Melbourne band on winning run
Local band Husky, from left, Luke Collins, Gideon Preiss, Evan Tweedie and Husky Gawenda are taking their music from Northcote to the world. Photo: Marco Del Grande
HUSKY have competing problems: world domination and the Northcote rental market.
The band, pushed out of the suburb where they recorded their debut album Forever So, are newly signed to the label that boosted Nirvana to the heights of stardom and embarking on a tour playing venues from Beatlemania in Hamburg to The Fillmore in San Francisco.
''I've got the best job in the world,'' says 32-year-old lead singer Husky Gawenda. ''It doesn't mean I don't feel sorry for myself half the time - stuck on a plane or driving half the night in a band van - but I always tell myself that.''
The Melbourne group have been racking up milestones at an accelerating rate: their first EP, playing before thousands at the St Kilda Festival, supporting the likes of Gotye and Jinja Safari and winning youth broadcaster Triple J's Unearthed competition.
''But I didn't think that things really clicked until we started recording this record,'' he said. ''We had a discussion - that we'd just put everything into this record, we'd dedicate all our spare time, all the money we could find, there was an intent for the first time. We really found our sound, our voice and knuckled down and did it. We didn't know if we were capable, but we wanted the space and time and control to make a record we'd love.''
Those three elements were found in a rented Northcote house, which was converted from Gawenda's home into a live-in studio.
With cousin and keyboardist Gideon Preiss, and bandmates Evan Tweedie (bass) and Luke Collins (drums), the group scraped together recording gear and turned a junk-filled bungalow into a recording control room, snaking wires across the weeds of the garden and into different sound-proof rooms of the house.
''It was a cheap deal but it got sold out from under us,'' the front-man lamented. ''Now I'm in a little apartment that's twice the price.''
(For demographers keeping track of movements in the hipster population - he is now living south of the Yarra River.)
From that humble start the former Age staffer, son of former editor Michael Gawenda, has seen the band's single History's Door added to high rotation on Triple J and an explosion in interest in the four-piece group.
''You think it's good, but you don't know,'' he said, laughing. ''But then you get the feedback on our Facebook page, calls from labels, booking agents - all of that had never really been there.''
But the latest boost has been the most surprising. Record label Sub Pop - best known for pushing the ''Seattle sound'' of grunge bands in the early 1990s - has signed Husky and is releasing their album in the US in July.
After the band's manager passed a CD on to the label's co-founder, Jonathan Poneman, Sub Pop got in touch.
''They said they loved it and wanted to send a couple of guys to meet us and come to our show,'' Husky said. ''It's a surreal thing. I love Nirvana and Soundgarden and the bands they have now like Fleet Foxes and the Shins. To be included on that roster - I don't get it.''
He might not, but others clearly do. More overseas trips are booked for June, August and September. After that, it's anyone's guess.
''I don't think we're the sort of band that's going to get huge,'' he said. ''But there's a lot of opportunity coming our way. There's a lot of potential but it hasn't been realised. Yet.''