Interview: with Ashton Tremain of The Desert Sea

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Sydney’s hard rocking sweethearts The Desert Sea are currently on tour and will be hitting the big Rock For Rain festival this Saturday at the Jubilee Hotel in Brisbane. Shannon had a chat to frontman Ashton about the tour and all things Desert Sea.

How did the Desert Sea first get together?

It’s a long story. It was like an organic evolution, I used to be a solo acoustic artist. I was playing gigs around town and then I started supporting another band on some of their tours and became good mates with them. Then their drummer started helping me out with a couple of gigs and then a mate of mine jumped on bass and we kind of ended up as an acoustic three piece which slowly evolved into heavier songs. So then it was more about a band than just a supporting band for a solo artist. We just kind of literally evolved. We have been through a couple of lineup changes and ended up back to the original lineup. It was never kind of ‘Let’s get a band together’ it just kind of piece by piece fell together.

Where did the name The Desert Sea come from?

That was a very long arduous process *laughs* It was kind of once we changed from a solo artist into a band, I was like I don’t want this to be billed as just me because we are equal parts now. We are all cogs in the wheel and I would like to re-brand it as a band. We started throwing names out and it became this ever going email, having to check if names were already taken. The list was up to about 40 names being pulled apart by everyone and The Desert Sea was a suggestion that came in one day. A little bit inspired by the desert rock kind of sound that we were into like the earlier Queens Of The Stone Age stuff. Then the boys all went yeah we like that, we got a unanimous agreement so we stuck with that.

So you guys are currently in the middle of your ‘How To Bleed’ single tour, how is that going?

Yeah we have done three shows so far. It has been amazing actually, we did the South leg, we did Albury, Melbourne and Narooma. Albury was a really good turnout, we had a really good reception. That was a nice surprise being a rural town and you know we are not the Foo Fighters *laughs* so we were not sure there would be anyone turning up, but it was so nice to get a good turn out. The people that were there were really getting into it. The support act were awesome too. The whole trip has been awesome, we played the Whole Lotta Love bar in Melbourne and there was some awesome bands on there. Then the venue owners said they really dug us so we had some drinks with them and partied on with them. Then same again in Narooma, it was great too.

So then you play Port Maquarie , then Brisbane at the Heya Bar and then Rock For Rain at the Jubilee!

Yeah we are really excited for this leg. We love all the North Coast area. We love Byron and Goldy and Brisbane. On top of that a lot of our good mates are involved like Liz and Damien from Little Wing and obviously Liz is doing photography. So we will get to play some amazing shows and also catch up with good friends. All the acts on the Rock For Rain line up like Hammers and Iron Eye and Stoker. Then Elko Fields on the Heya Bar gig. Amazing bands! The lineup is stellar. We are so thankful to be on such a great bill. Like we knew quite a lot of the bands on the lineup from either having played with them or seeing them at various different gigs. I saw the line up once we spoke to you guys and I have been checking out different bands that we didn’t know and I was like how good are these guys! *laughs* So stylistically with the blues and dirty rock and grunge it is great but also there is a wide spectrum of little styles within those kind of genres that is so good to see. I am really excited, it is a cool thing to be a part of that’s for sure.

So you guys have been working with the legendary Lucius from Cog! Can you tell me some more about that?

It started as a connection with our original drummer who is our current drummer again now. We have probably been doing The Desert Sea now for about 5 or 6 years I guess. At the start our drummer Juzzy, he is a long time friend of Lucius and they hung out back in the day and played in bands that were touring or playing together. He might have even played in the same bands at the same time. An old band called The Hanging Tree which was Lucius’ first band I think Juzzy took over for that band when Lucius moved on to what eventually became Cog I believe. So then Lucius had another band called Be Massive when Cog had some down time which he played bass in. So we supported them and did a couple of smaller shows with them. So that was when I met him. Occasionally over the years we would message and I would ask him if he had any shows we could jump on and he was always really nice about it. Then we did a few EP’s and we got to this one and I knew Lucius had done studio work as a sound engineer kind of on the side as all the other things we was doing, he is just an all round sort of master of the craft. I contacted him and told him we were working on an EP and he replied straight away. He asked how Juzzy was and he said he was in Byron and asked where we were and I said we were in Sydney but we love Byron, so any excuse to go there! He asked if we would be interested in coming up. He is a really healthy guy who eats well and exercises, keeps himself in shape so his drumming is always at optimal level. His wife is a yoga teacher. They are really cool people and really in touch with the earth. He offered for us to come and stay and they fed us high quality food, fresh from the markets. We were calling it the ‘Hotel Borich’ or ‘Rancho Relaxo’ *laughs* It was like the best food we have ever eaten. So it was like 5 star meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, then recording in between that. He really helped put his own spin on to our music, he pulled songs apart and pushed us to go further. He really put his heart into it, he is a great guy; Just a really good human. He ended up playing drums for us at Mojo Burning . He has become a close friend and part of our musical network.

Your clip for ‘All Mine’ features you guys dressed as babies, it is a pretty funny clip! Who came up with that concept and do you plan to do more funny clips in the future?

*laughing* None of us take ourselves too seriously. I think the idea started with my brother who was the drummer at that time. He has his own band too that he is the lead singer and lead guitarist for called Inklines. We were at rehearsals and he was like ‘what if we got babies playing guitars and it was like baby versions of us,’ then I was like ‘wait wait, what if we were the babies’ *laughs* then it just started from there and we rolled with it and it ended up where it did. We roped our mates in to dress as babies, it was really good fun. Some pretty classic looks from people going by as that was going on *laughs*. I would like to continue that style of clip, obviously being a big Foo Fighters fan, as you are and I am myself. I think there was a little bit of inspiration there, I always loved that they had those clips, like the earlier ones where he had the pig tails in the Big Me film clip.

The Desert Sea has supported some awesome bands and musicians such as Cog and Jebediah, how was it supporting them?

We have played with Jebediah twice and they were quite a few years apart. Most recently it was only a few months ago. We are on the Northern beaches of Sydney and our local RSL, Narrabeen RSL which is basically tucked away at the foot of the hill and hardly anyone knows about it, but it has really been pumping out getting live music happening again. They have this huge room that was just unused. One of the girls who works there has been working hard to get more live music there and she has always been a real advocate for our music. She has hit this purple patch in the last 18 months where they have had You Am I and I think they had The Wailers, they had Unwritten Law, they had Frenzal Rhomb, Thirsty Merc, Pete Murray. So they ended up getting Jebediah in and she put our name forward to the booking agent and that’s how that happened. It was really cool, the room was packed. They are really cool people. ‘Slightly Oddway’ is full of crackers.

We played with Cog at or tour at the start of this year. At the Metro in Sydney, they sold that out so even though we were on first, there was still quite a few people there. Cog fans are pretty loyal and keen so that played in our favor and they enjoyed our set. Lucius watched our set from the side of the stage then we hung with them backstage afterwards so that was pretty cool.

Who are some local Sydney bands that you would like to give a plug too?

Well these guys don’t need a plug because they are already doing really well but Ocean Ally and Dear Seattle. Turtle Skull are friends of mine and they are kind of psychedelic rock style they are really cool. Got to plug my brother’s band, the Inklines. They have a bit of like The Strokes vibe going on. Black Rheno they are doing some really cool things at the moment. Narla, from inner western Sydney, they are blues rock, real shredders, we have played with them a couple of times at Frankies. A lot of great bands coming out of Brisbane too, like the Hobo Magic guys and The Royal Artillery and Elko Fields, Stoker. These bands are really lighting it up and keeping our enthusiasm high just seeing them doing what they are doing. I know some cool Melbourne bands on the weekend, Winter Moon and Sordid Ordeal, they are like really thrashy blues rock, and they were so cool. It had heart, it was all raw and something like the Hard Aches in terms of that really Aussie kid of thing but then they had this kind of bluesy thing as well. The Dead Love is another Sydney band I love, we have seen them a couple of times and played with them once.

So after the tour, what’s up next for The Desert Sea?

Probably try and recuperate for at least a week *laughs* and then we have got the rest of the EP that we recorded with Lucius, we have dropped two songs currently, I Already Know and How To Bleed. We have got the rest of that EP pretty much ready to go now so we will be starting on the promo for that one and then releasing early next year the third single with the EP and then another tour February, early March. Maybe even a film clip in there somewhere, if we can think of something funny to do!

You can catch The Desert Sea at Heya Bar tonight alongside Big Whoops, Elko Fields and Junior Danger. Then make sure you catch them at Rock For Rain on Saturday at the Jubilee Hotel along with 12 other awesome bands. After that they play Frankie’s in Sydney to wrap up the tour.

Follow The Desert Sea on Facebook HERE.

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