It’s hard to tell if Sam Nolan, the lead singer, guitarist and keys player for Melbourne’s Loon Lake, is more excited about the release of the band’s new EP or the fact that it’s now August.
“I’ve just had a beer ‘cause I’ve been on Dry July; haven’t had a drop the whole time and so I’m actually stoked. We do enjoy our beer which is why I did it. I had to do it. We were enjoying it way too much!” he says warmly.
Along with toasting the end of July is the welcoming of Loon Lake’s second EP, Thirty Three. It’s the first time the 5-piece have worked with a producer and the process became a massive learning curve in the business they’ve found themselves in.
“All we wanted to do was to get together and play some songs,” says Nolan. “We weren’t super set about playing live gigs, it was just about having fun. But then we got some [gigs] and got some more and it started getting a little bit serious.”
“It happened really quickly but I don’t think we ever really thought, ‘Alright, let’s tackle the music industry’.” Having a producer on board certainly gave them an insight into the other side of things; when playing songs becomes business.
“It definitely changed things. It feels weird to have your own songs handed over to someone who might have a totally different idea in terms of their direction,” says Nolan, “if we’re all stoked with how the songs are and we’re ready to take them into the studio, sometimes you don’t need that extra voice. We all really trust our instincts; they’ve got us as far as we’ve come.”
He adds wisely, “Everybody can think they’re going the right way on a track but there’s not really a right way, you know? You can have one song and make ten different versions of it and they’ll probably all be good. It simply comes down to what you all agree on.”
The friendly singer is joined by brothers Nick and Simon and close friends Dan Bull and Tim Lowe, and if you haven’t heard of Loon Lake, you’ve most certainly heard their insanely addictive pop song dripping in summer fun, “Cherry Lips”.
However, Nolan is modest about his efforts: “It’s a grey area as to what you class as writing. I come in with an idea, a chord progression, a melody, and some lyrics and then we develop it together. Sometimes I’ll demo it by myself and it ends up the same but everyone puts their spin on things. Dan is very clever. He doesn’t often bring songs in but he just brings his own thing to the songs, he’s such an amazing player,” Nolan reflects fondly before launching praise onto his family.
“Nick, my youngest brother, is right into producing. He really likes hip hop and he makes a lot of beats. He’s the brains behind the production and arrangement side of it. He’s the educated one when it comes to music theory – he did the study and got all the grades!” guffaws the older brother.
But did the thought ever occur that the relationship of these close knit friends and family could be strained under the stresses of being professional musicians?
“I certainly never thought about it back then, but now when things come up like royalties, it starts to be considered. I know that me and my brothers would never let anything come between us, it’s just not going to happen, and we’re not that type of family. All five of us are really close, really loyal: we’re never going to rip each other off,” says the singer.
“The thought would be there for all of us but you can’t let that sort of shit get to you,” he stresses. “Bands that are successful are the ones who are having fun together and that’s what’s happening now. We have an absolute ball together, all the time and it comes through in the music.”
Still being such a young band, it’s all about learning as you go, keeping up with the speed at which they’ve found themselves racing along at and gratefully taking the many wins as they continue to fall Loon Lake’s way. “When you know a show is sold out it gives us so much confidence, knowing people are there to see you and everyone’s happy because sometimes being the support, you get the feeling that people can’t wait for you to finish!” enthuses Nolan.
“It’s just experience, you know?” he continues, “I’m sure all bigger bands have gone through that and now they put out what they want and not care what anyone else has to say because they know it’ll be okay. When you’re about to release a song, there’s a certain apprehension. You start hearing opinions and they start to sway what you think and you lose your confidence.”
The country lad even admits that everybody’s new favourite song to warm up with almost didn’t make the cut. “There was a time when we weren’t even going to put “Cherry Lips” out. We thought, ‘what are we doing, what is this?!’ I’ve even found if one friend is like, ‘Oh, I don’t know about what you’ve done here’ then I’m automatically like, ‘I don’t like this song’.”
Nolan has since realised to trust his own instincts, “from then on we’ve all been inclined to go with what we think is good… which so far has worked!”
Thirty-Three is out today and the band have been giving it away, track-by-track.Loon Lake are currently on tour in August – full dates and details here – and will play BIGSOUND Live this September and Queenscliff Music Festival this November.Write a Letter to the Editor