By Ellen Coulter
As Jonathon McCarthy knocks back a beer on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, he is indeed quite far from his home- Australia’s island-state of Tasmania, more than 13,000 kilometres away. “It’s kind of as far away as you can get.”
“I would say there’s more interest in us as a band in North America. It makes sense, because we’ve got different sounding voices, we’re more unique compared to what we are in Australia. It’s a bit more of a novelty.” McCarthy’s bandmate and partner Claire laughs.
“I suppose what a band would normally do from Hobart (Tasmania) is move to Melbourne. We just decided we’d go a little bit further.” The pair are two-thirds of self-described ocean pop band Heart Beach. Anyone who’s visited Australia’s southernmost state will know the beaches are beautiful, but can be bitterly cold. “Ocean pop” from such a place has a longing, melancholy to it.
“I always joke and say ocean pop for Heart Beach means it’s a little bit salty,” says bassist and vocalist Claire McCarthy. “But there is something a bit cooler about the music. It’s incredibly pop-driven but it’s also really sad a lot of the time, and a bit dark too.”
Despite its inevitable influence on Heart Beach, the band knew they needed to leave Tasmania, which has a population of just 500,000. Their “Kiss Your Face” album (Spunk Records, November 2016) was getting solid reviews, and it was time for a change. “I think we felt like we’d taken it as far as we could in Hobart,” says Claire McCarthy.
“We wanted to be able to reach a bigger market and to tour North America, Canada, Europe more cost-effectively.”
In B.C. since December, Heart Beach has sold out shows in Victoria, and is drawing significantly larger audiences than at home. The band sees similarities in the DIY-nature of Vancouver and Tasmania’s music scenes. But artistic differences are noticeable too.
“Australian bands seem to be more grating, with a lot more big, distorted guitars and yelling,” says Jonathon McCarthy. “A lot of Canadian bands are really pretty, with really nice synth sounds, nice guitar chords.”
“Even the music is kind of polite here. We’re a bit brash,” says Claire.
In the move to Canada the band lost drummer Chris Wessing, but has added Scotsman Jaq Inglis. He’ll be with them on the Heart Beach Canadian tour, which kicks off in April with Vancouver band Dadweed, and later fellow Hobart band Quivers. After that, the plan is to press pause in Montreal, closer to some big eastern cities and (hopefully) an even wider audience.
The Heart Beach tour across Canada begins in Vancouver on 6 April at 333. Learn more at http://www.heartbeach.com.au/half satan, Heart Beach