Melbourne hardcore punk band The Avenue Project have not been around for long, but they’re a perfect of example of what bands can do if they get to work immediately. We caught up with guitarist Alastair Drendel to get some insight into how they’ve achieved so much in only 12 months.

It’s commonplace for a fledgling band to have a tough time in their first year, and generally it’s the make or break period. Unfortunately egos get in the way where band members can sabotage a bands future by assuming they’re above playing opening slots, or they’re not respectful of, or appreciative for the opportunities that may arise. The Avenue Project are enjoying a meteoric rise because, apart from the killer music, they have their attitude and work ethic perfectly squared away.
Your best bet as a new band is to be as self-sufficient as possible, without missing the chance to ask people for help along the way. It turns out that Drendel is the spearhead for the band: “I moved to Melbourne and I just wanted to get straight into having a band and getting big. But then realistically, that just doesn’t happen,” he states wisely. “It took a solid two years to get the band to the where it was a year ago; so to even get the band formed took two years”.

“Our first gig; Chris (Mercuri, vocalist) actually got talking with David (De La Hoz) from Belle Haven, and said “Hey man, we’re looking to get a show; do our first gig. Have you got anything?” Then David said “I can get you the BANG! Gig, you can open for us, it’s yours if you want it. So that was kind of the big stepping point for us without a doubt. First show at BANG!, first show with Belle Haven, you don’t start much better.” As mentioned, there can be an issue for bands who feel playing the opening slot is beneath them, or that they deserve to play higher up the bill. Drendel’s view is this: “Most of the gigs we get, someone will message the band page and I’ll see what the go is, I’ll get some offer and we’ll do it, because why not?” He continues, “We’ve only opened a couple of times actually. A lot of times it’s third on or second on, but look, we don’t care if we open. At the end of the day, gig is a gig and a show is a show. We’re going to enjoy it either way, we appreciate the offers”. With a mixture of humour and slight self-deprecation Drendel explains, “At the end of the day, we’re just some shitty unknown band trying to do just what everyone else is trying to do. We’ve been lucky and we’ve been blessed in the sense that we have been getting some really cool offers. That first show with Belle Haven, we were meant to be opening but then a band dropped out, so we got bumped up. We’re getting a lot of lucky breaks with our music.” On one hand you can agree with that, but at some point it might just be that karma looks after hard workers. “It’s been a long time to get us to where we are now, and we couldn’t be happier with how we’ve gone. Five years ago, if someone told me I was going to be on iTunes and Spotify, I would’ve told them to fuck off, you know?”

Another issue that can harm a band’s progress in the early days is basically forgetting to crawl before you walk, the egos step in and become detrimental. You’re probably picking this up by now, but TAP are just not like that. “Look, if anything, we try to be realistic. We’re still a young band; we haven’t even hit 500 Likes on Facebook. I know you should never equate it with Likes on Facebook, but in this day and age, those Likes do mean something to some people. We’ll just take it as it comes really; if great things happen, awesome. If nothing really happens, then so be it. We’re not gonna stop.”

In terms of what it is that keeps these guys motivated and driven, Drendel eloquently states, “What’s kept us motivated is not so much sticking with it, but sticking with each other. As wanky as it sounds, yes we’re a band but in the short time, we’ve become a bit of a family. Yes, we argue. We sit there and go “nah, you’re wrong, you’re a dickhead, what are you doing?” but at the same time, I wouldn’t change the boys for the world.” He backs that up by saying, “All of us are in the same mindset of “An ego ruins a band,” It ruins a band from the inside but it can also ruin how people see a band.” Drendel mentions a notable Australian band, not mentioning names here, and how their reputation was tarnished because of how they acted regarding a loss at the ARIA’s and how this immediately caused people who were once fans to now consider them wankers. TAP clearly have their feet firmly planted on the ground, although Drendel states that if they did share a tour bus for a month or longer “we’d probably kill each other, but we would enjoy killing each other.”

To conclude the interview, Drendel wanted to make mention of a few people who have helped the band along the way, “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for David from Belle Haven, you know what I mean? We wouldn’t have got our first gig if it wasn’t for him. Our EP wouldn’t be as good as it is if it wasn’t for Nick Ross and his producing. That guy spent months on it, he sat down and changed so many things with us and got that EP to be what it is. Quite frankly, ‘Kaoss’, the opening track, that originally started out as a reggae song, I shit you not! It was very Authority Zero-inspired reggae-esque punk that we sat down and fiddled with til we got it to where it is now”. “That was straight-up Nick’s influence, he just said “Hey, this is cool, but how about this?” It’s like (first single) ‘Anarchy’, that was written in the studio with Nick. We had four songs, and then we got to the studio and thought “Let’s write a song”. They must have been in the zone because it’s certainly is a highlight of the EP.
The Avenue Project are very obviously going places, and at a rapid rate. If you’re in a newer band yourself, certainly take a leaf out of these guys’ book. It’s their attitude that is driving their success, and once you wrap your ears around their music, you’ll see how they’re already the real deal.