Q&A: hanoi traffic Are Bringing Us World-Class Math Rock


Photo Credit: Wilson Hodges

Brisbane-based math rock quartet hanoi traffic have dropped their explosive debut EP kids with no style. This six-track EP is uniquely complex in its sound and lyricism, establishing hanoi traffic as a force to watch in the Brisbane music scene. Drawing inspiration from groups like Daughters, Duster and black midi, hanoi traffic's unorthodox musical approach works in their favour. This bold EP delves into dark themes and features carefully placed experimental arrangements.


hanoi traffic burst onto the local music scene in June 2021 with their debut single ‘there’s no money in math rock’ and have played several gigs across Brisbane. The band is made up of Isaac (vocals/guitar) , Matt (percussion), Xander (guitar) and Nathan (bass). hanoi traffic's diverse music taste spans across math rock, screamo, jazz, prog rock and folk. The band has no plans of stopping soon, eager to continue experimenting with their sound and play as many gigs as possible.


We had a chat with hanoi traffic about their new release so you can get to know the band a little better.

How did hanoi traffic form and start making music together?

"Hanoi traffic started with Matt and Isaac jamming ideas with each other in late 2019. I’d (Isaac) always wanted to start a band with that name since coming back from a holiday in Vietnam. My dad bought a shirt with a really cool illustration of a street with a mess of powerlines and the words hanoi traffic on it; which sounded like a pretty sick band name. We went through a few lineup changes, but since meeting Xander through some mutual friends and Nathan through a group project at uni we reckon we’ve found a nice little family :))"

How would you describe your sound to new listeners?


"We’d describe our sound as a proggy mix of indie, mathrock, screamo, and noise rock. We really enjoy dense, unorthodox arrangements, as well as incorporating a healthy amount of dissonance into our songs."


In terms of sound and songwriting, who are your biggest musical influences?

"Xander draws inspiration from a lot of mathrock, jazz fusion, avant-garde music, and progressive rock, as well as being a big Daughters fan. Isaac’s main influences are predominantly in screamo and hardcore, with bands like Kidcrash, Shin Guard, I Hate Sex, and Ostraca, but extend to include others like Duster, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Slint. Matt’s a big fan of Louis Cole and his insane and unique drum grooves, which inspire him to make everything as creative as he can. As the band’s bass player, Nathan has been influenced by the jazz tradition as well as a lot of ideas from folk and country music. Favourite groups include Snarky Puppy and Pat Methey. Collectively we’re really inspired by black midi and Sprain, as well as a lot of local bands including Salt Money, Pale Horsey, Bonus Worm, and Super Death."


What topics inspire your songwriting?

"All the lyrics on the ep kind of paint a larger picture of a period where I (Isaac) was feeling really lost and sort of spinning out of control. Some topics I seem to come back to are a constant feeling of creative inadequacy and worrying that my efforts aren’t enough, mental health (or lack thereof), and interpersonal relationships with all their associated emotions/drama/headaches. On the ep a lot of lyrics and metaphors involving animals cropped up pretty much by coincidence, it’s not a zoo themed concept album I swear."


How has the response been to your debut track ‘there’s no money in math rock’?


"We’ve been pretty blown away by an overwhelmingly positive response to our single, we equally love and are surprised that people enjoy listening to this as much as we enjoy playing it. We did funnily enough get a bunch of hate on one of our live videos on facebook which we all had a good laugh about. Shout out Paul Richards for our first ever hate comment and the name of our ep <3"


Can you tell us a little bit about the process behind creating your debut EP kids with no style?


"All the tracks on the ep took about 6-12 months to solidify in a way we were all satisfied with, with little rewrites and complete restructures here and there, as well as 2-5 drafts of lyrics per song. Seashells and goodbye crocodile were originally for a uni project, and had our friend Ellie doing vocals, but have changed a fair bit since then. We like to start songs with a riff, or some core idea and loose plan, then jam over it until we have more of a complete picture of the song. Getting into the studio with them was the easy part since we’d already been playing them for ages, just had to sort out that last 5%. We recorded everything with our beloved Jared Berriman, who let us use his very nice equipment, mixed and mastered everything, and generally made us feel very much at home with mugs of hot tea and frequent trips to the local chicken shop."

What can we expect from hanoi traffic in the future?

"Our only plans for the future are to gig as much as we can, and release as much music as we’re happy with. We all get bored pretty easily and don’t like settling on one genre too much, so don’t expect our next release to sound too much like this one!! Oh we also have a film clip for ‘ground dog day’ coming out very soon too, keep your eyes peeled!"


Give hanoi traffic's debut EP kids with no style a listen and check out their socials so you don't miss any upcoming gigs or exciting announcements.



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