Lime Cordiale are always on the move. Since 2009 the duo, formed of brothers Oli and Louis Leimbach, have gigged their loose brand of surf rock relentlessly across their native Australia, selling out venues like Sydney's Metro by word of mouth before major radio stations came on board. In recent years they've taken their music to Europe and the United States and are gearing up to release their second LP, '14 Steps to a Better You', with the support of a partnership with an unlikely mentor; in 2019 US megastar Post Malone approached the band and they now share the same management. When we dial up the Dorkphone the band are about to head into the Australian bush to record a video, but elder brother Oli graciously picks up to have a chinwag about all things Lime.
Speaking from his home down under, Oli seems to have taken Australia's lockdown period in his stride. "We weren't allowed to leave the house for two weeks once we got back from the States, but it was pretty sweet. We have been getting more domestic than normal. We never really get to spend any time at home. So it's a pretty weird change, just doing things that we don't normally get to do at home, like cook and garden. And yeah, just like sort of being healthier than usual. Touring takes its toll pretty hard."
If you're new to Lime Cordiale (they were kind enough to join our Homeschool festival last month), Oli says the key takeaway from their band is to have a good time. "We don't really read into the music too much and take it too seriously, we try and have fun. While working hard to create the music we want to do." On '14 Steps to a Better You', that music is a long, loose collection that draws from surf, garage, psychedelia and ska in a series of jams that find a groove and never let it go. The brothers avoid a lot of the guitar noodling that can blight rock music, focussing instead on strong hooks, trippy organs and brass interludes.
With a successful debut, four tracks on triple j's annual hottest 100 list (no mean feat), and international tours under their belt, the siblings felt freer to play around on the new record. "We felt more weird and wacky than we ever have. We've just been really writing music that we want to do as opposed to trying to write for the radio or anything. Our first [record] was trying to give people a business card, if you will. This time we haven't really even thought about what other people might think about it. We just write songs that we want to write. And it gets weirder."
"The '14 Steps to a Better You', I think it's pretty similar in Australia to London; people get swept up in what they think they should be doing. We see it with friends, get married and have kids, get jobs they don't like. Sometimes that's a pretty cool way to go. But other times, people, even in a first-world country, don't feel like they have the freedom to do whatever they want to do."
Despite their upbeat music, Lime Cordiale don't shy away from bigger topics, as on 'Addicted to the Sunshine', which tackles the environmental issues in their home country. "Everyone is pretty hypocritical with everything they do," says Oli. "Australia is so beautiful, but it's like the majority of Australians don't give a shit about preserving it, really. So that's kind of what self-help take about. I would never say to listen to us [about society] cuz I feel like you'll go downhill if you listen to us too hard, but it's definitely a critique on society around us."
'No Plans to Make Plans' laments those focused on climbing the ladder in jobs and lifestyles that don't do anything to improve the world around them. "You have no plans to make plans that don't directly affect you," younger Leimbach croons after a brilliant trombone vs kazoo duel. You don't need to scream slogans from an arena stage to make a point, Lime Cordiale's woozy melodies let the words seep gently into the brain.
Their recent deal with Post Malone's London Cowboys music group is already opening doors internationally, a relationship that stemmed from Malone sliding into Oli's DMs. "I woke up one morning, and I was browsing through Instagram and had a message from someone saying Post Malone and his manager were listening to our music and wanted to get in contact with us. This was when they were on tour in Australia. And I just thought it was bullshit," Leimbach laughs.
"I just messaged the manager anyway. Then [Malone] sent his number through and said 'call me, call me'. From there he took us to lunch, and we went to a bunch of Post Malone shows." One game of beer pong later and they'd agreed to a co-management deal. "He just plays beer pong, smokes joints and gets really drunk and then he goes on stage in front of like 20,000 people. It's kind of insane to see," Oli says of his experience of Malone's backstage entourage. "He has a whole band set up backstage so we had a bit of a jam and he likes playing all those like Green Day and Blink 182 songs backstage. A then he'll just jump straight on stage and do the show. Like it's nothing. It's crazy."
One thing that hasn't changed is the playful approach to music videos that has added to their easygoing appeal. Always involved to play themselves or don ridiculous costumes, the duo's videos are a visual reflection of the chilled out, good-time vibes their music aspires to. When coming up with ideas, the band and collaborator Jack Shepherd don't say no to an idea no matter how silly.
"We try and do that with music as well," Oli adds. "Like, I want to record this bloody frog that I can hear outside and shove it up an octave and use it as a snare drum or something like that. Our producer would be like, 'let's try it'. That's wacky. However outrageous it is, we try and make it work without saying no."
Oli lets us in on the clip they're about to shoot after our call. "[The song] is about people losing their head really. We're going to be filming half of it, and the other half is animated. And on the way to a show, we break down and find these magical berries. And it sort of goes on this weird and wonderful psychedelic trip. There's a bit of touring in there when you're on the way to a show, and it all goes wrong. And you really try to get to that thing just in time. It's more of a psychedelic version of that. It's in the Australian countryside, and I'm looking forward to it."
Having had to postpone a bunch of European shows (and an Australian tour that was nixed before it was even announced), Cordiale are realistic about the prospect of playing a normal packed, sweaty tour any time soon. "Australia is sort of like loosening up a little bit, like you can have fifty people in a pub or whatever. But I can't see us doing huge shows with a mosh pit in front of us. So that's the main thing."
That said they decided not to let the pandemic derail the release of the new album. "I think it's worse for a lot of bands to be pushing things back. I don't think that's really gonna be helping anyone," Oli argues. He could well be right that a few months delay might not provide the landing strip of 'normal' gigs and promotional tours they're hoping for. "People still listen to music. It's like if you're pushing it back, what are you waiting for? You might Not really find what you are waiting for. You might never be ready."
That said, the brothers Leimbach are pumped to get back to the UK (fingers crossed for those December dates) and prove their worth. "In 200-300 capacity venues it feels so similar, the Australian audience to the English audience, people just get really loose and go really wild, and we're bringing that Australian flavour over. It just feels it feels really right."
"[Playing outside of Australia] I think going back to those venues that are a bit smaller, it's really nice being able to just sit at the bar for the whole night instead of being back in a backstage room and then going in front of a theatre or something. You know, I think we're more excited doing those [UK] shows than we are doing any Australian shows. If you want to see us more enthusiastic than at any other show, come to an English one." Public health permitting Lime Cordiale will be back to blast away the blues in December for a string of UK dates.
Taken from the July issue of Dork. Lime Cordiale's album '14 Steps To A Better You' is out 10th July.
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