November 2018

Save The Last Dance

Words: Louise McClean Images: Bridezilla

When thinking of any name which includes the word ‘zilla’ in it, there’s an instant association with untamable, powerful forces, dealt to the world indiscriminately and ferociously; such is the power of the Sydney’s five piece band Bridezilla who have been certainly making themselves known in the last couple of years, and in no small way. Playing festivals like Australia’s Big Day Out, Homebake, Laneway, Splendour in the Grass, All Tomorrow’s Parties curated by Nick Cave and most recently, New York’s All Tomorrows Parties festival curated by the Flaming Lips, has put them next to some of the world’s most inspiring and prolific local and international artists like Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, Wilco and Cold War Kids to name a small few.

Starting out in 2005 and still in school, four girls – Holiday Carmen Sparks, Daisey Tulley, Pia May Courtley and Millie Hall, formed Bridezilla’s beginnings, with the instrumental combination of guitar, saxophone, violin. Later on with the addition of the drums which are played by Josh Bush, the five have come together to make wonderfully unique, powerful but romantic melodies which are emotionally charged and laced with moody ambience.

Louise McClean: So you just got back from New York, playing the prestigious All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, curated by the Flaming Lips no less. How was that that experience?

Pia May Courtley: I’d have to say it was one of the best experiences imaginable. I still getting a little teary-eyed when I think back to the peach and pink country club with its grand lake and rolling grassy hills where the festival was held. It was like being in a surreal dreamland – watching bands like Suicide and Animal Collective, dancing in the lobby while an old man named Frankie played ‘I Go To Rio’ for us on his Casio keyboard, eating bagels and cream cheese every morning for breakfast. It was an honour to be there.

LM: You guys have been busy. You have also just released your first full-length album, The First Dance, produced in part by iconic music producer Mark Kramer and also by Chris Townend. What was it like working with such prolific figures in the industry?

PMC: They’re both artists we really respect in their own different ways, so working with them both was a pleasure. Our relationships with Chris and Kramer as producers were completely different and I think this factor influenced the unique qualities of the recordings by each. On the one hand Chris Townend is an old friend and recorded our first ever demos back when we were 15 and 16. It felt natural to work with him again and I think that sense of comfort gave the recording experience a fluidity and cohesiveness. On the other hand we’d never met Kramer prior to spending two weeks together recording in a country barn. Recording in a makeshift studio with someone who was essentially a stranger was more of a risk, but in the end made for an amusing, eye opening and inspiring two weeks.

LM: Prior to the Album you had recorded an EP. Do you feel like the experience of recording a full length album and an EP differs much in terms of challenges, enjoyment or satisfaction?

PMC: Recording an LP is a completely different story. For starters our album is more than double the length of our EP. There were far more logistics involved, both in terms of song writing and then recording. Our song writing style has changed so much since the EP and that natural progression to a more sophisticated platforms equals more hard work. An album’s such a vast playing field and there’s much more room for vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses to show themselves. I think the personality of a band really comes to the fore, much more in a LP than an EP, and that’s the most rewarding thing.

LM: A large part of your album was recorded at Colo River in rural NSW, a far cry from inner city life. What was it like hanging out there for a while?

PMC: It was entirely relaxing and enjoyable as well as being horrible and stressful. Initially no one had any complaints about hanging out in the wilderness while we swam in the river, ate great food and played music. Things took a turn when we ran out of food and then ran out of water due to a leaking tank. Holiday and I stepped on African Thorn Bush one night and spent the next few days hobbling around due to mild paralysis of the toe and Kramer claimed rats attacked him in the middle of the night. But in the end we overcame the various hurdles of the Australian outback, improved our culinary repertoire, practised our photo-taking skills, learnt how to drive a winnebago, played a few good games of monopoly and recorded an album!

LM: Your album is quite something, the songs have a beautiful haunting quality about them, and an incredible knack for painting rich atmospheres of one mood or another. What inspires your song writing?

PMC: Poetry and mood itself, landscapes and colours, range and love, paranoia and passion. The songs on the album are songs about life – life of the epic proportion and that of the everyday.

LM: When you think of a song which is the singular product of five different creative minds, it seems like an immense task to create any song. You have been together for five years and still going strong, how do you deal with different perspectives on the same piece you’re working on? Or are you all pretty like minded?

PMC: We started off with a similar musical bent in terms of what we listen to, but as the years progress our differences in taste have become more pronounced. I think this only enriches our own musical output. We have the best of both worlds, because on the one hand there’s a plethora of different ideas to draw from, yet at the same time we seem to have a similar vision for each piece of music we create together. It’s a miracle that five people with, all with their different tastes, quirks and fascinations all contribute to the production of a cohesive work.

LM: You’ve had such a busy, productive and successful year. Do you have any more exciting plans in the near future or are you going to take it easy for a while?

PMC: We’ve never really had any plans other than to keep playing music, advancing and progressing together. We enjoy it…we want to keep doing it. Hopefully things stay at a similar pace.

The First Dance will be released on November 7, 2011

Bridezilla

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