We’re going more than a little crazy for Client Liaison of late over at Howl & Echoes. But can you blame us? They have a feel-good, throw-back disco sound (brought to life on their self-titled EP) and theatrical, unapologetically camp stage shows (complete with kitsch 80s paraphernalia like fax machines and water coolers), and they’re two nice, cool dudes to boot. We had the pleasure of speaking with Harvey Miller, one (blonder) half of Client Liaison, ahead of their upcoming Pretty Lovers Tour to talk about musical-origins, Sizzler, the renaissance of swinging and the perfect Valentine’s Day date.
H&E: How’s everything going? Are you back in Melbourne?
HM: I’m good! I’m in Sydney and Monte’s in Melbourne but I’ll be heading back on Saturday to do some more rehearsals for the upcoming March tour.
H&E: Big congrats on the EP – it’s fantastic and a lot of fun.
HM: Thanks, appreciate it!
H&E: Wednesday night was your Art After Hours gig at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney. How was it?
HM: It was fantastic. Obviously it’s a bit more civil – there were people sitting down in chairs, the volume was at a more audible, gallery-level, but we got everyone up at the end for a dance. It was good to play to a different crowd like that, a bit more intimate and sophisticated. We both have an Arts background and we’ve played at galleries before like the MCA Social last year, and it’s just a great thing to get involved in, not to mention it was highly appropriate with the Pop to Popism theme.
H&E: One of the things that struck me about your EP is that it’s a compilation of songs you’ve produced over quite a number of years, even going back as far as 2006 and 2007 (for Groove the Physical and End of the Earth). When you revisit those songs, does it take you back to a different version of yourself? What are your memories from who you both were at that time?
HM: Groove the Physical was the first song that Monte and I did together. At the time I was living at my Mum’s place at Elwood Park in Melbourne, in this Victorian house with a turret on the top and it was one street back from Port Phillip Bay. They’d have these turrets on the tops of the houses looking over the beach, so you could get out the binoculars from how-many-hundred years ago and see ships coming in, race down to the docks and get first pick on the cargo, whatever was coming in from the trade routes. That was the location where I had all my keyboards and computers set up, so we would sit in this little turret and record music up there. We did End of the Earth and Groove the Physical there – it was a great little studio, with good tunes and good times. When the wind was in a certain direction it would smell like the ocean, and when the jets would fly over for the Formula 1 Grand Prix every year I’d stick a microphone out the window, so I have 6 years of jet recordings. It was really cool. Those songs were quite a while ago so we do feel that the stuff we are working on now is a bit more contemporary sonically and we’re looking forward to sharing that.
H&E: I’ve heard you talk several times about a specific love of a certain classic restaurant.
HM: Would this be Sizzler?
H&E: It might be Sizzler – home to the infamous crunchy, cheesy bread. How would you summarise your strategy for tackling Sizzler?
HM: Definitely avoid the cheesy toast, as tasty as it is. They try to fill you up on it. There are some more premium, gourmet (hard T) foods that you can dedicate the room in your stomach to. Interesting Sizzler have started to modernise their interior and update the décor, to our disappointment. We think it should be heritage listed – the décor and the cuisine is totally of the era that informs our music, the 80s and early 90s. It’s a bit of a shame when we seem them posting photos – “Come see the new fresh Sizzler” – we are quite up in arms about it at the moment.
H&E: The video for Pretty Lovers is an all-night breakfast party, reminiscent of the times of dinner parties and adult-sleep overs complete with bubble baths. Do you wish people had more of those – are they having a renaissance?
HM: Definitely – adult sleepovers, even swinging. It’s something we didn’t address in the video clip – maybe it would’ve been cool if we’d had a shot of keys getting thrown into a bowl. We just got a bunch of friends together and threw a party and felt that it was kind of situational in its incarnation, and did it from the perspective of a home video using a mid-80s VHS tube camera. It was a lot of fun and it was a party that we all thoroughly enjoyed.
H&E: Did you end up eating all the food?
HM: Yes, we did! Well, actually, I don’t think anyone had any of the burnt toast, but otherwise there were mini croissants and seafood. We did the whole clip ourselves at a low budget – the biggest expense was the lobsters, and of course the ice swan. We went to the market and bought all this seafood which was terribly expensive, and when I was editing the clip Monte pointed out we didn’t even have a shot of the lobsters we spent all that money on, so we had to forcefully cut in the lobsters – and then we realised we could’ve just gotten rubber lobsters because you can’t even tell they’re real lobsters. That’s something we learned – if we ever film again on a camera that doesn’t have the highest of definitions you can just use rubber props.
H&E: I love the attention to detail to the whole retro experience, even down to what’s on the walls. It makes it a very immersive experience.
HM: We like that quite a lot in the sense that you can freeze each frame and it’s quite visually rich, for example when I’m in the bath tub there’s a bouquet of native flowers behind me and a couple of Fosters – every moment there’s something on the wall, or a special piece of detail. We made a real effort to have polystyrene cups which we thought was quite neat.
H&E: It’s Valentine’s Day. What’s your idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day, what soundtrack is playing in the background?
HM: Probably a bit of Michael Bolton’s How Can We Be Lovers If We Can’t Be Friends? I think the weather will be nice in Sydney so I reckon a long picnic or a day at the beach, or a classic date of a reasonably fancy restaurant and champagne. I’m quite traditional in that sense.
Client Liaison are embarking on the Pretty Lovers Tour which kicks off with Secret Garden Festival on February 28.