The popular indie-pop four-piece the Tinderboxers are set to kick off 2022 with the release of their new single ‘Who are you?”. Before it drops this Friday, front man and lyricist Alex Buktenica sits down with Togatus co-editor Desmond Marcenko to talk about the evolution of the band and their upcoming tour.
They’re not named after the suburb. Or, we sort of are, explains Alex, whose soft spoken charm shines through even over Zoom.
The origins of the Tinderboxers lie in a contemporary music class at Taroona High School when Alex, Jes, Sorin and Will were all 16. After a breakup, Alex did what all great musos do and wrote a song about it, pairing up with Sorin to workshop the track through. Will, who’d entered the class late and so had little else to do, was welcomed to join the duo on bass. Their last member Jes, was a wildcard recruit who they lured away from a photography class to play keyboard for the burgeoning act.
The second song the band put together was called ‘Tinderbox’ and the name’s stuck around ever since.
The Tinderboxers’ first big break happened by chance. The group were practising in their school’s music room when a teacher assistant passed by who was interested in their sound. The TA was none other than Luca Brasi’s Tyler Richarson, who’d go onto become the Tinderboxers ‘in’ to Tassie’s music scene. He offered on the spot to let the band record their song at their studio for free – ‘Let Go’, which would go on to become the Tinderboxers successful debut single.
After a strong start, the pandemic stalled the Tinderboxers’ momentum, as it did countless other artists. ‘Let Go’ had done gangbusters at Triple-J’s annual ‘Unearthed High’ competition, with the band nearly placing as finalists. As a result, Alex ended up being approached by Casey O’Shaughnessy from Select Music, one of the lead booking agents in the country. With Richardson representing them, the Tinderboxers had gotten the opportunity to support famed Aussie acts like Lime Cordiale and Ruby Fields, raising their profile by featuring at the final instalment of Party in the Paddock as well.
‘We were getting ready to keep going up, and then we kinda got to that point and then everything stopped’, Alex explains. ‘It was a lot worse for Tasmanian artists as well’, he goes on, ‘because we already suffer from this isolation of the Bass Strait’, which he says makes it hard for performers to break through on the mainland.
Things are looking up for the band once again however, with the release of their new single ‘Who Are You?’ recorded at the illustrious Golden Retriever Studios in Sydney. The song combines lush layers of synth, syncopated basslines and pulsating drums to deliver an anxious sonic feast for the ears. Alex’s distinctive vocal style shines through resulting in an enjoyable new addition to the band’s discography that stays true to the upbeat style that the Tinderboxers have developed.
The track’s inspiration, according to Alex, comes from a messy night in his college days that forced him to reconsider the behaviour of his friends. Seeking to cast the recklessness of adolescence in a less romantic light, “Who are you?” explores themes of substance abuse and relationships.
Coinciding with the single release, the Tinderboxers have also announced a run of headline shows. Beginning in naarm/Melbourne at the Gasometer Hotel on April 14th, they’ll return home to play shows in nipaluna/Hobart on the 22nd and Launceston on May 7th. While cautious of the new normal of live gigs being postponed because of covid, Alex says that the upcoming tour promises to be great fun and that fans of the Tinderboxers can expect a new, experimental sound.
“Who Are You?” by the Tinderboxers is now streaming on Spotify.