Pop punk’s brightest hope comes from Australia: Stand Atlantic interviewed

J.N. July 14, 2019

For a country with the population of Australia, the land Down Under has long punched above its sonic weight. From the boozing, brawling pub rock scene of the seventies the Australian scene has splintered into many genre directions. The editor has followed the country’s great electronic pop scene for a long time and bands as Cut Copy, The Presets and Grafton Primary; our co-founder Ms Sis is a huge fan of DMA’s; and our London pop punk queen Ms EyesClosed eat and breath the latest super act on the pop punk scene, Stand Atlantic.

Sydney based Stand Atlantic have been one of the breakthrough successes of 2019 after their first headliner world tour spanning over America and Europe, playing big sold-out venues throughout the tour, especially in Europe.

When they made it to Hamburg we met up with front dudette Bonnie Fraser and bassist Miki Rich and chat about their world tour, working with Creeper’s Hannah Greenwood and a possible move overseas in the future.

“Skinny Dipping” and working with Hannah Greenwood

I heard a rumor that says that Potter got lost at the Unify Festival last year, and I saw that you played this year’s edition of the festival as well. How did it work out this year?
Bonnie: Yeah, this year we were able to find him way easier because he really didn’t leave the backstage area or the VIP area at all (laugh).

Miki: It’s always hard to find Potter. He was never where he needed to be (laugh), and there was no reception there at all. I remember it was like “We have to go, where’s Potter?”. Luckily he was around all the time this year.

Bonnie: We don’t know where he is half of the time (laugh).

You did a DJ set in London ahead of Simple Creatures. How was it to hang out with a legend as Mark Hoppus?
Bonnie: That was cool and they’re very nice people, the Simple Creature guys. We didn’t talk that much obviously, but they’re really nice.

Miki: His hair was glowing in the dark.

Bonnie: (laugh) Yeah, Alex hair just glows in the dark so much, that’s just so cool.

Miki: I think it was the funniest DJ set we’d ever done.

Bonnie: Because it was people there! Normally when we do DJ sets no one’s there (laugh), but this time it was heaps of people and we were like “Alright, insane!”. I really enjoyed it and will do it again, for sure.

Miki: When we do DJ sets in Australia people can be really grumpy when we play dumb songs but here they like the dumb songs.

Let’s talk your latest album! When I got a copy of your record my first thought was that you have evolved quite much since “A Place Apart“. What new impressions have you put into this album that weren’t there before?
Bonnie: I think we just kind of know what we want now. With the EP we took a step away from the previous EP and kind of grew up as people in general as well, and after touring the EP for a while we were like “Ok, we know what we want in the album because whatever worked on the EP is a good thing to keep and cross-over into an album”.

All the stuff we couldn’t do on a five-track EP we tried to put into the album, and we were able to experiment more with different structures and with sounds and that kind of things. But at the end of the day we just write pop songs and we will just always stick to that kind of ethos and see what comes out. We always try to write real shit, real things (laugh).

I was happy to see that you feature Hannah Greenwood of Creeper on “Clay”, and she also did a few appearances on stage with you in the UK. What’s your relation to Creeper in general and Hannah in particular?
Miki: We actually found a cover she did on Instagram.

Bonnie: I didn’t even know it was her when I first saw it, I was just like “Cool, someone’s done a cover of our song from the EP”, and then I checked out their profile and was like “Huh, Creeper, she’s in Creeper! That’s insane!”, and from there we just kind of got talking over the internet, just back and forth a little bit. She’s just a super nice girl and so easy to get along.

Miki: Then we met at Slam Dunk and hung out at for a bit, but we never talked about doing anything, and then we went back to the studio, recorded new songs and it happened naturally.

Bonnie: Yeah, we were just like “Why don’t we get her on a single or a track”, because we were tossing up the idea of having a feature but we didn’t want anything that was too obvious.

At the end of the day she’s just a good mate and we backed their band very hard so we were like “Let’s just take her on”. She was really sick the day she did it but was like “I’ll do it, I’ll do it!”, but she nailed it (laugh).

But she did something on stage with you as well?
Bonnie: For the State Champs tour she came and sung – what was it again?

Miki: It was the Neck Deep tour in the US and she was with the Neck Deep guys for a week.

Bonnie: So she sung like a verse and a chorus of “Push”, but on this tour she was at the Southampton show and did “Toothpick”.

Miki: Maybe one day we will do the song with her on it (laugh).

Bonnie: Yeah, actually doing the song she’s featured on for fuck sake (laugh).

Moving overseas and save band money

Australia is a freaking huge country, a massive country, the sixth largest in the world, in fact. And it’s not like people adequately filling the space; 80 percent of the 25 million people’s living there are clustered on the east coast, mostly in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. You could drive the length of the UK in the same time it would take just to get from Sydney to Brisbane, and you could play shows at plenty of reasonably-sized venues along the way. In short, Australia’s geography makes it a nightmare for bands to get around, especially money-wise.

When Australian artists and bands take off, there’s often a very simple explanation: they’re going where the centre of production is. There are more labels, more people, and more venues in the UK and the US. Australia is a small place, people-wise, in comparison to other countries, and there isn’t a huge audience or a lot of funding to go around for even the most established artists. Therefore, when a band’s career is about to set off, many bands leave Australia to live close to music centers like Los Angeles and London.

For a band as Stand Atlantic having gained lots of followers overseas and selling out big venues in the US and even bigger venues in the UK, that question is something that they need to deal with in the near future.

You started out in 2015 and it’s interesting to see how quick everything happened and you left Australia to support bands across the world, especially a longer tour with State Champs. Wasn’t it in 2017 you left for a European tour the first time just two years after started?
Bonnie: Yes, our first tour was at the end of 2017 and then things turned crazy (laugh).

Have you ever thought “How did all this happen?” and reflected on how quick you gained a following across the world, getting out on your own headliner world tour where most of your shows are sold-out and being called “the next big thing from Australia”?
Bonnie: It’s really hard to take a step back and actually look at it from a really objective point of view because we’re always thinking about the next thing and the next and the next thing, so it’s kind of hard to get a proper perspective when you live in it and things just fly by. But when we have those moments and take a step back we’re like “Holy crap!”. If I told us three years ago – even one year ago – that this was going to happen I would be like “No” (laugh).

Miki: Even though we started in 2015 everything has happened in the last two years, everything from going to the UK and America, from album to the “Sidewinder” EP and a headlining tour. Everything has been in the last two years!

Bonnie: Since we actually taken it properly, like seriously, that’s when everything happened which is when “Sidewinder” came out.

Miki: It actually hasn’t even been two years which is kind of crazy (laugh).

Bonnie: But now you made me start thinking about it (laugh).

But how is it different being the headliner rather than supporting other bands?
Miki: It’s kind of scary but it’s also more fun. Crowd-wise it’s way more fun but I guess it’s more daunting as well, because if you feel “What a crappy show”, it’s on us (laugh).

Bonnie: It’s definitely very different doing a headline run to a support run because when you’re supporting you kind of introduce people to you so you are treated differently, and you think about how you perform and stuff like that. We did a lot of that on the tour we just did with One OK Rock in the US because no one knew who we were, hardly no one, and we really had to work at getting people to know who we were. Then you come over here and everyone knows who we are, that’s sick and too easy (laugh).

Miki: And because of that we kind of said “We’re gonna stop telling people what all these songs are about” because they probably already know (laugh).

Bonnie: Every now and then I’m like “Ok, if you know this next one sing along” and I’m like “Why?”. Of course they know it because it’s a headline show (laugh).

And in front of headCRASH there’s quite many fans already, two hours before the doors open. Isn’t that a strange feeling?
Bonnie: I know! I saw them and one of them gave me a drawing of us, that’s really cute. And it’s a really good chilling feeling when they sing along.

Miki: It’s also cool because when you forget the words you just kind of pull away and then just let them do it (laugh).

Bonnie: Oh, that happens me all the time (laugh). You have been watching me! (laugh)

Miki: Or if you commit to it everyone just looks at you and like “That’s not the words!” (laugh).

But considering that you’ve gained lots of fans overseas, what are your thoughts about the future? We’ve had a few interviews with bands from Australia, DMA’s last year for instance, and Nick Cave wrote an article a few years ago where he says that every Australian band that want success need to move overseas. What’s your thought about a relocation for Stand Atlantic in the future?
Bonnie: Hundred percent!

Miki: We don’t really do much in Australia to be honest. We headlined Australia for the first time this year, in 2019 (laugh). We really don’t do much there. We started to do a bit more, like a few more support shows but nothing much really.

Now when we have started to establish ourselves over here [Europe] it’s kind of cool going back home because we grow back home as well.

Bonnie: Australia is a weird one; even if you’re from there people won’t catch on until the rest of the world knows about you. You need to leave and then come back and people will be like “Oh yeah, you’re really great” (laugh). It’s just super weird.

But I was exactly the same. As soon as a band came back then I cared. It’s just so stupid (laugh).

Miki: I even think we headlined London before we headlined back in Australia (laugh).

Bonnie: I want to move overseas but Australia will always be home. However if I move overseas I save band money on the trips (laugh).

Playing Reading and Leeds

The world tour is soon over, you have a few gigs on home turf and then I guess you’re back for the European festival season, at least I know you will play Reading and Leeds Festival.
Bonnie: I know! We didn’t think we were going to do it this year. We got told a week before they were about to announce it and we were like “That’s sick! Cool, let’s do it” (laugh). I’m super excited!

I remember when we first played Slam Dunk and we were really scared that no one was going to show up for us because we had only been to the UK one time before then, and then Slam Dunk ended up being one of our favorite shows ever so I hope Reading and Leeds is the same.

Speaking about festivals and the UK; every UK band we’ve met want to play Glastonbury festival for some reason but what’s the goal on the festival scene when your start out in Australia?
Bonnie: It used to be Soundwave but that died out.

Miki: People want to play Unify [Gathering], we did that this year. Download started last year in Australia, that would be sick if we would play there.

Bonnie: There’s a new festival called Good Things but it has only happened one year so far.

Miki: But I think everyone in Australia wants to do Reading and Leeds basically.

Bonnie: Yeah, everyone just wants to leave (laugh). But Warp Tour, Reading and Leeds and Slam Dunk are the main ones everyone wants to do, and back in the day back in Australia, when Soundwave was the thing, that was it. Coachella! (laugh).

Miki: For the punk scene! If you’re an alternative band you would probably like to play Falls Festival and Splinter in the Grass in Australia, the two biggest festivals on the scene in Australia. They’re like Reading and Leeds for Australia, with lots of punk bands but also a few older bands mixed new popular bands as Billie Eilish and stuff like that.

But what memories do you bring with you home after your first headline tour across the globe?
Bonnie: Too many! The whole thing has just been a blur.

Miki: Headlining at home was really cool, and then America with all its fatty foods (laugh).

Bonnie: I think that America was really cool in the sense that the people we were touring with were really nice and we really got on with everyone on that tour.

Miki: On this one it’s really cool because these are the biggest headline shows we’ve ever done over here, especially in the UK, much bigger than the ones back home.

Starting at that point doing headline shows was about getting into the headliner vibe where you get the feeling “This is really cool”, then doing this huge US tour and ending it all with even bigger shows here [UK/Europe].

And what’s the first thing you’re going to do when this tour is over and you arrive at home again, after the last Australian show?
Miki: I’m going to Japan to see my family.

Bonnie: I’m staying in the UK to hang out with someone (laugh). Just to see some friends there.

Miki: And I think the other guys just go home to hang out with their families as well.

Bonnie: We’re just kind of getting away and grounding ourselves again, just enjoying the time because it’s been a lot. Literally we haven’t stopped since January really, and it’s coming to a point right now where we’re like [freaking out sound], “Alright, we need to sit down for a minute and just have a sleep”.

Photographer: ©Julia Schwendner
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About The Author

Music researcher with an unhealthy passion for music and music festivals. Former studio owner, semi-functional drummer and with a fairly good collection of old analogue synthesizers from the 70's. Indie rock, post rock, electronic/industrial and drum & bass (kind of a mix, yeah?) are usual stuff in my playlists but everything that sounds good will fit in.