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Interview: Winterbourne (Are) 'Revolutionary'

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

The story of Winterbourne is wholesome. It’s a story of making music, friendship, changing plans, creativity and laughing. It’s about seizing opportunities wherever and whenever they may pop up. It’s a story from the streets to the screen as the Central coast duo, James Draper and Jordan Brady, have made their way from buskers to award winning filmmakers - though unintentional.

“Yeah, well we were planning an international tour; we were going to do a Europe tour in March of 2020. We were talking about booking a Europe tour for September, and then we couldn't do that anymore,” says Brady - something we’ve all said or heard over the past pandemic filled year. The Winterbourne story, like most, shifted at the start of last year. Confronted with, well let’s just say the start of the apocalypse, they pivoted their skills and their content to create something revolutionary.

Revolutionary, Film, was released into the world at the start of 2021 with a string of East Coast cinema appearances that was almost canned. “We did a launch literally tonight before the restrictions came in. So we got very lucky.”

A quasi-documentary style film style that lands itself somewhere in between music doco, The Office style direct to camera takes and live performance, Revolutionary, Film takes us into the world of Winterbourne, from past to present. It’s a film that encapsulates making the most of the moment, appreciating your roots and forgetting your mandolin.

For any Winterbourne fan, you’d be familiar with the presence that they bring to their live shows. From banter between songs, to in-audience-acoustics, to some hectic solos, they are true performers to the stage. So going from active, to passive performers was an interesting shift for the duo.

“It was weird. It was super weird because we worked on the film for a year and then didn't show anybody really. And it was just this thing that existed on this laptop for such a long time. And then suddenly, it was on a screen, and people were actively consuming it in real time, and we're watching them do it. We're sitting there with them. It was one of the stranger things I will ever do.

I was watching the film. I still enjoyed the film. I don't think it wore off seeing it on the big screen.

It was particularly good hearing people react to certain bits in the room, like it's a whole different thing to being up on stage and then someone laugh or whatever. It's kind of just more like relief. But when you heard yourself saying a line a hundred times and then you've completely forgotten by that point that it's meant to get a laugh. And then people are like ‘hahaha’.

There was one bit that we'd never laughed at that consistently, in every cinema, everyone in the cinema laughed at quite a bit. So interesting.

I didn't even think it was a joke.”

That laughter has been a running theme for the boys’ career. It’s what makes their chemistry so palpable to an audience, but it goes much further than on stage banter it turns out. “We wanted to be a comedy duo before we wanted to be a music duo…” they say and all we’re saying is Billy Connelly started as a musician and look at him now. There’s still time boys.

“Most of our decisions come from what makes us laugh at the time.” They begin when talking about naming the film.

[James] jokingly named the folder Revolutionary, Film as a nod to our song Revolutionary Man. And originally, Jordan's idea was to name the film A Brand New November, which is actually when we started getting the idea for the film from, and it fit in really well because we were linking various different Novembers together, which, for whatever reason, had come up in a couple of songs. And so, that concept of looking back on things, and I don't want to say time, because that's lame, but we were working with a brand new November as the title for a long time, and then when we started telling people about it, it was vague. It was too much to take in for people.”

And thus begins the ongoing tightrope of earnest/lightheartedness that Winterbourne tiptoes across through the entirety of the film. Whilst the live sets dominate the majority of the film, the narrative that weaves the film together has a peppering of grandeur and whether it’s intentional or not, we couldn’t help but ask one of the most important questions we could ask.

“Is forgetting the mandolin a metaphor? Because when I was watching the movie, the inner English teacher in me was like, ‘they said it in scene two, and they said it again in scene six. Is that a metaphor?’”

“That is entirely up to the consumer. You go and English the shit out of that, if you'd like. It is made from the perspective of an English student studying it. So anything that you read into it is probably put there on purpose.

Yeah, there were a lot of things that went in just because we thought that you could read into that if you wanted, not that it is intentional, but I hope somebody does and tells us what that means. Same with the music.

We've constantly asked where the mandolin is. No matter what the situation, people want to know where the mandolin is, so it's that really.”

As for the film itself, its composition came together just as unintentionally. What was initially just some live recordings grew into something much bigger and that seems to be that overriding theme to the film, making most of every opportunity, carpeing the diem as it was, or maybe not, maybe there is no meaning to the film, sorry, English teacher again.

“Yeah, we kind of started making more and more of our own stuff in terms of film, like music videos, just gradually. We've always been interested in it. Like we always made silly little videos and gradually kind of got better editing and all those things. And then, just before we went on the Europe tour, we had this idea to make a music video for ‘The Actors’, and we had like a week left before we flew.

So we spent a very stressful week just with a camera and did this steadicam thing. And then it came out great. So we kind of figured, if we just keep getting incrementally better at it, we can start doing more of our own stuff, and that's kind of ended up in a whole big film.”

And even then, this ‘film’ was much less a ‘film’ even when filming. The linnearage of the film’s creation

“There wasn't a film until, like, halfway through it was filmed. So, it was just footage from shows and the storyline stuff was the last stuff to kind of go in. Which was when we thought, ‘oh, this is going to be a film now’, where we thought if we can connect all these scenes, then we could have a pretty cool thing.”

Though don’t be mistaken, what Winterbourne have gone and done is much more than just a ‘pretty cool thing’. This modesty that they both wear on their sleeve certainly undersells their creative process. Whilst the process might not be ‘traditional’, its execution is exemplary, and clearly some international critics seem to agree as they picked up the ‘Best Experimental Award’ at the Florence Film Awards.

“Yeah, our manager submitted it to a few festivals. We weren't sure what we were going to do with it, to be honest. And to a certain extent, we still aren't because they're so little place for an hour and a half thing now, especially when it's not coming out cinemas, and the main draw is the music. So it's such a hard thing to sell. When we showed it to people in cinemas, we were really surprised by how much people just accepted it as a thing and genuinely loved it.

We were kind of expecting them to come out and go, why did you do that? You must have been bored, which is true. But more than anything, they just came out, and they were full of compliments and noticed very specific things and meanings. And a few people mentioned that we should submit it to festivals, and so we did. And it's a strangely nice feeling. It's objectively not a massive deal, but it's surprising, I think, how nice it is because when we put it out on YouTube, so you don't really get anything back, apart from... like we did it at the cinema, so it was really nice to hear what everybody thought about it, and we'll get the ticket money.”

See? Modest.

Though they might be modest in the outcome, they have a sense of certainty in their vision.

“It's not a documentary on a band because those things have been done. It'll be something completely new, and it was always a case of figuring out, like seeing what it looked like at the end. And if that was good, we'll show people. And if it isn't, well, we've made a thing. I think it's easier to do a film than you think it is.

I think that's what I [Jordan] learned, like you can go that little extra mile and get a good camera and make things look good. Or you can have this stupid idea for a scene, but you can set it up in a way that frames it nicely and then say the line properly. And that's pretty much what a film is. So I think we figured out that we are capable of doing those things kind of well. It was definitely better than I thought it was going to be quality wise by the end of it. So I think from now on, we'll be able to make good things.”

With the film, the band has also released their first live album, ‘A Brand New November’ that soundtracks the movie itself.

Check out the full chat below

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