Interview: Matt Neal (The 80 Aces)

The 80 Aces are an indie-rock outfit from Warrnambool with a new release EP and a recent Melbourne launch gig under their belt. Guitarist Matt Neal took some time out to help us get to know the band a little better. If you want to know how they got their unusual name or where to get the EP, read on because the answers are all here.

Can you tell us a little about how you met and formed The 80 Aces?

Lead singer Jade McLaren and I met in a writing class at TAFE and became friends, having previously known each other in high school as enemies. It turned out he could sing and I could play a couple of instruments so we started recording weird songs on my computer. We did a couple of shows as a duo, people seemed to like it, and so we added a bass player and drummer, who eventually became Kyle McLaren (bass) and Jarrod Hawker (drums).

Your name is quite unusual, can you tell us a bit about where it came from?

We used to be called The Extreme Sprinklers, but we had some good advice to change it because it was holding us back a bit. At the time we came up with the name, all of us in the band were born in 1980 and we were all playing a lot of poker. The name came from those two things.

The Dollars EP recently released, can you tell us a bit about the EP?

We recorded it in Warrnambool with producer Steven Schram, who has worked with The Vasco Era, San Cisco, King Cannons and heaps of other cool Aussie bands. We demoed about 19 songs and then went into the studio with the idea of giving Schramy a lot of free reign to change things around. Some songs we ended up writing new sections for, some parts got cut and some songs had all their sections re-arranged, but Schramy brought something very important to the process – fresh ears to songs we’d been playing for a while. He also did a great job of capturing both ends of the spectrum of our sound – our poppiness and our grunginess. I think Dollars serves as a good introduction to the diversity of our music.

The 80 Aces colour horiz

You had a launch gig and the Pony a couple of weeks ago, how did it go and can you tell us a bit about your highlight of the show?

I think it was probably our best Melbourne gig so far. The crowd got right into it, the other bands (Zuzu Angel, Kashmere Club, No Zebra) were great, we sold a bunch of CDs and we played pretty well. Meeting lots of new fans was a highlight.

There have been some big names you’ve shared a stage with, who did you have the most fun with?

We’ve played with You Am I, Regurgitator, Dan Kelly and Dallas Crane, but I think the other guys had the most fun with Hoodoo Gurus. I couldn’t stick around after our set, but the rest of the band not only got to rock to the Hoodoos, but also hang out and drink beer with them and get copies of their albums signed. I was very jealous. For mine, hanging out with Dan Kelly and His Dream Band in our rehearsal space was pretty fun. They were traveling around with a Sri Lankan metal band for some reason, and my girlfriend ended up teaching them how to play poker.

Where does the inspiration for your songs come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. Our new single Magic Shoes was inspired by an old guy who we would see a lot at gigs in Warrnambool, where he would be dancing up a storm. The other songs have wide ranging inspirations – Girl From The Future was triggered by a line in a comic book series called The Invisibles by Grant Morrison, while Office Space is about the drudgery of the 9 to 5 existence.

If you could share the stage with anyone who would it be? 

It would have been great to have the opportunity to support Silverchair before they broke up. Custard are one of my favourite Aussie bands – I’d love to play with those guys if they ever did a reunion tour.

What’s next for The 80 Aces?

Hopefully some radio play and some summer gigs, as well as some proper touring. Also, we’re already looking to record an album.

Have you got a single favourite album of all time?

I only get to pick one? That’s damn-near impossible! Maybe XTC’s Black Sea. Or The Beatles’ White Album. Or Television’s Marquee Moon. Or Ween’s Chocolate & Cheese. The list goes on. So no, I do not have a single favourite album of all time. I have loads and loads of them.

(That really is a tricky one, sorry. I wouldn’t be able to pick either)

Where are we going to be able to get our copies of Dollars?

It will be on iTunes soon, but currently it’s available through and or you can order it through most good record stores.


Thank you for taking some time out with us Matt, it’s been great getting to know a little more about you guys.

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