Eclectic locals The Space Between have taken the unusual step of naming their debut EP, Swansongs – a name generally reserved for the final activity or performance of an artist’s career.
Bassist Zane Bullock maintains that the four track EP is neither the beginning nor the ending of The Space Between… yet.
Formed three years ago – two with the current line-up – The Space Between were initially a casual affair for the foursome, with all having busy lives and alternate musical endeavours.
For their collaborative songwriting process Bullock says frontwoman Maegan Johnsen or guitarist/vocalist Scott Tevilspek, “tinker away at home, put bits and pieces together, and then bring them into the room,” before the trio and drummer/percussionist Aaron Azariah, “start pushing it forward and building around the skeleton of what they’ve come up with.”
From there, “everyone’s pulling and pushing and wanting to do different pieces with the songs,” allowing all four to incorporate elements of their own influences to the music.
“So, the writing process between the four of us comes from different directions,” he explains. “We use different pedals and stuff. Scott always finds just the right sound to get, but it has that underlying soft sound all the way through it. He uses Reverend guitars, as well, and you don’t see a lot of those around town, so he has his own sound.
“Maegan, obviously, she has that voice – she’s right into her folk music. Aaron himself, once again, great little drummer. He’s got his own sound. And I have that bass tone that I search for. I think, the weaving, the coalition of everybody running through all the tracks, is just bringing our own sound to it, and it just gels really, really well.”
I ask if Perth being the most isolated capital city in the world has an effect on that unique sound.
“It’s because we are so isolated over here,” Bullock remarks, “that I think with the more mature musicians that we have here in Perth, it is hard to get your stuff out there and heard. So, you want to do the best you can possibly do, and you are really critical of your own playing, as well as whatever you’re writing and putting together and doing.
“I think that just goes to show the calibre of some of the bands that have come out of Perth. That’s how it is, because there are so many musicians over here as well, wanting to be like that. I wouldn’t say people are crawling over the top of each other just to get to the top, but sometimes it does feel like that. To do that, you’ve just got to be good at what you do, and you’ve got to be confident and very proud of what you do, I suppose, at the same time.
“I think we have the highest number of international acts that have come out of any individual place in Australia. I think that’s why: because we are over here on our own, trying to make it. I just think it is a hard slog here for any band, and when you get to the point where you’re just starting to make it, if that’s a word you can use, you don’t want to let that go. It’s very competitive… very competitive.”
Lyrically, Swansong cuts deep – Slow Burn and Heroin, for instance, are about the sort of razor’s edge love/hate relationship that we’ve all had at one time or another. Bullock lays the credit for those two tracks at Johnsen’s feet.
“Just listening to how Maegan strings a lyrical story together is something that I absolutely admire,” admits Bullock. “Those songs were based on relationships that Maegan had had, and that’s one of her strong points. She’s very emotive with her writing and her storytelling and it always comes from the heart with her.
“And Scott – he’s very good at telling a story within a song, too. He just paints a picture with whatever he’s writing about. Yeah, he has written songs where they’re quite personal, as well. Maegan, who does write from the heart, you know? She does write about life experience, in a nutshell.”
They’re a band not easily pigeonholed or categorised. Seemingly disparate elements of country, rock, folk and progressive coalesce into a sound that has familiarity and uniqueness all at once. The band’s influences read like a Who’s Who of modern music, so it’s no surprise to discover that The Space Between itself was lifted from the lyrics of a Cog song.
“Me being a massive Cog fan,” Bullock confesses, “I went, ‘that’d be a good name for a band,’ and then, as we rolled with it, it started to take on a little bit more meaning.
“Then the cover was a concept about the space between when you’re trying to get that quiet time; when you duck your head into a bath and you have that space between getting rid of the noise of life, and putting your head under the water and going to that quiet area.”
Finally, Bullock explains why the EP was christened Swansongs.
“Maegan came up with the name – we’re all very, very busy individuals, and we weren’t quite sure what we were going to do after we’d finished the EP. Other people have got other musical projects that they’ve got to get on with as well.
“So, we’ve sort of decided that it’s not the end of The Space Between… if you put something out there, if it comes back to you then you know it’s meant to be. So, it’s not so much that we’re disbanding or anything… everyone’s going to take a bit of a break at the end of this.
“I’m working on two new projects; Scott’s working on his love of country music, working and collaborating with quite a number of other musicians; Aaron’s off doing a hip-hop thing, that’s his other love; and Maegan wants to get back into writing, enjoying life experiences and stringing beautiful words together and strumming on her acoustic.
“If people want us to come and play or do shows, or if we get hit up for gigs and stuff we’re gonna be there with bells on. We’ll just see if we can get some airplay on RTR or even triple j, and basically just see where it takes us, really. If we get called back to do it, then we’re ready for it.”
The Space Between launch Swansongs at Babushka with help from Crow Jones, Flossy, Mossy Fogg and Small Batch Audio on Friday, May 19.