Brisbane’s The Comfort are one of Australia’s most beloved bands. After singing to Greyscale Records back in 2018, the guys released their debut album ‘What It Is To Be’ which while generally warmly received, seemed somewhat divisive among their more long-term fanbase. Undeterred, the band went on to release brand new single ‘Pain’ which pushed their sound further sonially and showed the guys have no plans of slowing down. We caught up with Liam Holmes to discuss their year so far, bumps in the road and looking to the future.
What’s been going on in the world of The Comfort lately?
We just finished up a little headline tour to close the year out and now we’re going to lock ourselves away for a while and write our next release.
Pain was released quite shortly after What It Is To Be. What went into the decision to follow up with new material so quickly and was Pain written in mind especially?
It just felt like the right time, I’d started writing Pain lyrically before WIITB even came out and the music was completed pretty soon after WIITB came out. Part of the reasoning was we were sitting on WIITB for a full year before it came out so to us it had existed for a lot longer than anyone else and due to it not being received as well as we had hoped we figured we may as well get the ball rolling instead of waiting any longer. It wasn’t written specifically to be a stand alone single, but it was the most suitable song we had at the time to be able to stand on it’s own.
An amazing open letter was released along with Pain which gave an extremely moving explanation about the songs lyrical content and themes. In an age where music seems coldly released onto streaming services without CD booklets or lyrics, how important do you think it is to give art context and a little something extra for fans to sink their teeth into?
Something we learnt the hard way with WIITB was we should explain ourselves completely with out art. We’re a band that, potentially unlike others, have big reasons behind almost everything we do, it’s never “hey here is a song where I’m angry at my ex”, we want to convey big themes, ideas and feelings to help people better look at themselves and how they interact with the rest of the world. We have a platform where we can reach thousands of people so I felt responsible to take that opportunity with ‘Pain’, which is clearly about suicide, to really put something bigger out there that I feel no one is really communicating anywhere else to the same level we did and I was really proud with the amount of traction it got, it’s kinda scary putting yourself out in that extreme way but I felt I had no other choice.
How does a Comfort song usually come together with the writing process?
Probably the two main ways are either I have 25%-50% of a song written musically, either a verse and/or chorus and bring it to everyone else to complete or Marcus, our guitarist, writes a basically 90% complete song musically and we go from there. Dom and I will share lyric writing duties a lot for both ways, we often finish each others lyrics as well because we understand each other pretty well after being friends for 13 years.
You recently posted on social media commenting on the fact that What It Is To Be may not have been what your fans were expecting at the time. We personally adored the record but did you find it received a muted response or took a little longer to catch on with the day one fanbase?
I think there were a lot of reasons, but I can’t argue that it was different to our Love EP which a lot of people like. To me there is no comparison and WIITB is clearly a more mature release with better song and a better message but you can’t tell people what to like. I understand why people liked Love more because it’s more suited to the scene we are most a part of by default but Dom and I wrote Love by ourselves a long time ago and we’re not the same people anymore. I think part of it is also on us, we were scared before it came out and I think we could have explained ourselves better before we put anything out, I would also chose different singles to put out before the album was released, unfortunately it was a very big learning experience for us. But we wouldn’t change anything in terms of the final product and for the people it did connect with, that means more to us than anything.
If you guys could pick a favourite show you’ve played, which would it be and why?
This might seem like a silly answer but one show that always pops up in my mind was one on our first ever headline tour a number of years ago (footage from that tour made up our Love & Other Drugs music video). We had no idea if people would show up to any of the shows and specifically in Canberra as we had never played there before. Dom and I had to work the door because it was very DIY and people just kept showing up and we looked at each other and were kind of shocked that it was happening. A guy also came up to Dom with a blood stained knife and said if anyone bothered him to let him know and he would “sort it out”.
You guys are signed with Greyscale records which is an amazing family to be with in the current era of Aussie alternative music. They appear to be thriving in the digital age where most labels would struggle. What do you think is different about Greyscales approach that makes them so successful?
They aren’t totally motivated by money/business. They pick bands they truly like and believe in. Other labels sign bands based on filling certain spots on their roster or will sign 10 bands and hope 1 makes it and not give a shit about the rest. Good things generally happen to people with the right intentions.
Who are five of your favourite Aussie locals that we should be checking out?
Young Lions, She Cries Wolf, Deadlights, Blood Bank, Reside.
Music festivals have made a big comeback in Australia with the return of Download, Unify and Good Things. Have you seen an increase in local interest and show attendance now that Aussie up and comers are being added to bills and given the exposure to take the next step?
I mean, I’m not big on patriotism because it’s pure chance we all live here, but I do like seeing the sense of pride in people when someone like Polaris blows up overseas for example. There are a lot of very very good bands in Australia that people should pay more attention to over defaulting to big overseas bands. How Young Lions aren’t the biggest band in the world is insane.
What’s on the cards for The Comfort going forward?
We’ve had a very complicated year both as a band and in a lot of our personal lives but we’re close to a good spot and I feel we are reclaiming the band for ourselves at the moment and remembering what is most important. We’re in a great creative spot and we’re just going to disappear and write this album and then return when it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. We’re not far away.
Have you guys got anything coming up you’d like to plug?
Just keep spinning our current music and spreading the good word of The Comfort.
Any parting words?
Thank you for taking the interest to talk to us and thank you to everyone that listens to our music we appreciate everything so so much.