tunesday - river city extension interview

by georgia frances king

Sometimes Australia is at the mercy of the music media: with so many amazing tunes out there and only so many sets of ears to listen to them, some of the best stuff can get lost in the white noise. Harvest Festival did a pretty damn good job of being those ears for us, bringing out a band relatively unknown here but a blast in North America. They're called River City Extension, and you might just like their tunes, cos we certainly do.

Although you may have missed their sets at Harvest (which were a meshing of bravado and banjo), never fear: their new album Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger is out now here for you to pop into your music machine of choice.

Their member tally at any point in time contains anywhere from five to nine people, from violinists to horn tooters, and are all mates from the beaches of New Jersey. Well, what is left of their beaches following Superstorm Sandy... but more about that later. We had a chat to Joe and Mike backstage at the gloriously sunny Melbourne leg, lounging in a pile of greenery while the tunes of their beloved Los Campesinos drifted through from the stage behind us.


You guys played a massive set earlier on today - what's your advice to crowds at festivals with lots of unknowns on the lineup?

Joe: When you go to a show, you should give in. Surrender a little bit. Let it work its magic on you, and if it doesn't, then that's fine. But why ever go against that? It's like going to a really good restaurant with food you normally don't eat, but the food is really good. If you don't like it, you're not going to throw a fit about how bad the food is. It's good food; you just don't like it. So try to appreciate it. Music is the same.

You've toured here before – how are you finding the scenery the second time around?

J: Well, I mean, the polo match outside the Harvest catering area is a little... interesting! I've never seen that before! And cricket I just don't understand. We watched a match on silent in the hotel, but we couldn't understand the game, so we played a drinking game instead.

Mike: This happened multiple times when we were last here! We'd drink when homeboy in the corner was throwing up mad signs!

J: We don't understand cricket, but so we'd just drink. But then again, I don't understand a game of American football, so that's pretty much it for me.


How badly affected were you by Superstorm Sandy when it ripped through New Jersey?

J: It was crazy. We lost power at my house for seven days, then it came back for two days, then went back out again with the snowstorm as we left. It was a very inconvenient time to not have power before you're about to go on a big tour too!

M: I was one of the lucky few with water and power. I told everyone I knew to come over to my house, whether it was to charge phones or to wash.

J: There are a lot of people who have lost a lot more than we have. We live on the shore, but thankfully it was a cold time of the year, so less houses were occupied than normal.

Are there any other local bands we should know about from New Jersey?

M: Oh yeah. The Front Bottoms are one. They'll probably tour down here next year... Does... does that mean what it means here?

J: Does it mean vagina here? Because it does not mean that in the US!

M: We just thought it was a name!

J: When they toured Europe they needed to change their name to TFB because it was too offensive...

What kind of households did you guys grow up in?

M: We both still live in the area we were born in. I grew up on a lot of classical music, and I was in a Christian family, so there was a lot of Church music too.

M: Well I grew up on a lot of denial! My mum would listen to Tom Petty and Elvis Costello. I've now learned that their whole discography is amazing. But growing up, my friends were not into that. They listened to what was happening then. So I guess a lot of my youth was coming to terms with the fact that I liked a certain type of music. No matter how hard you try to not like something, you can't help that you're emotionally connected to it.

J: But we now just make the music that we make. Whatever comes out. It's a lot easier to miss the mark when you're trying too hard. And it's a lot easier to get someone to connect in truth to what you're doing when you're being true to yourself. It makes a lot more sense.

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