Despite the fickle nature of Sydney, Australia's live scene, rock quartet the Lockhearts have been earning acclaim locally and internationally.
Formed in Sydney in 2012 and led by vocalist Tim Meaco, the Lockhearts boast a melody-driven approach to modern rock. They recently released their debut single, "Freakshow," and are planning the next step in their journey.
GuitarWorld.com recently caught up with the band for a discussion about "Freakshow" and their growth in the local scene, plus gear, future plans and more.
GUITAR WORLD: Tell me about your journey since you formed in 2012 and became the house band at the Ziggy Pop Spectrum in Sydney.
Meaco: Playing the weekly residency at Ziggy Pop has been amazing. Originally we were asked to headline for the first couple of months, but the crowd kept growing and asking us to come back. There was no way we were turning down a weekly show at a great inner-city location on Oxford Street. We’re a live band, after all.
Before all that, we spent almost every waking hour in our rehearsal studio writing and working on our live set, just dying to get on a stage. As soon as we had a bunch finished, we hit the recording studio and laid them down, including our first single, "Freakshow," which got to the top 10 rock charts on iTunes Australia and Number 2 on MTV Hits Australia, which was really exciting for our first release.
What's the rock and roll scene like in Sydney nowadays?
Fleeting and diverse. The “scene” is always changing, from garage rock, blues, indie, rockabilly and metal, there’s a lot of sub-genre variety. Like any major city, there is a lot of talent around, but bands are constantly coming and going, and so are our live venues. It's tough for a lot of bands to get regular shows due to the rise and fall of venues that support live music. It's not always the most nurturing environment, but it's certainly a good test of your determination and resilience. Which every young band needs.
You released "Freakshow" recently, and it seems you're going to release new music in small doses. What's the reasoning behind that? Why aren't you putting out a conventional full-length album or EP like most other bands?
We’ve watched too many bands give it away early, put out a full-length release with a half-cocked plan and end up with their record fading into obscurity. We didn’t want to fall into that trap. The reason we’re doing it this way is, as a new band we want to always have something recent available on the market and be prepared with new music to release regularly, while building our live show and extending our reach.
How much new music have you completed?
We’ve got eight songs down and ready to go and plenty more that are ready to hit the recording studio. We never stop writing.
Your music is characterized by catchy guitar riffs and choruses. How challenging is it, in your opinion, to come up with a riff that instantly catches the listener's attention?
Age [lead guitar] and I worked together on the riffs for "Freakshow," and what you hear is a true collaboration. But what really pulled this song together was the rhythm. A guitar riff is only as good as the foundation under it, the driving bass line and primal beat are what give it girth. It can definitely be challenging, but we’ve found the key is to not over think it. We know it’s a great riff when it feels right to all of us, when the whole band is grooving and it gets stuck in your head. It's all about what serves the song.
What's the guitar setup you guys use for recording music and playing shows?
Age: Gibson Les Paul Custom / Gibson SG / EVH 5150 III + Orange Speaker Cab
Tim: Gretsch Duo Jet / The Heritage H-150 / Epiphone Wilshire Phantomatic / Marshall JCM900 SL-X + Marshall JCM800 cab
As Gibson artists, you’ll never find us without a Les Paul or SG in the arsenal!
Your music video "Freakshow" is very creative and colorful. Whose concept was that and how much of an input did the band have in it?
Thank you! It was a lot of fun to make. Everything we release always has the whole band’s creative input. We worked closely with feature film director Tanzeal Rahim to come up with a concept we liked. We definitely wanted to bring a psychedelic element to the visual.
For people unfamiliar with your music, what kind of bands would you say the Lockhearts draw parallels with? In other words, fans of what bands might like your music?
One thing we’ve been told constantly after live shows is that people find it difficult to pigeonhole us, which is great! "Freakshow" was once reviewed as “somewhere between Queen and the Black Keys,” so perhaps that’s a good start.
Have you played shows outside Sydney, or do you plan to do so any time soon?
We played two shows with Aussie legends the Baby Animals earlier last year up the coast of New South Wales, but this year we are planning on traveling a bit further and playing more interstate shows. We're very excited to get to Melbourne, Brisbane and other major cities.
I've never seen you live, but I somehow feel that your studio recording of "Freakshow" captures the energy you would have on a stage while playing that song. Is that a fair assessment?
For sure, we always aim to capture our live energy in the studio but once we’re on the stage anything can happen – i.e. it can be hard to capture the sound of your bass player jumping into the drum kit. We do change up the arrangement to keep it fun too!
Andrew Bansal is a writer who has been running his own website, Metal Assault, since early 2010, and has been prolific in covering the hard rock and heavy metal scene by posting interviews, news, reviews and pictures on his website — with the help of a small group of people. He briefly moved away from the Los Angeles scene and explored metal in India, but he is now back in LA continuing from where he left off.