Music / Premieres
Cousin Tom - Ice Cream
Words and interview by Francis Tait
Tuesday 20th March, 2018
Cousin Tom’s new single ‘Ice Cream’, a whirlwind of jangly, jazz-laden guitars and brooding vocals is one of the band's most fiery moments yet and serves as an exciting glimpse into what the band have in store for their forthcoming second album.

‘Ice Cream’ is a great example of a band who know exactly what they’re about and where they want to go with it. Cousin Tom’s newest release has the band taking risks and pushing themselves, whilst staying true to the distinctive, haunting sound they pursued (and nailed) on their fascinating 2016 album SHED.

Beginning with the jangly, summery sounding guitars you’d initially expect from a song named ‘Ice Cream’, things quickly turn angular and the band’s jazzier influences start shining through. As Theo Carroll’s evocative baritone vocals develop from a brooding mutter to a belted croon with the rest of the band swirling around it, ‘Ice Cream’ quickly becomes one of Cousin Tom’s most fervent, encapsulating moments yet.

With some bloody good art by one of our favourites, Chelsea Tuesday, serving as something of a cherry on top, 'Ice Cream' has us waiting very anxiously to see what album number two has in store for us. We got in touch with the band ahead of the release of ‘Ice Cream’ to get a behind the scenes look at the whole thing.

TJ: For those unfamiliar with what you do, introduce us to Cousin Tom.

CT: We're a growl-pop, jazz-rock band from Melbourne. Theo Carroll plays guitar, mumbles, shouts and writes most of the lyrics. Carly Stone provides the jingly, jazzy riffs on guitar and keys that lock our music into place. Will Lyon's bass tinges the songs with his own brand of jazz-fusion, swinging between rhythm-setting and melody-making as he pleases. Fergus Nash guides us through our tempo changes and structural shifts with the deftest pair of hands (and feet) you'll ever find behind a drum kit.

Our music oozes with emotional intensity, supported by a gritty alt-jazz backbone and melodic hooks. Theo's lyrics - when you can make them out under the shrouds of baritone growls and warps - speak of masculinity, love, grief, losing it completely and finding it again.

Tell us a little about how 'Ice Cream' came about.

Theo: 'Ice Cream' is probably the only genuine love song I've ever written. Unfortunately, I find it much easier to write about passive or sad emotions, rather than about the single most positive influence in my life. I felt a bit awkward and inert setting out specifically to write a pure and open love song, so to break the thing wide open I decided to throw in a classic primary school simile as a draft opening line, "She holds me like I hold ice cream in my arms". I still shout that line with pride whenever we play 'Ice Cream', even though the band perpetually asks me what it's like to hold ice cream in my arms, rather than in a cone. It's about Carly - we've been in love for two and a half years.

CT: When Theo brought the bones of the song to the rest of the band, it was filled out quickly with driving, tom-heavy drums, a bass line to match, one of Carly's signature riffs to glue it all together and a few time signature changes for good measure.

'Ice Cream' is everything we love about Cousin Tom, with maybe a little more grunt than we’re used to. Is this a sign of things to come?

CT: In the context of our newer material, 'Ice Cream' is the heaviest, rockiest song of the bunch. There are definitely sections of our other songs that share Ice Cream's raw energy and melodic chaos, but are perhaps more refined in a musical sense.

The other songs build up to the 'grunt', as you put it, instead of grunting all the way through like Ice Cream does. In saying that, after we release this version of the single, we may very well put out an alternate version of the song with substantially less grunt - stay tuned.

You released your debut album SHED in 2016, can we expect to be seeing 'Ice Cream' on a bigger release down the line?

CT: Yeah! We're really happy to announce that 'Ice Cream' is the first single off our next album! The album will be coming out this winter with some really exciting guest features.

You also filmed the recording process behind 'Ice Cream', can we be expecting to see that soon? What can we expect from that?

CT: Yeah! Sam Carson and Flether Ellwood put together a really cool behind-the-scenes look into songwriting and recording. Sam interviewed Carly and Theo with a few drinks under their belts - they said a lot, some of it utterly meaningless and some of it (possibly) insightful. The doco will be released alongside the single.

It was actually filmed last year just before the scheduled release date for 'Ice Cream'. The launch was pushed all the way back to March after Theo got his bike wheel stuck in a tram track at maximum velocity, flew over the handle bars and fractured various bones. In the video, Theo still has all his long hair and spends most of the time talking about how crucial it is to release music when the songs are fresh. Five months later, 'Ice Cream' has been reinvented so many times that it's fresher now than it was then.

What else is in the works for Cousin Tom?

CT: At the moment, we're down deep in the depths of recording our album. If we had to put a number on it, the album's maybe 20% finished - lots of work to do! Theo's also writing a new song called 'Cousin Josh'. He promised his cousin, Josh (Tom's little brother) that there'd be a song on the new album about him to assuage some of the fall out of not being in the band name itself.

Give 'Ice Cream' a listen above, and chuck Cousin Tom a like on Facebook to keep up with everything they have planned and where they'll be playing next.