When I spoke Joe Agius, the vocalist/guitarist of The Creases, he delivered his words in a deadpan monotone. He was sitting at a cafe in Melbourne about to have a coffee so he could “feel a bit more human.” The Creases debut album, Tremolow has been a long time coming, as Joe explained to me. Despite the relatively small recorded output by this Brisbane based four piece, they have certainly been making waves live, sharing the stage with the likes of The Maccabees, Ball Park Music and most recently Two Door Cinema Club at Festival Hall in Melbourne. We spoke the day after that performance, and Joe humbly explained “the shows were the biggest venues we have played so far. I don’t think we will ever play those kind of venues ourselves…it’s really good to get out of our comfort zone and play with such a big band.”
Suggesting they won’t fill out bigger venues may be speaking a little too soon, as the young band have been rising steadily since their beginnings as a spontaneous collaboration of founding members Joe and Jarrod Mahon. When the project began, the two would challenge themselves to make a song and video in one night. This spontaneous process resulted in tracks like ‘I Won’t Wait’ – which eventually lead them to a record deal with Rough Trade, and a big demand for live shows before they even had the repertoire to fill them.
Four years on, and the members of the band still play a big role in the sound, look and feel of their musicial output. “We are all pretty attached to everything that surrounds the music and we are very involved with the videos, artwork and merch. I design and do a lot of that myself. I think it would be weird for us not to be involved with all of the elements that are involved with the music.” This should come as no surprise, considering that The Creases‘ aesthetic matches perfectly with their upbeat retro garage-pop.
They were not at the helm of the video for their recent single ‘Is It Love?’ which proved to make it a more freeing and enjoyable experience for them. “It was great to just hang out and have a stress free time, because it’s pretty stressful when you are doing it yourselves. It was a pretty funny set with lots of people involved, so it was a bit of a laugh.”
The usual process behind The Creases‘ music involves Joe bringing a demo to the band, and them working out the song from there. But this time around, the band held themselves hostage for a period in order to write together from the outset. “We kinda locked ourselves in the house while recording for the whole month, so it was good to just not have any distractions and focus on making it.” When it comes to the lyrical subject matter however, the responsibility tends to fall on Joe’s shoulders – though it isn’t quite at the forefront of his mind while making music.“I mostly leave (the lyrics) until right at the end before recording. I wish I was the kind of person who is always scribbling away constantly, but I’m more focused on the melody and structure and all those little things before the lyrics.”
This focus on melody and structure is what makes their songs so infectious – they are clearly meticulously arranged, but delivered in such a way that they have a carefree, happy-go-lucky sweetness to them. The lyrics tend to embody that same sweetness, though perhaps not in such a considered way. “Often (the lyrics) are just kind of gibberish that develop into words and sentence-like things. Sometimes I just can’t find anything that fits better syllable-wise, so we just usually run with the original lyrics that were spat out on the spot.” He pauses, and with a humorous self-deprecating flare, notes that “some make more sense than others.”
Despite the lead up to the release of this album being a bit of a rollercoaster, Joe expresses that the band are “all just super proud of it… we are excited to have it out for everyone and for them to know a new set of songs when we play.” As seen in a video posted by the band on Facebook, receiving their first vinyl copy of Tremolow last week was a big moment for them. “It’s so exciting to hold a vinyl and know that you have done it all, every little part of it,” Joe says of the experience, with evident glee. Asking if there were any favourites on the album, he replied that they liked ‘In My Car’ so much that they released that early as a “non-single” last week. He also suggests listeners check out ‘Were Young’, the quiet achiever at track 11.
There is a subtle irony in Joe’s assertion that he was “trying to feel a bit more human” when we spoke. The most wonderful quality of The Creases’ music is its simple subject matter and abject sweetness – which is rather humanising in and of itself.
Tremolow is available 4 August through Liberation Music.
Have a look at this throwback to a chat we had with The Creases way back in 2014.