Interview by Natalie Blacklock.
A band called LOSER came to our collective attention in the middle of 2018. Born from the hyper-creative mind of Frontman and Guitarist Tim Maxwell (Apart From This / Grim Rhythm), with familiar faces Craig Selak (ex-The Bennies) and Chris Cowburn (ex-The Smith Street Band) on Bass and Drums. LOSER have arrived, with a raucous, raw energy and keen songsmanship, perfect for recreating the quintessential grunge and slacker rock sound of the 1990’s.
The lads from Melbourne have gone from strength to strength since releasing their debut single, Loser, in July last year. With their first EP, ‘Restless Noise’ gaining attention from Triple J Unearthed, LOSER are back with new single Out of Luck and are headed to Brisbane for one of the world’s leading music industry conferences and festivals of new music, BIGSOUND, next week.
Naturally, we at Good Call Live are absolutely stoked to see LOSER on the BIGSOUND line-up, so I caught up with LOSER’s main man, Tim Maxwell, to have a chat about this and more.
Hey Tim! Thanks for chatting today! Without sounding cliché, it’s probably it’s fair to say that LOSER are a bit of a supergroup, right? With Craig and Chris coming from The Bennies and The Smith Street Band and yourself from Apart From This and Grim Rhythm, how did you guys pull it all together to create LOSER?
“About 2 years ago, I started to write more music in the same vein as Apart From This – guitar driven 90s grunge rock and the first song I wrote was Phase Me (on the ‘Restless Noise’ EP). Shortly after, I sent it through to Craig (Selak) and asked him if there’d be any chance he’d want to jam on it – he said yes so then we needed a drummer and Chris (Cowburn) was the natural choice.
The EP was written in 2 or 3 months and was recorded in 2 days, after only having 2 practices, so it was all pretty immediate from that point.”
That’s insane! It’s a very interesting collective of musicians coming together to make something brand new that people are clearly loving. You mentioned the really nostalgic sound that you had when you were playing with Apart from This. Where has that come from exactly? Were there any particular inspirations from that 90s scene?
“I sort of got into it late but I guess the first band I started listening to was Smashing Pumpkins and then I found Weezer – I think those two names are the biggest influences. But I’ve also been listening to Foo Fighters all my life. I just really love that style of music and wanted to write stuff for a ‘more mature’ Apart From This – which has become LOSER for us.”
It blows my mind because I still remember seeing Apart From This years and years ago and seeing the idea behind that band morph into LOSER is really interesting. With LOSER, you’ve been up to Brisbane a few times now. Earlier this year, I caught you at BeerInCider Experience, but there was definitely more than three of you on stage… Is that a live thing where you decide to expand the band a little big to give a bigger sound?
“Yeah, totally! I write a lot of guitar parts for the music – even when we had the EP starting off as a 3-piece, so I tracked and played all of the guitars. But I wanted to fill the sound out live, so my brother (Will Maxwell), who I’ve been playing with for years, just fitted straight into the band. Then the drummer from Grim Rhythm (Cutter) joined – he’s not actually too much of a guitarist, but the stuff was simple enough for him to get on board and play. I mean he heard Phase Me when all the other guys did but we had decided on being 3-piece but when it came time it was like “I can’t do all this stuff live” and we needed to fill it out. I wanted that big guitar sound live; bring back that big guitar sound of the 90s!”
Moving forward – is there a thought that you’d expand from the 3-piece sound on record as well?
“Actually, our new single Out Of Luck is recorded as a 5-piece. I think we only played like maybe a handful of shows as a 3-piece, because we couldn’t really pull it off. They’ve (Will and Cutter) been playing live with us for a while but now they’ve now started writing and recording with us too. So, they’re in the band now!”
Talking of recording and releasing music, the first run that you did on Domestic La La (the record label of Violent Soho Guitarist James Tidswell) was a limited to 100 Split 7” with Towns (for the Domestic La La 7” Record Club). What’s It like working with James Tidswell and how has being picked up by Brisbane’s own Domestic La La Records all worked out?
“It’s amazing! We see eye to eye on everything and obviously I’m a huge fan of his band (Violent Soho) so I was overwhelmed. He’s always supported all the bands that I’ve been in – every time we play in Brisbane, he’d always help us and offer us a place to stay or just be stoked on it. To be so influenced by a band that you don’t even really know and have them want to work with you is quite overwhelming.
I guess the relationship built from an early stage – we had known him (James Tidswell) for a fair few years and then once we had the EP (‘Restless Noise’) recorded, the first thing we did was just say “Hey, I think we found your new Domestic La La band” and it went from there.”
Well I’ve gotta say, he does have a bit of an eye for picking up local talent! Seeing him around the Brisbane scene, he’s always there and he’s always looking. He’s making those connections, which is really cool from somebody in a band like Violent Soho. So, tell us a little bit more about your debut 5-track EP ‘Restless Noise’, which is also out on Domestic La La. Are there any particular highlights for you?
“I guess Loser would be the highlight. I mean that’s the song that got us to where we are now. It was crazy! The response that we got from one song being out was overwhelming and we couldn’t believe it. Picking up full rotation on Triple J from our first song was totally unexpected.”
Loser particularly is a great track but it is very much a ‘throwback’. I think a lot of people my age particularly connect with that because we miss that 90’s sound.
“The goal was with all this and starting off LOSER was to “trim the fat” and play short, fast and loud songs that would appeal to people. It wasn’t tailored for radio play but we were lucky enough that people dug it and it got radio play.”
There’s definitely a lot of people still on the short, fast and loud bandwagon, and I have to say, I’m one of them! Speaking of appealing to people, you could say that BIGSOUND is one of Brisbane’s biggest deals of the year. In recent times, BIGSOUND has established itself as one of the best music conference and showcase events, so it’s something that we as the Brisbane music community really get excited about. As a band from Melbourne, how are you feeling about being part of such a big event and the hype that’s around it?
“Yeah, it’s awesome! With my other band, Grim Rhythm, we’d played BIGSOUND before and it was a great opportunity for bands to pick up new contacts – you don’t know who’s going to be watching in the crowd and it’s really exciting. We’ve got some really good slots this time around, so we’re stoked to be playing it.”
So if we want to catch you, LOSER are playing the Tuesday night and Thursday night Showcases?
“Yeah, we’re playing The Zoo (Tuesday) and a place called Family, which I haven’t been to yet but am super keen for (Thursday) – but I’ve been told they’re pretty much the best spots. We’re sitting on the fence at the moment but we MIGHT be playing a sneaky show at Crowbar Black too!”
Oh! That’s a nice little *secret*!
“We’re just trying to cram it all in really – so we may as well play right?”
Well, that’s the thing… when you’re up here, you’ve really got to try and get in front of as many faces as you can. In saying that, over the years, BIGSOUND has really launched the careers of a lot of local bands – and it is really that kind of opportunity. What are you hoping to do with LOSER in the next 6-12 months?
“We’ve just finished recording an album so the plan is to get more singles coming out in the next 6 months and maybe a release, so you’ll just have to stay tuned. But apart from the music side of things, we have heaps of cool tours coming up that we can’t talk about – I’m trying hard not to slip something!
After BIGSOUND though, we’ll be touring with (Canadian Hardcore Legends) Fucked Up, which will be awesome. I can’t believe we got the opportunity to do that. Then we’re going to ‘Til The Wheels Fall Off, which is our good mates Luca Brasi’s festival down in Launceston. So it’s all happening in the LOSER camp!”
There are so many amazing up and coming bands and musicians around right now which is something that BIGSOUND aims to showcase. Is there anyone else on the line-up we should check out? Any friends we should be keeping an eye out for?
“Bakers Eddy (from Wellington / Melbourne) are a sick band that people should definitely check out. Also, our mates from Melbourne, Private Function, are really cool. They’re both great bands, so I’m excited to see them in Brisbane!”
Speaking of that Fucked Up tour… I remember seeing them at Soundwave 2015, and I think it was one of the craziest sets I saw that weekend (and I saw The Bennies at that Soundwave)! It was insane – out on the barrier, out in the crowd. With the Brisbane leg of the tour at Crowbar, it will be something else! How stoked are you for that tour? Should we expect any crazy on-stage antics from LOSER?
“I think we’ll probably leave that to them. I’m surprised that we’re on the bill – it’s a weird fit but it still fits. It’s crazy but I’m really stoked that we’re going to be playing with them – it’s gonna be wild!”
I am definitely not missing that! Thanks for chatting today! We really look forward to seeing you guys when you’re up here for BIGSOUND.
LOSER are the epitome of the 90s bands that we idolised but weren’t cool enough to be friends with; and now they’re ready to educate a whole new generation in their brand of short, fast and loud. With such a simple formula to success, it is easy to see how so many people are getting behind LOSER. They are a standout on this year’s BIGSOUND line-up and you should make a point of getting along to one (or all) of their showcases.
For the latest BIGSOUND information, click HERE
To find out more about LOSER including upcoming tour dates, locations, merchandise and ticket information, click HERE
Tuesday 3 September – The Zoo (9:40pm-10:10pm) ^
Thursday 5 September – Family Nightclub (8:00pm-8:30pm) ^
Wednesday 9 October – Corner Hotel | Melbourne (18+) *
Thursday 10 October – Oxford Arts Factory | Sydney (18+) *
Saturday 12 October – Crowbar | Brisbane (18+) *
Saturday 2 November – ‘Til The Wheels Fall Off – The Workers Club | Launceston (18+)
^ BIGSOUND LIVE SHOWCASES
* SUPPORTING FUCKED UP