Latest release: Look and Behold (Pelagic)

Sydneysiders Lo! began as a solo songwriting project for Carl Whitbread but has now becoming a fire-breathing sludge-feeding beast who have within a year opened for The Nation Blue, Doomriders and Russian Circles and already have their debut album out through Germany’s Pelagic Records. Just ahead of a short tour to promote Look and Behold, Loud had a short chat with Whitbread about the history and future of Lo!

Q: OK Carl, let’s start with a brief history of Lo!
A: We started about three years ago. It was pretty much just me writing songs in my bedroom and basically over the years ended up recruiting some musicians and we had a couple of minor hiccups along the way. Finally we got to the point where we played our first show in 2010. Since then we’ve played a lot of shows and we’ve just released our album Look and Behold.

Q: Some people would probably think that you’d just come from out of nowhere.
A: That was sort of the intention. I really wanted to, you know, having played in previous bands and stuff, I really wanted to do this properly. I wanted to make sure we were prepared to hit the floor running when we started gigging and stuff. I didn’t really want to stuff around for too long. I just wanted to have it all ready to go and come straight out with it.

Q: You’ve already done some pretty impressive supports in such a short time.
A: All of us in our previous bands have already done the hard yards in the Sydney music scene, and made a lot of contacts through that. That definitely helped in getting those supports. And we’re good friends with a lot of the bands that we’ve played with. We’re good friends with The Nation Blue.

Q: Your music’s been described in lots of different ways. How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
A: It’s a tough one. I always just refer to it as heavy music. I didn’t really like to label it too much with genres. A lot of reviews are calling it sludgy. That’s been thrown around a lot. Just pretty heavy music and bands that we seemed to get compared to are Breach and Converge. They’re the names getting thrown around in reviews and that. It’s just a good blend of those heavy styles.

Q: And you’ve been picked up already. I understand you have a European deal?
A: Yeah, we got signed to Pelagic in Germany, which is Robin from The Ocean’s label. How that came about it that we did sort of a demo EP type thing before we did the album, and I just sent a whole bunch out to different labels in Europe and America. It wasn’t really with the intention of getting signed. It was more to get it out there and get people hearing it. Robin got back to us right away and said he really liked it and was willing to offer as an album deal.

Q: You said you began by writing songs in your bedroom, so how much to the other members contribute? It’s not just “Carl’s project” is it?
A: No, no. We’re a tight knit group and everyone brings ideas in. The good thing about it is that most of the members can play other instruments quite well. For instance our drummer (Adrian Griffin) has written a couple of songs that are on the album, and our singer (Jamie-Leigh Smith) is also a guitarist and he writes his own stuff as well. So it works out quite well and those guys bring other elements to the music.

Q: The fact that all the guys are in other bands doesn’t get in the way of Lo! at all?
A: Well they’re not at the moment. Our singer was in a band called Ignite the Ibex, while we were going, but he’s now left them. They’re a really good band… I won’t go into details because I don’t really know… Adrian our drummer played in 28 Days for a while. But everyone in the band has made Lo! a priority.

Q: Well that must be a relief because you’ve got tour dates coming up, and everyone’s concentrating on the one thing now.
A: We had a few weeks where we could all commit to something so we organised it all around that.

Q: How’s the reaction been to the music so far?
A: Really positive. We’ve had some really good reviews, not just for the album but our live shows have been really well reviewed. We’re really happy with that. It all seems pretty positive.

Q: How many tracks did you have to whittle down to get ten onto the album?
A: Well to be honest we pretty much just had exactly that! We ended up… a lot of them needed us to change some bits to them.

Q: And was it done recently? It wasn’t one of these albums that’s been sitting around for a couple of years like many bands seems to have?
A: Not really. Some of the songs were written a long time ago, like they were some of the first songs that I ever sort of wrote, but some of the others were a bit more recent. And like I said, our drummer wrote a couple as well.

Q: What are the plans once the album is released?
A: Well we’re trying to the road as much as we can for the rest of this year and next year, and try to get into Europe sometime next year. We’ll wait and see what happens with that. We’re looking in to trying to get a grant at the moment. We’re currently putting things together. We’ve got a lot of good reviews coming outta Europe so hopefully that’ll all help us get a bit of funding behind us for it. See how we go!