The fresh-faced young men who make up the band Solid Effort have crafted themselves a unique sound that combines influences unexpected of musicians of such an age. Mixing together music that crosses the decades, including everything from Blonde on Blonde era Bob Dylan to The Go Betweens, Minutemen to Lou Reed, and then combining this with the relaxed vibes of their predominantly coastal upbringing, reveals suprisingly great results. Solid Effort has built a great foundation and they're only just getting started...
Let’s start off with some history, how did Solid Effort emerge from the mean streets of Bulli?
Well, Pat lad and Nicholas started playing folk songs together in 2013 as they were both heavily influenced by Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan and such, but it wasn’t long before we wanted to expand our practice and started looking for a drummer so we hit up Harry Needham who is skitz on drums. After we’d been playing for a little we got Phanos on synth cause he’s a mad lad (even though he’s not from the Coal Coast) and at this point we felt like a complete band. These were happy times in the garage of Patrick's old house where we could practice all day long.
Sounds dreamy. What has it been like starting out as a young band in the current Coal Coast music and arts scene?
It has been rather pleasant I would say. The current cultural climate of the South Coastal region has blossomed from a dustbowl of arts and music into an oasis for the creative soul. We have had a great deal of help from our friends and their bands such as The Pinheads, who recorded and mixed The Ballad of Bulli and The Nuclear Family who took us on a tour when we'd been a band for not long at all. As well as the kind fellows at Rad and Music Farmers who have helped put us onto some very enjoyable shows. We enjoy many aspects of the Coal Coast music and arts scene more so than the Sydney scene.
That's sweet to hear after so many bands in the past feeling like they needed to be in Sydney to get a start. Switching gears, if you had the day to chill in Bulli what are the top five things you would do?
We can only think of two; coffee and swimming.
Perfect. I believe the band is currently split between Sydney and the Coal Coast. How do you manage to cross that massive distance? Practice sessions via Skype? 4-trak through the Australia Post system?
Three of us live in Sydney, Phanos and Pat lad live on the same street in Marrickville and Harry resides in Ashfield. So Nicholas just drives or gets the train up to Sydney for practice and shows or comes over after uni, so ya know, it's alright. Going to the Coal Coast for shows is a pleasant break from the city too. Its always nice to breath that ocean air ya know?
You seem to be drawing from the sound of bands that must have been around long before you were born, unless of course you have collectively discovered the fountain of youth. Who would be the predominant musicians influencing your sound and how did you discover them?
Minutemen have been highly influential as the source of the key ethics involved in our musical project. The singer songwriters of the 1960’s in particular have determined our perception of lyricism, artists such as Leonard Cohen and Dylan in his Blonde on Blonde era. We also enjoy the practices of bands such as Rush, Wire, Yes, Otroci Socializma and Extortion (with regards to Harry Needham) for their song structuring and presence.
You’ve made the bold choice to release your debut EP The Ballad of Bulli on cassette at a point in time where most cassette players have gone the way of the buffalo. What made you decide to do such a crazy thing?
Well we figured that getting vinyl would be a thing we would save for a future release and CDs were perfectly obsolete as well, not to mention they are not as aesthetically enticing as a cute little cassette, so the tapes serve the role of a souvenir rather then a functional object. We also believe that the “cassette” is the democratic format.
You recently embarked on your first headline tour to support the EP, where did the shows take you and how do you really feel about Canberra?
We played one show in Sydney, then Canberra, then Wollongong. We have not headlined many shows so we were interested to see whether people would come to our shows and intrigued to experience gigs more from the perspective of organising then taking part or supporting.
Our perception of the nation's capital is met with mixed feelings. Canberra has always come across as a bit barren and surreal, even a little isolated, but we played at the ANU Art School Ball so it was pretty exciting. It’s also nice to go on a little road trip aye.
Ok, so the Dane Taylor thing. We have to ask, what’s the deal with the guitar?
We are all big admirers of Shining bird and, in particular, Dane Taylor. Pat wrote his name on his guitar as a way to connect to our idol and “mentor”. But now it says "Draining Taylor Pool" instead, which references Dane Taylor as well as our friends band Draining Pool. This is an ongoing conceptual project, which will transform over time, hopefully without losing its symbolic potency.