The Complimentary Headsets are not shy about citing their influences. There’s a bit of early Arctic Monkeys, a smidge of Sparkadia and a healthy dollop of New Order. Yet unlike other young acts who steer a little too close to their favourite artists, The Complimentary Headsets have a clever knack of cobbling together the best of their influences to create a sound all their own.
The band’s second EP, Now We Are Young, exemplifies this perfectly, displaying a sun-drenched vibe that is exclusively in sync with their bayside hometown of Mentone. The lads also show a penchant for delivering a powerful lyric, conjuring up imagery of lost love and hazy Sunday summer mornings.
In anticipation of their upcoming EP launch party at Revolver, Tone Deaf caught up with guitarist and co-lyricist Tom Cashion to chat about the band’s origins and why their live gigs have become a popular constant on the Melbourne circuit.
In the tradition of MGMT and The Strokes before them, The Complimentary Headsets came together while dreaming of a life outside their humid school classrooms. “Jordan [percussion] and Joel [bass] started up the band back in Year 12,” Cashion says. “When Joel left to become, of all things, an English teacher in Japan, I slotted in on bass and then went back onto lead when he returned. It’s pretty much been that same way since 2008.”
From there the band toured extensively, with regular haunts including Revolver, The Toff and The Espy. So too was the evergreen Edgy, a venue Tom informs me is his “secondary postcode” and is still packing them in on Wednesday nights (ahh, please excuse me while I tip-toe down memory lane…).
Eventually the studio beckoned and the band caught the eye of producer Tim Johnston, a man who’s been behind the controls for the likes of Nick Cave, The Stereophonics and the Dandy Warhols. Pretty handy portfolio to say the least.
“Tim Johnston has been really, really good for us, especially with our arrangements. A lot of his ideas hit the mark straight away so we’ve been very lucky to have him. There are also some great stories that he has taken away from the different people he’s worked with over the years.”
Despite the popularity of debut EP Up In Smoke – which unearthed trademark single ‘Welcome To The Fire’ – the band felt little pressure in emulating the same success second time round. In fact, Cashion saw it as an opportunity to progress their sound and capitalise on the group’s momentum.
“There was definitely a bit more of a raw feel to the first EP. For the second one we put a lot more effort into breaking out of the standard three guitars, bass and drum setup and also looked to add a few different ideas along the way.”
It seems only fitting that the group will launch the physical release of Now We Are Young at the warhorse that is Revolver. Flanked by support acts The In Betweeners and The Kalaharis (who Tom assures me does a ripping cover of The Black Keys’ ‘Lonely Boy’) Cashion believes The Complimentary Headsets’ live sound trumps their physical CD counterparts.
“We thought, especially early on, that we sounded better live than at the studio. Perhaps that’s because we used to get a little bit nervous or tense while recording. Now, though, I think we’ve worked on our live stuff a lot more and it’s paying off. We’ve been putting in a lot of effort to bring in heaps of energy, diversity and to also try new things so it’s been great. Plus we also play a lot at Revolver, we love the sound there and there’s lots of room to get everybody moving.”
In a town with no shortage of ‘next big thing’ bands, The Complimentary Headsets are a rare breed, a unique combination of youthful energy, assured musicianship and mature songwriting.
Expect big things from the bayside lads. Expect them very soon.
The Complimentary Headsets launch Now We Are Young at Revolver this Friday night. Tickets are $12 on the door. Check out our EP review while you’re waiting for Friday.