(Photo by Will Edgar)
YES, BEC SANDRIDGE IS EXCITED about a new Blink 182 album, thanks for asking.
“Funnily, I played a covers gig last night in Enmore and someone yelled out ‘play Blink 182’ facetiously,” she says. “And I was like, mate, you have no idea that this is my jam.”
While pop with a shiny edge and electro cross-currents may be the current public face of the tall, strikingly-coiffed south coaster, as she revealed last time we spoke, the recently reformed Californian punks weren’t just formative for her, they were educative: the first song she learned on guitar was What’s My Age Again?.
“I am excited about them coming here to tour,” Sandridge says. “But admittedly, I’m not sure if I’d go or not.”
Unless maybe she got the support slot. Just putting it out there – and she’s not saying no so far.
Okay, yes, the combination of Sandridge and Blink 182 might blow the minds of a few of their fans, but as any of her fans could tell them, Sandridge lacks neither ambition nor ability when given a chance to play. Take as Exhibit A, her new EP which has a grand piece of ‘90s balladry in The Jetty, a fuzzy electro cut in Cost Of Love (also available as a shiny floor disco remix), a synth-drenched strider in Claustrophobia, and a glistening Easy To Go Bad.
Take as Exhibit B, what you might call some extracurricular activity (except it’s all connected).
“I feel like I definitely expanded what I’ve been listening to, especially in the last two years, as a matter of necessity and during Covid I was asked to write a soundtrack for a theatre company [for a multimedia show called Ishmael that premiered at the Brisbane Festival],” says Sandridge. “And with that, I had never composed a score before, so I had to listen to stuff that I thought was in line with the theatre brief, from a lot of German dance/experimental instrumental stuff to straight up daggy pop stuff. And there are always the staples I come back to, the Siouxie And The Banshees, Cyndi Laupers and the Kate Bushes.
“But I’m always open to exciting things. Like yesterday my partner is really into a hardcore music. I like the idea of being into it, and I love picturing myself going to a hardcore show, but I had to admit to her that I’ve never even listened to My Chemical Romance.”
That’s a fairly broad range to tap into for the moment. We should reconvene in a year and see how that all fed into her next hardcore Sondheim goth dance album. You know you want to hear it.
For now, we can see some of it in play on this EP, made with Dave Jenkins, who also helped her record the stage show soundtrack, and London high-end songwriter (Dua Lipa is one beneficiary of her work), Lucy Taylor.
From the way Claustrophobia really goes into “nerdtown with glitchy toys, like running microphones through fuzz pedals or just things that farted out”, to deciding that Ishmael’s sonic concept “was about sounds that didn’t sound like something recognisable”, the cross-fertilisation of the projects has proved, well, fertile.
“The most difficult thing about writing [Ishmael] was about having vamp-able, more elastic sections that could be moved with the action moving on stage,” Sandridge says. “But weirdly, I think the writing process was similar because it was kind of about jumping into a feeling or an emotion and sinking into it.”
While she says the songs in their finished versions are pretty much the songs as she wrote them, the depth of sound and impact came out of this new environment, “a combination of who was in the room and our takes”.
“I feel that this is the first time that I’ve been open to collaborating with other people on my music, and I think that is a reflection on my personal life too,” she says. “I wanted to be more open to trusting other people and letting people see my brain a little bit more. I am more introverted but this EP is just about finding the right people that you trust with your feelings and your internal world, in work or on a day-to-day basis.”
That literal day-to-day basis turned out to be something special for Sandridge in a very real sense.
“This is the first time I have found a community where people see the songs in the same way and the process was really beautiful with Dave and Lucy where we worked out of their apartment in Clovelly and it was very much creating something shit and making it sound expensive,” she remembers. “My day started with swimming in the little beach pool at Clovelly at 7am, meet up with them for coffee with their newborn baby, and then go to their one/two-bedroom apartment and try make pop songs sound big in this setting where there is a baby crying in the background and we are having chicken and chips [she laughs]. A really nice family vibe.
“It did feel organic even though the sonic palette is glossy and glamorous. This was running on zero, zero dollars – RSL cover gigs money – but I think it sounds more glamorous than ever.”
Glamorous on zero budget? Big sound from the bedroom? Blink 182 should be so lucky.
Bec Sandridge’s Lost Dog is out now.