Beauty is in the eye of the beholder….unless we tell you otherwise. Hailing from Melbourne, Australia is the amazing Our Anatomy. They make music that reminds us of the beauty and fragility of great bands like Galaxie 500, Calla and Low. Their songs will make you weep with joy, which is how we prefer to spend our days. TDOA writer extraordinaire Amy McCarthy does the honors.
The Most Horrible Crime The World Had Ever Witnessed by Our Anatomy
TDOA: I’d like to call Our Anatomy’s sound “dream rock.” It’s hard, but still sort of dreamy and soothing. What do you like to call your music?
O A: Wow, I actually really like the sound of “dream rock”! The only time I really refer to the music we make using any kind of genre label is when people are like, “Oh you’re in a band? What kind of music do you play?” At which point I usually say, “I guess you’d call it indie rock.” But I’ve never been 100% comfortable with that because it’s kinda like someone asking what kind of movies you like and you replying “comedies” – it’s pretty fucking vague. Sometimes I’ll elaborate and say that I like bands such as Built To Spill and Sebadoh and other bands that introduced the term to me. I’ll also say that we have a bit of a shoegaze element to our sound too – ’cause of the ‘wall-of-sound’ thing we try and do and how loud we play. I’m definitely going to say dream rock next time though.
TDOA: I’m sure there have been parallels drawn between Andrew and Jeff Mangum, at least vocally. Are you a fan of NMH or any of his other projects? If so, what’s your favorite song?
O A: Yeah, there was someone who reviewed Dénouement that said I sounded like a less insane Jeff Mangum on the recording, or something to that effect. I don’t actually own any NMH records but I have heard his stuff before and remember really liking it. The first time I heard it was in a van with a friend’s band on the way back from Sydney a couple of years ago. We listened to a whole album and I remember laughing with my friend because he made reference to his own semen in, I think, more than one song. Although funny, I remember thinking it was pretty cool though too: everyone and anyone can sing about life and love, but few can sing about their own jizz and make it sound poignant. I don’t know why I didn’t follow it up and get some of his stuff… I’m stupid like that sometimes: it seems to take me a long time to do things even when I want to do them.
TDOA: Titling your album Dénouement seems a little scary to me – does that mean the end of Our Anatomy, or just some resolution for you personally?
O A: Haha, no, it certainly doesn’t mean the former. It’s actually just a really long EP too – not an album. For me, the interpretation of the word that I felt applied to the EP was more so a combination of the literal meaning of the French dénouement: to un-knot or un-tie, and the use of it in reference to the climax at the end of a story in which all the strands of plot that were seemingly unrelated are drawn together and a resolution is achieved. I felt that all these songs – at least lyrically – were explorations of things that I was either really confused about or things that had impacted me in a way I couldn’t shake. So vomiting them all up, or untangling it all and sorting through it, and trying to make something positive out of what was once negative, was an attempt, or even just a way of achieving a kind of catharsis.
TDOA: Andrew, how did the band evolve from a solo project to a fully formed band?
O A: Well since I was around eighteen I’d been writing songs in this style and had tried to start a band. But I lived in a pretty small town where people only seemed to like either Pennywise or Dr. Dre or local hardcore bands (exclusively). So I never had any luck. I moved to the city when I was twenty and met a few more people with similar music tastes to me. But it had already been two years and I got sick of trying to start a band so I decided I’d just start playing by myself. Through playing shows and putting out a demo however, people became interested in what I was doing and it ended up being way easier to find people to join me in making Our Anatomy music. I had a few different friends play shows with me after that, but the current line up has been in place for about two years now.
TDOA: As the evolution happened, how did the music change?
O A: When I was playing by myself I was just using an acoustic guitar and a delay pedal and that was basically it. So with the introduction of the other members and instruments the change was immediate and obvious. I also ditched the acoustic guitar because I hate the way they sound when plugged-in. It was great though because when you are writing songs for just yourself to play, you have to make sure you are filling 100% of the space all the time with either your guitar or your voice. So with three extra people in the band I was able to relinquish some of this responsibility to the other guys. It’s less intimate, but it makes for a much more dynamic sound and there are also a lot more possibilities: sonically, stylistically, structurally etc.
TDOA: What are your thoughts on the music scene in Melbourne and Australia as a whole – what are its strengths and weaknesses?
O A: The music scene in Australia is a thriving one, but it does so in the face of a lot of adversity. The main problems being its isolation and its small population. For example there are only about seven places to play if you are on tour, and you have to travel vast distances to do so. This makes touring really expensive. To make a comparison, Australia is of comparable size to the US yet we only have a little over a tenth of its population. So when we tour it’s like driving from Florida to New York and only playing three or four shows – hardly cost effective for an up-and-coming band. If you wanna play Perth it’s like flying from Florida to L.A. (if L.A only had a population of 1.5 million people). But where there is a deficit in population, people seem to make up for it with passion and enthusiasm. The Melbourne music scene is definitely the biggest and most healthy one in the country. But there is a duality to it also: one could call it super healthy because there are about as many bands/people making music as there are cafes… maybe more!? Of any and all kinds too. And there is a well-oiled infrastructure to support them. But it’s also kind of unhealthy because with this comes an over saturation of a relatively small population, people just don’t get as excited here as the people in smaller towns do. And it’s also easy for bands not to get the exposure or recognition they might deserve, purely because they work harder on making music than they do jerking-off the ‘taste makers’ in this town.
TDOA: It seems like a lot of the album is very reflective – were you going through a period of change, either personally or as a band?
O A: I guess I kind of answered this to some extent when I was talking about the title of the EP. But yes, like you said, it’s all extremely reflective. I don’t think it’s uncommon for people who make music or any other form of art to use the process as a kind of personal therapy. I was going through a lot of changes throughout the writing and recording process of these songs, and so were David, Jason and Scott. I was trying to find somewhere to live for longer than a few months, I was trying figure out if I could ever love someone purely and innocently again after feeling I had completely shut those parts of myself down to stop the sickening heartache they’d caused me, I was trying to find a job that didn’t make me want to hang myself etc. etc. These were my problems that I was dealing with. Their physical and emotional turmoil might not be as obvious as my own are on this recording, but we all share similar problems. We are all pretty fucked up dudes in our own way, and unfortunately it has often hindered our band’s progression. But with that said, the lessons we learn and teach ourselves along the way only make the music we make (in my opinion) all the more interesting and rewarding for us to make.
TDOA: The Dénouement album art is freaking sweet. Was it just a lucky shot, or planned?
O A: Haha, thank you! It was definitely the latter. I was celebrating NYE with some friends on top of this hill near where I live that overlooks the entire city skyline of Melbourne. It would have been ’08, ’09, and we were up there with a bunch of other people watching the fireworks display out over the city, and someone decided to light this little firecracker on the grass near us. I’d been reading this book on photography that had a section that talked about how to photograph fireworks and lightning, so I was like HOT DAMN! In the twenty seconds or so that this little thing was spilling sparks, I used as much film as the shutter speed I set would allow and I got about 5 or 6 really amazing shots! The one on the cover was definitely the best though. I thought it suited the title of the EP too.
TDOA: You list more writers than musicians in your influences – love that Bret Easton Ellis and Terrence Malick are included in this list – why is that?
O A: There’s a couple of reasons I did this: the first is because if I tried to list all of the musical influences that each member incorporated into the result that is Our Anatomy, the list would be ridiculously long: each member of the band has a vast and varying taste in music and Our Anatomy is kind of like the Venn diagram of those musical tastes. So I felt that if I tried to summarise these influences, it would not be a true representation, and therefore give a warped perception. By the same token, although I am the predominant writing force within the band, it wouldn’t be right for me only to list bands that influence me. Another reason is that not listing our musical influences allows listeners a blank slate to draw all their own parallels on – it’s more fun that way I think. But finally, I did feel like I could isolate my lyrical input into the band, and listed people whose words inspire me and that I have an affinity with. Terry’s in there because there’s no other artist in any medium whose work has had a greater impact on me as an artist or as an individual.
TDOA: Why do YOU think your music is great? Forget the critics, press, and industry – what makes you keep making great music?
O A: That’s a really cool question. When I write a line or a chord change that I feel is really good, it makes me feel really good about myself. I may not be performing very well in other areas of my life, but I know that I’m good at writing songs and I like doing it too. In a way, it validates my existence to myself. In that second I feel like I deserve to be and should be doing what I’m doing! Another thing, and I know the others would agree with this, is that when someone describes the emotion they get when listening to your music, or comes up after a show and says how much they liked it etc. and what they describe is the exact same way you feel about some of your favourite music, it’s just an amazing feeling! For you to be responsible for invoking one of the most important feelings in the world to you in another person – that being the one you get when you listen to music that affects you – is an amazing experience. One almost better than the former feeling described!