More than 25 years after it was first recorded, beloved Melbourne indie-rockers The Earthmen have released their “lost” debut album, Periscope, thanks to the nascent Sound As Ever label.
Recorded with acclaimed producer Wayne Connolly in 1995, The Earthmen had intended for Periscope to be released on the now-defunct Summershine label, serving as a follow-up to their critically-acclaimed series of EPs during the first half of the decade.
With the songs written by the core duo of Nick Batterham and Scott Stevens after some international touring, the record was intended to contrast with one of the band’s “loudest” years to date, with Stevens noting that the group were seeking a “more nuanced approach to noise”.
The result was a continuation of the group’s early sound, albeit with a more evolved approach to both the composition and songwriting skills they had employed so far. Working in Tim Finn’s Periscope Studios, Batterham recalls that the studio itself gave them much to aspire to, while working with Connolly allowed them to once again grow as artists.
“We were on a steep curve, learning how to make records,” Batterham recalls in the liner notes to Periscope, “a giant leap from just being recorded by someone.”
However, after signing a deal with Warner’s East West Records, the album in its original format was shelved, with the band re-recording a number of the tracks for their Love Walked In record, while a handful of others resurfaced as B-sides along the way.
Though Love Walked In was a massive success for The Earthmen, going so far as to earn them a Breakthrough Artist nomination at the 1997 ARIA Awards, these early recordings remained something of a mystery to many of the band’s devoted fans.
Ultimately, The Earthmen called it quits in 1999 during the writing period for their second album on East West. Following the release of their The War Against Rock And Roll EP in late 1998, the band played one final show at the Evelyn Hotel, and promptly walked off the scene.
While the College Heart compilation followed in 2016 on the Popboomerang label, the advent of the Sound As Ever Facebook page in 2020 put a renewed focus on The Earthmen thanks to countless fans sharing their memories and stories of the band’s music and their live performances.
Following a pair of compilation releases throughout 2020 on the Facebook page’s titular record label (started by both group co-founder and Popboomerang mastermind Scott Thurling), 2021 now brings with it the official release of Periscope as the label’s third entry. (Notably, the label’s first compilation – The Shoebox Diaries – also served as something of a vision of things to come, featuring the Periscope version of “Whoever’s Been Using This Bed”.)
Released on Friday, January 15th, the record is available on both digital and physical formats, with a limited edition, numbered CD edition available through the Sound As Ever Bandcamp page.
Though Stevens looks back at 1995 as “a year of transition and change that sits redolent of heartaches and loss”, the arrival of Periscope at long last comes at a time when many have similarly been through a year of heartaches and loss. Its inspiration and composition may have been through different, but its arrival is as prescient as ever, and looks to have the same effect as it would’ve had it been released 25 years earlier.
While details are yet to be confirmed, The Earthmen are hoping to promote the release of the record with a live performance in Melbourne in the near future.
The Earthmen’s Periscope is out now via Sound As Ever, with digital and physical versions available via Bandcamp.