ME, the Melbourne quartet with the ironclad Google-proof name, have spent nearly a year-and-a-half abroad, following their musical compass to Great Britain where they’ve been writing, recording, touring, getting played on radio and – all in all – building some steady buzz for themselves.
“It’s a dream come true,” Damian Tapley, fretwork wizard extraordinaire sighs, though it’s not in reference to any of these previous achievements; nor is he waxing nostalgic about supporting the likes of Kasabian, Panic! At The Disco, or Motion City Soundtrack across Europe.
Instead it’s for the band’s homecoming tour of Australia as part of the Big Day Out, it might seem like a minor accomplishment compared to some of the music festivals ME have been playing, such as Germany’s Reeperbahn and the UK’s The Great Escape, but that’s not quite the case in the band’s eyes says Tapley.
“A lot of festivals that we have been doing aren’t quite as large as Big Day Out. Because that is massive,” Tapley says with deliberate emphasis. “Every band has always dreamt of being on that stage one day, without ever realising it would come true.”
Now the guitarist, along with his fellow bandmates – frontman Luke Ferris, bassist Michael Goode, and drummer Spike Rogers – are realising that dream as they collectively make the homeward journey to take part in the touring festival.
Come mid-January, they’ll be returning after nearly 18 months abroad. Fitting then that the theatrically-inclined rock quartet should use the 21st birthday of one of Australia’s longest-running and most iconic festivals to make their grand entrance.“Every band has always dreamt of being on the [Big Day Out] stage one day, without ever realising it would come true.”
“It’s perfect,” agrees the temporary ex-pat, excited to be one of the first of a handful of Australian acts that was announced as part of the 2013 lineup.
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“Grinspoon’s on there… Hunting Grounds,” he lists before tapering off, “it seems there’s less Australian [acts] than normal.”
Still, among acts like 360 and House Vs Hurricane, ME’s is a name that may seem slightly – for lack of a better term – foreign to Australian audiences.
“We don’t really know where we left off and we don’t know where everyone’s seen us last,” remarks the guitarist when this fact is pointed out to him, “so like you said, for most people it’ll be the first time that they’ve seen us.”
But those who managed to catch the band in their early days developing in Melbourne – playing support slots at the now defunct East Brunswick Club like it was Wembley Stadium: projections, guest strings, makeshift choir, lighting and all – know that what the group are capable of.
The same early adopters are no doubt rubbing their mitts at the prospect of seeing how London’s rich musical vein, and some 120 shows within in a year across some of Europe’s higher capacity venues has shaped their already hugely ambitious live show.
“Someone from Australia saw us and said we’re like a different band,” offers Tapley. “So that’s handy.”
It’s those same founding fanatics who feel the fuzzy glow of validation when they learned of the ringing plaudits from UK press, championing ‘this new Aussie band’ that happens to siphon the best parts of Britain’s own musical legacy and give it back to them in an exciting new hybrid.
Kerrang! described them as Queen if “every single member was Freddie Mercury,” while NME and The Guardian were quick to name check early Muse and Radiohead. It’s no effort to add Bowie and The Beatles to that melting pot either.
In fact ME recently performed and taped a live, late night mash up of the Fab Four’s ‘Because’ and ‘She’s So Heavy’ in their new, home studio – which makes for essential viewing.
Tapley himself concedes that the group have “got a lot of UK influences,” citing the ‘old’ greats, “like Zeppelin, Pink Floyd.”
Though many young bands can be understandably ambivalent towards such distinct comparisons, it’s usually for a lack of being able to back up such lofty hopes.
If ME’s forthcoming debut album, Even The Odd Ones Out is anything to go by however, they’re in perfect stead to live up to those same high expectations.
The album is set to drop on January 25th, perfectly timed to coincide with the band’s Big Day Out appearance, and follows on with clever precision from last year’s ‘mini-album’, Another Story High, which received favourable reviews from Europe’s music press (and from Tone Deaf).
The impressive six-track release featured catchy glam-pop, in lead single ‘Rock N Roll Dandy’, as well as sweeping, operatic melodrama (‘Westward Backwards’), and scintillating widescreen rock (‘Like A Fox’).“We’ve thrown a lot at it… I think it’s going to be a good album – everyone who’s heard it so far likes it.”
Yet, Tapley calls Another Story High “just the extra stuff” leftover from their forthcoming LP, “it’s not even a taster because the album has pretty much twelve new songs… we recorded a lot.”
Tapley remains slightly coy about their forthcoming full-length debut however, “I don’t want to give away too much,” he offers.
“We’ve thrown a lot at it. We’ve put our best songs at it and each one’s been given time and thought. So I think it’s going to be a good album,” he says modestly, adding “everyone who’s heard it so far likes it.”
If there’s evidence that Even The Odd Ones Out is planned to be ME’s most sonically adventurous set yet, it’s in Tapley’s admission that “we’re playing a lot of the album live, [but] there’s a few songs we’re not able to play.”
Helping piece together ME’s first grand statement was Simon ‘Barny’ Barnicott, a lauded producer who’s previous credits include the likes of Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, and The Temper Trap; alongside Grammy Award winning engineer Ian Dowling.
A team for whom Tapley and co. have nothing but praise for helping them realise their dense yet playful sound.
With their debut album in the can, ME are set to be one of the surprise hits for the summer season, both on record and on tour, helping capitalise on the hard work they’ve put in to the last twelve months abroad.
Unfortunately, the strength of their success overseas means that the Big Day Out may be the last chance to catch the quartet who once jokingly dubbed themselves as playing Tchaikokrocksky.
Tapley confirms that they’re returning to their HQ in London to plot their further plans for dominating Europe’s ears. “We’re heading back to the UK because we’re releasing the album… we’re going to be doing a lot.”
A lot, for the record, was “easily 120 shows [last year]… but next year’s going to be mayhem.”
Another Story High is out now, read the Tone Deaf review here.
Even The Odd Ones Out is out January 26th via Lizard King Records. ME play the Big Day Out in January, starting in Sydney on the 18th. Full dates below.
Big Day Out 2013 Lineup
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS (Exclusive Australian Shows) / THE KILLERS / YEAH YEAH YEAHS / VAMPIRE WEEKEND / BAND OF HORSES / THE BLOODY BEETROOTS (LIVE) / KASKADE / ANIMAL COLLECTIVE / B.o.B / SLEIGH BELLS / FOALS / ALABAMA SHAKES / 360 / CRYSTAL CASTLES / PRETTY LIGHTS / OFF! / GRINSPOON / AGAINST ME! / GARY CLARK JR / NICKY ROMERO / MORGAN PAGE / LOGO / EVERY TIME I DIE / DELTA SPIRIT / CHILDISH GAMBINO / ME / HUNTING GROUNDS / JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD / DEATH GRIPS / ADVENTURE CLUB / JAGWAR MA / HOUSE VS HURRICANE / AVALANCHE CITY / TOUCAN / HELENA / NINA LAS VEGAS / SAMPOLOGY (AV / DJ SHOW)
Big Day Out 2013 Sydney Lineup Announcement
The Medics * Something With Numbers * Urthboy * Thy Art Is Murder * Deep Sea Arcade * Royal Headache * Bob Log III * Chance Waters * Good Heavens * Stereogamous * The Griswolds * Fishing * The Gooch Palms * Donny Benet * triple j unearthed winners: Jackie Onassis
Big Day Out 2013 Gold Coast Lineup Announcement
The Medics * Dead Letter Circus * I Heart Hiroshima * Paul Mac * The Cairos * Bob Log III * Hey Geronimo * We All Want To * Evil Eddie * Skinwalkers * Dave’s Pawn Shop * Lily Rouge * The Vernons * Sneeky Picnic * triple j unearthed winners: Jakarta Criers
Big Day Out 2013 Adelaide Lineup Announcement
The Medics * The Beards * Paul Mac * Grey Ghost * The Killgirls * Full Tote Odds * Messrs * Allday * Lady Strangelove * Steering By Stars * Sincerely, Grizzly * Stab Capital * Gemini Downs * Archers * Dr Piffle & The Burlap Band * triple j unearthed winners: The Aves
Big Day Out 2013 Melbourne Lineup Announcement
The Medics * Bodyjar * Seth Sentry * Chicks On Speed DJ Show * Bob Log III * The Smith Street Band * Kingswood * Yung Warriors * Money For Rope * Jackson Firebird * Split Seconds * For Our Hero * Generik * Zanzibar Chanel * The Stiffys * triple j unearthed winners: Apes
Big Day Out 2013 Perth Lineup Announcement
The Medics * Sugar Army * Chicks On Speed DJ Show * Emperors * The Chemist * Sons of Rico * Further Earth * Arts Martial * Rainy Day Women * Boys Boys Boys! * The Love Junkies * Skank MC * Dead Owls * Tomàs Ford * triple j unearthed winners: Foam
Big Day Out 2013 Event Dates
Friday 18th January – Sydney Showgrounds – SOLD OUT!
Sunday 20th January – Gold Coast Parklands
Friday 25th January – Adelaide Showgrounds
Saturday 26th January – Melbourne Flemington Racecourse
Monday 28 January – Perth Claremont Showground
Big Day Out 2013 tickets are on sale through www.bigdayout.com at the all-inclusive price of $165, or $265 for the Like A Boss ticket.