Melbourne music-makers Foreign/National have been favourites of ours for a while now – in fact, one of their early tunes appeared in HIDDEN HERD’s Tracks of the Year 2015. The Aussie band are masters of melody-stuffed lo-fi guitar pop and have generated an avalanche of hype over the last few years, which led them to support Cali indie big guns Cold War Kids and drop a dazzling debut album called ‘Dépaysement’. After building a devoted following on these shores, Foreign/National are packing their passports ahead of a tour in the UK and Europe this July. We caught up with the band ahead of their London date at The Old Blue Last.
‘Pacific Cruise’ was one of our favourite tracks of 2015. How did the track come about?
“Our singer Mark wrote ‘Pacific Cruise’ sometime in early 2015, and I remember we recorded the demo around the same time as ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Sunny Afternoon’. We tracked the song with Joey Walker from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, who also handled mixing duties. ‘Pacific Cruise’ came off the back of two fairly upbeat, lo-fi singles (‘Always Blue’ and ‘The Hedonist’) and we used it as an opportunity to experiment with slower grooves and cleaner production.”
How did Foreign/National start out?
“After a few years living abroad, Mark returned to Australia in 2013. He went a bit stir crazy living with his parents again, so he spent most of his time drinking beers and writing tunes in his bedroom; one of those demos was ‘Paris’, which was the first song we ever rehearsed and recorded as a full band. We received a bunch of really positive online press for ‘Paris’, which gave us the resolve to bang out the rest of our self-titled EP in 2014.”
What inspired your name?
“All of those early songs were largely inspired by Mark’s experiences overseas, and we wanted a name that reflected that theme. The concept of travel continues to be a touchstone for us; our debut album – ‘Dépaysement’ – is largely about the feeling of disorientation and homesickness that comes with living in a foreign country.”
Who are the Top 5 biggest influences on your sound right now?
“Inspiration tends to happen via osmosis for us, so it’s hard to pinpoint other artists who directly influence our own music. Recently, I’ve been digging through lots of obscure late ’60s psychedelic stuff: D. R. Hooker, Margo Guryan and Relatively Clean Rivers are all absolute gems. Whether they impact my own songwriting—I guess we’ll have to wait and see!”
Any other new bands that you’ve played with and would recommend?
“A couple of us are living in Berlin at the moment, so it’s been a while between shows. However, we’re all big fans of Tough Uncle, Poppongene, Hollow Everdaze and Jesse Davidson—all of whom we’ve shared the stage with in the past!”
And finally, what does 2017 hold for Foreign/National?
“We’re ridiculously excited for our first ever European tour in June and July—if you’re in Berlin, Paris or London we’d love to meet you! We’re also working hard on writing tunes, and should have a new single out in the next month or so.”