Sorry to keep you waiting.
We're back to play a one-off gig as part of Melbourne Music Week. It's been thirteen years. Maybe see you there?
At age 20 Sianna Lee formed her first band. Having moved from rural Balnarring to Melbourne, she kept things close, recruiting her high school best friend Jamie Slocombe (guitar) and her younger brother Jesse (bass). Also drafted in was university classmate Tim Harvey (guitar), who recommended his childhood friend Joe Hammond (drums).
The debut EP ‘Umabel’ (2001) was a timid step into the light but showed hints of songwriting depth, plus a voice that cut like a bell. With lyrics drawing heavily on myth and astrology, Lee’s willingness to document her own failings - and those of the people around her - would be a hallmark of the band over the course of two EPs and two albums.
Hammond and Lee were chalk and cheese: the logical, even-tempered Hammond having little patience for Lee’s mystical leanings and personal dramas. Clashes were frequent. When they could manage to see eye to eye, their inverse perspectives helped propel the band forward, both musically and business-wise.
Harvey departed in 2002. In 2003 producer Shane O’Mara consolidated the band’s direction, his mastery of guitar tone helping to set a far more fierce and self-assured agenda. The resulting EP ‘Something White and Sigmund’ (released through Shock Records) was a surprise hit on independent radio, making it into multiple end of year best-of lists and compilations. With its shifting time signatures the title track tells of Lee’s dream- premonition of a friend’s suicide (it came true sadly), and is separately a swipe at her father’s shortcomings, plus an acknowledgement of her own Freudian attraction to men of similar character.
He lies to himself. Then something white and Sigmund sends me a figure like you
On the back of heavy radio play, the band toured hard throughout capital cities and regional centres, earning a loyal following that would make repeat visits viable.
The self-titled ‘red’ album (2004) - again helmed by O’Mara - yielded multiple radio singles: Boxcutter Baby, Tongue Like a Tether, Gonna Try to Be A Girl, and Made of Broken Glass. Many of the album’s songs are scathing attacks on the men in Lee’s life: men who had rejected her, men who had been unfaithful, men for whom she longed.
I can take it on the chin and let it go, about as easily as you can swallow the concept one day you're going to die alone
With such brazen lyrics, Slocombe’s stinging lead guitar, a dynamic rhythm section, and that voice, the band hit upon a sound far bolder than many of their contemporaries. They secured ‘album of the week’ status on Triple J, joined the festival circuit and worked their way across the country and into many jilted hearts.
The unlikely alliance between Hammond and Lee eventually turned romantic. The second album ‘Longing Was a Safe Place to Hide’ (2006) is largely a documentation of their armistice, courtship and eventual pairing. Indeed the album’s title is Lee’s acknowledgement of having to look inward and make herself vulnerable in light of getting what she wished for.
The legendary Tony Cohen was hired to produce, but when Cohen failed to attend much of the recording sessions - and spent parts of the sessions asleep on the studio couch - the band realised he wasn’t the hands-on mentor they needed. Cohen was fired, and the remaining album budget was blown on legal fees. Relations with the increasingly nervous record label became strained as pressure to deliver the album mounted. Out of desperation the band bought 48 hours of studio time and scrambled to complete the tracks, asking the studio assistant to finish the mixes as quickly as he could. Predictably, the resulting work is patchy, at times undercooked and overindulgent.
However the stronger moments are more than worthy. With song as catharsis, Lee once again pulled no lyrical punches. Bound by Hurt Dissolved is a forceful and defiant self-reclamation post-breakup, while Hook in My Throat encapsulates the opposite sentiment: the lethargic resignation of being drawn back into a troubled relationship against one’s better judgement.
I can’t let go. With a hook in my throat, I follow you down to the bottom of everything that can and will go wrong
Feeling somewhat deflated by the Cohen affair and with a sizeable debt, the band toured the second album with more resolve than ever. These shows were some of their best. However, Lee’s mental health had been in decline for some time, and when Hammond called an end to their personal relationship, Love Outside Andromeda would also cease to exist. No announcements, no farewell shows, no victory laps. Just a quiet retreat into the shadows and a slow fading from consciousness...
Sianna Lee vocals / guitar
Jamie Slocombe guitar
Jesse Lee bass
Joe Hammond drums
Tim Harvey guitar (2000-2002)
2001 Umabel (EP)
2003 Something White and Sigmund (EP)
2004 Love Outside Andromeda (album)
2006 Longing was a Safe Place to Hide (album)
- released a solo LP ‘Phoenix Propellor’ (2010)
- contributed the soundtrack to the ABC documentary ‘The Still Point’ (2017) with Lara Soulio
- currently performs in Slow Motion Pictures and released the album ‘Tourmaline’ (2018)
- contributed sound design and soundtrack for augmented reality game ‘Misadventure in Little Lon’ (2019) for True Crime Mysteries Melbourne
- released a solo LP titled ‘Glow Little Thunder Pixie’ (2013), written and recorded in the USA
- played in stoner rock band Jamroots that never rehearsed or even wrote a set list
- is a long time member of The Blow Waves, with several releases: ‘Little Bitch’ single (2008), Self-titled EP (2009), ‘Do It (All Night)’ single (2016)
- under the alias Mind Alike released a solo album ‘Ultimo Furlough’ (2018)
- spent time as the touring drummer for TheRedSunBand and Deloris
- currently drums for Near Myth, with two releases: ‘Idiot Mystic’ LP (2016), ‘Live at the Aviary’ EP (2018)
- currently drums for Warplane (forthcoming album)
- operates Pots and Pans Recording Studio, having worked as engineer / mixer / producer for Jen Cloher, Courtney Barnett, Dyson/Stringer/Cloher, Marville, Russia, Hello Satellites, Georgia Fields, The Boat People, etc.