Making their brand of industrial electro-cum-experimental noise rock for nearly ten years, LA four piece Health started 2015 with two solid LPs under their belts and an industry acclaimed computer game soundtrack to boot. The mid-year release of Death Magic, however, saw the group unveil their third album and according to John Familgietti, the bassist, and potentially most irreverent, member of the group, their first since Get Color six years ago.
“We’ve been trying to make this record and not making it… wish I had a better story.” He says by way of explanation. “We obviously did the soundtrack for the video game, and that took like a year, and we’ve been touring here and there.”
In fact, Health are currently immersed in a comprehensive tour spanning the United States and Canada. While on the road, at a gas station somewhere in South Carolina, John stopped to pee, grab some snacks, and chat to Cyclic.
To the keen observer Death Magic is an interesting array of poppier, palatable, electronic-fuelled wizardry from the band. It’s a departure from some of their heavier noise feels and, if you’re paying very close attention, you might even detect a delicate sense of introspection interwoven throughout the tracks, which was, apparently, within the rules the band set for the recording.
“Each record we have different rules, like, what was allowed. The first album [the self-titled Health]we decided would be ‘nothing personal’ and then, the second album, we kind of broadened it and then, with the third album, it came back to sort of writing more personal lyrics, the kind of things that are relatable and obviously we understand ourselves better.”
And it shines through, ‘Men Today’ is a wonderful example of the existential pondering that accompanied the making of Death Magic, providing a commentary on how men can be perceived within modern society as more, or less, macho than the former established stereotypes. And, for John, he can relate.
“So, me, today? I think I’m cooler now. More out of my shell. More in control of my emotions I think.”
One is left to draw the conclusion that Health is undoubtedly a more measured and mature act than when they first came into being, but with the ten-year anniversary fast approaching and a recognition from John that it is a milestone just to still be a band, is there a timeline being drawn on how long Health will exist?
“Well, we don’t want to get to old… but right now we’re kind of energised and we’re getting along, we are challenged and we want our music to be more so.”
It was 2010 when Australian and New Zealand fans last saw the group grace the stage and, aside from the possibility of sustaining any further blue bottle jellyfish stings, like that which befell band mate Jake on our awesome beaches last time round, John says the band is really looking forward to returning because of the otherwise fond memories they hold from their first trip.
Health return this coming January/February as part of our favourite indie fest St Jerome’s Laneway Festival.
“I think Laneway will be like a rock’n’roll summer camp. I think it’s going to be really, really fun. [Last time] we toured quite a bit. We saw quokka (Rottnest) Island, plus New Zealand, and there was Manly Beach and Bondi Beach, and we’d just hang at the beach all day, which is kind of our favourite way to hang out anyway, we were just feeling it.”
John also fondly recollects the time he caught a quokka on camera and was chuffed with himself for doing so even though he himself didn’t feature in the shot.
“You know, this was the pre-selfie era. People are just selfying their asses off. But, no, I didn’t get myself in the photo. I don’t know whether selfies existed, but I took a picture of the quokka, just a photo. I did want to pick it up, they’re adorable… you’re not allowed to.”
Health, also not to be picked up, are playing the Laneway Festival on the following dates.
Monday 1 February Silo Park, Auckland
Saturday 6 February Brisbane Showgrounds, Brisbane (16+)
Sunday 7 February Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney
Saturday 13 February Footscray Community Arts Centre And The River’s Edge, Melbourne
Sunday 14 February Esplanade Reserve and West End, Fremantle