Darwin heavy metal band Summit have had a very busy 2019, and it’s about to get even busier as they prepare to head on the road to tour down the east coast of Australia in November.
With the release of a new single in the very near future, the time is ripe for the band to take their music to a wider audience, one that’s already been building off the back of a strong online streaming and Youtube presence.
Having met several band members at a MusicNT meet and greet in August, it was great to catch up with drummer Tom Heffernan and find out a bit more detail about the band’s activities.
Bill Quinn: You’re the new boy in the band, but you’re the spokesperson today. How much can you tell us about the background of Summit?
Tom Heffernan: The boys have been going since 2017. I worked for a couple of them on a major project up here and that’s how we met. I followed them around, watching their shows. They have a lot of talent, and it’s definitely up my alley.
They jumped on to the scene pretty quickly and left a pretty big footprint on the place. I just love their music.
Wes [Beck] is the leader of the band, and he organised it from the go. He was out of the scene for a long time before this band started. Greeny [Matt Greenaway] was over here working from Sydney way, New South Wales, and the two brothers [Jordan and James Atwill] are born and bred in Darwin.
I’m not sure how they got together, who spoke to who. I know Wes and Greeny worked together; that’s how they got together.
BQ: Coming from a number of backgrounds, it’s a Darwin band – but you’ve had a fair bit of interest from outside, even overseas.
TH: Yeah, we’ve had a lot of success with online stuff so far. The EP was brilliant, the first EP [Echoes Of Aberration]. (Obviously, I had nothing to do with that one.) That’s one of the best EPs I’ve seen from a first-time effort.
And the interest has really escalated from that point on.
There was a bit of a hole with a change of line-up for the boys, but we’re full steam ahead now.
BQ: And you mentioned your online presence – that’s the way you get your music out when you’re isolated like in Darwin. What’s that like? I’ve got to say I’m not a fan of the online streaming services because you don’t get much out of it in dollars and cents. But I notice that you get a lot of plays on Spotify; is that helping?
TH: Oh, it definitely helps get the music out. That and Youtube. Without it, I’d say it would be a lot harder. There’s not a lot of revenue in it, as you said, but that’s the way of the world today.
But the exposure’s nothing like it used to be. To see a band back in the day, or to hear a band, you had to go and see them or buy a CD. [Online streaming] is handy, but there’s no money in it.
But it’s great for the exposure side of things being in an isolated area like Darwin.
We haven’t ventured too far out of the territory, maybe not at all. So big things coming for us soon.
BQ: I always say to bands that if they really want to get online exposure, it’s really important to have professional film clips, and that’s something that you guys have done, isn’t it?
TH: Yeah, the first one they did [Echoes] was pretty big because a lot of effort went into it. The quality’s brilliant.
A lot of effort went into it and a lot of money, but the production quality was great. For the next one [The Good Life], there’s not that amount of production that’s gone into it, but the effect will still be there.
BQ: So you’re heading out on this tour, The Good Life Tour; that’s a bit scary, is it?
TH: Yeah, I don’t know what I’m in for yet!
It’s something that I think is new to most of us. Greeny might have done a bit of it. I’m not sure about the other boys. Definitely not in this band. They boys have gone down to Alice Springs for a festival, that’s probably as far as they’ve gone.
Definitely for me it’s something new. I hadn’t picked up a pair of drumsticks for six years up until April, so it’s all gone pretty quickly from that point on. Straight into this sort of thing. I’m excited though.
It’s organised; all our supports are organised. We’ve just got to get out there now.
BQ: I notice you’re not going to Sydney. Was that a choice not to go to Sydney or Canberra? Was that a specific choice not to go to Sydney?
TH: From what I believe, we had intentions of playing in Sydney but couldn’t quite line up the venue that we wanted. I think they may have shut the doors in between negotiations.
So we’ve moved that particular slot to the Central Coast. So we’re still going to New South, just not Sydney. Or Canberra; no, we’re not going to Canberra this time. We couldn’t fit it in. We’re pretty limited with our timeframe, because we’re all working, some of us have got kids, so there’s a little bit of compromise with where we can go at this stage.
BQ: The good thing about the Central Coast, though, is that people can drive and park there, whereas in Sydney, it’s a bit of a struggle!
TH: Yeah, we’re excited about that one because we get to drive down there from Brisbane, so that’ll be a bit of fun. And from there we drive to Sydney. We are going to Sydney; we’re just not making any noise there.
BQ: So you’re to some areas where it’s new territory for you; what’s the challenge now to get your name known before you get there?
TH: Yeah, I’m not sure what to expect in terms of patronage and crowd numbers, but we’ve got some pretty good supports organised, so that should help. I think with the clubs we’re playing at, they generally play a similar sort of genre of music. So people have an eye on that and see who’s coming; they tend to look into who’s coming and playing.
Hopefully we can get some interest created through that. With the online factor, they can see our name and look us up; hopefully they can see what we can do and they’re impressed by it.
BQ: And I see that your support is Wildheart. Can you tell me a bit about them?
TH: They’re a band that played with Tapestry a few weeks ago for their farewell show, and we fell in line with them that way, through a bit of mutual activity, and they’ve committed to a few shows with us on this run, so that’s how that came about, which is good.
BQ: And you’re kicking it off here in Darwin at the Railway Club. What’s the experience like getting gigs in Darwin for a metal band?
TH: Yeah, there’s a fair limitation on venues, as we know, because it’s not a huge place. But the Railway Club is a venue that’s been played by this band a few times now. Before I joined, I’d seen several shows there.
The Happy Yess… There’s not too many more that put on metal acts. With the rest of the scene, we generally play with the same bands – not every time, but you mix it up a bit to keep it interesting. In a town this size, you’re always crossing over; you’re generally playing at two or three of the same venues.
That’s one of the reasons why it’s time to step out of the box for us, and make that move.
BQ: So you’re hoping this tour in November will lead to more tours further down the track.
TH: Yeah, it just creates exposure for us. I think you’ve got to make that step to get to the next level, to get invited, to want the phone to ring and get to come and play in cities, or have other bands invite you to play in other places. Which is not going to happen if you keep playing in your own backyard in the same venues.
We all agree it’s time to do that now. We’ve got pretty good momentum since we’ve got going again with a new lineup, so we just plan on going full steam through to Christmas, more or less.
Hopefully good things come.
BQ: Well, we’ll be watching your progress on the tour with great interest. Is Facebook the best place to keep up to date with what the band’s doing?
TH: Yeah, Facebook probably. We’ve got a lot of music on Youtube you can have a look at if you’re not familiar with the band.
We’ve got a new single dropping in the next few weeks, so that’s nearly finished.
We played this particular song [The Good Life] live at our last show, but it hasn’t actually been released yet. It’s getting released in the next two to three weeks.
Summit ‘The Good Life Tour’ dates:
Friday 1 November – Darwin Railway Club, Darwin (NT)
Thursday 14 November – Crowbar, Brisbane (Qld)
Saturday 16 November – ECP Studios, Berkeley Vale (NSW Central Coast)
Friday 22 November – Sound System Studios, Sunbury (Vic)
Saturday 23 November – Wrangler Studios, Melbourne (Vic) *
Sunday 24 November – The Tote Bandroom, Melbourne (Vic)
* All ages
Supported by Wildheart at all gigs except Darwin and Central Coast.
See Summit’s Facebook page for details of all support bands.
You can follow Summit on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SUMMITAU/
Videos are on Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpFl1ULr4OwROT2YPKUXXbw
Listen to tracks from Summit at: http://bit.ly/summitspotify