Stuck Out: Interview with Joshua Walker

On a very warm Melbourne evening I got on the phone to Stuck Out‘s Joshua Walker. With Joshua on vocals, the other members of Stuck Out are Ian Browney and Bren Dugan on guitar, Sheldon Schuyer on bass, and Lachy Lydiard on drums. Stuck Out have EP You Won’t Come Home releasing tomorrow via Greyscale Records, and I was curious to get to know more about the band.

After bonding over complaints about the weather and our affection for Greyscale, I asked Josh if he could share the story of Stuck Out, and how they came to be.

“Basically we were all mates in high school. We all kind of listened to the same music. We weren’t really close friends back then, but I remember sitting next to Ian in English one day and we were just talking about old Fall Out Boy songs in class. He was like ‘Hey man, I’m trying to put a band together. I’ve got Brendan and Lachy at the moment, would you be interested in joining?’ and I was like ‘Yeah, sure, why not!’. We then went round to Dugan’s garage and we basically just bashed out Paramore and Fall Out Boy covers.”

When year 12 came around, Josh shared that the guys of Stuck Out collectively hit pause on the band to focus on studies, returning their attention to the band once they were in university and felt that they had more time to focus on it. “At that time we said ‘Do you want to make this legit?’ and everyone was kind of like ‘Yeah, let’s fucking do this!’.”

Josh was originally on bass and vocals in the then four piece. They recorded three songs over a year; a two track (Head Above Water) and a single (“Statelines”), before having their friend Jackson to fill-in on bass so that Josh could move around with his vocals. Current bassist Sheldon was also a friend from high school that everyone in the band got along with well, which is important to the band.

In Josh’s words as to how Sheldon joined the band, “We said ‘Do you want to play bass for us?’, and he was like ‘Hell yeah!’. So we basically got him on board for the new EP and we’re literally just five mates from high school in a band together. We released three tracks just over a year ago now [What We’ve Come to Be], and then we started working on the EP.”

 

With initial recording of the EP planned from February to April, it ended up getting pushed out to June. When he was meant to record vocals, Josh ended up with a chest infection. He shares that the vocals of the fifth and sixth songs of You Won’t Come Home were actually recorded with a chest infection. “We ended up having to push the dates a bit more, which sucked, but we ended up finishing it and got it mixed.”

Genuine guys doing a genuine thing.

Once the EP was finished, Stuck out went to Ash Hull and Josh Merriell of Greyscale Records and asked if they’d be interested in working with the band, and they agreed. Josh shared that things went very quickly from that point onward.

On Greyscale, Josh says “Greyscale was definitely our top choice. We did talk to a few other labels to discuss interest, but Greyscale was definitely one that we were very very keen on, because obviously we literally all of us listen to all the bands that are on their roster. So it was mind-blowing for us to be on it.

The thing that they kind of do with the DIY small bands try and push it yourself, we kind of enjoy that work as well. They’ve got a really good ethic about themselves which kind of attracted us to them.”

I wholeheartedly agreed, and shared my own experience with Greyscale, acknowledging that they’re both genuine guys and both fanatics about music too.

“100%. They love all types of music and they genuinely care about bands. This isn’t a money making business for them. This is a ‘let’s do some good in this industry and help bands out while we can’, you know? Genuine guys doing a genuine thing.”

I circled back to the time when the band was on pause for study and asked Josh if there had been other times when they’d been pulled away because of other life pressures coming in.

“Not really. We’ve been pretty lucky. We’ve always had free time. A few of us have started working full time jobs which makes it harder, but we still always have time for band and it’s a pretty high priority. We really want to push this. Really want to make this work. So it’s always generally in the forefront of our minds. You know I’ve missed work days because shows are on. Basically we try and push the band as one of the forefront things in our lives nowadays.”

 

With this vibe of ambition and determination, I asked Josh if he felt like sharing the goals that the band have in mind, and the following conversation flowed from there.

“Our goal is always to be taking the next step, I guess. So when we started out our goal was to be playing any gig we could get our hands on. And after awhile we said ‘yeah, we’re experienced at this, we want to start supporting interstate bands’, then after that ‘alright we want to travel interstate,’ and it’s just those small incremental steps, rather than ‘Ah I want to tour America on Warped Tour’, which I no doubt 100% want to do.”

Me: Or ‘wanted’. [laughs]

“Yeah what is it now? Riot or Slam Dunk now? [laughs] It’s just taking those steps forward and making sure you’re paying attention to the next step in the bigger picture kind of thing.”

Me: By way of the EP, is it fiction or is it a real life experience put into music?

“It’s interesting. It’s part fiction, part reality. I think the first half of the EP is very very real, to me at least. I tried to base those songs off something real life; situations that I was in. So I think the first half could definitely be applied, at least to my life.

I think the second half is.. at least more abstract. We wanted to push something that hadn’t necessarily been done in the scene before. It wasn’t like a massive goal of ours at all, but it was still like ‘let’s try and do something different’. So yeah, the second half of the EP.. you can probably hear it as well, the second half is a lot different to the first instrumentally as well.”

Me: There was a shift in there, around the track “Grin”?

“Yeah 100%. It probably comes out most in that transition between “Grin” and “Weight”. It’s definitely tied together. It was a way of testing ourselves. Our songwriting techniques. And trying not to be put in a hole where you’re labelled with a whole heap of other bands. Trying to put ourselves out there, and to show that we’re willing to do something different.”

Me: I feel that you guys already stand out, with that pop punk sound and the genuine vocals.

“Thank you very much. We pride ourselves on trying to put as much emotion into the songs as possible. Trying to be pop punk and emo and alternative rock and every single influence we can have. Just, ‘don’t pay attention to the tropes of the genre, just do whatever feels right.'”

 

Me: How are you hoping the EP is received by people? Like, in tears like I was, or..? [laughs]

“Look [laughs] I don’t want to make anyone feel too bad. We want people to be attached to the EP more than anything. We want them to enjoy it. We want them to listen. We want them to feel like there’s something that they can get out of it, I guess. Whether that’s an emotional attachment.”

Me: Yep. It’s good that with the story element of the EP, they can get into that, even if they don’t personally have these things going on in their lives.

“100%. You’re so right in that. You get lost in a book, you get lost in a movie. There’s no reason why you can’t get lost in music. It’s pretty effective at that. It’s good when it’s applicable to you, but it doesn’t have to 100% be applicable to you to be able to appreciate it and enjoy it.”

Me: Exactly. Would you guys take the fiction approach to future music? It seemed to work pretty well from where I’m standing.

“Yeah I think there’s always a bit of fiction and a bit of truth in what you write. Whether we try a concept kind of abstract idea again? I mean it’d be a lot more difficult on an album, I’ll say that for sure. It definitely interested us and it definitely kept us occupied, so we’re not against it by any means. But we’re not actively looking to do that kind of thing. If it comes up and we think ‘This might work here’ we have no issues with trying it again.”

Me: You’ve got a few shows coming up to promote the EP.

“We’re very lucky with the timing of the tour and the timing of the EP launch. First show of tour is the day after the launch of the EP. Two shows this weekend, which we’re very excited for. And heading up to Sydney for the next Sunday, and then two shows after that. So we’re very keen to get out and show everyone what we’ve been working on. We’ve never been to Brisbane so that’s one of the most exciting parts, in reality. Keen to meet new people and just play music wherever people will accept us, I guess!”

Me: Have you met the Deadlights guys?

“We’ve seen Deadlights, haven’t met them before. I saw them when our signing with Greyscale was a bit under wraps so I couldn’t really bring anything up then. Deadlights have got a killer album that should be getting a lot of attention. They’re very talented dudes.”

Me: I love that album so much.

“It’s crazy good. Crazy good songwriting”

Yes. It’s like poetry, yeah? Aside from Deadlights, do you have any other bands that you admire, by way of songwriting?

“Bands like Trophy Eyes with Chemical Miracle in 2016 put out something that nobody expected. Movements last year I feel like, and I’m sure we all feel like, had one of the albums of the year, just because of their emotional lyricism and melodies and guitars.”

You’re mentioning all my favourites here..

“That’s exactly what we want to hear. We’re going in the right direction. I mean Citizen’s album, we all got along with. It’s a bit from everything which helps us in the long run, it doesn’t close us off to anything in particular which I think is good for the band.”

What is there that we should know about the EP, aside from the factor of the six tracks sharing a story?

“We recorded the EP with Chris Vernon of Belle Haven. I think more than anything it’s something that we hope that people take from it whatever they need to take from it.”

So you really encourage that personal interpretation of it..

“100%. Definitely. We’re not here to promote ourselves or anything, we just want people to listen to it, and hit them in the heart kind of thing. ‘We want them to feel something’ in the words of Movements.”

You Won’t Come Home EP releases tomorrow! Physical pre-orders are here: https://artistfirst.com.au/collections/greyscale-records

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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