Transforming heavy subject matter into one big dance party is no easy feat, but it’s something that Central Coast indie-pop band The Million are making look easy.
Armed with soulful vocals, earworm harmonies and bassline grooves for days, the band combine their funk, R&B and pop sensibilities with narrative driven lyrics. With this new wave of meaningful pop taking over the charts this year, the trio’s brand of pop is exactly what 2019 needs and will have you crying and dancing, not necessarily in that order.
Working with Producer Dylan Nash (Angus and Julia Stone), their sound was solidified and honed in to create total pop perfection.
Signing with Island Records earlier this year, the band are gearing up for a massive year full of growth so we thought we’d introduce you to this dynamic trio before they need no introduction.
Sitting down with Jacob (frontman), Jay (drummer) and Tamon (bassist) ahead of their set at Sydney’s iconic Oxford Art Factory Gallery Bar, we discussed all things songwriting, creating music out of dark situations and blending together the best elements of every genre known to man.
DBU: Pop with substance is making a much needed comeback this year. What prompted you to write in that direction?
Jay: “One of the first bands that inspired us was a duo called Honne. They have this great fusion of jazz/r&b/pop and all those flavours, so they’re probably our biggest influence.
“The instrumentals are so interesting, but they still manage to take a backroad from the message of the song itself, and they’re very lyrically driven which is similar to how we write.”
DBU: I have to say, your earlier stuff so fun and dance-y, but ‘Somebody Better’ is just an absolute mood! Tell us how ‘Somebody Better’ was born.
Jacob: “So I wrote that song with Dylan (Nash), he produced our first EP (Hydration Station). It was birthed from a pretty toxic relationship that I had before I literally found someone better.
“Originally, the concept I came to Dylan with was pretty dark. It was based around the idea of having a funeral for your two exes and you’re burying them together and hosting a wake.
“When I thought about it more I was like, we should probably dial this back a little bit! But the concept of throwing a party where the two of them can get together kind of stuck.”
Stream Hydration Station below:
DBU: How did the writing processes compare between your earlier works and the current direction with ‘Somebody Better’?
Jacob: “Well since the single was a bit of a one of it was just me and Dylan that wrote the basis of the song.
“With the EP, a lot of that was all of us. Jay and I would do a bunch of writing together and then sit in a room and bring Tamon and our session guitarist Jessie in to jam them.
“So it was a lot more band-centric than this single where it was just Dylan and I bouncing off of each other.”
DBU: Being from the Central Coast of New South Wales where there’s a large pop punk and hardcore scene, what was your experience like being booked on those lineups?
Jay: “I think we used to fit those lineups a bit more, because before the EP, our sound was a lot more alt rock than alt pop. It was really heavy guitars, very riff based and guitar-focused stuff, and I think that’s what made us slot into those line ups a bit more.”
Jacob: “And I mean we were on the pop side of those line ups still, but it seemed to resonate with the people there.”
DBU: So it didn’t really add a layer of difficulty making music in a town that has its niches and favourite genres?
Jacob: “Yeah it was never a setback for us. We just went in super professional and nice and we made the art we wanted to make and what we really liked.
“There were still elements of rock and that was influenced by being in that scene and what we were listening to at the time but as we progressed as a band, we moved into that more refined pop sound.”
DBU: How have you gone about combining your different musical backgrounds and genres?
Jacob: “I think we just found order in that chaos! (laughs) I think we just picked the best elements of all the genres we love and connect on, and I think all of that just found its way into the songs.
“We’re hugely inspired by hip hop, jazz, pop, R&B and funk so I’d hate to pigeon hole ourselves having all of that to draw on.“
DBU: Who are your individual influences as musicians and songwriters?
Tamon: “When I was younger, I had a friend show me Jamiroquai and I guess it subconsciously drove me down that funk, R&B path.”
Jacob: “For me it was The Fray and Coldplay, just super good indie rock that found a way to effectively blend that pop element.”
Jay: “The first band that made me want to play music was actually Bullet For My Valentine! (laughs). As I got older, the music that I listened to became increasingly less heavy.
“It was heavy music first which descended into punk which descended into pop. So it’s Bullet For My Valentine but also acts like Glass Animals and Joyce Manor really inspired me to make music that sounds so unique and different from anyone else.”
DBU: What’s the band’s plan for the rest of this year?
Jacob: *hesitantly* “We’re just gonna chill aye! (laughs). Hopefully off the back of this single we play some more shows in other states and different territories.”
Jay: “And unless we’re going to be a ‘one hit wonder’ and retire on all our 0.00007c per stream royalties, we will most likely be heading back into the studio (laughs).”
DBU: So finally, and most importantly, kicking around the Newcastle/Central Coast scene, have you ever run into any of the Silverchair guys? I hear the drummer throws some insane house parties!
Jacob: No! but I’ve always been one person away from meeting them!
DBU: Aww darn, maybe someone can @ them when this interview is published (laughs)…