They’ve only released three songs, but the band tell us there’s a lot more to come.
At the very beginning of 2021, Kaurna Land / Adelaide group of five indie-rock musicians Placement released their first single ‘Harder’.
Angular, atmospheric, propulsive and impossible to ignore, it remains one of the most exciting Australian outings of the year.
They have since released their first EP Lost sun, with ‘Harder’ and two equally engaging tracks of loud but beautiful indie rock.
If these songs weren’t so exciting, we wouldn’t think of such a truncated release. But due to the quality of the material, releasing just three songs sounds like a tease.
“We always said we weren’t going to sacrifice quality for quantity”, guitarist Alex cherman said.
“I’m pretty passionate about being particular about the compositions themselves. I think you can have great ideas, but if they aren’t executed well then it all falls apart.”
But there is a small grain of perfectionism in the group’s collective psyche – but especially in Dearman’s way of working – that might further explain the group’s limited production over their two years together.
“I think we organize ourselves too much sometimes,” Dearman says.
“We work on things over and over again”, clarinet and saxophonist Stu patterson said.
“Sometimes it’s a bit like, ‘Why the hell are we doing this?’ but it works. Because then it doesn’t turn into chaos. “
None of the members of Placement are new to music, but the idea of the band from the start was to do something that neither of them had really done before.
“I had a few ideas up and running,” Dearman says. “I had an idea of how I wanted to approach my instrument, which would be different from any other project I had done.”
After meeting the singer Malia porter at a local show, the two creatives became close friends and looked to start collaborating.
“We got to a point where we were like, ‘Okay, I think we have an idea here. Let’s chat with people we find inspiring in the area and see if they want to come together “.”
One of those people was Patterson, who gives Placement a distinctive point of difference through his clarinet and saxophone work.
“I had never played clarinet in a punk band before, so it was a little weird to be honest,” says Patterson.
“We experimented with sounds and eventually got some good amps and pedals to go with the clarinet.”
Experimentation is a big part of Placement’s modus operandi. Rather than starting with prescriptive ideas about the sound of the band, they gave themselves the time and space to let their art
“We were just fighting, really,” Dearman admits.
“I was playing in this open chord that I composed specifically for the band. Stu was still figuring out their thing and there was this vocal delivery. [from Wearn].
“But it all really clicked when we jammed with Kim [Roberts], the bass-player.
“Kim comes from that real alternative rock, 90s rock, kind of a backstory. She’s usually a guitarist, but came up with the bass, turned on the fuzz pedal, and smashed those groovy riffs. And then that. just clicked. We knew we had something at that point. “
Center-left musical ideas – spoken vocals, bizarre guitar tunings, punk rock clarinet – were all part of the band’s quest for attention. And they didn’t care if that attention was positive.
“I was tired of doing the same thing every day with music,” Patterson says. “Starting from the idea of ’Let’s just try to do something that people won’t necessarily like, but [something] we want to do ‘.
“It’s better to polarize at the start,” Dearman suggests. “If it’s a little difficult, then you’re at least trying to push new horizons.”
There is a clear reverence for the loud New York City of the early 1980s through the work the group has released so far. But the inspiration for creating outside of the fields they’ve worked in before is also inspired by that time and place.
“If you were a filmmaker, you’d go start a punk band,” Dearman says of New York’s no wave scene. “If you were a painter you would become an actor. People were trying to figure it out by stepping out of their comfort zone completely.
“You kind of unlock that fundamental or primitive sense of what art is. Rather than overthinking it, it’s so new to you that the first thing that comes out is a bit organic and has a sense of rhythm that’s natural, everyone goes ‘oh that was pretty cool’.
“When it’s the first time you do something, you unlock this new wave of creativity.”
Fans of arty, noisy, post-punk could have a great time spotting the influences of Placement’s work. But the group doesn’t necessarily take inspiration from the most obvious places you might suspect.
It’s hard not to compare singer Malia Werle’s sprechgesang with that of Florence Shaw from beloved British band Dry Cleaning. It was a different group, from a similar part of the world, that Dearman hoped Placement could channel.
“When we started the band, I had never heard of Dry Cleaning,” says Dearman. “There’s this group from Leeds called Drahla that I really like.”
The love of detuned guitars comes from a more obvious place, however.
“I mean, Sonic Youth is my favorite band and I think it’s pretty obvious in my guitar playing,” Dearman says. “I’ve loved them since I was a kid.”
The pandemic has taken Placement out of the way, but those who catch the group live as they make their inevitable
“We’re influenced by the artistic performance element of bands like Talking Heads,” Dearman says.
“When we were younger and we went to see a band, there was that kind of performative element. You weren’t just going to hear a band play. It was a show. It’s – like a vision, like an idea – is as influential as other creative projects.
“For me, it was about pushing all of these influences through a lens rather than focusing on one specific thing.”
These influences should be a good entry point for someone who hasn’t heard from the band yet. But they don’t feel particularly important once you hear the Placement songs.
What’s much more interesting is the way these post-punk tracks were made. They are full of often contradictory sound ideas, such as poetry, noise, melody, propulsion, rigidity and experimentation with free forms.
Despite this kitchen-sink approach, Placement’s songs aren’t too crowded. They are full of space, which makes their moments of tension deeper. It doesn’t come easy.
“The reason the songs sound well thought out is because they are and because we have a good relationship with each other,” says Dearman.
“It’s extremely encouraging and transparent when it comes to music.
“I think I have the courage to turn around and say, ‘Guys, this song sucks.’ like your guitar part. Let’s continue to work on it ‘.
“Having that relationship so you can do that … I think that’s probably the answer. Good relationship.”
The tedious writing and arrangement also helps. But, as the group look to their next outing, they know there’s a balance to be struck between getting things done and making it perfect.
“I’m really trying to get Alex back in shape,” Patterson says of their groupmate and roommate. “I go to work and then I come home, and he’s been working on the same line of guitars for 12 straight hours. And I’m like ‘Alex, that doesn’t sound any different from when I left.’
“I think Alex’s got a lot better than when he started. He comes to a point where he goes into dangerous ground, where you get too much of a perfectionist, and then you don’t do anything.”
“Maybe sometimes I’m a little too pedantic about the little things,” Dearman admits.
“But I think the reason we haven’t released a lot of music is that we’re still a pretty young band, and we’re still finding out. I feel like we’re sort of clicking. with the sound that we want now. “
The group’s newest single, “Disintegrate”, could be a good example of where they are heading.
It starts off more post-rock than post-punk, as the melody and timbre of Wearn’s vocals and Patterson’s clarinet thicken his sweet intro.
Halfway through, the song slows down. The group launches into an urgent and lively verse and a short but catchy chorus.
“I think there are a few other songs that are a bit more progressive,” Patterson says of their new material.
“For a while we kind of got stuck in [the idea] that the songs must have a little more of a trip. We didn’t sit down and say it had to be like that, that’s just how it started to come out. “
There will be another EP shortly, with an album to follow in the not too distant future.
“There are songs that go down that dark, angular path,” Dearman says. “But they’re a little more fun. Big, funny riffs like Sonic Youth, and Malia sings a little more.
“A lot of people compare us to dry cleaning and we didn’t want to just say ‘Oh, well, we better live up to that expectation.’
So far, Placement has served well by letting trial and error lead them to creative success. Who can say it has to stop anytime soon?
“We didn’t mean, ‘This is the sound of placement,’” Dearman says. “We were like, ‘Let’s just write songs.
“Some of them are that kind of spooky, sprawling trips, and some of them are just tight little pop songs. And one of the tracks will be pretty much just abrasive noise. It’s pretty varied. . “
Placement play Wundenberg’s Recording Studios, Adelaide on Saturday November 27 and Yours and Owls Festival, Wollongong on Sunday April 3
Lost sun EP is now available