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February 2021

Confidence Man: "People can look down on happy music, but I don’t think that’s right at all"

Every day's the weekend.
Published: 11:18 am, April 13, 2018
Confidence Man: "People can look down on happy music, but I don’t think that’s right at all"
“We’re kinda a big mess,” admits Janet Planet. It’s an apt name to have when you’re in a band who could easily throw-down a party at any location, at any time. She’s joined leading the charge with Sugar Bones, alongside Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild - and if there were ever names more suited to Confidence Man then, well - someone needs to raise attention to it.

“Like…” continues Janet, “if you’re cooking good food, a lot of the time it doesn’t really look good, but it tastes great. That’s what we are. We’re made up of a bunch of good things that shouldn't necessarily go together, but somehow it kinda works."

A lot can happen in a year, and Confidence Man are a shining example of that very fact. In the space of twelve months, they’ve gone from spending their time playing in multiple bands and hanging out together in a shared house in Brisbane, to the sort of on-the-cusp level of hysteria that feels like its ready to bubble over into one glorious disco celebration.

“A lot of the past year has been finalising and working out exactly what the band was,” details Janet, taking a moment at home before Confidence Man unleash their defining next steps.

“At the time we released ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’, we still didn't know what we wanted to do or who the characters were in the band or how we wanted to portray ourselves live, so it’s been a slow process of adding things as we go. It’s been a big collage of all these little mistakes."

"pull" text="People had this expectation that we knew what we were doing, but we actually had no idea

Not like you would have known. What Confidence Man represent and do may be something that seems quite easy to pinpoint, but its importance in 2018 is something to behold. Born out of life down under, its origins don’t lie with four friends discovering music for the first time, but a natural voyage into the unknown with only the thought of having fun - and the result might well be the most joyous record of the year so far.

Playing in their own bands separately (across the likes of Aussie favourites Jungle Giants, Moses Dunn Collective and The Belligerents), Confidence Man are that moment when you first meet someone and let them flow into your life, pulling boundaries down and jumping into the bliss of living.

“I think why we ended up doing what we did was because we didn't feel like there was anything out there that was exactly what we wanted to do or see when we went out and got drunk,” confesses Janet, drawing back to the path that’s led them here. “We decided that we’ll just make it ourselves then, if it’s not there.

“Everyone was writing music already in this shared house but were doing it in their rooms, and I think one day, Reggie was just jamming on a bassline and a few of us were in there and it ended up just being the four of us in a room thinking, holy shit this is awesome.

"We started doing it more and more and then it became a routine, twice a week before escalating from there.”

Their mates were stunned when they heard the results of four ‘rocky’ musicians now creating something completely different together.

“All our friends were a bit confused,” confesses Janet. “They were like, what is this? Why are you writing dance music? What are these lyrics?”

That was entirely the point. It wasn’t about creating a band in their minds and aiming themselves in that direction; Confidence Man prefer to scatter themselves in every direction.

As Janet explains, it’s not made with bands or sounds or influences in mind, but more about “the way the four of us are together because we just generally have the best time together and we’re super high energy. When we’re together, we’re not serious at all.”

Janet will be the first to delve into their celebratory late nights the band throw themselves into, and that fever and excitement is brimming and busting to jump out in every technicolour nod Confidence Man throw. Infectious, it was a matter of moments before the vibrations they pulled from countless hours on the dance floor and perfected at home together, started to make their own mark.

“At the start, it was just my girl-friends who liked the tracks we were making,” points out Janet, “and then we released ‘Boyfriend’ and we were like, actually, maybe we should write some more songs. Maybe we need more songs because people are starting to listen to us and maybe these are songs people would like.”

When ‘Boyfriend’ landed in the world, the world took notice. Within months, Confidence Man were storming packed out festival stages and becoming the sort of word of mouth phenomenon that meant, even if you haven’t heard of them - you’ll need to see them live.

At last year’s Great Escape, the hub of breakthrough bands, their shows grew and grew over the three days, going from a room of ten people at their first show - to their final one seeing crowds gathered down the street.

It was a long way from their initial plan for Reggie and Clarence to tour their songs as a DJ set while they saved enough money to get everyone out on the road, something that seems unthinkable now Confidence Man pack the feel-good live show of the year in their back pocket. A glitter-soaked coming together of everything they represent, it’s the big night out coming straight for everyone and anyone.

“We did this one show within the first week of releasing a song at this tiny venue in Brisbane,” recalls Janet, thinking back to those early days and the unfiltered live show they brought to the table from day one.

“My Mum had made our costumes and everything. I was in this gold sequin mini-dress, and Sugar was in a matching gold suit. We did moves that were ABBA-inspired and smiling really big and just super happy. Our friends were watching, and we asked them what they thought. They were like, ‘You went like deep ABBA’ and I was like, dude - ABBA are pretty good.”

Their reputation began to grow, within months being dubbed ‘the best up-and-coming live band in Australia’ and feeding off immediate reactions to their inviting fun-filled frolics. For Confidence Man though, it was just another natural step of four mates simply throwing the party they wanted to be at, because nobody else would do it.

“I wasn’t surprised because that’s what I want to see. I would want to see people doing synchronised dancing, the hot guy with the six-pack who can’t dance and a girl running around trying to twerk, and I thought there must be other people like us,” laughs Janet. “There has to be people who like something a bit silly.

"The more shows we played, the more we realised. There would be people dressed in tragedy gear after work who were having a beer and then would gravitate towards the stage at our shows. We thought, maybe this is good? Maybe people are going to like it.”

After seeing the world on a whirlwind twelve months, their debut album ‘Confident Music For Confident People’ delivers on a manifesto for some serious partying. A glorious reinvention of early 00s electroclash morphed with sugar-sweet pop hooks that immediately has hips moving, hands shaking and eyes wider than most revellers show leaving Fabric every weekend - it’s a record bound with optimism, hope and untouchable highs that continues to evolve and move at every step.

Pulled together from those nights together in their shared house in Brisbane (and now in a new house in Melbourne after they decided to move out together), it takes their organic steps and builds it into a bountiful shape.

“I think people had this expectation that we knew what we were doing, but we actually had no idea,” states Janet. “We would just go, I think this is good - this is gonna work.”

"pull" text="I thought, there must be other people who like something a bit silly

In line with everything that makes Confidence Man well, Confidence Man - they’d work on tracks with a key rule. If you aren’t yelling at each other in excitement and are beginning to stroll piecing it all together, then let it go. In the moment, Confidence Man are about the unfiltered sugar hit storming into your brain.

From standout heavyweight bangers like ‘Better Sit Down Boy’, ‘Bubblegum’ and ‘Don’t You Know I’m In A Band’ to the unravelling blossom of the Screamedelica-esque ‘Out The Window’ and ‘Fascination’, it’s a record basking in the innocent joys of electronic pop. Tongue firmly in cheek, they glimpse at the ridiculous events going on around them - laughing their heads off and recalling adolescent dreaming as the unmistakable master of it all.

Take ‘C.O.O.L Party’ for example, a shuffling LCD Soundsystem jammer that brings in cowbells and grooving licks for a storied run-down of the indisputable party of the year.

“I think ‘C.O.O.L Party’ has some really funny bits in it and the most hilarious chorus,” smiles Janet. “We already know the dance moves we’re going to do for it - like a total YMCA on that chorus.”

Don’t believe that their lives can involve some of the many events they talk about?

“Half of those things talked about we do - we did actually see a guy shoving a lightbulb up his arse."

That’s that answered then.

It’s a joy of lightning energy sorely needed, a band who bathe in the outlandish and have the soundtrack to back it all up. It’s a potent mixture that in the face of all your naff news going on in the world, represents something more.

“The reason I like doing this so much is, of course, making music. I love music so much, but it’s also good to be on stage and dancing crazy. Though people confuse the effort and confidence with actually being good at something,” continues Janet.

"There’s so much difficulty and hardship around, that I think actually, maybe, happiness is more important than focusing on negatives. There’s nothing wrong with that and a lot of benefits in trying to be positive. I think people can look down on happy music as being easy to write or shallow, but I don’t think that’s right at all."

Ask Confidence Man about where they go next and what they want to achieve, and they’re completely open about it. The plan for getting an album together and out into the world born out of a desire of “wanting the audience to know more of our songs and be a part of it all to get involved” or “so we didn't have to play to a crowd who didn't know our songs anymore!”

After all, the best parties can come from knowing every single word like it’s a tattoo on the chest of the person in front of you, and if anybody can claim their place as 2018’s defining party-masters, then it’s Confidence Man. They’re not worried about what you think of them, or what you think about their music or whether you think you’ve heard it all before - they just want you to join in, head to the dance floor and throw your worries out of the window. Even if just for 45 minutes.

A lot can happen in a year. Confidence Man were the underground party; now they’re bursting out of the surface. If you want to find them, follow the glitter - because times like these need some love and (f)understanding.

Taken from the May issue of Dork - order a copy or subscribe below. Confidence Man's album 'Confident Music For Confident People' is out now.

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