Interview: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

RBCF_Photo by Warwick Baker

It’s a homecoming of sorts this Bello Winter music for Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, who recorded their debut album Hope Downs in a cosy house in the beautiful village of Bellingen. Drummer and one-time Bello boy Marcel Tussie says the band is excited to be playing Bello Winter Music as this will be their first show there.

‘Recording the album was a logistical nightmare,’ he laughs, ‘but it worked in the end.

‘Our co-producer Liam Judson came from Sydney; we wanted to work with someone who had a portable studio and we liked the work he had done. We wanted to record somewhere warmer so we spent two weeks in a house that belongs to a family friend.’

The idea, according to Tussie, was to record in an immersive environment rather than the late-night track here and there that saw them record their last EP at their Melbourne studio. ‘We used to to go in after work and chip away; it was gruelling in that respect but we got great results. This time we wanted to make it a bit easier for us. We wanted to have just one focus and relax. So we tried to make the recording process as relaxing as possible.’

With three songwriters in the band, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever certainly have no shortage of inspiration. The lead track on the album is An Air Conditioned Man. ‘It’s one of Fran’s,’ says Tussie. ‘A lot of the songs are little snapshots of fictional characters grinding away at life in a daunting world. This song is a snapshot story of a guy who is stuck in traffic and trying to sort out his life, re-evaluate where he was going, how he got there and why.’

Hope Downs was largely written over the past year in the band’s Brunswick rehearsal room, where their previous releases were also written and recorded. The band’s core trio of songwriters – Fran Keaney, Joe White, and Tom Russo – hunkered down and wrote as the chaos of the world outside unavoidably seeped into the songwriting process.

‘I think the songs come from varying influences,’ says drummer Marcel Tussie. ‘They might take some of their own reality and put it in the songs; it’s a character that they have created, it’s a roaming commentary about how they see the world.

Hope Downs is the giant mine in WA and this isn’t really a political comment – it’s about trying to find hope.’

Over the last 12 months the band have enjoyed international acclaim touring through the US and the UK.

‘We started with a month in the states with Coachella. We’d been to the US before; this time we got in the van and drove 10,000km. We started in California, went through Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City, Chicago – there were about 20 shows in the States. America is such a giant market to try to crack into. The power of the internet has done well for us. The response was great. We are going back at the end of August… we pretty well have the same tour but in reverse with a month in Europe.

‘The response in the UK has been amazing,’ says Tussie. ‘We are playing to bigger crowds over there than we are here. Once you get support from the BBC it covers the country; America is more area specific. The UK has been pretty amazing for us; we did a festival last year; Electric Fields was incredible; the last show we played in London was the Electric Ballroom in Camden, 1,200, and others are up to about 1,500. And then the US shows are 500–600, a little bit smaller. We are still pinching ourselves!’

The band are one of the must-sees at this week’s Bello Winter Music, opening Thursday at the Memorial Hall and then at venues throughout the village on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Bello Winter Music’s lineup this year features more than 70 acts and includes Lior, Deborah Conway, Caiti Baker, William Crighton, Thando, Z-Star Trinity, and Dustyesky. Bello Winter Music is the lovechild of Spring’s Mullum Music Festival whose program is soon to be released!

For tickets to Bello Winter music and info go to

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