- £16 +BF
Colston Hall and SThings present
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
+ Pip Blom
14+ (under 16s with an adult)
After years spent looking out at landscapes and loved ones and an increasingly unstable world, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have turned their gaze inward, to their individual pasts and the places that inform them, on their second record, Sideways to New Italy.
Lead by singer-songwriter-guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney, the guitar-pop five-piece returned home to Australia after the relentless touring schedule that came following the release of their critically regarded debut 'Hope Downs'. After feeling the literal and metaphorical ground under their feet had shifted, the band began grasping for something reliable.
For Keaney, that translated into writing "pure romantic fiction" and consciously avoiding the temptation of angsty break-up songs, while Russo looked north to a "bizarre place" that captured the feeling of manufacturing a sense of home when his own had disappeared.
The eponymous New Italy is a village near New South Wales’s Northern Rivers – the area drummer Marcel Tussie is from. A blink-and-you'll-miss-it pit-stop of a place with fewer than 200 residents, it was founded by Venetian immigrants in the late-1800s and now serves as something of a living monument to Italians' contribution to Australia, with replica Roman statues dotted like alien souvenirs on the otherwise rural landscape. The parallels of the way the band attempted to maintain connections and create familiarity during their disorienting time on the road was apparent to Russo. "These are the expressions of people trying to find home somewhere alien: trying to create utopia in a turbulent and imperfect world."
In addition to that specific place, the songs on the record exist variably in Darwin (Cameo), Melbourne (Beautiful Steven, Cool Change), the tiny town of Rushworth (Not Tonight) and the driver's seat of a car at a drive-in movie (Cars in Space). Rolling Blackouts are well-versed in a detailed and cinematic style of songwriting, where landscapes, interactions and memories materialise as characters and stories that reflect the tight, swirling guitars that emote alongside the trio's voices.
The record’s lead single Cars in Space is emblematic of the band’s approach to songwriting. After arriving at an instinctual space while jamming, they bottle the specific chemistry that comes of the five of them locking into one another, and “reverse-engineer them into a weird pop song”, White explains. The panicky helplessness of realising a break-up is imminent is brought to life not just through Keaney’s lyrics, but sonically through a spiral of three guitars, dueling and dancing around one another in a way Rolling Blackouts have mastered.
The record's very present geographic identity emerged from the band losing their grip on their own, whether that was through the pressure of touring, the dissolution of relationships, a frustrating distance from their daily lives – or some combination of all three – that came from being slingshotted all over the world, playing sold out headline tours and festivals including Coachella, Governors Ball, Primavera Sound, All Points East and Pitchfork Music Festival.