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Fashies in return to form
End of Fashion. Picture: Supplied.

O Yeah turned to "oh no" for Perth's End of Fashion a few years ago, when they split from their record company and lost half their line-up in the wake of commercially unsuccessful second album, Book of Lies.

But for linchpins Justin Burford and Rod Aravena, who left the Sleepy Jackson around 2002 to form the pop-rock outfit, no label meant no worries as they ploughed on to make album number three, Holiday Trip of a Lifetime.

"The whole process of writing and recording this album had to be the most fun two years of my life," says Burford, who has resumed as End of Fashion frontman after spending most of last year performing in the 80s classic rock musical Rock of Ages in Melbourne.

Chatting in the Rosemount Hotel's beer garden sans mullet wig and spandex, the singer is happy to explore a tumultuous few years for the band that burst on to the national scene with their self- titled debut and the ARIA Award- winning single, O Yeah, in 2005.

Throughout 2009 and 2010, the band chipped away at the album in local studios. They started on a rock album, but scrapped that halfway through 2009 and turned towards a fresh blueprint of a succinct 10-song pop album.

Drummer Mike Hobbs wasn't keen on the "studio pop band" approach and amicably departed early into the process, with Burford taking on the drum parts. Bassist Tom King also left, replaced by Simon Fasolo.

"While all this is going on EMI changed hands and had just become unrecognisable from the company we had signed to a few years before, so we were struggling with that," says Burford, adding that after some "political crap" the band and label called it quits.

"It was a huge relief. I mean, it was terrifying. I'm not going to pretend it wasn't scary," he continues. "It was the first time we've been independent since the old garage days, but it felt really liberating as well.

"Essentially it felt like we were on holiday. There were three dudes in that room day after day after day, and it was hard work, but it really felt like we were lost at sea," Burford says.

Armed with a love of smooth tunes from the likes of Roxy Music, Duran Duran and 10CC, as well as more recent alternative pop exponents, such as Royksopp, Phoenix and Portishead, End of Fashion set sail to record their polished pop opus.

"When we finally recorded our first independent record free from any major label input - or any (outside) input at all - we didn't make an indulgent sprawling album, we made a really refined pop record," Burford laughs.

While bursting with bright pop hooks and memorable melodies, Holiday Trip of a Lifetime, released last week, faces an uphill battle to make the sort of splash it deserves.

Triple J all but ignored Book of Lies when it was released in 2008. Burford initially denies that the cultural apparatchiks at the national broadcaster cut them loose after they toured with the verboten Veronicas - "We toured with everybody," he says. "We toured with the Living End." - but there's no doubt that Triple J turned their back on the Fashies.

"I don't want to give the impression that we aren't happy with the way things went," Burford says. "It was just when Triple J, what they actually said was 'You guys have crossed over now'.

"It's their call to make, it's not really our place. All we could see from our perspective was that Triple J had been there and they'd supported us, we'd supported them. We'd played shows for them and, you know, we did pretty well, we got a song (O Yeah) in the Top 10 of the Hottest 100 on that first record.

"It was just a little disappointing and surprising when they decided not to support us on the second record. But we've just got to stick to what we love."

And that's an unwavering love of music, especially radio-ready rock and pop.

While End of Fashion aren't launching Holiday Trip of a Lifetime with a tour, current and former members of the band will join Burford at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival next month when he unveils his latest project.

Inspired by actor John Waters' long-running John Lennon tribute Looking Through a Glass Onion, Burford has created a theatrical show based on the life and death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

"I talk the audience through Kurt's journey, from dreams and obscurity to fame and it's sprinkled with music throughout," he explains.

"I don't know, we'll see how it turns out. Big shoes to fill."

"It was the first time we've been independent since the old garage days . . . when we finally recorded our first independent record free from any major label input . . . we made a really refined pop record." <div class="endnote">

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