ was a James Brown tune, that would make ‘Trying’ something by Carole King – they’re from the same space and time, but with a different kind of groove.
The accompanying music video continues the dreamy 70’s aesthetic of the clip for Phil, Slow It Down, and is visually stunning. Is the video clip influenced by the song itself in terms of the symbolism within the clip?
Ryan: We wanted the video to have a ‘luxury’ feel, but restricted ourselves to using only second hand, borrowed, or personal items. We liked how this parallels with the relentless attempt to make things appear better than they actually are. I feel like it’s hard to tell how DIY it is, but I guess that’s kind of the point we’re trying to make.
Could you tell us about the experience shooting the music video for Trying and how involved you are when it comes to planning the visuals for each track?
Ryan: We worked with my super talented brother-in-law Ben on our last video for ‘Phil, Slow It Down’, so we trusted him with our style, and knew he would understand what we wanted to achieve. It’s a big shared effort between the 4 of us, all chipping in on concepts, style, locations, and outfits. We probably spend the most time sorting the right outfits.
Chelsea: We wanted to use ‘Trying' as an opportunity to get our personal style across so all of the furniture you see is actually from our house, and they’re all our own clothes, spare a couple of choice pieces we pinched from my family doctor!
Was the music video filmed during the pandemic, and if so, did this affect the desired outcome for the clip and where was it filmed?
Chelsea: Yes! Both of the single videos were filmed during the pandemic. ‘Trying’ was filmed a little later, which gave us some more location options. In a way, I think it actually helped us – we were so limited in what we could do and use, that we just had to get creative. It also helps living in a stunningly beautiful country – we would have made a very different video had we still been in Leeds (UK).
How do you feel your music speaks to listeners, touching on its timeless groove and modern sensibilities?
Ryan: I think everyone can relate to the themes in the songs, as they’re so universal. We’re pretty intentional about trying to talk about things that would feel a little uncomfortable to talk about in regular conversation. But in terms of sound, maybe our music subconsciously appeals because of its nod to classic 60/70s sounds, but then kind of catchy and accessible, like modern radio stuff. We try to find a balance between the two.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording songs?
Henry: It always depends on where we are, and who we’re with, but the main focus for the songs is that the rhythm section is groovy, and the melodies have to be hooky. Those two things are the foundations of the sound for sure.
Ryan: Generally, I will begin by writing a bass part, and then just start layering other melodic, and rhythmic hooks. The demoing, and writing process is kind of the same thing, and when the songs are ready, recording happens wherever I am at the time. I’m constantly carting so much gear around with me!
Australia has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite Aussie acts?
Ryan: There seems to be some really great, groovy music coming out of Melbourne with the likes of Mildlife, and Surprise Chef. We’re pretty fresh back to Australia, so we’re still working out what’s going on.
Henry: Yeh, It’s been so fun digging into a new scene and seeing what Australia has to offer (which is heaps of good music!). Hearing Babe Rainbow for the first time was a real treat for me, and more recently, the Bananagun album.
What do you think sets Greatest Hits apart from other Aussie bands?
Henry: I guess the fact that we have been making music in the north of England for a long time. The night life in Europe is so different to here - coastal Australia is so laid back and grooves in a very unique way. I like to think we bring some of the late night dance party feels.
What has been the most challenging part about creating music during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Henry: We ended up spread out down the East Coast, from the Wide Bay to Coffs Harbour, so it was hard being apart. I was living in a caravan on a farm with just an acoustic guitar and a bass borrowed from Chelsea’s Dad, so my options were pretty limited, but it [was] also kind of exciting having time to prepare these songs for release, and work on new things.
All of your single releases so far have been consistently great tracks. When can fans expect an album or EP?
Chelsea: Thanks so much! There will be plenty more music out this year, but we’re just happy to see people enjoying these songs. We were kind of nervous about how we would do music in a brand new place, so to bring our songs halfway across the globe, and see them resonating, is really nice.
Working off that answer, what can fans expect in terms of the sonic sound of your future full-length release and if you are experimenting with any new sounds?
Ryan: All of us are so inspired by the music of the ‘60s & ‘70s, so we try to find a nice balance of making things sound both old AND new. Most of the writing and recording process happens at home, so it allows us plenty of time to play with sounds.
The current pandemic has obviously put a halt to touring and performing live, what are your touring plans post pandemic? If any, what can people expect from a Greatest Hits live show?
Chelsea: We’re so keen to get back out there! The shows are probably our favourite aspect of this whole project – expect lots of moving hips, lots of percussion, and a real nice time.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Stop Making Sense
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Groove psych pop
Best song of 2020?
LA Priest - Beginning
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
The most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Supporting The Mauskovic Dance Band
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Holy Hive – Float Back To You
Best concert each band member has attended?
Henry - Prince
Ryan – Sigur Ros in a crazy old amphitheatre in France
Chelsea – Sufjan Stevens
Last concert you went to?
Guilty music pleasure?
Why feel guilty?
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a One Direction boy? And why?
One Direction boy – better dress sense
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your Spice nickname be?
The most amount of people you’ve ever performed in front of?
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?
What advice would you give yourself a year from now?
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Trying is out now!