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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Whitman’s Peak scales new heights

After forming in high school some 14 years ago, their debut album has been a long time coming, as they’ve prolifically made and performed original music in the interim.

And over the last few years, Pleased to Jive You have embarked on an impressive journey comparable to the one they’ve chronicled in their latest album, Whitman’s Peak.

The album was made in its entirety by the band over the course of 18 months, with the guys managing all their own recording, mixing and production.

“It’s basically a concept album in that it tells a big sprawling story, and every song is a different chapter in it,” Shrubb says.

Whitman’s Peak is about a bunch of characters who live in a town in NSW that’s based at the bottom of “an Everest type mountain”, and basically these guys are inspired by the town hero who first conquered the mountain and put his flag up there.

Since forming at Caroline Chisholm High School in 2005, Pleased to Jive You has comprised Shrubb on guitar, Morgan Quinn on lead vocals and guitar, Jarrad Stewart on drums and Jim Nguyen on bass.

With a self-described sound resembling “an eclectic blend of progressive jazzy funk rock”, Whitman’s Peak enabled the four-piece to experiment with genre, often using it as a storytelling device.

“You have some songs that are a lot more dramatic; there’s a point in the album where the guys trip out and there’s a psychedelic song.

“A couple of them go missing, they lose a few members of their team so they do a campfire sing-along ode to the guys they’ve lost.”

Shrubb said their goal with Whitman’s Peak was to tell a full story, and then connect music to it.

“It was a long slow process; we wrote a lot of the music and then started playing it live to really hone the songs down while we were developing the story,” he said.

“It just developed into this story where the music and the lyrics are both a part of it, and some of the story is just told instrumentally.

“After about a year we realised we had enough material to flesh it out into a 12-track album.”

Declan Shrubb said making 2015’s Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse is one of the highlights of his life despite its technical challenges, and his band took that attitude into making their new album.

Shrubb’s creative career spans beyond music; he’s an accomplished filmmaker, having completed many short films, all of the band’s music videos, and written/directed the 2015 feature-length horror/comedy, Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse.

“Coming from a film background, and doing narrative stories, and working with the guys in the band we do a lot of video stuff too, so with this it was like ‘could we tell a feature-length film through music?’,” he said.

They started working on Whitman’s Peak shortly after wrapping up production on Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse, with all Shrubb’s bandmates having been involved in that project.

“We came back really interested in storytelling through music, before that we had just written standalone songs and tried to tie them together usually through the production of the project or some musical motifs.”

Starring Jim Jefferies, Alex ‘Shooter’ Williamson, and Greg Fleet, the dream opportunity to make the film came up for Shrubb when he was 22 years old.

He says the main thing he took away from the project it is to enjoy it while you’re in it.

“I’ve now learned that regardless of the stress you have in any major creative project, you still have to be able to recognise at the time how great it is to be able to do something like that.

“Whenever I look back … I really am filled with a lot of joy and happiness, and at the time I might have thought I never wanted to do anything like it again.

“But in hindsight, you look back and it’s the highlight of my life, so we took that attitude into making this album,” he said.

Pleased to Jive You will have an album launch show for Whitman’s Peak at The Polish White Eagle Club, Turner on Friday 16 August 7.30pm; trybooking.com/520657

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Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts