Next time you’re on a tram, take a look at those around you. That stranger catching your eye might just end up being your new bandmate.
Forty Thousand Sisters formed last winter after elusive frontman Ferny Taylor was approached by Dyana Gray on a tram, “she was a fan of my solo stuff and came up to me. I think we exchanged numbers but we didn’t speak for months,” says Taylor of the pair’s fateful meeting.
When the two met again they wasted no time. Running into one another at a bar they chatted about perhaps recording a demo someday and that they did. Not just a demo, but a whole album worth of quality tracks.
The band forming in such an organic way is no surprise considering Taylor’s concept for the name came from the belief we are all connected or related.
Forty Thousand Sisters blend musical styles creating catchy songs, lyrics you can relate to and beautiful riffs; citing an extensive list of influences that include The Birthday Party, Bowie, Galaxy 500 and Billie Holiday.
These are songs about youth, loss, booze and anti-heroes, and despite listing personal favourites like Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth and Sparklehorse – Taylor isn’t interested in genres, “It’s pop music and rock, but these days you don’t have to pigeon hole yourself into any particular genre”.
Being a relatively new band can be intoxicating and the subsequent quest for social media hype – ‘likes’ on Facebook, followers on Twitter – can take over. Forty Thousand Sisters have gone back to basics, recording an enormous amount of content to release and creating quality video clips before worrying about the internet.
However, Taylor does agree it’s important to get your name out there, “There’s social media but I don’t know what works,” he admits, “I don’t like Twitter or Facebook and every band has an account.”
He thinks word of mouth is the way to go, “It’s a lottery ticket. You have to keep writing songs or you’ll never get played, but you might just sneak into a show and make some money but if you haven’t got your feelers out there, it’s not going to happen”.
Taylor believes music is art, “It’s good to be able to do your art on the chance it might get recognised. In Australia it’s mainstream, big record labels and D.I.Y bands. I think the D.I.Y bands are the most important ones in Australia. They’re really out there working and that’s what it’s all about,” says the singer.
Within months, Forty Thousand Sisters have written, recorded and – just last week – released their debut album Goodbye Broken Sled. They recorded in Taylor’s home studio, “We stayed up for four or five days writing. I think we wrote about 30 songs and only had to drop 16 for the album.”
The album is lo-fi, free flowing and draws on many styles, but “lyrically, it’s very abstract;” says Taylor, “talking about growing up and weird upbringings. When you’re writing songs, you kind of relate to your past, putting your mindset to where you were at that time.”
Not only have they produced a really great album, Forty Thousand Sisters now have two accompanying clips for ‘Dust and Drag’ and ‘I Used to Be an Astronaut’. The former is a clip full of old footage and looks like the home videos of someone’s super attractive parents. Taylor explains, “it was footage from a beauty pageant in the seventies. It kind of represents trying to be something you’re not even sure you want to be.”
The latest clip, for ‘I Used to Be an Astronaut’, directed by Brett Ludeman, is something special. A tale of teen angst, runaways and love shot beautifully on a suburban background. “Brett [Ludeman] and I come up with the ideas. We like the concept of outsiders, people in love, tough upbringings and Brett got some great Australian actors. I was never there during the filming because I was off recording but it came out amazing.”
With their album launch at Melbourne’s newly reopened Ding Dong Loung imminent, you might want to make the effort to see this band live as they don’t plan on doing it too often, “We don’t play much to tell the truth, because we want to keep live shows special with only maybe two or three a year”.
How special? Taylor tells of one infamous show earlier this year in Melbourne, “I got a Ukrainian Orchestra and a choir on stage with us so there was like thirty people singing our songs.”
What you can expect this time around will be more like ten people on stage with keyboards, multiple drummers and great support acts, “There are a few great bands, a young one called Warmth Crashes In and also Sirens of Venice featuring former Gersey frontman Craig Jackson. It’s so exciting”.
All three bands will appear at the Ding Dong launch show, speaking of the return of the venue, Taylor says although he hasn’t played there before, he can’t wait to: “I’ve seen gigs there and it’s opened up again which is great.”
Adding, “I was reading this story on Hamer Hall and how it brings in so much money and I just wish they’d put more money into smaller gig venues rather than places K.D Lang can play because other small bands might not get the chance to play live.”
While it would seem normal after an album, a launch and a couple of video clips in a matter of months to have a bit of a rest, that’s not the style of Forty Thousand Sisters. “We’re just playing it day by day now,” says Taylor. “Seeing how it all goes but I want to start writing again and move on to the next album I guess, it’s winter!”
Goodbye Broken Sled is out now.
What: Forty Thousand Sisters’ Goodbye Broken Sled Album Launch
When: 8pm Friday August 3rd
Who: Forty Thousand Sisters, Sirens Of Venice & Warmth Crashes In
Where: Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne
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