The Falls Are One in a Million

The Falls give’s Jack Colwell an insight into SXSW as they prepare to come home to support the Lumineers on their Australian tour. From the sunny shores of Sydney, to the cold north winds of Toronto, The Falls have been singing their songs of praise, love and devotion to a whole new beat, in different streets.

Melinda, when I first read your letter to us, I was captivated by your words, “writing from a studio apartment in Toronto, watching the snow float past” your window. There’s often a lot of imagery in the lyrics of your songs, how do you and Simon go about putting a ‘Falls’ song together?
Well, what I love most about how we work together is that there is no formula. One of us will come to the other with an idea for a song, sometimes a chorus, sometimes a melody, and it seems to grow from there. I think lyrically we both wear our hearts on our sleeves so from the outside it can be difficult to pick who wrote what. Sometimes the lyrics for a song are all written by one of us alone; other times they are a combination of both of us – bringing different ideas together to tell a story.

They met. They fell in love. They wrote songs. They fought. They made up. They broke up. They wrote songs. And recently, they represented Australian music overseas at SXSW. Has this experience helped you grow and change as artists?
Definitely. I guess it really opened our eyes. SXSW gave us the opportunity to take our music to a whole new audience and realise just how far our music can reach. I know it’s pretty obvious that in this age of Facebook and Spotify that your music is almost automatically available globally, but it really wasn’t something we had thought about very seriously before, being a little band from Sydney. I guess it’s made us dream a little bigger!

From the other Australian’s who went too SXSW (Jack Carty, Emma Swift), I’ve seen some great ranch style food on Instagram. What was the best / worst thing you ate on tour?
The food in Austin is incredible – it’s all BBQ, burgers and burritos! I gotta’ say though, it’s where I had the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten in my whole life!

The music you’ve currently released off your Hollywood EP sounds like it comes from the ‘Golden Age of Songwriting’ during the 60s / early 70s. What is one of the great icons from this time who has helped shape your sound?
I think the strongest influence on our sound when we were writing the songs for Hollywood was probably Simon & Garfunkel. They are huge influences on the way we perform live as well. I guess with this recording what we were really trying to do was retain what we do live (as a duo) and not be swallowed up by a band. So, referencing artists like Neil Young, Joni Mitchel and Crosby, Stills & Nash was a way for us to keep things simple.

Speaking of recording, I heard a rumor there might be an album in the works? Should we expect much of the same thing, or are The Falls going punk?
Ha ha, we have been writing a lot and it’s always difficult for us to tell what direction our new songs will head. You never know, all this time spent in Texas might see a little bit of country creep in.

You’ve toured with some amazing international bands, Of Monsters & Men, Passenger, Avalanche City, just to name a few, and you’re about to embark on tour with Grammy award winners The Lumineers. Has your live show changed in anyway since you’ve left our little shores for the big lights? What can we expect on tour?
Well, if we are brave, I think we’ll probably be debuting a lot of new material at these shows. I might even play a bit of harmonica on a few tunes.

You both come from a classical background. Do you think your classical training has altered your approach to writing?
When it comes to writing the bare bones of a song, Simon and I are both very instinctual and find that ideas come quickly. We don’t like to labour over it too much. But I’ll often spend much more time crafting the harmonies. I love the way a note in the vocal can change the quality of a chord and I guess that’s the classical nerd in me coming out.

The Falls pioneered ‘Folk Club’ late 2011 which fast became one of the most successful, intimate and passionately loved nights in the Sydney weekly calendar. Obviously it has been an amazing experience for you both and a chance to showcase other acts talents in Sydney as well to form a greater sense of community within our music scene. Are there any plans for ‘Folk Club to continue ?
We are really missing Folk Club at the moment – we are really missing listening to our favourite artists each week and discovering new ones, and we miss the wonderful community of people who come down each week to do the same and are so supportive of the night and the artists! Playing each week was instrumental in us honing our craft and our sound, and finding our audience. It is really important to us that other artists have the same opportunities we did, so Folk Club will definitely be back soon!

Finally, all the long plane trips, idle time waiting before a soundcheck or stealing time between writing letters in Toronto. What’re you listening too, what’re you reading, what’re you ‘googling’ on tour (as strange or bizarre as it might be, even if it’s a list of Taylor Swift’s ex’s). GO!

A great new artist I discovered at SXSW called Noah Gundersen

Trashy Mags! But only on the plane.

Well, now next stopover it’s definitely going to be Taylor Swift’s ex’s!

The Falls will return to grace our shores over the weekend, so make sure you check out one of their gigs alongside headliners, The Lumineers, on the following dates in the following places:

THURS 28 MARCH | Enmore Theatre | SYDNEY
FRI 29 MARCH | The Corner Hotel | MELBOURNE

Interview by Jack Colwell.