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They picked up the Classic Rock magazine Best New Band award last November, have a stunning new album under their belt in El Pistolero, and are about to land in the UK for a second headline European tour – Tracer are going places.

“This album defines what we’re about and why we’re different to everyone else,” frontman Michael Brown tells us, and he has a point. 

The powerhouse trio started out in Adelaide in 2006, recording a couple of EPs – Into The Night and L.A.? – before last year’s long playing debut, Spaces In Between, its trio of singles, Too Much, Devil Ride and Spaces In Between, winning them Planet Rock radio playlisting. 

They then headed out on a three-month tour of the northern hemisphere, and wound up winning said Classic Rock Roll of Honour award at the end of the year. But rather than let this success go to their heads, they hunkered down and worked on the follow up, the storming El Pistolero. 

“I had this idea to make it a bit more cinematic, and to be based around Robert Rodriguez’s movie Desperado,” guitarist and vocalist Brown says of the album’s gestation. “We wanted it to have a cool Tex-Mex vibe with our stoner rock sound.” 

While the band have taken on a Western vibe in places – especially in the video for lead single El Pistolero, check it out online – summing up their sound as simply stoner is something of a misnomer. There are elements of stoner in there, for sure, amid their classic rock leanings and even grunge influences, like a jam with Soundgarden, Kyuss and Orange Goblin, with Zeppelin joining in. “We have a lot of different approaches,” Brown says of their songwriting. “That’s why there is such a variety of stuff on the album.”

For their sophomore stab at international superstardom, the band holed up in LA’s Revolver Studios with renowned producer Kevin Shirley, who has Led Zeppelin and Slayer on his CV as well as Down Under stars Silverchair and Cold Chisel. 

Brown recalls they were hesitant at first about working with a label-picked knob-twiddler. “We weren’t familiar with how Kevin worked and so we were apprehensive. But in the studio he was immediately one of the group – and he swore like a machine.” 

The album was recorded in an ultra-short seven days, Shirley working the band hard and capturing their famous live assault on record for the first time. 

“We had been used to recording a part then going into the control room and really scrutinising it, but with Kevin it was more like, ‘Yeah, cool, we got it!’. [El Pistolero] is more balls to the wall [as a result] and closer to what we do on stage. It should translate really well to the live environment.” 

Tracer’s sound has always been about the live show, their wall of noise belying their modest three-piece stature. It is a three-piece, however, that has taken on a different look since the band’s tour last year, with founding bassist Leigh Brown deciding to step down, leaving Brown and drummer Dre Wise to look for a new recruit. 

“It was extreme,” Brown recalls of this tumultuous period. “We had just lost a third of our band! But we’ve now got Jett [Heysen-Hicks] who fits the bill super well. He is used to playing in a three-piece and understands the Tracer sound. He immediately fit in sonically and personally and we’re looking forward to getting out on the road with him.” 


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Interview: Adelaide power trio Tracer tell us about new album Pistolero, being super badass and getting muddy in the US
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