There’s tension at the heart of City Calm Down’s magnificent second album Echoes In Blue.
The tension of modern life and all it’s career and relationship responsibilities that seem to be constantly at odds with each other.
City Calm Down vocalist Jack Bourke felt the pressure ripping at him while writing the follow-up to the Melbourne four-piece’s 2015 debut In A Restless House.
The lifestyle of lawyer by day and rock singer by night, all while getting married, had taken its toll.
“In hindsight I realise I bit off way more than I can chew in terms of trying to manage both work and getting the record done,” Bourke says while on his lunch break.
“It put me in a difficult position and the lesson I’ve taken from it is I probably need to focus more intently on making music and not be so divided.”
The rising success of City Calm Down is only placing greater stress on Bourke’s work-life balance. The band is currently completing eight shows in 11 days, on their largest ever European tour.
Then there’s another nine dates in Australia and New Zealand in June and July to promote Echoes In Blue. Bourke says he’s planning to place his lawyer job on the backburner, but the economic realities of becoming a full-time musician are daunting with rent and bills to pay.
“It’s a funny one because in the music industry no one really likes to talk about money, which is fine,” he says.
In hindsight I realise I bit off way more than I can chew in terms of trying to manage both work and getting the record done.Jack Bourke
“You see that born out in people getting low-balled on set fees for public events like as if they should just do it because they love performing.
“It’s a tricky one because most artists go through a similar thing and find it increasingly difficult to justify pursuing an artistic endeavour because the financial cost is so high.
“It’s something I’ve been happier to speak about in the last while because I found it quite confronting.”
City Calm Down formed in 2008 when the members met at university and bonded over a shared loved of post-punk bands.
On Echoes In Blue the mood has become decidedly bleaker. Bourke almost sounds like Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch or Berlin-era David Bowie as his baritone croons about personal disconnection due to social media in the anthemic In This Modern Land with the lyrics “I saw reflections of a conscience in collapse/A hollow man who lacked the will.”
Then on the moving opener Joan, I’m Disappearing, Bourke embodies a middle-aged workaholic, who realises his marriage has collapsed because of his neglectful treatment of his wife.
Bourke wrote the lyrics after a conversation with his uncle, who told him the story of his friend’s divorce.
“You observe the way people behave and try to put yourself in their shoes,” he says.
City Calm Down plays in Hobart, June 30.