Canberra legends SAFIA have finally dropped their highly anticipated debut record ‘Internal’ and in celebration, the three-piece have commenced their biggest national tour yet. As ‘Internal’ debuted at #2 on the ARIA charts, the record continues to receive glowing reviews from media and fans all around the country. The crisp, clean beats and groovy soundscapes that encompass ‘Internal’, create a record bursting with certified bangers. It’s not a surprise that their national album tour is on it’s way to selling out.
We recently caught up with SAFIA’s Ben Woolner to talk about the new record, their current tour and a little bit about FIFA.
Congratulations on the release of Internal!
Cheers, thank you!
How did it feel finding out that the album debuted at #2 in the ARIA charts?
It was yeah, pretty, pretty exciting! It’s nice to know that people are listening to the record and enjoying it and to be battling it out with you know one of the best artists around – Nick Cave and such a heavy record – it was pretty nice to know. So yeah, it’s been super positive since the release of the new album which is great.
Did you guys do anything to celebrate the release of the album?
Yeah, we had a show in Thredbo actually. They were nice enough to put us up for a few more days as well. We went snowboarding, skiing and partied for a few days down in Threds.
Does it feel different finally releasing the album? Does it kind of feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders?
Yeah, definitely. These songs have been sitting around for so long and you know, the first incarnations of them were a few years ago and so it’s nice to have it out in the world and have other people listen to it. It’s also nice to have it out so you can kind of move on from those songs and start thinking about other stuff.
You guys kind of dabble in house, R&B, and pop on internal – Were there any artists in particular that really influenced the album?
No, not one particular artist. We listen to so much different music pop, and not in particularl electronic, in fact a lot of artists we listen to are not electronic. We kind of just subconsciously take things here and there, influence wise. There’s no one real artist that we were like, oh let’s write something like that. If it does ending up sounding like an artist, we usually end up scrapping that idea – It’s cool but, what’s the point in listening to albums and similar artists when you can just listen to that artist themselves. There’s definitely those influences everywhere but there’s no one particular artist that influenced the record – on the top of my head anyway.
What was your creative process like for this album?
It was an interesting one because we were always intending to write an album and that kind of thing and I suppose when the time comes to do it we’d have to, you know sit down and write a collective body of work at the same time for this album, rather than a collection of songs. We’ve always been writing as well, alongside the singles since we’ve started. Basically, when we sat down and it was time to kind of find the sparks for the album, we listened back to a lot of the demos which we were just writing for the fun of it. Initially we thought that they were all too different to be an album and then when we ended up not listening to them for 6 months or a year or so, we found kind of an overarching theme that kind of tied them altogether but also kept them all very diverse and different from each other at the same time. From that point we kind of had a blueprint to work off and then from there we spent the next kind of year, trying to pile these songs together and make them this overarching body of work.
‘Bye Bye’ is one of my favourite songs on the album and it’s featured on the FIFA 17 soundtrack – Will you guys be picking the game up?
Yeah of course, definitely! I’m a big FIFA fan, it’s probably my only other talent apart from music. I’m super excited about that. When I was younger I discovered so many bands from FIFA. I got into Bloc Party from FIFA, Kings Of Leon from FIFA. It’s a pretty surreal thing playing that and hearing our song pop up. I’m glad you really like the song by the way, it’s one of my favourites!
Are you an Xbox or a Playstation person?
I’m an Xbox person. I used to be playstation – I only recently moved to Xbox. I moved there for a certain game, I can’t remember.
You’ve played a ton of live shows recently – How is this current tour going to be different from your previous shows?
We have been playing for a while like you said and this tour is definitely very different. We’re doing these kind of big venues and I think we finally have the time and resources to kind of put on the show that we’ve always wanted to put on. We’re kind of going into these shows a bit nervous because we’re playing such iconic, big venues that are all like, theatres. We can remember going to see our favourite bands when we were young at these venues and they put on spectacles of shows and so now I think we’re approaching the show like that. I’s more than a show now, it needs to be this kind of, almost a spectacle. We’ve spent a lot of time on the production and the flow of the show to make it this big visceral experience that kind of attacks all the senses, sonically and visually. Hopefully it’s something that people will remember and so yeah, we’ve spent a lot of time trying to pull that off. We played the first show last week and it was super special and it’s also one of our longest shows as well, it’s almost 80 minutes long I think. It’s different lengths for us as well playing that long but it definitely feels like we have more time to properly connect with the fans and the audience and the songs and get really relaxed. So yeah, it is very different from when were in clubs and pubs about a year ago.
What are your favourite songs to play live?
At the moment, I think Go To Waste is probably one of our favourites live. It just has this almost, kind of metal/rocky vibe live and it’s so emotionally charged, we kind of really get lost in it. So that’s a lot of fun. Make Them Wheels Roll is another fun one for us to play because we can groove out and now we’ve put guitar solo’s in there so Harry can have a good time.
Do you have any rituals when you’re on the road, like what gets you pumped up before a show?
We all kind of warm up differently, like Michael will be on the drum pads and the practice pads warming up and I’ll be in a separate room kind of making weird sounds, warming up my vocals for ages. So we’re all not very fun to talk do before a show, because we’re all kind of very focused. Apart from that it’s a pretty relaxed vibe.
Do you have any wild tour stories you can tell us about?
We played a show in L.A once, I think last year, which DJ Tommy Trash came to and he came along and we hung out with him after the show and we got on really well and he was like, “I’ve got a DJ set in Vegas like a headline thing if you guys wanna come” – and basically, he kind of put us up in Vegas for like three nights while he played and it’s a pretty surreal world. I don’t think we left the hotel for like three days so that was pretty funny. What else, well it’s not that wild but the first time we got into London we kind of got stuck in a lift for four hours. It was not fun but it’s always a funny anecdote.
You’re apart a couple of festival lineups at the end of the year, which ones are you most excited for?
They’re all great festivals and they’re all going to be a really good vibe. We played Field Day last year and that was an amazing vibe so we’re keen to get back there. We have Southbound which we did two years ago, which was also one of the first festival tours that we did, so it’s going to be exciting going back over there to Busselton. We’ve never done Beyond The Valley before but we’ve heard great things. But yeah it’s gonna be fun, the festival shows are always a good vibe.
If you get the chance, make sure you go give SAFIA some love on their national tour this October/November and purchase ‘Internal’ here …
Watch SAFIA’s music video for ‘Over You’ here…