Melbourne indie rockers, Shiva and the Hazards have announced their dreamy new single East India Empress, a mesmerising modern throwback track out now. The group have also dropped a spellbinding clip to accompany the song, painstakingly pieced together from vintage Bollywood footage. East India Empress is the first taste of Shiva And The Hazards' debut EP Future Cult Classics, an eclectic collection of music that transcends decades, set for release on April 6th, 2018.
East India Empress is firmly aligned with its psychedelic predescessors in Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead, but there's something undeniably current about it, too. Driving percussion and a constant, rhythmic vocal allow the space for the guitars to do their thing – and that thing is massive, and floating, and intriguingly expansive. Speaking on the track, drummer Leigh Baines enthuses, "We got this song together in Melbourne a while back, then after a soft mix at our friends studio in Mornington, it actually ended up sounded quite good as is. It sounded very organic. It wasn't until we sent East India Empress to Chris Potter (The Verve) who replied and said he would be interested in producing the track. Essentially, we had the core of the track I guess, we just needed someone to bring it to life. We flew over, recorded in his amazing studio in London and came out pretty bloody happy!"
The video is an interesting one – it's difficult to look away from, too. Meticulously crafted using found footage from vintage Bollywood films, it suits the music perfectly; and it's just as hypnotic as the song itself. A woman dances in time to the music as the image distorts, doubles and warps – it's a minimalistic approach but it works perfectly. Leigh says, "The concept behind the clip was basically - let's do something that really works with the song; simple, but mesmerising at the same time."
East India Empress is only partly indicative of the rest of the tracks on Future Cult Classics. Produced by the renowned Chris Potter (The Verve, Elbow, Blur, Richard Ashcroft) in his London studios, Metropolis Studios, and Mark Gardner (RIDE), each track has undeniable shoegaze and psychedelic flavours, yet each song is a surprisingly varied shift from the one preceding it. False Prophets evokes blues influences, with a heavy, stomping beat that persuades the listener to move. Queen Without A King is a heartfelt acoustic number, with minimal arrangement or production to distract from the beauty of the melody and harmony at work, and My Dear Mary-Anne comes full circle again, with a Warpaint-esque groove.
Shiva And The Hazards are Doug Hind on vocals, Jet O'Rourke on lead guitar, Andy Plisi on bass guitar and Leigh Baines on drums.
Stream: East India Empress
Watch: East India Empress
Stream: Future Cult Classics
Question: How would you describe your music?
Leigh Baines: Kind of like one of the those Greek Kebabs! A Gyros! It gets better the more you eat and it's got chips (laughs)! Honest answer… Like The Verve with a lot more fuzz!
Question: What inspired the track, East India Empress?
Leigh Baines: Let's just say, we'd been partying for quite some time and Jefferson Airplane came on - Somebody To Love, it seemed way more psychedelic at the time, but I was so hooked on a sound, that no one else was hearing (laughs); then came East India.
Question: Where did you find inspiration for the East India Empress video?
Leigh Baines: We needed something that worked with the song; it certainly didn't need to be complicated, just mesmerising. I think we got it!
Question: What can we expect from the upcoming EP, Future Cult Classics?
Leigh Baines: You can expect a single called East India Empress, produced by Chris Potter (The Verve), False Prophets which was mixed by Mark Gardener from UK band RIDE, also track three is called Queen Without a King produced by Mark and a good friend of ours Ruari Meehan, who produced My Dear Maryanne as a remix version. All very different tracks however just what we were trying to achieve.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Leigh Baines: My mum was into Rod Stewart, she would put on Faces records. I didn't realise how cool that was back then, I was amazed by his hair... still am! His songs are brilliant.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Leigh Baines: Motivation comes from being uncomfortable or unfulfilled. If I'm not ticking things off, it's because life is too easy. Not a lot gets done in comfort, except nothing!
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Leigh Baines: War On Drugs, Nic Cester, Wolf Alice ain't bad and Sharon Jones is getting a spin for some reason.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Leigh Baines: Mark Ronson could be cool.
Question: How did the band come together?
Leigh Baines: Jet O'Rourke and I played in a previous act called The Gear, Doug was supporting us at The Espy in Melbourne and asked me to join his band after The Gear was taking a break, we moved to the UK to record and tour, we came back to Melbourne and Jet joined us as Shiva and The Hazards.
Question: What is the story behind the name, Shiva and the Hazards?
Leigh Baines: We had a bunch of names and Shiva was separate to the Hazards. I think Shiva is a cool name but it sounds a little heavy for us. Like it suits heavier music... and The Hazards psych's it up a bit.
Interview by Brooke Hunter