WME and The Music presents
8:00pm, Sat 18 November, 2017
OAF Gallery, NSW
Named for the fountain in the centre of Bendigo, marking the geographic heartland of Victoria, Fountaineer's view of their country town steadily growing into a city is at the heart of their song writing. From its origins as a gold rush outpost in the 1850's to the present day, Bendigo has a rich history that Fountaineer were perfectly positioned to interrogate.
Fountaineer began in 2013 with a phone call. Anthony White rang his brother Francis and said they were going to start the band they'd talked about since their teens. It would light a spark that might one day turn into a fire. The band rounded out the trio with Kieran Daly and hired a farmhouse out in regional Victoria, spending five days in isolation working to sketch out the record. The tracks began with Anthony. Like Francis and Kieran, Anthony was a lifelong music obsessive, but while the other two lived in Melbourne, Anthony was still working and living in Bendigo. For a lot of people, it was the idyllic, cosy satellite getaway from Melbourne, but it was also the centre of racial tensions and insularity - a microcosm of Australia's evolution. That love and criticism of their hometown fuels Fountaineer's music - at one point reflecting on the generations of families raised there, the next reflecting on the close-mindedness that their beloved town needs to outgrow.
Fountaineer's focus was on creating something that was empathetic no matter where a listener came from, drawing universal themes out of small town Australia. As much as the palm trees in the video for 'Still Life', which overlook an abandoned lot behind Anthony's house, are a specific reference to place, the touchstones of Fountaineer's music resonate far beyond their rural origins. Stories of a town where live music amounts to playing covers down the pub, where social networks are built through footy clubs, and where churches are still regularly attended are familiar to places in every corner of the globe. These are places stuck with one foot in a muddy past and not entirely willing to step out.
The members of Fountaineer were always slightly adrift in that sense. They were footy blokes in school because everyone was, but they defied the stereotypes by throwing themselves into art and music and books, spending weekends in Bendigo's libraries and museums and galleries as much as on the field. They saw the good that religion had instilled in people - and the bad when it confused itself with exclusivity.
These experiences speak as much to the condition of the world, where every country is struggling with showing compassion to other people but wanting to protect their own traditions. On Greater City, Greater Love, Fountaineer's debut album, the band lend sympathy to everyone living in fear, offering that for all the good a small community can do, it doesn't have to come with the bad. Every drum beat, every searing riff, every soaring synth run throbs with youthful exuberance, all the while White's vocals sit above them all, bearing wisdom in contrast. Embodying the last 50 years of rock storytelling, from the mood and tension of post-punk to the solemn heroism of blue-collar rock'n'roll, Greater City, Greater Love is as much a soundtrack for running through moonlit streets defiant against the world as much as a soundtrack for remembering those times with awe. This is a record about having watched history unfold and not losing hope, witnessing the power of people coming together - even for misguided reasons - and knowing how much good that could do. The latest and loudest of literary rock rallying cries, Greater City, Greater Love is a debut for the ages.