Floodlights Suck: “I Should Really Just Pack My Lunch”


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Clichés suck. They’re overused, they’re reductive and they don’t actually really tell you anything about who/what they’re describing. That’s why this introduction won’t describe Melbourne five-piece Floodlights’ rise as meteoric, because it’s not. Instead, they’ve been building a devoted fanbase over the last few years, combining elements of searing post-punk with the echoes of Australia’s greatest rock acts. The band holds up a mirror up to modern-day Australia, and on their just-released second album Painting Of My Time, their focus is razor-sharp. 

Junkee caught up with the band’s bassist, Joe Draffen, to discover what sucks (and what doesn’t) about being in one of Australia’s most exciting acts. He, alongside vocalists/guitarists Louis Parsons and Ashlee Kehoe, pianist Sarah Hellyer and drummer Archie Shannon, have been playing countless shows across the country and beyond in recent months — which is a small miracle, given their rehearsals are frequently sidetracked by the call of the waves. 

Junkee: A mistake that turned into an opportunity?
I remember starting a gig with my tuner pedal still on. We played our song ‘Small Town Pub’, which has a long build up, and when it was my turn to come in on bass, I didn’t make any noise, only to look down to see that I’d forgotten to tap my foot on the pedal. This mistake helped me to create a bit of a mental checklist before we play to avoid future slip ups… however I’m sure the next one could still be right around the corner!

Cringe quote you used to live by?
“When it rains it pours.” I used to say this a fair bit as a late teen. I’d try to slip it in wherever I could, just as a dumb lowbrow joke, whether it be playing basketball if I’d made a few shots in a row, or when things were going wrong or really well in other aspects of life. I rinsed it for a while… very cringe indeed. 

Worst advice you got and blindly followed?
I was in San Francisco one night and was looking for somewhere to stay. I got told to go and see if there was some accommodation in the Tenderloin, which is a notoriously sketchy spot that I wasn’t aware of. I went down there with a mate really late at night and luckily we didn’t get rolled, but had some interesting run-ins. 

The worst failure you’re up for sharing, and what you learned from it?
I went to get my licence as an 18 year old and failed the test. I was shattered at the time, but learnt to just get over it and remind myself that it wasn’t that big of a deal and I’d get it eventually and be behind the wheel sooner or later. I’m sure there are others that are worse, but maybe I’ve repressed them as they aren’t coming to mind.

What you used to be wrong about
I remember when I was in Year 7, I thought that it was just up to an individual to have control of their life and decisions, like if they wanted to be physically active or whatever. However, I realised I was wrong, when we learnt at school that the way someone is or acts is actually due to a range of factors, such as social, environmental etc, and there are always underlying reasons for someone’s behaviour. This lesson has stuck with me.

Embarrassing internet habit?
I often end up on Wikipedia, looking at things of interest like music, art, sport, films, people or whatever and whoever. This can lead to too much time being spent online, lots of which wouldn’t be very beneficial. Last night I read about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Karen O seems like a boss. I’m keen to watch the [Yeah Yeah Yeahs] doco now.

Ideal morning routine versus actual morning routine?
Ideal morning would be waking up relatively early, and copying Ash [Kehoe]’s routine of run, ocean swim and Wim Hof. However, the reality of my actual morning routine is waking up, drinking coffee, eating toast and not giving myself much time to do anything else before having to be en route to work. It’s starting to get colder now too, so there’s even less of a chance that I’m going to get up any earlier.

Something very off-brand for you?
Sometimes I mix it up and choose to ride weird old surfboards that I have at home. Some mates think this can be a bit off brand, however, if I keep doing it, I’m sure it’ll become on brand.

Bad health decision?
I work as a school teacher, and always just end up hitting the canteen at lunch. I’ve been having too many schnitzel burgers, dimmies and hot dogs for lunch as of late.

What do you waste money on?
The school canteen that I work at. It’s cheap but I end up buying more food for that reason. I should really just pack my own lunch. The people who work there are legends though, so I’m worried that I won’t get to see them if I stop eating their potato cakes. 

Worst procrastination habit?
As a band, we often organise to rehearse at where some of us live on the coast. However, we end up just going surfing and not working on music. A short surf turns into a long surf, and then we’re too tired afterwards to do much. 

Floodlights’ new album Painting Of My Time is out now. They’re playing shows across Australia throughout late May and June, hitting up Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and more. You can check out the full list of shows (and grab tickets) here.

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