TF Archives

The Grates - Toothless Tales

Author: Nina Bertok
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

3D’s Nina Bertok manages to track down Brisbane indie pop trio The Grates, one of the most traveled bands in Australia, currently on their Biggest and Longest Adventure tour.

According to the Grates guitarist John Patterson, their 2008 album Teeth Lost, Hearts Won is a pretty fair description of what the last few years have been like for the Brisbane trio. And while their teeth may still be in tact, Patterson and bandmates Alana Skyring [drums] and Patience Hodgson [vocals] recently not only landed themselves a deal with ex-Nirvana manager Danny Goldberg but also got to charm the pants off their American fans all over again at the annual South By Southwest industry showcase.

“It was so cute,” Patterson enthuses, “there was this dad who had driven his daughter for 15 hours just so she could see our shows. The daughter and her boyfriend were in a band together and she just found out about us on the Internet and became a big fan. She was this cheerleader from Iowa and they were determined to make this long trek just to get to a couple of our shows in Austin. And then there was this other guy who drove from Philly just to come and watch us play a show in New York after South By Southwest. It’s the fans that put in such an effort to come and see you play that kind of make you realise the whole point of doing this.”

From day one, The Grates have been about nothing less than enjoying life and having a good time – or have they- While most people tend to think of the Brissie trio as a good-time party band, Patterson insists there’s a little more to it.

“We don’t complicate things but don’t get me wrong, we really think a lot about what we’re doing,” says the guitarist. “I guess we’re under-thinking but also over-thinking stuff. I mean, when we’re playing a show I prefer that people are having a good time but I wouldn’t call us a ‘party band’.”

Following on from the band’s hugely successful 2006 debut album Gravity Won’t Get You High, however, Patterson admits The Grates faced the challenge of upping the ante with their sophomore effort. And whereas their first full-length had been bursting with immediacy, Teeth Lost, Hearts Won was proving to be a different affair…

“Actually even towards writing our first album it was starting to get harder and harder,” Patterson admits. “At the beginning of that record, we’d be smashing them out in a day or so mostly because we weren’t writing the songs for a purpose. When you’re expected to write a song in a day, then you find yourself thinking about it more.”

WHO: The Grates
WHAT: Play ANU Bar, Canberra / The Forum / Groovin’ the Moo, Maitland /
WHEN: Wednesday 6 May / Friday 8 / Saturday 9