IT'S strange to say, but Patrick Robertson believes writing Motor Ace's biggest hit Carry On may have shortened the band's career.
The lush Britpop-inspired Carry On, and fellow single Keeping Secrets, launched the Melbourne band's second album Shoot This to No.1 in 2002. But in the frontman's eyes their rockier 2001 debut, Five Star Laundry, was Motor Ace's definitive statement.
"It was a double-edged sword with Shoot This," Robertson said this week. "I'd written CarryOn towards the end of touring Five Star Laundry and it was clearly such a strong track. We got really excited about it, and as much as it's the song that got the most traction, it steered us in a direction we weren't quite ready to go.
"I'm still grateful for that song coming out of the air. I still feel like we never fully explored what we started to do on Five Star Laundry."
After being stalled by COVID-19, Motor Ace are gearing up to celebrate Five Star Laundry's 20th anniversary by re-issuing the record and touring next year.
Motor Ace will perform the album in full, including the tracks Budge, Enemies and Freefall, which they've rarely played since 2001. Five Star Laundry was recorded in 2000 and released in March 2001, featuring the triple j Hottest 100 entries American Shoes, Death Defy and Hey Driver.
"It was a very exciting time," Robertson said. "We were channelling more of an American rock sound and our musical palette of that time was pretty simple. It was make it as rock as possible."
Motor Ace's drift towards a more anthemic pop-rock sound on Shoot This, meant several heavier demos were cast aside.
But those demos have recently been rediscovered and in December the four-piece plan to revisit those for a potential EP. It would be Motor Ace's first new material since their initial break-up in 2005 after album No.3, Animal.
"Some demos that we listened to were songs we'd been doing for the second album, but they weren't fitting with that forward direction we were heading to with Shoot This," Robertson said. "There's a couple of good ideas there."
Robertson (vocals, guitar) initially reformed in 2019 with bandmates Damian Costin (drums), Matt Balfe (bass), and Dave Ong (guitar) for a brief tour, but everyone enjoyed playing together so much the band continued. Robertson said there's no grand ambitions, but Motor Ace are more than a hobby.
"Now it's more about we enjoy getting together more as people than musicians," he said. "We're lucky to have people showing up to gigs, quite frankly. The recording aspect of things is another layer. I don't know where that'll go, we're starting small with an EP."
Five Star Laundry is re-released on November 5. Motor Ace play Newcastle's Cambridge Hotel on June 18, 2022.