“This lineup of the band only came about like a year ago. It’s always just been my bedroom recording project.”
This ‘bedroom recording project’ notion is starting to become all too familiar. Especially when the guy on the other end of the line happens to be from Perth.
Cameron Avery is most famously the drummer of Pond, and more recently the replacement bassist for Tame Impala following the departure of Nick Allbrook, who also happens to be his musical sparring partner in Avery/Allbrook.
But the ‘bedroom project’ he’s referring to, is the band he fronts; the third West Coast band making waves both nationally and overseas – The Growl.
Speaking fresh off the boat from criss-crossing the United States supporting Tame Impala, and while The Growl are in the middle of launching their debut album What Would Christ Do?? across the country, Avery is still dazed from their international gigs.
“It was so surreal, we were playing to a couple thousand people every night,” says Avery of the American trip. “They went crazy too, they bought all our merch and were getting photos with us every night, it was amazing.” “The only reason we have two drummers live is because I recorded two drum takes for each song… I just like [them] to sound big.” – Cameron Avery
It’s the end of a relentless international touring schedule – last year with Pond, this year with The Growl – all of which has left Avery with reason enough for a well-deserved break. But resting seems like the last thing Avery is interested in doing.
Aside from releasing their debut album, the Growl have a second national tour (coinciding with a spot on the Splendour In The Grass bill, as Avery later notes), as well as a second album already underway. “I started doing some recordings while we were in London,” he reveals, “there’s about four or five songs.”
During his time in London he managed to sneak away for his only time off in the past two years. “I went to Asti, in northern Italy,” Avery chirps. “It’s my favourite place in the world. I was only there for two days though!”
The Growl’s full-length debut, What Would Christ Do??, is a maelstrom of crashing percussion and, appropriately, Avery’s thick, soulful growl.
While the twisted production and abrasive textures often bring to mind the dark tones of Nine Inch Nails, in actual fact Avery’s musical upbringing traces a lineage much deeper into musical history. “Growing up in a Christian household, I was kind of raised on Gospel music. Following on from that I started getting into the minor blues players, like Son House.”
Beginning originally with Avery, the band expanded when he teamed up with Clinton Oliver, who’d purchased a Roland eight track to help get recording happening.
Recording “basically” all the instruments himself, Avery can be likened to his good friend and Tame Impala linchpin Kevin Parker when it comes to musical imagination. “The only reason we have two drummers live is because I recorded two drum takes for each song,” Avery explains of the band’s raucous live show and unconventional recording style. “One mic for a whole drumkit, then the same again.”
Though it sounds eccentric, Avery’s reasoning is disarmingly practical. “I just like the drums to sound big.”
The live band evolved over time, until eventually settling on its current incarnation only a year ago. Complete with dual drummers belting trashcans, their live shows are a barnstorming affair, with the frontman performing like a manic blues preacher. Avery’s also hard at work with another mystery band. “I’m not allowed to talk about,” he swears. “But there’ll be something happening soon.”
On record, it’s similarly battering. What Would Christ Do?? is a disorienting listen at times, with rhythmic propulsion driving the majority of the tracks. However, for their next album, Avery hints at a more straightforward sound. “It’s more pop orientated,” he admits. “There are more chords, as well as a lot of strings and brass.”
Avery’s plate would be full enough just dealing with The Growl’s increasing success, so hearing about the list of other things he plans to work on is jaw-dropping.
His project with Pond frontman and former Tame Impala bassist Nick Allbrook, pragmatically titled Allbrook/Avery, recently joined the two Perth psych rock bands on the Artist Voice roster and are set to release the three albums they have in the bag. The most recent of which was recorded in London with The Horrors, and the duo plan to tour the release nationally.
Meanwhile, Pond are set to release their much anticipated new album Hobo Rocket, after giving fans an early taste of its acid-soaked delights with ‘Giant Tortoise’; but don’t expect them to tour it until the end of the year. “We played over 120 shows last year, we’re probably going to take a break before we get back out on the road for that one,” Avery glosses.
That’s three bands with as many separate releases slated before 2013 is over; Avery seems to enjoy being prolific as well as having an endless touring regimen, and given the critical praise heaped at the foot of both Tame Impala and Pond, The Growl are likely to become another of Australia’s profitable exports in the very near future.
In case that isn’t enough, Avery’s also hard at work with another mystery band. “I’m not allowed to talk about,” he swears. “But there’ll be something happening soon.” Keep your ears open.