When I catch up with Great Gable, they’re soaking up the sun during a crisp morning in the park. The band are tired, but more so excited to be unleashing their new music to Aoteoaroa’s ears - the lush, sun-kissed sounds of their new album ‘On The Wall In The Morning Light’.
Photography by Oli Spencer
Written by Oli Spencer
Perth’s musical talent is more evident than ever right now. From the absolute giant that is Tame Impala, to Methyl Ethel, Kito, and newcomer Darcie Haven - among the mass of talent sits four-piece band Great Gable. The band consists of Alex Whiteman on vocals, Matt Preen on the guitar, Christopher Bye on the bass, and Callum Guy on the drums.
Their music instantly makes me imagine lush green leaves and a warm summer haze. That luscious essence coats each of the twelve tracks, recorded in paradise at Matt Corby’s newly done up Rainbow Valley Studios in Northern New South Wales. The album features the infectious opening track from the album ‘Dancing Shoes’ - one that had us hooked instantly - as well as the charmingly upbeat ‘Pedestal’ and the sweet rock’n roller ‘When I Grow Up’.
We sat down with Great Gable in Auckland during the NZ leg of their tour, to talk all about their new album ‘On The Wall In The Morning Light’, what it was like to work alongside Matt Corby, and breaking their sound out of their hometown.
When did you guys all meet?
Matt: Alex and I met when we were playing cricket, which was really young. 13 or
something, 15 years ago. But we started the band in 2014/ - 2015, then Cal met us in
2015 and Chris joined in 2017. It was a stagnated kind of process. I would say
officially it was 2017.
Do you remember the first time you all felt chemistry together?
Alex: Well I guess we first felt it when we started jamming with Chris, cause we had jammed with a couple of bass players and there was always a problem, I don’t know… it just didn’t work did it. Then we started playing with Chris. It was playing and probably just hanging out as well cause we have to spend so much time together, so we might as well get along. I suppose once we started gigging with Chris was probably when we realised we wanted to make the four work
So you guys are gearing up to release an album, how are you feeling about
Chris: Very excited, it’s been probably 18 months that we’ve been sitting on some
of these tunes, quite a lot of them came about during the first few lockdowns that
WA had so we couldn’t get together to write like we normally would. We had to
bounce ideas off each other until we could get together and actually jam. So actually having the songs out in person will be really nice.
How’d that feel to come back and finally play them together?
Callum: It was awesome, super refreshing. Felt cohesive again you know - spending a bit of time away from each other, then you come back together and more magic happens, we were just keen to jam. We’ve got a sweet spot in WA where we jam, so it was pretty sick aye.
Alex: I don’t think any of us get mad if we’re stuck apart from each other, like I think it’s good to spend a little bit of time…when you come back together you can always take a little bit longer to get everything oiled up again I suppose, but once it does it’s hard to stop.
I really love ‘Dancing Shoes’. How did that track come about?
Callum: I started writing it off the back of a holiday down South with a bunch of friends that I met. I don’t say it’s my song or anything cause once I’ve brought it to the guys everyone puts their own spin on it and it ends up being a whole new track. I think we came up with something really unique and original. It’s a super fun one, real carefree. It’s about taking chances and leaving your comfort zone.
What’s it like working alongside Matt Corby?
Alex: Great, Corbs is a legend, but he’s like… I don’t know, you hang out with him and he’s not too dissimilar from us or anything like that. You know he has things he doubts and stuff. It was kind of refreshing knowing you’re not the only one that doubts what you do and stuff. He’s got a good patience about him, he doesn’t rush you too much, he gets along with us all, there’s nothing I can dog him on. You don’t second guess too much of what Corby says, if he likes it then you stick with that you go oh yeah well if Corby likes it it must be alright.
Callum: He helped a lot with writing stuff, and really helped bring them up. We would get the songs up to about 80-85% done and he’d just kind of help take it to the next level, he’s really good at finding things for us so it was special.
Alex: And It’s cool to see him get excited about songs we had already written for a little while. We probably brought in 30 odd tracks or something, and then Corby and our other producer Alex Henriksson kind of picked out their 12 favourites. As we’d listen to these demos with Corby, it was really cool to see him get excited about these tunes that we’ve already been excited about, and also kind of gotten over at the same time cause we’ve had them for a while.
Can you think of anything you’ve taken away from the sessions you’ve had
with him that made yourselves better artists?
Matt: The best thing I learnt was being patient with the writing, cause I like to go and keep things moving… but both Alex and Matt can step away from the songs for a bit, kinda chill out and take the whole day to record. So yeah, learning to be patient with a song coming together.
Alex: It’s pretty handy he has his own studio, they’re a bit more experienced in that - whereas we usually have to be in and out.
Matt: Yeah instead of having a time schedule, but it’s good to be able to do both - when you need to finish songs in the last couple of days you can be like alright we’re in turbo mode.
Chris: Not being afraid to look at smaller sections of a song under a microscope and doing twenty takes just to get like 10 seconds right. I remember on a couple of songs with Corby there’d be like a section that wasn’t quite sitting right and it was searching for ideas on the bass for quite a while until we actually found something we were both happy with. It’s a cool thing to be able to come away with.
Callum: One more thing I’d say is being okay with the imperfections as well. I remember having one specific conversation with Corby about some of those moments and it’s like absolute gold. The tone of the drum might pop out, or something slightly out of time can give it a really cool effect. Not every note needs to be perfect.
"Everyone is keen to get out of Perth pretty much, they wanna play their music everywhere, and rightly so - there’s really good music coming out of Perth, it deserves to be heard all over the place."
There’s a lot of good music coming out of Perth, I feel like all the time, what does the city mean to you?
Matt: Love Perth, the weather is really nice. The people are sick, it’s a very tight knit community in the music scene. Everyone’s really supportive of each other as well.
Alex: But quite competitive at the same time you know. In a good way, in a sense that everyone is keen to get out of Perth pretty much, they wanna play their music everywhere, and rightly so - there’s really good music coming out of Perth, it deserves to be heard all over the place. There’s a good sense of friendship in the music scene, but then everyone also wants to one up each other. It drives us to do what we do. We all come from sporting backgrounds as well, so we are up for that. It drives us at times to pick up the guitar and start another song or something like that. You can get quite tired as a band playing on the east coast of Australia because it takes a long time before you start touring. There will be 3 or 4 years of people gigging around Perth, before they start playing on the East coast. Not sure if you know WA, but Perth is literally the only place, there’s nothing else there, it’s Perth. You can go down, but all the gigs are in Perth, so you’re limited to what you can do. Whereas on the East coast you can travel back and forth – Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra.
Callum: It definitely feels more special to play music over East because you are so far away.
Alex: Yeah even coming here, they’re like oh are you guys from Melbourne or something, it’s like no motherfucker we’re from Perth.
Chris: It makes more of an impression on the people that come to the shows If you’re a band from the West coast that’s selling out on the East Coast or NZ cause you have to invest so much time and resources.