New music: The Money War


Image Supplied by Carmen Pepper and Dylan Ollivierre

Carmen Pepper and Dylan Ollivierre of The Money War

Holly Edwards-Smith, Reporter

Musical duos have been offering us a unique experience for a long time – whether you were first introduced to them through the likes of Sonny and Cher, or the more recent Angus and Julia Stone. The Money War is no exception. Performing together since 2016, Carmen Pepper and Dylan Ollivierre have the rapport of a group beyond their years.

After being friends for years and working collectively on many musical endeavors, it wasn’t long before they realised their potential together. Both Carmen and Dylan speak highly of their experience in other bands but said their dynamic made creative decision making easier.

“There are more problems with four or five opinions, and with people’s lives going in different directions it’s harder to keep it together. When it’s just two people who are very close already it’s easier to manage,” Carmen said.

“It just made sense to work together.”

The duo are a bit of an enigma: so articulate and passionate they leave you yearning for more. Carmen and Dylan didn’t form The Money War to make money or to achieve fame; they weren’t even sure if they would do live shows. Dylan explained: “When we started out, we weren’t sure if we were going to play songs live. It was just about making them in a way which was representative of us, and then it was figuring out how to replicate that with a band in a live setting.”

When the two do play live, they are joined by a four-piece band. Although both can jam on a variety of instruments, when playing live Dylan is on guitar and Carmen plays bass, with both of them harmonising on vocals.

The two laughed when asked about the name, which was a task to create. They wanted something “provocative yet universal.” Dylan described the struggle: “It is much easier to write a song. Naming a band is harder than naming a kid.” Carmen explained further: “There can be two kids called Tom, but you can’t have two bands called The Money War. We had songs before we had a band name.”

You cannot help but spot the similarities between the two. Both from WA, they attribute their love of music to their fathers. Carmen looked back fondly at her memories of her dad playing guitar in a band, and she herself has been playing the instrument since she was 12. Dylan had a similar start: his dad is from the Caribbean and worked on ships, and through that, he ended up working for Bob Dylan. As a result, Dylan met the star several times. The encounters with the star meant less then than they do now, but his words have guided Dylan as a musician.

“I guess I didn’t really understand how influential he was,” Dylan said.

The Money War is a relatively young band but has already completed three national tours and played events like South by South West in Austin Texas, and Southbound 2016 after winning the Triple J Unearthed competition just a few months after forming. Having received many positive reviews and praises – including Triple J’s music director Nick Findlay describing their song Recall as a “near perfect pop hit” – one stands out to Dylan in particularly. The duo were chosen to open for Neil Finn at Perth Festival last year and Finn had some kind words. Dylan said: “We thanked him for the opportunity and he just said no worries, I’ve listened to your music and you write great songs.

“He is one of five people in which their opinion – their review – matters to me more than the rest.”

When asked about their inspirations, The Money War reflect on the travelling they have done together: their road trip of America stands out.

“We drove from LA to Vegas listening to Paul Kelly.”

They travelled the road of musicians before them and immersed themselves in their inspirations. Their song Hollywood draws on the experiences they had there and the different response when referring to the Perth hospital of the same name.

Besides travel, The Money War’s songs are also influenced by film. Carmen described it as “something you see in a movie that could be moody and sentimental.” Dylan echoed her thoughts: “It’s watching a scene in a film and feeling a certain way and writing a song to replicate that feeling.”

The Money War’s debut album, Home, was released earlier this month. The self-produced and self-written album was a challenge but the pair believe it has led to “more opportunities” in various fields. The album includes singles from before the band was formally formed and is a collection of songs which represent various stages of their lives and experiences. It includes the fourth most played song on Triple J in 2017, Recall. Their title track, Home, speaks of afterlife but not in religious sense. The two are spiritual but not religious. Carmen explained the reference: “it does sound cheesy but it’s kind of home is where the heart is.”

The two have already begun production on their second album, and Carmen spoke of the time spent before the first release: “We have had the last few months, but we still write every day. I don’t know if you’d really call that work.” Dylan couldn’t help but add: “Writing to us isn’t work. Shows can be work, but not writing.”

Their second album will reflect a much shorter period for the band and is expected to be released later this year.

Catch them this Thursday in Fremantle opening for Bob Evans or check out their website here.