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What’s the deal with High Tension and Collingwood?

We live here, pretty much. Before High Tension formed, Ash and I we were in a band [Young & Restless] previously together, and after that band broke up we still stayed in touch. Eventually we said, ‘Fuck, let’s do something else.’ I told Ash I wanted to do something far more brutal than what we were doing. Ash is not a heavy music fan, but he loves to play guitar. With Collingwood, I always remember seeing Matt [Weston] at the Gas back in the day. I remember when we were looking for a bassist, I thought ‘Well what about Matt?’ I never really had chats with him so I hit him up on Facebook, and realised that we were next door neighbours. It’s easier when you’re doing something with people that are close by, there’s no hassle or piss-farting around. So I met up with Matt again at the Gas, and we were on the same page to being with. I think ‘Collingwood’ is a nod to that, well not easiness, but just feeling incredibly lucky to live on Easey Street, basically. We’ve had a lot of great times here, and the song was a semi-autobiography.


Where did that urge to play heavier music come from for you?

From living in Canberra [laughs]. I have my theory about it. I grew up in Jakarta where there’s a big metal scene, which I think comes from the Javanese culture of passiveness, and being submissive. I think when you have that much submissiveness and forms of repression, that’s where heavy music thrives. But it’s all in a really positive way.


How did you make that leap vocally between Young & Restless and High Tension?

I think with Young & Restless, that time around mid-2000s when the band started, I only turned 18 a couple of years before, and because I lived in Canberra, all I did was go to hardcore shows and metal shows. I loved going to those, seeing bands like 4 Dead play, I was so blown away and thought ‘Fuck, I’ve gotta learn how to sing like that somehow.’ So I think Young & Restless, well it wasn’t an experiment, but it was the first go, trying to sing in that style. It wasn’t super purist, and High Tension isn’t purist either, but I wanted to play with hardcore bands, but that wasn’t the type of music we had. We still got to play with lots of rad bands. Since that experience and era, and being older and now having Damian and Matt in the band, what we like and what we get stoked about is much more aligned, so much more solid, and maybe that’s why it seems like such a big leap.


On ‘Take Control’, you’re singing “I don’t know what success feels like.” Is that from the heart?

No, no. Ah, that song. Every other song on High Tension and Bully has been about positive reinforcement with positive themes. It’s never personal, but that particular song was the last song I wanted to approach. It was so different to our other songs, with these gross themes, with anxiety and depression, where you really hate yourself and addressing those concerns. When I proposed the idea to the guys I said ‘tell me if you think this is shit’, and they said nah. Especially for Bully, that song is about being a bully to yourself.


How did performing in between albums inform your approach in the studio this time?

It definitely did. All of the vocals for High Tension have been recorded with a handheld. The movement is just as important as the actual sound itself, there are certain sounds I can’t make unless I’m doing a lunge or something like that – I know it sounds dumb.


How does that work for levels?

It just works, the engineers make it work. We’ve tried using really good mics with a pop filter, but you don’t get the same level of performance. We just try to capture that live energy, I know it sounds clichéd. We don’t want it to sound static in any way.




July 11 – Howler, Melbourne VIC

July 17 – Crowbar, Brisbane QLD

July 18 – Newtown Social Club, Sydney NSW


For more information visit www.hightension.com.au.