Photos are by Pat O’Hara and Eline Duijsens
Hey Friends- it’s been a hot minute since I’ve had the opportunity to talk music with you all. With all the craziness in the world and the rumpus in my personal life, It seems the only constant has been music.
I have completely submerged myself in music both old and new. It has been a constant companion and ever so cathartic. I have emerged from the harmonious depths to tell you all about one of the pearls I’ve found particularly beautiful in this chaotic time.
Sons of the East are a band from the Northern beaches of Sydney, Australia. With a heavy folk-music sound that tempers evenly with influences from classic rock and blues, bandmates Dan Wallage, Nic Johnston and Jack Rollins have found what seems to be the perfect alchemy for soulful, foot tapping, head nodding, body moving, singing along to music.
I’m serious, try listening to “Fool Me”, “Lost Cause”, “You Might Think”, or “Find My Way” and don’t move any part of your body- It’s impossible. These songs became theme songs to my life during the past year (most recently “Fool Me” as it was only released in late June). So, I had to reach out and try for the interview and was lucky enough that Jack agreed to talk with me.
Jack: Good morning or I guess, good afternoon for you
Yeah thanks man, how’s tomorrow?
Jack: Good, it’s cold actually. It’s freezing… At least for Sydney temperatures.
First off- thank you so, so much for doing the interview
Jack: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
So, jumping right in, you have to tell me about this new single.
“Fool Me”, yes. It’s a song that very dear to our hearts actually. We first had the sketching for it like six years ago or something and we tried to put it down over and over and over again. Sometimes when you write a song it doesn’t translate well when you’re trying to put it down on a track. So we had so many iterations of it, we couldn’t get it right but we worked on a few little twists on the one you’ve heard and we’re really happy with it because it just took so many tries to get it right. We finally got it right… We think… So yeah we’re very happy with “Fool Me”, how it’s hitting.
Nice, it sounds really, really good. Love the piano in it
Jack: Thank you very much.
In your music video “Lost Cause” it looks like it’s filmed in one shot, how many takes did you have to do, to get that one full shot?
Jack: Very good question… Well a magician never reveals his tricks so… It took us 15 takes to do that. We had a few beers so loosen ourselves up and I think it was the 12th take, the one on YouTube is the 12th take. Yeah there was a few blunders, falls and slips but once again we are happy with how it came out. It’s a fun one.
All your music videos are pretty cool, “On My Way”, where you had all the fans send in video clips, that was really awesome too.
Jack: Yeah that was awesome. We kinda had that idea out of the blue. We’ve got such a world-wide fan base, as you can see, talking to you right now. We thought it would be great to see where our fans are coming from in their part of the world and put it all together. And once again, that thing turned out a beauty. I think it just hit a million on YouTube the other day. We’re very happy with how that turned out and it’s so nice to see where our musics being listened to around the globe, it’s pretty special. Very special feeling.
Do you guys have any plans for an album? I know you release a lot of singles
Jack: Yeah, so the three most recent tracks released- “You Might Think”, “On My Way”, and “Fool Me” are all part of an album we are planning to put out later this year. Can’t remember the exact date but it’s all a part of a bigger body of work we’ve been working on for the past year and a half. SUPER EXCITED about that because we’ve done three apiece so far. And so a release of a debut album, I would say.
Awesome! I’m excited for that, I can’t wait for that. So Jack, what’s your favorite song to perform?
Jack: Good question. Um, it depends. Sometimes, if the crowds rowdy then the rowdy songs are more fun to perform. But if the crowd is a bit more sophisticated than perhaps some of the slower, more nuanced songs are fun to perform. Right now, probably “You Might Think” is the funnest one for me personally to perform because I get to put the guitar down and wail on the harmonica. Yeah, I get to be the center of attention and I like that.
Yeah for sure. So, if you got to collaborate with another artist who would you choose?
Jack: Oh boy, that’s a cool one. There’s just so many. I mean It would be pretty cool to work with some of the older guys we grew up listening to… Bowie would be pretty awesome. That would be a dream. So we’ll go with Bowie for passed away and for someone still on this rock… Someone like Bruce Springsteen.
Oh that would be so cool- The Boss!
Jack: Yeah, that would be mad! To go on tour with him and do those crazy four hour shows every night. I don’t know how he does it.
I looked online and you’ve got tours set up for Europe but I didn’t see anything this way. Are there plans to come back to the US soon?
Jack: Yes, so the plan is to get over to the States. We have an agent over there and we’ve been talking to him, trying to organize something, I’m not quite sure they’re concrete plans right now but I think definitely next year if everything goes our way we’ll definitely get over there. The last time we were in the states was 2018 and we were at South By Southwest doing radio interviews around the place but didn’t really get to play any shows officially. So hopefully next year, fingers crossed, we’ll get to come over and we can see you and you can see us and we can play some shows. That would be awesome, it would be mad.
Good to hear! I’d love to see you guys live. And speaking of the live experience, what’s the best part of playing live music?
Jack: I think just playing live music. I think the reason why Nick, Dan and I started the band is because we just love to play. Like it wasn’t for anything else, we just wanted to get on stage and play music for people. To perform. I guess that’s why a lot of musicians do it. It’s honing your craft and writing songs and then playing them for people. That’s why we started and to this day that’s what we love doing and that’s why it’s been difficult the past year and a half. We haven’t been able to play shows and do what we love. We’ve got a little Australian tour coming up and it’ll be the first normal show we’ve done in about a year and a half so we are really excited to get on stage. It’s just about getting on stage and performing- there’s no greater thrill, no greater joy for the three of us- I speak for the three of us when I say that. I’m pretty confident they feel the same way.
How’d you spend your quarantine? What’d you do?
Jack: Well, a lot of surfing. We were lucky we could still hit the water here. A lot of red wine drinking. A lot of guitar playing- practicing. Yeah, drinking, surfing and playing guitar. So I can’t really complain too much. A lot of people had it a lot worse so no complaints from me.
Oh here’s a fun one, if you could choose someone to cover one of your songs, who would it be and what song would you choose?
Jack: Yeah, I’d love like a big pop star someone like Harry Styles or Ariana Grande, that would be cool. See how they pop it up. Yeah, maybe Ariana because she’s got some pipes on her. As for what song, maybe one of the ballets like “Into the Sun” or “You Might Think”. I think that would be super cool so if she’s out there reading- Ariana jump on it.
Right, Ariana, get ahold of Jack. Now, if I challenged you to a lip-sync battle, which song would you choose?
Jack: Very good question. I would choose something Michael Jackson, something Elvis… Maybe “PTY” Michael Jackson
Good one, hype up the crowd for sure. So you guys all play multiple instruments, what did you start with?
Jack: Me personally, the first instrument I learned was the didgeridoo. I kinda taught myself that with a little help from, there was like an indigenous art store in my suburb, I used to go down and get tips from some of the guys in there about how to circular breath and make different sounds- how to didge. Then I moved into ukulele and then into guitar when I was around 15 or 16. Dan first learned the guitar and then moved to banjo. Then Nick, I think was guitar first and then piano but Nick can do everything. Dan can do everything. They’re all freak musicians.
How’d you guys all meet?
Jack: Dan and I had been going to the same school since we were like two. We went to preschool and then primary school and high school and Dan and Nick used to play Australian football together. Then after high school we all got linked up and started playing some music. And we were like, ‘Hey this doesn’t sound half bad’ so we started putting it down and low and behold we’re now talking eight years later. So there you go
How old were you when you wrote your first song?
Jack: I think the first serious song I wrote was with Dan, we wrote “Come Away” We were maybe like 17…16 in Dan’s garage. But before that, me, Dan and a few other mates we’d get drunk on a Saturday night and make up silly songs and stuff like that. But yeah the first serious on was probably “Come Away” and then as I said, when we started hanging out with Nick he brought it together and added a bridge and some harmonies and it became a legit track which is out to this day.
Have you had any cool star struck moments?
Jack: Not so much star struck. I used to get really jittery in front of people I looked up to and it didn’t look cool so I had to tone it down. But a couple of years ago we got the chance to go to Andrew Farriss who is the lead song writer and keys player for INXS. We went out to his farm, he built a studio on his farm, so we got to go out there and write a few songs and hangout. Sit around a fire and do some country stuff. I’d say that was pretty cool and he’d play. We’d be sitting around the fire with a bottle of tequila and we’ve got our cowboy hats on and he’s singing some of INXS’s hits on an acoustic guitar. We were all pinching ourselves because that was pretty exciting. And they’re like music royalty, they’re one of the biggest exports Australia’s produced in terms of the music industry. I’d say that was the top moment for working with another musician.
That’s one for the books for sure! I’m so excited for you guys to hit the stage again and thank you so much for doing this interview. Your music is so cool and it’s been good to have around turning really tough times. It’s helped for sure.
Jack: That’s a beautiful compliment. So glad we could be of some assistance. That’s nice. Thank you. And we’ll hopefully see you next year. Now, I know I’ve told you about all sorts of musical genres throughout our relationship but rarely does a band come into my life that has the ability to draw in both my high school students and my dad. Heck, even Rich likes them (And Rich doesn’t like any “new” music”)! Believe me folks, that statement in itself should be all the proof you need to run out and listen to these fellas.
Start off with “Fool Me”, “You Might Think”, “Lost Cause” or “Find my Way”, they all have cool music videos too if that’s something you might be interested in. These awesome singles should be the jumping off point for you and if you dig the sound (which you will) keep an eye out for their album coming out later in the year.
Until next time my friends- happy listening.