Made by Musicians for Musicians
#273 — JAN. 2017
ALSO, INTERVIEWS WITH
Dropkick Murphys My Disco Shirley Collins
Tons of Giveaways! JVB Strings DiGiGrid Q Arcade Screenprinting Harts Songbook PG . 6 FOR DE TA I L S
T- SHIRT SCREEN PRINTING & BANNER PACKAGE!
PLUS - MOTHER’S CAKE, GONE IS GONE, STARSET, GUIDE TO CHOOSING A GUITAR PICK, MOJO RECORD BAR + MORE ROAD TESTED - TC ELECTRONIC DISTORTION PEDALS, SAMSON GH4 HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER, THE WISHBONE AMP-HOOK, CARL MARTIN DUAL INJECTION AND PURPLE MOON EFFECTS PEDALS, ICON PLATFORM M + MORE
I N T R O D U C I N G
SPIDER V T O N A L LY E V O LV E D
SEE PAGE 3
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Chain drive kick pedal Snare stand Hi-hat stand Two boom cymbal stands BONUS mini cymbal boom arm
EVENTS AND PROMOTIONS yamahabackstage.com.au
20" ride 16" crash 14" hi-hats BONUS 10" splash
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I N T R O D U C I N G
SPIDER V T O N A L LY E V O LV E D
Spider V 30 $399.99 RRP THERE’S A SPIDER V AMP FOR LEARNING, PRACTICING AND GIGGING GUITARISTS
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• Create your sound with over 200 newly refined amps, cabs and effects • Use LED colour-coded controls to select, build and edit your tone • 128 presets include iconic rigs and classic artist tones — choose a tone and play • Built-in wireless! Select models are compatible with the optional Relay G10T transmitter • Hone your timing and chops with real drummer loops and a built-in metronome * Relay G10T transmitter sold separately. Compatible with Spider V 60, Spider V 120, and Spider V 240 models only. The Relay G10T transmitter is compatible with typical 1/4" output jacks used on most passive and active instruments. Guitars that have non-standard jack wiring may require a 1/4" mono adapter for use with Relay G10T. The prices set out in this advertisement are recommended retail prices (RRP) only and there is no obligation for Line 6 dealers to comply with this recommendation. Errors and omissions excepted.
FIND A DEALER line6.com/dealers
EVENTS AND PROMOTIONS yamahabackstage.com.au
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK facebook.com/line6australia
- PG. 16
- PG. 14
Archie Roach 14
Dropkick Murphys Mother’s Cake
Gone is Gone Starset
In many respects, 2016 was a forgettable year. On top of countless notable deaths, the world constantly seemed like it was perilously walking the tightrope of disaster. In other ways, 2016 was great! Especially here at Mixdown, where we uncovered a great many new products and brands that have changed the way we go about making music.
Guitar: More Intervallic Ideas Bass: Tension and Release 21
Studio: Creating Space Within Your Mix Keys: Merging the Old with
Regardless of your experiences in 2016, it’s important that you regroup and prepare yourself for an amazing 2017, and this January issue of Mixdown is here to help you do just that. In these pages we’ll look at some new products being released from some of the most trusted names in the gear world, as well as some newer inventions that you might not have seen before. On top of that we chat with incredible artists, including the outstanding Archie Roach.
the New 22
Drums: Meeting your Heroes Electronic Music Production: Adding the Human Element
How to Pick the Perfect Pick The Analogue Project with Mojo Record Bar
Show & Tell
My Disco - PG. 16 for breaking news, new content and more giveaways visit
Happy New Year, KEATS MULLIGAN - EDITOR
MADE BY MUSICIANS, FOR MUSICIANS FEBRUARY ISSUE #274: STREET AND ONLINE DATE: WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 8 AD BOOKING DEADLINE: MONDAY JANUARY 30 EDITORIAL DEADLINE: TUESDAY JANUARY 31 ARTWORK DEADLINE: WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 1 For more information on Mixdown Magazine contact us at: (03) 9428 3600 or email email@example.com PUBLISHER Furst Media EDITOR Keats Mulligan firstname.lastname@example.org ONLINE EDITOR Alex Watts email@example.com ART DIRECTOR Michael Cusack
EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Elijah Hawkins, Alex Pink, Tom Bartha, Elisa Makisalo and Veronica Stampford
Young, Adam Norris, Adrian Violi, Michael Cusack, Augustus Welby, Luke Shields, Alex Watts and Michael Hohnen.
MANAGING DIRECTOR Patrick Carr
ADVERTISING Patrick Carr firstname.lastname@example.org
GRAPHIC DESIGN Michael Cusack CONTRIBUTORS Rob Gee, Peter Hodgson, Christie Elizer, Nick Brown, Elijah Hawkins, David James
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The 2017 line-up includes: 30/70 AUSTRALIA • 9Bach WALES • A Guy Called Gerald UK • Ana Tijoux CHILE • Archie Roach AUSTRALIA • Bebel Gilberto BRAZIL • Brushy One String JAMAICA • Carabosse – Exodus of Forgotten Peoples FRANCE • D.D Dumbo AUSTRALIA • The East Pointers CANADA • Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra SERBIA • Hanoi Masters VIETNAM • The Hot 8 Brass Band USA • Inna Modja MALI • L-FRESH The LION AUSTRALIA • La Mambanegra COLOMBIA • Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence SENEGAL/AUSTRALIA • Mercedes Peón SPAIN • Nattali Rize JAMAICA/AUSTRALIA • Nhatty Man & Gara ETHIOPIA/AUSTRALIA • Oki Dub Ainu Band JAPAN • Philip Glass Ensemble USA • Rich Medina USA • The Soil SOUTH AFRICA • The Specials UK • Sudha Ragunathan INDIA • Tangents AUSTRALIA • The Waifs AUSTRALIA • Warsaw Village Band POLAND • William Crighton AUSTRALIA and many more! Plus: Taste the World, The Planet Talks, Global Village, KidZone, visual arts, street theatre and more.
10–13 MARCH 2017 BOTANIC PARK ADELAIDE WOMADELAIDE.COM.AU
SEE WEB SIT FOR LINE E -UP
Giveaways For your chance to win any of these awesome prizes, head to our giveaways page at
Harts Song Book Harts has been taking the country by storm over the past 24 months. His new album Smoke, Fire, Hope, Desire has received the attention of music broadcasters all over Australia, and has won praise from the late and great Prince, who invited him back to his Paisley Park Studios to hang out. The album is riddled with ridiculous licks and would help aide the progression of any guitarist looking to better themselves. If you’d like to be in the running to take home a copy of this book, simply head to mixdownmag.com.au/giveaways and follow the prompts.
www.mixdownmag.com.au/giveaway and follow the instructions.
DiGiGrid Q Giveaway DigiGrid looks set to be taking the world by storm, and we’re thrilled to announce that as part of our amazing holiday giveaway, we’ll be offering our readers an opportunity to win a DigiGrid Q Headphone Amplifier, valued at $759.99, courtesy of our friends over at Sound and Music. Featuring ¼ inch and 3.5mm outputs, it can accommodate any headphones up to 600 ohm. It has four monitoring options: XLR, Ethernet (to connect to the SoundGrid network), Analogue and Bluetooth. It truly is one capable, sleek and powerful solution for your headphone monitoring needs. For your chance to snap this beautiful bit of gear up, head to mixdownmag.com.au/ giveaways and follow the prompts.
JVB Strings And Accessories Christmas Giveaway This month we’ll be continuing our JVB strings giveaway. We’re very happy to be bringing one lucky reader a guitar strings and accessories pack thanks to the good people over at JVB Strings Australia. The winner will receive the JVB JCT615 Capo Tuner - a fantastic product that combines a premium quality capo with a fully functional chromatic tuner - , a JVB TMT500 – a 3 in 1 fully featured guitar tuner, metronome and tone generator - , a twin pack of JVB Premium Bronze strings and a twin pack of Premium Electric strings. Its one hell of a prize, and it could all be yours! For more information about these products, and for your chance to win, head to mixdownmag.com.au/giveaways and follow the prompts.
Arcade Screen Printing Band T-shirt Competition The dust hasn’t settled on this one everybody! We’re looking forward to selecting the winner of this amazing Arcade Screen Printing competition. We’re stoked to be giving away an amazing t-shirt and banner package, courtesy of the good people at Arcade Screen Printing in Sydney. We’re going to be giving you the opportunity to win 50 t-shirts for your band, along with a massive 4 – 5 meter printed backdrop for you to take with you everywhere you play. The good folks at Arcade Screen Printing will also throw in a further 20 t-shirts for a runner up! They’ll supply everything; all you need to supply is the artwork. To be in the running for this amazing prize, head to mixdownmag.com.au/giveaways and follow the prompts.
For full terms and conditions visit www.mixdownmag.com.au/terms-and-conditions.
*These giveaways are for Australian residents only and one entry per person. 6
Industry News will Hobart in 2018. This is being done via a combination of commercial radio, the ABC and SBS. Community radio has strongly indicated that it expects to be in future discussions, as two-thirds of community radio stations are located in regional and rural areas. As of last month, 3.6 million Australians, or 27% of the population listen to digital radio via DAB+ devices each week.
Report: Men More Distracted By Music At Work
Carl Cox Becomes Partner In Babylon Part-time Victoria resident and techno legend Carl Cox – recently crowned King of Dance 2016 by Mixmag – has become an official partner of the new Aussie dance music festival Babylon. The event has been set up by Richie McNeill, to stage in Victoria and NSW in March as a three-day camping festival with 100 acts. Cox said, “I travel to and play at Burning Man regularly, and many other destination festivals of this kind, so I am proud to be a part of Babylon and I am looking forward to playing an extended set in the spirit of an outdoor journey like this.”
Men are more likely to be distracted by music at work – especially if it’s rock music. This is according to a report in The Medical Journal of Australia. The study saw 350 people (who were not surgeons) go through a mock surgery on the board game Operation, where they used tweezers to remove small plastic pieces resembling body parts from inside a toy resembling a human body. They’re blasted via headphones with AC/ DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’, Mozart’s Andante from Sonata For Two Pianos — “well known for its apparent beneficial effects on concentration and intellect (known as the Mozart effect) — or normal sounds from an operating room. Men are more likely to listen to the music than women, and lose concentration on the “surgery”. Lesson of the survey: next time you want to beat a male at a board game, blast him with hard rock!
SA Arts Sector Asks For $17M Investment
Community TV Gets Six Months Reprieve
South Australia’s arts sector wants an investment of $17.26 million in artists and organisations over the next four years in the next state budget in June. The Arts Industry Council of South Australia (AICSA) wrote to SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis with a five-prong proposal that would see a 40% rise in funding. The proposal includes a $2 million per annum increase to funds for Arts SA’s peer-assessed programs; eight fellowships of $80,000 each for artists and musicians whose career is over 10 years; twenty earlycareer artist skills development grants per annum of $30,000 each; a grants program for experimental new work as well as a taskforce set up by the SA government to develop an arts and cultural strategy by the next state elections.
Australia’s five community TV stations can stay on until June, the Federal Government decreed at the last minute last month. They were told in 2014 they had until December 31, after which they would have to operate online. The Government needed the spectrum space to sell to commercial, free-to-air channels or subscription TV providers. But after meetings with the Australian Community Television Alliance, it’s given it a bit more breathing space. The five are Melbourne/Geelong’s C31, TVS Sydney, Brisbane’s 31 Digital, Adelaide’s Channel 44 and Perth’s West TV. Studies say they reach 5 million Aussies.
AIR Moving Awards To New Date The Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) has announced new dates for its awards. The cut off has been moved from August 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016, aligning them with the calendar year. It used to be August 1 the previous year and July 31 of the year the awards were held. Which means this year they’ll be accepting entries from a greater period of time. Nominations are open until January 31 for AIR members.
Digital Radio Rolling Out In Darwin, Hobart, Canberra Digital radio’s permanent presence will roll out from just the five major capital cities since its launch in 2009 to other areas. After trials in the last few years, Darwin and Canberra get it this year, as 8
Queensland To Keep Lockouts While NSW relaxes some of its lockout laws this month, that’s not the case in Queensland. Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath says that the second part of the state-wide lockout, the 1 am lockout, will roll out as planned on February 1. Venue operators are saying it will destroy their business and cause lay-offs, while opposition leader Tim Nicholls is calling for a “sensible approach” to the legislation rather than a “one size fits all” model.
Highway To Hall The long campaigned for ‘Australian Music Hall’ will finally go ahead in November at the Victorian Arts Centre known as the ‘Australian Music Vault.’ There’ll be a permanent exhibition of memorabilia marking the history of local rock, aimed at fans and tourists. Over the last 15 years, many states have made rumblings about having a hall of fame. But in the end, it was Molly Meldrum and Michael
Gudinski who shouted the loudest for Melbourne – not to mention the Victorian state government coughing up $10 million for it. The Arts Centre has hosted exhibitions by Midnight Oil, Nick Cave and AC/DC. with the current one, Kylie Minogue’s Kylie On Stage, drawing 150,000 patrons in two months.
THINGS WE HEAR
The Sydney Drum and Percussion Show To Take Place In May From the team behind the extremely popular Melbourne Guitar Show comes the very first Sydney Drum & Percussion Show, which will take place on Saturday May 27 and Sunday May 28 at the Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion. This one of a kind exhibition will feature an incredible array of drums, hardware, sticks, percussion, accessories, sheet music and more. There will be seminars, demonstrations and live performances from some of Australia’s most talented players. The full lineup and ticketing information will be revealed in early 2017.
NSW Labor Pushes For Later Opening Hours NSW Labor leader Luke Foley has suggested later opening hours for venues outside Sydney’s lockout zones, provided they have live music or some kind of entertainment to justify longer trading hours. Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory on Oxford Street already works on that condition. Labor is also pushing for a Sydney night mayor to promote late-night business activities and a review of red tape for venue licensing.
Radio Ad Revenue Rises Commercial radio continues to bring the bucks despite the ad market being tough. The first five months of the 2016/17 financial year showed the total market was up 23% to a total of $336.480 million. The Melbourne radio market has been performing the strongest, up 1.43% to $104.266 million. Also up were Sydney (up 1.17% to $104.123 million) and Brisbane (up 77% to $52.653 million). Down were Adelaide (by 5.80% to $29.712 million) and Perth (by 1.02% $45.726 million).
Create A Video For Elton John! To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the songwriting partnership of Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin, Universal Music and YouTube have launched a competition. As three of his songs – ‘Rocket Man’, ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Bennie and the Jets’ – were recorded before the rise of music videos, creative folks around the world can create shortform visuals for them. John and Taupin will chose three winners, and their winning entries will premiere on YouTube in the summer of 2017, with final production assistance from studio Pulse Films Studios – the folks behind Beyonce’s Emmy nominated Lemonade film. YouTube will also award the prize fund of US$10,000 to the winning creators to support future video-based creative projects. More info on how to enter at thecut.eltonjohn.com
Expect tours this year by Live, Neil Diamond and Bring Me The Horizon. Expect a photo book from AC/DC from their 17-month Rock Or Bust world tour. Meantime, former drummer Phil Rudd is finally touring Europe behind his 2014 album Head Job. Plans were scuttled after he ran into legal problems in NZ. Sydney got a new venue last month, with Keith Urban playing the first show at the 8,000-seat ICC Sydney Theatre, which replaced the demolished 13,000-capacity Entertainment Centre. Meanwhile, the smaller Darling Harbour Theatre will play host to Puscifer on Wednesday January 25. In Hearts Wake officially welcomed Conor Ward as their full time drummer. Cohen but never forgotten: Steve Kilbey, Jack Ladder, Holiday Sidewinder (Bridezilla), Spectres of Love, Broads, Elana Stone (All Our Exes Live In Texas) and Lindsay ‘The Doctor’ MacDougall are among those performing at a Leonard Cohen tribute show at Sydney’s Meriton Festival Village on February 14. Perth music teaching community, Rock Scholars, has launched a battle of the bands Scholarpalooza! for WA music talent aged 18 and under. The four heats begin on January 12 and end on February 3. Former Def FX singer Fiona Horne will release her first books in six years – the last one was on witchcraft. This year sees an autobiography and a “surprise” project. Lineup changes: Miami Horror guitarist and singer Aaron Shanahan left after seven years to focus on his electro project Sunday … also after seven years, The Cactus Channel lost sax/flute player Kate Charlwood and trumpeter Daniel Sutton. NSW Central Coast tech production company Entertainment Installations has changed its name to EI Productions. It remains owned and managed by the Macy family, with the same staff, location and services.
Music News Days Like This Festival bring diverse electronic line-up to Sydney Sydney’s Days Like This Festival have unveiled a massive lineup for their 2017 event. The one-day festival will take place at Randwick Racecourse on Saturday March 11 and is described as offering a ‘fresh perspective on the best in global house, techno, electronica’. Taking place over four stages, the lineup is diverse enough to pique the interest of music fans into a variety of styles, ranging from alternative R&B singer ABRA, chillwave champion Toro Y Moi, German deep house DJ Dixon, and electronica master Gold Panda. Days Like This will take place at Randwick Racecourse, Sydney on Saturday March 11. Tickets are available at dayslikethisfestival.com.au
Jazz Party Melbourne’s eclectic Jazz Party have announced a new residency of shows at The Evelyn in Melbourne throughout January. Having made their name with a series of Monday night gigs during the previous 12 months, the group’s take on danceable, New Orleansstyle jazz with a smattering of early rock’n’roll has helped the collective gain a solid following. Led by saxophonist Darcy McNulty and including core members Jule Pascoe (bass) and Loretta Miller (vocals), the band play a mixture of old and new covers and original material. Their debut single, ‘Rock’n’Roll Graveyard’, was written by McNulty and released independently earlier in the year. Besides taking to The Evelyn every Monday night in January, Jazz Party will play several coveted festival slots over summer, including New Years Evie, Golden Plains XI and Castlemaine Festival. TOUR DATES DEC 31 – NEW YEARS EVIE, TALLAROOK VIC JAN 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 – THE EVELYN HOTEL, MELBOURNE VIC MAR 11-13 – GOLDEN PLAINS XI, MEREDITH VIC MAR 24 – CASTLEMAINE FESTIVAL, CASTLEMAINE VIC APR 1 – BY THE MEADOW, BAMBRA VIC
Brunswick Music Festival Reveals Program Brunswick Music Festival, Australia’s longest running inner city festival, takes place over two weeks in March every year in Brunswick, Melbourne. Featuring both a free and ticketed portions of their program, the festival have announced the first part of their lineup for 2017. The New Orleans ‘second line’ style jazz group The Hot 8 Brass Band will be making their Melbourne debut at Estonian House on Wednesday March 15. The group have been an in demand force on the global music scene for over 20 years, collaborating along the way with Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, The Blind Boys of Alabama and plenty more. Also announced is ‘queen of the desert blues’, Aziza Brahim. Hailing from the Western Sahara, Brahim utilises her powerful voice and graceful presence to tell tales of hardship and hope. Aziza Brahim will perform at Brunswick Town Hall on Thursday March 16. For tickets to these shows and to stay updated when more information is revealed head to brunswickmusicfestival.com.au
Golden Plains Reveals Fulls Lineup With the sounds of Silence Wedge still ringing in our ears, Aunty has left revelers only a few days to recuperate after Victoria’s Meredith Music Festival before dropping the complete lineup for her second event, Golden Plains XI. Melbourne smooth soul combo Billy Davis emerged seemingly fully formed when their recent single ‘No Longer Lovers’ received widespread praise and a recent string of high profile supports, including Anderson .Paak, has introduced them to a clutch of new converts. From Marlinja in the Northern Territory, Eleanor Dixon and the Sandhill Women marry the old and the new by using ambient electronica to speak of their experiences as Aboriginal women in remote communities. Other acts include Melbourne rapper REMI, the smooth dance party that is Brisbane’s Confidence Man, and DJ sets from Oren Ambarchi, Harold, and The Pilotwings. They join an already huge lineup including Neil Finn, The Damned, Kurt Vile, The Specials and many, many more. Golden Plains XI will take place from Saturday March 11-Monday March 13 2017 at The Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre in Meredith, Victoria. Tickets are available from 2017.goldenplains.com.au
Guns N’ Roses Announce Tour Supports The original lineup of Guns N’ Roses are launching themselves onto Australian shores in February next year with homegrown rock icons Wolfmother and Rose Tattoo confirmed as support acts on the mammoth-sized Not In This Life tour. In a matter of weeks Aussie GNR fans will get to experience Axl, Slash and Duff McKagan together on one stage for the first time in 24 years. The tour has thus far copped rave reviews worldwide, with the Aussie leg kicking off in Brisbane. Pub rock legends Rose Tattoo, who supported GNR on their infamous 1993 Use Your Illusion tour, are set to open the shows in Brisbane and Sydney, with Wolfmother taking the reigns for the Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth shows. TOUR DATES FEB 7 – QSAC STADIUM, BRISBANE QLD FEB 10 – ANZ STADIUM, SYDNEY NSW FEB 11 – ANZ STADIUM, SYDNEY NSW FEB 14 – MCG, MELBOURNE VIC FEB 18 – ADELAIDE OVAL, ADELAIDE SA FEB 21 – PERTH DOMAIN STADIUM, PERTH WA mixdownmag.com.au
Hudson Mohawke Cancels Tour
The Gooch Palms Everybody’s favourite punk rock provocateurs, The Gooch Palms, have announced that they have signed with 123 Agency to handle their domestic touring responsibilities. To celebrate, the Goochies are heading out on an extensive national tour, kicking off with a New Years Eve show at The Crow Bar in Brisbane, which is bound to be loose. Although now based in LA, the Newcastle duo still make plenty of time to return to Oz, having last been here in September for a run of dates that included an unforgettable Bigsound showcase. Hopefully the new deal with 123 will mean that there will be plenty of more opportunities for The Gooch Palms to return home frequently, when they are not busy conquering the rest of the world. For the full list of tour tour dates, head to mixdownmag.com.au
Representatives of Scottish electronic musician Hudson Mohawke announced via Facebook last week that ‘due to a health issue’ he was cancelling all Australian , New Zealand and Asian commitments. The Australian leg of the tour was planned to commence this week with Perth’s Southbound Festival, followed in succession by festival appearances at Melbourne’s Beyond The Valley, Sydney’s Lost Paradise and sideshows in Melbourne and Sydney. According to the statement all ticket holders for the headline shows will be offered full refunds from their original point of purchase. Though no further information about the nature of the illness has been revealed, here’s hoping that whatever it is, the time off will allow Mohawke to make a full recovery. 9
Radial Engineering’s Headlight Guitar Amp Selector Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au
Radial Engineering’s Headlight is a guitar amp selector with a difference. The compact design is purpose built to easily fit into a pedalboard, allowing artists to easily switch between up to four amps at once with a single footswitch. The combination of ¼” output jacks and a sequential footswitch and that is able to advance through the connected outputs depending on how many amps are connected allows the device it’s convenient size. The Headlight gets its name from its high visibility LEDs, which can provide an easily seen output routing status on darkened stages. The Headlight can also be used as an ABY with two amps care of the ‘All On’ button, which will allow you to use both amps simultaneously, and the built in isolation transformers will prevent any ground loop hum.
The Maton Case Maton Guitars | matonguitars.com.au
Denon DJ MC7000 Electric Factory | elfa.com.au
Denon DJ’s latest release is the MC7000, a four-channel Serato DJ controller that features a stand-alone mixer and dual USB interfaces, which can allow for two DJs to work simultaneously from two different laptops. The controller is housed in a rugged metal chassis designed for the gigging DJ and comes with Serato performance packs included, such as Pitch N Time, Serato Flip and Serato Video amongst others. This is a serious controller at an affordable price point.
It’s all well and good to spend your hard earned money on a beautiful guitar, but the way in which you store and travel with the instrument will have a large bearing over its lifespan. Following on from three years of research, development and testing, Maton have just announced the arrival of The Maton Case. While the outer shell will retain the same familiar design that Maton fans are used to, the entire case will be made of 48 individual parts, each painstakingly selected to ensure stability and protection for your instrument. The shell is made of high-density polyethylene, with an internal layer of rigid polyurethane foam to avoid cracks and protect against impact. These materials have been tested against low temperatures and so will be perfect for the touring artist who needs to store their guitar in the cargo hold of an aeroplane. Internally The Maton Case features specially designed soft lining, which are strongest at the upper and lower bout and impervious to water. The case can hold any Maton guitar shape, with the exception of the Maton 808 and Dreadnought Models, which are scheduled to arrive in early 2017.
MXL DX-2 Dual Capsule Variable Dynamic Microphone Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au
PreSonus FaderPort 8 Link Audio | linkaudio.com.au
The MXL DX-2 is the first dual capsule dynamic microphone that allows you to tailor the sound from one capsule to the other and all points in between, so that you can easily customise your sound. The front of the microphone is a flat faced, side address design which places the microphone capsules close to the sound for optimal pickup, while the opposite side has the crossfade knob, making adjustments a breeze. Capsule 1’s super cardioid large capsule design captures the warmth and fullness of your instrument while Capsule 2’s cardioid small capsule offers superb mid range and high end detail.
Available in Australian stores in the first week of January is the new FaderPort 8 USB control surface from PreSonus. It features eight touch-sensitive 100mm long throw motorised faders, and eight high-definition digital scribble strips to provide visual feedback. Large illuminated buttons make finding the function you need quick and easy. MacOS and Windows compatible, it’s all designed to aid your workflow and give you professional studio-level control for your DAW within a compact machine. It also has inbuilt support for the Mackie Control and HUI protocols, so the FaderPort 8 will work with practically any DAW, with no driver installation necessary.
Markbass Ninja 102-250 Combo CMC Music Australia | cmcmusic.com.au
Markbass have released a new addition to their signature series of jazz bassist Richard Bona, the inspiration behind the brand’s Little Mark Ninja head. The Ninja 102 250 takes all of the features behind the LM Ninja and puts it into a compact 250w format. The LM’s simple design is maintained, placing an emphasis on tone with a full, yet focused sound from the 2x10” custom designed speakers and tweeter, yet the whole thing weighs only 16kg. The vertical design was created for the purpose of optimising space on smaller stages, which is emblematic of Markbass’ commitment to creating a compact combo without compromising quality.
Ernie Ball Music Man 2017 Collection CMC Music Australia | cmcmusic.com.au
Ernie Ball Music Man have released a preview of what to expect from their 2017 product line, including brand new instruments and new versions of some of their most loved guitars. These include the John Petrucci Majesty Monarchy series, which was designed for the Dream Theatre guitarist and featueres DiMarzio Sonic Ecstasy pickups, a piezo bridge and a range of finishes. Celebrating their past while looking to the future, Ernie Ball will also release a new edition of the StingRay 5 bass for its 30th anniversary, as well as a version of the ‘Old Smoothie’ StingRay, a faithful reproduction of the much sought after Prototype #26 for its 40th anniversary. mixdownmag.com.au
Steinberg’s Cubase 9 Yamaha Music Australia | au.yamaha.com
Steinberg have just released the latest version of their flagship audio recording program, Cubase 9, with three different versions being made available. Cubase Pro 9 is marketed as meeting the exacting standards of recording professionals; Cubase Artist 9 is tailored for solo musicians and songwriters; while Cubase Elements 9 is an entry-level DAW that offers straightforward recording in high-quality audio. The updates come with a range of new features requested directly by customers, such as the ‘Sampler Track’, which allows for quick inspiration and an easy creative process, a ‘MixConsole History’ so that you can easily undo/redo or carry out an A/B comparison, and a new 8-band EQ.
Sonuus Wahoo Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au
The Sonuus Wahoo is one of the most innovative wah/filter pedals ever designed for guitar and bass. The pedal combines two beautiful-sounding analogue filters with digital control, giving you full access to a sonic palette previously only available to skilled analogue circuit designers. With one pedal you have English and American wah sounds, a phaser, envelope filter, a pitch-bend triggered wah, step filter, overdrive and much more. Forget about using hidden pots and jumpers to adjust your analogue sound; with the Wahoo you can instantly adapt the analogue circuit’s response to create the sound and feel you desire. And with 100 factory presets and 100 user presets, you always have the sound you need at your fingertips. Combined this with the Wahoo’s robust cast-aluminum case and modern electronic design, and you can be assured of years of troublefree operation.
Radial Regency Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au
The Regency by Radial Engineering is a pre-drive and booster pedal, a unique tool designed to emphasise the gain stage of modern high-gain amplifiers. It is comprised of two circuits, ‘pre-drive’ and ‘booster’. The former is designed as a pre-distortion overdrive, which can be set to embellish your amplifier’s top end while adding sustain and harmonics. The amount of drive is adjustable from the front panel, which also features a tone control and a three position ‘low-mid’ switch to help shape the appropriate amount of bottom end suitable to your amp. The ‘booster’ is a very hot Class-A power booster that pushes up to +23dB of clean gain. The idea for this is to either prematurely cause smaller amps to break up or simply to add a boost for soloing. For those wanting to push their sound to the extreme, the two circuits can be selected simultaneously without fear of oversaturating your guitar signal.
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In conversation, Archie Roach is every bit as thoughtful and intelligent as you would expect, giving each question careful consideration. Although Roach has been a major figure in Australian music since the early 90s, events within his own life have had a major impact on both his personal outlook and the way in which he creates music. “There’s a spirituality to it that’s certainly part of my life, and has had a big influence on me,” says Roach about the themes of his new album, Let Love Rule.
While his previous album, Into The Bloodstream was, in Roach’s words a ‘healing’ album, looking inwards at events in the artist’s own life, Let Love Rule takes that feeling of overcoming adversity and projects it outwards. “It’s a continuation of that joy, there’s a kind of optimism to it. “I was reflecting more on things happening in the world. I knew we were going to Europe at the start of the year and we had to stop in Nice, so I was thinking about the terrible attacks that happened there on Bastille Day. That’s where ‘No More Bleeding’, the last track on the album, came from.” The album was co-produced and recorded by Craig Pilkington, who also plays guitar in Roach’s live band, at Audrey Studios in Melbourne. “A lot of the songs were written in the studio with Craig. When Ruby was alive, my partner, she was always the first one to hear new songs or ideas [and give feedback]. So this is probably the only other time I’ve had that sort of collaboration, is with Craig.” The unexpected death of Ruby Hunter, Roach’s lifelong companion, has obviously been a major source of grief in the singer’s life. Instead of retreating into sorrow, Roach decided to celebrate life through his music. “I still get that feeling playing music, when I’m at home writing; it’s a great sense of relief to communicate whatever is happening. It’s the same as when we play live, I’m not just trying to get on stage and sing some songs at you, it’s about sharing a feeling.” Roach has enjoyed not only finding a new way of writing thanks to the people who surround him, but also by the type of subject matter he allows himself to speak of. “Right after Charcoal Lane, and for a little while after that even with Jamu Dreaming, although that talked about some different things, there was a time when I felt a bit of a burden to speak on certain issues. Now there’s this freedom to make songs about whatever I’m feeling at the time. If I want to speak about a certain issue I will, but I don’t have to. Every now and then I get someone coming up to me and saying ‘you should write about this issue or that’, but I don’t feel that weight of responsibility anymore.” 12
“It’s not a matter of money or handouts, for real change we need to all get together and work out a way that we can live together that’s fair for everybody. Incarceration levels are far too high, health needs to be looked at, and we need doctors and house workers.”
Last year the 25th anniversary of Roach’s debut album Charcoal Lane was celebrated with a rereleased edition that included a bonus disc of cover songs by contemporary Australian artists. “It’s amazing when you hear other people do those songs and give it fresh life, and new meaning. When I sing those songs now I can appreciate different things than when I first wrote them. Because they were just brand new at the time but now I’m able to see another perspective, particularly when I do ‘Took the Children Away’, or some of the songs that were about things that happened to me,” says Roach of his classic Stolen Generation anthem. “I always say that every time I sing that song I let a little bit of the pain go, and someday I’ll be singing it and there won’t be any left.”
When ‘Took The Children Away’ was released in 1990 most white Australians were unaware of the issue of the stolen generation, the song’s popularity helping to bring discussions of the exgovernmental practice into the mainstream media. Much has happened in the years since, but at the same time much has been ignored. “Some individuals have tried to help, but it’s hard to get a real commitment for change,” says Roach. “We need to all get together and have a serious talk. It’s not a matter of money or handouts, for real change we need to all get together and work out a way that we can live together that’s fair for everybody. Incarceration levels are far too high, health needs to be looked at, and we need doctors and house workers.” Another high profile indigenous artist Roach admires is Shepparton rapper Briggs, who contributed a cover of ‘Took the Children Away’ to the new version of Charcoal Lane. “Briggs is really great. Besides music I work in juvenile justice, out at Parkville College, and I took him out there and he couldn’t believe it. All the young fellas just came running up to him, they were freestyling with him, they just loved it.” It is genuinely heart warming that someone whose life has been filled with as many obstacles as Archie Roach’s can arrive at such a bold and optimistic sentiment as Let Love Rule. The new music reflects his own personality in conversation; thoughtful, weary but ultimately full of love. BY ALEX WATTS
Let Love Rule by Archie Roach is out now via Liberation Music. Archie Roach will peform at WOMAdelaide, which takes place at Botanice Park, Adelaide from March 10-March 13. Tickets are available at womadelaide.com.au mixdownmag.com.au
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make sure that they’re all bangers. Personally, I think we did a pretty good job of that.” 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory was recorded throughout 2016 in El Paso, a town in Texas close to the border of Mexico, which marks the first time the band had ever recorded an album outside of Boston. When it came to getting the album’s sound developed, Brennan – who is one of three guitarists in the band at any given time – initially kept pretty close to home, implementing his live rig into the studio setting and sticking with some of his key instruments. “All my main guitar parts are typically recorded on my 1968 Gibson ES-345,” he says.
Dropkick Murphys It has been a while between drinks for Boston’s premier Celtic punks the Dropkick Murphys – and that’s just not something you should be saying about such a rowdy bunch. Still, this January sees the band set to make up for lost time with 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory, their ninth studio album which arrives nearly four years after its predecessor, Signed and Sealed in Blood. For the Dropkicks themselves, it’s about keeping the album format alive without going overboard with it. “I guess we wanted to go a little bit old school,” says Tim Brennan, who joined the band primarily as a mandolin player in 2003 before switching over to lead guitar in 2008, replacing former strummer Marc Orrell. “Back in the day, albums used to have something like nine songs on them, so that kind of influenced that decision a little bit. It’s definitely inspired by this ‘less is more’ mindset. The way people consume music these days is so different, as well. If you’re putting out a record that’s 15 songs long, a lot of that is going to get overlooked. I think ‘concise’ is the word I’m looking for when it comes to what we wanted out of making this record. If we’re only giving ourselves 11 songs, then we need to
“That guitar is the best feeling instrument that I have ever had in my hands. I also have a late ‘60s Barney Kessel guitar [also Gibson], with original PAF pickups. I tend not to play that one much outside of the studio, however – I have this huge fear that something awful is going to happen to it. Typically, I record all my guitar tracks through a Fender Bassman head; and that’s generally going through some kind of 2x12 cabinet. For this album, it was a vintage Fender cab. In the past, I’ve also used cabinets by this company called SonicCord, but I’ve found the Bassman to be the best one to play through.” With that said, Brennan also made a point – in the spirit of the band’s change of scenery – of trying something that normally wouldn’t have been a part of the Dropkick Murphys’ recording process. “One of the key differences on this record was playing a lot of Fender Jazzmasters,” he says. “I used them for some of the extra guitar parts that I was adding in, just for a little bit of texture, as well as most of the solos that I was playing. This was pretty different for me – normally, I just tend to stick to the one guitar – but I think experimenting with the Fender sounds really paid off. I love how the guitars sound on this record.”
start doing more, we should go up onstage.’ And then it took two years for us before it turned into a profession. “That’s when I cancelled my studies,” says Haußels. “I just wasn’t intelligent enough to do rock‘n’roll during the night and then still hit the scores for the tests during the day.”
Mother’s Cake Jan Haußels is an accidental musician. The drummer for acclaimed Austrian rock band Mother’s Cake never planned to make a living wage from music, and he stumbled into his current life almost entirely by accident. He’s not someone who spent his childhood singing into a hairbrush in the mirror, and as a result views his life now with a particular kind of humbled surprise. “I was studying,” says Haußels. “I started out studying something because I didn’t know what to do. So I chose a place that was beautiful and where you could do a lot of sports. I didn’t choose it because of the university itself.” Haußels’ university pick rapidly proved fortuitous. It was while studying that he met the eventual bassist for Mother’s Cake, Benedikt Trenkwalder, and before too long the pair were making music together, eventually joined by frontman Yves Krismer. “I hadn’t even played drums for long,” Haußels says. “I had only played for two years before I met them, and I just played AC/DC and stuff. So we all just started jamming, and then we just went, ‘we should 14
So the world lost itself a biologist and gained a drummer – and a fine one at that. Haußels’ powerful, heavy metal-inspired style is apparent on all of the tracks Mother’s Cake have so far released, but particularly their lauded single ‘The Killer’. The song, a mishmash of cock rock and power pop tropes is held together by Haußels’ work, and his drumming stops the piece from ever slipping off into pure, over-the-top extremity. But Haußels is too modest to take much praise in this respect. For him, playing music isn’t a way to elicit international attention, or to boost his own ego – it’s simply the only thing that has ever managed to truly sustain him. “Music is the only thing I am able to do 14 hours a day,” he says. “It is the only thing where I don’t have to force myself to get things going. “I guess for me that was the thing that was always so hard with everything else in my life, whether it was school or university. I always had to force myself, or make to-do lists. But with music I just did three hours in a rehearsal room, then the boys would come in and do two hours, and then I’d get up the next day and do it again.” Not that it’s always been necessarily easy, mind you. The path the band has taken over the eight years since their inception has been a twisted one, and they have had to overcome a range of hurdles both self-inflicted and external. “We’re doing the third record now, and it’s the one I’m most proud of,” Haußels says. “The first record is so easy to do. You don’t even really know you’re a band yet and you end up with ten songs. And you know, there’s no critique. Then you do the
Aside from the guitar, Brennan is a keen multiinstrumentalist – as are several other members of the band. Along with providing the band with lead guitar for its previous two albums and mandolin on the two prior to that, Brennan also plays the tin whistle, the piano, the Greek folk instrument known as the bouzouki and – of course – the accordion. The latter is one that has woven its way into many key Dropkicks songs, and Brennan is always happy to talk shop on it. “For such a weird instrument, it’s got a lot of texture in its sound that it can add a lot of colour to whatever song that you use it on,” he says. “We used to have a giant collection of them, because accordions are not meant to be played the way that I play them. I had these acoustic ones that had pickups installed in them, and they would just get absolutely ruined every single night. We’re so loud on stage, the pickups would just get so much noise and would feedback all the time.” This could well have spelled the end of using accordions for the Celtic punks – in a live setting, at least – until a surprising new development came for the instrument. “After we finished our last tour, Roland started doing these digital accordions – they have just been an absolute godsend,” says Brennan. “There’s no worrying about pickups or internal mics – you just plug it in the same way you would a guitar or a keyboard. I think the model I have is one called the FR-3x, and it has so many cool sounds. I even got to try out a new prototype they’re working on. They’ve really helped the whole playing process to be a bit less of a nightmare.” BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory is out January 6 via Born & Bred Records/Warner Music Australia.
second record and the second is tricky,” says Haußels. “It’s the first time you have the sense that there is expectation. And in our case we also set ourselves a deadline, which was pretty strict. It pushed us. It’s the first time that you experience how fame changes how you play together, and how you write songs together. But with the third we took all we had learnt from the first and the second and made a record that from the start to the end always felt good.” That said, though Mother’s Cake might currently be hitting their stride, Haußels isn’t so deluded that he believes the band will always work so fluidly, and so well. Chance got him to where he is with the band now – chance and healthy dashes of talent and perspiration, of course – and so as far as he is concerned it is out of his hands from here on in. “Right now it feels good; we have a good label and there’s a lot of media attention. It feels healthy. But there’s always this other thing when you can tell people [in the band] are struggling. It’s been a lot of pressure, you can tell that it’s all taking its toll,” says Haußels. “It never feels like, ‘okay I can be sure for the next ten years we’ll be this band.’ It’s always like, ‘We’ll see what 2017 brings’. It’s the truth with music and how a band is; it’s not something that you can honestly be so sure about at any time.” BY JOSEPH EARP No Rhyme Or Reason by Mother’s Cake will be released independently on Friday January 27. They will be touring Australia in February, through Wild Thing Presents, with special guests Alithia. For more information head to wildthingpresents.com mixdownmag.com.au
Gone Is Gone “We definitely tried to step not only forward but wider with this record,” says Troy Van Leeuwen, guitarist for heavy supergroup Gone is Gone. The band’s debut release was a self-titled eight-track EP, which played to each individual band member’s strengths. These were Van Leeuwen’s (Queens Of The Stone Age, A Perfect Circle, Failure) atmospheric guitar, Mastodon vocalist/bassist Troy Sanders’ driving bass and raging vocals, At The Drive-In drummer Tony Hajjar’s power, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Zarin’s versatility. But on their full-length album, Echolocation, Gone Is Gone establishes a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts, a more unified musical personality that leans heavily on psychedelic melodies and dark atmospheres. “A lot of the EP was written before Troy sang and added his lyrics and melodies, so that’s why it was kind of a big foot-through-thedoor, heavy, doom-rock record,” says Van Leeuwen. “But we’ve definitely spread our wings now, with him bringing in some music that we didn’t even expect. There are a lot of melodic, beautiful
things that he brought to the table that were a little more colourful.”
Way Huge stuff like the Pork Loin and Green Rhino overdrives.”
The songwriting process was crammed in amidst extremely tight schedules, negotiated amongst the band members’ other jobs. “When we do get the chance to make music we do it pretty quickly,” Van Leeuwen says. “That’s why I dig this project as well, because you only get enough time to learn a song and then you just play it live. I would say about 80 percent of the record was played live, and you’re countering what’s going on as it’s happening. That’s where the rawness of the material comes from. And then when it comes to adding guitar and key overdubs, that’s where we can get as expressive as we want.”
Van Leeuwen’s main guitars for the session included his signature Fender Jazzmaster as well as a lot of other ancillary instruments, including several Echo Park guitars. “One is called the De Leon. I believe Leo Fender designed this shape when he was at G&L, and Gabriel from Echo Park was his apprentice back then,” says Van Leeuwen. “It’s basically a really fine Telecaster with these gold-foil pickups that are pretty interestingsounding. A really, great guitar. And I used my doubleneck too, a Fender 12-string on top and a 6-string Jazzmaster on the bottom.”
One of the unique characteristics of Gone Is Gone is Troy Sanders’ ‘lead-bass’ kind of approach: not in the sense of solos, but as a bass player who drives the song forward in the classic Geddy Lee kind of way. This gives Van Leeuwen a lot of space for experimentation around the edges.
Echo Park is also responsible for the amps Van Leeuwen used on the Gone Is Gone sessions. “They’re kind of a cross between a Fender Bassman and a Super Reverb with an AC30 blended in,” says Van Leeuwen. “And I also used my Fender Bassman through a Marshall cabinet, and a Marshall 50 Watt Jubilee for a lot of stuff.”
“His stamp on this is vocally and lyrically driven, and of course he’s got that thunderous bass,” says Van Leeuwen. “He’s definitely holding it down. So it gives me and Mike a lot of room. Let’s just say there are a lot of effects pedals on my board.
“I’m working on some ideas with Echo Park but I can’t really say what they are yet,” says the guitarist on his future plans for gear. “But Gabe makes everything by hand and if I come to him with a design, he makes it so. So I’m always looking.”
“I definitely may have overused the Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander. It basically turns your guitar into an 8-bit synth. It has three octaves on it and a fuzz, and it’s just really cool,” says Van Leeuwen. “The Rainbow Machine is another pedal they make which I use a lot. There’s a company called Fuzzrocious who have a pedal called the OC Demon, which I use a lot. It sounds like a buzzsaw. And another big sound on the record is the Eventide H9. That pedal alone could score movies. I use a Whammy Pedal a lot too, and some
BY PETER HODGSON
“I really wanted the guitar and music work to push the boundaries to be more progressive this time, and use Djent stylings as well,” says Bates. “I have a penchant for pop melodies, or at least accessible melodies – it’s in my DNA, that will never go away. So, hopefully it makes for a cool blend.”
says Bates. “We want to move the needle in terms of space, science, understanding as well as futurism.”
While it is easy to imagine that the instrumental side of Vessels would suit a heavier vocal delivery, Bates wanted the music to be accessible to anyone. “I like it better this way, rather than the insular, communal thing. It is fun to take something like ‘Back To The Earth’ for instance, which we just released,” says Bates. “It’s in 4/4 and 3/4 and it’s compound time and chord structures and yet some kids on the Internet are saying it’s too pop for them, it blows my mind.”
Starset Come Friday January 20, Starset will be sending their sophomore album into the world. Vessels has already begun to turn heads, with recently released single ‘Monsters’ already powering towards the 2 million plays mark. “I’ve always strived for Starset to be one of the bands that can hopefully make rock cooler,” says frontman Dustin Bates.“I’m not saying we can do it, but I do want that. When you go into iTunes for instance, Joan Jett is still in the top 40. That’s so lame.” This is not an easy mission statement by any stretch of the imagination, but Bates is well on his way to achieving it with Vessels. Combining the epic scope of 30 Seconds To Mars with the progression of Periphery and gluing it together with moments of Radiohead-esque greatness, Bates has created the perfect storm for making accessible, yet challenging rock. mixdownmag.com.au
The band’s previous album, 2014’s Transmissions, had a strong message behind it which has proved to be somewhat prescient. “I’d say the major tenant was that it’s a look at automation and how it’ll affect our lives in various ways. In the end, we’re seeing that come to pass,” says Bates. “We’re seeing politicians being elected by manipulating the population’s understanding. The reason Trump won in a lot of the rust belt states was, I think, his ability to create a boogieman to point at such as Mexico, or globalism, or China. We sort of regretted not capitalising on that. Our goal was to help people and bring awareness.” Besides music, Starset’s mission is to promote the ideals of the scientific group, The Starset Society. “On this new record, it’s absolutely similar to Transmission but there are more tenants. In the coming days and weeks The Starset Society will be much more clear about what those are and how they work into Starset and the various other campaigns,”
Gone is Gone’s debut album Echolation will be released through Cooking Vinyl Australia on Friday January 6.
As well as a PhD in electronic engineering, Bates has spent time teaching at the International Space University in France. With such a strong academic background it only makes sense that those he studied – from Nikola Tesla to inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, left their mark on his artistic output. Bates explains how he implanted references to the greats within the actual music itself, but made sure to keep it vague enough for further interpretation. If this all sounds rather more complicated than you would expect from a rock record you may not be surprised that Bates is in talks with Marvel Comics to create an original graphic novel series. “I’ve written [for the comic] and helped various people involved in it,” says Bates. “There are even some writers at Marvel who are helping to change our narrative and apply it to the graphic novel itself. I don’t think I can reveal much just yet but we’re super excited.” BY MICHAEL HOHNEN
Vessels by Starset will be released on Friday January 20 through Razor & Tie/Cooking Vinyl Australia.
My Disco My Disco’s fourth LP, Severe, is one of the most singular sounding guitar-based records to come out in the last couple of years. The Melbourne band’s dark postpunk minimalism takes listeners to a very distinct and isolated place. It’s a boldly constructed work, providing a challenging and rewarding listening experience. Since releasing the album in October 2015, the the band have taken some serious strides. “Since it came out, we’ve toured a lot,” says guitarist Ben Andrews. “We’ve done Southeast Asia, Japan, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and some little bits and pieces in between. Now we’re doing Australia and Southeast Asia again up until March. That will almost conclude the Severe touring with the exception of America, which we’ll do later on in the year.” The forthcoming tour follows the release of Severe Remixes – a two track EP featuring significantly reworked versions of ‘Our Decade’ by Regis and ‘1991’ by Lustmord. “The remix album’s really good because we worked with two guys who we really, really love and have for a long time,” Andrews says. “It was one of those things where we almost had to pinch ourselves and be like, ‘I can’t believe we’re working with these guys on this label.’”
Shirley Collins Shirley Collins is 81 years old and her music career has been inactive for the better part of four decades. Yet her forthcoming album, Lodestar, is the subject of intrigue and anticipation. In the years since her last release, the English folk singer has become something of an icon. Her recordings made between the late 1950s and late 1970s have influenced multiple generations of folk performers, including such artists as Billy Bragg and Angel Olsen. On top of this, she’s received a Gold Badge from the English Folk Dance and Song society and an MBE for services to music. More recently, Collins signed with Domino Records for the release of Lodestar, which has fired up the hype machine. “I’ve never had quite such a reaction to an album as I have with this one,” she says. “It’s extraordinary and people have been really very kind about it as well.” Collins was an innovative figure within the 1960s English folk revival, working with the Albion Country Band and alongside her sister Dolly. So she’s no stranger to the album release process, but even at the age of 81 she feels some butterflies at the prospect. “There is a sort of nervousness about it because of not having 16
The two remixes are uniquely gripping, with both producers taking hold of the original recordings and pushing their respective songs into novel territory. There’s no need to release remixes, but they can unlock additional emotional potential when executed well. This is certainly the case with the tracks featured on Severe Remixes, which was instigated via mutual fandom. “Karl [O’Connor] – Regis – approached us and was like, ‘I want to do a record on Downwards [Records]. Can I remix some of your stuff?’ I think we met each other through the Quietus connection, who always promote our London shows. [They’ve] been big fans for a while and always support us, which is great – they’re really good dudes” Andrews says. “I’ve been speaking with Brian [Williams] – Lustmord – for a few years. I had a hand in him coming out and doing Dark Mofo this year.” Working with a couple of producers who they have great respect for is a sign of My Disco’s career advancement in the wake of Severe. “It was really good that both those artists wanted to work with us, but also [that they] – especially Karl – were big fans for many years,” Andrews says. “It showed us that we’ve progressed not only in a musical way, but also career-wise. We’re sitting in a place where we’re quite well respected and revered not just in rock circles [but also within] electronic stuff and the industrial side of things. Those sort of people are paying attention to us, which is really good because we’ve never thought about it like that. “We still put on shows and play shows wondering if anyone will come. And often they do, so that’s always a plus.” For the last 18 months or so, My Disco live shows have exclusively consisted of material from Severe. They’ve largely performed in complete onstage darkness accompanied by somewhat unsettling visual projections either to the left and right of the stage or above the stage. The songs on Severe are very finely sculpted, an impression that’s underlined by the way they’re presented live. Understandably, performing in such a
precise manner requires ultra concentration from the three band members. “We don’t rehearse in complete darkness so sometimes we realise, ‘uh oh – I can’t see some cues,’ so we have to really concentrate. The cues, even though minimal, are quite important, especially for certain songs. The ones where we have to really be playing unison, it can get difficult with nerves and the pitch blackness and the way a specific stage or room’s set up. “It’s super exhausting. [It takes] a lot of attention and I notice how hard I’m gripping my hands on the fret board in the moments where I’m waiting. I’m really on edge, which is important because that’s how I want it to sound so that’s how you should feel playing it as well. If it was easy and relaxing then it probably wouldn’t sound how we want it.” Some audience members will inevitably be put off by music that’s so dark and emotionally affecting, and also quite physically affecting. On the whole, however, Andrews says audiences around the world have been able to come along for the ride. “The last Europe tour was really good. We played a mixture between small club shows, festivals, Southeast Europe stuff. Especially in Poland we were playing some very underground festivals that people of all ages were at, from young to old – which is something I love about European audiences. “I would say 85-90% we’re really happy with. Japan and Taiwan were really great. Australia, people know us more than the rest of the world so people know what to expect. Pretty much it’s all been really good.”
made an album for over 30 years,” Collins says. “My voice isn’t the voice that it used to be. It’s a lower voice now with a few bits of insecurity in it. But what’s been lovely is that everyone’s reacted so well to it, and that’s just such a relief, because I was a bit nervous about what people would think of it. I’m quite pleased with the way the album has turned out as well. I think it’s got lots of variety on it and wonderful musicians playing with me.” Amid the excitement surrounding Collins’ re-emergence, it was reasonable to feel some apprehension. Not only has it been 38 years since her last album, but she was forced to give up performing in the early-‘80s due to a voice debilitating disorder called dysphonia. There ensued a lengthy period when Collins assumed her recording days were over, but things started to shift in the early years of this century. “[Musician] David Tibet phoned me up one day and said, ‘I really love your music. Can I come and talk to you about it?’ I just burst into tears and said to him, ‘I thought I’d been forgotten.’ He asked me on several occasions over the years if I would consider singing at one of his concerts and I kept saying no. Then I started to say yes, but when it came to it I couldn’t do it. Then finally 18 months ago I said yes.” It was a comeback performance at the Union Chapel in London that sparked the prospect of a new Shirley Collins album. “Ian Kearey, who’s one of the instrumentalists on the album, came along and accompanied me and we sang a couple of songs in front of 600 people. I was a bit nervous, but the audience were really lovely, and then I started to think ‘I can still sing a bit.’ “Also the songs that I sing, I’ve learned them mostly from field recordings of people who are in their 70s or something. So those older voices are actually ones that I learned to love.” Lodestar is made up of English, American and Cajun songs dating from the 16th Century to the mid20th century. Collins spent much of her early career collecting traditional English and American folk songs
and recording versions that framed the originals in a different context. She has continued this with Lodestar, managing to uncover a few more hidden gems. “The first one, the ‘Awake Awake’ song, was written in the 16th century when there was an earthquake in London and part of old St Paul’s Cathedral was toppled. There was a ballad writer at the time, and a religious man, who wrote this song warning the people that this earthquake was a sign of God’s displeasure and if they didn’t change their ways there would be worse disasters. “What’s remarkable about it for me was that I had never heard this song outside of the printed version I saw in the book, The Folk Songs of Herefordshire. And in 1909 Vaughan Williams actually noted it down from a country woman in Herefordshire. I thought, ‘Where has this song been all that time?’, because there weren’t any other versions of it around. How can a song disappear for 400 years and then show up again? So that was a song that had completely fascinated me for a very long time.” The remainder of tracks on Lodestar possess a similarly unique significance for Collins. “I wanted to do two songs from America from when I was there in 1959 collecting folk songs in the Deep South with Alan Lomax. The songs just floated into my mind I think, and then once we started trying to do arrangements for them, there they were. “Equally there were a different ten songs I could’ve chosen, so I’m just hoping I can make another album and fit the next lot in.”
BY AUGUSTUS WELBY My Disco will be touring nationally later this month. For more information visit mydisco.com.au. Severe is out now on Temporary Residence.
BY AUGUSTUS WELBY Lodestar by Shirley Collins is out now via Domino Recording Company
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ISA 428 Optional Digital Card
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ISA430 & ISA One A-D Card RRP $699 ISA828 A-D Card RRP $899 ISA428 A-D Card RRP $1149
ISA 828 ISA 430 MK II
RRP $4499 - Single ISA Series Transformer-based mic preamp with Expanded EQ & DI Inputs
RRP $4499 - 8 ISA Series Transformerbased mic preamps with Inst. & DI Inputs
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RRP $239 2-Channel, Dual Output USB Interface with Pro Tools First
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STUDIO - RRP $349
1 Mic/1 Line, RCA Output USB Interface with Pro Tools First, Studio Condenser Mic, HP’s & XLR cable
STUDIO - RRP $449
RRP $319 iPad Recording Interface-Dock with 2 Mic Pre’s & 48V
USB & iPad Recording Interface with Mic/Line Input, Studio Condenser Mic, HP’s & XLR cable
STUDIO - RRP $449
2-Channel, Output USB Interface with Pro Tools First, Studio Condenser Mic, HP’s & XLR cable
STUDIO - RRP $549 iPad Recording InterfaceDock with 2 Mic Pre’s, 48V, Studio Condenser Mic, HP’s & XLR cable
RRP $2449 8 Mic Pre Thunderbolt Interface with HP Filters, Expandable ADAT inputs, SPDIF, MIDI & Wordclock
OctoPre RRP $1299 - 8 Clarett Series mic preamps with AD/DA Conversion
RRP $1499 -2 ISA Series Transformer-based mic preamps with EQ & DI Inputs
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Advice Columns GUITAR
More Intervallic Ideas Some more intervallic ideas this month. To help illustrate the point further let’s start with Figure A. Working over a D major chord (amongst others) it’s quite ‘scalar’ or ‘linear’ in that the first bar sticks to an ascending D Major scale sound, except for the jump from A to D for the last two notes. Bar two starts descending from B down to F# then back up to A and finishes by jumping down to the lower D this time. Most of the notes are in order from the D Major Scale be it ascending or descending with only a few jumps of bigger intervals. It sounds completely fine and there’s nothing wrong with these licks but to demonstrate the idea of ‘intervallic’ playing let’s have a look at Figure B. Keeping the same rhythms as Figure A, Figure B uses a wider range and has a completely different sound. All of these notes are still from the D Major scale, but the jumping around of intervals sounds slightly less predictable to the ear. Figure C moves to an E Minor sound. The first bar uses a three note run (E, F3 and G) before jumping up to B and then two groups of two notes (E and D up the octave and then B and A up the octave again) creating some wide intervals and big jumps. Bar two again keeps the same rhythm from Figure A and Figure B but has a 12th fret E Minor Pentatonic look to it (similar to some of last month’s examples). Continuing this theme, I’ve put together an 8 bar phrase filling out Figure B and Figure C with some extra chords (that works nicely over ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham for any of you wanting to extend the Christmas cheer – hey, why not!). Some more ideas in bars three and four, seven and eight jump around the fretboard. Try some yourself, it can just be a matter or moving some patterns up a few frets, over a string or taking a major or minor scale and deliberately not playing the notes in order. There are plenty of amazing players in all styles that use these ideas to break up scalar sounding lines, so get cracking on some of your own to really explore the possibilities. BY NICK BROWN
Tension and Release Whether you realise it or not, songs are constantly playing with your emotions. Ever noticed a tune grooving along in a nice and relaxed manner and then ‘BOOM’ it smashes into the chorus and you start really getting into it, pumping your fist in the air? Or something you hear that just makes you flinch or think for a brief moment? Figure A is a typical rock type chord progression of G, D, Em and C - let’s say it’s the verse. Fairly familiar to the ear it has some nice, typical movement. How about we try and change the sound a little and just pedal G for the whole four bars? Figure B shows this idea. It might be a little hard to hear/get the idea by yourself so you might need to enlist a guitar or keys playing mate or try inputting the chords into a play along type online program or app. But to give you an idea, all of a sudden it feels like the chords are moving but the repeated G note in the bass creates a feeling of stability and familiarity. This is great for the verse and the longer the four bar section repeats, the more tension it creates, as you want it to change and move somewhere else. So how about making Figure B our verse with the G pedal note keeping some stability to the chord changes and then when the tension has risen and we’re building towards the chorus we hit Figure A and there’s a big release as the bass also joins the progression. Of course you can try this with different chord progressions, sections and styles. You’ll often hear these type of ideas in jazz when someone is improvising. The bass player creates tension (sometimes at the very start of the solo or quite a way in and is building towards the pinnacle) by predominantly pedalling one note or chord to create tension that is then released when they feel/hear it appropriate. Figure C brings up another technique. Try playing it with a medium funk shuffle groove getting some nice bouncy quavers (think old school soul or more modern like D’Angelo). Again, a fairly typical pop/r’n’b/soul chord progression with the bass just playing root notes. Figure D then changes it up a touch by half stepping (side stepping) from a semitone below on the first beat of Bar one. Bar two stays the same but then we use the idea of a half step again in Bar three. Bar four has the most movement but rather than just following Em and A with root notes we’ve gone for A#/Bb on Beats 3 + before dropping back to A natural. This is fairly subtle but again creates some extra tension and movement compared to Figure C. If the chords in Figure D (guitar or keys) were busier (playing quavers or even crotchets) and matching the bass part it would probably be too much and sound a little cheesy. With the bass part using this side stepping idea however it creates a little bit of tension in the sound before its released/resolved to the root note a semi tone away.
This is a super brief intro to these kinds of ideas. There are plenty of ways to create tension, rhythmically too, as well as harmonically, so just start with some easy examples as outlined here and we’ll get into some more involved options next month. Again, these can be used in all styles and it’s up to you and you using your ear to make them work! BY NICK BROWN
Advice Columns STUDIO
Creating Space Within Your Mix There are a number of elements that can contribute to how good your home recording can sound. Of course, the microphone choice and placement plays a big part, as does any frontend hardware, along with your choice of interface and A/D converter. I’ve spoken at length in the past about how a little care and attention to each of these elements can all add up to a great sound being captured. But, it doesn’t stop there, as you still need to bring them all together to create the total aural image that constitutes the finished artwork you began in the first place. So often, great home recordings can be let down by less than due care and attention being taken in the mixing process. Or worse; too much, just in the wrong areas. What often results is a mix that sounds two dimensional and flat. What you want to do to bring life to your mixes is to create a sense of space within the sound, and make your music jump out to the listener. Here’s a couple of simple techniques that can help this happen. THE AMBIENT ROOM Every space has its own sound, and that can change due to any number of variables. Room size, hard and soft surfaces and ever air pressure all have a part to play in how a space sounds. The most important thing to remember is that just about every space has certain reflections that result in the effect commonly known as reverb. Because of this, vocals and many instruments sound flat and lifeless when mixed without any reverb added to create a sense of space within the room. As we try so hard to isolate our sound sources in the recording process, we usually remove any natural reverb or ambience that may have been present in the recording space and so capture a somewhat unrealistic representation of the sound. That’s why reverb needs to be added back in during the mixing process. But please, be careful. It is all too easy to go overboard and leave a mix sounding washed out or altogether too busy, especially when combining different reverbs from different sources. The key to adding reverb successfully for a natural ambience is that you really shouldn’t notice it in the mix. At least, not until you take it away. If you are unable to clearly detect the reverb in your mix, you are off to a good start. But, if you mute your return channel with which the reverb is running through and you can suddenly notice its absence, well, then you are on to something. Give it a try and see how more realistic your mixes instantly sound.
WIDENING THE STEREO SPREAD Another pitfall in the mixing process is to have too much focus in the centre of the listening space and not enough panned across the stereo image. Of course, you don’t need to go to the extreme of hard panning one instrument to the left and another to the right. This can prove dangerous when your music may well be listened to on a mono system, or when speakers are not set up in the correct space, which results in certain instruments not featuring in the mix correctly. A better method is to double up the track of the instruments that you really want to give some width too and work on each track separately. Say for instance I want the drums, bass and vocals to feel like they are fairly central, but I want the guitar to appear to be out to the sides of the space. I would double the guitar track and pan one hard left, the other hard right. This will result in the same sound as having one track panned to the centre, at least to
begin with. From there, a subtle change to the compression of both tracks to give one a more squeezed sound that the other will begin to have them separate. Close your eyes and listen, you will hear the difference that makes it sound like two guitarists are suddenly playing in perfect unison. Then, I like to adjust the EQ so that one side has a little extra lower mids and the other gets some air with the mids pulled out slightly and the higher frequencies pushed just a touch. The result is like bringing the guitar from a small studio room to an enormous arena, but without the decaying reverb. Flip your monitors to Mono and you will hear the guitar shift back to the centre of the mix again. Take the Mono switch off and you’ll really be able to appreciate how much width you have given to the sound. The same can apply for various effects that might be added to these doubled tracks.
That unassuming USB connection that takes data and audio to and from your devices and computer is working with the MIDI format to take care of control messages, note data and assignments of sound from libraries in software and hardware devices. Consequently, more people are using MIDI than ever before, though few realise the fact.
keyboard manufacturers today. But, what is essentially going on is a series of MIDI messages that have just been made easy to understand with a fancy, colourful graphic user interface and are delivered via a Bluetooth connection, rather than a DIN cable. It is a little more complex these days, but appears simpler on the surface, so for that reason MIDI has a greater user base than ever before, but less of a knowledge base. So, when you next use more than one piece of equipment in your recording and production process, stop and have a think about how it is all coming together. Don’t just take it for granted that pressing button A makes controller B achieve process C. Consider how this is being achieved and the MIDI implementation that’s going on in the background. Wrapping your head around these seemingly simple processes will give you a better understanding of your keyboard’s power and how it can better suit your needs.
BY ROB GEE
image by Dennis Irwin at midi.org
Merging the Old with the New A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there existed the means of recording and producing music without an iPad. There were no multitrack DAW programs and getting you hardware to even sync up was a long shot. This was back when the hip computer to own was the Commodore 64. It had a cracking 64 kilobytes of memory, less than most simple emails chew up these days. So, it was back in 1981 when Dave Smith, then of Sequential Circuits, began developing a means by which computers and hardware could talk to one another. This was the beginning of big things; this was the beginning of MIDI. A BUMPY BEGINNING Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the programming language we now know as MIDI, or the Musical Instrument Digital Interface. At the time, several manufacturers were working on similar ideas to get their various hardware units to communicate. But, what Smith proposed was a simple interface and language that could be adopted by all manufacturers and cheaply integrated into keyboards, drum machines and other digital instruments. This meant cooperation from competing companies who were all jockeying for market position, so it was never going to be an easy sell. I fact it almost didn’t happen, but at the 1983 NAMM conference both Sequential Circuits and Roland showed keyboards with this newly designed interface that was prepared to be developed well into the future and cost manufacturers very little to implement. Manufacturers began to see the potential for this simple solution, they slowly but surely came on-board and the MIDI dynasty began to develop. That was almost 34 years ago and it has come a long way from there to what we have today. Or has it? VERSION 1.0 In a development process that would have Steve Jobs turning in his grave, the MIDI specification still stands its ground on Version 1.0. This of course goes against everything that Apple seems to be about, with new formats being developed even before the market has fully taken to the latest release. But, MIDI has stood the test of time, only essentially needing enhancements for different areas of use like MIDI Machine Control for studio hardware, MIDI Time Code for SMPTE integration, MIDI Show Control for lighting and now USB configurations for modern devices. This amazing longevity and sustenance in a market that thrives on replacement is simply unheard of, and is mostly due to the diligence of the MIDI Manufacturers Association’s tireless efforts. So much has been done over the last three decades through that unassuming 5-pin DIN connection, and now it is continuing to happen with USB. Many newer keyboard users don’t even realise it and often don’t even understand what MIDI is, yet they use it every day in their keyboard and studio setups.
It has come a long way from a time when multiple merge boxes were jerry-rigged with an odd selection of cables to pass signals around a room in an often unreliable attempt to take control of several devices. It was usually simple to take three steps across the room and press a button than try to get a wonky MIDI setup to play ball at times. But from 5-pin DINs, merge boxes and splitters, to a simple USB hub, the ease of use has increased dramatically, whilst still operating on the same basic specifications. Wireless control of keyboard functions via iPad apps is now a commonplace concept, and one that is being adapted by most
BY ROB GEE
Advice Columns DRUMS
Meeting Your Heroes One of my other loves besides drums is cars. Not sure why I love the things so much, but it’s another passion of mine and in the same way that I’m sure all of us drummers would just love to get our hands on that dream kit, just to experience it, I would love to get the chance to drive a classic Lamborghini or Ferrari. Although, there’s a famous saying in the car world; ‘don’t meet your heroes.’ The reason being that, sometimes, that ‘80s Lamborghini, whilst gorgeous to look at can actually be a bit of a pig to drive. What about actually meeting your physical drumming heroes – the masters? IS IT SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THAT? How many times have you got the chance to sit behind an amazingly expensive and gorgeous drum kit, only to hit one of the toms and cringe? You have an expectation as to what you’re going to get and it can be a rude awakening when you don’t because you’d pumped yourself up so much. That’s not to say that it’s actually a bad drum kit, some different heads, a retune and you could be playing a legendary thing. Meeting your drumming hero can be interesting too. Everyone has one of these stories. It may not even be a drummer – a movie star perhaps or another type of celebrity. Sometimes, you actually meet these people and they turn out to be the sourest personalities ever and you feel nothing but regret for making the effort. In the drum world, personality is one thing but the music and the drumming is another. There’s nothing worse than paying $200 to see your favourite band, but the venue is a massive arena, the mix is completely horrendous and the truly life changing experience you were hoping for is crushed like a blueberry in a toddlers’ gob. Bummer. The drummer might have played wonderfully, not that you would know about it though. STEVE GADD | MY HERO This month, the legendary Steve Gadd came to Melbourne with his band. I say that this one drummer is quite possibly my biggest influence. So much of the way I play can be attributed to Gadd. But I’d never actually seen him before, so naturally, when the chance to see the man in person arose; I jumped on it rather quickly. During the inevitable ‘waiting for the date’ to arrive I began thinking about what was coming. I was about to see THE Steve Gadd! Surely, this must be the most incredible thing ever? Then, I started to feel worried. I’ve watched later videos of him on YouTube and some of the comments are frightening. People will criticize every single stroke saying that he’s not at his best anymore and how he plays the same old licks he always has – seen it, been there, and then? The day finally rolled around and I went to the show. On stage, I saw the ever-familiar
black 6-piece Yamaha Recording Custom, toms slightly apart; angled down, cowbell in the middle, a modest ride and two crashes set up – simple and classic. Some truly incredible musicians accompanied Gadd and he demonstrated an impeccable sense of time, feel and touch along with those classic licks and fills that made him famous. I was listening to my hero, the man that has indirectly taught me so much and influenced so many players around the world. Was it good? Yes it was! Did Gadd play the stuff I’d heard before? Yeah, he did! I didn’t mind at all. PREDICTABLE IS GOOD Debriefing with the many musicians that also attended the gig I discussed the obvious points. Steve Gadd plays the way he plays and everyone knows the licks and the grooves, the ideas and the way he approaches a song/tune. Sure, it might be a little predictable at times but this is actually the main sign of a person of influence. The only reason we know the fills
and grooves is because most of us have worked on trying to copy them! Steve Gadd was the man that first played like that and came up with the stuff and here we are worried about the fact that we might hear the same old stuff? How stupid I felt for even thinking this way for a moment. During the concert I just couldn’t get the smile off my face. I met my hero and unlike the unpredictable pig-to-drive Lamborghini, I knew what was coming and it was great. The Lamborghini has flaws but that just adds to its character. Gadd played amazingly well – sure it wasn’t Steve Gadd from the late 80s smashing the daylights out of the kit with perfect precision at all times, but the musicality and the feel were there. There was even more maturity and I learned another lesson in how music should be played – by the very guys that made it that way during their peaks. It was humbling and unforgettable. BY ADRIAN VIOLI
ELECTRONIC MUSIC PRODUCTION
Adding The Human Element It’s pretty common to hear the chin-stroking traditionalist demographic describe electronic music as ‘soulless’ or ‘clinical’ or whatever other derogatory adjectives they can come up with. But to be fair, sometimes they have a point. Software or sampled drums and instruments will often lack the nuances of someone actually playing an instrument, so I thought it’d be worthwhile to spotlight a few ways we can inject ‘the human element’ into our productions. VELOCITY SENSITIVITY Velocity sensitivity is a way to modify your sound via how hard you hit/press the key or drum pad, most commonly routed to volume, multi-samples or a low-pass filter. For example, on a real life instrument such as a snare drum, there’s a huge variety of sounds available depending on how one hits the drum - it isn’t the exact same sound repeated over and over. If you think about what’s actually happening to the sound as you increase the power of the hit, the main parameters of change are probably the attack, decay length, volume and tone. Fortunately with modern sampling software we can route hit velocity to all these parameters and create a pretty natural sounding drum from a single sample. Even if you don’t have a nice drum pad MIDI controller such as Maschine, setting up velocity sensitivity on those parameters and manually varying the velocity of each hit in your beat via your DAW’s MIDI editor can add a much more natural feel. Creative options are aplenty here as well; using a multi-sampling setup means you can have a hard hit trigger a different sample to a soft hit. Many sample libraries come with a few different hits of the one drum for this purpose. But in reality you can do whatever you like. On synths, a fun thing to play around with is wave-shaping via velocity. For example, a soft hit triggering a muted sine wave sound, a harder hit triggering a more aggressive saw tooth wave. Obviously you’re limited by the options your software or hardware has included here, but velocity is a pretty well explored sound modifier, digging around and doing some Googling will likely find you ways to do just about everything you can imagine. SWING Swing, by definition, is the practice of playing a set of notes with equal time values in unequal durations. For example, a string of notes in a bar will be played with one note hanging longer than the next: 1-2--34 rather than 1-2-3-4. There’s a huge variety of swing styles out there, much too much to get through here, but it’s well worth exploring to
Alternatively, embrace the robotic – like Kraftwerk. bring out more of a natural groove in your percussion and bass lines. Entire genres of music are defined by their swung beats and notes; much of early house and hip-hop utilised early samplers and drum machines’ inbuilt swing functions to get their famous groove. Ableton Live has a pretty great feature that creates a swing setting based on an imported piece of audio, so if you really like the groove on a certain track, you can ask ableton to detect its groove and apply it to your own quantized drums. NOT QUITE QUANTIZED No human has 100% perfect timing, so programming in perfectly timed MIDI notes can often sound a bit robotic. Pushing your notes slightly out of their grid can add a more natural feel and your own natural swing. Your ears are the boss here,
experiment with late kick drums and early snares for a bit of extra drama - some producers go as far as turning quantize off completely, relying only on their ears and natural rhythm. Many DAWs now have a great feature that will quantize your finger-drummed in rhythm only a certain percentage, tightening up the beat without sacrificing your natural swing completely. Electronic music can have soul, though it may not come as naturally as a band playing traditional instruments. In the end it still comes from you, the musician. With some experimentation and practice you’ll have natural grooves in your productions in no time. BY MICHAEL CUSACK
Features SOUND ADVICE:
Choosing a Guitar Pick Most guitar players use them, yet few will have put much thought into the differences that choosing the right plectrum can make to your sound. From the materials, size, texture or shape, we take a look at some of the key points to consider when picking a pick. GUITAR The type of pick you use is obviously important for both, but acoustic players should pay particular attention to their choice as the actual sound of the material hitting the strings will be amplified, impacting the overall sound greatly. STYLE OF PLAYING For most people this will change from song to song; do you require a lighter pick that will bend easily on the stings, thus blending the notes together for strumming? Or a heavier pick, to accentuate each string easily and give definition for lead playing. MATERIAL Picks are made from a variety of materials, and each will result in a different tone and have an effect on the player’s feel. Plastic are certainly the most prevalent in the market, but also available are picks made of metal, bone, horn, stone and wood. Softer materials typically yield a softer attack and therefore a ‘rounder’ sound. Harder materials on the other hand tend to be better at producing a brighter and more percussive attack.
Soft picks were once made of turtle shell, which was both delicate and expensive to produce, and as the flat-picking style of playing became popular it was only a matter of time before someone came up with an alternative. Herco released the nylon flat pick in the 1960s and was eventually bought out by Dunlop, who still manufacture the style en mass today. Nylon picks often have a brighter sound with greater pliancy than other types of thick plastics. They allow a flexibility and looseness to your picking pattern, which makes them popular with blues and vintage rock players. The Herco Flex was used widely by rock guitarists such as Jimmy Page, David Gilmour and Gene Simmons. Speaking generally, the harder and denser the material is, the more accurate and controlled the sound will be. The acetal resin DuPont Delrin was also discovered in the 70s and used in Dunlop’s long running Tortex line and D’Andrea’s Delrix picks. Tortex is popular with harder rock players and experienced a resurgence of popularity in the 90s when its more compressed tone became embraced by the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
THICKNESS Thinner picks will have a lighter sound, suitable for acoustic strumming, particularly as part of a rock, pop or country sound where the treble is needed to add rhythm and mid-range. When using nylon picks these would tend to fall in the .40-.60mm range. The .60-.80mm range of picks are therefore more suitable to a fuller sound, either for solo performers or rhythm guitar players as they are both stiff enough to accentuate individual notes with high-end bite, and flexible enough to still strum with. .80mm and above are the preferred size for lead guitar playing as they have less flexibility and lend themselves towards dynamic playing with more picking accuracy. SHAPE Picks come in several variations of the traditional shape, including triangles, rounded edges. Larger sizes with softer tips lend themselves well to strumming, wheras smaller picks with pointier edges work well for tightly controlled soloing.
GRIP Harder, less flexible plastics tend to be more difficult to keep a grip on as they collide with the guitar strings rather than bend with them. Similarly, thicker picks are also harder to grip but offer more control to your playing. This is a trade off that each player will have to negotiate to find what works best for your style and the tone you are looking for. Some picks come with a highfriction coating to aid grip, while many nylon picks such as Dunlop’s Max Grip have added a coarse surface to their design. While most people just use the same brands that are available in most retailers or studios, there are a large variety of companies producing quality picks. Even if after reading this you still feel lost for choice in the world of plectrums, that’s OK, because it’s now time to do your own research. Though, as established, guitar picks have a huge impact on your sound, happily they will be amongst the least expensive of your gear purchases and fit comfortably in your pocket, so trying out several is not prohibitive. BY ALEX WATTS
THE ANALOGUE PROJECT by Audio-Technica
Mojo Record Bar I can’t fault any record store with a bar out the back, but having talked to Mojo Record Bar’s Dan Hoskin, I can tell that it’s much more than the novelty factor that brings customers through the door. Though their location in Martin Place might draw in a slightly different crowd to other record stores around Sydney, the passion for music and the drive to create a community is evident in Hoskin’s store, which he manages and works in mostly on his own. “I think the crowd between the store and the bar is slightly separate,” says Hoskin. “Like, there’s a lot of people that go to the bar and don’t buy records and there’s a lot of people that come into the shop that would probably buy one drink while they’re here but won’t just go to the bar all the time. But we do get some drunk people coming in and spending a bit of money, which is good. “It’s probably different to a lot of other record stores just because it’s attached to the bar and where it is. It’s kind of in a more financial, business crowd type area, so we don’t get that much younger foot traffic which a lot of the stores in Newtown would get. But you still get people in that crowd who are interested in new music. “What I’ve definitely noticed in the past year is that our best customers in the store are not regulars in the bar.” Though Mojo is a store in relative infancy, especially in the current location, Hoskin sees stores like the nearby Red Eye Records as a kind of blueprint for growing the store and building a community around it. “Once you’ve got a little community going around a shop, it’s pretty invaluable. We don’t really have that hugely here at the moment. I look at more established stores that have had a more solid management and a certain couple people running it for a while, [and they] have created a little scene, almost, around their store, which is something I’d eventually love to get going here with more in-store gigs and stuff. In that way people get to know you more and they become invested in the shop.” “It’s not just like going to buy milk at the supermarket, where you would rather not have to talk to anyone there… that’s not the kind of experience you’d really want at a record store. You’d rather have familiar faces and stuff happening”
Being the one person working in the store from Monday to Friday, that familiarity for the customer is something that Hoskin sees as an advantage for Mojo. “We’ve got Red Eye Records down the road, and they’re pretty well established, [so] most people are just going to go there because they know it, and they probably wouldn’t know we’re here. But I think the people that do come here have noticed a difference.” “I guess the fact that I’m the only one working here means that if somebody comes in after something particular I’ll be able to help them out pretty quickly. If they come in the next day, it’ll be me, or if they call, it’ll be me, or if they email, it’ll be me. It’s a very personal experience, which a lot of people have liked. I had a guy last week come in, he was after a record for his housemate’s birthday I think, and I was helping him out trying to figure out where he could get it from and he said ‘I think you’re the most responsible record
store person I’ve dealt with in Sydney so far’, just because I knew what was going on and how to do everything and could do it right there and then.” However, it’s not like there’s a heap of angst between the two stores. “There’s certain things that they sell that we don’t sell… and I do have to send people down there sometimes which I don’t mind doing, and they send people up here too. There’s not really any bad blood or anything, and in some ways I think it’s good because a lot of people have been shopping there for years and if they find us they’ll probably think, ‘oh this is cool, they’ve got some weird, unique, music up here, the prices are good’.” BY ELIJAH HAWKINS Mojo Record Bar is located at 73 York Street, Sydney. For more information visit mojorecordbar.com
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TC ELECTRONIC Distortion Pedal Family Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au | Expect to pay $109 each
There is definitely something in the air in Sweden that makes their designers so good, particularly when it comes to innovation. While the rest of the world wallows in the ‘form following function’ entry-level principles, the nation that filled the world’s houses with flat pack furniture has delivered on this stereotype so many times that it’s getting to a point where we’re going to have to ask them to leave some of the good ideas for the rest of us. TC Electronic is a shining example of the aforementioned ingenuity. They already lead the new breed of pedal peddlers by the time they bought out their Tone Print equipped models, a change which propelled the rocket of tonal possibility farther into the stratosphere than ever. It seems like every time they bring out a new pedal it instantly becomes that year’s must-have. TONAL SMORGASBORD With this new line of their self-described ‘tonal smorgasbord’, it seems the Swedes are taking a well advised look back at their tracks to make sure no stone is left unturned. There are four pedals in the distortion range; the Cinders Overdrive, Grand Magus Distortion, Rusty Fuzz and Fangs Metal Distortion, all powered by the same 9v, 100ma amount of juice. Without a word of a lie, with all four strung up on the floor in front of me I had the distinct impression that there was no gain sound in recorded history that I could not conjure up. CINDERS Moving lowest gain to highest, we’ll start off with Cinders. TC Electronic really hammers home the point that all of their pedals are 100% true bypass and this is the first build of theirs where that difference is unmistakable. With the volume and tone 26
pots at 12 and the gain all the way down, you’d be forgiven for thinking the light was on with nobody home. This is perfect if a touch of super transparent clean boost is all you’re after, but dial in a pinch of colour and at around 10 o’clock you start to hear some classy clipping peering around the edges of your tone. It has a twinge of the much sought-after, vintage glory of a Fender Princeton amp running just a little bit hotter than the manual would advise. Sweep through everything from Klon style sweetness to full tilt drive and it’s clear that this build has the potential to be either an always-on colour box or something that you save for just the right moment. THE GRAND MAGUS Stepping up from there we are introduced to The Grand Magus. Designed to be your go-to pedal for classic distortion, it has a little bit more of a lived-in, gentlemanly
quality to it’s voicing than I anticipated. Like the Cinders and Rusty Fuzz, it’s dressed sparingly by three potentiometers, volume, tone and gain, but this design has by far the broadest palette. Across all three variants the tone pot wrangles an incredibly wide arced treble boost/cut, which pitches the clipping stage into any number of honestly useful areas from crystal clear boost to the creamiest, 70s plexi tones. I had the most fun playing with these first two siblings in various combinations, using one to max out the immense headroom of the other and coming up with some incredibly dynamic and furiously playable sounds. THE RUSTY FUZZ Here’s where things start to get deliciously ugly. The Rusty Fuzz is the sort of machine that should only be handled by professionals. It is packed full of ribbons of velvet and cream that would have Hendrix asking himself if he was all that experienced after all. The voicing is similar to the classic 60s, rolled-off sustain, but there is a generous dollop of sensibility underpinning the wildness that makes it feel a little more user friendly than many other fuzzes. Dialed back, it has that practice amp blistering that we all know and love, which is a nice place to start, but you can practically hear the pedal pleading to let it’s hair down. When it does, it shows its appreciation by giving you all the shredded, J Mascis woof you asked for without the ground hum, volume drop or insufferable hiss that too may fuzz fiends find unavoidable.
FANGS METAL DISTORTION With a few more options on its matte black faceplate than it’s decidedly better-behaved cohorts, TC Electronics’ engineers have covered just about every layer of hell a metal-head would sell their soul for. The ‘raw’ setting on the voicing switch gives you that ‘power violence’ friendly speaker grinding sound that fills DIY venues everywhere, the ‘fat’ setting has enough beef to make Metallica great again and the ‘scoop’ setting will have you dive-bombing and pigsquealing like Dimebag never died (RIP). Seriously though, metal-styled distortion pedals have a nasty habit of being one-trickponies so it’s a welcome change giving metal heads more options for self-expression than just the usual leather and spikes. CONCLUSION TC Electronic may have streamlined proceedings somewhat for this series of stomp boxes but they certainly haven’t abandoned their admirable dedication to the simple joy of uncompromising tone. All the elements are in place, super silent switches, smooth dials and perfectly malleable tonality even at their unruliest. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS • Headroom for days • Pedal board friendly housing • Almost unfettered tonal possibility MISSES • I don’t have Grand Magus or Cinders on my board yet. mixdownmag.com.au
Road Tests SAMSON QH4 Headphone Amplifier Electric Factory | elfa.com.au | Expect to pay $189
One device that often gets overlooked in home recording is the humble headphone amplifier. So much so that it is often hard to find a decent one that is readily available, doesn’t take up too much space and doesn’t hit the hip pocket too heavily. This is where the Samson QH4 is going to make a lot of you smile. It can solve any number of your rehearsal and recording issues. Especially considering many of us are looking for quiet ways to practice and record these days. FOUR ON THE FLOOR When multiple musicians are able to monitor at their own volume and listen in on overdubbing and tracking it makes setting up for a group very easy. Silent monitoring through headphones is the ideal solution to keeping room noise to a minimum and the QH4 allows you to turn any output from your audio interface into four headphone ports, all with their own dedicated volume control. Now, finally, the deaf drummer can have it loud enough to hear something other than himself and the guitarist no longer needs to ask you to turn up the fold back, he can do it himself without you having to hear it. TIME TO BE HEARD As well as a tracking and rehearsal tool, the QH4 will also allow group listening in mixing sessions too. A Mute and Mono button offers extra control over the input
signal, with a Master volume for main control, and each separate output having its own dedicated volume control. The pair of 6.5mm inputs can be run as a stereo set, or will operate in dual mono if you just use the left input. An auxiliary input on a 3.5mm input allows for backing tracks, or a click track to be fed into the monitor mix separate to your other devices too if needs be, which would come in handy for audio distribution in silent rehearsal situations. All in all, this is a very simple unit that takes care of a number of issues in one. It
doesn’t need to be overly complicated, and achieves that with a neat, simple layout that makes it easy for everyone to see where their volume is coming from.
it from feeling like a huge club. The frets are medium, and the finishing is okay but not spectacular; they could do with a little rounding. The fretboard width feels pretty narrow, so it’s especially good for small hands. The pickguard features two high output single coils and one overwound humbucker, connected to a five-way pickup selector switch, master volume and tone pots. The bridge is a vintage style (ie: non locking) unit with two-point fulcrum operation.
and for clean tones, but it’s not a very distinctive pickup. The neck pickup is a little flat-sounding too - not bad, but not spectacular. The middle single coil has a nice scooped quality which pairs nicely with either the neck or bridge pickup, and it’s great for really digging in on blues solos or for playing jangly indie riffs. The narrow fretboard width may make certain shredding styles feel a little cramped, but otherwise this is a very ergonomically considerate guitar. Tuning stability is okay, the controls are easy to reach and the weight feels nice - the neck is a little heavier than the body, but not distractingly so.
BY ROB GEE
HITS • Handy way to increase headphone count for rehearsal or recording • Compact design • Plenty of headroom in each output MISSES •Pots are a little rigid
ERNIE BALL MUSIC MAN S.U.B. Silo3 Electric Guitar CMC Music Australia | cmcmusic.com.au | Expect to pay $495
The Silo3 is based on the Ernie Ball Music Man Silhouette, a workhorse guitar that has proved itself popular in hard rock and fusion circles for decades. It offers much of the tonal muscle of a really nice Strat but with a few ergonomic tweaks. The Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Silo3 is a budget priced version of the Silhouette. I AM THE MUSIC MAN The Silo3 has a solid hardwood body they don’t specify what hardwood, but it’s nice to know that it’s not plywood, which has a bad reputation in solidbody electrics - and a solid maple neck with a maple fretboard. The body features the characteristic beveling of the Silhouette, with all sharp edges eliminated, and the neck has the same 4/2-split tuner design. From a distance you’d be hard pressed to differentiate it from the USA-made, far costlier version. The body and neck are joined via the popular Music Man designed five-bolt neck joint, and the neck heel is contoured and rounded over for easy and comfortable access to the higher frets. The back of the neck is asymmetrical: it’s slimmer on the treble side and thicker on the bass side, for effortless movement as you zip around the neck. It’s surprisingly thick if you’re used to thin Dean, Jackson or Ibanez necks, but the asymmetrical carve keeps mixdownmag.com.au
GET ‘BUCKED The bridge humbucker claims to be overwound on the spec sheet but it feels more like the lower end of ‘medium’ to me. There’s plenty of articulation and detail, and a nice rounding off of the high end, which makes it very nice for soloing
PUT YOUR MONEY ON THIS WORKHORSE Overall this is a pretty fine take on the Silhouette. It recreates many of its charms
– the beveling, the pickup combination, the general neck feel – and does so in a very affordable price bracket. With a pickup swap it’d be a very respectable backup for a more advanced player, but for a beginner or intermediate player it’s pretty much spot on. BY PETER HODGSON
HITS • The neck feel • The price point MISSES • Pickups are a bit non-descript
Road Tests THE WISHBONE WORKSHOP The Amp Hook CMC Music Australia | cmcmusic.com.au | Expect to pay $59.95
If necessity is the mother of invention, then surely modification and interpretation are the weird aunties prone to having a little too much fun at family gatherings. Clutter is over by the food table scarfing down all the mince tarts while form and function argue about design principles over the last of the Coonawarra Shiraz. As a family they come up with a lot of amazing ideas, most of which end up as incredible improvements adopted by all and sundry. However, not every brain-fart can be a profound paradigm shift; there is, after all, plenty of room for baby-steps where progress is concerned. What in god’s name is he prattling on about you may ask? Well, dear reader, as I approached The Wishbone Workshop’s debut product The Amp Hook for review I thought to myself ‘how much could I possibly write about a mic stand?’ Much to my amusement I found, quite a bit. WONKY TROLLEY BLUES Some among you may have never had the fortune (or misfortune depending on how you look at it) of finding yourself on one of many and varied small stages in any number of filthy rock pubs around the country. Those who have know how music, being the ego-baiting beast that it is, has a habit of drawing out of the woodwork players with a penchant for constantly trotting out the biggest and boldest
pieces of rig they own, even if the venue demands a modicum of spatial economy. Coupled with the fact that onstage real estate is already at a premium, having lanky and cumbersome boom stands, the live music equivalent of a wonky trolley, chewing it all up has been the bane of the Soundy’s existence for far too long. Enter The Wishbone Workshop with their solution to that all too familiar quandary, The Amp Hook. USABILITY Sure, there are small stature mic stands and brackets that balance precariously atop combos and any number of other pseudo solutions already on the market. The Amp Hook’s design, however, takes aspects of any and all of these products, adds a pinch of cleverness and fills in a few glaring oversights. With its heavy-duty, yet lightweight construction and unobtrusive matte black finish, The Amp Hook is ready, willing and able to handle even the roughest rock-piggery. The foam cushioning around the arm secures it either under the strap of your combo or between your head and cab accounting for wild vibrations and flailing limbs knocking the mic out of phase. The boom arm adjusts length as well as distance away from and along the face of the speaker plate meaning that finding and maintaining that sweet spot is as simple as it has ever been.
THE SIMPLE IDEAS ARE THE BEST On first glance The Amp Hook seems like one of those ‘good in theory but do we really need it?’ kind of ideas. I certainly assumed as much, but its usability and vast improvement of any number of other products on the market do well to secure its place in the pantheon of steps in the right direction. There are literally hundreds of live music venues and recording studios across the country that don’t even know how much easier their jobs are about to become thanks to the clever people at The Wishbone Workshop
and I, for one, can’t wait for them to find out. BY LUKE SHIELDS
HITS • Functionality • Cleverness in a compact footprint MISSES • Sits in a pretty densely populated corner of the market
JBL EON One Portable PA System Jands | jands.com.au | Expect to pay $1799
The portable PA idea is not a new one, but it seems that every year it gets improved upon in a number of ways. JBL have always been market leaders in getting new portable PA ideas out there, I was using EON speakers almost twenty years ago and loved their ease of use and portability back then. Since then, we have seen the power increase, whilst the size and weight have been reduced. But now, JBL have gone even further, putting the entire PA into one box that still offers maximum sound and clarity, with portability being the focus. The idea of only having to make one trip from the car to the venue is certainly going to appeal to many. READY TO ROLE The new EON One sees a compact line array design paired up with a sub, mixer and amplifier that all packs down into one box for easy transport. The line array tower actually breaks down into three sections, allowing you to set it at different heights to suit the room and intended audience. The highest of the three settings being adequate enough to ensure your sound passes over the heads of a standing audience so the people in the back still hear your performance. These three sections slot neatly into the rear of the sub-woofer base and lock into place so it is just the one box that needs to be moved. There are two mono channels and a 28
stereo input that can also be paired up to a Bluetooth device for wireless sound. The two mono inputs both have microphone preamps with EQ and reverb for each, making it an ideal setup for a solo acoustic artist needing a microphone and a guitar input. When all packed up, it does weigh more than 20kg, so it is not the lightest of units going around, but when you consider what is packed into that space, you have to be impressed. TIME TO BE HEARD Starting with the bottom end, there is a 10-inch sub-woofer in the Eon One that really moves a lot of air. I was very surprised with how it handles itself. You could put a bass guitar through the mixer and feel the low notes against the back of your legs when playing in front of it. It behaves more like a 12 or even a 15-inch driver. For the mid and high frequencies, the extended tower handles the job. There are six separate speakers within the tower, all fanning up and down for total coverage across the space in which the audience may be located. So, whether you are on a raised stage above the audience, or if you are recessed with a raised audience in an amphitheatre fashion, you can be sure everyone will hear the clarity delivered. Being just a single unit, there is no stereo signal to be heard unless multiple Eon Ones are used, but there is still plenty of
side spread to the sound from just the one system. But, the best part is how it fans the sound both up and down, just like a swung line array system would do so, to reach every section of the room from the floor to the ceiling. And the sound is classic Eon clarity with plenty of headroom. Then, packing up is quick, easy and you’re out the door with just one box to carry.
HITS • Great spread of sound from array speakers • Huge bottom end from such a small sub • Packs down to a convenient single unit MISSES • Overall weight is a bit on the heavy side
BY ROB GEE
Road Tests CARL MARTIN Dual Injector Twin Boost Effect Pedal
ugly signal degradation whatsoever. You can push one channel into the other in series and squeeze out every last drop of headroom in your amp without immediately bloodying your ears. The parallel setting is one of the more succinct acts of cleverly applied kindness I’ve come across in a while. I can see the Dual Injector replacing the need for extra buffers on boards that are one or two pedals away from becoming self-aware.
Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au | Expect to pay $229
Volume and tone are to musicians what hydrogen and helium are to scientists. They are the two most basic, alchemical ingredients from whence we come to know our world, the alpha and beta of our language and the Adam and Eve to the grand story of ourselves. It’s not often in the course of reviewing gear that you come across something that uses those two things alone in an attempt to eek out a place for itself in the grand scheme of things. Few builders dare to distill their craft back down to its very essence, so when they do it becomes quite a sight for sore eyes, or ears as the case may be. WHAT’S IN A NAME Carl Martin is the name scrawled across the majority of East Sound Research’s 44-product strong catalogue. His is the name that so many pedal-obsessed players look to when trying desperately to wire up their Octaswitch for the first time, and his is the inspiration behind the new Vintage series of stomp-boxes to come out of the Danish manufacturer. Starting out life as a PA hire company in the early 90s, their rubric is one of simplicity, ruggedness and zero tonal compromise, of which the Dual Injector Twin Boost is a prime example. A BOX OF OPTIONS Simply put it’s a box of options. Separate
volume pots control two individual boost channels, between which sits a switch to toggle between running these in series or parallel. In series, as you would expect, signal from our guitar hits Boost 1 and sails through Boost 2 en route to the input of your amp. In a lot of ways this setting does what so many other offerings do albeit with a much tighter grip on emitting no signal loss or wayward distortion. In parallel you have the ingenious option of running either a) one signal through two different outputs with their own dedicated
boost ratios or b) two different inputs boosted into different destinations. It sounds much more complicated than it is, but essentially it means that in a real world application you can boost both the signal going into the next pedal in a chain at the same time as you push your effects send/ return to new heights. INTELLIGENCE As a straight boost it has all the crispness, crackle and nudge of the newly reissued Supro amps; loud as you like without any
While there may be any number of boosts, buffers and similar beasts on the market, this is the first time I’ve seen a simple pedal that so succinctly nails the series versus parallel argument with such attention to real world application. Even aside from pushing your drive pedals out of their comfort zone, the Dual Injector has the potential to completely rewire the way you interact with your amp and your pedals. The housing is rugged enough to take a tour’s worth of torture, the switching and signal path are as invisible as can be, and I haven’t even begun to discover the amount of tricks you could pull off with this thing in your rig. BY LUKE SHIELDS
HITS • Absolute transparency and a Pandora’s box of tricks. MISSES • The paint job.
CARL MARTIN Purple Moon Vintage Fuzz and Vibe Effect Pedal Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au | Expect to pay $229
DEPTH One of the things that modulation pedals like these often suffer from is an unworkable amount of volume drop when the vibrato is active. Martin’s Purple Moon design has this covered with the combination of depth - the amount of signal in the effect - and level - the amount of effect in the signal - which not only allows artifacts of your guitar’s natural voicing to shine through, but doubly serves to season it with a pinch of shimmery high which I found really pleasing to play to. The fact that the ebbs and flows are so intrinsically tied to the fuzz itself is another success, as you’ll find harmonics latching onto random notes here and there, adding some wild accents that no amount of careful planning could replicate.
Where would we be today without some of the wacky stuff they managed to pull off in the 60s? You’ve heard the story a million times before; blues begets rock n’ roll begets teenage rebellion begets illicit substance abuse begets unperturbed sonic exploration. It’s all as trite and affected as a high school production of Hair but there’s no denying that the ripples of such fierce experimentation are still washing kids down the rabbit hole to this very day. Attn: Kevin Parker. MODULATION One of the effects most closely associated with the 60s is modulation; especially the rotating, out-of-phase sound brought to life by Leslie cabinets. Apparently, East Sound Research’s main man Carl Martin came up with the idea for their newest offering the Purple Moon while on a binge of records from this era. Players who are fans of Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and David Gilmour, as well as the players they’ve inspired, are the target audience for this quirky combination of rich, creamy fuzz and wild, warbling optical vibrato. TWO IN ONE The interesting thing about this circuit is that the two effects are actually knitted together. You can dial out one or the other using combinations of the two level knobs, mixdownmag.com.au
It may come around even less often than it’s blue brother but the Purple Moon is definitely one to bask under if you get the chance. but where one leads the other will follow. Meaning that once the bypass is disengaged you’d better be ready for it to take you where you need to go. On its own, the fuzz is as classic as fuzzes come. Dial it in from barely there to interstellar overdrive with the top of the two mini dials, reign it in with the other, and you have your hands on the wheel of a lush and dynamic ride replete with wooly seat covers. The vibrato on the other hand is derivative of the optical waveforms
of a Fender Vibrolux, but with the addition of dual speed controls. Swerve between late night, slowed down swells to pulsating twitches at the click of a heavy-duty switch and use the depth and level knobs to zero in on that root chakra sweet spot. It has more versatility than a dream-catcher has beads too; on a whim I ran an organ sound through it with the fuzz at about 5% and had a great time pretending I knew 1/10 of the magic in Nick Wright’s fingers.
BY LUKE SHIELDS
HITS • Satisfyingly familiar fuzz and vibe voicing without feeling too tied to a bygone era MISSES • Tends to muddy up the tone with the vibe depth down past 40% 29
PRESONUS Studio 192 Mobile USB 3 Audio Interface Link Audio | linkaudio.com.au | Expect to pay $899
It only took a very brief glance for me to know that this was a PreSonus device, with the now all too familiar grey/blue housing and fixtures standing for quality. As suggested by its size, the Presonus Studio 192 Mobile is not just your ordinary two input home recording interface. Whilst not as large as some other rack units, it still has a little more bulk to the casing than many compact USB audio interfaces, and that is due to what is going on around at the rear, as well as what is happening under the hood. This unit delivers four physical analogue inputs and six physical analogue outputs on the casing, but that’s only just the beginning. IN THE BOX The Studio 192 Mobile is a bit of a clever device in that it is small and compact enough to be a portable recording interface with a handful of inputs, but at the same time, it has the capability to expand into a fully-fledged studio recording setup. The unit itself will fit into most laptop bags and can travel with you when you want two microphone preamps at any location. Both of the microphone preamps on board offer XMAX recallable options, with up to 192 kHz sampling rates, making this a great front-end piece of hardware for any recording environment. These recallable preamps have a separate digital volume control that allows you to adjust them not only from the front panel of the interface, but also through the UC Control surface. This also means they can be adjusted with PreSonus’s Studio One software mixer and through other DAWs via MIDI. What this means is a couple of things. Firstly, some of you, myself included, might get a little miffed over the fact that you no longer have a separate physical gain 30
control for each input on the unit. I can’t help it, I like the old ‘hands-on’ approach and old habits die pretty hard. However, once you get past that you will come to appreciate the convenience of this feature, which allows you to save input gain settings on separate channels within the DAW. So when tracking with similar setups time and time again, you can recall all of your gain settings for certain microphones in certain applications, and be right on the money without the need to fuss about checking input levels for hours. SO MUCH MORE Of course, it isn’t much of a task to adjust the preamps of just two inputs, and you could do it quickly with gain controls on the box. But what happens when you start introducing more complex setups and consider adding another 16 microphones to your recording setup? Well, this is where the Studio 192 Mobile really proves itself as a workhorse, with two ADAT ins and outs on the rear of the device, allowing an extra 16 microphone preamps into the mix for
larger recordings. These are complimented by a pair of SPDIF connections and Word Clock in and out as well, to completely tie together your devices. Now, as we were talking about the recall function of the XMAX preamps, the DigiMax DP88 preamps that can be connected to the Studio 192 Mobile for added microphone pres allows for your recall functions to work across all your microphone inputs. This means you can set up large recording session templates and also have all your preamp settings ready to go, controlled by the software for each individual preamp running from the Studio 192 Mobile. In short, this is a serious unit that is ready to expand with you as your needs require it to do so. Many of you will instantly think of adding an OctoPre to get more inputs, but it is well worth looking at the DigiMax DP88 for consistency across the preamps as well as the ease of preamp recall features across the board. This is a well built, well designed, future-proofed interface that shows just what can be achieved with USB audio. Go and check it out for yourself.
BY ROB GEE
HITS • Huge range of inputs with 18 additional digital I/O • Creative implementation with PreSonus DigiMax DP88 Preamps • Remote iOS control tools MISSES • Individual gain controls would have been nice
Road Tests STEINBERG UR22 MkII Recording Pack Yamaha Music Australia | au.yamaha.com | Expect to pay $449.99
There once was a time when Steinberg offered real competition to some of the biggest names in high end digital audio workstations. But not all is fair in business, and while other DAWs were embraced by the industry, Steinberg’s flagship product Cubase fell to the wayside. However, as the UR22 Mk II Recording Pack shows, this didn’t mean that the company ceased making high quality products. THE PHYSICALITY Straight out of the box, the UR22 Mk II is of extremely solid construction, it has a strong metal housing and is surely not in any danger of being damaged during regular use. It has two phantom powered XLR inputs with jacks for TRS/TS inputs and each input has a corresponding gain control. Input 2 also has a Hi-Z switch for when you want to directly plug in high impendence devices like a guitar or bass. THE SOFTWARE The pack comes included with a copy of the Cubase Al 8 software, which is a free LE version of Steinberg’s flagship Cubase recording program. The software requires a bit of patience to setup as you need to install some drivers via a CD and then register the product online before you can get going. It allows you to have 32 audio and 48 MIDI tracks running simultaneously, which is enough for the majority of my
Mac, Windows, and iPad. The software is laid out in a logical and familiar way and of an acceptably high quality for most applications, while the headphones and microphone are a nice little extra throw-in. Given the similar features offered by other big brands that come with a much larger price tag, this is a bargain for anyone who doesn’t need to record more than two things at a time or at a higher rate than 24 bit/192kHz. home recording projects, and comes with 28 plugin effects and instrument sounds. The included effects are unsurprisingly quite basic, so anyone looking for a very natural sounding vocal reverb will want to look elsewhere. The software itself is very simply laid out and easy to use, with the ‘Inspector’ section being the channel strip and clicking on the corresponding symbol next to each point of the channel, such as insert or EQ, can make it expand or disappear. Al 8 offers several basic recording templates for different scenarios, such as acoustic guitar and voice, electric guitar and voice, piano and voice, etc. each with a plugin attached ready to go. This and the layout both seem somewhat elementary, but while it may be aimed at beginners, the program is also perfectly capable of recording high quality audio.
THE SOUND The Class-A D-PRE mic preamps used here sound very clean to my ears with no perceptible added colouration. Cubase Al 8 allows recording of up to 192kHz at 24 bit or 32 bit float, which is something to keep in mind if you are aiming to record something that requires higher. The UR22 does not come with any internal DSP processing, which is to be expected at this price point.
bank controls allow you to work on bigger projects with just the one unit. A jog wheel that can act as a master volume, or be used for data entry in a number of ways also completes the selection of control for the Platform M. What I loved about these controllers is the ease in which one is able to go about setting it up for your desired DAW, especially as it works with the Mackie HUI protocol for Pro Tools users. Even those of you using Cubase who might have had issues in the past getting the assignment of additional hardware right, it is all made very simple. Icon have developed stepby-step visual setup demonstrations for most DAWs and included all this on their website. You should have it up and running in very little time indeed.
PLATFORM D Compared to the size of the main controller, this add-on LCD screen is rather compact, although it does take a fairly large housing for the small LCD that it offers. Understandably, part of its size is to allow for the screen to be raised up above the rotary encoders of the Platform M, ensuring all data is easily read. It would have been nicer had the unit actually been larger, offering a longer length to allow for more information to be displayed above the appropriate faders. That said, installation and connection is very easy and the adjustable angle allows you to get a clear view of the screen whether working standing up or sitting down. A good point to note about the Platform D is that it too is housed in a sturdy metal casing, so even with continual adjustment and the general
INCLUDED The pack also comes with a ST-MO1 condenser microphone and a pair of ST-HO1 headphones, both of which are perfectly usable as extras with this pack.
BY ALEX WATTS
HITS • Portable • Nice sounding preamps • Great price point • iOs compatible MISSES • The included software is quite limiting, the full version of Cubase would be appreciated • No XLR outputs
Basically, at this price point you can’t go wrong with the UR22 Mk II. It is easy to use, compact and compatible with both
ICON Platform M DAW Controller + Platform D Display Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au | Expect to pay: Icon M: $549, Icon D: $259
Many of you may have used an Icon controller in the past, with their iControl and Qcon series proving to be very popular, both offering a great range of features at a very competitive price point. Until recently I was only aware of these DAW controllers from Icon. At least, that was until some boxes landed on my desk featuring a couple of units from their Platform system. This is like a compact version of the Qcon, in that it can act as a standalone, fully fledged controller in its own right, but can also be upgraded with other peripherals from the range to expand the size and capabilities of the unit. I was lucky enough to be able to test the Platform M DAW controller and Platform D LCD display. PLATFORM M Sitting in the middle of the range of DAW controllers from Icon, this is a sturdy unit that is well built in a metal casing, but does not have the bulk of the Qcon Pro series. This presents itself as a more workable option for many home recording setups when DAW control is a must, but when space is at a premium. The Platform M offers eight motorised channel faders and a master fader, with each channel fader having its own rotary encoder as well as mute, solo and record buttons. Transport controls, as well as shift controls and mixdownmag.com.au
workout in the studio; it is ready to deliver time and time again. BY ROB GEE
HITS • Great feeling, long faders • Rotary encoders on each channel, with master volume wheel • Portable and easy to install in any DAW MISSES • LCD screen could have been longer
Show & Tell Shaun Gaida of
Sun Sap What piece of equipment do you have to show us today? My TOFT Audio 32-channel mixing console. How did you come across this particular item? I have been lucky enough to work on a few TOFT consoles. My production mentor Tim Powles has one at his studio, Spacejunk, in Putney, so I cut my engineering teeth on his one and wanted one ever since. By some good fortune one popped up on the Facebook classifieds in Brisbane, so 2000 kilometres and a few ‘stop, revive and survives’ later I had my very own TOFT.
Eze Walters of
Woodlock What piece of equipment do you have to show us today? Today I’m going to show you our OP-1 Synth which is one of our newest instruments, but is quickly becoming one of our favourites. How did you come across this particular item? It was actually given to myself and my brother Zech as a joint birthday present by one of our best friends Josiah, he had his own one for a while which we got the
What is it that you like so much about it? The EQ section on this console is definitely my favourite feature. I love the way it works on drums, especially overheads. The right boost in the right frequency range can take even a flat and lifeless sound and turn it into something creamy and full of character. Of course just driving the inputs, the mic preamps on this console can take a fair bit of signal so it is fun to just see how distorted and gnarly you can make things sound. How do you use it, and how has it shaped the way you write music? Well, every sound that goes onto a Sun Sap record will have passed through this console at least once (twice if we’re lucky). Playing in a six piece band there’s always chance to try and we absolutely fell in love with it. What is it that you like so much about it? It’s a very small portable synth, which you can take literally anywhere. For me, I love the old school look about it and its ability to create awesome 8bit sounds. Being a huge gameboy fan, I modified a gameboy a while back and used a software called LSDJ to pretty much turn a gameboy into a musical instrument. The software was quite hard to use but this synth makes it much easier and a lot more fun to use. How do you use it, and how has it shaped the way you write music?
a lot going on when we get together for a recording / songwriting session, so having 32 channels means I can easily capture every instrument as it goes down without having to compromise on the amount of microphones used. Any other interesting points/stories about it? When I first started using TOFT consoles I began reading up a bit about them and the guy who created them. Malcom Toft was an engineer back in the ‘70s and has engineering credits on albums by David Bowie and T-Rex. In many ways for me, music production hit a peak in the 1970s that hasn’t been surpassed since, so getting to work on a board made by someone of that calibre is about as close as I’ll get to those amazing sounds.
Tell us a little bit about what you have coming up? At the moment we’re piecing together our first full length album in between gigging up and down the NSW coast and planning an east coast tour of Australia in support of our latest single ‘Hanging Hearts’. We’ll reveal all dates soon.
As it’s pretty new, we haven’t had the chance to take it into the studio yet, but we’re starting to use it for samples and adding in different layers of sounds. Any other interesting points/stories about it? It has a program effect on it that is literally a cow (see picture). Woodlock are set to tour nationally this month in support of their latest single ‘Something Broke That Day’. For more information visit woodlock.com.au.
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