Songwriter and vocalist Gere Fuss says despite recently buying a suit of armour off eBay, he’s no longer fighting himself and is “learning to write about other things" instead.
Paradise Club’s Gere Fuss is over battling his inner demons
In the seven months since Paradise Club released their debut record – an 11-track LP of pure indie-rock bliss, shimmering in lyrical vignettes of late nights, love and partying – Gere Fuss hasn’t been up to much.
“I’ve been writing, working,” Gere tells CityMag, two weeks before the band heads on an overdue tour to celebrate the self-titled record release. “Oh – I also got a suit of armour recently.
“I was looking up chainmail for I don’t know how long, and the suit of armour came up. It was an eBay deal. But I’ve always loved medieval stuff. I don’t know why.”
With Jack Newlyn on drums, Huon Pisoni on bass, Casey Adcock on guitar and Gere on vocals, Paradise Club broke into Adelaide’s music scene in 2017, quickly establishing themselves as a fuzzy lo-fi four-piece intent on capturing the feeling of being 20-something, restless and riled-up.
Tinged with post-wave textures but moored in euphoric garage-rock guitar riffs, Paradise Club sound both dark and light. They also straddle both worlds lyrically, with Gere pouring himself onto the page and inviting us into his atmosphere, which, at times, can feel fraught.
Burners like ‘The Seed’ explore the high price of going out a lot – ‘the drugs aren’t working any more’, he sings – while ‘2R’ includes lovelorn lines like ‘your heart isn’t here / let’s go the other way’ over thumping bass.
“I’m a critical person,” Gere admits, “but you need to learn when it’s too much; you need to learn how to be healthy.
“I’m definitely past not being okay with myself, and I’m learning to write about other things. But yeah, definitely at one stage, definitely [on the] first album, I was for a long time hard on myself.”
When Paradise Club wrote those first songs, over the span of three years, Gere says he was a confused young person studying film at Flinders University.
“I was just very unsure of where everything was going,” he explains, “and not knowing if I was making the right moves.”
With help of his family, playing soccer and pursuing a career in cinematography (which includes filming all the band’s video clips, and the parallel abstract experimental film series Static Sounds), Gere says he’s come out the other side stronger.
“I’ve definitely chilled out over the past couple of years. It’s been a steady increase of understanding why everything is the way it is,” Gere says.
But it hasn’t been an entirely smooth ride. Unlike the cliche, songwriting isn’t a cathartic experience for Gere. Sometimes it makes him feel worse.
“Because it’s an outlet where you can write about feeling a certain way,” he explains.
“To me, it doesn’t do anything. It’s just, ‘Yep. There’s another one. There’s another one. There’s another one. Write, write, write.’ I need to find something else.”
Sometimes this is in the exploration of other artists’ work. We ask what he’s been listening to lately and he pulls out his phone to show us a A. G. Cook cover by PC Music’s Astra King, and the new album from post-punk band Zipper.
Gere learned to play bass when he was a kid because, he says, not only is it cool but “every band needs a bassist”. But in high school, he struggled to find anyone interested in meaningfully exploring his artistic ideas.
“I have a really vivid memory of it being… after school, trying to have people around me who would help me sing in a band, and I just remember they were smoking bongs, doing other stuff,” he says.
“I drove there – and I had a golf [car] at the time and it was just packed with gear. I was the only one inside recording. I was recording everyone’s instruments.
“I remember looking out the window, seeing everyone out in the shed and recording everything for everyone.”
It wasn’t until later he found collaborators who would support and contribute to the sound and feel he was trying to create.
“After I finished high school… I don’t know. I didn’t have any friends. Not really. It was weird,” Gere says. “Then I met Jack [Newlyn] and found out he recorded bands. I was like ‘Do you want to record some shitty songs I wrote?’ He said ‘Sure’ and we just became friends.”
There are obvious positives to being a polymathic musician and artist, but Gere wants to be more open to collaborating with other artists and lean into more “eclectic” musical genres for the next album, which is already in the works.
But for the minute, Gere just wants to learn how to be comfortable in uncertainty.
He recommends others in the same boat let go, too, because “we’re all going to be unsure forever”.
“It’s perfectly normal to be confused, and I still am,” he says.