The Avalanches Are In Full Bloom

The Avalanches play a series of summer festivals including Sydney City Limits and WOMADelaide.
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It's a rare breed of band that can survive releasing just 2 records 16 years apart.

The Avalanches released their debut album 'Since I Left You' in 2000, which featured the eponymous single as well as smash-hit 'Frontier Psychiatrist'. It wasn't until last year that they released their sophomore album, 'Wildflower'.

With such a gap between albums, producer and one half of the duo Robbie Chater says he and bandmate Tony Di Blasio never expected the profound response and critical acclaim they have received so far for 'Wildflower'.

“We were really overwhelmed actually after so long, firstly that people still remembered us and that people really seemed to get the record and get where we were coming from,” Robbie says.

"We just had the best year this year on the road."

“We couldn't believe it. The music industry is a lottery and anything could happen really; just because you put a lot of work into something doesn't guarantee that people will connect with it. So we're really grateful actually. We definitely don't take it for granted.”

Robbie further explains how both he and Tony held reservations about how 'Wildflower' would be received after such an extensive period of inactivity, especially in an industry as fickle as music where tastes and styles come as quickly as they go. “We did, and that's just natural,” he says.

“I was [recently] talking to a friend who's in a well-known Australian electronic band who are coming back after only two or three years away and they wonder how much has changed and if they'll still fit in. Music changes so quickly, so we didn't know what to expect.”

Despite their reticence and concerns, Robbie says he and Tony never let it dictate how they wrote the songs for 'Wildflower'. “I think it had an effect on our mindset sometimes, but we did manage to stay true to ourselves and always bring it back to what we love and what feels right for us in the end.”

Originally a collective with a shifting line-up and several personnel changes over the years, The Avalanches are currently operating as a duo of just Robbie and Tony, with additional members joining them for live performances.

“The recording part of the band has always been a very small project and a small amount of people, then it expands when we go to play live, which is what we love about it,” Robbie says.

“The band gets together, we hit the road and it's just so much fun. It's like the complete, opposite end to what we do in the studio.”

The success of 'Wildflower' extends far beyond the confines of their loyal Australian fan base, with The Avalanches undertaking a series of international tours during the year that saw them reconnect with fans across the globe. “We just had the best year this year on the road,” Robbie says.

“It was great travelling through Europe and The States, it was incredible. It was super cool and it was great after so long away, and you rock up to some city in Europe or somewhere in The States and people know the songs from both albums after all this time. We were really chuffed.”

The Avalanches will continue their stellar live run with a string of festival dates confirmed for the New Year, including the first-ever Sydney City Limits – our version of the popular Austin City Limits event – featuring Justice, Phoenix and The Libertines.

“It's the first one and the line-up looks incredible so we're so excited,” Robbie says.

“We love big, festival stages. For some reason the music seems to translate really well and it's really good fun, so I can't wait.

“It's our home turf and we'll actually have time to hang around and watch bands. When we're overseas we pretty much play the festival, back in the van and we're off; sometimes we're only at a festival for two hours, including playing, so it'll be great to hang out and soak up the vibe.”

They're also performing as part of the WOMADelaide 2018 festival with Dan Sultan, Baker Boy, Anoushka Shankar and many more, plus a Brisbane sideshow for Sydney City Limits.

Robbie says after years in the studio producing the new album, he's looking forward to getting on stage in their full, live band setup. “We love doing the band thing live,” he says.

“Tony is playing a bunch of keyboards and synths, I'm playing samplers and guitar, Paris Jeffree, our drummer, is absolutely phenomenal; she's a real powerhouse and drives the whole show with her live drums.

"Then Eliza Wolfgramm is on vocals, covering the female vocals from the album and then we have an MC as well so it's kind of like a big party really, it's great.

“There's something about the energy of a band. We could do it with turntables and laptops… but there's something about the punkiness and the energy of the live instruments that we really get a kick out of it. Also the studio is so contained and sterile in a way; we love that opposite energy.”

In the years between 'Since I Left You' and 'Wildflower', the exponential advance of music technology has heralded a new age of composition.

Yet Robbie says little has changed for how he and Tony write, opting for elegant simplicity over complexity. “The spirit behind it is still the same. We'll still often just start with a little snippet off a record that jumps out at you and gives you a feeling, and you start building from there.

"Sometimes we use bits and pieces of different technology and we're always open to different things, but the creative process is pretty similar – just chasing a feeling.

“That's just our art, that collage thing. We'll pursue it and the outcome will always change but that's just the way we love working.

"You can get an incredible range of different, varied results just using a really limited setup of technology; keeping that really simple, keeping your tools really simple and letting your imagination run wild.”

The Avalanches Tour Dates

Sun 31 Dec - New Year's Eve at Pontoon (Melbourne)
Sat 10 Feb - Party In The Paddock (Tasmania)
Sat 24 Feb - Sydney City Limits
Sun 25 Feb - Perth Festival
Wed 7 Mar - The Tivoli Theatre (Brisbane)
Sat 10 Mar - Golden Plains Festival (Victoria)
Sun 11 Mar - WOMADelaide (Adelaide)

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