Music / Features
Introducing The Tramway Live Series Vol. 1
Words and interview by James Lynch
Tuesday 24th January, 2023
Today The Tramway Hotel have announced Volume One of their Tramway Live Series, a new compilation celebrating one of Melbourne’s most inviting and intimate bandrooms as well as the artists that make it what it is. Conceived by the venue’s soundperson David Forcier in collaboration with their booker Scarlett Maloney, the comp blends a mixture of new names and familiar faces together, capturing our re-energised local scene in its most natural element as it emerged from lockdown across 2021 and 2022. Alongside the announcement of the new compilation, we caught up with Dave to wrap our head around the whole project and what’s to come next.
TJ: Tell us about the origins of The Tramway Live Series. Did anything in particular spark the project?

DF: I had just moved back to Melbourne roughly this time last year and was trying to get as much sound engineering work as I could. Wether that be “soundie” work, recording, mixing or whatever else really and The Tramway needed a sorta permanent sound person, so I just stuck my hand up. I think I get a bit squirly when I don’t have too much on the go so I just figured since I was really into some of the artists rolling through that I’d maybe start recording some of it. Initially there wasn’t any real intention behind it but I just figured it was a pretty interesting snapshot of what was going on in the tail end of strict Covid restrictions and one thing just led to the next.

Last time we chatted with you was alongside the release of your photobook Reckless which documented the local music community in the years before Covid hit. How do you think this compilation reflects what’s been happening in the years since?

I think on my end you can definitely use Covid as the line in the sand that split my interest away from photography into taking sound engineering more seriously. In terms of what’s happening within the music community now it’s kinda hard to know whether or not Covid had a massive impact. A lot of music was paused or just stopped all together but it’s entirely possible that would have naturally happened anyway within where my attention was. If I look back at everything in the Reckless book, 90% of what was happening at that point in time just organically just stopped Covid aside. That being said, Melbourne is so full of talented people that I doubt there’s every going to be a shortage of interesting stuff popping up and things just evolve with time.

In a unique way, this compilation is a collaboration between yourself and The Tramway’s booker Scarlett Maloney. From your perspective, how does a booker like Scarlett shape the pub? And how did the two of you manage to curate the final list of bands that appear on Volume One of the comp?

I’ll be completely honest, good booking can really make or break any venue, we’ve all seen it happen over and over again. Had Scarlett not been booking and working with the people she was it would have just ended up as a very un-noteworthy job for me and this project would have never started. Fortunately for me, I can sometimes suggest “hey, it’d be cool if so-n-so could play here”, but most of the time Scarlett is already way ahead of me. As for the final list, I guess I just record the stuff I really like and hope that something in the set sticks once I sit down with it. Also fortunately for me, almost everything I’ve wanted to put on it has worked out pretty good.

In the press release you sent through, someone asks “Do you hear the room in the recording?” Well, you’re the sound person, so what do you think? Is there anything across these recordings that couldn’t have happened not at The Tramway? Any idea what makes The Tramway so special to this community of bands and artists?

The funny thing about The Tramway that you’d never really know looking at it is that the room itself just actually sounds amazing. I’d track a band in there over a lot of studios in town any day. It’s a really weird shape, it’s got all sorts of weird shit about it that gives it a bit of life but still dead enough to capture things without any massive technical issues. As for these recordings, I ended up just recording everything with three mics so it’s fairly lofi but all the while sorta just sounds as if you were standing in the middle of the room. I’ve since starting adding a few spot mics here and there and really just treat it like I would any recording. I’m excited about what’s to come cause everything so far has been sounding really amazing. I think the tramway is special to a lot people because it’s really inclusive, it’s a really great venue if you are starting out and it’s also a really great venue if you aren’t and just wanna have an intimate afternoon gig to try out something different. It also probably helps that the entire staff are all very genuine and lovely people.

You’ve mentioned this album is the first of a series of compilations to come - any idea what’s next?

I’ve already made a good dent in the second one and am really excited about it. Theres been a lot really great stuff to come through and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I’m not entirely sure how many volumes in the series there will be but for the time being I’ll say at least one more. I’d happily do more as long as there’s still interest and it’s still interesting to me, but time will determine that.

How is the compilation being released to the world? Any big plans?

We’ve got a big release party on the 11th of February at The Tramway which were just finalising the details on at the moment but that will be announced in the next week. Meanwhile pre-orders are up on our bandcamp.
The Tramway Hotel Live Series - Volume One is available to pre-order via now. Stay tuned for more info on their record release party on February 11th.