Matt Reisinger, Michael Trapp and Clayton Mullins, as pictured above, make up the Brisbane-based trio, Until Home. Currently on tour with their debut EP, Optimistic and working as disability support workers; I spoke with the lead singer, Michael about band origins, emotive songwriting, and life spent on the road.
So, how did you guys meet?
We met at school. Matt and I had been friends since we were quite young – we took up music together, playing guitar, learned to sing, wrote our first song together, learned our first cords together – so we’ve been doing it for a while. We [as a complete band] started playing together around late 2013, around Brisbane and the Gold Coast for maybe a good year and then we decided to start recording.
It wasn’t until after school, I started as a disability support worker and then one after the other, Matt started and Clayton started a few months later. So, we met at school but we still work together, which is cool. We’ve got such a supportive work group. Our manager is absolutely awesome! [He allows] us to get time off and he comes to our gigs. We [also] have a wide network of supportive friends which is really great, really good to have.
If you’re not touring together, you’re working together – aren’t you guys sick of each other yet?
Yeah, you certainly do get sick of each other [laughs]. But that’s not a bad thing in a way – you’ve got to push past that. We’ve learnt to be a family. If you learn how to push each other’s buttons, you also learn how to not push each other’s buttons, when to give each other space, and how to communicate with different people. So, it’s alright. It’s certainly a challenge at times but we manage it fairly well.
Has there been any clashes when it comes to song writing?
Yeah, totally – we all have different opinions! We have a lot of different influences across the three of us, but we’ve learnt that basically if we all agree on something, [then] that’s a really great idea [laughs]. But then, because there’s the three of us who write the songs, if two outweigh one, that one is very good at being like, “okay, fair enough”. We had to develop that skill or else it would become a little bit tense [laughs].
I can see now why so many bands would go solo.
Yeah, totally! I can see so many reasons why they would! But at the same time, it is so rad being in a band with guys. I don’t think I’d really want to be here on my own – especially when we’re best mates. It’s pretty cool we’re exploring the world a bit. It’s actually just us at the moment, so we’re treating each other like rock stars, I guess.
Do you guys pull pranks on each other when you’re on the road?
Not too much. We kind of just hone in on one person to pick on [laughs]. But at the same time, for the sake of keeping peace, we’re all fairly careful with each other. We prefer not to have rage fights so we’re kind of just like, I’ll respect you [laughs]. Which is a little bit backwards to what you’d expect, but we try and love each other, you know [laughs]. For example, Matt and Clayton both just bought me a coffee and a piece of fruit toast while I’ve been on the phone. We’re a good family.
How do you think you’ve evolved as people and as a band over the years?
The first couple of years, we had to find a sound and that was a real challenge. We did our best and that’s when we learnt to perform live, so the songs may not have been in their best state compared to where we are now after the EP.
Then, when we went into the studio, we learnt a lot about recording. That was a fairly challenging time because recording is fairly vulnerable. It exposes you a lot because you’re spending a long time in a [small studio room] together, and for some reason, writing songs and recording songs, it really takes it out of you. It’s emotionally tolling, so you become quite raw. I think that was where some of our first big fights happened was in the studio.
So, finding our sound last year – and this year is all about finding new places and meeting new people. It’s been incredible getting out of our hometown and the rad people we’ve been able to meet out of state, out of Brisbane. I think it’s always been important to remain humble. Some of the best people we’ve met were in places we didn’t expect to meet anyone. Some of the smaller shows [are] where we’ve met some of the greatest people.
Do you find it less vulnerable then, when you’re performing live?
It is because it has to be, but that’s a whole different challenge I’ve found. One of the tracks on the EP, Ink nearly didn’t get onto the EP [as] we had another song that was going to be in its place. The sound of the track was a different genre, we weren’t sure if it was working, so Ink was a very last minute addition. At the time, when we showed the producer, it was really raw – which is good [and] makes a good song.
It was recorded right when it was fresh. But you record, listen thousands of times, rehearse – you don’t sort of get sick of them, but you become a bit numb to them – so when performing it [live], you kind of have to go back to what [the songs are about]. You almost have to re-enact it in a way. It is emotionally tolling because you have to get in this zone of what message am I delivering in this song, and so, by the end of the set, you’re really exhausted.
With Ink being a last minute addition – why did you choose it as your current single?
[The singles] Break My Fall and Every Summer, gave people an idea of who we were. Ink is an acoustic track. That’s our roots as songwriters – we write all of our songs on guitar or piano, [so] we wanted to show people that side of us. It’s a beautiful song, a lot of people really enjoy [it] so we thought we’d do right by ourselves and people, and release that one as a single.
How would you describe your music?
It’s hard. Everybody has a very different opinion of what it is. I call it alternative pop-rock. But I think what our songs are, are songs that have a deeper meaning. Generally, if you look into them, [there’s] fairly a lot of deep thinking going into the lyrics. Quite often, the way we write, there’s a very obvious meaning – and quite often, we like to put a meaning underneath that that’s a little bit deeper for whoever would like to find it [laughs].
I was listening to Every Summer just before, and I definitely found that to ring true. I expected it to be about laying on the beach and maybe meeting a girl or something like that – but there’s just so much more to it. Can you talk a little bit about the meaning behind Every Summer?
We always hear summer love [as] this really lovely thing that everyone looks for and enjoys, or at least has memories of. But basically, summer love, in its whole form, it’s fairly painful to at least somebody, because it means it ends at the end of summer [laughs].
Summer love has always been this lovey-dovey, bright, happy thing, when really, it’s actually pretty rough. I imagine this guy coming back every summer, chasing this relationship, [knowing] that it’s going to end, but he’s kind of addicted. So, when you start thinking about these stories in your head, get in the shoes of these people, Every Summer for us, it’s a novel, it’s a narrative.
Did Every Summer determine the overall sound of the EP?
Partially. Very subtly, so it’s not obvious, we used some of the sounds in Every Summer across most all of the tracks just to bring them all together.
Every Summer defined our sound as a band before we went into the studio – it gave us direction, because it was quite a full on song, with big bass sounds going through it, punchy drums, and a higher, faster BPM – so we couldn’t just be an acoustic pop band if we’re gonna play Every Summer [laughs]. It changed the standard for the rest of our other songs.
With those faster, punchier sounds, you sure paid the price with all the running you had to do in the music video!
Yeah, very much [laughs]. It was about 3pm until 7pm basically, running. There’s actually a moment in there where I stop, it’s getting dark and this train is going past; there’s this genuinely “I’m absolutely exhausted” two second shot. And man, I was just destroyed [laughs] I was so sore! It’s funny, may be my competitive nature, [but] I enjoy having to work for it a little bit. That one actually took some effort. We didn’t just sit around all day, we actually had to work, I like that.
You originally went into the studio to record a single but came out with the EP, Optimistic – how did you go from planning a single to recording a whole EP?
Well, we planned to record a single mid last year – around July, we started pre-production and then by the end of the year we had the EP. We released the first single, Break My Fall in January. We just had a really good connection with the producer, on a friend level as well. He was a bit of a mentor for us. He brought so much out of Every Summer, we felt inclined to keep going. It was a bit of a risk at the time but we made it work. It’s totally worth it though.
Optimistic was a track on the EP. We felt the name of the track suited the time of our life as a band, being our first release, so we just thought it’s Optimistic – why not [make it the title of the] EP? [laughs]. We’re always in and out of recording, writing songs with our producer. After we finish off these shows, we’ll keep playing throughout the rest of the year, but we’ll definitely be making time to get back in the studio. We have some time booked late this month and August.
There’s certainly things we could have done better but I wouldn’t say I’d do them again because we wouldn’t have the outcomes we have now. If you do everything right the first go, you don’t look for a better option. We love recording – that’s probably our favourite thing – but other than that, touring and traveling, that’s really rad! We love exploring and finding new places. No regrets. Totally, just excitement.
Who does the artwork for your covers? And what’s the idea behind it?
Brad Hagemeijer, a friend from our school, was doing these drawings on his Instagram. One or two of these little interesting mini drawings – they’re actually quite small, around the size of a fifty cent coin. [He was also doing] lots and lots of really abstract artwork, and we thought that’s really sweet, that’d be really cool.
We weren’t sure what we were going to do with our artwork for our EP and single, [but] we thought, let’s just send a track through to him and see what he gets out of it. The eagle for Break My Fall and that guy sitting on the island for Every Summer is kind of quirky, but meaningful. They all, in a way, represent that song, at least it does for us.
Where does the name of the band, Until Home, come from?
We dabbled between a whole bunch of names or ideas, [but] home means something to everybody. And so Until Home, if you’re saying the meaning is you’re waiting to get home, or you’re aiming for home – whether that’s good or bad, or sad or happy, that’s up to the person who interrupts that, which is totally fine. I don’t think being like a sad emotion, or feeling like home is a bad thing, is bad for us.
The whole thing about being songwriters is, you wanna write music or be relatable to people, and so we felt like the word home is incredibly relatable to absolutely everyone in the whole world. If it means something to people, that’s great. I think everyone will now have their own metaphor for Until Home.
What is home for you then?
Home is where you’re comfortable. It’s where you feel safe. It’s where you’ve got maybe family or people around you who love you. Home for me is happy. [I’m] lucky.
Optimistic is out now.