RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AUSTRALIAN BAND PEAK PARK
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
Stoked to be here, thanks for having me!
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Those formative teenage years, my first guitar, starting a band when I was 16, and those first few experiences seeing live music. You feel a lot when you’re a teenager but don’t necessarily have the emotional capacity or intelligence to articulate it well. Music has the incredible ability to bridge that gap and create connection. That connection and emotive response has always been my motivator to create music, whether it’s for myself or to hopefully connect with other people. Plus it’s honestly pure joy playing and creating art with your best mates!
Introduce us to all to the members and your musical history.
My name is Thomas and I play guitar and synth live, Mitch is our resident lyricist, vocalist and also plays guitar and synth live, Cal on backing vocals, bass, guitar, and sample pad live and collectively we all write and play whatever instruments needed on record! I also produce and mix the project as well.
We’ve been making music since 2018 but have been much more active and busy since 2022. The project started as I committed to playing a support slot for a friend and didn’t have a band so Mitch and Cal very gracefully stepped in to help me perform some originals, from there we released 3 of those original ideas as singles and have been working on carving our own lane ever since.
Name me your 3 favourite albums.
In Rainbows – Radiohead is an easy pick but the other 2… that’s tough! Total Life Forever – Foals and then a split decision between Lonerism – Tame Impala and Bon Iver – Bon Iver (their 2nd album), both came out around a similar time and I’d never heard anything like it. Both blew me away.
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
Helicopter – Bloc Party! In year 8 I was Bluetoothed this song on my first flip phone, can’t remember the context for why but it changed my life (in the least dramatic way possible). I’d just got my first electric guitar and was obsessed, partly because I was finding my feet and moving away from whatever was on the radio or the music mum and dad would play but also because I had to be better than my older brother who got into guitar before me. This song though, that was the catalyst.
The energy, the attitude, that whole Silent Alarm album had me hooked and I didn’t know at the time but that song, Woflmother, White Stripes, Muse, Wombats and a ton of other random singles from these bands kicked off an obsession with making and playing music. Then forming a high school band, seeing Muse and The Wombats live when I was 16 cemented the idea of making music for the rest of my life.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, how do you feel you are doing?
Tough question! At times, I feel accomplished and then the next week feel like we’re right at the start. The hardest part is the uncertainty and lack of consistency, whether that’s with how a song is received, attendance at gigs, the money, or just all of it. But we often take a moment to be reflective and appreciate the growth and success we’ve had to date. That also fuels the ambition and motivation to continue.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
Fundamentally and generally speaking I think we need to be better, kinder people, especially as men/males. Being aware of your own sense of space and to people around you. No one likes that idiot jumping around, spilling drinks, and not a care in the world. Everyone is entitled to enjoy music in their own way but I think in general taking accountability for the space you occupy and especially keeping your hands to yourself!
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
We’ve found socials are a great way to show our personalities and explore our music a little deeper, we don’t necessarily use socials to find a massive online audience – that has been largely through gigging and releasing music. My one tip: you need to do it all and learn to see it as another creative outlet rather than a chore. That was a game-changer for us.
What was the worst experience on stage?
We haven’t had too many disastrous shows but when we have had issues it’s from having a terrible foldback mix! That can really kill your performance when the soundie or venue is just a mess… Bit lame of a response but touch wood, no absolute catastrophes yet and we’d like to keep it that way!
Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about.
Cal is easily the best guitarist in the band but he doesn’t play guitar on stage and he can clap at an alarmingly fast pace.
If Mitch wasn’t in this band he probably would be a world-class Rocket League or League of Legends E-Sports superstar.
I (Thomas) absolutely love doing laundry, it’s just a fun time, hanging, folding, sorting… good vibes when it’s a nice laundry day!
What makes you stand out as a band?
Our ambition, musically, and what we want out of this project. We feel like the ceiling is so high for us, whether it’s the genres we want to explore, the instrumentation, the visuals, live shows – all of it feels really exciting and limitless. We want to write club music, film scores, ballads, indie classics and everything in between and hopefully get to a point where you instantly know it’s a Peak Park song because we’ve developed our own sound and signature style.
Beyond that, I think our DIY attitude is becoming somewhat of a staple for modern artists these days but I hope in particular our ability to take on a challenge helps us stand out. We’re always refining our songwriting, performance, mixing, recording, producing, and learning, but it’s starting to feel like the output is matching the vision and will only get better.
I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.
We sure do, our latest single ‘Boyhood’ our debut collaboration release with the wonderful Charlie Wilde. Boyhood is a complex and chaotic song, in terms of production, lyrics and thematics. Mitch and Charlie are amazing lyricists and which stemmed conversations about toxic masculinity, our own experiences growing up, relationships with friends, family, societal expectations of boys and men and our collective shared experiences.
Boyhood is a reflection on the systems and attitudes that negatively affect boys as they grow up, and how this leads them to become destructive and repressed as they enter adulthood. The chaotic production cares little for genre or conventionality, and is more concerned with representing feelings; those of anger, frustration, confusion, vulnerability, and exhaustion. It’s a pressure cooker of emotion, waiting to explode.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune.
We met Charlie at a Songwriting Prize event and instantly gelled. I sent him a stack of demos, he liked a particular demo and later took the progression and wrote a song over it. That was the bones for Boyhood but it grew serious legs when I came up with the sub-bass & drum section. In hindsight, the overarching production and elements were locked in fairly early but the difficult part was ironing out who would sing what and how to place the vocals as the song fluctuates between bars of 4:4 and 6:4. Eventually we ironed it out and the transition from Mitch to Charlie as lead vocal and the Cal layers as support enhance the lyrical narrative.
What was the recording process like?
Everything was recorded at home in our little make-shift studio over a number of weekends! Our process is very fluid in that we write, arrange and produce as we go. It’s rare to have a finished song, then produce it, then say ‘Hey let’s get in the studio and properly record everything’. Many pros and cons to the process but it means we can chip away at things and get a sense of the final song early on.
We had a huge breakthrough on recording vocals, we call it the ‘corduroy shower’. I was gifted a lovely fold-out couch for my bday and the studio but one day I wanted to create a vocal booth out of blankets and had the idea to semi-unfold the couch, prop it on some chairs, drop an acoustic panel and blanket over the top and it ended up working great! It created a really clean vocal booth and also allowed Mitch/Charlie/Cal some privacy while recording which led to some amazing performances. The cord couch and blanket privacy screen – ‘corduroy shows’! Speaking of vocals, Mitch’s lead auto-tuned-distorted vocal at the end was amazing to record. That moment was really beautiful. You’re all in the room experiencing this incredible performance and we could metaphorically see the door of possibilities open and could not stop talking about it, playing it back over and over. It was a long process but super rewarding and I learned a lot about recording, arrangement and production.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tune?
Operating as a collaboration. We were pretty loose early on without wanting to define is this a Charlie feat Peak Park, Peak Park & Charlie or just a Peak Park with Charlie writing credits vibe.
That was fine because we didn’t even know we’d have a finished song (let alone 2. Spoiler there’s more coming…) by the end of it. We didn’t have any major issues, but learning how to work with others outside your immediate circle was exciting and a new challenge. Beyond that, we’d spent a lot of time ironing out who would sing what and in what tone and eventually learned the lesson that being authentic will help deliver a powerful performance and is better than trying to shoehorn someone in just to make it feel more spectacle.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Great question! It’s probably too soon to make that call but because I’ve produced and mixed all our releases, typically it takes a whole release cycle before I get critical or reflect on our music and what I’d change. I guess at the time of release it feels like the best we could do and we’re always proud of everything we release, but because we’re learning and growing you can’t help but reflect and wish you could apply the same level of polish or skill to previous releases. However, I love this song. The vibe, the production, the structure, it just hits so many nerdy boxes for me and really feels like a song that gets better with each listen as you delve more into it.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
We love making music and are eternally thankful for anyone who listens, has a reaction to a song, comes to a show or even simply engages with us or our music. It’s definitely early days for us but it’s been incredibly heartwarming to feel the momentum and project grow. Beyond that, we always want to work on and be the best version of ourselves possible and we hope you get some enjoyment and connection out of that process and our music!