Following the release of their debut full-length album Spend Life, Brisbane’s Make More chats to Triana Hernandez about the progression of their sound, the formation of the album and discussing time as currency.
Words: Triana Hernandez
Banner image: Z.K.
Make More is a three piece Brisbane band that falls somewhere between indie-pop and math rock. Their debut album Spend Life oozes catchy guitar hooks frolicking right left and centre, accompanied by melodic bass lines that subtly hide within the mix but ultimately create a tasty indie-pop composition. Songs like ‘Loose Tombs’ and ‘Best End’ charge up the album with a summery uplifting energy that effortlessly get stuck in your brain.
Starting out in 2011 as a side project from indie-punk outfit To The North, Make More cite their desire to “write simpler, more melodic songs” that reflected their taste for more “guitar-pop and post-punk” influences. It’s perhaps the combination of these two opposing moods that results in a band with such agreeable melodies juxtaposed with disaffected, dejected vocals. It all feels very Brisbane; a tingly, breezy existence amidst sunny weathers paired up with a navel gazing gloominess induced by dull suburban landscapes.
It’s now the middle of winter in Melbourne and as I listen to Make More’s debut album Spend Life, I think of 40 degree Sundays, waking up late and hungover, walking barefoot along hot concrete, drinking slurpees outside a servo and craving the beach.
I had a brief chat with Erroll (vocals, guitar) and Simon (drums) via email.
You all come from a more punk background but have progressed musically into something pop/uplifting. What prompted this switch?
Erroll: It was a conscious decision to play simpler songs with a more limited pool of influences. Experimenting with open tunings, reading and listening to a mountain of Smiths material, Sonic Youth, re-visiting the first J Mascis and the Fog record and being introduced to Beijing bands such as Carsick Cars and P.K.14 by my good friend Wen Shi all contributed to the first few Make More songs. At that same time I also finally got around to reading Rip it Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds (who shares a name with our drummer) and was introduced to my favourite band to this day – Josef K, by Clinton of The Bell Divers. It was a really exciting time for us.
What’s the songwriting process like? Do you have any rituals?
Erroll: The songwriting process evolved a lot from our previous band where we would toil over every riff, often cramming 10 or so into a song with little to no repetition, into a process where I would basically write a simple song on guitar and we would then add bass and drums. We still work that way now and with Simon, our drummer, living in Melbourne it’s exciting to meet up after a while and write a new song in a practice.
Apart from pacing the house while listening to records the only real ritual I have is putting my thumb above my top button and my pinky below the next button on my shirt and proceeding down my shirt until I’m out of buttons when we’re about to play. Collectively we love to drink coffee together and go record shopping whenever we are away to play shows.
Spend Life has a very Brisbane feel to it. How would you describe the influence of the place on the album?
Simon: I grew up on the North Coast of NSW and used to travel to Brisbane on weekends to go to shows. Seeing bands like Iron On, My Disco, On/Oxx and Shuriken in car parks, abandoned furniture warehouses and in places like 610 totally changed my conception of how music could be done. Coming from Lismore, this place felt like New York and I was completely infatuated. It has always had an interesting dynamic of providing a space for weirdos like me, from smaller places with little scope for artistic endeavour to congregate from all over regional Queensland. The wonderful influence of lineage from The Go Betweens, Saints and Ups and Downs is inescapable but also somehow difficult to explain. It’s all over Spend Life and will be all over everything we do, no matter where we are at the time. The book Pig City articulates it so well. The concept of “the striped sunlight sound” simplicity, bare minimum, guitar to amp to express a feeling without convolution – writing sunny songs because the real sun up here isn’t very fun at all.
What were some of the key influences – outside of music – for creating the album?
Never wanting to stop playing in a band (well, for more than a week or so) has been a big influence on Spend Life. Other than that, ancient history, science and tech news articles, university, music documentaries, Uncut magazine and the Mysterious Universe podcast inspire the song writing process.
What’s the story behind the title Spend Life?
Spend Life is about time as a currency. When you don’t have a lot of money, and no real desire to engage in lucrative yet stressful endeavours, investing your time wisely is vitally important. Netflix has probably seen me waver in this regard lately.