After nearly eight years off the scene, Sonicanimation are back with a new album and an Australian tour. As one half of the party-starting duo, Rupert Kellier, explains, they’re hell-bent on reconnecting with old fans as well as attracting new ones.
After signing off, or so it seemed, with 2005’s greatest hits album ‘Eleven’ and a final appearance at Perth’s Big Day Out the following year, it was thought the fat lady had finally sung for one of Australia’s more endearing electronic acts.
Since emerging from Sydney in the early 1990s, Kellier and partner Adrian Cartwright had steadily positioned themselves as one of Australia’s premier flagbearers for local electronica.
Dancefloor-friendly tracks like ‘Theophilus Thistler’, ‘Didley Squat’, ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ and ‘I’m A DJ’, showcased on several albums starting with 1997’s ‘Silence Is Deafening’, confirmed them as Australian club, and festival, favourites. But when the decision was made to disband, it seemed for good, as Kellier explains.
“I just felt like I’d been doing it for such a long time, that I wanted to have a break and just get away from it for a little bit.”
And he did, spending the next six years living in British Colombia, Canada. Fast forward to 2011, though, and a surprise EP release signaled something was on the boil. Add to that an even more surprising performance at last year’s Homebake, and it was official: Sonicanimation were back, and had been working on a new album – ‘Once More From The Bottom’ — since 2010.
Too often, when groups break up only to reform some years later, the new output fails to reach the lofty heights of years gone by. People, places and tastes move on and, as Kellier explains, it was a fact not lost on the duo as they prepared to make a comeback.
“We could have launched under another name,” he recalls. “I understand it’s almost a clichéd path for a band to break up and then think ‘I’d like to do that again’ and then get back together ten years later or whatever.
“[But] it was like we hadn’t gone anywhere ... from a live performance perspective, we feel really comfortable. It’s like riding a bike, really.”
‘Once More From The Bottom’ indicates the bike-riding analogy holds for their production, too. First single ‘I Will Be Twisted’ is high-energy, electronic party music, everything we’ve come to expect from Sonicanimation, while tracks like ‘(Hey Lady) I Just Wanna Dance’, with its harmonica lick and hillbilly vibe, shows their tongue-in-cheek, playful approach to music is intact. Other offerings like ‘Take It From Me’, meanwhile, demonstrate the same goes for their songwriting abilities.
As Kellier explains, any doubts he might have had with regards to the new album finding favour with fans of yesteryear were dispelled once he and Cartwright opened up their crowd-sourcing pledge website to help fund the album and its promotion.
“I was glad that we did that,” he says. “It seemed a little daunting … but we had a really positive response from our fans; people came on board from day one. [But] as well as hanging on to old fans we … are hoping to gain new fans. [We] understand we need to have new fans in order to move forward. We probably could’ve still done the release, but it wouldn’t have been as good as what we’ve been able to do having done that pledge thing.”
Now, with an Australian tour supported by Sydney’s indie-dance up-and-comers TokyoDenmarkSweden about to kick off, Kellier promises the famous Sonicanimation live show experience, complete with those mascots Robert Roley and Theophilus Thistler.
“We can’t get rid of those things,” he laughs. “Even seven years ago when we finished we talked about how we could get rid of these things. I guess we could do a Neil Young where we don’t play any of our old stuff … but people come to see us for that stuff so those characters live on.”
Sonicanimation play the Great Northern April 4, The Zoo April 5 and Sol Bar, Maroochydore, April 6. ‘Once More From The Bottom’ is out now.