Hindsight: Interview with Jack Nelligan

With the most recent release for Adelaide melodic hardcore band Hindsight being a chilled party boat adventure, it seemed fitting that I got on the phone with frontman Jack (‘Nelly’) Nelligan on a Friday afternoon. My red wine was going down easily and Jack was “a couple of beers deep”.

It was the new single “The Frozone Layer” that had me reach out to the band, curious about meaning behind the nautical adventure. The song was also where we started our conversation, with Jack thanking me for the article we did about it, saying that “we all had a good smile about it”.  It wasn’t known to me at the time, but Jack was as nervous as I was.

“The Frozone Layer” is probably the most ‘fun’ style of track that Hindsight have created since their formation in 2013. It is also the first piece of music we’ve heard from the band since their Disposable Paradise EP, which released in 2016. Though the playful track is upbeat, it also seems to touch on darker themes of depression, both lyrically as well as with a shift within the middle of the song which transports us from ‘chill out’ to ‘sever the vein that connects my heart to my brain’.

Jack calls the song a ‘reminder’, as though this sonic note-to-self is as much for him as it might be for anyone else who relates to it. “I’ve got a tendency to just stress out and catastrophise things when I’m worried about them”, he says. “So yeah, it’s written as a reminder to me to chill out. It’s never as bad as you think.”

“The first half of the song, the upbeat kind of bit, is me telling myself when I’m in a good mental state, and just reminding myself ‘It’s not as bad as you think’. And the end of the song, where it kind of slows down and takes that sad emotional turn, I guess that’s kind of how I feel when it’s happening. I’m not a one-dimensional guy and the other dudes in the band aren’t one-dimensional. There’s two sides to the coin.”

Jack explains that the ‘categorised by a blink’ lyric relates to looking at the bigger picture, in terms of this one moment compared to the whole of your life.

Jack: “Probably a week ago I watched Good Will Hunting for the first time. Have you seen Good Will Hunting?”

Kel: “Yeah, it’s a classic!”

Jack: “Yeah, it’s sick. Ben Affleck says ‘Tomorrow I’m gonna wake up and I’ll be fifty’, and yeah I just think, it doesn’t really matter. Say you lose your job or your partner leaves you. Just one day you’re going to wake up and it doesn’t feel as bad as it does at the time.”

 

I had to ask about “The Frozone Layer” music video, which looked like a really fun day out on the water. Jack was excited to tell me the story about how the boat came about; a last minute idea that was brought to life with the help of a kind stranger. “So we do all our music videos with our friend Kez of Crystal Arrow Films, who does videos for basically all the bands like Ambleside, Sleep Talk, Hindsight, Stepson, everyone else. He was coming down on a Friday to shoot the clip. On the Wednesday night we still hadn’t found a location to shoot the clip. We were toying around with the idea that we wanted to do it on a boat – but we didn’t have a boat. [laughs] I got this really weird phone call one night:

“Hey, is this Nelly?”
“Yeah.”
“This is Adrian.”
“Cool. What can I do for you, Adrian?”
“I’ve got a boat.”
“Oh cool.”
“Yeah, it’s a yacht.”
“How big is it?”
“40 foot.”
“Oh, that’s perfect. How much do you reckon that would cost to go out for the day?”
“To be honest, I’m retired. I’d just be happy to go sailing for the day.”

“We then went and met this guy. Checked out the boat on the Friday, he was really really nice. And yeah he took us out on the boat for free, without knowing him. And he was a really nice guy and had a lot of fun as well, I reckon.”

Kel: “He’s in the video yeah? He’s the guy that goes ‘woo’?”

Jack: “Yeah, that’s Adrian.”

Kel: “The Woo Guy.”

Jack: “We didn’t even have to talk him into it. We were just like ‘Do you want to be in the video?’. He was like ‘Alright, cool’. Very sweet man.”

Kel: “And there was a lot of beer.”

Jack: “Yeah, there was a lot of beer.”

“New Hindsight’s going to be very fun.

Kel: “Cool. So things like the ‘woo’ and that kind of vibe, is that going to be in more music from you guys?”

Jack: “Yeah, 110%. Yeah. I think everyone knows what to expect from Hindsight in terms of lyrical content. I think we have definitely learned with our new music how to get our personality out more. New Hindsight’s going to be very fun. I feel like we are fun people. We’re a bunch of guys who like playing music and having fun. I don’t know why the music can’t be fun, you know?”

Jack shared that behind the scenes for Hindsight, there’s been “a lot of writing” happening, and that he’s taken more of a front seat with songwriting, having only been involved with writing lyrics in the past. “The Frozone Layer was one of the first songs I wrote on guitar. Just took me a bit of time to learn the instrument.”

Hindsight formed in 2013. Jack says it all started with his friendship with the band’s guitarist Mitch ‘Mungo’ Howard, who he’s known since he was 13, and played in bands with since then. Jack says they couldn’t get shows because “we couldn’t really play”, and Mitch joined Reactions, and music was put on hold for him for awhile.

Mitch wanted to start a melodic hardcore band because he and Jack were into bands like American hardcore punk Verse and UK modern hardcore band More Than Life. In Jack’s words: “He was like ‘Here’s this band I’m writing for’. He sent me the songs and I looked at them and was like ‘Fuck! I can’t play this. I really like this but I can’t fucking play it. I am shit at guitar.’ I was like ‘I’ll do vocals’. He was like ‘Oh. Do you know how to do vocals?’ I was like ‘Nah but I’ll do vocals’. We just found a couple of other guys and did that. A couple of them left. I met Nick and he’s the drummer now. Lewis and PJ over the last year and a half have joined. That’s basically how Hindsight started.”

Jack shares that the band members that wrote Disposable Paradise aren’t in it anymore, except for himself and Mitch. “And then Nick came in and he wrote the drums for Disposable Paradise. When Disposable Paradise came out it was me, Mitch, and Nick.”

 

Speaking about the emotional themes of self-judgement and fighting for the life you want for yourself that show up a lot in Hindsight lyrics, Jack keeps it simple, saying “Whatever I’m feeling, I write about.” The band’s most popular song, “Loveover” is a 2:14 trip into the head of someone dealing with a breakup. As well as having a great music video, Jack feels it’s the fact that the subject is so relatable that had the song be so widely enjoyed. “Everyone goes through it. Everyone gets their heart broken and then turns into a tosser that drinks themselves stupid. [laughs]”

I was in two minds as to whether or not to ask Jack about his vocal style. It stands out to me as unique, carrying rawness and intensity as well as some chaotic on-edge emotion, and yet I didn’t want any question about it to feel like judgement. I decided to go for it, firstly asking if he’d experienced criticism for it. While he “definitely did”, he says he isn’t really bothered by it, considering those people as just not being into the band if they’re not a fan of his voice. “I think I just can’t sing, and that’s the closest I can get, so.. [laughs].” By way of press, he says he always reads articles about the band, and enjoys seeing people liking Hindsight’s music. “What a terrible answer. I basically just said ‘I like compliments’.”

When he tried to elaborate on the emotion behind his vocals, Jack struggled to word it, and I felt bad for throwing pointed questions at him. The entire interview then seemed to grind to a halt of mutual apology and laughter, with Jack reigniting the process by saying: “Let’s just say we’re both doing a good job”, which sounded fine to me!

(Jack Nelligan in a Gerard Way shirt @ Invasion Fest 2016, snapped by Andrew Bromley for Kill Your Stereo)

“I guess it’s just like what I listened to as a kid. Like My Chemical Romance, the first band I ever fell in love with. Just how chaotic Gerard’s voice is, and I guess just going on from that, I’ve always been into aggressive music and sad music and I guess that’s how my vocals translate now.”

Easing back into questions, I asked about other musical influences, Jack says “I listen to a lot of midwest emo. Algernon Cadwallader. Snowing. I listen to a band called Perspective, A Lovely Hand To Hold. That’s my favourite band right now.”

Kel: “I don’t know any of these. I’m going to have to do some homework.”

Jack: “Dude. Dude. After you get off the phone, go listen to Perspective, A Lovely Hand To Hold – What Not To Do and send me a message and tell me what you think.”

Kel: “Okay, will do!”

Jack: “It’s the best album of last year. It’s so good.”

Kel: “What genre is it?”

Jack: “Just emo.”

Kel: “What does emo mean anyway. I hear that so often, but it’s always different.”

Jack: “Ah I don’t think it means anything. [laughs] Obviously just means emotional. It means nothing. It’s all just music.”

Kel: “Exactly, you can have strumming a guitar standing on stage emo or you can have like stalking a stage angrily emo.”

Jack: “Yeah. I think that’s kind of like the vibe we took with “The Frozone Layer”. It’s just like all the music we listen to. And we didn’t really go out to write a melodic hardcore song or an emo song or like a punk song. We were just like ‘Let’s write a song’.”

Kel: “Would you say that’s different for you guys with this one?”

Jack: “Until now I haven’t had much input into that side of the band with the writing and stuff. I guess now it is. From my standpoint it’s just about writing songs now.”

Kel: “So is that change of role coming with more of a determination to drive the band forward?”

Jack: “I don’t think I’m trying to drive the band forward. I think I just got over trying to do vocals and really wanted to do something more. That’s it, really. I just wanted to write songs.”

 

Jack was tightlipped when it came to future music for Hindsight:

Jack: “There’s definitely going to be more. It’s going to be different. Yeah, there’s gonna be more. [laughs]”

Kel: “Can I have some more gossip? Different how? Without giving too much away.”

Jack: “Without giving too much away? Next music video, we might be on an aeroplane.”

Kel: “Oooh, interesting!”

Jack: “That was a lie. I don’t know what we’re doing next music video. There’s going to be more music, it’s going to be different, and I’m really excited.”

Kel: “When?”

Jack: “No idea, but soon. We’re coming.”

Kel: “What about touring? Is there anything coming up for you guys?”

Jack: “I want to, but nothing’s arisen. Anyone reading this.. we ready. We ready. [laughs]”

Kel: “Maybe you need more tunes to entice them.”

Jack: “As previously stated they’re coming. They’re just in the oven.”

 

It isn’t hard to see the connections in the Adelaide scene, with shared band members, vocal features, and presence in each others’ videos. I asked about the Adelaide scene, and what it’s like from the inside. Jack felt that the smaller population made for this to be amplified. “It’s good. I think it’s the same everywhere, but I think just here it’s a case of small city living. There’s less bands in a smaller city. We’re always going to be on the same shows. Everyone’s just really nice. Everyone’s just out here to play songs and write some music.”

With both Jack and I in the groove, yet with me running out of questions now, I asked about Hindsight’s juxtaposition of intensity with gorgeous soundscapes. I said “I call them soundscapes because I don’t know how else to describe them. Like guitarists creating really  beautiful scenes. Is that contrast deliberate?”

Jack: “It’s just writing songs and it’s like ‘Uh, what do we put here? Umm uh, soundscape!’, you know? I think that’s just all it is. You just write a song and you don’t release it until it sounds good. Yeah.”

Kel: “Yeah good. Would you say you guys are perfectionists?”

Jack: “We have a system and I don’t think we’d ever release a song that we weren’t happy with.”

Kel: “Yeah good. All killer, no filler. [laughs]”

Jack: “That’s it. [laughs] What’s that from?”

Kel: “I don’t know actually!”

Jack: “All killer, no filler. Just coin it!”

Kel: “No, it’s someone else’s.”

Jack: “‘All killer, no filler’ – Kel, Depth Mag. Love it.”

Kel: “Yep. Should I end on that really lame joke?”

Jack: “Sure. Unless you want me to end on a lame joke?”

Kel: “Alright, go for it.”

Listen for full effect:

 

Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it.

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