AS A staunch New South Welshmen, I’m going to go right ahead and say it. Not much good comes out of Queensland. And anything that does has been stolen from NSW anyway. Greg Inglis anyone?
Like most things, there is the notable exception. In this case it’s Hungry Kids of Hungary.
Forming in Brisbane in 2007 as the brainchild of drummer Ryan Strathie, Hungry Kids of Hungary started life as an international collaboration with former band mate Kane Mazlin who was living in London at the time.
The two would often send back and forward musical demos in the hope of striking a chord.
“Ryan and I formed a solid musical bond in our old band.” Mazlin tells Australian Times.
“We shared a love for the pop classics so I think it was always on the cards that we’d play together again.”
After Mazlin returned to Australia, Strathie called upon his friends Ben Dalton and Dean McGrath to complete what he imagined to be a classic four piece line up, with Mazlin as the front man and singer. It came as a surprise to all when Dean McGrath revealed his talents for lyrics and melody. Suddenly a new direction — a band with two leaders — was born.
Mazlin said this transition felt natural.
“I was personally stoked that another singer/songwriter was going to be in the mix.
“I never really wanted to be a front man. I love the collective type vibe.”
With two writers throwing ideas into the mix, there’s always the chance it could cause division amongst fans for a preferred style, or a lack of consistency within the band’s sound. However, with trial and error, the Hungry Kids have worked this out seamlessly.
“I think we have become a more cohesive unit in terms of writing,” says Mazlin.
“It started off quite eclectic which was maybe part of the charm, and gradually we have even started sounding more like each other vocally!”
For Hungry Kids of Hungary the trip from the garage to fame was quicker than most. With the help of Triple J Unearthed, the Hungry Kids seemed to rocket from formation in 2007, to radio play and national tour spots in 2008.
“Being picked up by Triple J radio meant we could start to tour and actually play to an audience,” remembers Mazlin.
“One tour led to another, and we became more confident as a band.”
Despite their early and quick foray into the world of rock ‘n’ roll, and a two year span between 2008-2010 which saw them release three EPs and embark on some extensive touring, the boys didn’t rush to release a debut album until they felt it was time.
“We toured a fair bit over the first EPs, so when it came to releasing an album we were well and truly ready,” says Mazlin
2010 saw the boys release their debut album Escapades with a cavalcade of new material, including the songs ‘Scattered Diamonds’, ‘Wristwatch’ and my personal favourite ‘Coming Around’.
The success of Escapades led to a busy few years of touring — showing off their sound around the world before jumping into a second album.
“We were pretty burnt out after the first album cycle finished,” says Mazlin.
“Some of us had kept full-time jobs throughout. We had a bunch of songs that we liked but we decided to relax, write more, do some travelling and explore other projects.”
By the time they were ready for a second album in 2012, so to was legendary Australian producer Wayne Connolly, who came on board to record You’re A Shadow.
“Even after the first exchange of emails we knew he was the man for us,” says Mazlin.
“He is so chilled and has one great idea after another. We went in with the intention to make a more cohesive record this time round and I think we achieved that.”
You’re A Shadow matches anything they have done before, but literally cranks it up a notch. It gives their music the raw rock edge their first album lacked.
Tracks like ‘Sharp Shooter’ and ‘TwinCities’ meet in the middle with a tighter and more mature sound than before. It trades in their poppy debut for a more crafted sound reminiscent of Shins-esq sensibilities mixed with Beach Boys era vocals, all the while hiding a driving heavy back beat of dirty rock beneath the surface.
To see a band evolve in this day and age when many choose to stay complacent is a wonderful thing. Hungry Kids of Hungary are definitely a band on the rise, with their best still well and truly in front of them.
Hungry Kids of Hungary are playing at Water Rats in London on Tuesday 21 May.