Australia is in the midst of a golden age of surf-rock. Bands like Dune Rats, Hockey Dad and Skegss have delivered some of the all-time greatest summer festival anthems – in the last five years, they’ve had a cumulative 22 songs slide into the Hottest 100. As we roll on into a post-lockdown landscape, wanting musicians to deliver not just good songs but also good vibes, those bands are starting to inspire new outfits that are fostering hectic followings of their own.
The Terrys are one of those bands, and they’re unashamed to admit that in their earliest days, their ambitions were capped at fitting in with their idols. As lead guitarist Lukas Anderson puts it: “We just wanted to be another one of them bands – we wanted to be all up in the grill of that whole situation.”
Those three bands are the ones Anderson cites as The Terrys’ biggest influences. Before he and singer Jacob Finch formed the band in Gerringong in the early months of 2020, when they worked together as tradesmen, they “listened to those guys’ music religiously” on their worksite radio. Ironically, it was after The Terrys met and performed with their idols that they were inspired to embrace their uniqueness. “It sort of helped us figure out who we are,” Anderson says. “We’re a part of that scene, musically, but we’ve learnt how to be ourselves and do our own thing.”
Nowhere does that ring truer than on The Terrys’ debut album. While summery, hook-heavy surf-rock makes up the most of ‘True Colour’, it’s littered with head-tilting sonic detours that show the band’s range and eccentricities. Take ‘Good Day’, for example – an effervescent ode to living your best life, which features slick rapping from local spitter Scraps and Esoterik, better known as one half of Bliss N Eso.
“I actually met Eso on a plane,” Anderson says. “I just had to be a fanboy and say ‘hey’ to him, and he was an absolute legend, such a nice guy.” The Terrys initially had another rapper lined up for ‘Good Day’, but were left high and dry at the last minute. “So when old mate pulled out and said he couldn’t do it anymore, I was like, ‘Maybe we should ask Eso?’ And I think Jacob just messaged him on Instagram, and he was keen straight away – which was an absolute blowout. We all grew up listening to Bliss N Eso, so it felt insane.”
“I hope people smile when they listen to our album. I hope it makes them want to be the best version of themselves”
When asked who sits at the top of his collaboration wishlist, Anderson doesn’t waste a second: “ChillinIt! I’d froth if we could do a song with ChillinIt.” Both he and Finch have a soft spot for Aussie hip-hop – in fact, before they formed The Terrys, the pair often dreamt of having their own project in the vein of Bliss N Eso, Anderson making rap beats on his acoustic guitar and Jake freestyling over them.
Anderson usually keeps this part of The Terrys’ origin story a secret, but he reveals to NME that this was how the earliest seeds of the band were sown. “Jake had this chorus he was working out, and he usually rapped it, but this one time he sang it and we were like, ‘Whoa, that sounds cool!’ So we started working out how to put an actual song together, and it sort of just snowballed from there. Then we started learning other people’s songs and doing these little covers for Instagram, and one day we were like, ‘This is fun, why don’t we just start a band?’”
Anderson sees The Terrys’ broad palette of personal tastes as one of their biggest strengths. “I’ll be sitting in my room jamming Led Zeppelin,” he says, “and Jake’ll be in the next room listening to Biggie Smalls. So then I’ll be like, ‘Oi, I’ve got a new idea for a riff,’ and he’ll approach it with Biggie on his mind and bring that sort of energy to it.”
It’s here that Anderson points to ‘Paper Planes’, the melancholic, psych-tinged closing track of ‘True Colour’. He was spurred to build its soundscape of downcast Casio beats and spacey synths, he explains: “I’m a really big fan of New Order and The Growlers, so I wanted to try putting their kind of sound into our own world. Me and Jake went into the jam room that day and we were like, ‘Fuck, let’s just make something completely different, just to muck around. Who cares what it comes out like?’”
“The only way I know how to be bold and upfront is with my guitar, so what you hear is what’s coming directly out of my head”
‘Paper Planes’ is “a little teaser for what might come from us in the future”, Anderson declares, though he also makes it clear that “there’s no real limit” to what The Terrys could do next. “I think it’s always just going to be a reflection of what we’re inspired by at any one time,” he muses. “It’s always going to be a direct reflection of our inner selves – because music, for us, is very emotional. We play whatever we’re feeling, whatever that feeling is. And to be honest, I haven’t really got another way to express myself. The only way I know how to be bold and upfront is with my guitar, so what you hear is what’s coming directly out of my head.”
With ‘True Colour’, Anderson hopes listeners can get “a sense of clarity in the Terrys world” – or at least what that world is like at this moment. The record is a “checkpoint”, he says, that “lay[s] out the foundation for what our band is probably going to be about for its duration”. He adds: “I hope people smile when they listen to it. I hope it makes them want to be the best version of themselves, and get the most out of life that they can. Because it’s all open to interpretation.”
Tomorrow, The Terrys will embark on a national tour with a line-up of support acts that speaks to their genuine appreciation for hip-hop: Nerve and Gold Fang, rounded out by rock acts Dear Sunday, Good Sniff and (winners of their own ‘Battle Of The Bands’ competition) Divers. What better way to meet their fast-growing torrent of followers? The Terrydactyls, as they’re known, are “more of a friend-base than a fanbase”, Anderson says, beaming. “We try to interact with all of our fans as much as we can – you always remember the fans that come up to you and make the effort to say g’day. And some of those people, now, they’re our best mates.”
The Terrys’ ‘True Colour’ is out now via Domestic La La. Their national tour kicks off in Brisbane tomorrow (October 22) – find tickets and full details here