Honi Soit Writing Competition

In conversation with The Frisson

One of USyd's up-and-coming bands speaks about gigging, recording, and finding their voice

A photo of two guitarists on stage. One of them is singing. The Frission in concert at Oxford Art Factory

Fresh after they’d performed a round of successful gigs in January around the CBD and the Inner West, including headlining at the Chippendale Hotel, I met up with The Frisson at Harpoon Harry’s in February to have a chat about their progression as a band and their plans for the future.

The four piece consists of Ethan Reginato on vocals and rhythm guitar, Kai Ollmann on lead guitar, Chris Cooper on bass and Tom Firth on Drums. Ethan and Kai are at USyd’s Conservatorium of Music, Chris studies at USyd’s main campus, and Tom goes to The Australian Institute of Music (AIM).

Having all gone to the same high school, the four formed the band in Year 10 as part of a school co-curricular activity. The boys decided to get serious after playing a memorable performance at their Year 12 graduation. During their time at school the band went through several name changes. At one stage they were known as “The Hobbits,” later simply as ‘The Year 12 band,” before finally settling on “The Frisson” after graduating in 2016.

Kai explained that the word ‘frisson’ is a French word describing a sensation of ecstasy that sends shivers up the spine, an experience people may get when they listen to music that moves them. Kai explains that the band’s goal is to invoke the same sensation in their listeners.

Since starting at USyd in 2017, the band has played at numerous high-profile venues, including World Bar and Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice. One of their most notable gigs in February last year was opening for Bad Pony at the prestigious Oxford Art Factory. Playing at the Art Factory is an opportunity that most up and coming bands would kill to have as it serves as an indicator of their rising profile in the music industry.

Ethan explained that The Frisson aims to engage the audience beyond their dedicated fans in their large performances, especially those who didn’t intend on getting on the dance floor. One song which has particular success in this pursuit is “Come Knocking,” a song which would not sound out of place in an Arctic Monkeys set.

Ethan goes on to refer to another band that The Frisson once opened for, Hiaground, who, according to him, possess the ability to engage the audience in this way. Replicating the crowd engagement Hiaground were able to draw has been one of the Frisson’s goals this year. Ethan, the band’s frontman, thinks that they’ve already surpassed that benchmark.

Having attended Falls Festival to welcome in the new year, The Frisson returned, inspired by the performances from Catfish and The Bottlemen, ready to play their first gig of the year at the Chippendale Hotel. “We came back from Falls that day after a three-day bender, inspired by the music we saw there, and we ended up playing a killer show,” explains Kai.

The Frisson also draws much artistic inspiration from other Australian indie bands. Their single, “Revolution’,” launched in July last year, is very reminiscent of Ocean Alley.

Given their wide range of inspirations and versatile experimentation with music genres, Ethan said that during the production of “Revolution,” the band stopped to ask themselves what makes them stand out as a band.

‘’We haven’t found our edge just yet but we’re getting to the point of narrowing in on what our edge would be as artists,” Ethan explains.

The band revealed that in early March, production will start on their new single, ‘Stay’. The band hopes that this time in the studio will take them one step closer to finding their voice.

They were recently in Bega preparing their single, experimenting with sound and strengthening their discipline as a band.

“We created a studio vibe with our speakers and instruments and chilled, whilst at the same time experimenting with music for eight hours a day,” the group explains.

It remains to be seen whether the band’s next single will bear the fruits of their labour. If their ascent is anything to go by, however, their next single will be sure to draw a crowd.

Find The Frission on Triple J Unearthed, Spotify and Facebook.