Brisbane-based country duo, Route 33, first made their name on the country scene with their 2017 album The Switch. Since then, the band has experienced success after success, hitting the festival circuit and making a name for themselves on the ARIA charts.
In a mere few weeks of their latest album release, Coro Drive, the band is celebrating a #1 debut on the ARIA Australian Albums chart, #26 on the ARIA all-genres album chart and #2 on the ARIA Country Album chart, behind Luke Combs.
The album features a duet with Aussie rock goddess, Sarah McLeod, called Hands of Time and is a hauntingly beautiful track about the loss of someone due to suicide. McLeod brings a country twang not previously heard in her Superjesus days and her presence on the track only deepens the meaning of the lyrics.
Kryptonite, the album’s feature track, tells a tale we all know to well – one of lust and the bad decisions it can inflict on our lives. Trent and Jock say they have seen many a friend fall victim to the charm of a beautiful woman who expects the world for little in return.
Overall, the album expertly mixes the individual musical preferences of Trent and Jock, interweaving Trent’s 90s rock style with Jock’s love of country music. The track, Get Over You, is one of the more upbeat numbers of the album and I envision it whipping the crowd into a dancing frenzy when played live.
I caught up with Trent to dig deeper into the process behind Coro Drive, how their handling this latest success, and to find out what else we can look forward to from this talented duo.
Firstly, tell me more about how you guys first got together and started making music?
Long story short, Jock’s brother is footy player Berrick Barnes. I played a lot of footy with him growing up and we were good mates. I’ll say it now and I’d say it if Jock was sitting next to me, but I didn’t like the kid and saw him as my mates little brother.
Berrick found out I played piano and told me I should start a band with Jock and I wasn’t keen initially but they booked us a gig doing cover songs, which we did for about eight years on and off.
We thought we were pretty horrible but we had a lot of support from our footy mates and their friends and got some great gigs lined up as places like the Paxton Hotel because we knew the owners.
Looking back, it was a really great time filled with lots of renditions of Sweet Home Alabama and good times with friends.
In 2016, we decided to form an official band and start writing our own stuff, and so Route 33 was born.
Your second studio album and already your top of the charts. How are you guys feeling right now?
It’s still pretty weird to be honest. People ask me all the time how it feels and I don’t think my answers ever sound excited enough. I’m probably a classic bloke and do the old, ‘yeah, it’s alright.’ I am still dealing with it all and am not really sure how to feel.
You are definitely pretty humble about it, Trent! Since the album release, you featured as Record of the Week on ToneCountry and appeared on popular music site, Tone Deaf. How’s it feel being so in demand at the moment?
It is still surreal but it is putting us in a good spot. We are excited to play big festivals as we love playing to those huge crowds who are there to appreciate the music, so it has been amazing for that. The rest is all pretty new but it’s been great.
Hands of Time was recorded with rock legend and Superjesus frontwoman, Sarah McLeod. How did that come about?
The song is about the suicide of someone close to me, so I am really passionate about it. Because of that, I needed it to be right. I don’t think I am a diva about anything but it was really important that this song was done well and I was adamant about getting the right people to bring it to life.
We worked with producer Steve James (who has worked with the likes of Cold Chisel, Dire Straits, and Queen, and won a Grammy for the Monty Python album) and he was throwing up some big names to do the duet with us and then Sarah was suggested.
Being that she is a rock queen, we weren’t initially sure how it would work but after speaking with her she was keen to get involved and came up to Coolum to give it a crack with us and it worked so well. Her voice has this beautiful rock/country vibe that brought a lot of emotion to the track.
She is also such a down-to-earth woman and was so easy to work with. Shooting the film clip was a blast too.
Music in general is getting pretty nostalgic and paying homage to the 90s and early 00s. I’m getting some strong 90s vibes from the album – who did you draw inspiration from?
The album is a crossover of what Jock and I listen to. I am a 90s rock fan and grew up listening to the likes of Goo Goo Dolls, Fuel, Matchbox 20, Bush, Red Hot Chilli Peppers etc. so I get a lot of my inspiration from them.
Jock is from the country and grew up listening to the Aussie country greats and you can hear that in the songs he wrote, such as Laid Back and Lazy.
I believe you wrote a couple of the songs for Coro Drive in Nashville.
Haha yeah that makes us sound a bit wanky doesn’t it. It was pretty circumstantial that we wrote two of the songs there. It wasn’t something we travelled to Nashville to do specifically. I find it just as good to write wherever I am over a beer and often just draw my inspiration for songs from daily life. It was great to write in Nashville though.
My favourite songs have gotta be Get Over You and Hands of Time – do you have a personal favourite?
I am pretty self-critical so I don’t always love the songs I write and much prefer the ones Jock writes. So on this album I’d have to say Laid Back and Lazy is my favourite song.
You’re performing at the inaugural Hometown Fest in November. What’s been your involvement with the festival so far?
We were doing a few things behind the scenes before the line up was officially announced recently. We wrote the theme song for the festival with fellow Hometown Fest-er Brooke Schubert, Summertime Love. We laid that track about a month before the official Hometown Fest line up was announced.
We also designed a beer for the festival which was cool. Not something we expected to be doing but it was a fun experience and we reckon everyone will love the beer we concocted with the guys from Soapbox Beer.
We’ve also done a few media things here and there, but will have a lot more involvement once the festival comes around.
We also opened the Ekka, which also had performances by a few of the Aussie acts performing at Hometown Fest.
I understand both you and Jock come from sporting families. How was it going against the grain and getting into music? How did your families respond?
Jock’s mum is the funniest woman ever and still jokingly asks us when we are going to give up the music life. Both our families are heavily involved in sport; Jock’s brother plays professional footy as I mentioned earlier, and my sister is a professional runner and my brother a professional golfer – so sport is definitely in our blood. I played semi-professional footy back in the day as well.
Our parents aren’t musicians but they totally support what we do and we are grateful they aren’t those pushy kinds of parents forcing us into music or anything else. My dad loves coming along to our shows though and we have great support all around.
You set a goal to hit 100,000 streams by the end of the first week of the release of Coro Drive. How did that go?
It got to 102,000 by the end of the first week! At the time I actually wondered what triggered a stream and found out the album has to be listened to 60% of the way in order to trigger one stream (or someone has to listen to the same song six or seven times), so we were stoked with the results.
In this modern age of streaming, people don’t tend to listen to whole albums and consume songs as a single piece of music so to know people were listening for that long is great.
Our song Showing Off was also added to the Fresh Country playlist on Spotify, which has around 50,000 or so listeners so that helped get our name out there too.
I am nostalgic for the days where people consumed albums as a whole, but music and the way people absorb it is evolving. It is not like in the 90s where you bought a CD and listened to the whole thing on repeat, memorising every song on the album.
But streaming has made music so much more accessible so people are consuming it at a big rate, which is great for the industry and is just a new evolution of how people listen to music.
What’s next for Route 33?
Other than Hometown Fest, we have another few festivals for 2020 (which we are remaining tight lipped on for now). The single Summertime Love was also recently released for Hometown Fest and we have another single coming up in a few months.
Basically we are just going to keep writing and keep doing what we love.
Hometown Fest just dropped their lineup announcement! Head here to check it out and purchase tickets!