BEFORE the COVID-19 pandemic struck Phil Hanlon was split - spend a heap of money on a European trip or use the cash to finance his solo musical project?
Border closures made the decision fait accompli. The Lambton drummer knuckled down to finish writing and record the "synthetic indie-rock" tracks he'd begun as far back as 2018 before his former band, Newcastle scene heavyweights Arcades and Lions, performed their farewell show in January 2019.
The result is So Much For Certainty, the debut solo EP from Hanlon, which will be released on Friday under the moniker The City.
The 24-year-old wrote all the tracks and plays guitar, drums and sings on the EP and called in help from former Arcades and Lions bandmate Cal Glendenning on guitar and Kingsley James on keys and backing vocals.
The City maintains the strong British rock vibe of Catfish & The Bottlemen from Hanlon's previous band, but with the added pop sheen of bands like The 1975. The EP's opener, Closure, was initially written for Arcades and Lions and was performed at their final gig.
"Just before we [Arcades and Lions] broke up we were going in a very synth and clean direction instead of the big rock sound they had, so that's how Closure came about," Hanlon said.
"I asked Cal [Glendenning] to write a guitar solo for it at the end and it took him five minutes and it was one of the best guitar solos I've heard him play. So when I had that song I really wanted to release that."
Before The City Hanlon had only ever played drums on stage and admits becoming a vocalist and frontman has challenging.
"This entire experience is incredibly daunting," he said. "Even showing my first demos to Arcades was daunting.
"Unless you're an acclaimed singer and you've been singing for a long time and you know you're good at singing, your own voice sounds terrible because you're so anxious."
However, Hanlon shows on So Much For Certainty that he's a more than capable vocalist, particularly on bombastic rocker I'm Too Kind.
Hanlon is in the process of booking The City's debut show later this month or in early May. The City's live band will feature Hanlon, Duncan Brown (Well?), Ben Moonan (Slapjack), Patrick McBeath (Southern End) and Glendenning (Arcades and Lions).
There's more music in the pipeline, too. Hanlon recorded The City's second EP in February and hopes to release it later this year.
SAN CISCO DOUBLE
AFTER being restricted to performing in their native Western Australia, Fremantle indie-pop stalwarts San Cisco are heading east this winter to finally tour their ARIA top-three album Between You and Me.
The 20-show tour includes two separate gigs at Newcastle's Wests NEX on June 19. San Cisco last played the King Street venue in September 2018 when they co-headlined with Brisbane indie kings Ball Park Music.
Between You and Me marked a return to form for San Cisco as they embraced a '70s Californian sound on tracks like Alone and Tell Me When You Leave Tonight.
Brisbane's Jaguar Jonze will join San Cisco on support.
SYDNEY metalcore band Polaris have announced a regional tour to coincide with the release of their latest single Vagabond.
Newcastle's Cambridge Hotel will host Polaris on June 25, with support from Brisbane post-hardcore act Deadlights.
Last year Polaris released their second album The Death Of Me, which debuted at No.3 on the ARIA charts and spawned the tracks Landmine and Masochist.
THE cancellation of Bluesfest for a second consecutive year mere days before the five-day Easter event was to begin was a disastrous blow to the music festival industry.
Thankfully, it's not all doom and gloom. New regional NSW travelling music festival Next Exit has added Port Macquarie's Westpoint Park to their list of destinations for Saturday, May 22.
Next Exit was already bringing its line-up of Ocean Alley, Spacey Jane, Dear Seattle, Merci, Mercy and Clews to Tamworth (May 21), Gosford (May 23), Batemans Bay (May 28) and Mudgee (May 29).
ROADIES BOOKED IN
MANY of the hardest hit people within the music industry due to the pandemic have been road crews and technical staff.
Australia's biggest promotors Chugg Entertainment, Live Nation Asia-Pacific, TEG Dainty and Frontier Touring have banded together to create Roady4Roadies this Sunday, a celebration of the role road crews play in the music industry.
A series of gigs will be performed across the country, featuring the likes of Missy Higgins, Mark Seymour and Caiti Baker.
Lizotte's will host Newcastle's leg of Roady4Roadies from 4.30pm Sunday, which will feature performances from Spy v Spy, Osprey, Giant and Justin Ngariki.