Client Liaison know what it means to be true blue. Harvey Miller’s keys and Monte Morgan’s (often falsetto) vocals are more Aussie than you can poke a stick at, and they plan to crank their dated ’80s synths at MOFO on January 19. The band tell us what it really means to be Australian, and what we can learn from looking back to the ’80s.
If you’ve ever watched the music video to their song End of the Earth, you’ll understand exactly what Client Liaison are all about. It’s got Ansett, it’s got Shane Warne, it’s got Bob Hawke slamming a beer and even features John Howard walking. It may actually be impossible to provide a closer representation of ‘80s Australia. Monte looks to this golden era of Australian culture with respect and pride, recognising the ‘80s as a “high point for morale.”
“In the arts, we had massive success, and we were also celebrating Australian culture like Mad Max, Man From Snowy River, Crocodile Dundee. We were quite proud of our country, but we were also doing great things in the arts as well, so we align ourselves with that celebration of Australia. We seem to be in sync with ourselves, and not self-doubting, not ashamed of our history.”
Monte and Harvey are born and bred Aussie, and through their music they comically share their admiration for our big island. But while they understand the importance of acknowledging their national identity, they also contemplate what it really means to fly our country’s flag today and the unfortunate connotations that have become linked with Aussie nationalism.
“We are a lucky country and I think that we should celebrate that, and in doing so it’s important to make a distinction between nationalism and patriotism. I think nationalism is doing something like the Cronulla Riots which is quite shameful, and unfortunately we lost the Australian flag to the Cronulla Riots. If you fly the Australian flag, you’re a total bogan.”
“Compare that to America – all the big, popular artists perform in front of the American flag and it’s kind of accepted and there’s no cringe in it. In Australia, if we perform in front of our national flag, it’s unfortunately linked to nationalism.”
To show their love of Australia without sending the wrong message, Client Liaison creatively make use of Australia’s Bicentennial flag – and with its golden, diagonally striped impression of our island printed over a solid green backdrop, the design couldn’t possibly look more ‘80s.
“We grew up in Australia, so it ties into our self-awareness, self-identity, and national identity.”
Although the pair admit they were still “in the womb” in the ‘80s, they still shared an intimate connection with the era that so deeply inspires them.
“Growing up, we wore clothes from the ‘80s because they were hand me downs from our siblings, and the architecture of the houses we grew up with were all left over from the ‘80s, so we still feel an actual connection with the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.”
The boys’ passion for incredibly dated synths and electronic instruments takes us back to that time and place whether we lived through it or not.
“There’s something in the sound which correlates with that culture. We kind of like that radiating sound – instead of the early, rough mechanical synths, we like the digital sampling synths that are like crystal bells and strings.”
“Really, we’re quite late 80s, and with our next release we’re going to be popping our head into the early 90s.”
Client Liaison are setting their newest release for January, and it’ll feature two new tracks with a house vibe. Yes, you will get a taste of it at MONA FOMA. Both Baby Boomers and Gen Y accepted – as long as you bring the moves.
“Our live audiences are pretty young – we’re actually quite dancey when we’re live, we get the party going. But studio-wise, I think it’s fairly open. You get a lot of people going, ‘yeah, this is how I remember music, how it was back in the day’. I’ve noticed some older people and I think they like the conceptual exploration beyond the music.”
Just make sure you get down like Prince – and not John Farnham.
“John Farnham was one of our biggest influences, but he could not dance to save himself.”
If you missed the ‘80s or want to relive them, head to MAC2 on January 19 at 10pm. Tickets available from www.mofo.net.au.
BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE
This article featured in Warp Magazine January 2014.