Byron Bay neo-psychedelia auteurs Babe Rainbow are now as well known for their steady output of soft 60s throwback rock as they are for being avid surfers, but fourth LP Changing Colours sees the band adopt a new groove. The Mic’s Izzy Felton met with the band to discuss life in Australia and an electrifying new record that embraces the full psychedelic spectrum.
The Australian group hailing from the free-spirited area of Byron Bay, New South Wales join a list of psychedelic bands from Down Under finding success overseas. Joining the likes of Tame Impala, Pond and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard to cause an Aussie invasion of electrifying synths and dreamy vocals. But Babe Rainbow doesn’t just make music from the hippie revolution, they seem to live it too, with many of the members owning their own fruit farms, surfing on the beautiful beaches of Byron Bay and making their music in forest studios. Perhaps they had time travelled directly from the summer of love. I was intrigued to find out.
Despite coronavirus stopping live performances, it seems that for many artists the past year has given them time to work on their music. With three albums released since 2017, their fourth dropped in May and a fifth already recorded, it’s hard to imagine Babe Rainbow have found time to catch any waves other than sound waves from an amp. Angus explained how they’ve been playing around with sounds for a fifth record in the comfort of band member Jack Crowther’s forest studio. “We go there in the afternoons, play with the tape recorder and mess around. He has a bunny and nice vegetables.”
“Our music is spiralling upwards. I think that this new album seems like a heap of different genres.”
A handful of tracks were released by the band in the run-up to the release of their fourth record Changing Colours, including a “random” collaboration with Jaden Smith. After befriending one another via Instagram and chatting about Smith’s clothing line, Angus suggested that he feature on a song, Your Imagination. The tranquil track features the distinct Babe Rainbow sound, but Jaden Smith’s vocals add another layer which Angus admitted the band couldn’t have done on their own. “I thought it would be perfect and what he did was sweet as.”
The new record is possibly Babe Rainbow’s best release yet, not steering too far from their classic sound but moving away just enough to offer up something different. Angus explained it sounded a little bit more LA, possibly because the album was recorded pre-pandemic in California. “We were out in California, met this guy who had a cool ranch near Malibu and started recording.” The final parts of the record had to be finished in Babe Rainbow’s Byron Bay dwellings, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but the Californian influence is very much there proving they can make more than just beach songs. One thing that Angus made incredibly clear was that the band don’t put pressure on their music, which seems to be working quite well after the success of Changing Colours. “Our music is spiralling upwards. I think that this new album seems like a heap of different genres.” Angus told me that his favourite song off the record is Curl Free, a laidback song that seems to be a collaboration with some seagulls – “it’s the silliest one.”
We spoke about the UK, which Babe Rainbow hasn’t visited since 2019. From British music, including Angus’s recent discovery of 90s indie-dance band Saint Etienne, to gigs in Brighton. A favourite spot of the bands is, unsurprisingly, Cornwall. A surfer’s paradise with beautiful scenery, seagulls, and, of course, fish and chips: “You guys have the best fish and chips.” Angus recounted the time they stayed at a farm not far from Lime Regis, Dorset.
Surfing, living on a funny farm and getting their tea made by some “old granny friends,” Babe Rainbow certainly live the alternative life that they create in their music. However, while being in an internationally successful band, Angus is also studying at university, revealing that even the most laid back band I’ve ever come across still has their worries. “I hope I finish this assignment soon. I’ve only got one week to write a 4000-word essay and I've been putting it off.” We agreed that doing interviews, and being a member of Babe Rainbow, was much more fun.
Written by: Izzy Felton
Edited by: Alex Duke