What is your name and role within the band?
My name is Josh Stewart; I guess you could say I am the captain of the ship. As the song-writing/recording component – which is a solo endeavour and exists separately from performing live with my band. I am responsible for all facets of the project, from liaising with booking agents and venues, to recording and promoting each release.
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I’m based on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. The music scene is growing strong here, we’ve got some great festivals in the Maroochy Music & Visual Arts Festival, Caloundra Music Festival, the Big Pineapple Festival, Jungle Love and a bunch of other rad ones popping up every now and then. Venue wise I’d have to give a little shout out to Maroochydore’s Solbar, it won a QMA for venue of the year last year and has been nominated again this year. Well-deserved too because the whole crew absolutely shred. There are always rad bands playing there every single week without fail.
Your last two singles ’You Never Made It Easy’ & ‘Wait For You’ have amassed over half a million streams, what do you attribute to the success of these tracks?
It definitely required a bit of effort, I made sure I had a great team helping me to try and get each release as successful as possible, and I was very lucky to get some support from the editorial staff at Spotify and Apple Music. I have also been very fortunate to get support from a lot of independent playlist curators and music blogs, which are really vital to getting exposure. The Internet is crazy, if people genuinely like the song it really only takes a handful of blogs and playlist adds for the word to spread.
Where and when did you record both tracks?
I recorded ‘You Never Made it Easy’ in my home studio (which is where I record 99% of the time), ‘Wait for You’ was demo’d here too but sent to my good pal and producer Elliot Heinrich, who finished it up.
What or who influences your sound?
If I’m writing a song that has a lot of guitar in it, chances are it’s going to sound a lot like a band from the 2000s. The Killers, the Strokes, the Vines, Interpol… too many years of listening to those bands has shaped my taste, I like my guitars distorted and fuzzy. That said, I have so much music that maybe doesn’t fit High Tropics, but for the sake of this project’s influences let’s go with said bands.
How do you usually go about writing music?
For me the recording/writing process happen at the same time. It’s a good way to capture any ideas and see if they’re worth pursuing, but in a broader perspective there’s no set way. Sometimes I’ll write and hit a wall, and there’s been quite a few songs I’ve finished by transposing other parts of unfinished songs. Sometimes it’s far easier, like in the case of ‘Feel the Same’, I picked up the guitar and that riff and melody just came flowing out of me. I ended up tracking the skeleton of the song over the next day or two.
The band represented Australia at Project Aloft Star Asia Competition 2018, how did this come about?
I think I saw a video of ‘Dyso’ (Alex Dyson) advertising the competition. It was pretty straight forward, leave a link to a Soundcloud track or two, they had a judging panel that deliberated the entries, and then voila a few weeks later I got a phone call and wasn’t sure if it was a stitch up. To be honest, we’re still not sure if it actually happened or if it was just a dream.
What did you find most challenging and rewarding during the competition?
There were a number of challenges, the language barrier, free alcohol, little sleep, but that was all offset by the whole experience; the most rewarding of which was having our first international performance and meeting some absolutely amazing people we wouldn’t of got the chance to otherwise. It was a once in a lifetime trip, and Aloft Hotels and UMG took such good care of us, I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity.
What have you been working on recently?
I’ve been pretty busy on the rollout for this most recent single, sending a lot of emails, reaching out to blogs, playlist curators and radio presenters, organising shows etc. In terms of music though, I’m always tinkering away at something.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Sharon Van Etten’s new album Remind Me Tomorrow, and getting very excited for new Cage the Elephant!
The band has supported Middle Kids, The Rubens and Birds of Tokyo, huge acts! Do you have a favourite show that you’ve played? If so which and why?
Well our first show we got to support Middle Kids at a sold-out Foundry in Brisbane, it was about as epic a first show as you could get. We were on the same bill as Birds of Tokyo and the Rubens for Caloundra Music Festival, they (the Rubens) actually started playing 15 mins into our set, which coincides perfectly with our audience disappearing half way through. My favourite show would have to be our Aloft Star performance in Seoul, South Korea, because it felt so surreal and was just a magical week.
How do you prepare for shows?
I try to get a good night sleep the night before and stay as quiet as I can be a few hours leading up to going on stage. We like to have a light rehearsal a couple of nights before to shake the cobwebs off if we haven’t rehearsed in a while. Before hopping on stage, I like a little bit of whiskey for liquid courage ☺.
What do you have planned for 2019?
New music is imminent!
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Solbar for their fish and chips, and their diablo ginger beer – it’s so good!