Garage-dream and Instagram-core

Text by Tom Harrad

Photography by Melika Ngombe

Splashh have surfaced from down under, as if straight out of the Bondi beach surf with salt-encrusted hair and dog-eared copies of Doolittle by the Pixies. Over the past few months they have released a crop of singles, injecting a much-needed hit of sunny, unpretentious garage rock into their adopted home turf of Hackney, east London. Correction: garage is not a term that sits comfortably with the band.

"I don't think we even know what 'garage' means anymore," says singer and guitarist, Toto Vivian. "I guess it relates to our sound in that we record and produce records at home in an 'amateur' way. Splashh in our mind is loud and dreamy. You could call it garage-dream."

You could indeed call their music just that. Tracks such as their last single, "Need It", "All I Wanna Do" and "Headspins" are grungy and joyous, with bright melodies springing from scuzzy guitars and fuzzier vocals. The songs are reminiscent of beers, beaches and bonfires, while their videos feature the band larking around in supermarkets, their heads lolling in the back of convertibles, or charging around the city streets in a rabble, freaking out the locals. If this all sounds cliched and romantic, it is because Splashh feel like the inheritors of a long line of bands who have created wonderful, idiosyncratic things out of such style markers.

"It was winter when we got to London," explains Vivian. "So we just hung out at home and wrote songs still dreaming of the beach." This longing for sand and summer is noticeable. Splashh are more colourful than "garage-dream". They are Instagram-core.

Whatever imagery their sound conjures, just like a true blue Antipodean, Vivian isn't too concerned. "At the end of the day we're writing pop songs. The distortion and delay is part of our sound, but there's nothing to hide. It just sounds sick to our ears. Guitar music is what we've always been into since we were young. It's much more fun jumping around with a guitar and letting go with your friends. Sure, it would be nice to party with Kanye West in his penthouse apartment in the Bahamas with supermodels but, we're all vegans anyway," he deadpans.

It's this confidence in their own simplicity that makes Splashh so endearing. Theirs is not ground-breaking music, after all. There are hints of Pixies, Dinosaur Jr and Husker Du in the mix, while the band's former favourites were groups such as the Hives, the Vines and the Strokes. "Our influences at the moment would be bands like Deerhunter and Beach House, but it was those earlier bands that got us psyched to play music."

A year ago, Splashh would have been lumped in with north London grunge revivalists Yuck, another band that aped the look and sound of late '80s American alt rock, right down to the intimidating hot girl playing bass. "We couldn't do it," insists Vivian. "We find female bass players too attractive, it would just lead to showing off and way too many guitar solos."

As grungy as Splashh are, they certainly aren't gloomy. Their tunes are warm and fuzzy, yearning for ripped jeans and oversized sweaters, and taking endless road trips across the vast expanses of an imagined America. §

Splashh's forthcoming single is out on Luv Luv Luv Records this autumn.

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