SPOTLIGHT : JOHN LAWRIE AND THE WELCOME STRANGERS
Sydney rockers John Lawrie & The Welcome Strangers have been making waves with their eclectic blend of indie rock, shogaze and the blues. We asked their fearless leader John Lawrie to see what really goes on behind all those Red Walls.
Q.) For those new to your music; can you give us the rundown?
A.) I think the best approximation we’ve settled on is calling it ‘bluegaze’. It’s a sort of Springsteen meets Slowdive, with a whole lot of un-ironic, crappy 80’s pop in there. Essentially it’s serious songs not taken seriously. Sad songs with a smile.
Q.) So, who are the Welcome Strangers? And where did the name come from?
A.) The Welcome Strangers are the wonder band that help me bring the songs to life with their own unique flare and flavours. Tom Petty has his Heartbreakers, Bob Dylan has The Band, Neil Young had Crazy Horse, and I have these gems. The name came to me in the shower, initially as a name for a side project, but was the perfect fit for this band.
Q.) How does the creative process look for you as individual? And how does that differ when working with a band?
A.) Almost all of our material is written first by myself alone, usually recording as I go. The songs tend to be quite personal and introspective, so it helps me to forge the song as a whole alone. It also lets me have control over the direction and sound in a way that’s less democratic, but perfect for this project. When the song is all done, I’ll give the Strangers the demo and tell them to learn it before practice. Then the fun begins where I get to hear each of the band members imprint their own unique identities into the song in how they approach tone, rhythms and ideas for arranging. I get the best of both worlds with the clarity and focus of a single song writer, with the live feel and excitement of a band with a shared history and individuality.
Q.) When can we expect the next release? Single? EP?
A.) Good question! We’ve got an EP that’s just in the final stages, and about two or so other ‘projects’ in the pipeline that I’m really excited about. 2019 should be a huge year for releases from us!
Q.) What’s your dream festival line up?
A.) Would have to contain The National, The War on Drugs, Springsteen, Dylan, Beach House, who ever else is in my top played on Spotify. Oh, and hopefully us, but we’d probably suck by comparison.
Q.) Out of the band members, who would make the best Prime Minister?
A.) Definitely not me. Probably Keely, I feel like she’s the most choleric and organised out of us. Although, Andy would be the most comforting to the nation though in a time of crisis.
Q.) What were the highlights of 2018? And what can we expect in 2019?
A.) It was nice to put out Blinded early on, but also I feel like we really settled into our ‘sound’ live over the year which is exciting. Keen to get some more tunes out to folks over the year and hopefully capture that sound to crunch up in headphones for people’s daily commute.