For a lot of people, silence can say more than what actual words can. For The Avalanches, a 16-year-long silence seemed to tell hundreds of stories; some true, some false.
Rumours about a follow-up to their classic debut, ‘Since I Left You’, grew with each successive year; everything from a number of scrapped albums, break-ups, and nervous breakdowns due to the pressure of trying to replicate their success have been part of the narrative for years.
After years of musical silence and the rare update on their progress, The Avalanches returned earlier this year with their just-as-acclaimed second album of blissful, psychedelic dance music, ‘Wildflower’; and to address some of the stories birthed during their absence, some of which have astounded band member Tony Di Blasi. “I always hear a lot of these rumours, and I’m like, 'What?! I don’t remember that!'”
Of all the stories, a favourite for Tony is an unexpected fan they gained. “There’s this guy called Greg Gutfield who is on Fox News, and he’s a massive Avalanches fan. He even wrote an article called ‘A Valentine To The Avalanches’ on [controversial politically conservative American website] Breitbart, where he reviewed ‘Since I Left You’, saying how much he loves it, and how he listens to it every day.
“A couple of months ago, he got into a Twitter spat with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He tweeted to them: 'This Australian band shits all over you.' We were just wondering: 'What the hell is going on?!'”
No matter where on the political spectrum fans occupy, they all agree that ‘Wildflower’ was definitely worth the long wait. The band’s gift for crafting euphoric pieces of hip hop and electronic pop from a mountain of samples remains intact, as heard on tracks ‘Colours’, ‘If I Was A Folkstar’ and ‘Subways’.
However, the band have also expanded on their sound by collaborating with a number of guest vocalists, most prominently on lead single ‘Frankie Sinatra’ featuring rappers Danny Brown and DOOM. The song proved to be initially divisive. “We played it to Tim Hoey from Cut Copy, and he looked incredibly confused,” recalls Tony.
“A lot of people were confused. But when we play it live, people go nuts!” Alongside more music, fans of The Avalanches can look forward to a run of live dates. The band’s reputation as a live band is well regarded, and also notorious for their chaos. Some shows have seen members come away from the stage with everything from concussions to broken legs.
“[Those shows] were kind of like Wrestlemania crossed with music. The first show we did in Spain after ‘Since I Left You’ came out, we walked on stage, and everyone started smashing everything. It only took two minutes, then everyone started going bonkers smashing chairs and each other, falling down. It was just like 'are we that nervous that we explode straight away?' But it was so much fun!
“I feel like we’d get into this mass frenzy. We’d amp each other up before every show. By the time we got on, it was like a yo-yo; you’d just wind it up and spin it, and everyone would go nuts. Kind of hard to do all that now when you’re old.”
The Avalanches’ first shows since releasing ‘Wildflower’ have been well-received, with their first being Spain’s Primavera Festival, although they planned to do a warm-up show in London, but missed the flight. “Why do a warm-up show? Let’s just step out in front of 3,000 people like we’ve been doing it for 16 years,” Tony jokes.
The band’s last show was as headliners at Splendour In The Grass, and are now looking forward to continuing their incredible run with a national tour. In order to recreate their albums, Tony and bandmate Robbie Chater will be joined by drummer Paris Jeffree, vocalist Eliza Wolfgramm and rapper Spank Rock. “If [touring] is anything like I remember, I’m going to have a ball. All of the band is pumped; we keep texting each other: 'It’s only a month until rehearsals! I can’t wait! It’s going to be amazing!'
“After a lot of time in the studio, it’s going to be so much fun to go play live and have that feeling. We’re really excited. Chomping at the bit as they say.”
The Avalanches ShowsFri 30 Dec - Falls Festival (Marion Bay)
Sat 31 Dec - Falls Festival (Lorne)
Sun 1 Jan - Falls Festival (Byron Bay)
3-4 Jan - Melbourne Town Hall
Thu 5 Jan - Enmore Theatre (Sydney)
Sat 7 Jan - Thebarton Theatre (Adelaide)
Sun 8 Jan - Falls Festival (Fremantle)