The clue is in the name: Foreign/National is all about escapism. This Melbourne five-piece describes its genre as dark tropicalia and uses detuned keyboards, modulated guitars and lazy, laconic vocals to render all your summers passed.
It paddled in the waters of non-traditional pop styles such as jazz, kraut and bossa nova on last year’s Foreign/National EP, and will explore new territory with its forthcoming release. These tunes are probably best enjoyed by a hotel pool at night, Blue Hawaiian in hand.
Broadsheet: Where are you all from?
Mark Gage: Apart from Sam, who hails from Adelaide, we’re all from the ‘Ninch (Mornington Peninsula). Things move pretty slow down there, so it provides a lot of opportunities for leisure and makes it a perfect escape from the city if we want to screw our heads on straight to do some writing.
BS: Do you think you might be the world’s premier dark tropicalia band?
MG: I think we may be. Look it’s a heavy cross to bear, but somebody has got to put their hand up for dumbest self-appointed genre.
BS: Where do you all hang out together in Melbourne and the ‘Ninch?
MG: If there’s one place in Melbourne you’re going to find us, it’s Meyers Place in the city. It’s a small, no-bullshit bar with great tunes and even greater staff. It’s never too crowded but always has a buzz. Joe’s Shoe Store in Northcote is another favourite for sinking some tin.
If you’re headed to the Peninsula it can be a bit of a minefield trying to find a good place to go, so we normally hit up Commonfolk or the Mornington Peninsula Brewery.
BS: You’ve mentioned in the past using non-traditional pop styles such as jazz, kraut and bossa nova. What musical styles are influencing you at the moment?
MG: The basis of our music has always been traditional guitar pop, but we’ve always had the desire to take that idea and place it into unfamiliar surroundings, which is why we’ve delved a little into those styles.
Recently the songs have been focusing more on groove and feeling, so we’ve been leaning more on classic disco tropes and hip-hop rhythms. What I like about those styles is that by virtue of their respective rhythms, they are innately upbeat, but you can really fuck around by decorating them with more melancholic arrangements and aggressive playing. That sort of chiaroscuro really excites me creatively.
BS: Fantasy support slot – any band, anywhere, any era?
MG: Os Mutantes, in São Paulo, in the ‘60s.
BS: Favourite place in the world?
MG: If I had to pick a place, it’s France. Anywhere: Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Montpellier: there is no country that wears its heart on its sleeve quite like France and its passion and emotion towards even the most trivial thing is pretty infectious.
BS: What can we expect from your forthcoming shows in Melbourne?
MG: We’re playing as part of the City Calm Down tour, so just playing with a band as amazing as them means we’ve got to make it next-level. We’re going to be playing a set that is more or less the entirety of our next release start to finish with interludes. So all new material, bar one track.
Foreign/National play Howler on Thursday October 2 and Friday October 3.