Words: Luke Voogt
Age was never an issue when Brook Mckeon started recruiting talented musicians from Geelong and Surf Cost for The Burbs.
“A few of the young guys are more experienced then me,” the 31-year-old Melbourne singer-songwriter says.
The band features the versatile Lachlan Brown, 22, bassist Ebony De Lima, 18, and drummer Danny Valitutti, who at 17 is making his first foray into the industry.
Recently The Burbs scored a six-month contract with Melbourne-based Piquant Records.
“It’s amazing someone believed in us enough to make an investment in us,” Mckeon says, an hour before a packed Geelong gig.
“Things were picking up in the lead up to that – three weeks ago we booked in stacks of recordings.”
The Geelong gig was the beginning of a tour which saw The Burbs perform across the Surf Coast, Melbourne and Adelaide.
“Gigs are the most fun thing you can imagine doing,” Brook says. “We had so many people come to the Victorian shows, they went off.”
But the band might have to ban one of its biggest fans from the mosh pit, Brook jokes.
“My mum was pretty raucous in Brunswick. She’s always been embarrassing. I’ve stopped encouraging her to come to my shows.”
The Burbs are an eclectic mix ’90s grunge and ’60s pop that sounds like the lovechild of Nirvana and the Beach Boys.
Brook started recruiting band members in 2016, starting with lead guitarist Tom Walker.
“He played in a pretty well-known band called The Half Pints,” Brook says.
“I asked him to join three times but he said no. I just bugged him that many times until he gave up.”
“Eventually we got him over the line but everyone else was easy.”
Brook and Tom, 25, had previously toured Adelaide and back as solo artists.
The pair has some “fun” memories, like narrowly avoiding a koala at 110km/h on a late-night drive or coaxing a snake out of their room with a water bottle.
“I was woken up by Tom screaming ‘holy dicks, holy dicks, holy dicks, I’ve got a snake in my room!’ and, no s**t, there was a tiger snake under his bed.”
The next recruit was Danny. Brook met the young drummer while his sister was playing a Geelong gig.
“He’s more committed than any of us is,” Brook says.
But just three days before The Burb’s onstage debut, Danny broke his wrist.
“I was pretty sad,” the 17-year-old says. “I was pretty keen to play.”
Danny is juggling Year 12 with touring with Burbs.
“This is the best band I’ve ever played with,” he says wryly. “But rehearsing twice a week cuts out a bit of study time.”
Danny has returned to playing with The Burbs but fellow drummer and “bedroom pianist” Lachlan stepped in while he was out injured.
Brook invited Lachlan into fold at a party on Boxing Day 2016.
“He said ‘do you want to learn all these songs in nine days?’” Lachlan remembers. “It was quite intense.”
“When Danny came back Lachie was really keen to be in the band and we were keen to have him too – so we made a fifth spot,” Brooks says.
Lachlan is now the band’s go-to man on keys, percussion and backup vocals.
Last was Lorne bass player Ebony De Lima.
“(Brook and I) were already friends,” Ebony says.
“He asked me to come have a jam. I fit in well – I’ve been one ‘of the boys’ for a while.
“I like all the boys – except Lachie,” she says, fixing him with a dubious death stare.
Ebony plays in indie band Children of the Sun, “who are trying to break through as well,” she says.
She says being part of the “incestual pool of bands” is a reality for young artists “these days”.
“It builds this sort of family where if somebody is going well you just sort of play each other up.”
Brook’s mum is not the only parent at the band’s gigs – Ebony’s dad makes a regularly appearance too.
“He looks like a Brazilian version of Snoop Dog,” she says.
And as for the man who put the band together:
“I just sing and try to play guitar,” Brook says.