It’s been two years since Winterbourne released their debut EP, All But the Sun, an earthy, intimate shot of neo-folk that peaked at # 9 on the iTunes Album Charts. For two young guys from the NSW Central Coast, it was an auspicious introduction, but, not surprisingly, there’s been a lot of hard work to do since then. “We’ve got a 1989 Volkswagen van that we picked up a couple of years ago, and we spend a lot of time in that, driving. People recognise it outside venues. It’s kind of our mark,” explains one half of Winterbourne, James Draper. “ We’ve been building things up since releasing our debut EP back in 2014 – playing to as many people as possible across Australia on our own headline tour, some festivals and a bunch of support national tours.”
That work ethic has certainly paid dividends – the duo’s live show has had critics falling over themselves, describing Winterbourne as “delightful, talented and genuinely wondrous to watch…with a distinctive command of the stage and connection and intoxicating energy” (Rip It Up) and “almost unfathomable . . . incredibly rewarding” (Casual Band Blogger). And while playing their own shows and supporting acts like Patrick James, Little May and The Rubens has kept the guys away from home a lot, for best friends Draper and Jordan Brady, the touring has only strengthened their already tight bond. Anyone who has seen their hilarious road trip clips on Youtube will know that there’s no place these guys would rather be. “Our friendship is just based on making music,” says Draper, “but we never consciously thought, ‘We want to write songs and have a band,’ it just sort of happened. Then, when people started paying attention, well, we were just happy to go a long for the ride.”
That ride takes an exciting new twist with the duo’s forthcoming second EP, a six-track set called Pendulum.
Where All But the Sun tipped its hat to the modern folk of bands like Boy & Bear and Mumford & Sons, evoking the spirit of Simon & Garfunkel, Pendulum takes Draper and Brady in a different direction altogether, with their love of The Beatles filtering through a kaleidoscope of modern influences to create something at once familiar and fresh. “It wasn’t planned,” says Draper of the new feel. “From early on bonding over music, it was very much about rock. We loved bands like Green Day and The Living End, and then got into Stereophonics, who were influenced by bands like The Kinks, The Beatles and Oasis. So when we started writing songs, they were our first influences. Funnily enough though, when we got to the stage of releasing our first music, we were really exploring more that old classic folk-rock sound focused on storytelling, guitars and harmonies, but now we’ve come out the other end – now we’re embracing a bigger sound, and we can really write the stuff we want.”
That new direction is stamped out by single, “To Get To Know You”, which takes the heart and soul of the duo’s earlier work and transforms it into something else altogether. “We weren’t trying to do something outrageous and different, the song just wanted to go there, so we went with it,” explains Brady. “It started very differently to how it ended up. James just started playing this electric guitar part that had this great feel, and so when he chucked that in the song, it became this groovy, cool thing that was so much different than what we set out to write. We loved it.” The same spirit permeates the whole of Pendulum – “But I Do” is stomping, psychedelic rock & roll; “Shape” casts Winterbourne’s familiar harmonies against a driving, urgent backbeat; and closer “When I’m Under” evolves from a gentle acoustic lilt into majestic, multi-layered magic. It is music that could only be built on the sort of friendship Draper and Brady enjoy – bold, but honest to its roots. And for this duo, it’s just a way of life. “People always say, ‘Don’t ever give up, keep going,” says Draper. “Well we don’t have a choice, this is all we can do.” “Yeah, no one will employ us now,” jokes Brady. “We don’t exactly have a resume.”