After six years playing what feels like every venue in Perth, indie punk outfit Sly Withers have finally gotten their break. Coming off the back of a tour with Amy Shark, the boys are back home for their first weekend in over month. This year saw the release of their EP Gravis and a slew of national praise and success, including a spot on next years Falls Festival line up (January 4 & 5). Vocalist Sam Blitvich spoke to CAITLIN NORRIS ahead of their show at Badlands Bar this Saturday, November 23 (featuring support from Flossy, Noah Dillon and Homebrand), candidly covering active appreciation, what the band have learnt, and all things Sly.
Sly have just wrapped up tour with Amy Shark which is incredible! Can you tell us a little bit about what that experience was like?
It was really, really bloody cool. It was definitely some of the biggest venues we’ve ever played – it was super different. We’re used to playing in small pubs and club rooms where the walls are really close to you and so these loud punk noises just bounce off them and right back into your face and it’s all very loud and very overwhelming. And then going into these massive open rooms with Amy and it’s like the sound just escapes, there’s a very different on stage sound and that took a little bit of getting used to but we got there, and it was also a really good experience for us to have that. It was also really cool because the venues were super big because it’s bloody Amy Shark except it was all regional. You hear about all the 1400 capacity rooms in all the capital cities but you don’t necessarily hear about all the regional centres that have those size rooms so that was a super unique experience. Realistically we won’t have a chance to play those kind of rooms again so it was really cool to get out there and see all that.
What do you feel has been the band’s steepest learning curve in terms of touring?
Just getting the hang of what the touring entails physically. Especially coming from Perth – unless you wanna spend extra money and get into town an extra day early – you basically have to fly out at 5am the day of the show, which means that you leave home at 3am the day of the show, so no matter how prepared you are, you’re losing sleep from the very first moment that you get out there so you’re already behind the eight ball. With the Amy tour there was a lot of driving, and things like hiring backline which was a bit of a learning curve for us but it was also a really good experience to know that we can make it work with hiring all the gear and the car and making the six hour drive to the town, and how to deal with all that kinda stuff. Making sure you remember to eat, so that when you get to the venue you’re not lightheaded, stuff like that.
Does it feel surreal every now and then?
It’s definitely a bit of a trip out, because for so long it was us playing at The Bird and playing at Mojos and stuff like that. In the past 18 months, everything has kind of just – you know, we got that foot in the door, and we took it upon ourselves to not waste that opportunity so we’ve capitalised on it as best as we could. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind and sometimes when you’re in the moment – when you’re on the tour with Amy, it’s hard to take a step back and look at what you’re doing and appreciate how fucking huge that is, this thing that you’re doing and how far you’ve come since like, Tuesday nights at Mojos. That’s been something else that’s taken some getting used to, trying to actively take a step back and appreciate the enormity of what’s going on. We’ve been really fucking lucky this year and we’ve had some really fucking cool experiences. It’s really sick.
With the Gravis EP, how did you go about selecting the tracks to include? Are they oldies; newbies? Written explicitly for Gravis?
That EP was originally gonna be an album, and we started that recording process in December of 2016. It was a really big journey to get that EP out. It took many different shapes and our band took many different shapes over the course of that two year period. The first sessions were December 2016 and the last sessions were Jan/Feb of this year. In the end we decided to go with the EP based off some advice and some proper hard thinking. We wanted to make sure we saved the next album for when we had more of a platform, so we wanted to use this as a launching pad kind of thing. I think it’s a good call and realistically the songs that were gonna make up the rest of the album were singles that we put out throughout 2017. There’s probably one song on the EP that was written much later than the rest, I think Irrational came to be maybe late last year, everything else was pretty solidified back in 2016. We’ve been sitting on it for a while.
The band are playing the upcoming Falls Festival – is that nerve-racking? Or are you guys just like, “fuck yeah, let’s do it…”
I think there have been things this year that have been a little scary but we’ve just been taking them as they come and at the end of the day it’s just a show. It’s on a bigger stage and it’s in front of more people but we can only go out there and do what we do. So as long as we’re doing that to the best of our ability then I think we’re comfortable, we’re playing the same songs that we played in whatever other room in whatever other town and we just gotta keep that consistency. I think if anything it’s just really bloody exciting. Falls has been like a staple of the festival circuit while we’ve been growing up and watching the scene evolve around it and hoping and wishing to one day be involved and it’s cool that we’ve finally got that opportunity.
You’re hitting Badlands this weekend with Flossy, Noah Dillon and Homebrand – do the hometown shows feel any different now that you’re actually coming home to play them?
We’ve been pretty excited for this one because we’ve been out on the road pretty consistently for the past like, six weekends. So this is legitimately our first weekend home in a month, nearly two. Just to be home is something we were really looking forward to, let alone getting to finish off the tour with a couple of hometown shows because we’ve got HQ on Friday as well. It’s really exciting.