On April 29th refugee Omid Masoumali died after commiting an act of self-immolation at the detention centre in Nauru. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Masoumali yelled “This is how tired we are; this action will prove how exhausted we are. I cannot take it anymore” before setting himself alight.
It’s in this climate that Fear Like Us release their sophomore album Succour; an album that looks into the heart of the current refugee crisis in Australia. It’s full of political anthems taking aim at everything from offshore processing to the government’s budget and how it affects the poor.
On ‘Raze It To The Ground’ frontman Jamie Hay sings “Will you stand beside the people who need us most / be brave and relentless champions of hope / or stand behind the cowards who built theses walls and help them put necks into the ropes”.
The album’s title, Succour, is a word that means “assistance and support in times of hardship and distress”, a title that sums up the themes of their sophomore record.
Frontman Jamie Hay is in his Melbourne home when he talked to Newcastle Live, and how the title of the record came to fruition.
“We struggled for ages to come up with a title. We looked at parts of the lyrics in the songs and stuff like that” Hay explained. “I was talking about how there is this theme of how the Australian people champion the helping hand, and helping people out when they’re in distress. And I just don’t get that feeling from everything else going on in the world, all the horrible things that happen to people all around the country; from indigenous people to refugees and people living below the poverty line. And I think helping people in need is a strong theme [on the record], and we just started looking up words that express that, and I threw ‘Succour’ out there to everyone, and it was like ‘ehh’ [laughs]”
“And it was my friend Megan that sent me a few days after, and said ‘yep, that’s a really good word’. I thought it was maybe a bit weird and sounded weird, I wasn’t 100% on it, and she said ‘I think it’s really good to use words and keep it out there’. And like, I had not heard of that word in my life, I just looked it up. It’s cool to keep that language alive, and I think the word encompasses everything the record is about.”
It has been a long time between albums for the band. The band’s debut album was released in 2007 through Poison City Records, leaving a nine year break between LPs. The long history of the band has allowed the band to grow and change over time; members have come and gone, the band have all individually relocated from Newcastle to Melbourne, and maybe they’re all a little older and wiser.
The relocation to Victoria played a part in the resurgence of the band; naturally having all the members in the same city made things easier, and since then the band have been playing more shows, including a tour of Tasmania with The Smith Street Band. “We just work stuff out when we can, and in the past couple of years, since Hammel moved here it’s been easier” says Hay. “We started jamming more and writing more. I don’t know many bands who don’t have members in another band or are doings something else.”
Fear Like Us have a strong Novocastrian contingent in their band; everything from their members to the artist behind Succour’s album cover. “It’s actually the side wall of our rehearsal space in Brunswick. Tom Savill painted that, he did the art for our first album as well. He’s an artist originally from Newcastle” Hay explains. “He painted that mural on a 36 degree day in January, it was just brutal. We were all hiding under the shade of a building while he was out under a full on sun against a white wall painting all day. He is amazing.”
To celebrate the release of the album, Fear Like Us are heading out on six-date tour of Australia. They’re taking along Newcastle four-piece Run Squirrel for the ride. The tour will stop at The Lass O’Gowrie on Friday May 20 for a show with locals Hey Lady! and Rangers Of The Universe. Hay explains that the Newcastle show is often one of the most anticipated on tour.
“It’s always a blast because we have so many friends there. We’ve seen the crowd change over the years, cause we have been a band for 12 years. We’re all grown up and doing other things, but they’re always really fun shows.
“It’s great to come home and see everyone and play with all our mates bands, it’s an awesome thing to do. There’s no way we wouldn’t have Newcastle on a tour”
Who: Fear Like Us
What: Succour. Out now on Poison City Records
When: Friday May 20
Where: The Lass O’Gowrie Hotel
With: Run Squirrel, Hey Lady!, Rangers Of The Universe