The Break, circa 2009

Three members of disbanded Aussie rock powerhouse Midnight Oil — drummer Rob Hirst and guitarists Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey — and ex-Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie this week announced the formation of The Break, a mostly instrumental surf-rock combo whose debut is due this spring.

Dubbing itself “3 parts Oil/1 part Femmes,” the new band will release the 15-track Church of the Open Sky on April 16. Prior to that, the group next month will play a trio of Sydney-area gigs, plus release its first single, the Nick Launay-produced “Cylinders” (see video below), via iTunes Australia on Feb. 9.

The three ex-Oils — whose band split in 2002 when frontman Peter Garrett decided to re-enter politics — opted to begin working together again but without a vocalist following last year’s brief reformation for the Sound Relief brushfire charity concerts. They enlisted Ritchie — who now lives in Tasmania, following the Femmes’ break-up last year — since Midnight Oil bassist Bones Hillman had moved to Nashville.

On the band’s website, Moginie explains:

“We realized that we could just be an instrumental band with vocals added occasionally and we could use surf guitars or weird sounds for the melody. I think of Mogwai, the Mermen or Decoder Ring. Instead of a lead singer, those bands just rely on the power of the players and the dynamics of the music.  We’ve found the lack of vocals opens up all sorts of possibilities in the music that we couldn’t have even imagined in our wildest dreams.”

The trio invited old friend Ritchie to Hirst’s recording studio and jammed on classics such as Link Wray’s “Rumble.” Moginie says, “Getting Brian in was important because he’s such a strong ensemble player and catalyst. There were shivers up the spine at our first rehearsal, the sound was just enormous.”

With a nod to Midnight Oil’s roots in the surf pubs of Sydney’s northern beaches, the Break began writing tunes named after famous surf breaks. Ritchie, on the band’s website, says there wasn’t too rigid of a structure: “We understood it was a surf theme, but no music is fun if you are too much of a purist about it, or if you set too many constraints. You have to have some freedom.”

Watch the video for The Break’s ‘Cylinders’ and see the band’s tour dates after the jump…

The Break tour dates:

Feb. 18: The Harp, Wollongong, Australia
Feb. 19: Fisho’s Manly, Australia
Feb. 21: The Annandale, Sydney, Australia

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