Loon Lake


Guitarist Simon Nolan, discusses the release of Loon Lake’s debut LP, Gloamer and the buzz ahead of their 2014 Groovin’ The Moo appearance, at Hay Park in Bunbury on Saturday, May 10. AARON BRYANS reports.

Raised in the small country town of Tarrawingee, Victoria, the Nolan brothers (Sam, Simon and Nick) grew up with the common interests of music, surfing and travelling. 

After meeting guitarist, Daniel Bull, during a trip to Turkey and entering discussions with lifelong friend Tim Low, the five-piece soon formed under the E.L. Doctorow-inspired band name, Loon Lake. Releasing dual EPs in 2011 and 2012, the band were played on rotation at triple j, RRR FM, FBI Radio Sydney and 4zzz Brisbane and toured with The Kaiser Chiefs, Cage The Elephant and Jebediah until they eventually headed out on their own tour, selling out venues across Australia.

“We never had any intentions to be a huge band,” Nolan explains. “We never had any intentions for anything, we just wanted to play music for fun. But for people to like it and then spend their money to come to the shows or buy the albums, we appreciate it a lot. It’s a self-gratifying feeling, going up on stage and playing your songs and kids know the words. That was something I used to, and still do, going to bands and you know the lyrics to their songs.

“We’re just normal guys and these people love our songs. It’s an amazing feeling. You don’t get it in too many other things you do in life.”

Their second EP, Thirty Three, was picked up nationally; with groovy single, Cherry Lips, making the Top 20 of the ARIA Australian Artist single chart and was voted #29 in the triple j Hottest 100 in 2012. Following the success of Cherry Lips and the band’s first official single, Bad To Me (which reached #9 on the iTunes alternative charts), Loon Lake began the process of writing for their first album, beginning with a trip abroad.

“Sam and I, we went to Bali for a surfing trip,” Nolan reveals. “Sam locked himself away for a few days trying to make tunes. I think around when we made Gloamer, two big influences stylistically were Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange and Tame Impala’s album (Lonerism). Both those artists don’t sound anything like what we make, but we were really impressed by the way those albums were constructed as a full listening piece. Whatever we’d been listening to creeped into the music; but generally the bones of the song would be brought in by Sam, or we’d demo it up and if the band liked it we’d push forward, if we didn’t like it, it was gone very quickly.

“Generally we try to work off our own instinct, if we’re feeling it, we’ll push it out. In terms of songwriting you never know where they’re going to come from. Sometimes you’ll get two good ones in two days and then you won’t get one for two years. It’s strange when a good song comes, you pretty much know straight away. There’s something in it. A vocal hook… a guitar melody. You know it has potential. You can cram hundreds of songs a week but you might get one that’s okay.”

Following their trip, Nick and Sam built a home studio where they could work on riffs to bring into recording sessions. Nick was listening to hip-hop and Sam was holed up in his room for days on end, blasting pop songs watching music documentaries. The band would recorded their debut LP, Gloamer, over three weeks with two weeks off in-between.

The album title, Gloamer, is used to describe someone appearing during the “intoxicating, golden time after sunset and before dark,” an experience Nolan relates to Melbourne’s Meredith Music Festival.

“You always feel this amazing feeling as the sun goes down as they put on classic artists like Paul Kelly and Neil Finn. You always feel amazing at that festival. That time of day is a great feeling especially if it’s a Friday or Saturday night. A lot of the lyrics and the music also reference the night and the possibility of what the night offers.”

Gloamer is Loon Lake’s most layered and creative output to date. Exploring numerous musical outlets in an attempt to expand their sound, the band have found the perfect combination of pop and rock.

“If you listen to our earliest EP to Gloamer, it’s changed heaps,” Nolan expresses. “At the start we were very raw, we wanted to keep it quite lo-fi. Not try to layer too much stuff and not use too many takes to play it live. But because it was an album and its four or five years on from when we started, we’ve been listening to different music and expanding our sounds. We wanted to make it deeper, whilst maintain a pop sound, making the music more thoughtful.

“With the instrumentation, we weren’t afraid to add extra layers over the top. We never thought of that when we were making the songs for Gloamer and we never would have done that at the start, we just wanted to be three guitars, a bass and a drum. But the more music you listen to, the more you want to expand your sound. But who’s to know we won’t go back to that? You never know if we’re evolving or it’s a cycle.”

Loon Lake are happily part of this year’s Groovin’ The Moo, taking the music festival experience around Australia’s regional areas.

“We’re really excited. We’re from a country town ourselves, so we know what it’s like to get good bands. We very rarely got them but when you do it’s exciting. We played the Bendigo Groovin’ The Moo a few years ago so we know it’s a good festival. We’re really keen to come out and play more of a festival set with really high energy.”


Loon Lake play 2014 Groovin’ The Moo, at Hay Park in Bunbury on Saturday, May 10. 

Get your tickets here.

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