Cairns five-piece AREA13 bring together a cumulative century worth of experience to create their debut long-player Parachutes For Puppets. The band members – Rob Midgley, Julian Cliffe, JP [John Paul], Paul Southwell and Kev Boorman –found their passion as children, progressing into jamming with local bands as teenagers and eventually playing gigs and releasing music. Individually, they haven’t stopped since. It was fortuitous then that the five members ended up crossing paths – it was that shared passion for music that brought the band members together, each harked from elsewhere, drawn to the Far North for its lifestyle and climate. A little over two years ago, aptly on the 13th of May, they joined forces under the guise of AREA13 with a common focus of creating solid original music.
The result is the ten-track Parachutes for Puppets – an eclectic mix of rock, blues, soft pop and reggae influences –that showcases each of the band members strengths. In fact, the band believes it is their strong background in music that has helped bring the AREA13 project through to fruition. They all went into the recording process with a firm idea of what they wanted to achieve, and because of the years spent honing their craft, they weren’t afraid to take on other people’s ideas to help create the best sound possible. There were no egos in the mix – just a desire to create the best music possible.
That concept of working together – and listening to each other – was something that was the focus of the writing process too. Parachutes for Puppets is an album where every band member contributed. The aim from the beginning was that the album was always going to be about AREA13 and not one individual person. Likewise, after years of playing live, they didn’t want their music to sound over-produced – it needed to embrace the live sound that was earning them acclaim throughout their local region.
“We had a number of songs that chose themselves, they seemed to stand out from the outset,” says guitarist Kev Boorman. “As the songs started to evolve, they developed into songs that were fun to play. We just decided to throw whatever we could into the pot and then make decisions about what worked, what didn’t and what might work if we shaped them a little. At times, it was a little too clinical and other times it was quite organic.”
Drawing on their past experiences, the band also brought some previously penned songs with them to the table for the release. “We all came from a background of writing original songs and this was one of the reasons why we seemed to click right at the beginning,” says bassist Paul Southwell. “The chemistry worked within the band and each of us having a back catalogue of original songs, it seemed logical to use this rich resource.”
While some of the songs were created specifically with the record in mind, others had already been on the band’s live setlist for a long-time. This has enabled them to gauge the reactions of audiences and hand-pick those that have the highest appeal to fans. “We’ve always been testing the water with originals,” says Kev. “Some songs have been around as long as the band itself.”
Parachutes For Puppets took about nine months for the band to create – from pulling together demos, finalising the songs, to heading into Pegasus Studios in Cairns with reputed engineer Nigel Pegrum. Listeners are treated to 10-tracks that tackle a tongue-in-cheek look at a Midlife Crisis, a look at the travelling lifestyle of the Gypsy Man, the reflection of life in Days Gone By, the vivid imagery of Byron Bay Away and the statement in Secret World.
AREA13 have pulled together the sum of all their experiences to create a stellar debut offering. It’s evident these guys have been around the traps for years, you can hear it in their playing and their style. Parachutes For Puppets is a debut release that sounds nothing like what you would expect from a debut, it has the hallmarks of a band who have been releasing albums together for years.
AREA13’s independently released long-player Parachutes For Puppets is out now.
For more information on www.area13.org