As Stand Atlantic and Slowly Slowly prepare to traverse this Great Southern Land, on a whopping 38-date regional co-headline tour throughout September and October, we facilitate a Zoom chat between the band’s frontpeople: vocalist/guitarist Bonnie Fraser and singer-songwriter Ben Stewart respectively.
Whereas Ben dialled in from his “little studio space” in Melbourne, Stand Atlantic were mid-U.S. tour at the time of our chat. So where did we find Bon? “Just chillin’ on a bench in Arkansas in the most depressing mall I’ve ever been to in my life,” Bon enlightens, before admitting she just ducked out of a screening of Oppenheimer (“It’s super-long so I probably won’t even miss any of it, really”).
The soon-to-be-tourmates discuss “grim” tour food, which member of their respective bands has the most annoying habit, tour van break-ins, mosh injuries, gig rituals, the tendency for regional shows to be “loose as shit” and so much more.
Ben Stewart (Slowly Slowly): I’ve been following your travels on Instagram, Bon, it looks wild!
Bonnie Fraser (Stand Atlantic): Oh, really? Yeah, we’ve had a good time, to be fair. It’s just been so hot that you just kinda like lose all sanity and let loose.
Ben: The tour food that you’ve been posting looks so grim [laughs].
Worst tour food you’ve ever had?
Bon: The first time I came over here [to the States] I went to a gas station and got an egg sandwich, which was actually the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life, probably. I just threw up. It was so bad. They don’t have the same food safety regulations so I’ve probably eaten, like, off eggs with worms in there or something [laughs].
What do you know about each other’s bands at this point?
Bon: Um, Jellyfish is a banger and I think your voice is really cool, it’s really nice. I’m excited to play with you guys. I’m so excited for some sweaty shows.
Ben: We’ve been fans of your recorded music for a while, but we’d never even seen you perform or anything until the [co-headline] tour got announced and then we all started following each other and I was, like, watching the footage of you guys performing and I’m like, ‘Oh, this is gonna actually fucking rip!’ Yeah, just really excited about the tour. I’m so pumped. It feels like tickets are fucking flying and it’s gonna be rammed. It’s gonna be good!
Is 18 shows in 38 days gonna set a new touring record for you both?
Bon: I think it’s the longest Australian tour we’ve ever done, personally. But I feel like the shows are spaced out pretty nicely.
Ben: Well, we haven’t done any overseas touring so we only know what it’s like to tour Australia. But I was talking to a mutual friend of ours the other day, Mik [Mikaila Delgado] from Yours Truly, and she was saying how Australian touring is a little bit more schizophrenic or something, ‘cause you go back to normal life for three, four days. And then, with all the flights and travel time, you spend eight hours getting somewhere, but because of airport time and stuff it all just really adds up. As opposed to when you can drive somewhere in Europe or the States, or you drive overnight kinda thing. So she said it [Australian touring] was a lot more gruelling, which made me feel better. I’ve always been scared of those overseas tours, ‘cause we haven’t done it. But that’s all we know. Yeah, we’re landlocked.
Bon: You guys need to get out. I reckon you guys’ll go over super-well outside [of Australia]. It’s sick [touring overseas]. But, yeah, you are right: Australian touring is weird, ‘cause you do go back home the entire time, pretty much, and it’s just, like, stop start, stop start, stop start. In a way, I personally feel like it’s hard to get in the zone. But, yeah, compared to any touring you do overseas: it’s just one long stretch so you kind of just get used to it and – in a way – I think, mentally, it’s a bit easier. But in saying that, no one goes harder than Australia – like, at shows – so I just love playing in Australia so much. It’s so sick.
Done a co-headline tour before?
Ben: No, we haven’t done a co-headline before, but we’re super-pumped about it.
Bon: Yeah, we did one back in 2019 in the States with a band called The Faim, who are also Australian. We definitely are the type of band that wanna hang out all the time so both our bands would just, like, hang out the entire time. We’d go to these campsites and stuff and play spotlight every night when we could and, yeah! We became really tight. It was super-fun, but that is the only co-headline we’ve ever done.
Any regional shows you’ve played previously that stood out?
Bon: We’ve played Torquay before, that was awesome. I think we did a couple of regional shows back in 2018 or something, if I remember right, and, yeah! They were some of my favourite shows. I just feel like everyone’s way looser there, for some reason [laughs], and it’s super-sick.
Ben: Yeah, we’ve done a fair bit of regional touring and we love it. So some of the favourite spots: the Victorian shows always go pretty hard for us, so we love the Frankston [shows] and we’ve done Belgrave and Torquay a fair few times. But recently, on the last tour, we started poppin’ up to Far North Queensland and we did Cairns and Townsville and Mackay, and that was really nice. We kind of got this little tropical holiday; we’re all from Melbourne, so it was very welcome with all the warm weather and stuff but, yeah! I dunno, when you do a capital city run here it’s all over so fast and you don’t really feel like you’ve had time to be a band and so, like Bon said, I know it’s in and out of the mindset with Australian touring, but it’s like you get to actually bond with everybody and there’s all this transit time and, you know, my favourite shit – probably more so than the shows – is all the dumb laughs on the road. So, yeah, I think regional touring is more conducive to that than capital city touring in Australia, I’ve found.
Which member of your band has the most annoying habit?
Ben: I’m probably the most annoying in the band, ‘cause I talk a lot [laughs]. But, I dunno, Albert [Doan, guitarist]’s snoring – he’s one of those people that sleeps anywhere, on a plane or whatever, but it’s this insane noise of, like, a lawn mower meeting a dog cleaning itself [laughs]. It’s gross.
Bon: [Laughs] What the fuck? He licks himself noise? How the fuck?
Ben: [Laughs] He’s super-foul when he sleeps, so that’s probably pretty gross. I dunno, I think everybody has their own annoying times and that’s why when someone’s being annoying it’s a bit easier to be understanding, ‘cause you’re like, ‘You’ll get your comeuppance when it’s my turn to be annoying.
Bon: It basically just allows everyone else to be annoying as well, you just let it roll. I feel like we’re all pretty shameless most of the time. But [David] Potter [guitarist] is just, like, the loudest person in existence, so that’s crazy. Especially when he starts having spicy opinions and he’s just talking too loud and you’re like, ‘Brother, please! You need to keep that shit down!’ [laughs]. But my most annoying habit would be: I’m super-forgetful, so, yeah, I just forget everything all the time and I’m everyone else’s problem, basically. I need constant reminders. I need where we’re playing in 72 font [printed out and pasted] on the stage. I need to see that shit or I’m not going to know anything [laughs].
Any previous tour disasters to report?
Bon: We’ve actually been really lucky this tour, it’s been really cruisy. I’m kinda worried; it’s been too good. Maybe something really bad’s gonna happen? I’m suss on it. The last tour we just did in Europe, our van got broken into and it was, like, 3am. We were in Belgium somewhere and our sound guy woke up and he was like, ‘I think our van’s getting broken into, I can hear the alarm,’ and woke up our tour manager. Our tour manager was like, ‘Nah, it’s not happening,’ and then he looked out the window and he’s like, ‘Oh, shit, someone is literally in our van!’ Our tour manager puts his Crocs on, goes to the van, grabs this dude. And, also, our tour manager’s, like, I wanna say four foot – he’s not four foot, but he’s a short king – and he runs up, grabs this dude, is just holding him down and then he starts kicking him with his Crocs on. I’m just like, ‘My guy, Jesus Christ!’ [laughs]. He saved our bacon. But, yeah! Then the cops came and took the guy away. I think that was one of the first times our van’s ever actually gotten broken into as well, which is also crazy.
He [van thief dude] stole a bunch of our booze and I’m convinced he stole my favourite denim jacket, ‘cause I’ve lost it and I’m just gonna assume that he stole it ‘cause I don’t wanna admit that I’ve lost it myself. It’s obviously someone else’s fault.
Ben: We’ve never [had our van] broken into or had anything compromised like that. There hasn’t been anything major. Yeah, touch wood. Probably this is the tour, you know?
Bon: It’s just me breakin’ into the van! ‘It’s about time you got broken into’ [laughs].
What’s your band’s most moshable song?
Bon: I feel like Deathwish always goes off quite a bit for us; I think it’s the song most people know. Molotov [OK], as well, is our punk song; we get people to do a circle pit and stuff, and that usually goes hard. But actually – sorry, this just springed to mind; I’m really sporadic in the brain right now – the other day, literally all we did was tell people to jump, as we always do, and this girl was literally just jumping. Nothing serious was happening in the pit, just jumping, and then she jumps the wrong way and her entire fucking bone just came out her skin and, like, she broke her ankle! And we had to pretty much just stop the rest of the set. It was fucked-up. It was so bad. So, yeah, all she did was jump! That’s all she did. She just landed the wrong way and, like, completely fucked her ankle. In America, too. And now she’s getting surgery and stuff, so I don’t even wanna know how much that will cost her. It’s just insane to think about those things over here.
Ben: Regional [shows are] a bit looser, and a bit harder and faster, so probably our more punky songs. I think we’re gonna keep things pretty high-energy. This song we have called Creature Of Habit Pt. 2 seems to go pretty hard. And we’ve got some little surprises dropping before the tour, music-wise, so hopefully that’s well-received and goes off, too.
Ever met any musical heroes backstage?
Ben: You kind of meet people, but it’s very different. Like, backstage at a festival or something, you meet someone that you’ve looked up to for ages but then all of a sudden they’re eating Twisties or waiting for the toilet or something and [laughs] – it’s all just very human, I dunno.
Bon: I totally agree with that. It’s like they don’t stop being your hero – or you don’t sort of stop looking up to them, I guess – but it very much just equalises you. You’re just like, ‘Oh, it’s chill. You’re not that scary at all.’ I would one hundred percent agree with that.
Ben: I think maybe if you’re lining up at a meet and greet it kinda adds to the – it builds it up so that it puts the person on a pedestal. And the stage and lights and a big PA system generally elevate someone to godlike status pretty quickly. But, I dunno, everybody I’ve ever met backstage or whatever is just so normal and – if you meet them – you’re just friends, then.
Bon: They just become your peers, ‘cause you’re both doing the same thing – you know what it’s like – so, yeah! It takes away all the mystery of that kinda thing, I guess. I dunno, I’ve tried to decipher this myself as well and I don’t really understand what it is [laughs]. It’s just like you’re on a level.
Proudest accomplishment with your band to date?
Ben: Probably some of the big shows, some of the big festivals and stuff. The last tour was pretty sick. Like, to play the big, seminal theatres that we never thought we’d have the opportunity to play, and then playing a sold-out Forum show and The Tivoli in Brisbane was sick. The goal posts always move with this stuff and – Bon’ll tell you – because music takes so long to come out, all the things you’re excited and proud about have, like, a latency when they eventually come into reality. And so, right now, we’re thinking about the next thing; that’s the most exciting thing in our world: the things that haven’t come out or the things that haven’t eventuated yet.
Bon: Yeah, you’ve definitely hit the nail on the head there. It’s kind of sad, actually, ‘cause you do something and then you’re really excited about it – like, for example, you write a new album and then you’re stoked on it, and you’re really proud of it, and then you kind of soak in that for a little bit. And then it comes out, but you’ve had it for yourself for so long that, by the time it’s out, you’re like, ‘Alright, what’s the next thing?’ You’re constantly – as you say, Ben – moving the goal posts, so it’s kinda sad. I feel like I don’t really revel in the wins a lotta the time, which maybe I should start doing. But lately, the most recent thing we’re pretty proud of: playing Download [festival] main stage, in the UK, was sick. And playing Spilt Milk was pretty cool as well. I feel like that was a festival we never thought we’d get offered, or play, and then when we did get it we were like, ‘Okay, we’ll do it, but we’re probably gonna play to, like, three people,’ and that just wasn’t the case at all. It was a sick crowd every day so, yeah! I feel like those two are kind of springing to mind at the moment.
Anything you can’t live without backstage, rider-wise?
Ben: I can live with anything. We’ve played so many shows when it was, like, one warm cup of beer to share between the four of us that we’re pretty – what is it? Cheap shouts or whatever. We’re not divas [laughs]. I don’t really drink that much before the show. Afterwards I like a bit of a party, but before the show it’s a lot of pacing around and drinking coffee and, I dunno, just getting real geed-up. Before the show, I actually like a little bit of privacy – it’s weird – but then afterwards I’m super-social. So the only times I’m bummed is if there’s no proper green room or something, to get my head in the game, and you’re kinda forced into, you know, nice social environments. But sometimes I just need a bit of quiet or something beforehand – that’s the only thing, if it’s not included.
Bon: Well, actually, I feel like I’m kinda the opposite of you, Ben. Straight after the show, that’s when I wanna be on my own for a minute – just, like, decompress and not be disgusting for five minutes – and then I can go and socialise. But beforehand – I dunno, I’m super-inconsistent, sometimes I’m too drunk to play, sometimes I’m stone cold sober and everything’s chill. But the only thing that’s one hundred percent must-have is water, which is a basic human right so it’s not very interesting [laughs]. Sometimes you don’t even get that, though, I’ll be real.
The worst tap water is in London. It’s fucking gross, dude. That’s the most privileged thing to say [laughs]. Yeah, it doesn’t even quench your thirst – it just feels floury or something, limescale-y – it’s not good.
Describe your band’s first-ever gig.
Bon: First show with Stand Atlantic was: well, my ex-boyfriend was drumming at the time and we rocked up to the friggin club, about to go on, and he realised he forgot his cymbals! So he had to go and chase down the band before us and borrow that dude’s cymbals, who had just packed them into his car, so that was super-embarrassing. Thanks for reminding me of that! [laughs] Do you remember a club called Hot Damn!? It was in Sydney, an emo night kind of vibe. I don’t think it exists anymore, I think it’s AM/PM now.
Ben: God, I can’t even remember. I have a vague memory of this awful thing in a bowling alley. I hardly remember it, it was so long ago. But I feel like the first time we became a band we did a residency at The Old Bar here in Melbourne, every Tuesday night or something in September. We had a few line-up changes early on, so that was the first line-up that I felt was like, ‘Okay, we’re a band’. So probably that, I reckon.
What made you fall in love with music in the first place?
Bon: Well, my dad used to be in a band when he was younger and I feel like, ‘cause he always had guitars lying around and stuff, I was always noodling on ‘em. I feel like it has always been a part of my childhood. But then I think actually wanting to tour and be in a band properly was [inspired by] just watching all the DVDs of bands I grew up listening to – like, Blink-182 and Good Charlotte and stuff like that – on the road and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, this looks so fun!’ And I was an only child so I was always desperate to have siblings, and I feel like I was always drawn to that kind of codependency situation and, yeah! I just think I never wanted anything more in my life, so I didn’t even have a plan B and I would work jobs and save up money and just continue to make this into a real thing. And super-stoked that I get to do it every day.
Ben: Yeah, it’s what I’ve always known and done, I guess. I would say, ever since high school I was just obsessed with that and I was always the one finding the gigs and driving and doing all that sorta stuff with the earlier bands even though I was playing drums. And then it’s happened quite naturally, I think.
I was not very confident when we first started – and I was singing and playing guitar and writing songs – so it’s all been quite incremental; I’m sure most bands feel like that. But, yeah, similar to Bon’s story: my parents played music and stuff so there was always instruments lyin’ around and I always loved it. I don’t remember pre-loving music – like, finding it and going, ‘Oh, wow! This is what I wanna do with my life’ – it was always, you know, that’s just what I like doing the most and everything else pales in comparison, times a million, to the point where everything else in my life has suffered immensely.
Anything you’d like to ask one another before heading out on this epic co-headline tour?
Bon: Um, are you excited? [laughs]
Ben: Ah, SO excited.
Bon: You sound it! [laughs]
Ben: Yeah, when do you land back [in Australia]?
Bon: I get there on the 20th of August, I think. We’ve got a couple of writing dates and stuff beforehand so I’ll be there for a while.
Ben: Amazing! I just can’t wait, I can’t wait to get to know everybody. And I think we kick off with a bang with the Tassie show, which is loose as shit and sold out.
Bon: Dude, isn’t one of those Tassie shows, like, the population of the city is 700 and the venue [capacity] is 650 and it’s sold out? [laughs] It’s so insane!
Ben: Yeah, the pub owner has been begging us to go there for a while, because we always used to play in Launceston and do quite well and then this guy’s been banging on about Forth for ages. And then we’re finally like, ‘Alright, let’s go to Forth.’ And we were like, ‘This is a music oasis in Tassie!’ It’s crazy, everyone shows up. They had this festival we played there that was super-packed and, yeah! It is mind-blowing. But, anyway, that’ll be an awesome ‘rip the bandaid off’ show for the tour and then I think we go straight into the Victorian shows, which will be mega as well so, yeah! I’m stoked.
Have an awesome time!
Ben: Hell, yeah!
Bon: Will do.