While the business changed irrevocably, the availability of quality music didn’t concurrently dwindle. The thing is, nowadays taking the indie path is not so much an act of defiant rebellion as a necessary requirement for steadfast musicians to get anywhere. Without making a big brouhaha about it, Tassie four-piece Luca Brasi are one of many crusading independent artists ruling Aussie rock at present. From small town beginnings and with punk rock as their weapon, the band are edging closer to the frontline. It’s been a steady climb, rather than an overnight breakthrough, but they’ve done it with artistic integrity in tact and dedicated support from the underground community. Perhaps what’s most remarkable about Luca Brasi’s ascent is the foursome’s casual approach.
“Our band’s a weird combination of trying really hard to be organised and be this well oiled machine and also, just stuff happens, we do get really lucky,” says guitarist Tom Busby. “I don’t want to cheapen our efforts – we do work really hard – but sometimes it’s like ‘Woah are you kidding me?’ “The more time passes, the more you learn,” he continues. “So booking a tour or whatever, you learn stuff or you know who to talk to if you have a question or if you need help. So we’re getting to be [a well oiled machine]. I’m sure we’ll get there one day… hopefully.”
This time last year, Luca Brasi released their second LP By A Thread. The record came bearing the stamp of Melbourne punk rock stable Poison City Records. Still, the outlook at the time of release was fairly modest. “We obviously had the initial plan to do a release tour, which we did with Post Blue last March,” Busby says. “Then it was like ‘I guess we’ll do another headline tour towards the end of the year and try to get on a tour with a good band sometime in the middle of the year’. We crossed our fingers and then we got to go on tour with Violent Soho.”
Of greater significance for the band – which is completed by vocalist/ bass player Tyler Richardson, guitarist Patrick Marshall and drummer Danny Flood – was the album content. Having now spent five years together (albeit with the odd member switcheroo), it was time to broaden the width of their stylistic frame. “There was one moment when I wrote some riffs that were pretty different from what we were doing,” Busby says. “They were less punk, they were a bit more noodle-y. They were a bit more like that American Football [sound], and I like Tiny Moving Parts and those sorts of bands.”
It’s no secret that fans of independent, left of centre bands have slightly different values than followers of mainstream acts. In the former case, fans are adamant that artists hang onto their deviant edge. However, this can give rise to a paradoxical conservatism, as any major style shifts are liable to be interpreted as a betrayal. “Someone once told me when they heard By A Thread that it’s heaps mellower,” Busby says. “Now, not everyone would agree with that. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with it. This was like a skate punk kid, his favourite band’s A Wilhelm Scream, so we probably sound like Mumford & Sons to him.”
There are innumerable instances of bands heeding this external pressure and playing it safe, which led their music to progressively turn vapid. By A Thread is a marked step away from Extended Family, but it took some time before Luca Brasi were totally comfortable experimenting with new sounds. “Looking back, once we’d recorded By A Thread and it came out, I was like ‘Woah this is actually a lot more different from our first album than I was expecting it to be,” Busby says. “It just sort of happened, but there was the time where we needed to run ideas past each other. I felt, ‘I don’t think anyone’s going to want to do this.’ I think we all had our little moments like that, but we we’re all like ‘Nah that’s awesome, let’s keep doing that.’ “The song ‘Here’s Looking At You Kid Rock,’ I had a demo on my computer that I didn’t even show anyone,” he elaborates. “It was like two weeks before we had to go to the studio and I showed Tyler and he’s like, ‘that’s awesome.’ We’d only just got a new drummer, because Saxon left the band, and we quickly learnt this song. It sounds nothing like we’ve ever done before, but everyone was stoked to do it. So now it’s like ‘If you’ve got an idea and you like it, let’s play around with it.’ It might not work out, but some of the time it does.
March 11 – Small Ballroom, Newcastle NSW
March 12 – Crowbar, Brisbane QLD
March 13 – Newtown Social Club, Sydney NSW
March 14 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC
March 15 – Wrangler Studios, Melbourne VIC
March 19 – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart TAS
March 20 – Rocket Bar, Adelaide SA
March 21 – Amplifier Bar, Perth WA
March 22 – HQ, Perth WA