Babe Rainbow: "Old shoes are better than no shoes dude."
Over the last decade, Australian psychedelia has slowly started taking over the world with names like Tame Impala and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard never straying far from the lips of the music press. At the forefront of this musical odyssey are Byron Bay natives Babe Rainbow, who've sold out shows across the globe while retaining the 60s aesthetic of peace and love with a cosmic edge that has been a staple of their sound since 2016’s eponymous debut EP.
Returning with their fourth LP, Changing Colours, after a year out, we spoke with frontman Angus Dowling about their new record, their penchant for the 60s, being a new parent, and having a year put on hold:
Where does the title Changing Colours come from? Has the band been through any significant changes during the horribly weird year we’ve had?
Hey! Changing Colours just seemed to suit the songs and the artwork El did of the crayon-y high flying birds. But ,I thought first of that Roald Dahl book when I saw it written. Jack [Crowther, guitarist] got back into shaping boards through the year which was nice to see him get his eye dialled back in. He’s making me a bonza at the moment, a massive one.
There are elements of harder psych-rock in Changing Colours, ‘Rainbow Rock’ particularly. Were you more experimentative during the pandemic, and if so, why?
Rainbow rockit. Yeah, I guess we had groovier amounts of time without playing shows to develop ideas into bigger beasts, for sure. But this song in particular has to be heavier than the rest cause it’s the theme song for our travelling Aquarius festival we’re in the final stages of planning called 'rainbo rock'. Defs gonna have one in the UK, no question asked whatsoever.
One of the more surprising collaborations of the year has been your single ‘Your Imagination’ with Jaden Smith. How did that come about?
We were working together on a season for his clothing line when the song came about, and one thing led to another if you know what I mean. I think he did such a groovy job of it. Wouldn’t have made the record without it I reckon.. copped a bit of heat from the 60’s purists, but old shoes are better than no shoes dude. We love Jaden: he’s our bro.
You said ‘Ready for Tomorrow’ was “about 21st-century life, finding relief from the stress of both the future and the past.” Can you elaborate on what you meant?
Jack actually said that, so we can’t be 100% sure where he was going with it. But, imagine feeling yourself dancing in fantasy between personal moments of your life and that’s the pocket we were riding in at that time. All the way to the shore.
I read that each of you had a baby last year. How has fatherhood changed how you all approach your music?
I mean, other than having so much more love in our lives I think the babies have just deepened our connection to the earth, and each other as brothers. The approach feels the same but the inspiration is from somewhere bigger than it was before.
What’s been your favourite aspect of writing and recording Changing Colours?
For sure the week at Kyle’s [Mullarky, producer] in Malibu surfing and demoing all these songs, and writing them as a collective all together - Kyle as well - just riffing back and forth with keyboards, poetry, drinking champagne in his jacuzzi at 3am somewhere above the canyon.
You’re well known for being avid surfers. With the world grinding to a halt, did the last year offer you more time and freedom to focus on your passions outside of music? Especially since you’ve virtually been putting out a new record each year.
Yeah, we still surf together every day. If anything though, the freedom to focus so much more on our music was the best outcome of it all. The surf isn’t good here in summer!
Australia has been lucky in seeing a return to live music, so I guess there isn't much need for livestreams. Even so, are they something you've considered jumping on to?
We’ve just started jumping on the streaming bandwagon for the first time - I dunno why we had never before, but our buddy set us up with a Portastudio so the sound is so much warmer for a live vid, and that’s what it’s all about.
Speaking of live music, have you guys missed being on the road?
Aww yeah, but as you say there’s shows here in Aus, They’re not at capacity, but the ability to start playing, experimenting with material and getting back up rules. We’re very lucky to get the opportunity. Can’t wait to get back to the UK for a sesh!
Any plans for the future? We’d sure love to have you all back in the UK as soon as possible.
We’re finishing an EP at the moment, should be able to come out in July which is a lovely month of the year. We missed a year last year for a release so we thought we’d serve up this album followed by a taste of the next rainbow, just 4 tracks we’ve been working on at home in the studio. Omg can’t wait see you guys over there soon definitely hitting Dublin this time.
Changing Colours is out now via Eureka Music/AWAL/Flightless Records. Read our review here.