Raising The Roof With Fourth Floor Collapse

The three original members of Perth-born, Melbourne-based band Fourth Floor Collapse; Dan Forrestal, Michael Miller and Rhys Kealley, have experienced a long and torrid history that has seen them confront and conquer adversity through even the darkest annals of time…okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But they go way back, as Dan explains, “Michael and Rhys actually met at play group way back when and I met Michael at high school. I was in half a band and we were looking for a singer and Michael and Rhys were kind of half a band and needed a bass player. We got together and went from there. We lived a suburb apart – it just seemed logical that we get together.”

Fast forward to 2006. The trio have grown to a quintet with the addition of members Mick Parker and Trent McKenzie and have just released their third album, Books With Broken Spines, the atmospheric and captivating follow-up to 2003’s From The Cold and 2001’s Half Deserted Streets. What is immediately evident upon hearing this release is that Fourth Floor Collapse are more than adept at harnessing the elements that make for the quieter, melodic tracks, yet can turn up the volume and pack a mighty punch with just as much ease. The end product boasts a sound that is difficult to categorise, which in turn begs the question of what each member brings into the band as far as musical preferences/influences go? “That’s the thing with having five people in the band. You can name a band and guarantee that two of us will have a CD by the same artist. We have three songwriters in the band that are each going to be bringing in something to the songs. Diversity is a good thing. With us it takes a bit more effort, but when we get into it, it gets more rewarding.”

Books With Broken Spines is all about intense, layered tunes that create a sonic shift into territory that defies categorisation, yet still forms a coherent, atmospheric whole. As Dan points out, though, this eclecticism is something that Fourth Floor Collapse has conveyed through all of their albums. ”I think all of our albums are intense and layered. I think that for us a new peak has been reached at the moment. The sound of this album has developed on its own through the songs we wrote but we also wanted something that worked as a whole. You feel like you want to put it on again.”

There is quite an emotive aspect to the album, but without it ever coming across as being cheesy or trite. Lots of moments of light and darkness filter through within the tracks ensuring that the sentiments, through both lyrics and sound, are identifiable with listeners, particularly on an emotional level. Is this capacity to create an affinity with listeners one of Fourth Floor Collapse’s biggest drawcards? “I think these are some of the characteristics that define us. That is something that we’ve worked on and the reason for that is that we want to make records that you’re going to be listening to for the next 10 or 20 years rather than making a record that you’d put on three times and stick on the pile and never listen to it again. Hopefully we do that and we built in a bit of depth to the track in terms of themes and content. I think that any musician should, at the base of what they do, create an effect with people. You know, a response with the listener.”

This month will see the band performing quite a few shows, including their album launch at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney. Does Dan think that live performance is something that Fourth Floor Collapse thrives upon? “I think we really do. When people see us, they’ll see something with a completely different sort of intensity. Hopefully they walk away going, ‘Wow, we saw a really great band tonight’. It’s on a different level, a bit more visceral. It’s a completely different dimension to what you hear on the record.

“There’s been a lot [of gigs] over the years – a lot of highlights. For our first album launch we played at the Octagon Theatre in Perth. That was an absolute ripper. That environment really suited us then and it felt like the whole city came out to see us! We rise to the occasion when we have lots of people seeing us. I think at this stage we’re pulling off the bigger shows. I’m all for that. I think it brings about a whole different level.”

It has been a great start to the year for Fourth Floor Collapse and it’s a safe bet that the momentum won’t be letting up for a good while, particularly with the ever-increasing attention that is surrounding Books With Broken Spines and the determination to play more shows. “Everything’s sort of coming together for us with this album. It’s the first time we’ve had label and promotion distribution behind us. This time people can go out and get it. This year with the latest singles we’ve been getting a whole new airplay and hopefully with living on the east coast we’ll be playing a lot more shows. I hope we turn the airplay into getting people to come to see us and to have people enjoy it and enjoy it so much that they’ll bring their friends.”

You can catch Fourth Floor Collapse at the following venues throughout March:

Thu Mar 16, Troubadour, Brisbane – w/ guests
Sat Mar 18, Valley Mall, Brisbane – lunchtime, free
Thu Mar 23, The Annandale, Sydney – w/ The Dawn Collective & Gabriels Day
Fri Mar 24, Purple Sneakers, Sydney – Guest DJ set
Sat Mar 25, Pony Records, Sydney – 1pm, free
Wed Mar 29, Northcote Social Club, Melbourne – w/ Subaudible Hum

Books With Broken Spines is out now, distributed by Creative Vibes.