Before their October 24th show at Washington D.C.’s Black Cat, Geoff O’Conner, singer, songwriter and guitarist for Melbourne’s The Crayon Fields was gracious enough to take some time from his hectic touring schedule (the band is basically crossing the USA three times in a span of 2 weeks) and chat with me via phone about the current tour, the recording process, and Stevie Nicks.
(Due to a recorder mishap the following isn’t direct quotes from O’Conner).
SICK OF THE RADIO: You guys just came from performing at CMJ. Everyone has been abuzz about it down here. How was that?
GEOFF: It was great. Didn’t see many bands because we were playing a lot. We had a day where we played three shows, but it was a lot of fun. We got to meet a lot of interesting and bizarre people.
SICK OF THE RADIO: [Laughs] Bizarre, how so?
GEOFF: Oh just very forward.
SICK OF THE RADIO: Your guys first time in the USA was last March when you played SXSW. How has your second time been in the US?
GEOFF: Well we’ve got to see more places and people this time around. We have gotten to go or are going to places like Seattle and San Diego. Last time we only played in New York City, L.A., and obviously Austin. So this time we are just able to see much more.
SICK OF THE RADIO: What was the creative process behind “All the Pleasures of The World”? I know you do the songwriting, so does that mean that you usually come prepared with lyrics and then the group create the song from that?
GEOFF: Yeah pretty much. I come in with the structure of a song, such as the words and melodies. Then from there we demo obsessively, resulting in many different versions. But really just demoing a lot, which can be frustrating.
SICK OF THE RADIO: “Mirror Ball” and “All The Pleasures of The World” are very charming and romantic themed songs. Would you say most of your songwriting comes from personal experiences or do you also pull from what you see in the world around you.
GEOFF: Yes they are from personal experience, but it’s also laced with fantasy. You know in order to shake it up a bit.
SICK OF THE RADIO: The musical refrain on “Mirror Ball” is one of the most immediately beautiful and pleasing I’ve heard. How did that come about?
GEOFF: Oh thank you very much. The process involves figuring out different melodies and matching them. There is a lot of tracking and changing, which can be frustrating because I am not the fastest at deciding which melody fits the best. So, we might think we have a song and then I have to change it, which can be frustrating.
SICK OF THE RADIO: You guys are often compared to The Zombies and/or The Beach Boys. Would you guys say those were influential bands when you were growing up? Or do you think people are liking you to them because you also produce similar and sweet pop melodies?
GEOFF: Yeah, people do like to write it. It’s understandable because they are writing about a band they never heard of and since we have a similar approach it is easy to compare. Songs from that era tend to be very tightly structured and we are a band that doesn’t really improvise. But we aren’t by any means trying to recreate the sound. I was brought up on The Beach Boys, but I did listened to Tool when I was 12 [laughs].
SICK OF THE RADIO: [Laughs] Tool, really?
GEOFF: [Laughs] Yeah.
SICK OF THE RADIO: The band originally started in high school, how did that exactly come about?
GEOFF: Brett [bassist] and I went to high school and formed the band. Our original drummer left to be a lumberjack of all things. Well a tree surgeon. Chris [guitarist] and Neil [drummer] then joined but they didn’t go to high school with us. The band didn’t really form though until 2005 because we didn’t start recording until we had the full band that we have now.
SICK OF THE RADIO: If you could open for one band dead or alive, in any venue in the world who would it be, where, and why?
GEOFF: Stevie Nicks, mostly because I would love to meet her. She is an amazing performer. I think I would want to do it on a cruise, you know something out of the ordinary.
By: Stephanie Glass