Seemingly coming out of nowhere, The Lockhearts blasted onto the Australian rock scene in 2013, becoming one of Sydney’s hottest new rock bands. The Australia-based rock quartet debuted their first song Freakshow on MTV, where it has run in high rotation, peaking at #2 on the MTV Hit Charts, and sitting in a prime spot between artists like Katy Perry and Beyoncé. Freakshow was directed by Tanzeal Rahim, an internationally award winning writer and director most famous for writing and directing the horror film Muirhouse (2012). The band also scored a non-stop, every Tuesday night gig at Ziggy Pop Spectrum on Oxford St in Sydney, where they’ve played since April 2013. They’re signed to Sunday Morning Records, and have plans to release new music every few months.
But maybe they didn’t really come out of nowhere. They had humble, normal band beginnings, and some luck on their side.
The Lockhearts’ lead singer Tim Meaco was dressed in a pair of “very tight jeans” (as he called them) at home in Sydney watching an episode of Community. He sat down to answer some questions from Screamer Magazine via email, telling us about their bout of success in the music world, and the band’s beginnings and plans.
Meaco and guitarist Age Vella are the founding members. They added bassist Jameel Majam and drummer Brenton James to the mix later. Meaco and Vella met in college, both studying music and playing in other bands at the time. As Meaco explains it fate just kinda threw the two together. “One day he [Vella] burst into my practice room when he heard me playing some Jimmy Page licks and said, ‘Hey man, nice guitar! What kind of music do you like?’ I was a little surprised but answered ‘Oh hey…you know, like Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Queen… a lot of stuff.’ Age smiled and replied, ‘That’s awesome man, we’re gonna be best friends!’ and then walked right out the door without even telling me his name. I just thought he was crazy, but wouldn’t you know it – he was right! I got his name about a week later in class.”
Since then, the band has just been focused on making music and making the right connections. They scored the residency at Ziggy Pop Spectrum, just by having the balls to ask, says Meaco. “We went asking around a few different places in Sydney and not many wanted to take on a band for an open ended residency but we finally found one that would. There’s not a lot of venues willing to support bands for a long period like that in Sydney, so we were very grateful when the folks at Brighton Bar (the original venue of Ziggy Pop, which later moved to Spectrum due to growing capacity) wanted to take us on.”
They’ve grown a solid following at the club, which Meaco feels fortunate to have. “We are lucky to have a very solid loyal following, there are always new faces that come and go, and they have a great time, but the core group that we’ve built up are amazing, they make every show the best night of the week for us. And they keep the room packed!”
The Lockhearts have found a creative genius, and a supportive director in working with Tanzeal Rahim on their debut music video Freakshow. “Meeting Tan was a stroke of luck and good fortune, he genuinely loved and understood who we are as a band, and how we wanted to portray Freakshow. We hit it off on the creative front and worked really well together from the start. The fact that Tan is a feature film director was really cool bonus for us, but we chose to work with him because we got on like a house on fire and fed each others’ creativity.”
In what seems like another stroke of luck, the video took off on MTV. While few artists get the chance to play their videos on MTV, The Lockhearts were given just that opportunity, but they would have never guessed the success it would see. “We had the opportunity to show the programming director (who is a stand up guy!) our video and he loved it and wanted to support it. MTV has been great to us and we are so stoked, for a giant network like that to get behind a new rock band these days isn’t common. Although what really took us by surprise was when it hit No.2 on the MTV charts!”
Some musicians are taking the route of releasing their music single by single instead of a full album all at one time. Meaco thinks the mindset behind how music is valued plays into this tactic. “I think the mindset of how music is valued in the consumer society has changed drastically, effectively music is free, legal or not, you can download or stream most of your favorite artists’ music and keep your wallet clamped shut,” says Meaco. “Because of this mindset that recorded music is now a free commodity, not everyone respects the value of a good record or has the patience to explore a full length release in one sitting. Because of this artists need to be creative in the way their music is put out into the market now.”
The mindset behind how music is now obtained, in conjunction with Meaco and his bandmates wanting to share their art with the world is why the band decided to release their first single as a free download. It’s available at their website, www.thelockhearts.com, and Meaco says, “We wanted to give something valuable away, Freakshow is a song we love and we’re proud of and we wanted the fans to have access to taste something new from us without having to pay anything. As an artist I’m happy to give this song for free, we’re not in it for the love of money, and it’s our first release together so I guess you can see it as a free sample of what’s to come.”
The Lockhearts’ sound is compared to Queen, The Black Keys, Cheap Trick and Foo Fighters. But their first debut video has a psychedelic feel. When you ask Meaco how he would describe them he says while they incorporate psychedelic elements in their music and the video, their style is not completely psychedelic, but more eclectic. “We love drawing influence from many different styles, and we’ve been called many different things – personally, I see us as a pretty eclectic rock band. We can go from one sub-genre to the next but it always comes out sounding like The Lockhearts.”
So with all this success currently occurring for the band, what’s next? The Lockhearts don’t plan to release a full album quite yet, but they still plan to keep releasing music and videos on a consistent basis. “We are releasing a new song called Hush, which is more of an epic than Freakshow. I can tell you that it will be accompanied by a video, and that you will see a different side of the band with this song. A more encompassing reflection. The song has an apocalyptic setting with a bittersweet story.”
Meaco says they’ll continue to play their Tuesday night gig in Sydney, but they plan to hit the road at some point this year and play new places. Keep an eye out.
Watch the video for Freakshow
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