[Photo credit: @samueljamesneil on Instagram]
I (Madi) still remember the excitement about Selfish Sons being formed in high school. It was all anyone could talk about. I remember thinking, wow imagine when they make it big time, touring across the country, and my call-to-fame was having the most horrendously-awkward-salvia-filled-kiss with Jonty Carlson at a Middle-Grade dance. From that moment, I vowed that if I ever had the chance to support the band, I must make it happen.
Fast forward to last month – after the second weekend of Coachella – I finally got my wish. Chelsea and I sat down to have a chat with the lads to discuss all things music, the release of their new EP Secondhand Emotion, and their international success. Zooming in from Florida USA, we had a great laugh with Selfish Sons, a rock outfit consisting of brothers Jordy and Finn, who met Jonty in a commercial audition waiting room at the age of eight.
Selfish Sons are a rock outfit consisting of brothers Jordy and Finn who met Jonty in a commercial audition waiting room at the age of 8. This spontaneous friendship grew tenfold through High School, after realising that their love for infectious melodies and talking shit was better suited to writing songs ‘tongue in cheek,’ or an aptly named band, rather than getting kicked out of a classroom. This led to their eclectic amalgam of rock/pop nostalgia circa early 2000.
Madi: Okay guys so let’s start from the very beginning. You obviously have a great love of music, is there an early memory in your childhood when you knew that music was always going to be on your pathway?
Jonty: For me, it would’ve been when I met Jordan. I was eight and he was about 10 and we were filming a Mazda commercial together, and our parents decided to carpool. I remember he was playing music for me on his iPod, and I’d never heard any of the songs before, and I wanted to impress him, so I straight up lied and told him that I knew them all. Honestly, that’s like my memory of actually starting to like music and it’s kind of worked.
Jordy: Obviously, Finn and I are related so we kind of grew up with it. Finn wanted to play the opposite instrument from what I wanted to play so I thought, I’ll naturally be the biggest, loudest, and most aggressive (laughs).
Finn: Yeah, Dad was always playing records and stuff like all throughout childhood and everything, so I think we were just brought up around it. I remember Jordan started playing guitar and I was like nah, I wanna play music too and I thought drums were the sickest thing.
Jordy: So he could drown me out with the drums (laughs).
Finn: Just to annoy the neighbours even more.
Jordy: I remember mum wanted us to play this sweet, soft Ed Sheeran and John Mayer kind of music and Finn just wanted to be like only heavy metal.
Madi: So, I assume your parents were really supportive of you guys then?
All the boys agree.
Jordy: Shout out to Mum and Dad.
Madi: Jordy and Finn, we’ve seen so many iconic bands and musicians throughout history, INXS, AC/DC, Kings of Leon, to name a few. Or even siblings like Billie Eilish and Finneas who are co-writers and producers. How is it working with your brother, and do you struggle with creative differences?
Jordy: It’s always a constructive conversation; I wouldn’t even call it an argument. We’re always constructively thinking and healthily talking about each other’s ideas. And to be honest, like Jonty’s been a part of our life for so long, it’s as thick as blood at this point – we’re usually always on the same wavelength. If we ever do have a constructive conversation, it always turns out well. It’s never something that can’t be sorted.
Finn: Especially because music is such a collaborative and personal thing, so I don’t think we ever are let down too often when it comes to ideas for songs and stuff.
Jonty: If you let your ego and pride get in the way, it’ll set you back in the long run.
Chelsea: I feel like for us as creatives as well it can be such a daunting thing to have to bear your soul, and that’s what art is, and you guys obviously have that supportive environment to be able to share with each other safely and respectively which is awesome.
Jonty: Definitely, when you’re a creative you never know if your ideas are good or if they’re complete shit, so it’s good to have people around you that you can test the waters with and dive straight in with an awful idea.
Finn: Yeah and 99% of the time it is complete and utter shit, so we’re lucky we have each other to wade through it all with.
Chelsea: I love that, I feel like it really speaks to you as a band. I was reading your bio and in there it has “a love for infectious melodies and talking shit.”
Jonty: 100%, I think everything else in the bio can just go. That’s all that needs to be said.
[Photo credit: @darcygossmedia on Instagram]
Chelsea: Can you talk to us a bit about your friends and school environment? You guys obviously met when you were quite young, you all went to high school together. Did you know then that you wanted to be musicians, and how did that go for you?
Jordy: We were just lucky that all of us went to the same school and that we all did music together. Finn and I were playing at home together, but we didn’t really decide that we wanted to be in a band until we played in school, and we realised how fun it was to play, specifically the three of us. It just kind of made sense. We owe a lot to our teachers and the people who nurtured us- being able to grow up and want to play in a band together without too much resistance.
Finn: Yeah. I just remember, I think Jonty and I were in every single school band together. Jazz, percussion, ensemble, Irish ensemble. That’s what the best part of playing was, I was with Jonty and that was the thing that carried us.
Jonty: It always felt so weird too if we weren’t playing together. Like if I rocked up and the drummer wasn’t Finn, it just felt wrong. So, we were lucky from the start that we loved playing with each other. Shout out to our first band we were in, Mild Apocalypse.
Madi: Did you ever have any pushback from people in your pursuit of playing music instead of the typical nine-to-five day job?
Jordy: To be honest, Australia has such a good culture around being in a band and playing shows. You’ll always meet resistance; there’s always an underlying connotation of ‘you should have a plan B’ we’ve come face to face with that a lot.
Jonty: Or there’s a stigma that if you’re a musician you probably don’t work very hard, and you just sit around all day.
Jordy: Can confirm –
Jonty: We do that sometimes.
Jordy: No, it is not an easy job. Other than that, it just depends on how much you care. We love what we do so I couldn’t care less what people think.
Madi: Definitely, I call that a future Madi problem. I remember back in 2018, you started your first live shows at venues like The Brightside, Tom Cat and The Triffid. What was the process of securing these first gigs and how did the Brisbane music scene support you in your endeavours?
Jonty: Jordy got us our first gig. Our first gig was in 2017.
Jordy: Yeah, I actually hit up a friend of mine, Lucy Collier. She is amazing, she helped us out in the early stages of playing. We jumped on with another Brisbane band, Seefelds, we went to school with them. It was crazy, these two [Jonty and Finn] were still in school at the time. We snuck in the back door.
Jonty: I remember being sixteen and going up to the bar – and I still looked fuckin’ twelve, sixteen. The bartender asked me what I wanted, and I freaked out.
Jordy: But we didn’t drink.
Jonty: The music scene in Brisbane is very welcoming and once you do one gig, you find others because you’re always meeting people who are willing to help which is amazing.
Jordy: Yeah, and we didn’t want to waste any time. We just wanted to get into playing shows. That’s the biggest thing for us; being able to connect with people in the moment at that time. I mean that’s how we approach writing music is, like how that is going to translate with the people who are listening.
Madi: Did you guys usually play any covers or mostly your own music?
Jordy: I was playing covers in pubs since I was twelve or thirteen and Finn and Jonty would come up and play with me sometimes. I was kind of adamant about not being a covers act, because the more you force yourself into not writing covers the more the writing process develops. But we did a couple of god-awful Chili Peppers cover nights.
Jonty: Yeah, we got booked for a gig at the Empire Hotel and none of us read the flyer properly and didn’t realise that it was a Red-Hot Chili Peppers cover night until the day of the gig.
Finn: The other band dropped out, so we were the only band that had to fill like two and a half hours’ worth of RHCP songs.
Jordy: We knew zero RHCP songs, and like their songs are hard. It was rough. That’s why we try to keep it to originals. Gotta support your favourite artists
[Photo credit: @samueljamesneil on Instagram]
Madi: Was it pretty surreal hearing yourselves on the radio for the first time? Was it Triple-J?
Jordy: Yeah it makes me feel all kinds of ways.
Finn: We had everyone over at our house, and it was just like the most beautiful thing. Just having everyone around for a big party.
Jordy: The little things like that are really cool. It’s not even just the artists that work on songs, it’s everyone. Especially for us: a lot of our friends have worked on all the early stuff with us. It’s a crazy thing for everyone involved. You can’t wipe the smiles off any of our faces.
Chelsea: Your debut album ‘SixFour’ in 2019 accumulated over 500,000 streams, what is it about this first album that you’re so proud of, having just released another?
Jordy: That’s like the start of our creative process.
Jonty: Yeah, it’s how we figured out how to work as a band. We didn’t know anything, so we were diving in headfirst. I remember this one producer messaged us and he said he was keen to help us make some music – he saw us at a gig – and we didn’t even realise that there were other people out there.
Jordy: It holds a special spot just because there’s always that thing about a first release. You’ve had your whole life up until that point to do it. It was the first-ever time we started writing music and working together as a band, now it’s drastically different.
Chelsea: Did you guys ever feel any pressure with releasing a second album? Like I know writers often talk about the second novel being the hardest because there are expectations set. Did you ever feel any of that?
Jordy: Not really, we’ve just gotta keep going man, and keep getting music out there. It’s so easy to get caught up in your own head writing songs, and at this point we’re just banking stuff and not trying to slip into the mindset of feeling pressured by a second record. Which is coming out very soon or is out…actually (laughs).
Jonty: He doesn’t even know.
Jordy: Scratch that from the record. Anyway, it’s actually out now. But yeah, I think we just got to that point where we love it. We love releasing stuff and there’s always stress that comes with it, but we love it more than we hate it at this point which is fun and exciting.
Chelsea: Your songs tend to evoke a certain nostalgia reminiscent of the 90s and early 2000s, specifically your new EP, Second-hand Emotion. Where does the inspiration for your songs come from? Do you tend to garner inspiration from established artists or is it more homegrown?
Finn: We have an eclectic mix of influences. From all three of us, it swings between old pop music to old rock music like Kings of Leon, Catfish and the Bottleman then to stuff like John Mayer. It’s just a bunch of different influences that obviously influence the music, but we try to make it as organic as possible. I feel like we just write the music that has this nostalgia to it because we were bought up in that time and we have such a love for that sound. We strive for that in the studio, it evokes this certain feeling that we chase in music and writing.
Chelsea: Definitely. You can hear this nostalgia in your music, and I think that’s an encompassing factor; that it takes you back and brings up memories. You’ve sort of touched on the writing process a little bit, does it look the same all the time or does it change from song to song?
Jordy: It’s different all the time and it’s the most collaborative it’s ever been, and I think it’s the best it’s ever been because of that. We all have such a distinct way of getting things out and I feel like we could go in any direction and it would feel natural. I think that’s why we’re kind of struggling at the moment to decide what to put out because we’re writing so much, and the one thing we don’t want to do is be a one-track band. I want to take people to different places and explore music.
Finn: We’ve started working with new producers and tried to self-produce as well, so when we get into the studio it’s about bringing ideas and kind of feeding off from there and then it becomes what it is. That first EP was just us in our garage but now the music is more derivative of what we’ve all been working on and it’s a very collaborative experience.
[Photo credit: @samueljamesneil on Instagram]
Madi: So, at the moment you guys have over 7000 followers on Instagram. You’ve posted so much content that really aligns with your branding and shows how eccentric and electric you guys are on stage. How did you gain a following?
Finn: Well like you said we always try to keep consistent with the aesthetic and keep on brand. Sometimes it strays. It’s pretty much by utilising the new platforms as well like Tik Tok and not being that band that’s like ‘nah we’re not doing that.’ I was a bit hesitant and first because sometimes with new platforms, it’s that leap that you have to take but kind of don’t want to. Jonty was really into it. We’ve been trying to get more videos out there.
Jonty: We’ve been getting a following from South America recently.
Jordy: Shoutout to our South American family. They play us on the radio over there.
Madi: We’ve been in contact with your lovely managers, who I’m sure take a lot of stress out of your daily schedules. How did you get signed and how have they helped you advance your career?
Jordy: It’s a three-pronged attack. They’re three of the best women you’ll ever meet. Leslie is the best, she’s a seventy-year-old woman but you’d never be able to tell. She’s so out there and energetic and she found us on Tik Tok, it made sense after COVID that she was right for us, and she introduced us to her partners. They’ve taken a chance on us.
Jordy: Yeah, they just care about giving us the ability to do what we love and do it globally as well. We wanted to explore the rest of the world and be inspired and get out of our home. It’s been a really cool feeling to have people around us that want that as well, especially because beforehand it was just us three. The friends that have helped us book shows and everything have just become this massive family.
Madi: Jordy, you went on The Voice a couple of years ago. How was that?
Jordy: I did. I think anything you can do to sort of put yourself out there is helpful. There are so many talented people and you’ve got to shoot your shot. I was sick and tired of sitting in pubs and having no one listen to me so I had to kind of do something drastic. I initially wanted to go on with the band but they [The Voice] didn’t like that. It’s always great to take any opportunity that is thrown your way, and it was great, but what we’re doing now is more what we want to be doing. We started touring straight after that, so it definitely helped.
Chelsea: I wanted to press you a little further Jordy, on your experience on The Voice. Specifically, your thoughts on the comparison between being in the ‘professional’ scene as opposed to starting out yourself.
Jordy: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that doing it yourself is the more professional thing. Being in a band and grinding away is a lot harder to do, and I have a lot of respect for people that do it. I also have a lot more respect for people (after doing the show) who are willing to go out of their way and just ‘fuck what anyone says,’ and get out and do something. I think the hardest thing to do at the moment is to get people to see you. It’s all up to the artist and the way they want to go about their career. It could go both ways; it depends on the person and what they want out of it. Slog it out, do the hard yards and tour and you’ll make memories that last forever. Playing on TV lasts two minutes.
Madi: The arts industry and specifically live music have really taken a hit over the past 2 years, how has this time affected you and can you tell us about the importance of seeing music in a live setting?
Jonty: It actually really helped us to gather our thoughts and our vision for what we were going to be doing in the next few years. We were able to figure out things like who was going to be on our team and what making music would look like- and we’ve never been closer because we’ve been living together and haven’t been able to leave. Obviously, it was shit not being able to see live music but there were great things that came out of it.
Finn: I think it forced a lot of artists as well to focus on their social presence and utilise social media to get their aesthetic and personality across that way, rather than just go to a show. Especially live streaming.
Jordy: And you come to realise how important it is to be able to play live. I think a lot of bands got jaded by playing live and took it for granted.
Jonty: We have a whole new sense of gratitude now when we get on stage, and it only makes us want to work harder.
Jordy: Get out to shows man, we’re ready to go. We’ve been blown away by some amazing bands recently. You’ve got to get out and see it. People will be surprised by the level that everyone has gotten to.
Chelsea: You’ve touched on it a bit already, but can you tell us what it’s been like playing gigs in America?
Jordy: Our managers have helped us get a few showcases here and there, it’s been amazing getting out of the country that we’re so used to and the scope and culture. It only makes us keener to evolve as a live band and band in general. It’s been unreal, the best couple of months of my life. We just want to go and go and go. South America, Europe, the UK, Asia, anywhere you put us we’ll play.
Chelsea: Do you have any thoughts on the recent acts that have taken the stage at Coachella over the past couple of weekends?
Jordy: I skipped it; Jonty went.
Jonty: Jordan was very self-aware and knew that if he went, he would be very sick and unable to play Sunfest. I had the best time ever though sorry to rub it in. We’d die to play there.
Madi: What are the big dream venues for you guys then?
Finn: Coachella, Lollapalooza, River stage.
Jordy: If we could play to planet earth we would. We want to do it all.
Madi & Chelsea: Thank you so much for your time today, we’re so pumped to see what the future holds for you and possibly come rock out to a show when you’re back in Australia!
[Photo credit: @samkmarie on Instagram]
Follow the boys on their socials for upcoming events. Selfish Sons’ first show back on home soil is TONIGHT – Saturday 21st May – at The Outpost Bar, Fortitude Valley.
Spotify @Selfish Sons
YouTube @Selfish Sons
Madison Blissett de Weger is a writer, poet, and editor, living on Turrbal and Yuggera land. She is currently working on a memoir on her childhood cancer, where she explores the vulnerabilities of family, friendship, memory, and love after trauma. She is in her final semester of an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing at the Queensland University of Technology, where she’s been an editor for ScratchThat Magazine and QUT Literary Salon. She is a Project Officer and Workshop Coordinator at Queensland Writers Centre and a volunteer supervisor for Brisbane Writers Festival. You can read her work in Glass and ScratchThat Magazine. Follow her writing journey @words.with.bliss on Instagram.
Chelsea Ryan is a third-year Bachelor of Fine Arts student. She writes to explore the complexities of human nature, focusing on relationship dynamics. She explores her own thoughts and beliefs through creative writing and usually does this through fiction, however is enjoying experimenting with memoir. You can find her at @chelseaaryann_