FEATURE: The Getaway Plan – Pure Autonomy
Much has been postulated about The Getaway Plan’s split from Unified two years ago. Under the same label head in Jadden Comerford for close to a decade, the Melbourne band are a progressive force in the public consciousness; global tours, two critically acclaimed ARIA Top 20 albums and a sound which cares less about critical opinion and more about transcendent arrangements. But as the now fervently independent Getaway Plan ride the success of their highest-charting album to date, the important message of the album is filtered through the band’s ripened worldview.
The release of Dark Horses earlier this month follows another two member departures, a second hiatus, and the launch of their own label Dope Mountain – which was primarily formed to release their own music and to cement their leftist position in the label system. Granted, the discernible subversions and era-defying groove on tracks like lead single Last Words and Castles In The Air wouldn’t have taken full form without such a colourful lead-up, but The Getaway Plan’s return comes with a smack of commendable maturity.
When Matthew Wright (vocals, keys, guitar) and Clint Owen Ellis (lead guitar) sit down with TMN at the Keg & Brew pub in Sydney, they are nurturing their newfound freedom. And for a band signed right after their first ever gig, that comes with a weight of self-induced expectation.
“It was really easy,” Wright says of their cushy place on Unified’s artist roster. “We just had a bunch of people running around for us and then before we knew it, we were out on our arses again.”
While the pair assures the split was “mutual” (“they didn’t want to work with us, we didn’t want to work with them”), the apparent malaise surrounding it does carry weight. The Getaway Plan’s reasons for wanting out involved a “creative clash”, which was made even more difficult by the fact the label and band manager were one in the same.
“There were still many moments when there was just like, a creative clash between us, and in our opinion that shouldn’t really exist between a manager and an artist,” says Wright.
“It’s kind of weird because Unified the label and the management are the same people so it’s kind of a bit messy and weird,” he offers. “Essentially you want your manager to fight for the band exclusively.
“[…] It’s fine when you’re younger,” Wright continues. “But then when you start to learn about the industry you go ‘wait a minute, this isn’t right’.”
To explain further, Wright says at one point the band had lined up artwork for a release and the label refused to print it. “They didn’t really give us a good reason,” he offers.
At this point, the band’s music commands more respect than ever before. In the lead-up to the recording of Dark Horses it was decided drummer Aaron Barnett and fill-in bassist Jase Clarke were no longer a fit for the band. “I think we just needed to sort ourselves out in that time,” admits Owen Ellis. “We knew from before we broke up what it’s like if someone’s holding back and they’re not fully into it; it all could fall apart.”
“I think we kind of rushed into it thinking that everything would be sweet,” adds Wright, sincerely. “Not considering everyone’s mental states, it was like all of a sudden it was back on and we were expected to be committed 100%. It just didn’t [work] at the time; people’s heads weren’t where they were meant to be.”
Speaking to the band’s significant growth is the manner in which the Dark Horses album campaign was handled. The band visited retail stores in regional Victoria and in Melbourne to drop off preview copies of the record as well as posters. They also contracted industry stalwart and radio plugger Russell Thomas and launched a crowdfunding campaign.
The PledgeMusic fund covered half the budget for the record expenses and marketing, exceeding their budget by 16%. Of the 34 donation choices ranging between $15 and $8,000 were the chance to have the band play at your wedding, a private show, Wright’s main guitar from the Other Voices Other Rooms era and a Golden Ticket to any show by the band at any time, forever.
Further cementing The Getaway Plan’s relevance among the wider local industry was their success within Creative Victoria’s VicArts grant program. The government body offered the band $13,168, and with tickets selling fast to an upcoming national tour with Elevnth Records signing Red Beard, wearing so many professional hats never looked so good.
Sonically, Dark Horses is a daring hybrid of everything they’ve done. The LP was recorded in Melbourne – the first time the band recorded an album in Australia – with Gather band member/ housemate to Wright and Owen Ellis, Sam K. Sam K produced, engineered, mixed and mastered Dark Horses, playing to the band’s strengths – F(r)iend makes you forget Wright has a throat-splitting scream that rivals the best – and also pushing them where necessary – Baby Bird/Effigy clocks in at seven minutes for good reason.
“We’re kind of producer-focused when it comes to recording,” smiles Owen Ellis. “We’ll go anywhere and we’ll do anything to make that work. We were just lucky that [Sam K] was our friend and seems to be on top of his game.”
Getaway Plan zealots will also be pleased to know the album’s pre-orders were packed and signed themselves, in Wright and Owen Ellis’ lounge room.
Now, with their own record label inspired by pro wrestler Ric Flair’s famous line “Time to ride Space Mountain!”, The Getaway Plan are set on nurturing this new chapter.
“I think we’re at a point where we’re not seeing what we can do differently, we’re just seeing what we have to do and how to improve on it,” explains Owen Ellis. “At the moment, we’re just beginners.”
Wright cracks a smile: “Hopefully with the system that’s in place we will actually see some money from this record.”
Photography Credit: Tim O’Keefe