By The Meadow

I was thinking a lot about the sensation you get when the underdog wins, sometimes jubilation and sometimes disbelief.

Jay Watson of GUM

Hi Jay and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Musicology.

It’s no secret that you landed in the musical consciousness of a global audience through Tame Impala and also that of Pond but in working exclusively as GUM, did these beginnings provide a backbone for how you approached the sound for this project or did you find yourself rewriting the rule book in constructing tracks as GUM?

I think my work with Tame and Pond has greatly influenced the solo stuff, both in learning off the other people in those bands, but also what has worked and what hasn’t worked in each project. The GUM stuff is great because I can do the first thing that comes into my head, I don’t have to run it by committee (like in POND) or by the boss (like in Tame) haha

Gearing up to release your new LP The Underdog, is the title something of a link to that Australian love of barracking for the battler or a more personal statement of where you see yourself?

I was writing the bulk of the album during 2016, which was a big year for the Underdog in sport and even politics. I was thinking a lot about that sensation you get when the Underdog wins, sometimes jubilation (like when the Western Bulldogs won the AFL) and sometimes disbelief (like when Trump won).

In terms of the writing and lyrical content, was there an overarching narrative tying the album together or an assortment of topics and inspirations that zig zag throughout the record?

It was an assortment of ideas/themes and inspirations that made the album, but when I put the track list together it felt like it had an overarching narrative to it. It’s kind of a day in the life of me on tour - the high of the show, the comedown, the hungover anxiety the next day, back onstage etc..

Considering the new LP was mixed and recorded solely by yourself, was it a daunting prospect and one that required supreme focus or conversely, a liberating experience as it was all on your own terms?

I think I have ADD, so I’m not sure I’ve ever had supreme focus, but it’s just something I slowly chip away on over a year. It’s mostly just fun to see what you come up with on your own and try and improve. It’s also a chance to imbue your music with up to date influences and inspiration.

Your latest single The Blue Marble is another psychedelic excursion and the video clip is plasticine perfection. Did you have a strong storyboard at the onset of this clip or was it a case of suggesting some broad concepts to Alex McLaren and Sean McAnulty that came to form the visual masterpiece we find in The Blue Marble?

I gave them a very broad concept and they just went to town on it. They did a wonderful job I thought!

I guess it is fair to say that music has been the one underlying constant in your life and the prism through which the world is viewed, analysed and reimagined. Such a heavy reliance on music and more precisely playing music can be an alienating yet liberating form of expression. As you move through your years does performing music become more or less the vehicle that drives you?

I think music means as much to me now as it meant to me when I was 14, which is to say a hell of a lot. It consumes me, which is only a problem when you have doubts if your music is any good or not. Spending your whole life on something only to find out that you’re rubbish at it is a big fear of mine.

Have meet so many interesting characters and musicians throughout the years, were there any defining moments or conversations that really resonated with you that altered the way you approach your craft?

I’m very lucky in that I’ve met and often become friends with most of my favourite music makers around today, I think I learn bits and pieces from all of them. Nothing specific, but in the early days of Tame Impala touring we supported some bands that we learnt a lot off, and heavily informed our future music making.

Here to perform at By The Meadow, do you approach a festival slot as you would that of a standalone performance or alter your sets to reflect the location, vibe, scale of the show?

I think you try and play less obtuse music to some degree, your job is to entertain people, a large portion who may have never heard of your music, so I think it’s best to play whatever bangers you’ve got!

GUM National & International Tour Dates

Sat, Mar 31 | The Bird, Perth

Fri, Apr 6 | Yah Yah's, Melbourne, VIC

Sat, Apr 7 | By The Meadow, Bambra, VIC

Wed, Apr 11 | Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW

Thu, Apr 12 | The Brightside, Brisbane, QLD

Wed, Apr 18 | Masonic Lodge, Los Angeles, CA

Thu, Apr 19 | The Independent, San Francisco, CA

Sun, Apr 22 | Baby's All Right, Brooklyn, NY

Tue, Apr 24 | Oslo Hackney, London UK

Wed, Apr 25 | Melkweg, Amsterdam NE

Thu, Apr 26 | Supersonic, Paris FR