Tom Lyncolgn has this vision; the man that fronts The Nation Blue holds nothing back. Garnering a cult following due to their visceral live shows, Lyncolgn’s on stage persona invites danger and despair, whilst his lyrics are a harrowing reflection from his own-mirrored image, and his guitar style is akin to a sonic assault. “The physical intensity just comes from years of repeated abuse, doing the same thing night after night and people expect to see it so you’ve got to up the stakes,” he admits.
When talking with Lyncolgn one can immediately recognise the difference between the performance and the man. To speak to, he is refreshingly modest and makes constant references to his day job as a carpenter and new born child. Lyncolgn doesn’t seem to be in any mood to reflect on the positives of the band’s achievement.
“I look up at a lot of the venues around the country and there’s always some evidence that we’ve played there,” Lyncolgn explains. This is the closest I get to a celebratory statement from him, and while I sense no shame, it’s immediately evident that twenty years with the band has taken its toll.
“I’ve had to take stock on a few of the things I’ve done over the years, physically… We did a gig in Sydney where I completely destroyed the roof, I got yanked off stage by the bouncer and it took a while for everything to calm down,” he reflects. So how does one destroy an entire roof? “Ah you take your guitar and just repeatedly smash it through the roof until it just rains asbestos,” he replies, completely deadpan. Ever the gentlemen, Lyncolgn did offer to repair the damages.
After a seven-year hiatus, the band now embarks upon a new era. With each member fresh from other musical projects, their twentieth anniversary managed to coincide with not one but two new albums, Black and Blue. So why did the band decide to release two albums at once?
“I had a child halfway through the process and had a lot of downtime and I found a formula that really worked for me, so cranking out 29-30 songs was pretty easy to be honest… We had the time and the resources and realised we had two distinct records sitting there so let’s put them out.”
Whilst both Black and Blue maintain the unnerving punk stamp of their earlier records, the differences between the two albums are the themes that they imbibe. “Black is definitely the one that when lyrics started coming through, they were political, whilst with Blue they are more personal… It’s a real cluster fuck on Blue, a lot more personal stuff,” Lyncolgn admits.
These dark themes are the similar to what Lyncolgn has explored before and after so many years of writing in this vein, Lyncolgn wonders if he fears he’ll go stale. “I’m pretty fastidious with the lyrics,” he says. “I’m always wary if they drag on but I got on a couple of roll, here that I was pretty happy with but I’m about 160 songs deep with all the bands I’ve been in so I’m starting to run out things to say that’s for sure.”
Perhaps it’s the burden of being around for so long, something few punk-rock musicians experience. Fortunately years of touring and recording have given him the chance to get to a place in which he seems to feel solace with his artistic vision.
“Over the years, [your] perspective changes a bit but beyond that, there are a few things. There are definitely a few themes that have been overused and you have to be a master of disguise to dress those things up in a different wig to make them sound different,” Lyncolgn explains. But we dwell on this for too long, because while the band is known for their sombre views on themselves and the society in which they live, it’s the music that makes them such an enthralling spectacle.
The Nation Blue will commence their album tour in October, a short run of three east coast shows and the hometown show in Hobart. Lyncolgn is unsure what will happen afterwards though. “I don’t know how long the period of activity is going to last for, this time we’re just rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing so that for the limited amount of shows we’re doing there’ll be as much bang for your buck as possible.”
Don’t fret, it’s unlikely the band will end here but it is arguably their best phase. The Nation Blue are older and wiser though they’ve never lost their edge, something few bands that reach the twenty year milestone can say for themselves.
Black and Blue will both be released on October 14 via Poison City Records. The Nation Blue is touring around Australia this month. For more details, head to thenationblue.com.