Ever wonder what’s happened to I Heart Hiroshima?
The Brisbane three-piece were turning heads in 2009, their sophomore record ‘The Rip’ quickly becoming an indie favourite. But at some point over the last few years the band decided to take a break. Drummer and co-vocalist Susie Patten jetted off overseas, while bandmates Cameron Hawes and Matt Somers stayed behind in Brisbane to work on other projects.
“I think Susie might be in the States at the moment,” Matt says over the phone from his Spring Hill home. “There’s a possibility of a show or two next year. We’ve half-discussed it but haven’t really concreted anything just yet. Hopefully we’ll play a show in the first half of next year, but I don’t know.
“I’m starting to really want to play I Heart again. I work in a video arcade and my boss, I don’t how she found out, but she’s just started accosting me about the band … It’s weird, because all these people I’ve been working with for a year and a half are suddenly talking to me about it. And that makes me start to think about it – it makes you feel like there’s demand for it, or something.”
But Somers is currently dealing with demand for a different recording project. Quietly working away under the moniker of Rick Fights, the singer-songwriter and guitarist has just released his seven-track debut solo record.
“It’s halfway between an EP and an album. There were a couple that I just didn’t think were good enough, and then there were another two that didn’t fit in with the rest of the collection. And at that stage it was nine songs, so it would have been a bit weird to release a full length with nine three-minute songs on it,” he laughs.
“It’s not a scraps release. I think of it as an album mainly because I culled a few songs that didn’t fit properly; it’s an album, but a short album.”
Rick Fights started, like so many solo projects, as a place to collect work that wasn’t appropriate for Somers’ full-time band. So, with I Heart on hiatus, he used it as an opportunity to flesh out the long dormant material.
“There were always a few songs that I could never get to work with the band, or with drums. Most of the things that I’d come up with they just really needed to be without drums because they were so depressing. I’ve had the name Rick Fights for a long time, but it kinda became a rubbish bin for all the things that I couldn’t use for I Heart Hiroshima.”
As Somers grew accustomed to working on his own, he started to write more and more material, to the point now where he has his own home studio. And in that time he feels as though his craft has improved significantly.
“I just wanted to prove to myself that I could write songs on my own and record. I did have a couple of other people playing on it, but I pretty much wrote all the parts. And I dunno: I wanted to prove that I can kind of stand up on my own if I needed to. I think it came together well.
“I’ve got a recording studio set up at home and I’m recording newer songs – I’ve got about ten songs recorded and I think they’re working out pretty well. That’s the next step: seeing if I can record myself and do everything myself, just by myself. And that’s another reason why I always wanted to have a solo project – even if I have other things going on, if I ever get frustrated with having to work with other people I have this little sanctuary where there’s no one to argue with: I write songs all by myself and record it all by myself, and just refresh.”
More recently it’s been the challenge of playing live. Somers describes himself as a nervous performer, and he’s had to adjust to life onstage without his regular band mates. Still, his new material seems to be translating well and he’s looking forward to his upcoming performance for the Queensland Art Gallery’s Prado Up Late programme.
“They’re getting better. I played a couple of shows two weeks ago with [Baltimore synthpoppers] Future Islands. I’m not sure if you’ve listened to them but their singer [Sam Herring] puts everything into his performances and after seeing them that night I think I played probably five times better than I ever had before. There was just something about it: if you put a little bit extra into it it’s going to make everything that much better. I’m definitely looking forward to Up Late.”
Rick Fights plays ‘PRADO - UP LATE’ at The Queensland Art Gallery OCT. 26.