Mark Missen from 88.3 Southern FM interviews Sam Stranges and Andrew Stainsby from Lipstereo on their debut EP release 'Modern Mythology', in his support of Australian, independent music.
Now, our guests here, Lipstereo. We’re going to go way back to the first time we heard from Lipstereo with their debut single ‘Stop.’
Hey, this is Sam from Lipstereo. You’re listening to your local radio station 88.3 Southern FM, the sounds of the Bayside.
Great debut single that packed a punch ‘Stop.’ And I’m joined in the studio by the boys, who we’ve been following very closely over the last 12 months. Sam and Andrew, thanks guys for coming in, we really appreciate it, and it’s nice to meet you in person.
Sam: Thanks so much for having us.
Awesome. I would really like to know the genesis of how you guys came about. I know you’re all music tragic and so on, but you’ve actually been kicking it around for a little while before we started hearing releases and stuff. Talk us through the story from the start.
Sam: In 2019 I was trying to find some people to start a band and was lucky enough to get in contact with our bassist Tage, and he knew Andrew through work, and we stole Jesse from another band, and it all seemed to work out.
And that’s how we do it, we make friends and use friends, and bring their friends into the fold as well.
Sam: That’s right.
So what were you doing for two years before you started hitting up studios and laying all this stuff down? Was it live shows and that sort of thing?
Andrew: We were gigging around in 2019 for about six months before the pandemic happened and shut everything down. Then over the last few years, we were making demos for songs we wanted to put down for the EP.
Sam: Yes, I think it was a really good opportunity to perfect it.
Hone in, and discover what you want to do too, especially as you’re a collective and you probably didn’t know each other all that well to start with. So you’re finding, ok, what sort of direction are we going to go in?
Sam: Yeah, that’s a good way of looking at it. When we first got together we sort of hammered out these songs, and then over the course of the next two years we were tweaking and re-tweaking, and then we got in the studio and there are more tweaks to go still.
Andrew: We were sort of finding the sound because I think when we started out the songs sounded different and we were all playing mismatch of parts, so there was a lot of refinement.
Yeah, but obviously over that time you built up a decent stack of material, and I guess the first result that is this debut EP. It’s a four-tracker, and we’ve played all of the four tracks that have been released as singles, and we’ve enjoyed absolutely all of them, make no mistake about that. They’ve received wide airplay here, but they’ve been getting noticed in all sorts of weird places, haven’t they?
Sam: Yes, it’s been weird the response. It’s been here, there, and everywhere. We’ve been played in America, Canada, Lithuania, and Ireland.
Lithuania, the home of Aussie rock (Laughter).
Andrew: Yeah, and we were played on Ireland's version of the BBC which was pretty good.
Sam: Yeah awesome, RTE.
How are you achieving that sort of reach?
Sam: We just get in contact with them, and you know ...
Andrew: We work with a radio plugger as well, Michael Matthews.
So it’s literally like contacting everyone and anyone, and hoping for a break here and there?
Sam: It’s like you enter the lottery a hundred thousand times, you’re bound to hit something.
Well, not necessarily, but music and airplay are sort of the same thing as a lottery because you don’t know where it’s going to strike a chord.
Sam: Yes it’s weird. We’ve been getting a lot of responses on TikTok recently, which is really bizarre. We’ve been doing a series. 'Cause we don’t listen to pop music too much, we choose a pop song that we’ve never heard of, and we’ll cover it. That’s been really successful and we’re really surprised at the response to it.
Do tell us some of the songs you’ve covered.
Sam: We’ve done Nicky Youre's ‘Sunroof,’ and we did ‘Snap’ by Rosa Linn.
Andrew: We did Oliver Tree's song, I forget what it’s called …
Well, you really honed and refined that one, didn’t you? (Laughter)
Sam: Feel free to take that.
L-R: Andrew Stainsby (LIPSTEREO's guitarist), Mark Missen (Southern FM), Petar Tolich (Southern FM), Sam Stranges (LIPSTEREO's singer/guitarist).
Some people ... they know you’re here, and they ring anyway. So after a couple of years of playing in the garage or in the bedroom, and finding your parts that you wanted to go down, you reach the stage of actually laying down tracks, and the opportunity to work with one of Australia’s greatest producers of all time, Mark Opitz. How did that come about?
Sam: Yeah, it’s bizarre. You get in contact with people and you never expect a response, but then sometimes you do. And obviously, he enjoyed the tracks enough to think that he wasn’t going to be embarrassed by recording us.
So you sent him your raw tracks?
Sam: Yeah, we sent him the demos that we’d worked on, and he seemed to like them enough to record them.
Andrew: Yeah, he thought he could do some stuff with them.
And he has, and the result is an outstanding debut EP, which you’ve got to be excited about releasing yesterday.
Andrew: Yeah, a lot of Mark’s input was cutting things down.
Ha, that fifteen-minute drum solo, that’s gone.
Sam: Yeah well ‘Take the Bus’ was four and a half minutes before.
I was going to say that one thing that has been notifiable is that a couple of tracks are your standard radio three and a half minutes, but there’s a couple that is certainly punchy, like ‘Stop.’ That gets straight to the point. Bang. Done. Was that definitely Mark’s influence?
Sam: Yeah, Mark’s influence was definitely all killer, no filler mentality.
I think that sort of works too, with the style that you’re playing. It is punchy. Let’s get to the point.
Sam: I love 60s pop and that’s around three minutes, and songs should be done like that.
Yeah, 60s pop …. They either went for two minutes or eight minutes.
Sam: I guess in the late 60s in particular, that like oh, we’ve got twelve inches to work with and not just seven now.
Yes, absolutely. Now, Sam, I do know your old man. I’ve known Victor (Stranges) off and on for about ten years, and he’s a fantastic musician in his own right and doing some good stuff at the moment. Fortunately though isn’t it that your genes are inherited from your mother’s side of the family, cause you’ve certainly got a different hairstyle from Dad?
Sam: That’s one way of phrasing it.
You know, I’m from Victor’s same school, so that’s not a criticism in any shape or form. You’ve got a good mop there. I’ve always regretted that my Grandfather on my mother’s side had one hair that he swept straight across his head, but you’ve got thousands there.
Andrew: You’ve got to have long hair to be a singer.
Sam: It’s like Sampson, if I shave it off I won’t be able to sing anymore.
It is? No, I don’t believe it. So tell us a bit more about the other guys in the band that make up Lipstereo.
Sam: So we’ve got Andrew here today, he’s a guitar player extraordinaire. We’ve got Tage who plays the bass, and he brings a lot of humour to the band.
Well, the bass players have to bring humour, because they don’t bring the girls.
Sam: Alrighty, so he’d better not listen to to this interview now. (Laughter)
As a general rule.
Sam: And our drummer Jesse is just the craziest drummer.
Andrew: He’s very experienced. He played with another band, and we mentioned, we poached him after he was having some issues with the other band or the band was having some issues.
You’ve got to strike when the timing is right. You see a weakness there and you go straight in. Around these studios, there was a bit of a legendary performance at The Toff In Town about three or four months ago now. But you’ve been doing quite a bit of, well not just live shows, I see you’ve played some Festivals, and even local Festivals. Plenty of live shows, and plenty of videos. Is it all about working to get your name out there to try to increase your fan base and that sort of thing?
Sam: Yeah, there’s a balance between increasing the fan base and also delivering things that are really meaningful for us as a band.
Well, no one else is going to get it if you don’t feel it.
Sam: Well that’s right. We could just switch to pop music and probably go faster, but that’s not what we do. We want to be a band.
It’s wonderful to see, 'cause Melbourne’s rock scene is still strong. It’s a hard road to hoe for sure, but I say stick in there, and it’s great to hear a really pure rock sound. It’s got energy, and with the production, the tracks we’ve heard here sound fantastic. With the EP that’s only going to increase and attract more followers.
Andrew: Yeah it’s good for us to focus on getting more people to listen to it, and it’s nice to have an actual product.
Does it feel like it’s taken a hundred years?
Sam: Yes, the songs, I started writing in 2017 and 2018. This is the oldest stuff that we’ve got, so hopefully, it will only get more sophisticated and more improved over time.
Well, you grow as an artist, and your own tastes, all four of you, are changing in time. Let’s hear another one of the tracks from Lipstereo, this is ‘Feedback.’ This is a very current single, isn’t it? This was just before ‘Little Spaceships?’
Andrew: Yes, it was the second single.
Sam: Something like that.
It’s a ripper track. ‘Feedback’ by Lipstereo.
88.3 Southern FM and you’ve just heard ‘Feedback’ by Lipstereo, and I’ve got a couple of the lads from Lipstereo, Sam and Andrew here in the studio and talking all things Lipstereo and their brand new album, Modern Mythology, released just yesterday. One thing I wanted to talk about guys, is the social media aspect of getting music out there now. I’m an old dude and I don’t get all of this stuff, that’s just something that happens when you get old. I notice ‘Stop’ hour debut single got forty-five thousand plus streams. Where does it come from? I don’t understand. And then we talked briefly before about the international thing that you did a couple of weeks back, which was streamed all around the world and featured all sorts of artists like Suzi Quatro and Peter Frampton. Were there thirty countries represented in that?
Sam: Something ridiculous like that. It was a six-hour stream.
Artists from thirty different countries, and it was a fundraiser charity kind of thing, and Lipstereo was Australia's representative. I believe it went beautifully.
Sam: Yeah, it was a lot of fun doing that, and working on these videos. We got to do it at Bakehouse Studios in Richmond. We got a nice room and set it all up, and played it live essentially. Played it like five times and kept the best tracks, and made a couple of tweaks to the audio.
Sounds like the fan club has turned up at the front of the studio for you. What sort of reach does that sort of thing potentially give you, and what other ways are you trying to reach people? You talked about TikTok and doing pop covers and stuff like that, just to reach an audience. What other things are you doing?
Sam: Tiktok has been crazy.
Andrew: Yeah, TikTok’s been good. I think bands these days have to do a lot of it. You can’t ignore the social media aspect of things. There’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and all these things, but what we really like doing is playing music.
But you do have to do all this other stuff.
Andrew: You have to.
Call it admin if you want.
Andrew: Yeah, it’s like running a business.
It is, and it’s dangerous stuff. Not dangerous, but dangerously good. The number of people that you can actually capture through these mediums, it’s just staggering.
Andrew: Yeah, and the weirdest things go viral. We covered this random song that was a meme online and it got a hundred thousand views.
Sam: We’ve been doing these covers of songs that we’ve never listened to before. So we spend fifteen minutes just charting it and figuring out a melody, and we get fifty thousand views on it.
Andrew: Early on we decided that you can’t predict what’s going to do well, and what’s not going to do well. So we didn’t want to spend too long on things. So when we covered 'Sunroof' It took us about five minutes to film, and it’s on eighty thousand views or something.
Sam: It’s on ninety thousand.
So how do you turn that into something tangible?
Sam: I think that’s the question that every band has to figure out.
Andrew: We’re still figuring it out.
Sam: We’re introducing people to the music, and if people engage through those sorts of things, which are music adjacent, then that’s a really good springboard to introduce them to the band.
Andrew: It’s not introducing them to the music, but it’s introducing them to the band and us as people.
Sam: It’s personality.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s personality.
L-R: Andrew Stainsby (LIPSTEREO's guitarist), Mark Missen (Southern FM), Petar Tolich (Southern FM), Sam Stranges (LIPSTEREO's singer/guitarist).
Seriously, apart from music, people are attracted to music, but they are attracted to personalities and people. So it’s all a big part of it. So where are we now, and where are we going onwards and upwards?
Andrew: Well, we’re at the end of the release of our first EP.
Sam: Thank goodness.
It’s been eighteen months or two years …
Andrew: Yeah, we’ve had it in the bank for a while.
Sam: We’re going back into the studio in January, which is a great opportunity. We’re probably going to record another four or five tracks.
Andrew: So we’re using the same producer and the same mixing engineer as well.
And why wouldn’t you?
Andrew: We’ve got more songs in a similar sort of vein to what we’ve just released, so obviously it’s a bit different but not enough to warrant a different producer or different engineer.
Well, you’re at an age where you’re going to be evolving very, very quickly. So there’s going to be subtle changes throughout everything that you do from here on.
Andrew: Well some of the newer songs that Sam’s written have been totally different, I think.
Sam: We’ve been very influenced by different things, and … I don’t know how to explain them. We’ll get there eventually.
I’m sure he’s not writing love ballads.
Andrew: He’s not writing love ballads,
Sam: Let me go write one now.
So studio in January and start putting down more material and getting it in the can. The first time in the studio … just a wonderful experience?
Sam: no, stressful.
Andrew: I really liked it. One of the things I remember very fondly about going to the studio was just how well you could hear everything. I’m a bit of an audio freak and so being in a room that was sound treated and had really expensive, huge studio monitors. You could hear everything so clearly and I just wanted to stay in there and put on my favourite record … but studio time is expensive.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You can’t lie and listen.
Sam: The big thing for me was just time management. There was so much to do in a short period of time. And all the different things that we wanted to experiment with. It’s a good thing we did the demos before.
If you’re going in cold it would be very challenging.
Andrew: Yeah, well that’s the main reason we did the demos beforehand. We didn’t want to show up and be writing songs still.
That might be ok for Bono and his mates.
Andrew: Well, they can afford it, hey?
You guys are on a budget.
Andrew: How long did we spend recording this one? Was it nine days in the studio?
Sam: We were in there for eight days.
So more material. I guess lots of live shows now that this is released. I supposed you’re looking to play wherever and whenever you can.
Andrew: Well we don’t have anything lined up until ….
Sam: Except for this Friday,
Andrew: Yeah, we’ve got a gig on the 18th. We’ve actually turned down a few gigs so we can focus on getting the demos sorted, but we’ll definitely be doing a bunch of gigs early next year.
Sam: Leadbeater Hotel in Brunswick, no it’s in Richmond.
Andrew: Richmond, oh easy. I live close to there.
That’s easy, you can jump on the train or the bus.
Andrew: I’ll walk it.
Awesome. So recorded material for next year, and lots of live gigs. Where do you see yourselves in a couple of years' time?
Andrew: Main stage at some Festivals.
Well, the Festival circuit is alive and vibrant, and people are flocking back to them because we’ve all missed live music. That’s certainly on the cards. I saw you played at The Basin Festival, and there were some really good artists up there.
Sam: Yeah, it was a really fun night. There was a Zeppelin tribute band at the end of the night.
Andrew: I think it was a good Festival. It was very low pressure from our perspective.
Sam: yes, it was.
So that’s a great way to start.
So you’d be open to more Festivals down the line?
Andrew: Oh for sure, it’s on the bucket list. Something to do before you die.
Sam: I’d like to put out a couple of records that I’m really proud of myself. Not that I’m not proud of this one, but continue that streak.
Good for you Sam. Well, guys, awesome to catch up with you, and I know that lots of people here at the station really like what you’re doing. They like your sound. The tracks are quality. Keep on that path and hopefully, a little bit of luck falls your way as well. That’s all it takes. Keep working hard. Full-time in music?
Andrew: Full time for Sam at the moment, but the rest of us have to work jobs.
Even the ones who live in Toorak?
Andrew: I do, yeah. I’m in my second last year of University at the moment.
Really good to catch up with you guys, and keep up with what you’re doing. I think you’re on the right path. You’re releasing quality stuff, and it’s great to see a young, Melbourne rock band who is doing quality stuff.
Andrew: Thanks very much.
Let’s hear the current single ‘Little Spaceships.’ Tell us a little bit, Andrew, because I know it was in the press notes about the lead guitar solo in this track. It really does resonate straight away, as soon as you hear it. It reminds you of something.
Andrew: oh yeah, when I wrote it I was listening to a lot of John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and he does these big bends where he’ll bend up a note, and then a little bit more, and come back down, so I incorporate that stuff. It’s interesting because I don’t even think this is the best take of the solo. I did eight or nine, or ten takes of it, but this one had the best feel, even if I didn’t play it the best.
That’s why sometimes you need those professional ears to tell you.
Andrew: yeah, you need Mark to say “that’s the one.”