Jacuzzi – Animator
Consisting of brothers Anthony and Chris Morse, and close friend and collaborator Ash Briody, Jacuzzi are hitting the ground running in 2020 with their sites firmly set on the release of their debut album ‘Animator’. The trio already boast an accomplished 4-track EP and, most recently, a new single and prelude to the album, both released in 2019. Despite their relatively short time as a band, they are amassing fans through their unique sound and enthralling live show.
Hailing from regional Victoria, (Anthony and Chris were born in Warrnambool, Ash in Ballarat), the band now call Melbourne home, after their own separate journeys brought them together. After spending their formative years in Warrnambool playing in bands, the Morse brothers made their first pilgrimage and moved to Geelong in 2008 with the aim to focus seriously on music. It was there that they formed The Highwater Ballroom Band, a rock’n’roll influenced cowboy-blues group, and began playing at legendary Geelong venues like The National Hotel. Meanwhile, Ash was busy with the formation of his own band, The Beegles. It wasn’t until 2010, under the guidance of Cash Savage, that the brothers decided to move to Melbourne.
The Highwater Ballroom Band continued for another two years until 2012 when they began their next project and the next stage in their development as artists. The Infants was a departure from their previous work and found them in heavier waters, experimenting with aspects of post-punk and thrash. Playing with The Infants bought them to bigger audiences and saw a slot at Paradise Festival and tours in Tasmania and New South Wales. The Beegles were also gaining momentum at this point and Ash was playing FRL Festival and opening for the likes of Nick Allbrook (Pond, Tame Impala).
After the dissolution of The Infants in 2016, the Brothers Morse found themselves in need of a new vessel for their creative output. Something to accommodate their growing levels of experimentation and aspiration. It was from this desire that Jacuzzi found its first iteration. Initially under the guise of Between Towns, Anthony and Chris found themselves adopting new roles and learning new instruments more suited to their new direction; Anthony switching from guitar to synth and vocals, and Chris from bass to drums. It was a learning process for both, but ultimately essential in achieving the sound they were chasing. The two continued playing as a duo, writing songs, perfecting their sound and crafting their vision. Though the band, now renamed Jacuzzi, was taking shape, there was still one piece of the puzzle yet to fit. They needed another member to help flesh out the sound and bring their live performances to another level. When time came to record their self-titled debut EP (released in 2019), the brothers decided to enlist the help of Ash to produce and mix the project. It wasn’t long before Jacuzzi had its third member. As Anthony recalls, “We tried to play the whole show live, but something was missing. We started jamming with Ash and it was a perfect fit. It just made sense.”
Jacuzzi was a new and fresh direction for all three and it gave them the freedom to really extend their creative ambitions and take on a completely different set of challenges. But as Chris explains, “It was just a natural progression for us. We spent years playing in various bands with other people, but this gave us the opportunity to come back as brothers and really play together again. The whole process is really organic, and it works really well.”
For Anthony, uncovering the style and sound of the band was chartering new territory; “There was a bit of experimentation, but once I had the mic and the synth, I knew I had my sound. The main thing about music for me has always been finding your own unique sound, and that was it.”
They celebrated the release of the EP with a show at the Grace Darling with support from local artists Bananagun and Joe Terror in the middle of 2019. But, not ones to dwell on present successes, the band already had their sights set on the completion of their first full-length LP. For this they decided to get out of the city and take a trip to the picturesque Macedon Ranges where they would then record with renowned musician and producer James Cecil (Architecture In Helsinki) at his famed Super Melody World studios. James agreed to produce and mix the record after hearing the album’s demos. “It was great,” explains Anthony. “The studio is situated in an old primary school from the 1890’s. The songs were ready to go, except for a few minor adjustments that were made in the studio. We stayed for a long weekend and put the album together in just under 4 days.” The album was later mastered by Dave Whitaker at Stepford Mastering.
Now that the album is finished, the boys are riding a high. “I feel a fair bit of achievement,” Anthony confesses. “Achievement in what all three of us have done. We’ve taken this band in a completely different direction, learned new instruments, and written songs we are really proud of.”
The album itself is an exploration into vast and mystifying soundscapes. 8 tracks of synth-drenched dystopian post-punk. It’s dark in atmosphere, but possesses a strong and uplifting pulse throughout, helped in no small part by Chris’ propulsive drumming and Ash’ sturdy bass lines. Each song is its own journey, another quite separate chapter in a collective of tracks that come together to create the overall story of the album. The themes that run through the narratives are varied, touching on personal issues such as relationships and depression, but also range to broader and more abstract ideas. Delving into what these songs mean for Anthony can at times be confronting, but it’s a feeling that he welcomes; “It’s almost like grieving. I still haven’t changed that place I was in when I wrote them, despite it being some time ago. I’m still there. But I want to feel like that. That’s why I write the way I do.”
Despite the darker themes that pervade the songs within the album, it’s a sense of comradery within the band that has been a driving force for results. As Ash explains, “Knowing that these guys have your back, whether you’re writing, recording or performing, that you are all part of a unit, a group. That’s really inspiring. We push each other, sometimes too much, but we need that.”
And it’s a sentiment that will no doubt lead to Jacuzzi’s success. With the album ready to drop in 2020, plans for festival slots and tours are beginning to get underway. As Ash notes, “We’ve been friends for a really long time now and I’ve always admired and respected Anthony and Chris. There has always been a deep commitment and understanding of a longer-term goal. It’s about the music. Always has been, and always will be.”