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Band Of The Week // MOBS

Hitting all the nostalgic feels in their newest album Cinema Paradiso, Melbourne quartet MOBS show off their creative flair and love for all things 80s.

MOBS 2020

Melbourne quartet MOBS are here to whisk you off your feet back into ages past, and more specifically the bygone era of the 1980s with their newest album Cinema Paradiso. Inspired by the cinematography of that decade, the band tackles each track on the album through the perspective of protagonists of classic 80s films including ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’, ‘The Terminator’, ‘She’s All That’ amongst others. From the blighty synths on opener I’ll Be Back, to the funk-infused and euphoric School’s Out, the band has hit the perfect balance between cheesy feel-goodness, and music that is relatable for listeners.

Speaking of the inspiration behind the album, drummer Matt Purcell shares:

We have always been a huge fan of the 80s era, musically and cinematically. To gel these two concepts together, we believe it represents our vision within the band. The nostalgic pop sound that we have put out there is something that we have been working on for a really long time and it’s great that we can branch out into such a broad genre yet still recognise where we have come from.

Feeling inspired by the band’s influence and obvious passion for the 1980s, we got in touch to find out more about the influences and creative process behind Cinema Paradiso.

What’s a motto you live by?

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

If your sound had a colour, what colour would it be and why?

Either a baby blue or Magenta (Red) – MOBS’ sound contrasts 80s production with a modern twist, so with these shades definitely fit the image of the band perfectly (it’s also found in some of our promos).

What inspires your love for 80s movies? What’s the most memorable 80s movies that you’ve watched?

The reason why we love 80s movies so much is because it was the first introduction into cinema for most of us, watching reruns on a VCR of ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Kids’ or staying up way past our bedtime when we were 7 or 8 on a Saturday night watching ‘Back to the Future’ on free to air TV. So whenever we come back to watch these movies, we are immediately drawn to a past time, and that’s what we wanted to do in the way we created this album. Additionally, it’s in the era of classic – and that goes with showing that films such as ‘The Terminator’, ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘Back to the Future’, ‘E.T.’ are all personal favourites.

How did the idea to combine your love for 80s music and movies come about?

It was actually in our previous recording of Say Anything from our second EP that we decided to move into this direction, fortunately for us, we were in a position where we could go through and create this concept album around the idea. When we started to link the ideas of 80s cinema and our music, we wanted to maintain a modern pop identity in our sound though play around with the storyline of these ‘classics’ in the lyrics. Whilst creating these songs in the studio, and coming up with lyrics, Jordan had the idea to write from the protagonist’s point of view of the films. Feelings, experiences, even to what other characters in these movies were saying to them, he would incorporate it into the songs in such a way that is really unique. Listening back to the lyrics that are created it is surprising how much you relate with it, and actually go ‘Oh wait this is from a movie, I swear this happened to me last week.’ So there is a lot of underlying connection with these 80s storylines and what’s going on in our lives today in 2020.

If you could go back to the 80s what would you do?

Play music and be best friends with INXS.

Is there anything from the 80s or 90s that you wish was still around today?

Cassettes… and the fashion. We are starting to see the whole baggy denim look come back now which is amazing but looking back at how ‘out there’ the whole era was, a lot of it has spilt over to what we see today. On top of this, the artists that are no longer with us today, such as Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, Michael Hutchence.

All of the film accompanying film posters for the album tracks are incredible; can you tell us more about the creative process behind that?

This was probably one of my favourite things behind the album. We connected with an extremely talented graphic designer named Daniel Holub. We sent him the album and he really took the concept to a whole new level. We were back and forth with ideas in how we wanted to portray the songs in art form, and we landed on this idea about creating the movie posters. This was a really good way to make each song stand out as its own identity, I remember Holub telling me he just spent hours and hours sifting through old 80s material from either first-hand or online, collecting inspiration from everywhere. Specific details from how the font is reflected in the way he makes the posters look worn.

Then it was time to come to the vinyl design, and of course, being an 80s inspired album we HAVE to nail the vinyl design, and so we created this booklet that is attached with the vinyl that contains the illustrations of each poster, along with the lyrics beside them. Additionally, we got the actual vinyl itself to be designed so it looks like an old movie reel. Little things like that just make it so much more exciting, because we got to collaborate with an amazing designer, and also maintain the identity of the concept from the sound to the way the album looks in your hands.

What made you choose the movies for the album?

We wanted to be broad with the movies that we wrote about, we didn’t want to go straight to romantic comedies because it is very easy to get trapped into just writing about young love and heartbreak, and we also wanted to diversify the album. This is where movies such as ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Stand By Me’ played a refreshing role. We got to write about the ego of Maverick and the feeling of invincibility (that nobody can stop him) to the ‘once in a lifetime’ friendship that plays within the film of ‘Stand By Me’. Writing these songs, Close to The Sun and Stand By You challenged us as it was a new topic that we haven’t touched on as a band from a lyrical or songwriting perspective, and listening back to them now we are all appreciative that we took that opportunity to expand our horizons and cover those topics as they are relative to everyone’s lives today.

Have there been any movies recently that have had an impact on you? Do you prefer modern or past cinema?

Oh definitely, we are really lucky today to witness the quality of talent that’s being premiered on screens, recent films such as ‘Parasite’ and ‘Joker’ make you walk out of the cinema lost for words, and even indie films such as ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ hit home, but I would say past cinema has a lot more ‘guilty pleasure’ about it. We can put these films on our TVs at home with the touch of a button and be immediately taken back to a simpler time, and even though the production behind the movies back then are in a different ball game to what they are now in 2020, they still have amazing underlying plots and creative wits about the characters that make you relate to them.

Were there any surprises, whether pleasant or unpleasant during the recording process of the album?

Other than the software that we operated out of crashing a few times here and there, the recording process ran very smoothly. We teamed up with Michael Paynter and Michael Delorenzis from MSQUARED productions, who produced and co-wrote the album and it was a ball working with them. Usually, the day would start with a cup of coffee, a small debrief of how we are tracking time wise, and then the creative process would begin. It was such a relaxed environment, usually, someone in the room would say something silly from an 80s movie, a one-liner or ‘how ridiculous is this’ and we would go from there and build songs from that.

Can you share any behind the scenes stories of the recording of the album?

Other than the fact that the studio was above a pizza store in Melbourne, there are a lot of stories that I can elaborate on. We had this running game throughout the whole album process, and it was a points game that kept everyone in check – the person with the most points would have to shout expensive doughnuts or lunch at the end of every week for the people in the studio. The way the game worked was if someone made a silly remark, was late, or they ‘left’ rubbish behind, they would get points added to their name – though if they nailed their part on the recording, or suggested an awesome reference then they would get points taken off. The points were tallied and finalised by the judicial committee that is MSQUARED at 12 pm every Friday. So one Friday, I remember I was coming last easily, I was late to the studio a few times and knew that I was going to cop the shout of lunch for that week, Jordan and Mike trailed me by a good 300 points while Matt, the good boy he is, was sitting at a break-even zero. So with defeat just around the corner, I take a breather out of the studio at 11:50 am. However, in that time things completely changed. We had this basketball ring right next to these soundboards in the room, we would always use it as a distraction if we hit a writing/idea block to just dunk on the ring or shoot long fade shots. Anyway, while I stepped out of the room to get a drink, Jordan and Mike were dunking on this mini basketball hoop. As the competitive souls they are, things got physical and Jordan fell onto the soundboard and broke it off the wall. Paynter in the mixing chair, who meticulously corrected these soundboards every day before recording began, swivelled around to face two blokes with faces of despair. Hits the bell, both get 500 points. I walk back into the studio at 11:59 am, not in the lead anymore, lunch is paid, life is sweet.

And finally, what does music mean to you?

Everything, we would all be so lost without it.