We were lucky enough to catch up with the guys from In Hearts Wake at the iconic Bondi Beach on Saturday 27th June whilst they picked up litter and marine debris assisted by their fans from all over Sydney. The band have partnered with Tangaroa Blue to host ‘We are Waterborne’ clean up days in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Byron Bay timed to coincide with the release of their latest album Ark. Bondi is always perceived as being a very clean beach and has previously won awards for New South Wales’ cleanest beach. That being said, almost 5000 individual pieces of rubbish were picked up in just over 30 minutes!
We got to speak to Jake Taylor about the inspiration and thought behind the clean-up days as well as future plans with Sea Shepherd and an insight into their new album Ark.
SR: Where did the idea of the ‘We are Waterborne’ initiative come from?
J: The concept of the record speaks of the earth as a blue ship, a ship of water. Water is life and we essentially came from the oceans which we are seeing beginning to deteriorate through overfishing and many other factors of which marine debris is a huge one. We really wanted to pay respects to our ocean and being from Byron Bay we have a close connection to it. It’s a combination of things really; these clean-ups made the most sense to not just raise funds but to physically be a part of it and being able to do it with our fans which is the special thing.
SR: I think it’s fantastic the way you guys have come out here today with your fans as equals; a lot of bands talk about the environment and rising up to change but very few actually get their hands dirty so all credit to you guys for organising these events!
J: It genuinely feels amazing to be making a difference; whether its publicised and whether people turn up or not it just feels great to be taking action. Look at this bag of cigarette butts that we’ve removed from the beach; it feels phenomenal to be making a difference. And, I think as well that, I don’t like to use the word fans; our friends are feeling that connection as well by walking along this beach and connecting to the landscape around them.
SR: I’ve heard that there might be something happening with you guys and Sea Shepherd down the track. Can you tell me what that might be?
J: When we announced this partnership with Tarangoa Blue Sea Shepherd actually hit us up saying they would love to be involved. So for the tour that’s coming up in July, we’re talking between ourselves at the moment to plan something and work out how we can help as much as we can.
SR: So would that be merch related or direct action?
J: For me it’s more of an action thing. At the very least it may be that Sea Shepherd come to the tour dates and set up shop and be a point of contact for people to see what they’re about but we’re still working out what can be organised.
SR: So your new album Ark was released yesterday – congratulations! The concept of Ark follows a similar environmental stance to your previous albums. What is your favourite song on the record and why?
J: Thanks! It has to be Passage. It has everything in it. It’s got a guitar solo, it’s very rocky and anthemic and it also encapsulates the record the most in a single song. It poses a really important question, “Who’s steering the ship?” And the fact is, no one is and people are trying to but we need work with it and all work together to steer it in the right direction.
SR: And you actually directed the video for Passage as well. How was that experience?
J: It was amazing. A big experience! I play in a band and I have no previous experience directing so it was a big undertaking. At times it was a real challenge – having 15 extras on a beach with the sun beating down on them, 3 cameramen, a drone pilot, a crab we were releasing back into the wild; all these things were happening and I was so responsible! From something I had written in my room I now had to see it through so there were a few little moments that kept me grounded but I’m really happy with the clip.
One thing learnt yesterday from Tangaroa Blue was that you can clean up all the rubbish you find but you won’t stop the leak if you don’t find the source – that is most effective and is a pretty good message as well.
We also got to chat with fellow band mate, competitor and pink team leader Kyle Erich. Kyle gave us a bit of an insight into the roots of the environmentalism of the band and how they wanted to conduct themselves after their first album. We also had a chat about the usual writing process of an album and Kyle’s increased vocal responsibility on new release, Ark.
K: The thought of what we are doing today began when we were starting to record Earthwalker/Skydancer. Jake and I both, individually, decided that if we were going to continue as a band after Divination, then we wanted it to mean something more than just putting music out there. We really wanted it to mean something to us and be proud of something we had done as a band today really does that! Look around at all of these people here – half an hour and we have collected so much rubbish.
It’s great – how many bands can ask their fans to come and pickup rubbish with them and that is what they come down and do. Both my groups across the 2 days so far, never once did we have to ask them to pick anything up – they were just so keen to help which is so cool!
SR: Congrats on the release of Ark yesterday. Can you tell me a bit about the writing process of the album?
K: Thanks! So what usually happens is Ben will come up with the bare bones skeleton of the song and straight away will send that to Jake. Jake will probably already have a few stories ready to go. Jake will give me a story that he thinks should go with the melody and basically, Arrow as an example, I will turn the song into something for me to sing. Eaven and I worked together really closely on Arrow and we moulded the melody and Jake’s story together to create the song. But mostly, it’s a group effort. One Jake has the idea of the song lyrically, we all get together to and try and put all the pieces together and make sure it’s how we want it. It’s more of a natural process we write to whatever feels natural for the song.
This record being based around water, Frequency is a song about a whale that speaks at a different frequency to other whales so can’t communicate with them. It’s a true story of a whale out there that people are trying to find and help it out. It’s the saddest song we’ve ever written for sure. Also Waterborne is about how important water is to people and how we need to protect and preserve our waterways which is what has brought us all here today!
SR: A bit more singing on this record for you then Kyle it seems! Was this just a natural progression of the band?
K: Soooo much more singing. I’ve got my own song! And yeah just natural. I feel like we’ve got progressively more singing on each record since Divination. Earthwalker/Skydancer was probably 60:40 to Jake but I feel like this record is probably 50:50 with me and Jake. It’s really cool I’m taking on my own element within the band. And being more comfortable getting in the studio and being on stage. It’s good that the records have had that progression so I’ve been able to build strength in my voice. It is really hard sometimes performing every night as a clean vocalist and I just want to be able give my best every night. I’m on tour to just play the shows and not really there to party so I’m usually the one in bed first!
Today has been great. We had a lot of people come up to us whilst we were picking up litter asking what we were up to which is great to bring awareness into what people can do to make an impact! I’m definitely going to make doing this a part of my life and I think we managed to educate some people on the way today – my team were out there telling people not to litter so hopefully we’ve made a difference!
After a really successful clean up, awards were given to the weirdest item and most pieces collected. The day concluded with 2 songs from the new record played acoustically with Kyle taking full lead on vocals. Afterwards the guys stuck around to meet and greet all of their fans with lots of photo opportunities to be had! A really great afternoon and all credit to In Hearts Wake for such a great initiative with ‘We are Waterborne’.
Here, enjoy some postcards by our newest photographer Stephanie Woodhouse of this very special day below: