Rory Heane and Jonno Ross-Brewin have been best mates since their first year of primary school in Melbourne's south-east, and have been playing music together since forming two-piece SeeSaw when they were 18 years old (Rory has also kept busy with the likes of The Blinds and The Stroppies). The seeds for Program were sown in the duo's sharehouse in 2016 when they began writing songs together on guitar for the first time, and the band sprouted in earnest the following year when old friends James Kane (The Faculty, Meter Men) and James Tyrell (Meter Men) were roped in on bass and drums respectively. Since then, the group has graduated from jams and house shows to regular gigs around Melbourne, adding keyboardist Jessie Fernandez (DARTS) along the way.
October 2018 saw Program record with Anti Fade mogul Billy Gardner in his Geelong studio. The lightning sessions yielded the band's debut LP, Show Me. Also mixed and soon to be released by Gardner through Anti Fade, the LP will be the band's first release of any sort.
The nine tracks on Show Me channel the deeply personal and often unfathomable nature of modern being through snarling, tangled riffs and power chords into a fresh brand of unhinged, modern Australiana - just as easy to dance to as is it to cry to. "It's personal heartache, disappointment, broader social panic, everyday confusion and a general acceptance of it all" says Jonno of the record's themes.
The lead single "Motorbike", penned by Rory, showcases the band's knack for tight guitar harmonies, effortless noodling and endless charm. It's the electric twang of Neil Young with the cool swagger of Pavement. The Go-Betweens burning the Midnight Oil. Rory describes it as an anthem of frustration and self-doubt: "The protagonist sits static in traffic while a woman on a motorcycle whizzes past. It's a metaphor for your position in society: feeling stuck and watching haplessly as someone else zooms ahead".
Almost all copies of this album arrived at our store with gnarly corner bumps in the top left of the jackets. Be warned!
Our take: Between the Whiffs, ABC Gum, and Program, it’s been a good month for power-pop records at Sorry State. While Australia’s Program aren’t as indebted to the American power-pop tradition as the former two bands, they’ll appeal to the same ears, particularly if you also have an affinity for the Television Personalities’ poppiest moments. While the guitars mostly jangle, the power chords in “Motorbike” make me think of new wave like the Cars, Tom Petty, or Joan Jett, and I also love the punky energy of “They Know,” whose Treacy-esque melody makes it my favorite track on the album. Program’s reserved, unpretentious presentation may mean it takes their music a little longer to catch your ear, but once it does, you’ll be so refreshed to hear a band that isn’t trying to be louder than everyone else. Like I said, if you’re a fan of vintage 70s power-pop, this should be on your list of new records to check out.