Looking Towards The Horizon
When Jackson Haswell jumps on the phone, itâ€™s during a ten-minute break from his day job. A bit of a change, then, from earlier in the week when his band, The Oceanics, were holding down an afternoon slot at the Big Day Out.
â€œIt was brilliant. Really great, yeah,â€ Jackson says. â€œOut in the sun, playing to a really big crowd: itâ€™s what you love to do. This is what you do. Our managerâ€™s pretty well sorted on the Gold Coast when it comes to these sorts of things. He knows the right people in the council and he deals with the festivals and that sort of thing. We donâ€™t actually have a booking agent on paper yet. But yeah, it was great work on his part.â€
Jackson talks in insouciant tones about his Gold Coast-based band and the business of playing music, so itâ€™s easy to believe the guitarist when he says there was little intimidation about going out on such a big stage. â€œNah,â€ he says offhandedly, before thinking for a moment. â€œWell, I guess I was pacing a little bit back and forth, but it was more anxiety, and a couple of beers fixed that right up!â€
Fair enough too: itâ€™s not like The Oceanics are a flash in the pan. Beginning as a casual songwriting partnership between Jackson and singer, Elliot Weston, in 2005, the arrangement had developed into a fully-fledged band by early 2008. â€œYeah, it was Elliot and I in 2005. We just wrote music together in our bedrooms and whatnot. In 2008 we met one of my best mateâ€™s brother [Andy Geisel] â€“ heâ€™s a drummer and we just sort of played around with him.
I guess we rated what we wrote in those little jams to be of a decent standard enough to gig, and thought if we had an opportunity to show people what weâ€™ve got, theyâ€™d like it. It actually took us another whole two years to get a bassist [Tom Garnett] and some proper steady gigs coming. But the desire [to take the band somewhere] has been there since early 2008, just because we were pretty impressed by how we were able to write together.â€
Since then, The Oceanics have become known for introducing a little bit of indie to Gold Coast life. The four-piece finally forged their partnership through a love of Britpop, and those influences show up heavily in their songwriting. Itâ€™s perhaps no surprise then that the band sometimes feel a touch out of place on the sunny strip of the GC. â€œAll the time. 100 percent,â€ Jackson chuckles.
â€œWeâ€™re lucky enough to have a good following down here of friends and people who have discovered us through friends of friends. We always play to good crowds, but itâ€™s really not our scene down here. If it were up to me, Iâ€™d probably be in Brisbane or Sydney. We do a lot of time in Brisbane anyway, and weâ€™re quite close to a few Brisbane bands. Weâ€™ve worked with some really good ones, like Ball Park Music for instance, so we feel like we belong a bit more in Brisbane, but unfortunately thatâ€™s not where we are at the moment, so weâ€™ve just got to make do.â€
Questions of where to base themselves are certainly taking a back seat at the moment: the pressing item on The Oceanicsâ€™ agenda is the scheduled release of their debut EP, â€˜Get Friendly, Mistress Maybeâ€™, in the coming weeks. â€œYeah, obviously the vast majority of songs on there were written between 2008 and late 2009-early 2010, so theyâ€™re not exactly our freshest material.
Itâ€™s still good, catchy stuff, but itâ€™s not quite where weâ€™re at right now â€“ weâ€™re at a little bit of a different stage at the moment. When we signed up with our management, they started putting us in front of the industry and it was kind of hard, because the only product we had behind us were the self-recorded tracks. So we wanted to get some good quality product to push to the industry, because we got strong reviews and we just needed more to show people. The EPâ€™s a chance to get a good first product out there and imprint our name, I guess.â€
â€˜Get Friendly, Mistress Maybeâ€™ is scheduled for release in March. The Oceanics play The Basement for the Gold Coast Arts Centreâ€™s â€˜Unpluggedâ€™, Thursday February 10. They also play the Beatles tribute show at The Zoo February 5.