Sweater Curse's new EP, push//pull, is out now! We chat to guitarist Chris Langenberg about their music and more.
Last month, Brisbane indie-rock band Sweater Curse released their sophomore EP, push//pull. Thematically, the release navigates mental health, feelings of regret and everyday life and its somewhat repetitive nature. The honest and open songwriting present on the EP expertyl exhibitis the maturity the band bring to their songwriting, going from strength to strength as they continue to shape their sonic sound.
Forming as a trio of friends creating music for fun, the band soon attracted the attention of audiences and have spent the last few years extensively touring the country and honing in on their craft. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the band have performed a handful of sold-out shows throughout Brisbane as they geared up for the release of their new EP
push//pull is out now! Read our interview with Chris Langenberg below!
Tell us a bit how your musical journey music…
For me, I have a really specific memory of my mum driving me to primary school in grade 2 and Midnight Oil was on the radio. I remember asking mum what that sound was and she told me it was a guitar.
Pretty much from then on all I wanted to do was play guitar and I got my first one 2 weeks later!
How did the band form and where did the band name come from?
We all went to the same University in Brisbane! Mon and I were in the same year and we used to catch the same bus to Uni without knowing each other, until one day Mon introduced herself (I was always too nervous because I thought she was way cooler than me) and then we became best pals and planned on doing music together for ages.
We jammed a couple of times and then I ended up joining a bunch of other bands until one day decided that I wanted to do sweater curse with Mon and I called Rei up (who was a couple of years above us) and asked if he wanted to play in a band that tried to sound like ‘Yuck’ and he locked in straight away!
The band name story feels a bit silly. I just saw the two words close to each other on my Facebook newsfeed one day and thought it sounded like a cool band name. I think I had the name for it well before we started writing music together and then found out about the famous old wives tale about the actual sweater curse. I’ll let readers google that themselves.
Congratulations on the release of push//pull!
Your new EP navigates mental health, feelings of regret and everyday life and its somewhat repetitive nature. Could you tell us about the release and the importance of the themes explored throughout?
Thanks so much! For me, it is definitely the most bare and honest I have been with my song writing. The EP came together and represents the emotion of pushing and pulling within a relationship. I guess a couple of the songs are so important to me because I am pretty open in the lyrical content of how I was feeling at the time of writing.
Following that, I think it is important to be able to talk about emotions and to be honest and open, whether that be with your friends, family or partners. I think sometimes there is a stigma about being sad or upset and it can be really hard to open up. I really hope that our songs can help people realise that they aren’t alone and that it is ok to feel weird at times!
The opening track, I Wish I Was A Better Person Sometimes, comes from a place of raw emotions. You’ve also been playing the song live since 2017. How has the meaning and overall feeling of the track changed for you? And how has the song evolved?
This song was written so long ago it’s crazy! We are so happy that it is finally out in the world! It was absolutely one of the hardest songs to perform for a couple of years in the way that it is so emotionally open. We actually had to stop playing it for a couple of years because it was very hard for me, which is probably why it has taken so long to release.
I think now the song feels like a bit of a memory or reflection. It has undertaken a new meaning for me in the way that I can listen or play the song and remember the point that I was at but also I guess, feel good about how far I have come since.
The song itself has evolved a lot – when I first wrote it I realised I had ripped off a Jess Locke song that I was listening to a lot at the time and we had to re-write it! I think the song used to be a 7 or 8 minute track when we started playing it with the guitar solo going for much longer and the whole thing being slower. We are all really happy with how the song has progressed though, it feels right to finally release it.
push//pull track by track…
‘Close’ was written at a particularly turbulent time in all of our lives. It came together pretty quickly with the help of Alex Lahey. We wrote this in a studio across from the Marrickville Bowls’ Club in Sydney just before the release of our debut EP. It’s about something coming between a close friendship, full of miscommunications and misunderstandings, and the loss of closeness as a consequence. It expresses the regret of not explicitly telling someone how much they mean to you and how much you love them.
I Wish I Was A Better Person Sometimes
The song is quite literal to a particular period of time. It was a time that I felt like I could do nothing right for a really important person in my life. It felt like anything I did would make matters worse which often caused a great deal of self-destruction and doubt.
All The Same
This song was so exciting to write and feels like it is the beginning of a new sound for us as a band, alongside our usual more melodic songs. All The Same is about nothing and everything, doing the same things every weekend, going to the same places, seeing the same things and people, but just going with it. It’s a little sarcastic lyrically, but balanced out with the playful instrumentals.
Best Interests Similarly to I Wish I Was A Better Person Sometimes, it was written at a time that I felt like I could do nothing to help a person that was struggling with a mental illness and I really felt the weight of trying to keep that particular relationship afloat. In doing this, I often felt guilty when I tried to look out for myself and my own wellbeing and the realisation of that is what this song is about.
How did you arrive at the genre and sounds prevalent on the tracks?
I guess our sound and genre has refined over time through playing shows with particular bands and also from what we have listened to/what we are listening to when we write the songs. For example, I was listening to a lot of Modern Baseball when I wrote Best Interests and I think that shines through a lot.
What messages do you hope listeners take away from push//pull?
I guess we wanted to show our fans the way our songwriting has matured and been shaped since See You. These songs definitely carry similar themes throughout, but we also just wanted to share the tracks we had before we start working on a full album release.
Could you tell us a bit about your collaborative creative process when writing and recording songs?
It’s different every time! Often Mon or I will write the bones of a song and bring it to practise to work on together. Recently, we have been taking writing trips to our friends farm in Boonah specifically to write songs, which is actually where we wrote All The Same! That has been really fun being able to collaborate on songs from the very start of the process.
Australia has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite Aussie acts and why?
I’ll try keep this short but it’s hard to because there is so many!
RAT!Hammock – absolutely one of my favourite bands in Australia right now. Jackson’s song writing is so incredible and the way it comes together in a band format is the best. Also all members are just a bunch of sweet angels who we miss so much.
Concrete Surfers – One of the best bands in Brisbane. There, I said it. Concrete Surfers are some of the smartest and most talented group of musicians in QLD and it’s just a matter of time before they blow up.
Melaleuca – A really new band coming out of Brisbane we had the pleasure of playing with recently. Their track Minutes really hit me hard and is one of the most exciting new bands I can think of!
What has been the most challenging part about creating music during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think drawing inspiration. I guess lots of our music is based on personal inter-human experiences, and not being able to see people has definitely made it harder for me to write. However, I think it has been fun trying to work around that. I’ve been trying to draw inspiration from other things which has been cool!
How do you feel your music speaks to listeners?
I’m not really sure! I guess when I write songs I don’t really think too much about how people will react to it unless it’s an instrumental part. In that case I like to think about how I would feel watching a band play those parts live.
You’ve performed a handful of shows during the pandemic. What has it been like performing these socially distanced shows as opposed to your usual performances?
It has been really interesting haha. I think some shows have felt more ‘real’ than others for sure. The first one in particular was super nerve-wracking but once we started it felt good. It was really nice to play in front of people again, we just wish we could tour the new EP to see how it has connected with people around Australia, and I miss sweaty mosh pits!
The global pandemic has put a halt to touring and performing live. Do you have any post-pandemic touring plans? And what can audiences expect from a Sweater Curse live show?
Absolutely have plans to tour as soon as possible! We have missed touring and playing shows around Australia, and missing our friends in other states so much. I think audiences can expect feedbacking guitars, fuzzed bass guitar, loud drums and sweaty, energetic performances.
Interpol, Modern Baseball, The National, New Order, Fontaines DC (more recently).
Peter Katis – He is a producer that has worked on SO many of my favourite records! Also would love to work with J-Mascis one day so we can compare how loud our guitars can be.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Turn On The Bright Lights - Interpol.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Big, loud guitars.
Best song of 2020?
Grounds - IDLES.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
The best/most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
I think either the Violent Soho support earlier this year or Laneway Festival.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Snail Mail’s Lush.
Best concert you have been to?
The National at Riverstage in Brisbane.
Last concert you went to?
Bugs last Friday!
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
Guilty music pleasure?
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
P!nk (only half joking here), or Courtney Barnett, The National, Interpol, IDLES, Fontaines DC.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?
What advice would you give yourself a year from now?
Keep writing !!!
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Back to question 1 !