They could be Perth’s next breakout band, but South Summit are just as interested in becoming role models and giving back to the community as they are in creating heartfelt indie rock anthems.
Formed in early 2020, the five musicians are just getting started, but are already Unearthed favorites and have shown immense growth in both their sound and following. From the impressive variety of their debut EP by Merlin playing sold-out shows around WA, they quickly cemented their reputation as regulars on the Perth scene.
Harnessing a common love for rock, reggae, blues and psychedelic guitar jams, South Summit have only a handful of tracks to their name, but nearly all of them pop with the confidence of a band far further afield. their career.
Their latest single “Tired Of Waiting” recently added to high rotation on triple j and Unearthed, and is an anthemic leap that puts South Summit somewhere between the gripping emotion of fellow Perth favorites Spacey Jane and the rock balance of The VANNS. .
It’s got the kind of soaring choir custom-built for festival chants, led by frontman Isaiah ‘Zaya’ Reuben, who’s blessed with a classic, earthy rock voice but shares tender messages that the rock dogs of formerly could never be brave enough to belt out the crowds:
‘When I said to myself that I loved myself, yeah I feel it / Now I changed myself and I love myself, what a feeling!’
You can hear the influence of Ocean Alley, DMA’S and Sticky Fingers on the sound of South Summit, but they also drew inspiration from bands much closer to home.
“My very first live gig was Great Gable,” Zaya recalls, at the invitation of bassist Josh Trindall. “He said to me, ‘If you want to join a band, come see how a leader does their job. I was quite nervous watching [Alex Whiteman] and see what I was up against,” he laughs. “Seeing this was an eye opener for me. Great Gable created these footprints that I have to follow, it was a huge inspiration.
Spacey Jane was another crucial impact hub for Perth. “These guys weren’t huge when we started but as soon as they released their debut album they took off,” remarks Josh. “It just proves that even if you’re from Perth, it can and does happen quite quickly.”
The pace definitely picked up for South Summit as well. After working hard giving concerts and tidying up the halls, their buzz as an emerging live act expanded to the band’s first East Coast shows this month. “It’s going well,” Zaya notes with a big smile.
“It’s fun and great to write a song about going out and having a good time, but when can you get a deeper message across? That’s very important,” says Zaya. Like his idol Bob Marley, he wants to make sure fans resonate as much with the message as they do with the music.
“A few people have messaged me about my storytelling on ‘River Days’ and how much it has helped them through certain experiences, I can’t ask for much more in terms of what I’m doing with the writing .”
Layering atmospheric guitars with a lyrical cry for help (‘will you save me from the waters that will wash me all away‘), ‘River Days’ reflects on the devastation of alcohol abuse, something Zaya and her younger brother and bandmate Nehemiah ‘Nemo’ Reuben have experienced first-hand in their own family.
“Growing up, especially in the Aboriginal culture, is certainly one of the major issues that crosses our communities. See how it can change people and the effects on family, how people can become more distant.
“It’s such a huge issue, I wanted to highlight how it affects Indigenous communities, I think the only thing we can do is highlight the issues first and acknowledge them.”
Zaya and Nemo are half Maori and half Torres Strait Islander and are “always connected to my culture”. Her grandfather migrated to the mainland in the early 1980s from Erub Island – a small island population of 400 closer to Papua New Guinea than Australia, while her grandfather’s family mother is from New Zealand. “So I have two beautiful cultures that I like to show through music and represent.”
He and his siblings have been around music “since we can remember. There were always acoustic guitars around the fire when mom and dad had family barbecues. They were calling us, ‘Can you come sing us a song? Come jam the guitar? To do this now on a bigger stage is a dream come true.
His dad also did “a lot of rapping and beatmaking” around Perth in the late 90s and 90s and gave his sons a lot of advice. “He was a little surprised when I decided to join a rock band, but he’s been supporting us all the way.”
Although based in Perth, Zaya “moved around a lot” growing up – constantly changing cities, schools and making new friends. He channeled those experiences into “Runaway,” a spacey version of surf rock punctuated with searing guitar solos.
Eventually settling from Far North WA to Perth led Zaya and Nemo to Josh, who is credited with connecting the brothers with band drummer Nathan Osborne and lead guitarist Fynn Samorali.
Josh was a kindred spirit who also came from a strong musical family and had moved from elsewhere.
“Our fathers are both musos,” he explains. “My old boy played bass, my uncle too. We just played a concert in Melbourne with my cousin, who also introduced me to the guitar…”
Josh was born in Nowra in New South Wales, making him a Kamilaroi/Yuin man on his father’s side, but when he was five his family packed up for Dongara – a small town four o’clock away. north of Perth, “this is probably my favorite place. I love it.”
The bassist first won a scholarship to attend Guildford Grammar in Perth playing football, but realized he focused on music when he realized it was his true passion .
It was a tough decision, and even after landing another scholarship – to attend WAAPA via a music award through local organization Madalah – he faced a backlash from family and community for pursue the arts during an athletic career. “Yeah, I did, but I just pushed and it’s paying off now.”
Zaya explains: “There is a huge stigma, especially when I was young, in indigenous communities around ‘don’t do that’. The only thing that is supported is sport and football. There are so many indigenous role models in football, it’s kind of the norm. And if you jump outside of that box, you slack off.
South Summit wants to follow in the footsteps of “See It, Be It” musical hits like Baker Boy and King Stingray, “I think it’s only going to help break that stigma where you have to play sports to be accepted.”
“We want to be those role models that if you want to do music and the arts – anything really – you should be able to do whatever you want,” he adds. “We want to do more work in Indigenous communities as a band. We have a good platform here… pushing that into music and sharing a larger positive message.
To that end, South Summit was proud to performing to inmates at Casuarina Prison in Rockhingham and are usually “very busy” during NAIDOC week. “We do a lot of gigs and workshops in schools, just playing for the younger kids and saying ‘If you do it, it can happen’.”
It’s easy to tie the ‘Be brave, make the change‘ Reconciliation week theme to South Summit ambitions, but in the spirit of reflection, what do they think the music industry could do better?
“Every time we go somewhere new on tour, we recognize the locals,” says Josh, who is encouraged to see more bands starting to do the same. “I think if the fans are more aware of where they are, the little stepping stones really make a difference.”
“Anything to do with recognition is positive, you can’t go wrong with that. As long as people shine a light on native culture, I’m happy.
“I think it shows how far our country has come, the support that Indigenous artists are getting now is so helpful, getting out there and really discovering the live music scene has shown that to us.”
But as crucial as their heritage and culture are to what they do, South Summit doesn’t want to be pigeonholed. “I would say it’s good to recognize that we’re indigenous, but again, I don’t want to be known as just the native band.
The weight of expectation can be heavy for any young band, and especially one well aware of the harsh realities First Nations people face daily in White Australia. But South Summit is meeting these challenges in the best possible way.
“I would say everyone has their burdens, but illuminating them helps lighten that burden. Take it out of our chest and it helps healing, and through music is the best way. As long as people hear the message and like the music, that’s all I can ask for.
What’s next for South Summit? When triple j calls, the band are in a Sydney studio with Ocean Alley producer Callum Howell – a huge moment for a band who are not just fans but have been compared favorably to Ocean Alley. They are recording a “new single, potentially, which will be part of a bigger project”.
This is in addition to a large number of tracks previously recorded in WA with producer Dave Parkin (Tired Lion, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Jebediah).
“He definitely broadened our musical knowledge,” Zaya says, “and even coming here with Cal, he’s such a magician behind the desk and really helps us move our music forward. It’s great to work with two great producers.
In the long term, there are designs for a debut album, but in the short term, we can expect to hear a new southern high around NAIDOC week, as well as an appearance at Queensland Spring Festival and another visit to the east coast in September. “We love it too much, we had to do it twice!”
Catch South Summit on tour on the dates below, more info on SouthSummitband.com.
South Summit ‘Tired Of Waiting’ 2022 Australian Tour
- Friday June 3 – Greaser Bar: Meanjin, Brisbane QLD – FREE ENTRY
- Saturday 4 June – Stone Festival: Bundjalung, Byron Bay NSW
- Friday June 10 – Mojo’s: Whadjuk Noongar, Perth WA
- Saturday June 11 – The River: Whadjuk Noongar, Margaret River WA
- Friday June 17 – Froth Brewing Co: Whadjuk Noongar, Exmouth WA
- Saturday June 25 – Y HQ: Whadjuk Noongar, Perth WA – ALL AGES