LAVERS
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LAVERS

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Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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Lavers pave their way
Naomi Fallon January 24, 2013

Lavers members Sebastian Lavers, Matt Barnes and Dominic Lavers will be playing at the Oh Yeah! Beach Party at the University of Canberra. Photo: Elesa Lee

Going to university was meant to be a back-up plan for Dom Lavers.
But, as he gets set to return as part of O Week celebrations, he concedes the back-up plan was probably one of his better ideas.
''I keep telling myself that my degree was something to fall back on and that the music is going to take off. We're still waiting for it to take off, so I'm glad I've got a back-up plan,'' he says with a laugh.
''We're kind of like weekend rock stars at the moment. We're still paying for the dream … rather than living it.''
Dom, his brother Seb and drummer Matt Barnes make up indie-rock outfit Lavers, who are starting to make waves in the local music scene.
Since forming three years ago, the band has released two EPs - The Street is a Symphony and Endless Corridor - and their single, Our Little Empire, was a finalist in the Song of the Year category at the MusicACT Annual Music Awards 2012.
But Dom admits the rock star thing is starting to pick up speed.
''The music's been something that's really accelerated over the last year or two,'' he says.
''I mean I've always fiddled around on the guitar … [but] we've sort of been getting more and more serious and kept the wheels turning.''
Lavers will start work on EP number three in February, employing the talent of Sydney producer Simon Todkill, whose credits include Kanye West, the Griswolds and Tim and Jean.
''It's great going up there and working with the best because … at least then we know it's our fault if the songs don't turn out,'' Dom says. ''We've only really got one shot at this so we've really got to put everything into it. We don't want to wake up and be old men and think; 'What if?' We want to be able to say we gave it a crack, we put the money in and we put the time in.''
After recording their last EP in the basement of their family home, Dom hopes upping the ante will pay off professionally.
''[The last EP] didn't have the same sort of production value that we're going for with our next single,'' he says. ''We want something that's a bit bigger, that will make people get up and move around.
''Basically the key to growing is getting a few songs on the radio and we want to get something that jumps out of the radio and makes people take notice.''
Lavers' sound has been likened to anything from City and Colour to Snow Patrol. But one of Dom's favourite descriptions is that of Canberra blogger Party By Jake, who said, ''If Freddie Mercury and Noel Gallagher had a commitment ceremony and adopted a child, that child would be Lavers''.
''It's always hard to describe your own music, so I prefer to let other people do it,'' Dom says. ''The funny thing is, when people do describe your music, they always liken it to something that fits in their music collection. We don't mind, because they obviously connect to it through something they already like.''
Lavers hope to start making a name for themselves outside of Canberra, following gigs alongside Owen Campbell, Ashleigh Mannix and Julia Stone.
Dom says opening for Stone was one of the band's career highlights.
''It was a sold-out show and it was just incredible to meet her backstage … it was our first taste of meeting someone who was kind of like Australian music royalty,'' he says. ''She turned up a bit late, she apologised for that. I just said; 'No worries Julia, as long as you can take us on your next European tour'. She's got my card and I'm just waiting by the phone. It's been a few months now but you never know!''
- The Age


Something I love about music in Canberra is how personal it can be. Its lack of anonymity is lovely. You watch musicians grow and develop from the very beginning when they’re strumming a tune at lunch time on campus to when they start getting gigs and find their voice at The Phoenix to when they put out their first EP and you can’t help but feel like a nostalgic, proud parent on your kid’s first day of high school. As Dominic Lavers, of LAVERS, excitedly gets ready for the launch of their EP, I have to say that watching him evolve thus far has been a delightful journey.

Lavers is a story of strange, yet humble, beginnings. Originally the outfit was a brotherly duo. Sebastian Lavers, however, was unaware of their musical partnership for quite some time. “He’s like the Phantom of the Opera downstairs playing on his piano late at night and I’d always sit at the top of the stairs and I’d listen to him writing all these songs and I thought ‘what if nobody ever hears all these songs?’ and so I started penning the lyrics to some of the tracks that he’d play over and over,” Dominic explains.

When their sister, Sophie, was crowned Miss World Australia, she asked her brothers if they could play at a charity event. “He kinda said ‘look, we don’t have any songs’ and I said ‘well actually, yeah we do, I’ve written the lyrics to them and ah, and we could play this one and we could play this one’ so that’s where it all started,” recalls Dominic with a sly smile. It’s the first example of stealth writing I’ve ever been given and I’d like to think it will catch on because clearly something worked.

A couple of years on and the now four-piece band’s first EP, The Street is a Symphony, has just been finished. The five tracks are punchy, impressively polished and great listening. The EP was recorded in two places – a professional studio on the Gold Coast, and after that proved unsatisfactory, a more laidback affair, which also doubles as a paint warehouse in the south coast.

Dominic says the band learned a lesson that proved spending a lot of money won’t guarantee a good record. When they left the Gold Coast studio, they weren’t leaving with the music they wanted to make. He said of their south coast experience, “It was just different and it was spontaneous and we felt we were just having fun and we were playing around with sounds and the paint warehouse was somehow conducive to that. I don’t know, maybe we were high on fumes.”

Lavers will be launching The Street is a Symphony with Activate Jetpack, Sydney Girls Choir and comedian Greg Kimball on Friday December 16 at The ANU Bar. Tickets are $15 and include a copy of the record. - BMA Magazine


Since their debut performance in 2009, local brother-duo Lavers have well and truly cemented their status as a band to watch. With 2011 came an EP launch and regular sets at everyone’s favourite local haunts. With clips for two of their songs already gaining rave reviews and the band scoring a top spot on the Unearthed indie chart, 2012 looks set to be even bigger. Fasterlouder Canberra spoke to frontman Dom Lavers about recording the EP, dreams of stardom and why his brother reminds him of The Phantom of the Opera.

After a pretty big 2011, what’s next for 2012?

We want to get bigger support slots, get played on the radio and grow our fanbase. It’s a great feeling when you see new faces at gigs – it’s like a little growing community.

The release of our second EP should start turning a few more heads. We’re about half way through recording it and we’re looking forward to unleashing the songs. We’re also in talks with a couple of producers about doing our debut album later in the year, so it’s shaping up to be another big one.

What is the inspiration for the second EP?

We had a nightmare recording experience in a professional studio with the last EP, so decided we weren’t ready to head into another one for a little while. The second EP is being recorded at our home studio and will be made up of a couple of old songs and a few new ones. It’s sounding darker and more lo-fi, or ‘wounded’ as my brother described it the other day.

Do you think the local Canberra music scene can compete with other states?

There are good things and bad things about coming from Canberra. It’s a small pond, so you don’t get lost in the noise like you might in Sydney and Melbourne. However, it makes it harder for people to take you seriously. Everyone always says to me: “so you’ve packed out ANU Bar, when are you moving to Melbourne?”

When did you decide that normal, day-to-day jobs were boring, and you needed to become indie rock superstars?

I’m known for my delusions of grandeur and decided years ago that I was going to become a superstar. The battle has been in convincing the rest of the world!

I play every show like we’re performing at Wembley Stadium, whether it’s at Transit Bar or the Phoenix Pub, so it’s always like climbing a mountain going into work the next day.

What inspires the clips?

We wanted the Cosmic Ambulance clip to be a bit like 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins – something very youthful and full of life. It was done by Gregory McCann, a Canberra film maker who is now based in Melbourne.
He also did the clip for Blue Rose, which is a live video of us performing the song at our EP launch last December.

What does it mean for you guys come in so high on a chart that is decided by the public?
I’m consistently blown away by the support of my family, friends, and people who follow the band. I owe so many thanks and favours to people, so it’s great to show to them that their support is being rewarded. I’m going to throw a huge party when one of our songs gets picked up by radio and everyone is going to be invited.

Being compared to the Gallagher brothers, insult or compliment?

Being compared to a band that’s sold more than 70 million albums worldwide? I’d say it’s a compliment. We are a lot different though. We haven’t got photographers camping outside our house yet, and we weren’t caught up in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, but it’s early days.

I always compare Seb to the phantom of the opera, tirelessly composing away in his basement, while I’m endlessly trying to find new ways to get our music out into the world. It feels like we’re slowly getting there.
- Faster Louder


Discography

- The Street is a Symphony, five-track EP released December 2011.

- Endless Corridors, seven-track EP released September 2012.

- Dream In Japanese/I've Been Waiting For You, double A-side released in June 2013.

Photos

Bio

Brothers Dominic and Sebastian Lavers, along with drummer and sound engineer Matt Barnes, are currently working on the band's debut album.

The songs have drawn comparisons with a range of contemporary artists, from Ryan Adams and Fleet Foxes to Matt Corby and Boy & Bear.

More details announced soon.