FeaturesWritten by Brenton Harris on September 9, 2019
Dear Seattle have had the type of year that all young bands dream of.
They released their debut full-length Don’t Let Go (via Domestic La La) to widespread acclaim, toured the country playing sold out shows with their friends, took the stage of some of Australia’s biggest festivals and produced a stellar Like A Version of Missy Higgins’ ‘The Special Two’ that was so special Missy Higgins herself gave it an approving nod.
That type of year is enough to build up a hard earned thirst, and a hard earned thirst needs a big cold beer and the best cold beer is….umm….Beer Seattle? Yep. That’s right BEER SEATTLE. To coincide with the band appearing at Brisbane’s Beer InCider Experience, Dear Seattle have collaborated with Sydney’s Philter Brewing to create their very own, limited edition brew.
Frontman/one of the nicest dudes in music, Brae Fisher hopped (get it) on the phone to have to chat to Music Feeds about all things Dear Seattle, Beer Seattle and a (sadly hypothetical, for now) ska band supergroup consisting of members of Oasis, Rage Against The Machine, Karnivool and Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Music Feeds: Brae, thanks for chatting to Music Feeds, how’s this plane of existence treating you today?
Brae Fisher: Pretty good now man, was feeling a bit crook earlier, but not too bad now thankfully! I’m just finishing off a curry with some chilli powder, so that’s making me come around a bit!
MF: Wise strategy, a good curry cures everything.
BF: Hahaha, true man, it’ll blast it all out of the system.
Now 2019 has been a HUGE year for Dear Seattle with the release of Don’t Let Go, a stack of positive press, a run of sold out shows, and now, your very own beer! You must be pretty stoked with how it’s all gone?
BF: Yeah man, it’s been a good year and Beer Seattle is the perfect way to top it all off, kind of a dream come true for us, truthfully!
MF: Let’s talk about the beer for a moment, the pun-intentionally named Beer Seattle by Philter brewing, which is being released to coincide with the Beer InCider Experience, how did it all come about?
BF: Funnily enough man, the name Beer Seattle and just the general idea of us doing our own beer has been kicking around for about as long as the band has! So when the Beer InCider Experience presented us with the opportunity, we had to take it! It’s really cool to be able to work with Philter on it as well, because they’re a local brewer, based not too far from where we live here in Sydney, so it’s got that super homegrown feel to it. It feels organic.
MF: What did the process involve for you, I mean obviously you didn’t brew it yourselves, but did you provide tasting notes?
BF: We actually did brew it ourselves man! Well, we were involved in the brewing of it I should say, we got to go down to the brewery for a day and spend some time seeing how the process of brewing beer works, having our input on what grains should go into Beer Seattle, explaining what we wanted it to taste like and getting to see how you create those tasting notes. It was a really cool experience, because we obviously drink beer more or less weekly, and like most musos we quite enjoy it, but we’d never really given the “how’s it made?” much thought before. It’s actually really fascinating!
MF: Is there anything included that makes it specifically suited to Dear Seattle?
BF: It’s brewed to our collective preferences, so I guess you could say it tastes like Dear Seattle. We basically just wanted to create a beer that’s easy to drink and not too crafty, the perfect beer while enjoying live bands, and I think we’ve achieved that. It’s kind of a nice little blend between the interests of a lot of rock music fans; beer and live music just go together so well.
MF: Was having your own beer on your bucket list? Is it something you’d want to investigate more?
BF: It’s definitely something we’re happy to have done. It’s been a really cool experience, and we’ve had a few chats focused on it maybe being rolled out in other states, if it goes well at the festival, so that would be awesome!
MF: Now the festival itself has a cracking and diverse line-up, are you looking forward to playing to some new people?
BF: We always like playing to new people. I think the real point of difference between this festival and the ones we typically play is that the crowd might skew a little bit older, not old old, but you know, the age where you’re more interested in having a quality brew than a quantity of brews and more interested in enjoying some music than getting hammered in the pit.
MF: Are there any acts that you yourself are looking forward to checking out for the first time?
BF: Charlie Collins is actually a good friend of my girlfriend, who I’ve never seen play before. My girlfriend adores her, so I’m really looking forward to being able to experience that for the first time!
MF: Moving on from Beer Seattle and getting back to Dear Seattle, Don’t Let Go came out back in February, has the record been received the way you thought it would be?
BF: Maybe a little bit better than I thought it would be! I mean, I was confident coming out of the recording process and really felt like we’d put everything into making the best record that we could, but even so, I am chuffed with the response. It’s actually something I’ve been talking to people about a lot recently; the difference between self-confidence and arrogance. There’s a huge distinction, one being healthy and one not so much. I’m just glad to say that my self-confidence in what we do as a band has never wavered, and really helps me throw everything into what we do. It feels good to be creative without doubting yourself. So I guess I felt we’d put in the effort and made an album that would warrant a good reaction, but it’s definitely been even more positive than expected and we’ve been so pleased with how the record connected with people and continues to connect with people now.
MF: That’s super rare and valuable insight to have man, especially in Australia, where we have this cultural conditioning that a person can’t be seen to be show confidence or pride in what they do, when the reality is that if you’ve gone to the painstaking effort of making a record, you’ve earned the right to say, hey, this is me and I think it’s the best me I can be. You should be able to say it’s good.
BF: You’ve hit the nail on the head there man. It’s about finding that line between confidence and arrogance. I personally find arrogance to the most unattractive trait a human being can have, so I always strive to stay on the right side of that line, which can be tricky and definitely open to interpretation, but I think so far, the trick is in staying true to myself, true to ourselves and honest and humble with fans. I’m thankful I get to write songs I want to write, expressing the things I want to express, with my friends by my side, and I just try to do that to the best of my ability. As long as that remains the case, that’s all that matters to me.
MF: It’s an absolute corker of a record that really builds on the sonic template of your EP, introducing some new dynamics that really help to define a signature Dear Seattle sound, now you know what Dear Seattle sounds like, does it make it a bit easier to move forward?
BF: It probably makes it a bit harder to move on, actually. We’ve started working on the next record and it’s one of those things where you need to find a way to change things up and bring in new elements, so you’re not just rehashing what you’ve done previously. By the same token though, you don’t want to completely abandon your sound, because that’s obviously what people connect with. I think we’ll come up with something that’s a little bit different, but won’t shake that Dear Seattle sound, because the thing about this band is that we have always written what feels natural to us. We write the music that we want to hear, and as long as we don’t stray too far from that, and start worrying about what other people or the industry want from us, I’m sure we’ll end up with something good we can all be proud of again.
MF: Stepping back into Don’t Let Go for a moment. Are there any particular songs that have become crowd favourites that have honestly surprised you?
BF: ‘Let Me Bleed’ is one for sure. People seem to have really connected with the vibe of the song and the lyrical message, which is awesome. The song is about the feeling of not being able to provide for the one you love as much as they deserve, and the fear that they might leave you at some point because of that and all you have to offer to counter that is a promise that things will get better, but you can’t ever actually know that’s the case. I think I’m most surprised about people loving this one because it’s track 8 on the record and we weren’t sure people would even get that far in, haha!
MF: The second point you touch on there is valid too because in 2019 the popular thought is that people do not really listen to records, but ‘Let Me Bleed’ seems to indicate that at least as far as Don’t Let Go is concerned, that’s not the case!
BF: That’s it man. I’m genuinely really appreciative and happy that it’s worked out that way though, because we don’t want to be a single focused band – we want to write albums. We put a lot of effort into making sure that the record flowed nicely and that it offered enough variation to keep people engaged. We feel that we truly made a record, as opposed to just a bunch of random songs tacked onto the end of a run of singles up front. So it’s validating in that sense that a song like ‘Let Me Bleed’ can get that much attention, it kinda shows that we got it right!
MF: Now I was working at a University when “Maybe” first dropped and you better believe the opening lines got quite the workout on the office stereo! Humour aside, was Dear Seattle your life’s plan A, B, C – Z or did you just sort of stumble into it?
BF: Which University?
MF: That’s for me to know, but let’s just say a very popular one in Melbourne.
BF: Haha, got to save face, smart. As for the question man, this gets back to what I was saying before, about having confidence in myself. In the early days, I didn’t necessarily think that Dear Seattle was going to by my life’s plan, but I did know that I wanted music to be my life’s focus. I knew that I wanted to write and perform songs and really work on my craft, and I thought that if I did that well enough, often enough and worked hard enough, that eventually something would happen. It’s definitely been a nice surprise that it happened with Dear Seattle so relatively quickly though!
MF: From your video clips to your music to your merch, to your choice of label, and even the supports that you choose, everything related to Dear Seattle seems perfectly insync, obviously now that’s quite a deliberate choice, but was this how you visualised it at the very start?
BF: Thanks man! This band has always just done what we wanted to do, and what was genuinely ‘us’. Our sound has developed organically and the same goes for artwork, merch, videos. We’re just putting out the things that we’d like to see and hear. We try to make sure everything that goes out with Dear Seattle on it, truly represents Dear Seattle as people, so when it comes to something like a video clip, it’s just a snippet of our personalities and our lives. In terms of label, Domestic La La couldn’t be more supportive of that, and that’s why we’re with them, and with merch, I design it all myself! So everything DS is very close to our chests.
MF: All musicians are essentially a product of their formative influences amplified by the prism of their own lived experience, so what are those influences specifically for you?
BF: I’m a big classics dude, for whatever reason I find myself listening to the likes of Oasis, early Coldplay, stuff that people might not expect, but then also stuff that you can probably predict as well, like 90’s rock, grunge, Aussie bands like Midnight Oil that I inherited a love of off of my Dad, stuff that’s got this real staying power to it. I don’t not listen to new music, but I do honestly vibe with the stuff I grew up on quite a lot.
MF: Touching on that, the 90’s revival is very strong at the moment, which fits the Dear Seattle vibe perfectly. Why do you think that kids are gravitating towards those sounds at present? I think it’s fucking great, but can you touch on anything specific about that era that’s driving kids to connect with it?
BF: It’s hard to define one reason but if I had to make an educated guess, I’d say that it’s because pop music nowadays is quite EDM focused. There’s not as many guitar bands being heard on mainstream radio these days, so if you’re the type of person that likes that raw, guitar driven sound (which is a lot of us ‘cos we lived in the 90s) then it makes sense that you’d look back to an era where that was what was the popular sound.
It’s not just music though, the 90’s fashion, TV, movies, it’s all back in again now, for some people it’s nostalgia, but for a lot I’d say it’s that same desire to find something a little more raw, and a little less sterile.
MF: You’ve been very open about the childhood experience of losing your dad and the influence that relationship had in shaping your life and your musical journey, has that willingness to be vulnerable been rewarding for you from a development perspective?
BF: Definitely man. My way of dealing with grief, for as long as I remember, has been through sharing my emotions. My dad passing away was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with, but being open made it that much easier, so I think that solidified it for me. It had a really big impact on my life, just as his life and his musical taste had a big impact on my musical taste, so thinking back always reminds me I should never bottle up my thoughts and emotions. I need to talk, or write or sing them out, because that’s the only way I can process experiences and move forwards.
I think that thought process has worked its way into my songwriting and in the music of Dear Seattle, and I’m really glad that it’s turned out that way, because it’s the most authentic art I could produce. Especially lyrically, I always want to be writing music that says something about the person I am, on ‘Don’t Let Go’ it took a bit of a different and more holistic turn to what the EP did, a bit lighter in parts than previously, but a bit deeper in others.
MF: Have you had any fans reach out and tell you that you’ve helped them with their own experiences as a result?
BF: I’ve had quite a few people approach me telling me that songs I’ve written helped them in that way, and that’s a really amazing thing, I’m so humbled by the idea that anything I could write could help another person process grief, that’s just not a connection many people get to experience in their life. As I said, I write music for myself, to help me when I’m struggling, so to hear that it’s helped someone else is such a great feeling and it’s one I’d never take for granted. We also get a bunch of messages from people that connect with songs in ways you wouldn’t expect, which is equally as cool too, even if it doesn’t make sense to us, it makes sense to them, and that’s the cool thing about music, it’s open to interpretation.
MF: Now, what was it like to get props from Missy Higgins?
BF: Amazing. That whole thing was such a thrill man. Doing a Like A Version is a really big deal, I mean some of the videos have 20 million views, so we were feeling a lot of pressure before we did it. Just knowing that Missy is such an iconic artist in the Aussie scene added to the stress, but we felt that it was a great fit for our sound, because Missy writes very honestly and colloquially, much the same as we do, so we found it was easier to connect with the track and vibe with it. We were pretty happy on the day when we tracked it and we thought it might get a few likes or introduce a few people to the band, but we DID NOT see it happening to the level that it did.
We just kept getting all of these notifications and comments, and we were wondering how the hell it was happening and then we saw Missy’s post and were like “Okay, yep. Wake me up now this is just ridiculous. ” We never thought she’d even hear it, let alone like it, and we were quite pleasantly surprised by how many Missy fans liked our version too. We definitely ended up picking up some new fans, when it could’ve easily gone the other way!
MF: What else is on the horizon moving towards 2020?
BF: Working on album number two, plus a stack of tours and festivals we can’t announce yet. Things are coming together though, it’ll be a big year!
MF: Have Dear Seattle played Seattle yet?
BF: We’ve not left the country yet, so no, but it’s definitely on the list of things to do! We might hit the UK first, but for sure the USA is on the list for the future and yeah, Seattle would obviously be a good fit.
MF: Before I let you go, I’d like you to get a bit creative. Create your dream band for me, you get four members – what does Brae’s dream band consist of?
BF: Liam Gallagher on vocals, ‘cos he’s just the best frontman despite everything I said about arrogance vs confidence before haha. Tom Morello on guitar because it’ll annoy our guitarist Simmo. Steve Judd from Karnivool on drums because I watched him one night at The Big Top and he just completely blew my fucking mind, and Flea on bass, to maintain some additional Aussie flavour but bring the chops.
MF: I’m going to let you be the out-of-focus fifth member like in Green Day, how does that sound?
BF: Yes! I’m in, I’ll just be in the background adding layers, got to beat backing tracks.
MF: What genre are you going to play?
Dear Seattle will be playing the Beer InCider Experience on September 21 at the Brisbane Showgrounds. Pick up tickets here.