Words by Jack Herz
Like the European bird their band is named after, Green Buzzard flew on to the Australian music scene last year, seemingly out of nowhere, to prey on the unsuspecting ears of listeners (in the best way possible). Placing an emphasis on the music itself rather than production tricks, the band were fast to unleash their own style of guitar-driven, pop music in the form of their first single Zoo Fly. A few tracks and some visual accompaniments later, they are now gearing up to present their debut EP: Easy Queezy Squeezy, to the Australian public amid their first national headline tour. Prior to this, I spoke with frontman Patrick Harrowsmith about how the band got their start, the dangers of over-producing and the importance of solitude to the process of songwriting.
You guys kind of came out of nowhere last year with the single ‘Zoo Fly’. Prior to that I hadn’t heard about Green Buzzard anywhere. You kind of skipped the Triple J Unearthed route and got instantly signed by I Oh You. With that being said, how did you originally get discovered?
I’ve played in bands around Sydney since I was 17 and over that time have mostly played guitar for other peoples’ songs. I started writing my own songs about 3 years ago and started making demos. At one point I uploaded them to Soundcloud and sent them round to friends and stuff. I knew Johann from I OH YOU and sent them over to him and he really liked them and wanted to put them out.
With a lot of bands these days placing an emphasis on very clean, pristine production, sometimes even above the music itself, it’s a breath of fresh air to hear you guys putting out music that subverts this trend. What are some of production techniques you implicate in order to capture this lo-fi, old-school sound?
I’m mostly drawn to “guitar” bands with a gritty “lo-fi” (I hate that word) sound. Bands like Guided By Voices and Dinosaur Jr. are massive influences, not only for the song writing aspect but also sonically. I have always loved the ‘warts and all’ approach to recording. For a lot of the EP we implemented a one or two take method. Most of the drum takes were the first or second take. At the end of the day, the song is the most important thing, not if the tone of the snare in the second chorus is not quite right or something.
You released a cover of Hollywood by Tobias Jesso Jr last year and completely made it your own. What initially inspired you guys to cover this soft, piano-led song over something faster and more guitar-driven?
I really loved those two songs Tobias Jesso Jr put up on YouTube. Admittedly, I found the album a little too produced, I think it lost a lot of it’s edge by being polished up. I thought ‘Hollywood’ was a clear stand out track on the album however. I love when a band does a cover of a song and totally makes it their own as opposed to trying to recreate it the same way. We basically recorded that one day and it came out really nice, so we thought we’d chuck it up on the net.
You guys seem determined to release a video clip for as many of your songs as possible. I noticed a name that seems to pop up a lot is Matthew Dempsey. How did your collaboration with this Australian director come about?
I actually met Dempsey through a friend of mine, Will Hayles, who has also worked on all the clips we’ve done. When we were doing a clip for a song a few years back (which we never ended up releasing), Will invited a friend to come help out and Dempsey turned up. We ended up working really well together and have formed a sort of team making Green Buzzard clips now. We just finished shooting our next clip together which I’m excited to release soon.
The upcoming, Easy Queezy Squeezy EP was recorded at a family farm in NSW. Did this environment inform the recording process at all and if so, in what way?
Actually, they weren’t recorded there, they were recorded in West Gosford at my friend, Ryan Hazells studio. The songs however, were all written in Oberon on my parents farm. All the songs are directly inspired by Oberon in one way or another. Living out there by myself for a year with not much else to do but play guitar was a pretty great experience. The way I write songs is: I work out a riff or a bunch of chords and it sounds terrible for hours and hours until I fine tune it and it finally sounds like a great song. So writing a song on a farm with no one around you for kilometres is definitely a good thing.
You’ve said that the EP was sonically inspired by 90’s alternative rock bands such as Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. Are there any modern artists or bands who you believe embody a similar musical style?
I mostly listen to older music, finding a band from 80’s New York or some 70’s punk band is more exciting to me than discovering a new band. Having said that I have always really loved Kurt Vile. I think he continues to put out interesting music. His latest album was fantastic. That new Eagulls track was real good too.
The EP is being released on the same day as the Adelaide leg of your tour. Do you have anything special planned for this momentous occasion?
We actually don’t! Now that you mention it I better get thinking. Maybe we’ll get some champagne on the rider or something.
Green Buzzard kick off their national tour in a few days, be sure to catch them at Rocket Bar on April 1st. Tickets are still available through Moshtix.