Responder: back on the live radar

Post-rock stalwarts Responder have been brewing away on the Melbourne live scene since 2005 and the excitement surrounding the band is as close to exploding as anyone would imagine. Responder’s headstrong vision in becoming one of the country’s most developed and successful career bands has never eluded their motivation, forming the catalyst for consistent creative output. With two EPs under their belts, Seeing and Thinking at Twice Speed and Complete Radio Silence respectively, Responder are directing an established, impressionable sound.

Music enthusiasts have become increasingly cynical about the current state of artistic progression by retaliating against recycled sounds and second-hand trends. Melbournians can now cast their cautions to wind and be rewarded by Responder. Guitarist / vocalist David Hallford not only discusses the band’s current writing phase but also the band’s mission to excel above and beyond the call of duty.

“We’ve been off the radar for the past month writing and we’re resurfacing to showcase new tracks. What I’m seeing more in the writing, now, is a combination of two things – we’ve become a lot more focused in what we’re doing and what our stand is, and we’ve opened up the spectrum. We’re redefining what our stand is. It’s a hard thing to explain – not so much as falling into as many pitfalls but idiosyncrasies in the writing as we’re been going along – it’s opening it up more.” So, is this a sign of an imminent debut album? “That’s the idea I guess. I mean, we’ve been lucky in the past nine months – we’ve had a lot of opportunities shows wise. We’ve got a few avenues we’re looking to go down at the moment so. We want to write a full-length but we’re keeping our options open – we’re trying to write the best material we can.”

2007 proved to be a productive year on the live scene, when Responder added Sparta to their tally of appearances on international tours including He Is Legend, Jonah Matranga and Boys Night Out. Responder’s appearances have confirmed that while the band has made an impression on the Melbourne live scene, there’s more to achieve in the recording stakes. “I want to do a full-length, we want to do a full length but we don’t want to do the easy way out; an EP. The feeling is, with a lot of people, an EP can stand up with three great tracks and people will view the majority of that EP being good. If you’re doing an album you can’t put three good tracks on it and then the rest; do you know what I mean? You need to feel great about the whole thing or a large majority of it. It’s definitely a lot more of an investment, which is good!”

Hallford puts into words what Responder emit via stage presence and from a recording sense. A strong pillar of perfectionism keeps Responder on track and strengthens the quartet’s sudden rise as a serious sound-piece. Responder delve into a back-catalogue of sonic mentors, albeit ensuring their broad-minded determination pushes their integrity to the surface. “As the writer for the band I draw from a lot of different sources – especially a lot of Australian bands from the late 90s like Grinspoon, Jebediah. But now, I know it’s all over the place like Sonic Youth, Trail of Dead, Sparta, At The Drive In. One thing we want to get to in our next release is we’d like to have a bit of a scope.”

Responder have successfully championed their scope since the beginning. Authoritative tracks like ‘One Chair at the Table’ and ‘Triggered Mines’ from Complete Radio Silence (released late last year) breathe intentions that hone a courageous direction and inject seminal energy back into Australian music. It’s the band’s compelling sound that coaxes fans and punters alike, as well as emphasising Australia as a hive of aural activity. Though, Hallford admits there’s space for more like-minded bands to break through. “It seems to be...not homogenised but...It’s kinda straight down the line and I think it’s definitely in a state at the moment – not necessarily better, but a bit more developed a little; bit more mature. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like making broad sweeping statements. I don’t believe the music scene is becoming homogenised – I mean, you can go out and see all kinds of bands. I think there’s room for more of the sort of thing we’re doing to come through.”

In the meantime, Responder have a chance to maximise their presence and culminate (check) some crucial awareness for the future. “We’re really excited right now because we’re moving towards that stage. As a band we’re determined to obtain...I don’t know if anyone is ever happy with the level of success they have but we definitely feel we’re in a position now where we’re taking that step up and getting to that next level as far as exposure goes. It’s hard, definitely, because you’re trying to carve something out for yourself. Like I’ve said, we’ve had a very exciting last nine months and we’ve had a lot of opportunities arise – it’s definitely heading in the right direction. At the moment it’s writing and writing and I guess we love playing live so we’re touring as much as we can.

“It’ll be interesting to note the development and direction of the new material – I’m excited to play [it]. As long as we’re not getting worse, we’re getting better that’s alright. The future looks very exciting for us.”

Be sure to catch Responder carving out new tracks at The Evelyn this Friday, February 8, with Famous By Association, An Undying Day and Arc Divide