This time last year Confidence Man were barely known outside of their hometown of Brisbane. The quartet - Janet Planet and Sugar Bones share vocal duties, Reggie Goodchild and Clarence take care of the music - have created a buzz on both sides of the Pacific ocean since debut single 'Boyfriend (Repeat)' dropped towards the tail end of last year. With an infectious hookline and 30 second drop that instantly invites audience participation, it represents one of the most audacious pop songs of the decade so far.
Having subsequently signed to Heavenly Recordings, Confidence Man made their UK debut in May wowing audiences at The Great Escape, Dot To Dot, and Glastonbury festivals in the process. DiS caught up with the aforementioned Janet and Sugar (no, they're not their real names before you ask...) and found them still in a state of shock at how quickly things have taken off for the group.
DiS: When did Confidence Man start?
Janet Planet: The four of us were all living in a house together and everyone was working on their own solo projects. Then one day we were all a bit wasted and someone was working on a track at home so the other three of us came into the room and started working on it together. After that, we started doing more and more until we eventually had a bunch of tracks.
Sugar Bones: Drinking slush and making bangers! It started off just for fun really. There was no real aim to form a band or anything.
JP: I suppose that’s why the songs are so silly and fun!
Which was the first song you recorded together?
JP: It was actually a song we sang in French called ‘Vous M’Excitez Tout Le Jour’.
SB: Which is basically ‘You Excite Me All Day’. That was one of the earliest songs we wrote together.
JP: I think ‘Bubblegum’ is probably the oldest song we still play in the set.
You got discovered by Heavenly Recordings last year. How did that happen?
SB: Richard Moffat, who works in Australian music festivals, heard ‘Bubblegum’ and ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’ after we put them online and liked them.
JP: So he put us on at BIGSOUND which is basically Brisbane’s version of The Great Escape.
SB: That was our very first showcase event. So Richard passed our music onto Paul Buck who’s a booking agent working for Coda, and he played it to Jeff Barrett then all of a sudden our manager received an email from Jeff saying he wanted to sign us.
JP: It was literally just two weeks after we released our first single and we had no idea anything was going to come of it, so it was just crazy.
SB: When you look at some of the bands who’ve been on Heavenly, the whole history of the label, it was just unbelievable they wanted to sign us.
JP: We never expected to get signed to a label never mind one as respected as Heavenly so it’s something of a dream come true for us. So after we signed we just spent the next few months nervously trying to write more songs.
Do you think your music has more of an appeal to UK audiences than ones back home?
SB: It went quite well from the very first show we played back home, so when we came here for the first time in May and played The Great Escape we weren’t really sure what to expect. We had no idea whether it would translate across to the UK so we’ve been quite surprised but obviously delighted at the response we’ve had so far. It seems like our music does appeal to the UK crowd but it’s early days yet.
What’s heartwarming is seeing the audience response to a song like ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’, where everyone gets down at the drop towards the end without being prompted.
SB: They’re doing what they’re told!
Is there much of a scene in Brisbane?
SB: Yeah. It’s pretty good. There’s a whole bunch of different stuff going on. Not so much in the dance scene but certainly with guitar bands. It’s very close knit. Everyone is friendly and supportive of one another.
JP: That goes for the whole creative scene in Brisbane. Musicians, filmmakers and artists in general.
SB: There’s a lot of collaborations going on because there are less people so you might have three different projects within one 4-piece group.
You’ve already put out two well-received singles in ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’ and ‘Bubblegum’. What’s next?
JP: We’re putting out a new single towards the back end of the year, probably November, and then we’re hoping to have the album out in February of next year. There’ll probably be another single to coincide with the album as well.
How many songs have you got ready for the album so far?
SB: All of the songs that are in the live show plus a few others which we haven’t played in the set yet.
JP: We’ve put some time aside in July to get everything finished. There are still a few songs in the set that aren’t finished in terms of where we went the recorded versions to be.
SB: There are a couple that need tweaking here and there.
JP: There’s been a couple of times where we’ve played new songs in the live set and they’ve turned out to be better than the recorded versions so we want to revisit those.
SB: Because everything has happened so quickly we haven’t really had chance to focus on the recordings as much as we’d like.
There’s quite an emphasis on the visuals and performance with the live show, possibly as much as the music. Is that something you focused on from the start?
JP: Everything just happened organically. We worked on the show for about two weeks and decided me and Sugar would look good in gold shiny outfits. Then we thought it would look even better if we did some 70s inspired dance moves. We’re big fans of Abba so I guess some of their routines had a big influence. So we practised until we got better and better.
SB: The music came first. It was only after some of the songs were finished that Janet came up with the idea of synchronised dance routines.
JP: Sugar picked it up pretty quickly. At first, I thought I was going to have to knock him into shape! I was going to teach him some aerobics but luckily he got it straight away.
What about the outfits Reggie (Goodchild) and Clarence (McGuffie) wear? The veils covering their faces for example. What inspired those?
SB: Basically the veils were originally to conceal their identity as they’re both in other bands but after a while they became attached to it so the veils stayed. When they come on first it kind of throws people off the scent a bit that haven’t seen us before about what’s coming next. We wanted to do something different. We’ve all played or still play in other bands back home.
JP: I think the clothes work well with the music as well. My mum is a designer so she makes a lot of our costumes. It’s become a massive part of who we are.
Your music has been compared to LCD Soundsystem, The B52s, Deee Lite, and Right Said Fred among others. How would you describe your sound?
SB: Fun music!
JP: Fun music that we make with our three best friends in the world.
SB: We want to make music that makes people feel good.
JP: I’d like to think we’re doing what we’d want to see when we go out and get wasted. It’s like a big mish mash of everything the four of us like.
SB: We draw inspiration from all the decades that we like. We have pretty diverse tastes. I sing country ballads in my other project and three of us play in another band together as well. It’s just difficult finding the time now we’re busy with Confidence Man.
JP: This has pretty much taken over our lives right now, not that we’re complaining! It’s still hard to believe how quickly things have taken off. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe this is happening.
Do you see yourselves leaving Brisbane if the band’s popularity continues to grow so rapidly? Relocate to the UK even?
SB: We’re planning to move over here next summer.
JP: I wanna live in Brighton but the guys want to move to London.
SB: We’re really looking forward to being based in the UK and hitting as many festivals here and around Europe as possible next year.
Are there any other new bands you’d recommend Drowned In Sound and its readers should check out?
JP: There’s a band called Total Giovanni from back home who are incredible. They’re a six, sometimes seven-piece who play a mix of electronic dance music and funk. They’re all amazing musicians. Definitely check them out.
SB: They’re really cool.
What advice would you give to new bands who are just starting out?
JP: Do something different and do it in your own style. Pick and choose. You can steal stuff, I mean a lot of our stuff is cut and paste but done in a way that is definitely us.
SB: Do something unusual and have lots of fun.
So if you weren’t making music what else would you be doing?
SB: Probably crying in the gutter somewhere! I’d probably try and write a book.
JP I’d carry on making clothes for myself and then make them for cats and dogs. I’d start a new pet range. Hot Pets.
For more information on Confidence Man, please visit their official website.