Tully On Tully: To Asia and beyond

Tully On Tully are making waves wherever they go, and they’re not afraid to get out and try their brand of indie-pop on new audiences. This has taken them from Australia to the Philippines, to Canada, New York, and back to Singapore, and all in a twelve-month window.

Hitting Singapore at the end of May for Music Matters, Tully On Tully treated audiences to shows at both Crazy Elephant and on the Fountain Stage at Clarke Quay. Apparently, opening for K-Pop Night Out (the festival’s Korean showcase) brought back memories from their 2013 visit to Singapore.

“We played a show at Home Club (last year) but we got to come see some K-Pop. I remember walking down a street and all of a sudden there was a huge crowd of people like just in front of me, and I realized that we were walking behind this huge K-Pop star,” says vocalist Natalie Foster, “We were just there being like, ‘What? What’s happening?’”.

“You hear about that kind of stuff happening to other people… but we never thought it’d happen to us”

The Internet has played a pretty significant role in the band’s story of going international, with their first foray into the wide world being their 2013 trip to Manila for Wanderland Festival almost exactly one year ago. There, they played alongside established acts including The Temper Trap and Nada Surf.

The story goes that the band received an email from Stephanie Uy [the 23-year-old President of Karpos Multimedia and brains behind the festival] who had heard of the band from her sister. Finding their videos online, she got in contact, and the rest, they say, is history. “It’s sick,” says sometime piano teacher and Tully On Tully keys player Pete Corrigan. “You hear about that kind of stuff happening to other people — being discovered on YouTube or something — but we never thought it’d happen to us”.

Turns out that the Wanderland opportunity was the beginning of an exciting journey for the band. “It was a huge stepping stone for us, to be able to play internationally,” Corrigan continues, telling us that “it was a huge learning curve as well, in terms of organisation and getting ourselves ready”. Before this opportunity, though Tully on Tully was well educated on hitting the Australian road, only guitarist Greg Rietwyk had travelled internationally for gigs.

“…when they go out, they don’t wanna go clubbing; they want to go and watch a band”

And it certainly wasn’t overnight success for the band. Formed in 2011, they’d spent two years playing in and around their hometown of Melbourne (Australia), independently releasing their debut EP ‘Weightless’ and supporting the likes of local artists Tigertown and Whitley.

They attribute their success, and the success of other Melbourne bands, to the vibrancy of the independent music scene in the city. “Honestly in Melbourne, I think it’s a lot to do with all the venues around town. Also, I suppose, just Melbournites in general – they just accept Melbourne as a place of supporting the independent music scene,” says Corrigan.

“There’s a whole subculture of people who really thrive on that; who, when they go out, they don’t wanna go clubbing; they want to go and watch a band”. Both Corrigan and Foster believe that the x-factor that other cities lack is the supportive community of artists, who are both the producers of, and the supporters of, the arts there.

“It’s good having another voice in there to kind of balance us out and also throw in ideas that we never would’ve considered by ourselves”

But that’s not to say that there aren’t positive factors to getting out of Australia; the enthusiasm of crowds in South East Asia is one of the draw cards for Tully On Tully. “It’s great, we love it,” Foster says. “It’s almost like everyone is so much more receptive here. Like they’re so open and wanting to hear new music and stuff, whereas in Australia they’re a little more reserved.”

Recently, Tully On Tully have been making the most of being in demand overseas. In the last month alone, they’ve played shows in Toronto for Canadian Music Week, New York and Singapore. “It’s been kind of a whirlwind month for us!” Corrigan says.

And there’s more to come. With a new EP on the way, things are only heating up for the band. Whilst ‘Weightless’ was engineered by Rietwyk, the band are now looking for a change. For the first time, they’ve worked with a producer, and with positive results.

“Sometimes I think when it was just us working together it was easier to get on each other’s nerves and disagree,” says Foster. “It’s good having another voice in there to kind of balance us out and also throw in ideas that we never would’ve considered by ourselves”.

Embracing the new seems to be working in Tully On Tully’s favour.

By Eleanor Turnbull