It would be difficult for a dedicated Australian music fan to have not heard the name Lucius Borich at some point during the past twenty years. From piloting the drum kit with his father Kevin’s band to touring with Hoodoo Gurus and INXS in the funk-metal band Juice, rattling windows with sludge lords The Hanging Tree and hitting the peak of the national alternative music scene in Cog, Borich has been part of the Australian musical landscape since the mid-1980s. His latest project, with the problematically-stylised name of F L O A T I N G M E, brings his drum talents together with Karnivool’s Jon Stockman and three members of Sydney heavy rock band Scarymother, who “took a break” in 1996 and never reconvened.
“I’ve known the guys from Scarymother, Andrew (Gillespie – vocals), Toby (Messiter – keys) and Anthony (Brown – guitars), for a good fifteen years now and Scarymother was one of my favourite bands growing up,” Borich says. “I always had a great rapport with them. I used to tour with them in another band I used to be in, and play with them around the traps and I got to know them really well and I stayed in contact with them over long periods of time. After Scarymother broke up, after three or four years the three of them got back together and started to write some more music together. They called me to play drums on some tracks and they asked me what I thought of the music and soon I found myself playing on, over the duration of time, all the tracks that have been put together.”
The material that became what will soon be F L O A T I N G M E’s debut album coalesced through “quite an organic, slow process” according to the drummer, to the point where they were in the market for a bass player. After several potential players came and went to no result, Borich got in touch with Jon Stockman from Karnivool.
“I’ve always thought of him as one of the best bass players in Australia and I’ve always wanted to play with him,” he explains. “This was a great opportunity, and if he’s got the time, and he’s into the music… he could only say no. Fortunately for us, he absolutely loved the material and he helped shape the songs and came on board and ripped it up when he recorded over the stuff.”
Borich says that Stockman’s teaming with the others worked even better than any of them could have hoped.
“His bass parts were so strong in the context of his recording, it was almost like the music was written around his bass parts! It was quite a really cool synergy. We just connected so well in the studio and it was really, really easy to work together.”
Since then the band has been working toward live performance, spending long periods rehearsing. The disbanding of Cog made
F L O A T I NG M E Borich’s full-time band, and a gave him something to move on to.
“I got word that Cog… wasn’t going to be working anymore,” he says with a distinct pause, “and I was pretty disappointed with that. But you move on and say well, I just have to recreate something else. Fortunately enough, this was on the table. I’d been working on it for a while. And it’s shaped up really well. I’m really stoked with it. Given that the last two years have been really intense, working the album and polishing and doing the artwork, we’ve found ourselves rehearsing every week for the past couple of months. That’s been the motivation for pretty much the last two years.”
He apologies as our interview is interrupted by the stirring of his eleven-month old son, who with a name like Kyuss Borich is surely destined to follow the family tradition.
“I took him to see Tool and the Deftones and Rammstein at the Big Day Out,” Lucius says proudly. “That’s a good start for eleven months! His senses were completely activated.”
Lucius Borich’s own musical journey began when his guitarist father Kevin shipped him out on tour at a very young age.
“My dad used to take me on tour when I was 8 or 9,” he says. “He’d take me on the road and I thought it was the Best Thing Ever!”
With that sort of upbringing, music was always going to be the focus of his life. At 14 he was playing drums with Kevin Borich Express, and he’s never looked back.
“I left school at 15 and I’ve been pursuing original music in many different forms since then. The journey’s been very long, but by the same token, in the blink of an eye. It’s been quite a process, and I’m never bored by it. I’m only ever activated when I’m around creative people and the energy of the crowd and being able to have that relationship with your drum kit and the music. It’s just awe-inspiring, to everyday just open your eyes and say, ‘Today, I’m going to play music!’ To get to that point is a dream come true.”
Now one of the country’s most accomplished drummers, his oeuvre is broad and his love of music deep and intimate, nurtured by a vast and diverse collection of his father’s records.
“I spent a lot of my younger years in the practice room playing drums to just so many different styles of music,” he recalls, his voice potent with the devotion to his craft. “And I love different styles of music. My father had a really extensive record collection of many different styles. And that was just the norm. That’s what you’d listen to. You listen to Coltrane, you listen to Frank Zappa and then you listen to Black Sabbath and then you listen to Santana and Led Zeppelin. And then The Police came along, and Devo… it was an amazing exploration in terms of music and that’s been my world. I’m very fortunate to have that relationship.”
This interview is being conducted two days before their first ever show, opening for no less a talent than Shihad. If he’s nervous at all, Lucius Borich’s voice doesn’t reveal. And while subsequent reviews suggested the band’s live debut was “shaky”, they also agreed that it was the beginning of something quite special. Borich himself is “over-the-moon” with his new band.
“When you’re a fan of your own music, that’s a good start, and hopefully people can get off what you’re playing live and how it resonates live and also through the speakers when they’re listening to it at home. […] I think it’s the widest in terms of dynamics of any [band] I’ve ever played in. It’s got keyboards and can be really dramatised and it’s very deep. Andrew has a rich baritone voice that’s very unique, and the strings and dynamics and movements… it’s really quite a fantastic listen in that sense. It’s not one dimensional. I think this record is quite a personal record for Andrew. From my understanding he was using it to do a lot of therapy through words and thinking. To wear your heart on your sleeve like that, and back it with great music is quite powerful.”
F L O A T I N G M E’s first single “Sugar” has drawn inevitable comparisons to The Tea Party, but Borich insists that it is just a sample of the band’s music which he hopes is something that will have a universal appeal.
““Sugar” is a part and an element, but there’s many, many other parts of F L O A T I N G M E as well which complement each other. I hope there’s a variety in there that people will like and that there’ll be something for everyone in there.”