Photo by Liam Semini.
Local rockers Delfi, Jess, Sam, Lum & Mario ak.a. The Maggie Pills have been stuck inside like the rest of us over the last 18 months. As COVID has exasperated difficulties facing up-and-coming performers, Brunswick Daily spoke to The Maggie Pills’ singer Delfi Sorondo and guitarist Sam Waugh to get the lowdown on their experience of recording and releasing music during a pandemic, losing gigs and a lack of government assistance.
Brunswick Daily (BD): What’s kept you guys busy during the pandemic, what’ve you guys been doing?
Delfi Sorento (DS): Well, there are two things. During the first year of the pandemic, we recorded our latest album, Tunnels at our houses. And during this 2021, besides being able to gig on and off there’s been some composing. We were going to hit the studio in August and that got delayed until who knows when. But yeah, there’s still a lot of new songs that we’re keen to record as soon as possible.
Delfi Sorento recording her vocals at home during lockdown.
BD: Sam, what about you? Similar?
Sam Waugh (SW): Yeah, similar. I sort of put together a music studio at that time as well. You know, buying some different things from Bunnings and making an isolation box for my guitar and some stuff for microphones for some home studio recording.
DS: [We’re doing] all of the pre-production of our next album. And we’ve also been getting some new stuff. With Mario, our drummer, we’ve acquired two beautiful synthesisers which we’re keen to add to our new songs and hopefully to our new gigs when we’re back.
Mario playing with a new toy.
BD: That’s so cool – and we’ll get into future music soon – but I’ll just rewind for a little bit. For readers who haven’t discovered you guys, how did you guys come together? When was that?
DS: That was about two years ago when we [Delfi and Mario] came to Melbourne from Argentina. We had been playing music together in Buenos Aires, and pretty much we decided that the first thing we wanted to do when we got to Melbourne was to meet musicians from here and start a band. So, it was basically the first thing we did, and we put it together thanks to BandMix, and we were very lucky to hit it off immediately and the ball got rolling very fast. The ball got rolling September 2019.
Delfi and Mario recording and drinking some Argentinian “Mate”
BD: What were your initial reactions to the lack of government funding for the arts during this extended on-again-off-again lockdown period?
SW: I mean, it is frustrating to see more funding go to sports than the arts. Also, a lot of media focus is about supporting musicians who are already established within the industry, but there’s really been a gap in the financial support that small bands like us can receive, we haven’t received really anything.
BD: Considering the lack of funding, it’s amazing that you guys released so much music last year. On Spotify at least, it says that all of your catalogue was released in 2020 – your Plastic Muffin Heart EP and Tunnels, which you mentioned before. So, they were recorded and released during lockdowns, I’m guessing? What was that like?
AS: Well, the first EP which was recorded at record speed – we started playing together in September 2019 and we released it in December, so that was like in 3 months. It was actually released before the first lockdown started.
And while we had the first [lockdown] we started composing and recording Tunnels. That’s why we were able to do it. Sam had his gear at home, so he could record guitars, we had our gear here, and we were actually very lucky we got to record drums in a studio before the lockdown started.
BD: And it’s interesting because you said before that you’d be adding synth to these new songs, so I guess Sam, maybe you could illuminate how stuff like the synth – as well as the general aura of the pandemic – is going to work into your new music?
SW: So, one thing I wanted to say to add onto recording at home last year, was that it was awesome. Because it was during that 100-day lockdown, so I felt like the busiest unemployed person in the world.
I’m kind of a workaholic, I wake up and I have a plan of things I want to get achieved and so it’s been really great to kind of let that creativity fill [my] day. Was your question in terms of how does the pandemic impact the playing?
BD: No, I suppose, how did the pandemic impact your new music? How is it going to work its way into your new music, do you think, if at all?
SW: So far in pre-production it’s sounding darker, but at the same time it’s interesting that the process of layering it is a process that is joyful, I suppose … even if it does sound dark, there’s joy in creating something that you think sounds good and fits good (sic). So, in that sense, I’m trying to write how I want to feel. If I’m writing something that I enjoy, even if it sounds dark, I’m writing to make myself feel how I want to feel, which is actually joyful, because I’m creating.
BD: With this new stuff, I don’t know how much you can reveal, but do you know when we can expect new material?
DS: We are aiming to release our new single for the album maybe early next year. Like January maybe. With the inability to go to the studio I don’t think it’s going to be sooner than that.
BD: Fair enough, and I’ve got to ask as this is a Brunswick-based publication, which Brunswick-based venues have you guys played and which one’s your favourite? I think I’ve seen that you guys have played Stay Gold?
DS: It was super nice to play that venue. You know, we had only seen big events in it, and it felt really nice to play on a stage like that. We actually just lost a gig, our next gig, which was going to be the launch of our “Sick & in the Park” (from Tunnels) music video made by mine (sic) and Mario’s housemate. We were going to launch that at the Bergy Seltzer.
The Maggie Pills live! Photo: Liam Semini
BD: Where do you play at the Bergy Seltzer? Is it out the back or at the bottom of the stairs?
DS: Yeah, just under the stairs, yeah.
BD: That would’ve been so sick.
SW: Can I just give a big plug to the Bergy Seltzer?
BD: Oh, one hundred percent.
SW: I love the Bergy. And the guys there are so cool, I mean Frankie used to run the Brunny.
BD: Yeah, the Brunny, are you a Brunny alumni?
SW: Yeah, I am (laughs). And yeah, the sound is great at the Bergy, it’s actually a really awesome vibe even though it’s a really tiny stage there. I mean I’m there most Fridays, so I’m entirely biased here but I love playing the Bergy. Awesome dudes, awesome vibe, everyone who works there is great.
BD: Do we have any show dates, Dan-willing, post-lockdown? And/or releases?
DS: Well, our only standing gig on our schedule was going to be the Bergy one.
SW: But we do have a gig! We do have a gig in December.
DS: Oh fuck, I forgot! Yeah, we have a gig which is a reschedule of one we missed, which is supporting a very cool band called Scuzzface. October 22nd at Last Chance (Rock & Roll Bar).
SW: I reckon we’ve also got another gig in December, so just tell the readers to wander the streets and find us. Just listen for us.
You heard them, folks. Get wandering, or just head to The Maggie Pills’ Instagram to stay tuned for upcoming gigs when events are back on. In the meantime give The Maggie Pills a listen and stream their music online.