Winterbourne talk growing up and new single ‘Better’
It’s easy to make cynical music in this day and age. The world is depressing; international politics is a total sham; and global warming is going to leave us all homeless and starving within a generation. Who can blame musicians for leaning into all that doom and gloom?
That said, one duo unafraid to take the brighter, rarer route are Winterbourne. The Sydney-based duo make music that bursts with unfettered joy; music awash with beauty, and with life. Sure, there is a certain amount of melancholy in their work, but it is always balanced out by a sheer, longing sense of hope. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity
Listen to ‘Better’ by Winterbourne below
Tone Deaf: Were you nervous about releasing your first single since 2016?
James Draper: It was a good nervous. I’ve never been this proud and happy about the sound and the songs themselves.
Jordan Brady: I did that thing where I forgot we were releasing a single. I just went, ‘It’s the day that we release ‘Better’, that’s mad’. But then it got to the day before and I went, ‘Oh yeah people listen to it on iTunes and Spotify. People will go get it, and you have to do well. Then I went, ‘I don’t want to think about it’. But I put it on when it came out and I was pretty happy because I went, ‘Yeah, we did a good song’.
What do you want people to take out of ‘Better’?
JD: Hopefully excitement for what’s to come. It’s got everything that we wanted to do with music in it. Lyrically, it’s kind of relatable: it’s that feeling of trying to prove yourself all the time. I think everyone does that at some point.
I think the words, ‘am I no better than that?’ can be whatever you want them to be. In any situation I feel like everyone asks themselves that all the time. It’s kind of like, ‘Am I no better than wanting to be better?’
Do you prefer recording or performing?
JB: On the whole performing. Wait no…
JD: We perform on a stage
JB: Not on a hole! [Laughs]. Out of an awesome show and an awesome day recording, an awesome show is always better. But if I’m going into a block of recording, I feel better than if I’m going in to a tour. It can be pretty exhausting, while recording always feels good. It depends! How has your songwriting process changed over the last 10 years.
Do you still find inspiration from similar places?
JD: Still the brain!
JB: Don’t be a smartass. [Laughs.]
JD: I guess, lyrically, it’s very different because we’re 24, not 15, and are singing less about snacks. We used to do a couple of tunes about Mars Bars. I guess the music has grown up the same way we have.
But also it has kind of come full circle. When we first started writing we were a rock duo and we just used to write guitar riffs, and everything we know about music came from learning to play the guitar. Then we kind of went more singer-songwriter and then rock again, and now it’s like… everything we’ve learnt since we started is what it is now.
But the inspiration for songs is always the same. It’s just the lyrics are different and relevant to a couple of 24 year olds rather than a couple of 15 year olds. Not that they are any better or significant. Mars Bars and rock stars will always be a good line.
Watch Winterbourne perform ‘Better’ live
What’s the strangest thing a fan has ever given/said/messaged to you?
JD: We had a guy come up to us at a show in Melbourne, and it was his birthday… and he came up to us and gave us a permanent marker and said, ‘Can you sign my chest’? and we signed his chest and I went over his nipple, and he sent us a message the next day and he had had it tattooed over his chest.
Over the nipple!?
JD: So there is a gentleman out there with our signatures tattooed onto his chest. Do we own him?
JB: Do we go thirds in this man?
What six artists would headline your dream festival?
JD: The Beatles. Oh, and ABBA. You have to have ABBA on your festival.
JB: Oh how good would ABBA be! So The Beatles, ABBA, Stereophonics, Laura Marling, Fleetwood Mac, Hey Rosetta.
If you weren’t pursuing music what would you be doing?
JD: I think we would be doing something together.
JB: Probably. Let’s lock that in now: in our parallel existence we would still be with each other.
JD: I think we would get more into like –
JD: No no no…
JB: Canoeing! We’d be world champion canoers.
What is something you’ve never told an interviewer before?
JB: I want to be a world champion canoer! Jokes…
JD: I want it to be a good one, so: sometimes I eat cucumber with tomato sauce.
JB: Don’t say that! Don’t say that on record! It freaks people out.
JD: I’ve got one [for Jordan]: his nickname is ‘Bucket Brady’, because he once passed out cuddling a bucket.
JB: …and my last name is Brady. That’s the only reason that story has stuck around that long: because it’s an alliteration.
JD: ‘Bucket Draper’ sounds crap!
JB: James had four buckets.
JD: ‘Four Bucket Draper’ lasted like a night. [Laughs.]