Q&A: Waxflower Frontman Tristan Higginson Talks New Music, Mental Health and The Importance of Social Media

Words/Interview by Natalie Blacklock

There is such an incredible resurgence of pop punk music happening right now, and Australia is producing some of the best at this moment. Brisbane’s own pop-punk quartet, Waxflower, are at the forefront, taking influence from a bunch of 2000’s Australian punk, rock and hardcore bands including; Kisschasy, Stealing O’Neal, Faker and The Mission In Motion. With this strong undertone permeating through their music, Waxflower bring a genuine and unique perspective on alt-rock to the table, writing hard-hitting songs with genuine lyrics, progressive melodies and catchy hooks that resonate from the very first listen.

The band; Tristan Higginson (Vocals / Bass), Jordan Beard (Guitar / Vocals), Nick Hargans (Guitar) and Daniel Seymour (Drums) had a huge 2019, touring with the likes of local acts Sly Withers, Between You & Me, The Dead Love as well as Canadian punk-pop heartthrobs, Simple Plan. Fresh from releasing a trio of standout singles (Cut Your Teeth, Back To Back and Together) that saw them conquer their debut headline shows, including a sold-out hometown performance in Brisbane earlier this year. Now, Waxflower have returned with their hard-hitting new track Sixteen Floors – a poignant and honest ode to heartbreak. Teaming up again with acclaimed producer, Stevie Knight (Stand Atlantic, Yours Truly and Between You & Me), Sixteen Floors accesses a vulnerability that demands attention. Now signed to European heavy-weights Rude Records (Saves The Day, Gideon, Blood Youth, Sleep On It) the band looks to capitalise on their rise to success as they look to push the boundaries globally (after the threat of COVID-19 passes, of course).

Naturally, we at Good Call LIVE are absolutely stoked that Waxflower are back with brand new music in tow, so I *digitally* caught up with Frontman, Tristan Higginson, to have a chat about this and a whole lot more.

As a band, Waxflower are relatively new on the scene, with first single Cut Your Teeth released just over a year ago. Tell us, how did the four of you come together to become Waxflower? Is there a story behind the name?

We all knew each other from playing in bands over the last few years. Nick, Jordan and I had been talking about working together previously and Dan came onboard once he heard the early demos. Looking back on it, it feels like the seeds for each member joining were planted years and years ago and then everything just came together at the right time. It was my last push at seriously approaching music, I was entirely burnt out and threw the demos out there as a final ‘Hail Mary’ that (thankfully) worked out! The name unfortunately has no deep meaning, I just thought it was a great name and couldn’t believe it wasn’t already taken.

Who are some of your biggest influences as a band – sonically, stylistically and / or thematically?

Jimmy Eat World are my favourite band of all time, I have pulled much of my approach to songwriting from Jim Adkins. I was raised on a lot of Myspace pop rock, so I think that seeps in to our sound.

What’s the writing process like for Waxflower? Is it a collaborative effort or do each of you tend to work solo, bringing your ideas to the band later on?

All of our songs usually start as a voice memo on my phone. Usually just a single vocal and guitar. If I think there is something there I will begin the flesh it out and involve the other guys.

Your new track, Sixteen Floors, hits really hard. The first time I saw this track live was when you supported Simple Plan at their Good Things Festival sideshow on the Gold Coast and it floored me completely (I think I even told you guys that at the Merch Desk afterwards). What’s the story behind the song?

Thank you! It’s one of our favourites to play live for sure. The song documents a period after a breakup, cataloguing the thoughts I wanted to externalise but couldn’t. I think that catharsis still shows when we play it live, it’s been an emotional song for me.

For a long time, talking openly about issues like mental health was considered taboo but through a lot of Waxflower’s music, it is a noticeable topic of conversation. Why is shining a light on mental health through your music important to you as a band?

Over the last few years I have suffered from crippling anxiety and panic disorder – that has definitely been reflected in my songwriting. I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are willing to talk openly about mental health and I think that shining the light on those topics helps to empower those who usually wouldn’t speak out. I deal with very specific triggers and often felt isolated as I didn’t know anyone who was going through what I was. I’ve always wanted to be outspoken on the topic in hopes that someone might find solace in the songs.

Waxflower have just signed to European label Rude Records (Saves The Day, Gideon, Blood Youth, Sleep On It)  – which is absolutely huge news! How did that partnership come about?

We just celebrated one year since the announcement of the band. It’s unbelievable to look back on all of the opportunities we’ve been given, and the signing to Rude is no exception. We have an amazing booking team in Australia who put us in contact with them and the rest is history. We have a shared vision for the future of the band, and they have already amplified our ability to achieve our goals. 

With an ever-growing back catalogue of tracks behind you, which track/s do you most enjoy playing live and why?

Sixteen Floors is my favourite song to play live. Every time we go into the bridge I try to go as hard as I can – and that’s usually the most fun part of the set. Cut Your Teeth is also a favourite as it was one of the first songs we played in the practice space – so seeing people singing along is extremely humbling.

For many bands, social media and streaming services are being used to promote their music and their message to a wider audience than ever before. What do you believe keeps a band thriving and committed in this day and age?

I think the most important thing is the songs. Having music that is resonating with the band members as well as fans is the fuel that keeps me excited about writing and playing.

The current ‘shutdown’ of live music has hit the industry hard! In the current climate of isolation-life, what are your Top 5 “go-to” records that you’ve been spinning a lot lately?

Dear And The Headlights – ‘Small Steps, Heavy Hooves’ (2007)
Say Anything – ‘In Defense of the Genre’ (2007)
Decade – ‘Good Luck’ (2013)
Transit – ‘Joyride’ (2014)
Jacob – ‘Show Me Some Passion’ (2018)

Following the release of your new single, Sixteen Floors, on June 5th, what’s next for Waxflower? Are there any plans to head out on the road once it’s safe to tour again?

More music and hopefully more shows. Rest assured as soon as we’re able, we will be back out there!

Waxflower have just dropped their new brand spankin’ new single Sixteen Floors TODAY and the Good Call Live team are loving it! We’re not sure about you, but we can’t wait to get back out to catch some live music and Waxflower are definitely on our list!

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With thanks to Habit Music Co

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