With one sleep to go until the eagerly awaited launch of debut album Never Saw It Coming from local lads Iowa, I get to know the band during a chat with bassist Jordan Barczak; from the band’s beginnings, the album creation, to what’s in store for the future and why it’s so hard to dig up information about them online.
“I was coming home from a trip overseas and was reading a music magazine. At the back was a list of independent music stores and for some reason I wrote them down. Later, when we were all talking about band names, I had the list in my phone still and it just seemed to stick out.”
“Once we started putting music on the internet, though, there were a few irate Slipknot fans spamming our band pages like, ‘Iowa isn’t a band, it’s a legendary Slipknot album, man!’ Then there’s the Russian singer named Iowa, who’s popping up and getting a bit of cross promotion on her last.fm page,” Jordan laughs.
“So it is hard to Google us, especially this year with the presidential race on in America, and the anniversary of Slipknot’s album, there’s heaps going on [online].”
Iowa, the band, have been around for about 2 and half years and released music on red and green 7” before even playing a show. “We’ve always been a 3 piece. Myself and Dylan [Stewart, lead singer and guitarist], have known each other through uni and various bands we’ve played in. We’ve always said we’ve wanted to get a band together and after Dylan returned from overseas, he was inspired after a performance of My Bloody Valentine. He called me up and said, ‘We’ve gotta start that band we’ve always talked about’. So we drafted in a drummer and started jamming. We didn’t have any expectations to start with, we just wanted to test the waters.”
“We were quite happy with what we were doing; just writing songs and playing live and we didn’t think we’d be able to achieve making an album. But after writing about 5 or 6 new songs we realised, ‘Oh wow, we’ve almost got an album going on here’ so we knuckled down and got a few more songs done. That ties into the title, Never Saw It Coming.”
Iowa’s sound is red raw and meant to be heard as loudly as possible. They play rough, intense and fuzzy rock highly influenced by the likes of Dinosaur Jr. and Iggy And The Stooges. The songs they write are often products of a simple jam session with the amps turned up as loud as possible.
“That’s exactly the perk of recording all of our rehearsals, it’s the ultimate songwriting tool and preproduction tool – a lot of our songs build off those captured, magic jams. It’s like you don’t actually know what you’re playing, you’re just in the moment but then you listen back and think, wow, that was really cool, let’s try to build off that or use it somewhere else. I think that’s where the majority of our songs come from, from those first-time jams, and then we sit it down, rewrite it and cater the lyrics.”
“Songwriting-wise, it’s quite collaborative. There’s a couple of songs Dylan has put together himself but this is the way I see the dynamics of the band – I see myself as the arranger and then Dylan brings in the ideas. Lyrically, Dylan’s in control; he’s got a real knack for that. We collaborate together and this is the way it’s always worked so well.”
They have a soft spot for the Tote: “A lot of the time you can struggle with stage sound but at the Tote you can play nice and loud, it’s not too big and the PA is really good in there so you can turn it up which is a main feature of the band,” Jordan laughs. “So we need a decent PA to handle all of our amps and oversize drums and stuff, so it’s a favourite!” But the album launch will be at Phoenix Public House. “We’ve never played there but seen great bands there before so we’re really excited about that.”
“The Forum is definitely the best in Melbourne. That’s the dream venue; hopefully one day… we could support one of our idols maybe. I think that’s a driving force; it’d be incredible to play there.”
They’ve got a busy few months ahead as they promote the new album and have already landed a couple of big support slots yet to be announced. “And we were hoping to do some shows in Brisbane and Sydney for the album in May but I think we’ve spent a bit too much on the vinyl! So maybe June/July for the East coast. And then we’ll be in festival season again, so it’d be nice to get a couple of slots there and sideshow supports and stuff. Maybe an EP. We haven’t done an EP yet!”
Jordan’s bubbling enthusiasm for the band is evident and spills over for their support band from Brisbane, Tape/Off. “They’re my favourite band. It’s ridiculous, I’m sounding a bit like a tragic music fan but I reckon they’re the best Australian band to come about in the last five years. Like, I haven’t been blown away lately until I heard those guys. I think if I looked at my iTunes play ranking, they’d be well at the top.”
The outlook, reckons Jordan, is pretty good all round. “We’re doing everything the way we wanted to, all the things we wanted to do as a band: record a couple of 7”, do an album – it’s coming out on yellow vinyl – and play with the bands we want to play with. It’s a nice way to remain inspired because all too often you get caught up in the landscape of the music industry and we try to detach ourselves from all of that; just do what we do and have fun doing it. It seems to be working well.”
Iowa launch Never Saw It Coming in Melbourne tomorrow night at The Phoenix Public House. If you’re quick you might still get a ticket.