Australia’s Gold Fields released their self-titled debut EP earlier this year, showing a glimpse of razor-sharp pop sensibilities. Tracks like “Moves” and “Treehouse” channel the sort of electro-rock fervor of early Friendly Fires, marked with a dark edge. And like Friendly Fires before them, Gold Fields are coming to CMJ.
After a previous jaunt to our shores for this year’s SXSW, Gold Fields are on their first American tour, which will feature several shows at CMJ. I talked with drummer Ryan D’Sylva about coming to the U.S., songwriting and the band’s dance/punk vibe.
Have you experienced much culture shock yet?
In L.A. especially, everything’s a lot bigger, just in every aspect. The cars are humongous, the servings of food are humongous—everything’s just big. That’s probably the biggest culture shock: Everything’s so massive. I feel like New York is pretty similar to where I’m from in Melbourne. But L.A. is big, and it’s extremely hot at the moment.
New York feels more like the scale you’re used to?
Yeah, it feels more like Melbourne, like everything’s more close together and you can walk everywhere.
If someone were visiting Melbourne for the first time, what would you tell them to check out?
There’s the Eureka Tower. It’s the tallest building in Melbourne, but it’s probably not half as tall as the ones here in America. You can go up, and there’s a skydeck about 20 or 30 meters up with a glass floor. You can look down, and that’s pretty cool.
What are you looking forward to at CMJ?
I’m just looking forward to seeing the other bands. We loved New York when we were there last time. We really enjoyed it. But for the actual festival, just the other bands. There’s a few Australians going over, like the Presets and Kimbra, and it would be good to check them out. There’s a whole patriotic thing. There’s some other cool bands that are playing. I want to check out Com Truise.
I saw that whoever runs the Gold Fields Twitter was noting about how we have a little Australian takeover here, with Gotye and Missy Higgins.
That was pretty crazy. The first store we walked into when we got into L.A., Gotye and Missy Higgins were playing straightaway.
Any other Australian artists that are big at home that you’d like to see break out internationally?
Yeah, there’s a few. There’s this producer called Flume. He’s a real young kid from Sydney. He’s like 19 years old, but he’s producing really cool music. He’s extremely young for the kind of music he’s doing. It’s kind of poppy, trip-hop sort of stuff. And there’s also Kimbra, obviously, who’s doing really well and doing really good things. I have my bet set on Flume to start kicking off internationally.
Well, America’s finally catching up to where you’ve been with dance music, too.
For the past eight or nine years, we’ve really sort of championed Australian dance music. When a new dance act comes up in Australia, everyone sort of gets behind it, and even if it sometimes doesn’t take off overseas, there’s such a dance community in Australia. But there are bands like Cut Copy and stuff that have come over here and do quite well, I’ve been told.
Would you say that sort of culture has inspired you?
Yeah, in Australia, we tend to do that. With Cut Copy or Bag Raiders or the Presets, there’s [dance] aspects in their music. I guess it’s sort of the same crowd, as well. There’s definitely that sort of culture.
Congratulations on the new single, “Dark Again.”
Thank you. We’re pretty excited about it. It’s been ages since we’ve given anyone anything new to listen to. The EP that came out here, when we were over for SXSW in March, it was already about a year old to us. In Australia, it’d been released previously. So it feels awesome to do something new. It’s pretty early to tell, but early reactions have been good. I guess it’ll just take time to see if people really connect with it. We’re a little bit nervous, but it’s exciting at the same time.
Can you talk a little about how that song came about?
It started as an earlier song, bouncing around ideas, or at least the music did. Around this time last year, when we went to start the base of the album in L.A., we started rewriting it. When we were putting it together, we didn’t have any lyrics or vocals for it yet, just this tribal kind of chant in it. About three, four months ago, our vocalist Mark put down some lyrics, and we pieced it together that way and decided to take it in sort of a tribal dance direction.
What do you hope people take away from your shows?
Just a reaction. When we were growing up, we all played in punk-rock bands, sort of thrashier music that brings a higher energy aspect to the show. I’m excited writing more pop music and more dance music, but when people come to the shows, they’re expecting something different from what it actually is. It’s retained a lot of our roots in punk and rock and thrash music. When we play it live, we have that sort of energy. So whether they really like it and that’s their reaction, or they’re sort of turned off, whether they love it or they hate it, we just want a reaction. We hate that people walk away from a show and feel a bit neutral. Anything but that is a good thing.
Gold Fields play Trash on Thursday, October 18, Knitting Factory on Friday, October 19, and the Delancey on Saturday, October 20, as part of CMJ 2012.