Terrible Signal went east & changed direction


By KLowe Photography

Vin Buchanan Simpson of Terrible Signal

Malcolm Coleman, Reporter

Lead singer Vin Buchanan-Simpson may not require any introduction here – given that he has been in so many WA bands – Dream Rimmy, Kitchen People, Hideous Sun Demon and more. But now Melbourne crowds are getting to know him, among other things, as the front man of indie-rock outfit Terrible Signal.

The band released its self-titled debut album on label Dusky Tracks in late 2017, while they were still based in Fremantle. Now relocated to Melbourne the band has just released the first track from its second album, which is due for release later this year. The song is called Man if you saw me on the street today, (you can listen to it here).

The location isn’t the only thing that’s changed about the band though. In 2017 the line-up consisted of Buchanan Simpson, Ali Flintoff, Alec Thomas and Jordan Shakespeare. Now Bandcamp calls Terrible Signal “a Hideous Sun Demon side project”, and lists the line-up as Buchanan-Simpson on guitar, vocals, synth; Jakey Edwards on guitar; Oli Grinter on bass; and Jake (JD) Laderman on drums.

The band’s first album, that featured the catchy tune Sunny Side of Town , described itself on Bandcamp as “[serving] up a thick slab of sunny Australian pop from the shores of Fremantle. On the surface are charming, classic melodies that recall the ’80s Australiana of yesteryear, juxtaposed with angst ridden lyrics of middle class apprehension.”

According to Buchhanan Simpson that album was recorded in a mate’s bedroom, before being released on 140 audio cassettes, through Rhubarb music, as it was a fifth of the price of vinyl at the time. He said that approach deliberately encapsulated the nostalgic aesthetic of the 1980’s sounding tunes, while also keeping costs down.

The new song released at The Old Bar in Fitzroy in Melbourne just over a week ago is faster, louder and rockier. According to Trouble Juice it’s: “a feverish burst of gripping power-pop and an exciting direction shift for the project”.

Buchanan-Simpson told NewsVineWA: “With the musicians I play with now, compared to the ones in Perth, it definitely is taking on a different kind of character live. A bit harder I would say, which sort of changes the music without taking away the essence. It’s a little more appropriate to wider context, a little bit more energetic. Oli and JD they’re very like classic. and they like rock n roll and are very into rhythm, so it’s very solid.”

He said the new line-up is working because they are all really confident players, who all have the same taste in music and “that elevates the sound and vibe”.

Asked about the move he said:  “It’s definitely different being in Melbourne, but I had come over here a fair amount of times previously, playing with other bands, I kind of knew the scene and was used to the faster pace and increased audience numbers, so it hasn’t affected what I have been doing musically.”

Listing influences that led to the Terrible Signal project being launched, he gives credit to reading a 2015 biography of Roger Shepherd, who runs Flying Nuns Records. “I started listening to a lot of New Zealand bands like The Crane, The Chills and The Bats, because I really wanted to start writing more pop music and I thought that would be the good kind of thing to channel, as I grew up on bands and Australian bands like, The Go-Betweens, The Clean and Die Pretty. I think that seemed like a good place to start off, though now I am less focused on that particular music and now we’ve branched out to do other things.

Asked what it was like getting started as a band in Perth, he said: “RTRFM got right behind us at the start which was great. Playing the RTRfm In the Pines Festival at the Somerville at UWA was great, yeah, I loved those type of shows and I loved supporting The Courtneys, a Canadian band that we supported in Perth.”