￼￼For almost two years The Getaway Plan, well, got away. Since hurtling themselves into the music scene in 2006 with their EP Hold Conversation, the Melbourne motley crew began an ascent into popularity that very nearly took on a life of its own. Constant touring, two Top 20 charting albums, and commitments across the globe made for an incredible ride, but success had come early and with the band still teenagers who were not prepared for the dark side of fame. Lead singer Matthew Wright looks back on the reasons behind their hiatus, and how their new album Dark Horses came galloping into life.
When it happened, we absolutely had no intention of ever, ever coming back,” Wright says. “There was a long period where we didn’t even speak, maybe a year and a half. I didn’t speak with any of the other members of the band. There was a bit of bad blood. The break up came out of the blue too. It all happened within maybe two weeks. We’d just finished up on the Big Day Out tour which was amazing, and then all of a sudden things just turned to shit. We definitely had no intention of coming back, but I guess two years later I bumped into Clint in the city, and we were both drunk of course, and we kind of made up. We realised that we weren’t done with TGP. We’d been going through the same kind of shit with our other bands and realised what we’d thrown away and what we were missing. From there it was only a matter of months before we were back writing and working on the next record.”
Dark Horses already has a mountain of hype behind it. The first album after a breakup is always going to be an anticipated release, and given the reputation the band has developed for their live shows (where tickets can sell out within the first hour), there are a lot of eyes on Wright and his cohorts. What listeners will most likely be first struck by is the record’s variety. There’s a striking contrast between tracks like Castles In The Air and the title track Dark Horses, and great swings again across to songs like Dreamer Parallel. If nothing else, it’s an album that keeps you on your toes.
With any record we’ve never really made a conscious effort to do anything in particular. We wrote, like, nearly forty songs going into this album, which is more than we’ve ever done before. Usually we just scrape by,” he laughs. “To get all of them out, we’d have to release a fucking triple album or something, but this time we really went for it, and I think it happens after a while when you’re writing that many songs, you just want to go places you haven’t really been before. I think the song choices for the record was just us choosing the best tunes that we could. There wasn’t trying to create a dynamic or anything. I think the way the record sits now, it was a very natural process. We’ve always had a couple of songs that are left at the end of a record, and often those are the starting point for the next album. There’s always one or two songs that we overshoot where we’re at musically. We’re unable to actually achieve what we’re trying to create. Those ones are usually good starting points. Basically, we’re not going to release some fucking pile of shit, which is what most of those other songs are right now.”
Although he’s intrigued by what fans are going to think about their sound now, Wright’s focus is far from outside perception. Having listened to the finished album only a handful of times, he’s still in the process of letting go of these songs and establishing just what each one means to the band; they are still too close, he feels, to see the album clearly. Regardless of what Wright feels, however, he has found in the past that others are always going to bring their own interpretation to the material no matter what. “You know, I’ve browsed this song meanings website, it’s basically like a forum where people get on and discuss what they think the stories behind songs are. There’s some pretty hilarious shit there. I think my songs are pretty cryptic anyway, at least our older stuff. A lot if it is really fucking jargon, man. I was a little kid, I barely even knew what I was doing. Just putting words to paper and screaming them as loud as I could,” he bursts out laughing. “I think the songwriter in me has developed a lot more in the last five years. I think the thing is, because we’re in that middle period right now, it’s hard for me to be able to listen to the album from a different perspective. Like trying to listen to it from a fan’s perspective, let’s say. We’ve just been in fucking cabin fever mode, listening to the songs over and over and over and over, listening to a particular point of a song on repeat, even if it’s just ten seconds again and again. After a while it just starts sounding like a fucking big blur. So I need some time separated from that, and then I need to know that it’s out there, I need to know I don’t have to think about that aspect of it any more. And then I can start to think about what I really feel about the record.”
That notion of needing perspective seems an unavoidable evil across most art. Finding the time and discipline to remove yourself from a genuine labour of love is no mean feat, but looking on your work with fresh eyes can be an illuminating, if frightening thing. In this regard The Getaway Plan’s hiatus might have proved their saving grace. We’ve learnt to manage things differently. Before the breakup we were absolute slaves to this band, you know? We didn’t have private lives, we were away for fucking ten months of the year, and we didn’t even have a chance before that to know what normal life was like. We started when we were sixteen years old, just out of school. I’m pretty sure it was a few weeks after I finished Year Twelve that we started our first national tour, and that didn’t slow down until we broke up. But we manage things differently now. We’re a lot older, and we’re a lot more grateful, more appreciative of things. Having lost it, and then having the chance to go back, well, we see things in a very different light now. But I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s been fucking incredible and I’ve had an amazing life.”
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