Citing influences from Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, through Guns n’ Roses, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, The Ivory Lies burst onto Perth’s rock landscape with their debut EP, The Road To Seduction, earlier this year.
It all started when Oscar Keaney, who had been “brought up on dad’s love of the classic ‘60s bands” developed “an obsession with Nirvana” aged 11, and picked up a guitar. Not to be outdone, cousin Liam soon followed suit.
“Maybe a slight competitive rivalry got sparked there?” Liam laughs now. “Growing up in a family of music lovers who listened to Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Hendrix, I was searching for a way to express myself that incorporated my shared love of music.”
Drummer, Scott Bingemann, explains how the band eventually formed.
“Funny story actually… a few years ago I was seeing this girl and I heard about her ex, so instantly I didn’t really like this guy even though I didn’t even know him. She threw a party for her birthday and that’s where I first met Liam – her ex. We instantly became best buds, hijacked the music and were playing Skid Row, Guns, Alice In Chains, etc.
“Not long after,” he continues, “I met Oscar at our first jam with just us three, and I was blown away by the riffs they’d come up with and their ability on guitar, so I had to stay. I met Abe (O’Connor) at TAFE, we got along really well, and I knew he was a good muso – he rips on drums, keyboard and guitar as well – so I asked him if he wanted to jam with us on bass. He turned up to our little jam space, picked up on the songs really quickly and everyone gets along like we’re family.”
Originally launching as Slick Lips a couple of years ago, Oscar says, “I guess we all outgrew the name…” with Liam adding that people “would give us funny looks and think it sounded dirty… I ‘spose you can guess why? At the time when I thought of the name I was going through a bit of an 80’s glam-rock phase, I suppose – we all have them, right?”
Enter The Ivory Lies, a name which Liam, who is also the band’s vocalist, says is “a play off of ‘white lies.’ It’s also a phrase in a fuckin’ sick Myles Kennedy & Slash song called Beneath The Savage Sun.”
New EP The Road To Seduction, is a ball-tearer, bringing to mind classic Guns n’ Roses songwriting chops, soaring Page-meets-Slash guitar playing, and Liam’s vocals which blend a classic rock aesthetic with a grungey Soundgarden feel. Or, as Bingemann simply explains it, “we’ve got a big sound loaded with catchy, heavy riffs, infectious melodies and lyrics and thunderous rhythms.”
“All five songs were our first songs, with most of them written by Liam and myself back when it was just the two of us,” Oscar explains. “The track Nothing Left (Not Even Freedom) was the first song written as a whole band. These days the songwriting process is pretty collaborative between the four of us. Most of the time it’s myself or Liam or Abe bringing a riff to the table, Scott locking down a groove and Liam coming up with vocal phrasing and melodies over the top. Lately we’ve been banging out a new song every couple of weeks and have enough new material for an album already.”
“We were lucky that Scott and Abe were doing music at TAFE at the time,” Liam adds, “and we were able to tee up recording sessions with their mate – now our mate – Gareth Peach. He’s an absolute legend. From there we literally just looked for the most cost-effective way to get the mixing and mastering done and came into contact with Sam Ford from Sound City Studios: he put the missing pieces of the whole puzzle together with close guidance from Oscar’s sharp ears.”
Lyrically the songs on The Road To Seduction find Liam touching on some dark subjects, including bad relationships and addiction.
“They’re all kind of inspired by something I’ve experienced directly or indirectly – except for Riot which is purely fiction,” he summarises. “Limousine Cuisine is about not feeling good enough for someone, and you feel like you need to leave them because you’re dragging them down; Riot is about some dude who has committed some bad crimes and is on death row; Nothing Left (Not Even Freedom) is about a substance having control of you, and it’s written from that substance’s voice; Temptress is pretty self explanatory – yeah, a lot of them are about girls…” he laughs.
“It’s our take on some standard blues,” Oscar pitches in. “You don’t need to ask us twice to play a guitar solo, that’s for sure!”
“…and Road To Seduction is a mix between the journey of seduction and the realisation that someone only needs you when they need you, and your thoughts or feelings don’t matter to that person,” Liam concludes.
As good as the EP is, rock’n’roll is about live performance first and foremost, and that’s where The Ivory Lies are most comfortable.
“Playing your own music on stage to a crowd is the best feeling ever,” affirms Bingemann. “You get this adrenaline rush that just makes you want to get straight back on stage when you’re done. And when you can see that the crowd is enjoying it, even singing along, you feel on top of the world.”
Finally, we have a chat about the state of the Perth music scene right now, and according to the Keaney cousins, it’s healthy AF.
“I think it’s great,” declares Liam enthusiastically. “Just about every weekend you see a passionate band playing, whether it be rock‘n’roll, indie rock or an acoustic one man or woman show. It’s great to see a lot more female rock’n’roll bands dominating the stage like our mates Legs Electric – they’re killing it. At the end of the day it’s so sick to know that no matter what your genre or flavour of music, you will generally be able to find a gig suited to your taste if you’re willing to look hard enough for it.”
“There seems to be a fair amount of new venues popping up around the place – The Sewing Room, Badlands. The Hell Hole etc, as well as old ones getting a makeover like The Rosemount,” Oscar adds. “There’s a lot of young rockers bursting out on the scene too – Moonlighter and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, as well as the bands that have been around a little longer like Legs Electric, The Southern River Band, Maverick, Ragdoll, Hailmary, Psychonaut, etc. There’s heaps more.
“It’s a pretty small scene, but it’s growing to be a force to be reckoned with.”
The Ivory Lies launch their new video for Road To Seduction at Soggy Bones’ Hell Hole Easter Party on March 29, with help from Legs Electric. Full details at www.facebook.com/events/430409620736613/