The first impression I had of Aussie indie pop band Fairchild — by watching a YouTube video of “Burning Feet” (off new EP of the same name) — was that the band was a professional set-up with management & promotional support – the whole shebang! But the truth is that the Gold Coast sextet actually have day jobs (!) and ascribe to a D-I-Y aesthetic, depending very much on contacts and their own business acumen to make it this far. Frontman Adam Lyons not only has to juggle a full-time profession with Fairchild but also has a side-project Lyon Apprentice, with his brother Nathan (who is also in Fairchild). The band played in 2013’s Music Matters Live and more recently The MIDI Festival in Shenzhen and will also be showcased at the upcoming Canadian Music Week in May. All these overseas jaunts, virtually on their own dime. Quite an achievement. Over this weekend, I had the unique opportunity to watch both Fairchild and Lyon Apprentice and spoke to Adam about music, passion and how to finance it all by robbing a bank!
I was forced to play piano when I was about 15 years old but I played guitar – I didn’t study it (music) at school – I wasn’t allowed to actually, I wasn’t even allowed to do PE – Maths and Science was my thing. I told them (parents) I wanted to do medicine, which I eventually got into. Music is a gateway to something else – it’s not a profession for me per se and I think things change when you switch music from a job to a hobby but we treat music as a job in the way we approach it. I look at my friends at work – 9 to 5 – and that’s all they do but it gives me another avenue to be creative.
When and how did you seriously get into making music?
To be honest there was no real catalyst – the others and I never really had proper training in music – only that it was something I enjoyed doing. Listening to things I used to sing when I was about 16 or 17, I almost cringe. But I found it that it was a little bit of a challenge so I guess the turning point was maybe about 4 years ago when we decided let’s do this properly and let’s treat it like another job – let’s practise X times a week, let’s put some money away so that we can pursue it – then we need to figure out how to go about doing that. So the real decision was made about 4 years ago, to give it a go.
What do you think were the early inspirations for your songwriting and performance?
It’s hard to admit but I was inspired when I saw the Killers perform at Big Day Out. I remember actually calling my mom and I think I had a few drinks that day and telling her that I wanted to be on that stage – I wanted to be Brandon Flowers! It wasn’t so much the music. I think it was more – I tend to watch the crowd, I sit and watch how people react. It’s amazing what the concept of music can do to people. It was a big moment for me – I wanted to be in a band and I wanted to make big anthemic music. But from that point on, I didn’t have one songwriter that I tried to write like but that earliest stuff was my entry into anthemic rock e.g. The Killers, Coldplay, Snow Patrol – pop-rock bands that were huge sounding. But now we have developed our own sound, those anthemic elements are not as important anymore.
What is the difference in approach between working with Fairchild and Lyon Apprentice?
They’re completely separate. Fairchild is like trying to do a puzzle with 5 people – everyone is grabbing pieces and trying to put them on the board. For Lyon Apprentice, Nathan might write nearly a whole song and I help to put the melodies together. Or I might write complete songs and he might add a few things so it’s more like a co-write.
Why did you decide to start Lyon Apprentice?
Nathan and I originally with Fairchild wrote a lot of the earlier stuff – he would write the progressions and come to me with an idea, I’d write the melody and then we would go to the band and they would add their thing but we have changed the approach since then to be more collaborative. But Nathan and I had about 15 songs sitting there that we just wanted to record and experiment with drums especially – a bit like what Jonzi does. That’s something we can’t do with Fairchild. So we went to Cairns to record – put me in a room for 8 hours a day, banging on things, adding layers and layers of stuff. Lyon Apprentice can go from acoustic to full electronic sound, if we wanted to – so it’s a creative outlet for us, away from Fairchild, where it is a bit more structured.
Explain the thinking behind the change of the band name from “Fairchild Republic” to simply “Fairchild”.
We basically re-branded. We expanded our music style – tried to change the sound a little bit. It wasn’t getting traction like we wanted to. People were loving it overseas. We were getting pigeon-holed into a particular sound in Australia so we decided to drop the “Republic”, change our image, let’s get new photos and not pretend like the rest never happened but let’s just have a clean start. It was more of a personal thing for the band and not “let’s change our image to suit the world”. We haven’t lost anyone so far.
Is there a recording release for Lyon Apprentice in 2014?
We haven’t set a release date but we are going to release one more single maybe at the start of February – we will organize a music video – need to get back to shoot the damn thing. And then probably at the end of March, we will release a five-track EP.
Will there also be a full-length album release for Fairchild?
The plan is that at the end of July, we will see how much money we have and how much time Catherine Marks (producer) has to come down from UK – if we can sit her down and get at least two to three weeks from her, we’re thinking of doing an EP but putting the old EP (Burning Feet) on it as well. But it will come down to money at this stage. But definitely there will be some recording in July. Whether it is a EP or full-length is up in the air at the moment. We will probably have to rob a bank…
Thanks to Sammy Shirra-Moore for making this interview possible.
Fairchild: Official Site
Lyon Apprentice: Official Site