Bored Shorts: Way Off

Creative inspiration, mimosas & a record 10 years in the making

Photo by Tim Baker

“There’s a fair bit to be said for our live show,” said Will Blackburn, drummer and co-founder of Bored Shorts. It’s not an outlandish statement, it’s a justified one. And it comes from a place of frustration.

Formed over 10 years ago by Blackburn and best friend Dom Hoban, the band have just released their debut album – “Way Off” – via Spunk! Records.

“I think where Bored Shorts is best, and has a real impact, is on the live stage.”  said Blackburn. “If nothing else, it’s always fun” 

Despite the hardship of losing this impact for your release of your debut album, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. 

Where in another life, a massive launch party would once have been on the cards, the band instead found themselves in unfamiliar territory, launching the record via Instagram live. 

“We just wanted to have a bit of fun in the live realm”, said Blackburn. “Like, what else can you do? It’s just the situation we’re in. it was so much fun just to play the tracks through and get people together again”. 

True to form, the album launch was a lot of fun. “I got so fucking trashed, I drank like four mimosas, which were mostly champagne, in about 16 minutes” admitted Blackburn, shaking his head.

“I was quite nervous because I had this weird hosting job, which was seemingly unnecessary, but sort of connected the whole thing together”. 

Co-founder, Dom Hoban along with band members Nick Griffith (Big White, Nick Griffith, High-Tails), Charles Rushforth (Flowertruck, Greenwave Beth) & Ash Bundang (Ciggie Witch, Classic) joined the stream from various lockdown locations along the South Coast, playing personal interpretations of songs from the record.

Although it was undeniably disappointing not to be at a real show, schooner in hand, surrounded by friends bellowing out the chorus of Oxford Style together, the live stream allowed a glimpse into the individual talents of band members, giving everyone equal chance to express their creativity. Rushforth, Bundang & Griffith themselves are well known in the NSW indie scene, each with their own successful musical projects.

For many bands, having so many different sources of creative input could cause havoc, but for Bored Shorts it’s a source of inspiration.

DH – “Even in the live stream, listening to Nick Griffith I was just like, “Oh my God”, I was literally scratching to get to my laptop to re-listen to all the songs that I’ve made recently, ’cause it inspired me so much. Like “Jesus, I gotta make something now” you know? He’s done so well. It’s so cool to actually have people around you that are able to inspire you in that way.”

WB – “I think Nick is just so fucking good. Like I think what Nick does, he releases a new song and we listen to it and I feel like I don’t know, Dom correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like you definitely get this too. I hear these things and. God. It’s kind of like perfect for me? I’m just like this is just perfect music it’s so good it’s just every box I wanna tick.” 

DH – “Yeah” 

WB – “Great, it’s just it’s great. There’s tricky elements, but it’s also simple and there’s beautiful production and the songs themselves are just wonderful and dumb. It’s so exciting to sit next to these guys. Though, I’d listen to it and, I don’t know if any of you guys get this, but I’d get a bit bummed out. He’s written this song that’s so awesome and it was like, why didn’t I write it? You know? I mean, a little bit of friendly competition never hurt.

There’s so much joy surrounding his music and who he is as a person. I just love that song that just came out today (Something I Once Heard). When he first played that, I lost my mind. I was like “this song is fucking amazing”. So I chased him down after the show and was like “dude, give me that song. Do you have it recorded? I need it”. I literally texted him every single day for a week and when he finally sent it to me, I was so happy.”

Photo by Tim Baker

When it comes to keeping balance in the band, Bored Shorts are fortunate enough to maintain a healthy, positive relationship on and off the stage.

DH –  “I think that both myself and Will are actually very open when it comes to music. We’re not very dogmatic, and I think that’s reflected in the way we make music. We’re very open to each other’s ideas and willing to listen to input from everyone in the band.

For example, Oxford style. That song, all I had was a verse. Literally before that practice I was just sitting there one day and I just strummed those first few chords and I was like, oh, that sounds really nice. That sounds really cool. So I played the chords at practice. I reckon I ran them through twice. And it was almost like wires tapped across the room. Will’s sticks counted in on the four and then everyone joined and like that song literally came together just like that. It was such a strange, cool experience”

This open, collaborative attitude wouldn’t have been possible if the band weren’t mates first, a band second.

WB – “If you have a beef. If you fight at band practice, then it’s going to extend into your social life and no one wants that”

It empowers Bored Shorts to test ideas and thoughts in an environment with no judgement and no push back, allowing for full creative freedom.

DH – “our bandmates can just widen that bandwidth and be like. Well how about this? How about this over here? How about that there? And it brings in this new realm where you’re like “woah I wouldn’t have ever thought of that”. I would have never thought of that as an idea for this particular song. To have that creative input adds so much to the songs. It makes it such a worthwhile experience to have people that are able to do that. And to be able to broaden the idea of what you knew any single song could be.”

WB – “we’re lucky to have these amazing artists in our band and we know how incredible they are and so we’re excited by what they’re always going to bring to it. Like Dom was saying, when we bring tracks to the band, it’s usually just a couple of ideas and never a whole track. It’s very rare that we will bring a whole defined, finished song. It’s always just like here’s a concept. Or here’s a couple of ideas, let’s work this out together.

We could never write in the bass parts that Charles has brought to the record. He’s absolutely insane. And like there’s some of the riffs that Nick brought up that absolutely made the songs.”

This was the case in hit single “As the World Looks Down”.

WB – “That song was entirely redefined by just a little noodle rift that Nick made, and we had to rewrite the song because of how awesome it was.

We’ve got bandmates that are super respectful of what Bored Shorts seems to be. The core songs are written by Dom and me and our band mates are very respectful of that and have such a massive creative input without disrupting our vision”

The result of this inner-band harmony is a record that Blackburn & Hoban are, rightfully, proud of. When asked if they were ever nervous about how a crowd would respond to new songs when they can play live shows again, the duo stood firm.

DH – “This is our stuff. Like it or not, that’s it.”

WB – “You get what you’re given. And if you don’t like this song, who cares because we don’t have any others to replace it with.” 

DH – “Yeah also, we’re not playing songs to such large crowds, you know like Matt Corby or something. Where you just know people would go and sit there and like suffer through the rest of his songs to then just listen to “Brother”. I love that song”.

WB – “I watched him play in like 2012 or 2013. And he played Brother twice. He played it at the start of the show and then did the show he played it again. It was wild.”

DH – “Look, this is definitely off topic but he is, I feel, like one of the largest injustices of of..”

WB – “Of music?”

DH – “Yeah music and…”

WB – “Of the WORLD??!?”

DH – “He’s just so good though, like he is so so good. The composition of his songs are next level like it’s so, he’s just so sick. He’s so jazzy, just the different ways that he’s able to put something together is amazing. But yeah anyway, sorry that was definitely a sidebar” 

After working on a passion project for so long, an artist can easily fall into the trap of losing sight of their original vision. Compromising under label pressure or general impatience. For Bored Shorts, the opposite was true.

“Sonically, it’s spot on. It’s exactly what we wanted” said Blackburn. “We were on a great journey with Bowen. It was the first full length record that he engineered and mixed. He’s mostly cut his teeth as an amazing live  engineer. So to have him come on that journey with us was awesome. And now is look where he is! He’s built his own studio down the coast and it’s just great to see. We had so much fun”.

[“Way Off” was recorded and produced in Stanwell Park by Bowen Shakallis]

WB – “I think artistically and aesthetically I didn’t see it going in this direction but it’s super exciting where it’s ended up. All of a sudden there’s this recurring wallpaper theme and these browns and oranges and it’s kind of like and that was just a byproduct of me moving into this house in Coledale. What we got from Scott Owen, who we commissioned to create an amazing painting for the record sleeve too. I don’t think it was a hugely considered part of what we wanted to do initially, but every step of the way, it’s been very much built around our friends and it’s just been very much like getting your friends to do stuff and having friends involved and, you know, we’ve avoided the allure of a big bright studio this whole time too. I think and that shows and I’m proud of that. I don’t know if it’s what I expected but I’m so happy with where it ended up.”

DH – “It’s definitely made me really appreciate artists that are able to get an aesthetic or a specific sound and stick to it. And I think that’s what I really, really like about groups like Cool Sounds or Snowy Band for example.

I think for the next one, it would be interesting to really get more specific with aesthetics. At the same time, it’s hard to do that because you also limit yourself so much creatively because you kind of focus on the, quote unquote, “brand” that we’re going for. So therefore we can’t do certain things, right? Whereas I think one of the best things with the band at the moment is that it’s so easy just to just do something random and spontaneous”.

WB – “Oh, we can do whatever we want! I mean, look at every single music video or every little piece of content or advertising that came out of the singles for this record. They all look completely different and that’s purely based on our not having a cohesive idea of what things should look like. But also just wanting to try new stuff out. How weird was that fucking thing where Dom’s arms and legs were all different people? That was ridiculous. Why did we do that? I don’t know, just because we were learning After Effects and you know, we were in lockdown. That’s why.”

What does this freedom and willingness to experiment mean for album number 2?

WB – “Going off the demos that we’re coming up with now it’s gonna be a real cool record. There’s gonna be real fucking different vibe but it’s gonna be cool. Being locked down, I went and recorded a song myself, that I kind of wanna bring to Bored Shorts. It’s like a full on ballad.

It’s a bit like. I think you’re the one that actually showed me “The Gritterman” by Orlando Weeks. The story book and the album. And I loved loved loved that song. I think it was called Gritterman or a camera [it was actually “Seasonal Hero” if anyone is interested]. It was beautiful. But it’s so fucking harrowing and it starts with this vocal passage where he talks about missing his wife and how things have changed since his wife died. And it was like 5 in the morning and I was giving Dom a lift to work and it was dark and we were driving through Newtown. I was like dude I am over the moon loving this song. Can I show you?

I was like “this song is so good you’re gonna love it”, so I put it on and it’s this guy going “well I miss her, I will miss her for her funny ways. I will miss her for the sad days” and yeah and Dom’s like, we were listening to it and Dom just simply goes. “Hey can we turn this off?”

 [laughing]

 He’s like “hey, can we actually turn this off?” And I was like “oh, oh yeah, sorry.” 

DH – “It was so depressing. It was honestly, it was just like this person talking about his lost love.”

WB – “It was odd that there’s still. Yeah, it is a harrowing song, but it’s fucking beautiful. That line where he’s like, “I missed the lipstick kiss cigarette you left in the tray. It’s the last thing you kissed. I can’t throw it away” like that is so gorgeous. It’s so nice.”

WB – My ballad isn’t quite there, but I think Bored Shorts are open enough that it would fit with our approach. Because it’s so broad and vast that I think we could turn it into a Bored Shorts track. And I’d be happy with that so I think if we were to take this same approach that we have with the first record. What are all the things we’ve done and made and what can be cobbled together. I think Bored Shorts has a particular freedom in it to sort of do whatever we want with it. There’s nothing permanent. There’s no real aesthetic we have to stick to which is awesome.”

DH – “It feels like that’s kind of what a lot of, I guess, popular music is at this point. You know, you’ve got records out there from pop artists that span so many different genres, and even within the songs themselves. They are so sort of genre-less in the way that they’re constructed. Why not, you know. Why do you have to stick to these strict binds that we place on what Indie music is.

To me, that’s what being in an indie band is all about. You have the independence to be able to make these decisions for yourself. I would love it if, you know, the next Bored Shorts release has a song that’s just completely pop. Just like unashamedly a pop song. That would be awesome. I would be so so happy with that.”

WB – “A proper pop record. Like Carly Rae Jepson. Or rap. Or a Lil Nas X covers record”

DH – “I’m kind of on the fence because there is something to having a cohesive message in an album and to be like “this is the story of the album”. But then at the same time, to be able to have the nuances of genre meld. But then also genre jumping within the songs as well. Maybe it’s just a larger extension of what an album traditionally was and you can actually tell a more descriptive story by bouncing between genres?”

WB – “It can all work. Concept albums can work and so can completely mismatched ones as well and I think it’s exciting to pose the question now as to what is next? What are we going to try and achieve? I think we have the world as an oyster? The world is our oyster? Is that it? The oyster is our morning”

DH – “That’s not it”

You wouldn’t blame Blackburn & Hoban for being spiteful that a record so long in the making, ended up being released in peak Covid-lockdown. Speaking to them, however, the impression I get is the exact opposite. 

There’s no contempt for the situation. There’s no complaints. 

There’s only gratitude. Gratitude to their bandmates, close-knit friendship group and everyone involved in their journey so far. 

Yes, there’s a touch of disappointment. But the disappointment lies in not being able to share the experience with their family, friends & fans. Not in muted celebrations and cancelled shows.

I hope live shows will be back soon. I for one, can’t wait to see the band back doing what they do best. 

Whatever does come next for Bored Shorts, you can guarantee it will be a lot of fun. 

“Way Off” is out now via Spunk! Records. Buy it here / Stream it here

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