Interview: Dear Seattle
Sydney’s Dear Seattle are beaming on Australia’s alt-rock radar. However, the band recently broadened their talents as ‘cicerones’, as they gear up to launch their limited brew, Beer Seattle, at Beer InCider Festival later this month.
Having had a pretty exciting year of releases and festivals, the buzz doesn’t seem to be winding down any time soon. We caught up with frontman Brae Fisher to fill us in on what’s in store for Dear Seattle.
How you doing, Brae? Where are you, right now?
Very well. I’m at home. I’ve been a bit crook so I’ve just been taking it easy, laying in bed.
Oh no! Take it easy. Congrats on a massive year for Dear Seattle. It’s been a big one. You guys released your debut album, Don’t Let Go, you’ve toured Australia, you even played at Splendour in the Grass. What’s been your highlight?
I’d probably have to say Splendour. It was just insane. I’d never been before, so to do it that way for the first time was pretty insane. Especially being able to go in all the artist areas and get looked after by all the amazing people, and then also stand right in front of the sound desk to watch the other bands. I was just like, “This is ridiculous. I feel like royalty.”
The instant VIP treatment. And obviously, it’s a bucket list thing for every Australian artist to go play at Splendour. I watched your set there and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a death pit for a Missy Higgins cover before.
I know. When I saw it starting, I was like, “Oh my god, this is possibly the strangest occurrence I could think of.” If someone told me it was going to happen, I’d be like, “No, you’re talking shit.”
I think if someone showed Missy Higgins, she’d be like, “Holy crap, I’d never thought my songs would get that reaction in a crowd.”
I know right. Her tinkering on her piano at home, being like, “I wonder if an alternative rock band’s going to cover this and start circle pits?”
The world’s your oyster. I want that to happen with a lot more songs… I see you guys have been doing some writing recently. Is there anything you can tease? Any ground breaking new sounds for Dear Seattle that we’ve discovered?
It was really good. At the moment we feel super well directed and we know what we want to sound like and where we want to take things. But, it is quite different to Don’t Let Go, at least at the moment. We might hone it in and write some more that are a nice bridging between the two.
I think because of the way that I write and we write as a band, it’s all based on our own personal experience and experiences of people that we know. So, the whole of Don’t Let Go was all about one period in our lives, and obviously we can’t rehash that same thing again. Or we could, but I feel like it feels a bit ingenuine to keep writing about stuff that happened two years ago. So, new experiences come along, we start writing different things and if we’re talking about different experiences and those different experiences need different musical moods… I think it’s different but there’s still a lot that keeps it very Dear Seattle, whatever that is.
Exactly. I guess, there’s always that sort of stress with a sophomore album. Of being like, “We want to treat our fans to a different sound, but also they’re here for that original sound.” I think with this one, it’s always the opportunity to expand your chops and show people what else they’re missing out on, you know?
Yeah, for sure.
Do you find that it’s stressful, being like, “We had such a great debut album. We don’t have to follow that up?” Or are you pretty cruisey about it?
Thank you. Yeah, it is. I think the hardest thing has been writing the lyrics. For the EP I had a whole life’s worth of experiences to write about, and then between the EP and the album there was a whole two years of things. And then now, it’s like, “Oh, start writing again. A new album came out not even a year ago.” So, you just have less and less to draw on. But, I’ve always been one of those people who loves having the limitation put on you, where you get forced to look at things in a different way or focus on experiences that you had and reflect on ones that you had already written about, but how you think about it now in hindsight, after the removing yourself from the fact. So, I think it’s good but it does get hard sometimes. I often sit there with a melody fully written and then I’m just like, “But what the hell do I say?”
I just have mad respect for any singer-songwriter because I just cannot. I would not know where to start. What’s the timeline you’re working on? I don’t know what people are telling you in your ear, but to expect a follow-up album so quickly after, surely you’d get time to live a little and then draw upon experiences?
Definitely. Just the way that we went about the last record. I think a lot of the reason why we were so happy with how it came out, was the fact that we wrote 30 songs for it. You write 30 and then you pick the best 10 or 11. That’s, I think, what we want to do for the next one, as well. So, the sooner we can start and get things going, the better. But we did have a period of down time where we’re like, “I don’t even want to think about writing music. I don’t even want to think about Dear Seattle, at all.” I think we had that. We had a couple months in there to just do our own thing, and save some money and work. Now we’re ready and firing.
Hell yeah. I also saw in my research that you’re a graphic designer. Is that a side project you’ve got going on?
Yeah, that’s what I do for work on the side. It’s perfect because I can do it from wherever.
That’s so sick. How did you get into that?
I always just had an interest for it. I did bits and pieces for our band early on and a couple of little things here and there for other bands. But, I ended up just going to uni for it. Did a diploma because I was like, “I want to do this a bit more professionally and actually know what I’m doing.” I’ve always been artistic, as well. I used to sketch all the time and do stuff with charcoal in high school. I was like, “Okay, how can I make this something that I can do on the side for Dear Seattle?” I was like, “I’m meeting so many bands and every band needs tour posters, artwork, merch designs, all that kind of stuff.” So, went and did the diploma and then I’ve just been riding off that ever since.
You’re not a one-trick pony, you’re so entrepreneurial.
Thank you. Have you seen any of it yet? I may still be a one-trick pony. It could just be shit.
I stalked your Instagram. Plus I’ve seen your Dear Seattle work, as well. It looks amazing.
Good. Wonderful. Thank you.
That’s okay, there is talent there. Let’s get down to business and chat the Beer InCider festival coming up later this month. I would say beer is an integral part of the Dear Seattle minutiae. Would I be right in saying that?
I don’t like to think of it as something that has to be there, but it definitely improves the experience.
Again, I’ve been doing my research and read that when you were creating your first album, you went away to farm and, “Sank some piss,” I think the quote was, and discovered the sound there. I was like, “Quintessential. How good’s that.”
There’s just blood, sweat and beers put into every song.
For Beer InCider festival, you’ve also collaborated with Marrickville’s Philter Brewery to create your own beer, ‘Beer Seattle’. Tell me about that process.
It was awesome, actually. So Philter is obviously a brewery, as you said, from Marrickville. But, also they make, probably, one of my favourite beers, it’s the XPA. So, I’ve always drunk it and it’s so local that I actually hadn’t been to the brewery. Which I found out they don’t actually have their own brewery. They do it through Yulli’s Brews. It was just awesome.
When we got the offer for Beer InCider, we just got hit up saying, “Hey, if you guys are into it. I know you guys like your beers, because I’ve seen your music videos.” They were like, “Do you want to do a partnership with one of the breweries that are going to be at Beer InCider?” And sent us a big list, and said, “Choose which one you want to take. They’re all pretty keen to do whatever.” Ended up choosing Philter. It was sweet. We went and did a big brew day with them. They ran us through the whole process of how they make their beers. Even the process of beer making in general, which is something that I never knew despite drinking beer every week. It’s interesting to see the process that it actually goes through to be created. We were actually making the beer that you people will be drinking. So, it was pretty sweet to be involved in that whole process and just learn a bit on the go, as well.
Did you have to specify what hints of flavours you wanted or a little bit more hops, you know what I mean?
Yeah. We decided we just wanted something that’s super smashable. Call us purists, but as a band we all like lagers as opposed to the more crafty stuff, like your IPAs and things. It gets pretty heavy after a while. You can only have a couple. Call us purists… or alcoholics, whatever you want.
Hey, I didn’t say anything.
We were thinking it’s going to get warmer, so we want to do something a bit summery, light and smashable, and would taste really good ice cold. So, we ended up chatting to them. They were like, “We’ve had a recipe for a while that we’ve been wanting to do for a summer lager style.” They explained it’s going to be a bit less hoppy than the lager that they have and a little bit more sweetness to it, but still very mild in terms of craft flavours. So, we were like, “Yep. Sweet. Sounds perfect. Lock that in. Let’s do it.”
That sounds delicious. That would be a beer that I would drink.
Exactly, yeah. Everyone wants that.
Exactly. What else is on the horizon for Dear Seattle, coming up?
We’ve got that Beer InCider festival. We’re playing Til The Wheels Fall Off festival in Launceston. It’s run and basically booked in and everything organised by the Luca Brasi dudes. We played it once before. It’s such a sweet festival, we love going to Tassie. What else? Lost Paradise for New Years. I don’t think we’ve ever played a New Years festival, so that’ll be sweet to do. A good excuse to go and free ticket.
And the VIP treatment again, I imagine?
Exactly. I hope so. I don’t know. I don’t want to set my expectations too high.
You’re an artist! It’ll be a great time.
And then some other stuff that’s booked in for next year, but hasn’t been announced yet. So, there’s a lot.
Little tease! I’m excited to see what comes up, and hopefully you save a couple of those beers. Bring them back to Sydney. We’ll crack one open.
Definitely, for sure. I’ll have to reverse engineer them and make them in my garage or something.
Do it. Underground. Well, Brae, ‘cheers’ for the chat and I hope you feel better soon.