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TANAMI Surf rock from the sun


Since forming less than two years ago, Tanami have enjoyed a rapid rise on Perth’s live scene, winning fans with their unique blend of melancholy indie and upbeat surf-punk grooves. Now the local four-piece are taking things to the next level. After having just joined local label Stock Records (Last Quokka, Grunge Barbie, Selfless Orchestra) this week, they are now set to launch three new singles at Dirtymerkin Studio, Morley, this Saturday, March 13. KAREN LOWRY caught up with bassist Alex Mills to find out how beyond the catchy tunes, they’re also using music to break down barriers with their ethos of love and acceptance.

Congratulations on your upcoming triple single launch. Let’s start with what’s most important, what are Tanami like live? What we can expect from your show?

I like to think there is a mix within our music of quiet, loud, energetic and sombre. Most of our songs have a moment where Clare James’ voice will captivate the audience, or a quiet part that will demand attention and then there are a lot of up-tempo, energetic parts that demand wild moves and a lot of perspiration from us or the audience. Our launch will be our 30th show and we definitely enjoy the different reactions of the audience, but I also like to think we have gotten better at harnessing it.

All great things must start somewhere, so tell us, what’s your story? Where did it begin?

It all began in the jam room, whether it be the genesis of the band or the songs. Everything has been born out of a jam whether between one, two or the four of us. As for the band, it started with our guitarist Mike Wafer and I jamming with no real ideas and quickly discovering that the quieter stuff we were jamming on worked so much better than the heavier stuff, which at that point in our musical careers was unusual for us.

After a couple of months, we had the bones of a few songs and we knew they would suit a strong female voice. As luck would have it we found what instantly became one of our favourite voices in Clare. Her voice completely floored us and it continues to floor us. We quickly discovered she was also creatively gifted as well and soon enough the few songs we had became a few more and then a few more. A few months later we would find our drummer Michael who solidified us as a band and a family unit and we started playing shows very soon after.

How is Tanami different from other projects you’ve been involved with?

I have never been in a band that is so grateful and full of love where the songs, ideas and tasks just happen free of ego as they do with this band. I have also never built a band from the ground up and see it manifest almost exactly as we envisioned from a shared idea. I’ve also never been in a band with this much dynamic range, my background has been spent playing in heavier bands that were always fronted by sweaty men.

What was the songwriting process like for these singles? Is there an intentional thematic link between them?

It’s a bit of a blend in two respects as we intentionally chose three songs to record that showed three different sides of the band, from quiet to loud, from bright to dark. And it’s also a blend because Choke was one from the first little batch of songs that existed before the band was really formed so it was written apart from the other two.

Once we all got together and started jamming a lot of songs seemed to just fall from the ether. Two of them were Fever and If You Knew What I Know. This band is really lucky to be able to click naturally and intuitively know when to give each other space to create on the fly in the jam room. We try not to analyse whatever that magical element may be too much and put our faith in the fact that if we continue to put in the work, be grateful and protect this thing we love then it has a better chance of flourishing.

What’s on the cards for the rest of 2021 and beyond? What can we expect after the single launch?

We hope to keep playing amazing shows with amazing people and continuing to build the magical community we’re so lucky to be a part of. We want to write more, we have dreams of touring when things open up and we want to get back in the studio as quickly as we can. Who knows, we might even do a quadruple single launch next!

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