FourPlay String Quartet defy convention and stereotyping. As much a band as a string quartet, they blur the boundaries between styles and genres while maintaining their own original and true sound. They write their own songs inspired by rock, pop, post-rock, jazz, klezmer, swing, folk-tronica, hip hop and more, as well as perform covers by a diverse array of bands, from The Strokes and Radiohead to Leonard Cohen, Robert Johnson amongst others.
The foursome shot to prominence in Australia and Europe in the late 90’s as a unique musical phenomenon – an indie rock band that just happened to be a string quartet. FourPlay have toured internationally and released four studio albums, a remix album, and a trilogy of mini CDs. They have played many of the world’s great concert halls as well as gritty rock clubs. They have composed and performed live comic book scores, collaborated on live film scores with Plaid (UK/WARP) and have completed their first album and a new EP of 100% original material.
What is your name and what do you do?
I’m Tim Hollo, and I play viola and sing with FourPlay String Quartet.
Some up the sound of your music in three words?
Whatever we want! (That might not be very helpful, but really, we play a really wide range of music, from rock to jazz to folk – all on strings, with pedals, vocals and a lot of fun…)
Where’s your hometown?
I live in Canberra, but two of us are in Sydney and the fourth basically lives out of his suitcase wherever his gigs take him!
When was the last time you went to a gig you weren’t playing and who did you see?
My daughter’s school band, last week 🙂 Otherwise, it would’ve been the remarkable My Friend the Chocolate Cake – one of the most under-appreciated Australian iconic bands.
What’s your favourite music venue to perform in, and attend a show at?
The most incredible venue we’ve ever played in would have to be Carnegie Hall, in New York City. It was such an amazing buzz to be there, and it truly lived up to expectations. The acoustic is stunning, and we were looked after so well! At the opposite end of the spectrum is Connollys of Leap, in West Cork, Ireland – a tiny old pub which just has the most amazing feel to it. Here in Australia, the City Recital Hall in Sydney is fantastic both to play in and to see others. It’s a brilliant sound, great people, and it’s one of those excellent spaces where you feel you’re close to the audience or the performer, no matter where you are.
What venue is on your bucket list to play at and why? (Can be anywhere in the world)
It was Carnegie Hall, but we ticked that one off the list 🙂 Can we go back in time as well as travel, and say CBGB in New York sometime in the 70s?
What would be your dream festival line up to perform as part of?
Oh wow. Tough one. It would have to include Bjork, Andrew Bird, Joni Mitchell and The Cure. Not sure who would be putting this one on 🙂
What travel items can’t FourPlay live without on tour?
We’re pretty self-sufficient. We need a good sound system to plug into and plenty of good food available nearby!
And, your favourite festival? Why? Where, Who was/what was the highlight?
Woodford, WOMADelaide and Port Fairy always deliver. Every time. No matter who is playing, there’s always amazing music, great food and a brilliant vibe. That’s what you need!
Where was the most surprising place you discovered a big musical influence?
Mostly from my brother, Peter’s, collection. Not that surprising. He’s the cellist in FourPlay and has introduced me to most of my favourite music.
Name 3 artists we need to check out?
The Punch Brothers are a mind-blowing bluegrass/crossover band. Stunning songwriting and spectacular musicianship.
My friends The General Assembly, based in Melbourne, deserve more recognition. Gorgeous songs with a powerful message.
Are you into All Our Exes Live In Texas yet? Go check them out!
Your favourite local bar, place for a relaxing drink or restaurant and why?
Canberra has just exploded with great places in the last few years. NewActon is the place to go – Parlour for a drink and food, Mocan and Green Grout for the best coffees and breakfasts. Fabulous food and lovely atmosphere.
You’ve just released a new single ‘Wish’ what location/city did you record it in?
We recorded it in Sony Studios in Sydney. Great studio. Plenty of good food nearby!
We believe ‘Wish’ written about living in a climate-changed world, what exact moment inspired the song?
We were lucky enough to have a weekend writing retreat at Bundanon on the NSW South Coast – spectacular setting in the bush. The only way in and out is on a little road that fords a creek flowing into the Shoalhaven River. Unfortunately, while we were there a huge storm came through, which caused floods up and down the whole east coast, and the river rose 3 metres overnight! We were trapped! Luckily we had over-catered as usual, and there was a cupboard full of red wine, so we were fine… But my older daughter, who was back home in Canberra, kept calling me to check we were ok. She was worried we’d drown! At one point, she said to me “I wish that I’d been born before climate change happened.” Well, as someone who’s been campaigning for climate action for 20 years, that hit me in the guts like nothing before. I talked to her about how we can’t wish away the times we’ve been given – we just have to do with them what we can. Then I wrote this song.
Where and when can we see FourPlay perform?
We’ve got a bunch of gigs coming up.
Smiths in Canberra, Friday Sept 14
The Toff in Town, Melbourne, Sunday Sept 16
Waywards, at the Bank Hotel, Sydney, Thursday Sept 20
The Bison Bar, Nambour, Friday Sept 21
Brunswick Picture House, Brunswick Heads, Saturday Sept 22
The Brightside, Brisbane, Sunday Sept 23.