Hailing from WA, HAIRCARE ooze a relaxed but colourful aesthetic that matches their coastal environs. Their recently released debut EP, HAIRXARE, presents a sparkling symposium of lo-fi dream pop that the four-piece have come to cultivate over the last 3 years. In the days preceding its release, we spoke to vocalist/ guitarist Broderick Madden about the gear that catalysed the nostalgic sensibilities in their songs.
Following a 7-year stint as the far more frenetic Spaceman, HAIRCARE was conceived in its absence through Madden’s bedroom creations; “Over time we tried adding members to freshen things up in Spaceman but it just got a bit chaotic and everyone went in different directions. I didn’t do anything for ages and eventually, I came up with some songs myself. Then HAIRCARE was born”. Building on the lo-fi aesthetic from Spaceman, the move into dream-pop was governed by the gear Madden started to accrue; “I was buying a whole bunch of gear and I was diving into the world of drum machines and tape machines. The sound of HAIRCARE really revolved around that gear”.
Starting with a Roland drum machine and an 8-track tape recorder, trial and error has always been the mantra for HAIRCARE; “From ‘Young Muscle’ through to the EP, it all came from me experimenting in my bedroom with tape. I didn’t have much experience so it was all just experimenting and then being excited by not needing a computer. There’s too many options with the P.C., it was great to just use this thing that you could look at”. New equipment warranted new writing methods which presented difficulties early on; “It’s been a total learning curve. Before I started working with tape I would just loop and copy and paste parts. What you’ve gotta do with tape is actually play it (laughs). There’s a lot of pre-planning and forethought about, what do I want this to be and how do I get to that”.
The EP acts as a cohesive collection of some of the band’s earlier material, offering unassumingly infectious hooks over a backdrop of nostalgic warmth and rich electronic soundscapes. ‘When You’re High’ and recent single ‘For Koji’, an ode to Koji Kondo, composer for Nintendo and sole writer for the Mario and Legend of Zelda musical scores, both indulge in compelling 50s bossa nova styles perfectly suited to HAIRCARE’s sound; “For some reason, the bossa nova, jazzy-50s thing just holds a lot of reminiscence and is more interesting than just the standard rock or hip hop beat. It catches your ear a little more and can take you away”. In contrast, the catchy lo-fi hit, ‘Hot Topic’ is made memorable for Madden’s processed vocals which arose from his initial apprehensions with singing; “A lot of it was feeling comfortable with hearing my own voice and singing in a style that I could feel comfortable with, knowing it’s not over-polished or that I’m trying too hard”.
With all four heavily involved in the writing process, each member offers up their own skillset to balance out the band; “Everyone brings their part. Me and Benny (Trouchet) will dive for ages into synths and adding parts, Jack (Gaby) is super ruthless and will tell us to get rid of things we don’t need and Oscar (Van Gas) has these really nice functional ideas”. Madden emphasises guitarist Benny Trouchet’s angular and alternative style as a confounding key to finding new chords; “Benny has such a funny style these days. He’s writing in completely different tunings. I asked him to play a bunch of chords last night so I could sing over it and I’m just like, why do you play ‘em like that?! (laughs)”
Touring late last year with fellow WA crew San Cisco offered an experience that helped consolidate the band’s capacity to play bigger shows on the road; “It was great. We really needed it. The live set has so much stuff and gear. We were touring with more lines than San Cisco which was awkward, but it was good in a learning sense because we knew that we could do it. We were happy to know that it was gonna work if go on other tours”. Madden further elaborates on the interconnectedness between musicians of Fremantle and Perth; “I feel like there’s more of a communal drive for each other in Perth and Fremantle. There’s no competition and no jealousy. It’s just wholesome and nice. If somebody does something good or gets signed, everyone’s just congratulating them”.
With gigs running as per usual in Perth, HAIRCARE is set to launch their EP next week, supported by the likes of GUM. In what’s been a productive year, they still have their sights on further accomplishments, provided they can avoid the distractions of the beach and bars; “We’ve got a back catalogue of demos that we’re working through right now. So, the goal is an album but our work ethic is pretty poor sometimes, so we’ll just wait and see (laughs)”.
HAIRXARE is out today the 9th of September through Aanthologies.