The Nation Blue are 20 years old this November. From playing the same three venues in Hobart for 4 years to moving to Melbourne and playing the same three venues for 16, The Nation Blue have knocked holes in a lot of structures; amps, walls, roofs, hearts, heads and charts. Not music charts. Ah, just medical.
In fact, despite being asked to play with a bunch of reputable and interesting bands over the years, The Nation Blue is largely a failure. A big, self sabotaging, deal declining, rapidly ageing, radio-proof, scene-less anomaly, who has only survived due to the sheer bloody mindedness of its members who refused to cash in on popular nu-movements or wear stove-pipes and go screamo or pick up synths or turn down or stop playing even when only 4 people pay to stand in a room that holds 400 and then 2 of those people get kicked out for dancing while the other 2 make off with some of the merch at an unoccupied desk….
It takes serious commitment or to write music and play it to people for so long. To stay a course both deeply unpopular and at times well received. It’s not self-deprecation, its just reality. Things change. The band’s whole existence has been a dichotomy; mining the island while embracing the mainland, retaining the noise while learning to craft songs, rapid weight gain and an increased physical intensity that requires brutal movements, working real jobs whilst regularly touring.
And on work The Nation Blue have worked really hard, but also coasted, relying so heavily on muscle memory and luck that some gigs have resembled public interventions or even military hazing. Mistakes tallied and amplified up around the 120 decibel range in thick, vulgar, atonal brown bricks of sound.
In recent years the band has operated bi-annually. A couple benefits here and a couple of house shows there. No direction or care. Just kind of stumbling along in an elderly stupor.
Following their last album in 2009, Rising Waters, it felt like the band was over and the three members splintered into new musical endeavours (Harmony, High Tension, Adalita Band, King Cannons, Pale Heads). Then Tim Brennan from Tym Guitars / Records in Brisbane sent an email to a mouldy address that awoke the bloated flannel wreck. He asked for one simple song and upon the other side of performing that task, the band decided that it wasn’t as unpleasant as expected and the Stockholm Syndrome of the past receded like their hairlines and the three former captives agreed to write another. And another.
So fast forward a couple of years and The Nation Blue are proud to present not one, but two albums containing a total of 29 new songs. That’s two albums, not a double album. No one needs a double album. It’s their Use Your Illusion I and II. The dark and the light.
Recorded by Mike Deslandes at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute over two January sessions in 2015 & 2016, these albums are gloriously unfashionable. Booming, loud, dark and simple.
It’s more than you wanted, and far more than you need.