In terms of Geelong rock acts, can we ever really go passed Warped?
Releasing their first album, Slimeax, in the mid 90’s through the iconic indie label Au-Go-Go it was evident that there was an incredibly bright future ahead of them.
Forging out the Melbourne rock sound, Warped went on to sign with Mushroom Records and release two highly acclaimed albums; On The Make (2001) and Quicker Ways to Blacker Eyes (2003). Now many years later, the lads are back with their latest offering, Bolt From the Blue. With seven tracks of blistering droney rock and roll, it’s an absolute ripper.
Catching up with the bands newest recruit, Sammy Crawford, who undertook the role of bass about 10 years ago, Forté caught a glimpse of what it was like to finally bring out such a long-awaited album.
“We recorded it at Head Gap Studios with Neil [Thomason, producer/engineer] and it was easily the best recording that I have ever been a part of,” Crawford explains. “Everyone was so relaxed and we all had our individual ideas of what we wanted and Neil was an absolute legend who was really accommodating with any of our wacky ideas.
“We took our time; I think it was about five days tracking but we rarely had any moments where we didn’t like what we were playing. I feel that’s because we did have these strong pre-existing ideas of what the album should be; we didn’t have to stop and discuss we could just play it how we wanted it.
“One funny thing that Cris [Wilson, drummer] always says is, ‘it’s gone from the garage to the lounge room.’ It’s just a bit more defined with a bit more musicality to it,” he laughs before continuing. “We wanted it to sound tough, but we also wanted to show an evolution of the band. There aren’t as many screaming back up vocals, it’s a lot more creative nowadays. We didn’t put any boundaries on ourselves, it just ebbed and flowed, which is what you want from any recording process but there’s just something special about this one.”
And indeed it is a special recording, especially considering it marks the first album in the Warped catalogue that Crawford is part of the recording process. So just how did Crawford find his way into Warped after they had already been a band for quite some time?
“I think that would be going back about 15 years,” he recalls. “A friend who was starting a country band called ‘The Palenecks’ approached me and Cris was the drummer so we did that for quite a few years. Cris and I just jelled, him and me are like ‘putting on an old boot’ – it just clicks. When the guys were thinking about getting Warped back together, Cris gave me a call and told me. My first reaction was ‘sweet, can my other bands play gigs with you?’ and he said ‘no, we want you to play bass.’ I just slotted in nicely; they are my two best mates. We really get along, there’s never any beef or anything like that so it’s good to be a part of.
“I’m actually a bit younger than the other guys, I’m 34 and the other guys are in their early 40’s,” Crawford continues. “I first heard Warped when I moved to Melbourne from Queensland. A mate gave me one of their CD’s and said ‘mate, this is the Melbourne rock sound.’ I was a bit of a fan-boy for many years so playing with them now is like a school boy dream come true.”
Touching on the long wait fans have experienced in the build-up to Bolt From The Blue, Crawford reveals how the album eventually came together.
“Because of work and stuff, we would just play gigs here and there and do our best to get out there but we were slowly writing songs. Early last year something just clicked and we started writing profusely so we just smashed the album out. Whenever we would get together it would be out on the road playing gigs and we would end up at an Airbnb and straight away get the guitars out and start writing,” he continues, “but like any album, the process of writing and recording all takes time. It’s taken a little bit longer than we thought but it’s all been worth it in the end. We are so stoked with the finished product.”
And it seems the band aren’t the only ones happy with the finished product, with the album scoring some rave reviews and sparking sell-out shows. Next up on the album launch tour is quite a special one though with a hometown launch at the one and only Barwon Club featuring an absolutely stacked lineup.
“Because we are a Geelong band, we are saving the big one for The Barwon Club,” Crawford smiles. “It’ll just be a big party. We’ve got River of Snakes which is Raúl from Magic Dirt, The Poppin’ Mommas who are a classic Geelong band (I think my first ever show with Warped The Poppin’ Mommas played), and a bunch of new acts like Bring Up The Spirits. It’ll just be a great party, the lineup is insane. It’s kind of like our version of River Rocks. The BC always sells out, the staff there are amazing, you always feel looked after and have an unreal time, so I dare say our little shindig will be much the same.”
When & Where: Small Town Disease @ The Barwon Club, Geelong – August 4, The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine – August 10 & The Eastern, Ballarat – September 21.
Written by Alex Callan