I Heart Hiroshima: Big Returns

I Heart Hiroshima
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

Legions of I Heart Hiroshima fans were beginning to wonder what it would take to bring their favourite band back together. The answer turned out to be a major music festival.

Talking to guitarist-vocalist Matt Somers and drummer-vocalist Susie Patten, you’re left with the impression they don’t realise exactly how popular their band is. In that sense, having the Big Day Out come knocking is maybe the perfect reminder.

“Well, it was pretty much our manager sending us an email a couple of weeks before Christmas saying that the Big Day Out had offered us a slot,” Somers says over the phone. “He just asked if we’d be interested in getting it together, saying that we could probably sort it out.”

Patten’s been based in Berlin for the last two years, playing in a number of bands, thus putting I Heart on the backburner. But having a festival with the scale of the Big Day Out calling for your services means such geographical gaps are easily bridged.

“They offered us enough that we could fly Susie in from Berlin,” Somers continues. “So our manager thought he’d ask to see what we wanted to do, and we were all kinda like, ‘Yeahhh!’” he laughs.

Patten will only be back in the country for seven days. Even so, she’s looking forward to taking a break from the German capital, which is stuck in the grip of an icy European winter.

“It's been drizzly and raining here for a solid three weeks,” she says via email, “so seeing the sun will be a nice change. Plus the festival show, I mean it is going to be crazy and weird and really fun.”

It’ll be the band’s first performance in just under two years, in which time Somers and Patten, as well as guitarist-keyboardist Cameron Hawes, have been working on their own projects. Scene interviewed Somers for his Rick Fights solo shows at the start of October, and even then he admitted to having itchy feet for some fresh I Heart material. Now, he’s almost ready to burst.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he says. “In the last couple of days I’ve been trying to relearn the songs, and I think I’d forgotten how fun most of them are to play.

“I kinda needed to do the Rick Fights stuff to really, really want to do I Heart again. Because what I do solo is completely different. But I dunno – we’ve been talking in the last couple of days about maybe trying to write a new song in the couple of practices that we have and maybe seeing if we can record it roughly and put it out on the internet, or something. And I realised when we were talking about it that one of my Rick Fights songs could quite easily be turned into an I Heart song … it kind of shocked me that one of the newer songs would work with I Heart. I thought I was drifting away from it, but I guess I wasn’t.”

Patten likewise has been head down in her own material, writing songs for an electronic act, RODEO. But she’s hankering to get back on the riser – particularly seeing as good friend and former Philadelphia Grand Jury bandmate Simon Berckelman has had her drum set on permanent loan.

“There was still always that desire that can only be fulfilled by playing acoustically that I missed,” she explains. “I have a drum set here, a beautiful 1967 Pearl President, it lives at Simon’s studio and he uses it a lot. I just seem to never have the time to play it and when I do I wish I was playing with a band.”

So, seven days to practice like mad, maybe pen a couple of new songs, play the Big Day Out, and then a second show at Alhambra for local fans. You’d think they’d be shitting their pants, but neither Somers nor Patten seem overly stressed by the itinerary – just excited to be back onstage together once again.

“I am super, super, super excited for the two shows,” Patten says. “Playing in Brisbane will be such a great time and it will be so awesome to play to the home crowd again … My nerves are pretty steady, I just think it is all a bit of a crazy trip, especially how it happened so quickly.”

I Heart Hiroshima play Big Day Out this Sunday January 20, Alhambra Lounge Tuesday January 22 and a 'secret' show at Southside Tea Room on Saturday January 19.

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