Spookyland: Beauty Already Beautiful

Nicki Alchin
9th May 2016

Just prior to releasing their debut album, Beauty Already Beautiful, three members of four-piece Sydney indie-rock band Spookyland sat down with me to give Sydney Scoop readers a glimpse into their world. 

First up, we discussed their time at South By South West (SXSW) - one of the world's largest music showcase events held annually in Austin, Texas USA. I asked whether the experience was worthwhile. The resounding view of the band was that the four day adventure to play five shows was exciting, intense, long and totally beneficial in spite of all the hard work and expense required. Marcus Gordon, lead singer, was backed up by his brother Liam (guitar) and Nic Malouf (bass) regarding his comments that valuable lessons of being able to play high standard shows under pressure and the need to not be lazy or complacent, were learned. 

The band's consensus was that they had achieved the goals they'd set for SXSW. They bonded musically  and performed concise sharp sets that mostly broke through to new audiences to ignite their interest and appreciation. I was also informed that as an added bonus their sets were generally well patronised. 

I recollected seeing Marcus performing solo way back in 2009. Turns out that yes, Spookyland started off as a solo outfit. Back then Marcus took on a theatrical approach to his performance. He wore dramatic 'war paint' and sang folk songs. It wasn't until 2011 that the pulled was band together. Marcus called on his brother Liam as well as Liam's mate Nic to help out and they evolved into a band. Nath Mansfield plays drums for them. Nic and Liam met at the Australian Institute of Music, and coincidentally Marcus had been there two years before them. 

What obstacles held them back from recording an album 'till now? A lack of time and money were not surprisingly mentioned, along with a desire to wait until everything came together correctly so it could be done how they wanted it done. However, a different quirky reason seems to have also held them back. Apparently at various separate times, all band members except Marcus broke a foot. This meant the band had nil ability to do gigs or record for a while - although Nic did recount a story of him going on stage once at The Star with an ugly foot blown up twice its normal size. 

We talked about what Marcus' ambition for the band was and what was his inspiration to keep going in spite of the Sydney scene being stifled by lock out laws and venues closing down. 

Not surprisingly, Marcus wants to keep making records and following the mystery of writing and performing music as a band. Liam chimed in that he wanted the band to grow old together while continuing to play music. Nic had a similar response to Marcus in that he wants the band to keep following the art of making music and evolving their musical style. He also made the comment that as a collective of individuals, they all wanted to and had a need to make music. 

Another determining factor providing inspiration to work hard towards success was that no other job appeals to any of the band members. The guys each have an inbuilt need to make music. Most definitely they share a love of what they are doing. Enjoyment, fun, experiencing the process of writing music, making a psychic bond musically, and mastering the playing process were listed as driving forces for each member of Spookyland.

If you are keen to taste first hand Spookyland's musical creativity, checkout their brooding debut album Beauty Already Beautiful - out now - and a live show in support of the album on Wednesday 11 May at Newtown Social Club.