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Good Morning’s Stefan Blair loves soup, announces new album

One half of the Aussie rock duo talks Neil Young, having fun and touring

A few weeks ago, I had a chat with Stefan Blair, one half of the Aussie rock duo Good Morning. It was an absolute blast. I was finishing up homework here in Houston while he had just put some coffee on in Melbourne to begin what he called a “classic rainy summer” day. Lucky dog.

We talked about his recent tour and the future of Good Morning, and he gave me some music recommendations—it kind of goes without saying, but he’s got good taste. I’d like to share with everyone the joy he brought me on that dreary Tuesday evening, so here, in a form edited for clarity and length, is our conversation.

Lucy: What have you been listening to recently? What’s some new stuff on the rotation?

Stef: Oh, good question. There’s a new MGMT song out today that I really like called “Bubblegum Dog.” What else have I been listening to? I’ve been listening to that new Danny Brown record [Quaranta]. The new Andre 3000 record as well. I’ve been listening to a few songs off Infidels, the Bob Dylan record. What about you? Is there anything I should be privy to?

Lucy: That’s a good question. I was just doing homework and I have this thing where I can’t listen to music that I really, really like while I do work, because then I get too distracted. I’ve been listening to a lot of the Guess Who recently.

Stef: Okay, cool. I haven’t heard them all. I’ll check them out. How do you go with listening to songs with lyrics when you are trying to do homework and stuff? Are you able to do that? Personally, if I’m trying to write anything or if I’m sitting trying to focus on anything, I can’t listen to anything that has words. It just distracts me too much.

Lucy: I can kind of do it, but some songs I really resonate with, not for the lyrics but because they’re just very—I dunno, maybe like some Surf Curse. Their early stuff. It all sounds the same and you can kind of tune it out. But I have a playlist of songs that I’ll shuffle and whenever “Sweet Jane” by the Velvet Underground comes on, I take a break. I just listen to a bunch of jazz, and then when that song comes on, I have to stop working. There’s a method to the madness for sure. 

Stef: Wow. That’s a good system. I got back here and I’m driving my parents’ car around. It’s from maybe the late ‘90s and there’s no bluetooth in it, and you can’t put one in it. The radio’s too busted. So I went out yesterday and bought some CDs, and the first one that I got was the Velvet Underground’s Greatest Hits. 

Lucy: Sick. Do you have a favorite song by them?

Stef: “I’m Waiting for the Man” is pretty high up there. I feel that song rules. I feel like I’ve been on a deeper John Cale trip recently. His solo records and stuff. There’s that really good run of Vintage Violence and Paris 1919 and stuff that are all just—I don’t know, he’s insane. I’m really sad that I missed him, just by a few days, a few months ago. He played a show in the States when I was there, and I just missed him. But I’m glad that he’s still out there being an 80-year-old weirdo, you know? It’s cool.

Good Morning toured with friends Frankie Cosmos and Katie Von Schleicher this past October. (Courtesy Good Morning)

Lucy: Very cool. Well, on the other hand of being an old weirdo, what were you like when you were younger? I’m curious.

Stef: I think I was a pretty anxious kid. I did fine at school—wasn’t the best student, wasn’t the worst student. I really loved basketball when I was a kid. The dream was to be a basketball player when I grew up, but I wasn’t very good. I just enjoyed it. I still do. I was staying in New York for a few months this year, and every day I was going down to the courts with a ball and you’d just meet people there and play pickup games with them. It was really fun to get back into it and just play with a bunch of random people. 

Lucy: Is that where that whole Basketball Breakups thing comes from?

Stef: Totally. Liam [Parsons] didn’t play as long as I did, but he played in junior clubs when he was a kid as well. And basketball breakups were actually a thing at the end of each season. You would go with your team with all the parents and the coaches and go to a restaurant for a meal together. We would usually go to this Italian chain restaurant called Lato, which is sort of like Australia’s version of the Olive Garden or something. 

Lucy: What’s your favorite name you’ve come up with? Or one that has an interesting story behind it? 

Stef: The Option was—I don’t know how much I can go into the details of it—but we used to work with someone who ripped us off big time. Classic getting involved with friends in a business sense. We were young and didn’t even have that much music out, so it was a “no one’s gonna steal from us because we don’t have anything” sort of thing. A lot went on in that relationship and lawyers ended up getting involved, and he said to us in one of these legal letters that he retained the option for our next record, whatever that is, to put it out himself. So we just called it The Option and just put it out ourselves. It was intended as a bit of an F-you to that guy.

[Lucy’s dad knocks on the door to announce that dinner’s ready.]

Lucy: Oh, okay. Could you wrap it up for me? I’ll be done soon. Sorry. 

Stef: What’s for dinner?

Lucy: I think my dad made pork chops, so I’m pretty excited. With the Shake ‘n Bake it’s pretty good. What’s your favorite dinner dish?

Stef: I love soup. I could eat soup for every meal, no matter the different kinds of soup. It doesn’t really matter what sort of soup it is. I prefer a clearer, brothy soup than your potato and leek or like a pumpkin thing where it’s a bit more of a thicker, mashed-together thing. I could eat soup for every meal, I reckon. 

Lucy: I don’t get that very often. Y’all had an EP that just came out today. How was making that? 

Stef: There’s an album that’ll be out next year, and they’re all off that, but the record’s not announced and probably won’t be announced for another month. I don’t know when you’re publishing this interview, but it’s fine regardless. 

Liam and I for a period during the peak pandemic both came back to Australia. We were on tour and we both came back here and found this pretty amazing recording studio in a Melbourne suburb called Preston. Melbourne just went through so many—I forget how long we were locked down for, but probably eight months out of the year or something. So we put all that gear in this space, and then we would go Monday to Friday, sort of as a nine-to-five and just go down and work on music and just wrote a lot of stuff and pieced it all together. 

At the start of this year, we went to a friend’s house in Joshua Tree and mixed the ones that we liked and pieced together a record. It was fun—it was just like treating music, writing songs, as a day job. Something about the regularity, you know. Out of those, I think there’s 17 that made it onto this record that’ll come out next year. We packed up the studio, I think we only had it for about 18 months, and all that gear has just sat in storage here in Melbourne for a couple of years now since we’ve sort of been back out and been able to tour.

Lucy: What would you say you enjoy more, the writing process or touring more?

Stef: Definitely, definitely like recording. I find touring very—I’m just sort of at a heightened state of anxiety the whole time. If we have a show that night, I’ll be anxious from the moment that I wake up. And so I find it a bit exhausting and it’s not to say that I don’t like playing shows and that it’s an absolute chore. I do enjoy playing shows and particularly this last run that we did with Frankie Cosmos really reinvigorated the fact that I do enjoy it. We had such a nice time together, with her and Katie [Von Schleicher] and Alex and Cameron and the whole crew were really, really sweet.

Lucy: What do you do on long car trips? I imagine you have a lot of them. 

Stef: I find that’s when I read the most. I’ll bring five or six books with me if we’re going on a six week tour of the States and usually just burn through them in the van. It’s hard to get something that everyone agrees on, but this last one was easy ’cause it was literally just Liam and I and our tour manager in the car together. So there’s not as many people’s opinions to sort of grapple with, but we were sort of diving into podcast world, which was cool. We could agree on things that time around. We’ll be back out on tour next April, May in the States with six people in the band. And so that’s usually a little harder to find something that everyone can agree on that they want to listen to for 90 minutes. 

Lucy: Greta [Kline] had mentioned that after y’all toured together, you went back out on a little tour where members of [Frankie Cosmos] joined your band. How’d that go?

Stef: It was fun having an entirely fresh group of musicians because they had this excitement about it that we had sort of lost over years of playing the same songs. I found that sort of thriving off their excitement sort of breathed new life into it for myself as well, and I was feeling excited about it too. I really hope that we do it again someday. I’m sure we will. 

Lucy: Very neat. Some of your music has a little more guitar, a little more rock, like Barnyard, a bit more upbeat. And then you have stuff like “Warned You” that’s a little more—I mean, I hate to say “dream pop”—but it’s kind of washy, you know what I’m saying? What drives making that different kind of stuff and that range?

Stef: Liam and I don’t listen to the same things all the time and it’s really about what you are listening to at the time and what’s influencing you at the time. I’ll spend a month only listening to Chet Baker records, just old jazz music, and that sort of seeps in. It’s not like we’re gonna make a jazz record, but the palette of those records can seep in, the soft tones of something else you like, feel inspired by, or a certain instrument that you hear on another piece of music.

It’s an ever-shifting set of goalposts in a way. One day maybe you will just go through a phase where you’re just listening to rock ‘n roll, and you want to just go down and be a few guitars and a drum kit in a room. And that is the most enjoyable thing that day. And then the next day you want to be in a quiet room with a synthesizer that’s just sort of just on an in the corner, and just sit there and listen to that for 45 minutes. I think it’s very much about what is directly influencing you at that time. I’m sure all of the songs that we’ve recorded, if they had been recorded on a different day, would’ve come out differently.

Lucy: Do you have one song of yours that’s your favorite? Either to listen to or to perform?

Stef: Ooh, it was really fun playing a lot of this new record on this last tour with the Frankie crew. There’s some songs that aren’t out yet. There’s one called “This Isn’t Ideal” that was really fun because everyone sings in that. It was really fun locking everyone together. There’s another one called “Excalibur” that also isn’t out yet. I don’t think I played any guitars on the recording, mainly just synth and bass, but I was playing electric guitar in it. It’s fun to just feel them out and sort of reinterpret them, particularly ones that are fresh that we haven’t really performed that much before.

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About the Contributor
Lucy Walker
Lucy Walker, Assistant Online Editor-in-Chief
Lucy Walker ('25) joined The Review in 2021 as a freshman. She likes Big Salads and her second favorite animal is a shark.

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