Basking in Exquisite Jangle Pop: A chat with Program's Rory Heane
Ahead of their show tonight in support of Eggy's final launch for their new album, With Gusto, we had the pleasure of speaking with Program's Rory Heane about the addictive batch of slashing post-punk and jangle pop goodness of his band's 2019 debut LP Show Me and their recent return to playing live shows.
Back in 2019, Naarm/Melbourne five-piece Program delivered one of the most refreshing bits of mutated post-punk propelled with an evocative slacker-pop swing across their debut album, Show Me. Comprised of guitarist-vocalist Rory Heane (The Stroppies, The Blinds, SeeSaw), guitarist-vocalist Jonno Ross-Brewin (SeeSaw), keyboardist Jessie Fernandez, bassist James Kane (Body Maintence, The Faculty, Meter Men), and drummer James Tyrell (Meter Men), Program is a supergroup of sorts that hit a sweet spot of blending sugarcoated pop music that revels in deeply personal details — "It's personal heartache, disappointment, broader social panic, everyday confusion and a general acceptance of it all," says Ross-Brewin of the album's themes in a press release. Recorded alongside Anti Fade's own Billy Gardner in his Geelong studio in 2018, the nine tracks on Show Me are loaded with an endless supply of enticing hooks, breezy melodies, and tangled power chords peppered with the ramshackle charm of classic Flying Nun and C86 bands — not surprising given its the same scene that's produced scrappy pop classics from Possible Humans and The Stevens. You can hear Program playing it both rigid and loose across tracks like the classic rock-radio-tinged "Motorbike" or the highly angular and motorik-driven "Memory," while also creating a natural feel and imbuing a gentle air of resignation.
Ahead of their show tonight in support of Eggy's final launch for their new album, With Gusto, we had the pleasure of speaking Heane to dive further into Program's debut LP and their recent return to playing live shows.
Paperface Zine: Hey Rory! Talk to me about how Program started? And was there a particuar vision you all had especially coming from other musical projects?
Rory Heane: Jonno and I were housemates and collectively we'd been sitting on a bunch of songs. We started jamming with Tyrell and Kano and all the songs eventually came out sounding nothing like they were originally written, and that's Program.
As individual musicians who maintain other projects such as The Stroppies, Body Maintenance, The Faculty, Darts, etc., how would you describe the way each five of you shape Program's sound?
RH: We try and stay true to rock and not take things too seriously. Obviously there's elements of pop music, but with pop sounds it can be a balancing act between amazing and too cheesy. I think we balance it well.
Your 2019 debut Show Me has been one of our favorite records to come out the Naarm/Melbourne underground scene in the last few years. What can you tell me about recording that record? You recorded most of it live right? Also, were there any songs on that release that turned out way different than their initial idea?
RH: Yeah we recorded it live. I remember the band getting it all done pretty quick actually. Though lots of the hooks were dubbed after at Billy's [Gardner] house in Abbotsford. And I think most of them did turn out differently. I probably rearrange structure and parts too much but you know it’s all part of the process.
A lot of the tracks on the debut LP felt heavily driven by introspection (e.g. "Another Day," "Enquiries"). How do you approach your songwriting? What things are likely to inspire you to write and how do your original ideas develop into songs?
RH: Yeah I'd say the album is pretty emotionally driven. Jonno and I are generally pretty open with our emotions.
Tell me a bit about the choosing of its cover art? I love how it's two kids playing a game of four-square.
RH: I was having some funny ideas back then, but I thought the game foursquare was metaphorically appropriate in some way. I told Jonno the idea, and the first thing he drew up was perfect.
Looking back at that album three years after its release, what are your thoughts on it?
RH: It still slaps. Came out better than I thought it would and more people are listening to it.
What has it been like working with Billy's label Anti Fade since releasing the debut LP? I know you guys have played Jerkfest a couple of times.
RH: I feel lucky to have worked with Billy. Mostly because he's now just a good bud. He and I will hit each other up regularly about shows. Anti Fade bands rule.
What have live shows been like for you lately and what are you most excited for ahead of playing with Delivery and supporting Eggy for their final launch for With Gusto tonight at Northcote Social Club? Such a stacked bill!
RH: They've been super fun. Feels good to be with friends and playing with great bands again. There's gonna be a lot of love in the room too. Even having seen Eggy and Delivery play over the last couple weeks on their separate tours, I'm still pumped as ever to see them play again at the NSC.
Show Me is out now through Anti Fade Records. Stream the album below and purchase tickets to Eggy's final launch for With Gusto at the Northcote Social Club here.