Noise Pop 2018: Crooked Colours

What’s it like for a band’s members to live in three separate cities?

Philip Slabber is packing for a trip to Tasmania.

There, the guitarist for Crooked Colours, an electronic trio whose members live in different parts of Australia, will reunite with his bandmates to play Party in the Paddock, a four-day music festival on the island.

“It’s big in the sense that it’s three days of camping, but I think it’s still coming up, so it’s not massive yet,” Slabber tells SF Weekly. “They have that aim of becoming one of the really big camping ones, but at the moment it’s indie tastemaker-ish.”

That’s essentially a parallel to Crooked Colours’ own career. Although the Pacific Ocean hasn’t sent much of an atmospheric river of storms to California this winter, there seems to be a wormhole by which the seventh continent transports one excellent act after another to the U.S., starting with Cut Copy and extending to Tame Impala, Flume, Nick Murphy/Chet Faker, Tash Sultana, Jagwar Ma, and others. On the strength of a single full-length, 2017’s Vera, plus some remixes, the band has acquired a reputation for that precise festival-friendly sound that makes you want to get outside and frolic in maximum sunlight.

Touring in support of RÜFÜS — another major Aussie trio that Slabber calls “fucking legends who are very good at what they do” — was certainly a boost. You can hear shades of RÜFÜS’s “Innerbloom” in Crooked Colours’ six-minute “Perfect Run,” album closers whose placement in a live performance governs the crescendo and decrescendo of the entire set.


But Crooked Colours is also notable in that its members live in three separate cities: Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney. To Americans, that might not sound that unusual, but it’s roughly the equivalent of San Francisco, Atlanta, and New York. Further, while most U.S. indie acts bolt their hometowns and flee to Brooklyn or Los Angeles at the first sign of success, Slabber and bandmates Leon Debaughn and Liam Merrett-Park split. In the early days, they’d been living together in one house in the impossibly named Western Australia suburb of Secret Harbour.

“We write separately,” Slabber says. “It’s better than when we’re all in the same room together. We do our separate bits and send them across, which works really well, and when it comes to touring time we’ll just meet in whichever city before and it’s always good to catch up. We never get tired of each other.”

Thais process encourages healthy competition.

“It’s always easier to do an experiment and fuck around and do different things when there’s not someone watching you,” Slabber says.

Crooked Colours with Running Touch and Aaron Axelsen, Friday, Feb. 23, 9 p.m., at Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St. $13-$15;

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Noise Pop: Crooked Colours
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