Words by Oliver Marshall
Split Seconds deserve the title of veterans in the Australian music scene, having been around for about 10 years. The band is on the verge of releasing their forthcoming album Rest and Relocation on June 24th. The band is lead by the unmistakable vocals of Sean Pollard who, when he’s not fronting Split Seconds is working for the Western Bulldogs Football Club. We caught up with Sean to talk about everything from the new album to unfortunate tour memories and his love for storytelling.
The new album, Rest and Relocation is out on June 24th, so basically it’s about you moving from Perth to Melbourne, is that right?
Yeah yeah, the general theme is based around that. We moved probably about four years ago now. As much as we don’t want to live in the past or go over old things that have happened, it was really something that turned all our lives upside down a little bit. So it was something that was pretty inescapable when it came to the writing process of the album when it came to actually documenting what had happened to us over the last two or three years. For me, the band and music are super important to me so it was something that really played a massive part. I’d thought I’d kind of write that down and it evolved in a way and became the album.
You recorded this album in your home studio in Brunswick (Melbourne), how was that process for you?
It was good! It was really rewarding and it was super long. As far as we didn’t really know what we were doing. We’d always kind of dabbled in home recording before, we all set up studios wherever we lived. I used to live with Reece the guitarist and we always had a little back room or garage we would set up to record demos and then eventually take them to a real studio, but by the time we got over and really had a look at ourselves and all the gear we spent our money on over the years, we figured it was probably about time we actually did something for ourselves. So we set it all up, we got a lease on a little warehouse in Brunswick, which I lived in for a while, I’m actually living there again now, we kind of have to have one person living there to pay the rent (laughs). But yeah it really tested us figuring out how to use everything, but at the end of the day it’s something that you learn once and you could use every time after that, so it was really rewarding for us.
I’ve always wondered though, with a home studio, is it hard to switch off because you might be in bed thinking and then you come up with a riff or something and you just want to go record it. Does that happen or were you able to find a good balance?
Yeah it kind of works both ways. It’s interesting because you don’t have any deadlines and you don’t really have anyone telling you what to do, you don’t have a producer or anything you’ve just got yourself. Some days we’d organise for a couple of weeks to get in the same room and set up and play for a bit and just go ahhh its not working, let’s go to the pub. So we’d just go to the pub and write the day off; which you couldn’t do in a studio because obviously you’re paying for your time and other days I would get on a bit of a roll and I’d be up for a couple of days just trying to get something right, or trying to figure out how to finish off a song, that way it was also good.
What kind of influences do you guys have as a band because it seems like you borrow things from a lot of different genres and you don’t really fit in to any particular genre?
Yeah nah I would agree with that! Thanks for saying that because that’s kind of something that we do try and do. We try to be magpies in that sense that we pick little things off of everything but at the end of the day it’s something a bit different. So yeah, we kind of borrow from a lot of different things we listen to Australian music, Hunters and Collectors, the Go-Betweens and Paul Kelly and all those classic Australian bands are really important to us. But also we try and listen to newer stuff as well like Parquet Courts or War On Drugs, newer stuff that comes out and really tickles our fancy, and yeah we try to dump that all in and hopefully it comes out sounding like Split Seconds. If something goes too far down the path of sounding like another band, we usually just dump it because it’s not really what we are supposed to do.
So obviously you guys have been touring in various ways for a lot of years now, so what’s your best tour story that you have?
That’s a good one! There’s been a few things that have happened over the years. I mean I always go to the bad ones (laughs) that’s just kind of the way my mind works you might be able to tell by the amount of whinging I do on our songs (laughs). The funniest one we ever did was in Byron Bay and we were on a tour with Owl Eyes. We were doing a full national tour with her, we were half way through it and the shows were selling out and it was really good fun but half way through she got sick so she missed a couple of shows. We were over in Perth and the show was in Byron Bay we had all our flights booked, everything booked so it would have been more expensive for us to not go basically so we just went anyway. We called ahead to the venue saying we are still coming so don’t cancel the show we will still play and we had a support playing, a band called Glass Towers. So we ended up at the venue and turned around and there’s a massive sign saying gig cancelled. We just thought fuck it and we just played anyway. The sound guy was also the chef at the venue so he was making pizzas and mixing the band at the same time. So that was probably the most tragic thing that ever happened to us I think. We played to about 3 people that night and ate a heap of pizzas, which worked all right in the end.
Your voice is really distinctive, is it completely natural or is it a trained voice?
Nah nah, it’s just what happens when I open my mouth. I don’t know, I’ve been singing in bands since I was 16 years old and I was really bad at it to start with. I just kind of listened to a lot of Australian artists that just sing how they talk like Paul Kelly and Mark Seymour and I figured that was for me. For me my voice is just a way to get the story across and it’s good that it’s distinctive because you can tell it’s a Split Seconds song (laughs).
You mentioned that’s how you tell the story, is that one of your main focuses to tell a story? Because compared to lots of bands it really does kind of follow a story…
Yeah, pretty much my only focus is writing a song about something, because I’d hear a lot of music and it just frustrates me that song writing has become less important the storytelling aspect. All I’ve got is my voice and my ability to tell a story. It can get me into trouble sometimes because it’s quite obvious what I’m writing songs about so you know whether it’s in my personal life or just in general, it can get me into a bit of trouble but to me it’s by far the most important thing in our music that people get a slice of us and me when they listen to our songs.
How would you describe the album because it had a mix of different tempo songs but overall it seemed to have a positive feeling towards it?
Musically we wanted a sweet album something that’s optimistic in its music because lyrically, as I said before I’m a bit of a whinger. My folks are English so I like to complain with the rest of them. So musically we wanted to make it a bit more upbeat and warm and inviting as an album and brief so that we really told our stories and got out of there before we started drifting off.
Split Seconds start touring on June 24th at the Workers Club in Melbourne, before heading to shows in Western Australia and Sydney.