To get a feel for Australian dance/electronic five-piece the Avalanches, all one need do is view their video for “Frontier Psychiatrist.” Lensed by Kuntz + Maguire for Propaganda Films, the visually stimulating video (imagine a John Waters-directed episode of “Sesame Street”) features a charmingly wacky cast of characters.
“Yes, this video pretty much captures the essence of us,” says a laughing Darren Seltmann, the Avalanches’ drummer/singer who founded the whimsical yet decidedly serious band with production whiz Robbie Chater four years ago.
“Frontier Psychiatrist” is the first U.S. single culled from the Avalanches’ positively joyful debut, “Since I Left You,” due Nov. 6 from London-Sire, which licensed the album from Modular Recordings/EMI Music Group Australasia for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Since its release in Australia last year, the disco-popped “Since I Left You” has been certified platinum. In August, the Avalanches took home six awards, including best live act and album, at the second annual Australian Dance Awards.
Earlier this year, XL Recordings issued the album in the U.K., where it peaked at No. 8 on the official Chart Information Network albums list and was certified gold. Additionally, the video for “Frontier Psychiatrist” has been nominated in the MTV Europe Video Awards best video category.
According to Seltmann, the album is home to “thousands of samples,” ranging from Madonna’s “Holiday” (“Stay Another Season”), the Main Attraction’s “Everyday” (title track), and Boney M.’s “Ma Baker” (“Live at Dominoes”) to Kid Creole & the Coconuts’ “Stool Pidgeon” (“Close to You”), Debbie Reynolds’ “Tammy” (“A Different Feeling”), and the Osmonds’ “Let Me In” (“Extra Kings”).
“We were very conscious of the overall atmosphere we wanted to create,” Seltmann notes. “Our goal was to make an album that felt like it had come from another time and place. Light and airy productions from the ’60s were the blueprint for us, with strings and percussion leading the way.”
Seltmann says he and Chater — along with bandmates DJ Dexter Fabay and keyboardists Tony Diblasi and James De La Cruz — spent 18 months scouring Melbourne’s “old record stores for old records.”
Inspired by a disparate group of artists — chief among them Marvin Gaye, Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks, Japanese punk band Ultra Bidet, and Japanese organist Kiochi Oki — Seltmann and Chater befriended each other and began making music in 1995. The duo was later joined by Diblasi, Fabay, and De La Cruz.
“This band has such a great story to tell,” London-Sire’s VP of marketing Alison Pember says. “They also have a great sense of humor, a great live show, and a happy-go-lucky approach to making music.”
“Frontier Psychiatrist,” with a remix by Mario Caldato Jr., was delivered to U.S. college radio, hip-hop college mixshows, and club DJs Oct. 1. Modern rock radio stations will receive the track the week of Nov. 5.
Brian Beck, DJ/host of KNDD Seattle’s weekly “Ultrasound” show, says he’s been playing “Frontier Psychiatrist” since May, when he received the import version of the album. “Actually, I’ve been playing all the album tracks on my show,” Beck offers. “It’s that good.”
A special promotion kicked off Oct. 8 on Web site Heavy.com, which has created a Flash player to showcase the music of the Avalanches. On Oct. 29, Heavyradio will begin “heavily featuring the group,” says Eleanor Blattel, director of new media at London-Sire. A stand-alone micro-site specific to the album is scheduled to launch Oct. 15 at London-Sire.com.
The Avalanches’ Seltmann, Chater, and Fabay will embark on a U.S. DJ tour at the end of November. According to Pember, the quintet is scheduled to bring its full-on live show to the U.S. next year.