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Arugula's Infectiously Breezy Garage-Psych Grooves Brew on 'Roquette 'n' Roll' EP

Last month, the Sunshine Coast-based sonic explorer Aidan Harding Bradburn released a new EP under the recording project Arugula. Bradburn's new moniker takes cues from the strange side of '60s psych-rock with its abstract lyricism, hard-driving organ sounds and copious amounts of fuzzed-out guitars.

After recording under the moniker Car Boot Sail, the Sunshine Coast-based multi-instrumentalist Aidan Harding Bradburn is back with a new recording project called Arugula. Throughout his five-track debut EP, Roquette 'n' Roll, self-released in January, Bradburn takes listeners on a whirlwind journey with his fuzz-soaked grooves, jangly, off-kilter melodies and an array of Middle Eastern-inspired guitar flares. Its lead single "Haunted" is full of strident fuzz with an infectious, smoky twang that's complimented by Bradburn's sun-fried psych-folk storytelling, while the closing track "Bad Friend" is a boisterous garage ripper with a cavalcade of spacey riffs that ride a motorik beat.

In an email exchange, we caught up with Bradburn to learn all about this new project and dive deeper into his tripped out, spaghetti western-tinged soundscapes.

Paperface Zine: What's your earliest musical memory?

Aidan Harding Bradburn: Sitting in a baby seat singing Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side" in the back of my mum's Peugeot. Hahaha it's not the most child-friendly song, but I loved it and still do.

Your new recording project, Arugula, sounds like it harks back to original freakbeat bands and sorta draws from the same influences as fellow Aussie rockers such as Babe Rainbow, Sunfruits and early-King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Lay on me some of your biggest influences and how would you describe your sound and style?

100% all of those bands have influenced my tunes immensely. Especially Babe Rainbow and Gizz having seen them perform live a heap of times. Sunfruit's environmental and social commentary has began to rub off on my lyrics too without a doubt. A few other Aussie bands I really dig and have found to influence my tunes are The Flamingo Jones, Nice Biscuit, Surprise Chef and Traffik Island as they all nail the hypnotic psych sound that I'm trying to go for too. And I would describe Arugula's sound as a mix neo-psychedelic '60s garage pop mixed with '90s shoegaze and an added dash of Western folk.

Take me through the origins of this new recording project.

Before Arugula came about, I wrote some songs under the moniker Car Boot Sail. I decided to part ways with that name as I felt like I was ripping off a few artists like The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Joy Division and The Underground Youth a bit too much instead of recording original ideas. I then moved from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast and had a new garage studio to work in with a whole lot of recording experience gained from those first songs and some better equipment. Arugula was then born out of the desire to create more original tunes, while still being influenced by those bands mentioned before and other '60s garage artists.

How do you approach your songwriting? What things are likely to inspire you to write and how do your original ideas develop into songs?

Most of the songs on Roquette 'n' Roll start with me looping a bassline which I'll just start noodling over with my 12-string. Having a distinct repetitive melody for verse is always a must have too. I really love building droney psychedelic instrumental breaks too. Lyrics are always written last and are found through interesting conversations and the world around me as well as through introspection and reflection. I think songwriting almost acts as a meditative practice where I forget about everything else.

Take me through the recording process of your debut EP Roquette 'n' Roll?

All of the songs on Roquette 'n' Roll were written, recorded and mixed by myself inside my garage. The garage was stupid hot in the afternoons so I only had a specific period of the day I could work on tunes otherwise it would just become a sauna in there and if I play too late at night, my neighbors complain. So there is definitely a few limitations of recording the EP at home. I’m really keen to find a space where I could play through the night for the next release. Each song took about a week from start to finish, there were a heap of unfinished and throw away songs during this period too.

Since this is a new project, were there any songs on the EP that turned out way different than their initial idea?

"Bad Friend" took a lot of time to develop into what I think now is an interesting song. The slow bridge was originally much longer and had a lot more instrumentation supporting the guitar. I’m really excited to play this song live because there will be such a contrast between the loud chorus and this bridge before the instruments rise up into a jam.

This EP has been out for just over a month, so what has the response been like? Also, what’s the satisfaction like knowing people from all parts of the world can hear it?

Well, it's still the early days for the EP and I feel like my listener base is quite small so I haven't gotten too much feed back from listeners. Although I have had a few friends comment on how some parts sound Western which they were surprised by, but I love haha. I am stoked to have the EP out in the world, I feel like it's a cohesive body of work that I am really proud of and just want to share around with everyone.

I think its awesome people from all over the world are listening, I kind of feel like I'm giving back to the psych / garage fanatics around the world that are just like me, as I love digging and finding new hidden gems I hope this EP can be seen similarly to someone overseas too.

Well we love it and I know some other psych-rock fans who would dig it as well! Tell me, aside from the release of this new EP, what else have you been up to?

Christmas was busy with family commitments but other than that, I've been surfing a bunch and enjoying the warm water. I got COVID which was shitty, but I just stayed home and played Red Dead Redemption 2 for hours haha. So you can expect even more Western sounds on the next release (nah just kidding).

Great game to play while listening to The Doors or King Gizzard's Eyes Like The Sky! Do you have any shows coming up? If so, what are you looking forward to playing these tracks to a live audience?

I actually need to get a band together and I think I’m a little scared to bring these songs out of my head and onto the live stage. But it's going to happen. I think "Strange" and "Bad friend" are going to be my favorite tracks to play live as they are the more punky songs on the EP.

What else can we expect from this project in 2022?

Hopefully I'll have some physical copies of Roquette 'n' Roll released soon and there will be more music coming very soon as well!

Roquette 'n' Roll is out now. Stream the new EP below.

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