Aussie indie folk-rock duo released an epic new album today, titled Punchbuzz. An album inspired by moments of self reflection, which allowed Husky Gawenda and Gideon Preiss to rediscover newfound connections in their hometown. Punchbuzz stays true to their signature folk sound, layered with pop melodies and dark lyrics giving you a sense of home and comfort as you drift away into the soothing sounds of their music. Gawenda was gracious enough to sit down with us to discuss his personal journey, as well as give us the inside scoop on his favorite foods, Australia’s must see wonders of the world and TV show recommends.
MITCH (HIGHLARK): First off, congratulations on your new album, Punchbuzz, released today June 2nd. When listening to the band’s debut album, Forever So, it is evident that the sound has evolved and matured over the years. As artists grow personally and musically this tends to reflect in their music. What personal reflections and stories can you share with us that went into creating this album?
HUSKY GAWENDA (HUSKY): I wrote most of the songs on Punchbuzz when I returned home to Melbourne, after having spent 9 months over seas touring on and off across Europe and the U.S. As is always the case when you return to a place you know well, Melbourne seemed new to me. My senses were alive, I was noticing things. These songs reflect that few months and the people and places and moments, internal and external, I was moving through at that time. I was meeting new people and reconnecting with people I knew. I was discovering new parts of my home town and rediscovering parts I knew well. I was reading Proust, listening to a lot of Damien Jurado and the National and Explosions in the Sky. All of these things are probably somehow reflected in the songs.
MITCH: Having gone through different band members how has that changed the process of creating songs?
HUSKY: A lot of the initial work of creating the songs takes place between Gideon and myself and always has. So that hasn’t really changed. I often write the songs and then take them to Gideon and we work on them together. This time around Jules Pascoe, who’s played bass with us for a few years now, came in at the demoing stage and helped us flesh the songs out. Then Arron Light, who has also played with us since our last album, played all the drums for the record and his playing really gets the heart beating. So those guys are an important part of the sound of this album.
MITCH: What are your plans to support the new album once it is released and do you have any plans of touring in the US in the near future?
HUSKY: We have locked in our Australian and European legs of the tour and are working now on the US. We absolutely intend on getting there this year!
MITCH: We have this short-doc video series called ‘STORIES’ where bands / artists speak about a personal topic or life story, whether positive or negative, and how that shaped their lives in order to make them a better and stronger person today. What life experiences can you share with us that you feel will resonate with people in a positive way?
Well when it comes to playing music, I always loved it, but I was terrified of performing. It took me many years to muster up the courage to play my songs in front of people. My friend signed me up to an open mic night without telling me and then took me there and before I knew what was going on I had to play. I could barely strum the guitar or get a sound out of my mouth. I managed to get through and even got some applauses. It was probably around 2am by now and everyone was well lubricated with booze. But I loved writing and creating music so I kept doing it, and it took me years to feel comfortable getting on a stage. I think it’s important to know that you don’t have to be ‘born to do something’, you just have to be determined.
MITCH: Being the first Australian band to have signed to Sub Pop Records, an iconic label that has birthed bands like Nirvana, what was going through your minds at that time and was it a surreal moment for the band?
HUSKY: We were big fans of Nirvana as kids so was cool to chat to the dudes at Sub Pop about Kurt Cobain and the first tapes of his songs and other stories from his earliest days. He’s an inspiring figure and Sub Pop worked with a lot of inspiring people way back in the day.
MITCH: Now for some lighthearted questions, What are some of your favorite traditional foods from your hometown in Australia?
HUSKY: We don’t have a lot of traditional foods down here. Aussies love a BBQ which is nice in the summertime, by the sea, with a game of football or cricket on the sand. We have great fish and seafood because most of us live along the coast down here. And although I can’t claim it as local cuisine, we have such a mixture of cultures and peoples down here and some of the best Asian food around. My personal favorites are Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese.
MITCH: What places and areas do you recommend people visit if they were to go to Australia?
HUSKY: There are so many beautiful places to go. Down south near Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is some of the most beautiful and wild coastline you’ll ever see. On the east coast, Byron Bay and Mullumbimby and the hinterlands there are truly magical. The centre of Australia is desert, unmatched in its magnitude and its beauty and power. There are the rainforests up north, the Great Barrier Reef which probably, tragically, won’t be around for much longer, there is incredible surf all along the coast wherever you go…I could go on and on. Hit me up when you’re here and I’ll show you around.
MITCH: Are there any new TV shows or movies that you have seen and can recommend?
HUSKY: I’m pretty into Fargo and the new Twin Peaks.