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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


Euphonyus us out now!

Image: Supplied.

NY five-piece band Phony Ppl are returning to our shores for an east coast tour later this week! We caught up with band members Elbee Thrie, Matt "Maffyuu" Byas and Elijah Rawk to chat about the run of shows, their latest album Euphonyus, Vegemite and so much more!

Kicking off at Sydney's Liberty Hall on October 15, the tour will continue on to Melbourne's 170 Russell on October 17, before wrapping up at Brisbane's The Triffid on October 18. Supported by Dylan Atlantis, tickets are on sale now!

Very excitingly, you guys are coming back to Australia for an East Coast headline tour. It's been four years since you've been here, we're only gonna count it as two years because COVID years don't count.

ELIJAH RAWK: My God. Does that mean I'm 29?

Yeah, it does. You haven't aged a bit.

ER: I love that.

What have you guys got planned for all the people coming out to see the shows?

ELBEE THRIE: New hotness, new hotness. A lot of Euphonyus is being brought to the stage for the first time. We got some cuts that we've been playing, the more popular ones we've been playing for quite a while, even since before Euphonyus came out. Now we're all up and down the track list of Euphonyus on stage. So that's one thing to have look to look forward to. And then new ideas that's even newer than Euphonyus, you know, there could be some surprises. We gonna surprise ourself, so you gotta come out

You just mentioned there that you'll be playing a lot from Euphonyus, but you guys do have such like a great catalog of music to pull from. So how do you kind of go about crafting and curating an overall live experience that obviously highlights the latest album, but captures your entire artistry and catalogue?

ER: I would just say that because there are five of us, the democratic process tends to really help with those kinds of decisions because we have five heads thinking of the same solution for the same problem. So a lot of things are suggested, a lot of different kind of sources are used. We'll look a lot of the time at like what songs resonate a lot with people in certain areas or like online or streaming wise or whatever and consider maybe that should be something versus like Staples that we've known historically that that really translate well on stage. So I think that we try to be really practical about it also. Euphonyus is the newest album, so we definitely want to make sure that people have a good experience with seeing that album, especially if they've come to Phony shows before. So I, I, I'd say that we go about it by trial and error in rehearsal, and we do a lot of rehearsals and we take them very serious. Yeah.

How important is performing and playing live to you guys, not only in terms of showcasing your art, but making an in-person connection with the audiences who do resonate with your music?

MATT "MAFFYUU" BYAS: Performance, it's been in our lives since school. Since growing up, middle school, we've all been performing in orchestras, rock bands, marching bands. So it is just something we're familiar with and we like it clearly. It's important to practice and rehearse and go up there and give it your all because these people they resonate with your music and they coming out to the show to experience that energy, you know? And you want to be rehearsed and practiced and give the people the experience that they want so much. We take a lot of pride in our performance and studying what it is to be a great performer on and off stage. So, I mean, yeah it's important and we take a lot of pride in what we do and how we do it.

I love that, how much value you place on creating a great experience for your audience whilst also doing something so passionate to you. It's almost the one yearr anniversary of the release of Euphonyus and I know that the record was three years in the making. So can you tell me a bit about that process and how the album evolved from its initial stages into what is in the world today?

ET: We're always making music in general so there's always a pool and multiple pools of music to pull from. When we realised that we're making another album, then we try to aim that energy and that creativity towards what would be complimentary to what we had so far so we could make a body of work that flows with itself. A lot of that was like going to a older body shop and just trying different parts of your car. Like, 'are we about to switch this? We're about to switch this. Let's try different wheels. Let's try different rims. Let's switch the engine up. Let's try this.' So you get to see so many different iterations of what this one song is with this one title, but you get to see it really mature as a song, you know, something starts off really bare and really minimal and it ends up going into surgery. There's one song that I watched Matthew get so technical with the drums on, and it was just not that everything is a technical, but the way that he was very, very technical and specific with every little moment in this one specific song. I was just so amazed by that process and it was just like, you know, before he did that, that's not how it went. You know, he changed the identity of that song through that, going through that process and that song actually ended up from what compliments each other and us putting a body of work together versus just having a bunch of hot songs. That song actually ended up not making the album. So one day, hopefully that song gets heard, [laughs]. Maybe. Shout out to Matthews drums. That song is fire,. But yeah, it just went through a lot.

I loved that car in surgery analogy. I've never heard anyone talk about making music like that, but that was such a great analogy.

MB: We got so many of those good analogies. Trust me [laughs].

Drop them all. I I'm gonna do like a tally at the end of this interview and see how many analogies came out.

MB: Yeah. 53 analogies.

It is quite a vibrant and joyful body of work, but it is so multifaceted. There are moments of sadness, sorrow, lust and so much more. Could you unpack the themes and concepts explored across Euphonyus and the importance to you documenting them within your music?

ET: There's a few different themes and a few different alleys, and then there's musical themes and there's also lyrical themes and topics of what songs are about beyond the composition. One of the compositional themes is [hums a melody] and that's something that reoccurs throughout the album in different places, in different songs. Whether it's in your face and obvious, or if it's subtly in the cut. That's one of the themes that, uh, um, Aja [Grant] seasoned throughout the album. Another one of the themes is connection, you know, the push and the pull of knowing somebody. On Euphonyus, it's not necessarily that it's all one person that that push and pull happened with. But in different scenes, if each song is its own scene and there's the push and pull. take it easy which is like someone who's pulling you and you're like, 'I'm not really ready [laughs], you know, I'll get there. And then there's a certain point where that tension is relieved because you're with it [laughs]. Then there's the common courtesy, there's that theme of with the push and pull saying, 'all right, if we're gonna have this push and pull, it doesn't have to be so dynamic.' Just have some morals and then everything will be all good. You know, that's a different type of push and pull. And then there's, you know, they've been away. That's a different type of push and pull and friction that can't be relieved in a certain sense, you know? I could keep going throughout the whole track list. I'm just spitballing off of the ones that came off my head. There's that whole thing throughout the whole track list. There's that element of human connection.

For sure, it really does shine through. You guys never really shy away from pushing the boundaries of your sound, always mixing in and fusing together different genres. I'm curious to know the process there, when do you know that you're taking a particular sonic path for a song? Do you kind of sit down and decide you want to make this kind of song? Or is it something that comes more naturally during the writing process and more-so reveals itself?

MB: That's a good question. I think as we're creating the sound, whether somebody brought a beat in or made some chords or whatever. I think as we start throwing paint at the wall sounds and combinations of instruments start to sound a little familiar. And it's like, 'oh, this reminds me of this time I was in orchestra' or 'these couple of sounds together, this drum, bass, guitar reminds me of this escalator at Delancey Street, and maybe we should put that in there.' I's kind of just like, you just kind of throw paint at the wall and if it sticks, there's no specific like, 'oh man, alright yo, this is sounding disco, man, so let's like go fully disco.' It can be sounding disco and it reminds us of this like rock song and we decide 'yo, let's sneak that in there. Let's just try to do that.' You just keep it interesting. Keep it fun and keep it open. You listen to everything that's happening around you. You listen to every little part, even the small synth 'bleep bleep bleep,' you know, those little bleeps may spark a big part or a whole change thematically in the song because you're listening and you suggested it. There's no real way, but just keeping our ears open and referring back to the vast knowledge of music that we've heard and played over the years.

I back that, it's very organic. Earlier you said you're always working on new music, so would it be safe for me to say that you guys are working on new music at the moment?

ET: Oh, yes.

MB: Yeah, correct. Oh yeah.

I'm sure you don't wanna give too much away about what you're working on and what's to come. You guys have been making music for a long time now, how do you think it's kind of evolved into what you are currently working on?

ET: I must say, all five of us, and there's three of us here now, all five of us have a different answer. Because the way that we grow individually and the way that we see music in our own instruments and other instruments, and just what a song could be contributes to Phony Ppl's sound and Phony Ppl's growth. In my personal one fifth of the slice of the pie, just more maturity in songwriting and the decision makinge. Being an enthusiast of the technology and the equipment that we use to record and the history of that.We incorporate what our interests are into the music that we're making. It could be anything. It could be a microphone that's just like, 'what is this microphone about?' And you know, run some tests, record some stuff on it and before you know it it's a part of the album and that's just track six on what the next thing that the band puts out. So that's just one of the, one of the huge ways that I have been influenced.

MB: I would say the music and the production and the beats and whatever we're doing. Photography, engineering, whatever we're putting ourselves into. I think that, especially at this time in our 29 years on this earth, everything is kind of intentional and the study around what we want to do or achieve is intentional. If there's anything that I say, you know, the drum parts that I'm putting together, there's not a lot of fluff. It's like, you know, that's the beat. That's what I wanted to play. Don't need too much more, not too much less. And I'm okay with that. That is rocking and I'm good. Onto the next one. Just intentional and being decisive, you know? Those are things that we have been practicing and getting better at and learn from the last project. It's always a process. You're always learning. You're always getting better. As long as you're learning, you're gonna be getting better.

Yeah, for sure. So to finish off, I know you guys were here four years ago, so I'm sure you've probably got a lot of tourist activities done back then. But outside of the shows, what are you most looking forward to about coming back to Australia and what are you gonna get up to here?

MB: Vegemite.


MB: [Laughs] I'm joking, I'm joking. I had Vegemite. I didn't like it too much, but I would be down to try it again.

Yeah, do it. You gotta have it on bread and it's gotta be a light coating on top of the bread. And butter as well [laughs]. There's a whole process.

MB: So you know what's fucked up is that I think we had a troll person because they were just like, 'oh yeah, have this Vegemite,' nice thick peanut butter spread of Vegemite. See, they messed us up. It's just crazy.

ER: I'll never forget that. I'll never forget. I can still taste it and feel it. That made my molecules vibrate inadvertantly. That cause pain.

Oh my goodness.

MB: For sure, I guess that's something I would like to look for. I would like to have a fantastic meal that includes Vegemite. Whether it be a snack or a meal, you dig? Alongside play the shows and do well and see the animals and the leaves and the flowers. I want a good Vegemite meal.

ET: I'm not mad at Vegemite. Everyone else is a lot more mad at Vegemite. I didn't mind it. It tasted like a type of cheese to me. Yeah,

MB: A type of cheese. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Cheese. So put some of that cheesein a nice meal format [laughs].

They actually sell little packs, it's like little lunchbox snacks where it's like cheese, Vegemite and like crackers. So it's a thing.

MB: Yeah, like Lunchables.

ET: Get you some Vegemite tonight. Get you some Vegemite.

MB: Get some Vegemite on me.

ER: It's giving Lunchables.

MB: In all seriousness, it's exciting to come back to Australia and be playing these shows and festivals. The last time we were there was our first time there. We had a crazy, crazy experience. Crazy stay, you know, it was awesome. I think I could speak for all of us to say we are happy to be going back to the reintroduction,

ET: Of Vegemite.

MB: [Laughs] Introduction of Vegemite. Let's get it.

ET: The tour, the reintroduction of Vegemite.

Let's make it happen. I think you guys are the first people ever who are keen to come back and eat Vegemite. I feel like most people never wanna do that again. But I love that you guys do.

MB: See that's because they not us. They're not Phony Ppl. They some different kind of persons. We respect culture, you dig? We gonna try to Vegemite one more time and then we gonna start hating [laugh].

ET: I'm not gonna try it again because I already know, but I'm gonna watch other people try it. I'm gonna be supportive. It's not for me, but it's for a lot of people. So I'm happy for that.

Euphonyus is out now!


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