Hailing from sunny Perth is indie-rock duo, The Money War. Comprised of Dylan Olliverre (Rainy Day Women) and Carmen Pepper (Warning Birds), The Money War formed after the two musicians drove across the US together in late 2015.
The duo found merit in the accumulated iPhone demos they created during their US trip and after meeting with producers Thom Monahan (Fruit Bats, Little Joy) and Arne Frager (Prince, Paul McCartney) in a dive bar in San Francisco, Olliverre and Pepper decided to join together and make the sweet music that we are able to hear today.
With their debut EP dropping on April 7, Outlet Mag recently spoke to Dylan Olliverre of The Money War about the band’s beginnings, their sound and their upcoming EP.
For those just discovering your music, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and how The Money War came together?
The Money War is Carmen and I (Dylan). We meet when our bands at the time played a gig together in Perth. Carmen was in a band called Warning Birds and my band was called Rainy Day Women. We started making music together and had some demos floating around and then had this bizarrely inspiring trip in the states that ultimately led us to forming a band and putting music out as The Money War.
How would you describe your sound? Do you confine yourself to one particular genre or do you see yourself experimenting and trying different sounds?
I usually write all of the songs on an acoustic guitar or piano so in that form the song has to be strong melodically to stand up. The process of turning that bare song into some kind of experience is different every time. It’s usually inspired by something new that we want to try that we haven’t done before. So I guess the sound is recognizable from the choice of melodies and all that but the way it’s dressed up seems to change a fair bit. But then again, it always gets filtered through our tastes, so I think there’s definitely some consistency there too. We tend to get a lot of West Coast comparisons, which makes sense because that’s the music we both grew up on and the beach culture is a massive part of our lives here in Perth too.
The Money War was formed after you guys drove across the US together – were there any moments during that trip that specifically influenced your music?
Yep, definitely. Driving up Highway One from LA to SF was something I had wanted to do my whole life and felt like I had already experienced it through the music I listen to and books and films, but to actually be there was so inspiring. We also had some crazy experiences like ending up in Skid Row on our first day in LA- we had to pay a homeless guy to walk us out of there so we didn’t get mugged. Umm, we met some of our heroes in Thom Monahan and Arne Frager who have produced some of our favorite records- they actually played a big part in encouraging us to do something with the songs we had. They showed us around their studios and talked about their stories. We stayed in Berkley for a while which was cool. It was cool to connect with these places that inspired a lot of the music that we love.
How would you describe your overall creative collaboration as you probably all have your own way of writing and expressing yourselves?
We actually haven’t been that successful at writing together. We both write but work a lot better on our own. Once there is a solid idea of what the song is then it gets taken to our studio and worked on from there with input from both of us.
Do you feel like your dynamic has changed over the years and now you’ve got better control over your sound and your vision for the band moving forward?
Well TMW is less than 6 months old, but we’ve both been writing songs for years. I think we have a stronger understanding of who we are as people now and what we want to say. I try not to think about what the band’s “sound” is because I need to keep it fresh for myself to be inspired. I’m always looking for new things to try out, and I think as long as we are honest with our choices it will always sound like TMW.
Is it important for your music to be retable ? Is that something that comes up when writing or do you just writing about what your experiencing in that moment of time?
Yeah definitely, I think people relate to honesty and that’s what were striving for. There’s plenty of songs that I don’t know exactly what the artist means but I believe it. The best stuff I’ve written is when I’m not being too critical of it and just letting it flow – it usually makes sense later on.
‘Recall’ is a really fun track and it’s been played on Triple J a whole bunch of times! It must be cool to hear yourself on the radio?
Thanks. Yeah, it was a really cool summer hearing it on the radio a lot. I’m usually wishing I changed something in the mix though haha
You guys opened Southbound last year, how was that experience?
Yeah, was awesome. Very lucky to be unearthed by Triple J.
You recently released your new single “Stars”. Both musically and lyrically, how did that track come together? Can you tell us a bit about the background/story behind the track?
That one was definitely inspired by the US trip, specifically Holly Boulevard. The song is about the idea of people being obsessed with fame and status. When you walk along HB you realize how big the gap is between the “stars” and the homeless all that walk the same street. LA is such a weirdly contrasting place, there’s a darkness to it while most people think of it for the glamour. Musically, it was inspired by bands the 70’s Glam Rock period. It fit the sentiment of the song.
Your debut EP is just around the corner! How does it feel to have finally finished it?
A massive sense of relief and pride. It had been basically done for quite a while but took a long time to get everything right. The curse of having your own studio is that you can do as many revisions as you want- eventually you have to draw the line. Having said that, were super proud of it and I still think it represents who we are now even though some of the songs are a bit older.
What was the creative and writing process like for the EP? Were there any challenges you had to face during the process of creating the EP?
Yeah, the biggest challenge was trying to maintain some perspective on the whole thing. Because I wrote, recorded and mixed it, I had to deliberately try and make myself become someone else for each stage of the process. For example, I would put the songs on in the background while cleaning the house to try and get the perspective of someone hearing it for the first time because when you’re so invested in it you can miss the big picture.
How did you choose the EP track list? Are there songs that didn’t make the cut that you’re thinking of maybe releasing in the future?
It kind of presented itself with the listing being really obvious. There’s definitely a few songs that didn’t make the cut that are in consideration for future releases
Out of the songs you’ve written so far, is there one song that you’re most connected to?
It changes, really. Some are more fun to play live where as others are better for other settings. On this EP, probably a song called “Real Life” sums up the ambitions of the project, I think.
What can we expect from your EP?
6 tracks that have quite a few different moods. There’s a pretty good balance of vocals from both of us too.
Lastly, what are your top 4 goals for 2017?
I haven’t really thought about that. Ummm, write more songs. Buy some new recording gear. Do some travelling. Clean my car.