Hideous Towns, Lowtide, and Contrast tell us about Roogaze and what's it all about.

Shoegaze was a genre from late 80s to early 90s in the UK that was spearheaded by bands such as Slowdive,  My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain. It’s generally speaking really loud, with washy guitars with breathy vocals. The wall of sound from the stage is often overwhelming. It’s an asthetic that seems to be creeping up the ranks recently in Melbourne. So much so that a Roogaze event was held earlier in the year at The Tote. The term according to Alana West of Hideous Towns was coined by Gabriel Lewis, member of local band Lowtide to describe what she calls “shoegaze with bad accents”. With such a flurry of Roogaze bands out there and so many great releases coming out we decided to find out more about it. We caught up with Gabriel, Alana and Jack from Contrast to ask more about Roogaze and what’s happening in the scene.

To get a better picture of what Roogaze sounds like can you tell us what has influenced your own band's sounds?

Jack – I’ve always been keen to make noisy feedback shit like The Jesus and Mary Chain and James likes more smooth chorusy sorta stuff like Slowdive and then everyone in the band has a pretty solid love for The Church and I guess that’s the formula.

Gabriel – Growing up I listened to lots of classical music, and played violin from the age of five, so I suppose on guitar I am more interested in cascading, legato kinds of textures. Later on, when I went through the post rock thing, it was the Godspeed kind of approach to guitars and strings that really spoke to me. So, when I got into shoegaze that kind of approach just made sense. Especially with Slowdive.

Can you tell us more about the term Roogaze? Is it new? What’s the scene like?

Alana – I guess it’s a term coined by Gabriel Lewis from the band Lowtide. It’s the people and music that are a part of the Australian shoegaze revival.

Jack – Not new, but it’s definitely more prominent now. The local scene is cool, everyone’s real supportive and friendly. I feel like I’ve become friends with everyone who plays in similar bands really effortlessly. There’s too many great ones to name though nowadays, and I always leave some out, so if it’s up your alley and you don’t know any do a little searching around on the net and you will be thoroughly impressed.

Gabriel – My friend Hugh Owens was talking to me about all the new bands popping up in Melbourne and interstate lately, and dropped that term. I was pretty amused by it and kept using it when informing people overseas about new local acts. It’s not just Melbourne either. There’s a healthy scene up in Brisbane, and Sydney, and even Adelaide has a couple of really amazing bands. Enough for a few more Roogaze fests, at least!

What prompted you to do the Roogaze event?

Gabriel – It’s something I’d been wanting to do for a few years. There were so many great bands that I wanted to bring a bigger audience to. Earlier this year, Jack from Contrast was disappointed to have missed a tribute show that a few of the Melbourne bands were involved in so I wanted to put on something similar. We started talking about dates and venues and I guess it just snowballed from there.

For those who want to hear more about it what are some of your favourite releases from Roogaze bands that have come out recently?

Jack – Day Ravies – Liminal Zones album, Hideous Towns – Heart Attack (7 inch vinyl), Lowtide – Julia (7 inch vinyl)

Alana – Parading – All In Good Time, Luna Ghost – The Sea, Contrast – Drum Machine

Gabriel – It’s pretty hard to pin one particular release down. Hideous Towns and Contrast have some sweet 7 inches out, Bloodhounds On My Trail’s EP was a pretty satisfying listen. A new Melbourne band called Maybe that I have zero information on but have a sweet little four tracker up on bandcamp last month. My housemate Matt Hosking of VHS Dream has been busy putting together their debut album which I’ve heard a few little pearls drifting around the house. He’s also been recording the new Miniatures album, which I’m pretty curious about hearing. No idea what the ETA of that one is though. Knowing my own band, they don’t come quickly…

Who’s really kicking Roogaze goals right now?

Jack – All pretty different styles I guess but probably Orb, Lalic and Lowtide for live shows. Orb because they are the best band in Melbourne, Lalic have so much melancholy energy live and no one can do the shoegaze thing live like Lowtide, so them too.

Alana – Luna Ghost, Day Ravies, Contrast and Lowtide.

Gabriel – Hideous Towns have their 7 inch launch this weekend, which should be an awesome night. Flyying Colours picked up the A Place To Bury Strangers support and seem to be doing pretty well with their new single. VHS Dream are about to release their debut album.

It’s pretty clear that the scene is strong with bands all supporting each other. Can you let us know about any new shows you have coming up that we can see?

Alana – We’re launching our 7 inch Heart Attack at Bar Open on Saturday 8th of August with Pure Moods, Hawaii94 and Contrast.

Gabriel – In late August/early September we’re playing shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to launch the new 7 inch.