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Introducing: Free Time

By ; July 19, 2013 at 12:01 PM 

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Brooklyn jangle rock outfit Free Time know their way around a good melody. They are also keenly aware of their own place within indie rock’s long and storied history–specifically the jangle rock heyday (or years) of the late 80’s and early 90’s. And even though the band was only formed in the summer of 2012, their roots reach all the way back to those golden years of shimmering guitars and brilliant, poptastic melodies. Originally consisting of only Melbourne singer/songwriter Dion Nania, it took a trip to New York City in 2011 for the idea of Free Time to coalesce and for him to meet the people who would eventually fill out the ranks of the band.

After first landing in New York, Nania spent his initial few months kicking around New York playing guitar with fellow Melbourne transplants Scott and Charlene’s Wedding and with eventual Underwater Peoples label-mates The Twerps. Building a considerable reputation for his guitar chops, he soon came to the attention of bassist Adrienne Humblet, guitarist Jonah Maurer, and drummer Michael Mimoun—though not necessarily in that order. The four soon found that they shared a communal sense of what kind of music they wanted to make, and they soon began playing and recording together, resulting in the formation of Free Time. Prior to the band’s official creation however, Nania had already been writing songs with the intent of gathering together musicians to perform them, and so these early songs became the basis for what would eventually be shaped into the band’s debut record.

We recently spoke with Nania about the band’s inception, along with the details of his preliminary trip from Melbourne to New York and how the band came to release their debut on Underwater Peoples. He also talked about some of the records that were circulating through his own collection during the recording of the band’s debut, while also touching briefly upon his previous groups, including his high school band, Golden Lifestyle Band, and later on, his time in Panel of Judges. Read our full conversation with the Free Time singer/guitarist below.


Beats Per Minute (Joshua Pickard): You moved to New York from Melbourne a few years ago and played guitar for bands like Scott and Charlene’s Wedding and The Twerps. When you started writing the songs that would eventually form the basis of Free Time’s debut, did you take anything particular from your time playing in these other bands?

Dion Nania: Yeah I’d say so. With S&CW I was playing lead guitar all the time, which I’d hardly done before and I got a huge kick out of that and so was more inclined to work in lead break parts for myself for the Free Time songs. With Twerps, not so much. I was playing (great) pre-written bass lines, though I got to see that touring around the USA is fun, and got to know Free Time guitarist Jonah since we were touring with his other band.

BPM: You had spent some time playing with Panel of Judges and Golden Lifestyle Band in Melbourne. But after leaving those bands, what led to your decision to move to New York?

DN: GLB is from way back, started that with pals in high school. Panel sort of came to a natural break point since the other songwriter in that, Alison Bolger, had twin girls. So we launched Panel’s 4th album just in Melbourne and Sydney, with Al super pregnant. Then I headed to NYC mostly because my girlfriend had just moved there to work for Jeff Koons, but also because I was keen to see what it was like.

BPM: When you were looking for people to join you in Free Time, what were the circumstances that led to your finding and recruiting Adrienne Humblet on bass, Jonah Maurer on guitar, and Michael Mimoun on drums?

DN: I’d already been playing with Mike Mimoun in S&CW, then toured with Jonah and had met Adrienne, and I’d grown fond of all of them so I thought it would be fun to have a band with them.

BPM: You and the band recorded most of the album the day before you headed back to Melbourne to mix it. Did this compressed recording schedule affect the way the songs developed?

DN: A bit, since the other three weren’t around to make calls on the mix all the way through for that batch, but then there were three more songs which were recorded and mixed here in New York. The thing is it’s not like we would have spent heaps more time recording even if I didn’t pop back to Australia at that point because we didn’t really have more money to spend.

BPM: Your debut album was released very recently on Underwater Peoples. How did you first come in contact with them, and what led to the decision to let them release the record?

DN: I guess I first became aware of them back home via them doing Twerps, then through playing with Mike and meeting Ari and so on. It wasn’t like we had a record to shop around, I think it was more like they asked and I was like, “are you kidding? Of course! I’d love to!” and then I thought, “ok, better make a record!”

BPM: What were some of the records that you were listening to before or during the recording of your debut that might have influenced the record’s sound? For that matter, what were some of the albums that pushed you—maybe when you were younger—into deciding that you wanted to make music yourself?

DN: I remember the day we recorded “It’s Alright” I was like, “ok, I want you guys to hear the Reels (Australian band from the 80s who I love),” but maybe it’s a stretch to suggest that that had any reel impact (pun intended). In terms of early inspiration, maybe the indie bands I listened to in high school like Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and Pavement, then after that The Clean and the NZ stuff, and so on and so on. I think that loving bands is one thing, but coming up around people that show how it is doable and fun was important too…

Free Time’s self-titled debut LP is out now on Underwater Peoples.


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