By David Russell
Australian bands struggle for years to get a shot at international audiences. The long road usually starts with local radio play, followed by national support slots and tours, meetings in LA, and then, for an select few, a US record label deal and a shot at the big time.
Adelaide Hills band The Germein Sisters charted a different course, driven by serendipity and big dose of good timing.
They’ve just returned from their fourth tour of Germany, and the gigs keep getting bigger and bigger.
“We went to Germany twice this year,” song writer and lead vocalist Georgia Germein told Inside South Australia.
“2012 was our first year (and) we only played a few shows there (in Germany). We were in Ireland recording our first album, and decided to do a detour because we had a friend who worked in a school, so we could stay with him and play at this school.”
Those shows were well received, so Georgia and her sisters Clara (drums, guitar, backing vocals) and Ella (cello, bass, backing vocals) decided to return for a proper tour the following year. Then things really started to take off. Their single Da Da Doo made the top 100 charts, the band got a spot on national TV, and they supported Cat Stevens at an awards ceremony.
“I think the Germans really appreciate the fact that we come so far from Australia. They love Australians and Australian music… it’s got a bit of ‘sunshine’ to it,” Georgia said.
That exposure in Germany lead to another unique opportunity, this time in neighbouring Switzerland.
“There was a French boy band that found us on YouTube, and they had done this schools tour (of Switzerland) before. The schools were looking for an English-speaking band, and they… recommended us.
“We did one hundred and twenty shows in different school, which was a crazy schedule.
“It was amazing, we had such positive feedback and met so many great kids… we played six schools a day (and) drove all over Switzerland. We got to share Australia and South Australia with the people.”
Once again, the tour got them in the charts – their debut album Because you breath made the Swiss top 100.
Despite the large European following, the Germein Sisters have no plans to relocate. Besides, they are busy building a local following as well. They’ll be playing Da Da Doo and Silent Night this Sunday at the Adelaide Carols by Candlelight, and a set at Glenelg for New Year’s Eve, before setting off to play shows on the East Coast. That tour will culminate at Tamworth, where the girls will play their third consecutive Tamworth Country Music Festival.
“They have a busking championships, and we had a lot of people telling us ‘you should go up to Tamworth and see what it’s like’,” said Georgia.
“So we decided to drive up (last year) – it’s a 17 hour drive – and busk on the streets.
“We got into the top ten… out of about 600 performers, which meant we got to perform on a big stage at Tamworth, and we won.
“This year we played a bunch of shows at some of the bigger venues, which is really cool. Our music isn’t specifically country, but it seems to fit well in Tamworth.”
After Tamworth the girls will return to Adelaide to play to a sold out Fringe Festival crowd in the Spiegeltent, before embarking on yet another tour of Germany and launching a second album.
“We’ll launch the second album sometime next year… the most important thing to us is song writing and producing songs that mean something to us. There’ll also be more tours (and) we want to support some other artists and keep building up the fan base.”