Made by Musicians for Musicians
#274 â€” FEB. 2017
ALSO, INTERVIEWS WITH
Dune Rats Hot 8 Brass Band Meat Wave The Menzingers
Giveaways! TC Electronic Forcefield Compressor Pedal, Aston Halo and Animals As Leaders Tickets PG . 6 FOR DETAILS
PLUS - THUNDAMENTALS, MELBOURNE SKA ORCHESTRA, OCEAN GROVE, THE COURTNEYS, XYLOURIS WHITE & NAMM COVERAGE ROAD TESTED - FENDER AMERICAN PRO MODELS, MXL A5 DRUM MICS, PRESONUS FADERPORT 8, MARSHALL ASTORIA SERIES AMPLIFIERS, TC ELECTRONIC RUSH AND FORCEFIELD GUITAR PEDALS, DV MARK MULTIAMP FG + LOADS MORE
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HOSTED BY LONDON BASED FILM COMPOSER & MUSIC PRODUCER
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SYNTHS • RESOURCES • BLOG • FORUM
Contents 06 08 09 10 14 16 17 18 20
24 25 26
29 30 31 32 34 41 32
Giveaways Industry News Music News Product News Cover Story: The Damned Dune Rats Thundamentals Hot 8 Brass Band Ocean Grove Meat Wave The Courtneys Melbourne Ska Orchestra Jim White of Xylouris White The Menzingers Advice Columns Guitar: Get Those Hands Working Bass: Heavy Riffage Keys: The Future of Keys Drums: The Alternate Single Stroke Roll DJ: NAMM 2017 Edition Studio: Recorded in Anaheim Sound Advice: Using Spotify As An Independent Artist Damien Gerard Studios NAMM Overview Road Tests Show & Tell Directory
Ocean Grove - PG. 18
The Menzingers- PG. 25
Forward Beloved Mixdown readers: forgive us if this issue has come out a little later than usual, but in order to coincide with the NAMM conference in Anaheim, we had to delay out publication date, just a tad. As you’d probably expect, it’s one of the single most important dates on the Mixdown (and wider music community’s) calendar. After all, NAMM will set the stage for the most important gear announcements for 2017. There’s so much wrapped up in the weekend, so much to get through, so much on show – then like Michael Schumacher roaring down the final straight at Albert Park, it’s come, gone and left you disoriented before you can even remember what you had for breakfast. Because it’s so important, we decided to wait until the dust had settled before we brought out this issue of Mixdown – to ensure that we covered as much of the conference as we possibly could – and give you the inside scoop on some of the big announcements that came from Anaheim. There’s plenty to get through, so read on, and enjoy this very special NAMM ’17 edition of Mixdown.
The Courtneys- PG. 20
Jim White of Xylouris White - PG. 24 for breaking news, new content and more giveaways visit
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ALBUM LAUNCH TOUR March Fri 17 Geelong Workers Club, VIC Sat 18 Brunswick Music Festival, VIC Fri 24 Golden Vine, Bendigo, VIC Tix on sale at venue box offIce Sat 25 Suttons, Ballarat, VIC Fri 31 Trinity Sessions, Adelaide, SA Sat Thu Fri Sat Mon
April 1 Lefties, Whyalla, SA 6 Royal Oak, Launceston, TAS 7 Republic Bar, Hobart, TAS 15 Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW 17 Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Fri Sat Thu Fri Sat Thu Fri Sat Sun Fri Sat Sun
May 5 6 11 12 13 18 19 20 21 26 27 28
Imperial Hotel, Eumundi, QLD Music By The Sea, Sandgate, QLD The Oxley, Cowra, NSW The Agrestic, Orange, NSW The Gearin, Katoomba, NSW Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW Hardys Bay Club, Hardy’s Bay, NSW Wauchope Community Arts Hall, NSW 5 Church St, Bellingen, NSW Bowral Bowling Club, NSW The Basement, Sydney, NSW Thirroul Village Hall, NSW
Fri Sat Fri Sat
June 9 10 16 17
Ravenswood Hotel, WA Fly By Night, Fremantle, WA Street Theatre, Canberra Murrah Hall, NSW
VISIT JEFFLANG.COM.AU FOR MORE INFO 4
TC Electronic Forcefield Compressor Giveaway
Aston Halo Giveaway
The importance of a compressor cannot be underestimated. It’s a pivotal point between your raw guitar and the tone you hope to produce – yet constantly it seems to be overlooked. Hopefully with this month’s giveaway we’ll put an end to that for one lucky Mixdown reader, by pairing them with one of these awesome new TC Electronic Forcefield Compressors, courtesy of our good friends over at Amber Technology. With true-bypass and an intuitive display, you’ll have the perfect guitar tone in no time. For you chance to take this home, all you need to do is head to mixdownmag.com.au/giveaways and follow the prompts.
You could have the perfect studio set up. The mixer in place, more preamps than you could poke a stick at as well as that ‘does-it-all’ condenser microphone that cost you six and half pay cheques. The dream is complete – which is why having sound bouncing the home studio is so infuriating. Well, this new reflection filter from Aston is here to change all that. A revolutionary take on a tired old design, the reflection filter, isolates the sound from the source and absorbs all that travels past the microphone. It’s a design that’s sure to change the way people record, especially in the home studio, and one of these could be all yours. The good people at Link Audio have provided us with one to give away to one lucky Mixdown reader. So to be in the running for this amazing prize, all you need to do is head to mixdownmag.com.au/giveaways and follow the prompts.
Summer Winners: JVB Strings and Accessories Christmas Winner
We’re very pleased to announce that this month we’re announcing the winner of our JVB Strings giveaway. We’re giving one lucky reader a guitar strings and accessories pack, thanks to the good people over at JVB Strings Australia, consisting of 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’s going to Raph Corbett, Melbourne VIC Congratulations Raph, we wish you all the best with it.
Animals As Leaders Giveaways
Fresh from the release of their latest album The Madness of Many, Animals as Leaders are heading to Australia to Djent with the folks down under. It’s been a huge album for the band, garnering glowing acclaim from all corners of the world, and we’re giving some of our beloved Mixdown readers the opportunity to experience it live with double passes to the show. We’re giving away two double passes per city on their mammoth Australian tour. So, if you’re able to get out to see them in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth later this month – then head to mixdownmag.com.au/giveaways and make sure you’re in the running for this awesome prize!
For your chance to win any of these awesome prizes, head to our giveaways page at www.mixdownmag.com.au/giveaway and follow the instructions.
Digigrid Q Giveaway
DigiGrid looks set to be taking the world by storm, and we were stoked to be able to give our readers an opportunity to win a DigiGrid Q Headphone Amplifier, valued at $759.99, courtesy of our friends over at Sound and Music. It’s an amazing product, and we had a heap of entrants, but unfortunately we can only select one winner, and that lucky winner is: Samantha Maroney of Newcastle, NSW Congrats Samantha, have fun playing with it.
Harts Song Book
Harts has been taking the country by storm over the past 24 months. His new album Smoke, Fire, Hope, Desire has been demanding the attention of music outlets all over Australia, and has won significant praise from the late and grate Prince, who invited him back to his Paisley Park Studios to hang out. We’re thrilled to be giving away three signed Harts tab books this issue to the following readers: Kyle O’Hare from Sydney, NSW Michelle Green from Adelaide, SA Matt Toms from Sydney, NSW Congratulations! We hope you have a great time working your way through these awesome songs.
Arcade Screen Printing Band T-Shirt Competition
Over the summer we launched a competition, offering our readers the opportunity to win an awesome merch package courtesy of the legends over at Arcade Screen Printing in Sydney. We’ve selected four winners at random – and asked them to submit their artwork, so that the good folks at Arcade can select the winning design themselves. They’ve put together an incredible package that includes 50 t-shirts for your band, along with a massive 4 – 5 meter printed backdrop for you to take with you everywhere you play. Arcade Screen Printing will also throw in a further 20 t-shirts for a runner up! They’re supplying everything; all you needed to supply is the artwork. So here are the designs that came through. We’ll be sending these off to Arcade so that they can deliberate on the winning design. We’ll be announcing the winner online, so keep your eyes peeled. Thanks for all your submissions – we have our fingers crossed for you.
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 Superjesus And John Brewster To Be Inducted Into Sa Music Hall Of Fame The next round of inductions into the Adelaide Music Collective’s SA Music Hall of Fame on Friday March 3 will be Sarah McLeod and Stuart Rudd of The Superjesus, as well as Angels guitarist and songwriter John Brewster. Four days later, The Grace Emily will be inducted into the SA Venue Music Hall of Fame.
Queensland Relaxes Lockout Laws Following pressure from venue operators, the Queensland Government has abandoned plans to introduce the second phase of its lockout laws, which would have introduced a 1 am lockout from February 1. It accepted venues’ offer to install mandatory ID scanners by midyear, each costing $10,000. Though, problems still remain elsewhere. Keep Sydney Open is holding a rally this month after the one it planned last month was stopped by the Supreme Court at the insistence of police citing ‘public safety’. Canberra and Hobart have made noises about such laws, as has Darwin.
Songwriters Conference Postponed To 2018 The Australian Songwriters Conference (ASC) will not be held in 2017. Founder Lisa Butler explains it as a budget problem, but will back next year – and held every two years from then. Several of the US and Australian speakers for the 2017 event have already been locked in for 2018.
Reseller Site Twickets Coming To Australia At a time when Australian promoters are calling for the government to stop unauthorised resale sites from allowing music fans to sell on their concert tickets at inflated prices (or advertising tickets that don’t exist), UK official reseller site Twickets is setting up in Australia. Twickets sells tickets at face value, and has been chosen by the likes of Adele, Mumford & Sons and Noel Gallagher as their official resellers.
How Streaming Is Changing Our Behaviour When it comes to listening to music, 52% of Australians still turn to the radio, while 16% still choose to listen to their own records. But over the last three years, music streaming has grown so rapidly that it now takes the third spot with an 11% share. It’s now a more popular source of music than online music videos (8%), music TV channels (4%) and podcasts (1%). Music streaming services are listened to throughout the day, but particularly in the evenings, predominantly by people aged between 14 and 39. The Share of Listening Australia study was commissioned by Pandora and conducted by software platform Vision Critical. 8
Queensland Music Festival To Unearth New Talent This July’s Queensland Music Festival has two new initiatives to unearth new talent. On Song is a songwriting comp for regional talent, where the winner will be mentored by singer-songwriter Jack Carty with the chance to play the festival. Score IT! gives secondary school students the chance to create a piece of music to accompany a short film, which will be judged by experts from film and music schools. For more information about the initiatives, or the festival itself, head to qmf.org.au.
A New Vinyl Factory For Australia Australia will get a new vinyl factory in June. Based in Marrickville, Sydney, it will have the capacity to press three million records a year. More details about the yet-to-be-named factory will become clearer closer to launch. Manager Vincent Chen, who worked in Germany as a mechanical engineer for hi-tech machinery manufacturers, points out that Australian acts getting their products pressed locally will mean lower costs and smaller turnaround times.
New Creative Team For Leaps And Bounds Yarra City Council’s fifth Leaps and Bounds festival (Thursday July 13 – Sunday July 23) has announced its new creative team. What began as a push to promote local venues through the quiet winter months has grown to host up to 300 events featuring 900 acts in 50 participating venues in Fitzroy, Collingwood, Richmond, Abbotsford, North Carlton, Clifton Hill and North Fitzroy. The festival’s new Head of Programming is Sean Simmons, founder of Press Play, booking agent at Premier Artists/ Mushroom Group and musician. The head of Partnership and Events is Belinda Collins, founder of The Social Crew and producer of The Age Music Victoria Awards, White Night Melbourne and Melbourne Festival. The head of Publicity, Marketing and Events is Sarah Guppy of This Much Talent and Besser Space. Yarra Youth Services will take the lead on the Youth Programming. Familiar faces will also be returning, including founding Leaps and Bounds member Justin Rudge (also of Public Bookings, and programmer at The Spotted Mallard) in his new role of Industry Development Coordinator, and Jason Tamiru as the Indigenous Advisor (Smith Street Dreaming and The Malthouse Theatre).
Deadline For Art Music Fund The deadline to apply for the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund is Tuesday February 21. It offers grants totalling $10,000 to create new commissioned work by Australian and NZ composers, with the view to expose them to international audiences. Launched last year, the first round included new and established talent, with 45% of funding awarded to women. Erkki Veltheim’s funded work The Ganzfeld Experiment premiered in Finland last week. For more information, head to apraamcos.com.au/ artmusicfund.
Amin Brings Back Love Live Music After the success of the first Love Live Music – 60 Second Film Competition, the Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN) is bringing it back this year. It’s part of a national initiative to focus on the importance of Australian contemporary live music. It calls for filmmakers and musicians to collaborate on a 60 second film that is centred around one of the following themes: (1) Imagine life without live Australian music, (2) What I love about live Australian music and (3) What live Australian music means to me. The ten finalists will be screened at St Kilda Film Festival’s SoundKILDA event, where the winner and runner up will be announced. Submissions are open until Friday March 31. For more information, head to amin.org.au.
Inertia Music Bought By Europe’s [Pias] Sydney-based music sales, distribution and label services company Inertia Music was acquired by European indie music company [PIAS]. CEO Colin Daniels maintains his role, and Inertia founders Ashley Sellers and Justin Cosby, who set it up in 2000 and turned it into a reported $15 milliona-year business, remain involved. The deal does not include Inertia Group’s other divisions Fairgrounds Festival, Handsome Tours, Gaga Music and Collective Artists.
Desks For Emerging Artist Managers To help emerging independent artist managers in Sydney, MusicNSW has introduced a new grants program for those with less than two years’ full-time experience. Divided into two six-month rounds, to provide subsidised desk space. Music NSW says such managers often work in isolation and with very little financial stability, taking risks and investing time and money at the expense of their own businesses. For eligibility criteria, go to musicnsw.com.
Ampa’s New Campus The Academy of Music and Performing Arts (AMPA)’s new Sydney campus is in Surry Hills, 150m from Central Station and opposite Prince Alfred Park. Its Tom Mann Theatre will host live music, theatre, musicals, dance, drama and spoken word. Jamie Rigg is new head of contemporary music and student engagement.
THINGS WE HEAR During his visit this month to Australia to play invite-only gigs for the Hit and Nova networks, will Ed Sheeran announce a full-blown tour for later in the year? Sydney’s Newtown Social Club will close in late April. Its operators said, “Whilst the live music part of the business was a resounding success, the current regulatory climate in Sydney and the inherent challenges therein have made it unsustainable. We look forward to exploring new opportunities in the future.” In the run up to next month’s WA elections, the Labor Party has promised to set up a $3 million Creative Music Fund to develop young acts, different strategies to protect live music venues, new grants to help WA’s emerging music talent, and an investigation into adopting Victoria’s Agent of Change to the state. Agent of Change is where those moving into a neighbourhood where a live music venue already operates cannot complain about its noise, and builders of new developments have to take responsibility to soundproof them properly. South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin Texas (Tuesday March 14—Sunday 19) has confirmed 45 Australian acts (with a major artist to be confirmed shortly) will play there. They include Tkay Maidza, Peking Duk, Alex Lahey, Slum Sociable, Pond’s Cameron Avery, Julia Jacklin, C.W. Stoneking, Vera Blue, Tim Wheatley, Oscar Key Sung and Kucka. Almost 500 Aussie executives are also attending. Girls Rock!, Canberra’s contemporary music mentorship program for 10 - 17 year old females to gain confidence and self-power through creating music, will return in July for a second year after nearly $25,000 funding from the ACT government. Brisbane’s The Goon Sax will relocate to Berlin midway through the year. They toured Europe last September, and had a track enter the US charts. One of seven documentaries funded by Screen Australia is I Used To Be Normal – A Boyband Fangirl Story. It looks at the phenomenon of boy bands and their devoted fans. It will be written, directed and produced by Jessica Leski. Sydney deathcore outfit Thy Art Is Murder have been rejoined by singer C.J. McMahon. He left a year ago when, as guitarist Andy Marsh described it, he “finally reached his breaking point - the physical, emotional and mental stresses of touring, and the lifestyle had taken its toll on him.” Now in a much healthier state, McMahon has returned to the band. They continued to tour abroad during his absence with guest singers, and broke into the US charts for the first time with Holy War peaking at #62. New single ‘No Absolution’ is about their past 12 months.
The Pretty Littles Announce Tour Dates
Camp Cope & Cable Ties Link For East Coast Dates Camp Cope have just announced a run of East Coast dates, accompanied by the punk rock powerhouse that is Cable Ties. Cable Ties have been gaining due recognition in recent times, with a much lauded set at Meredith Music Festival proving to be a highlight for many reviewers, and an opening slot for The Kills rounding out their 2016. With Cable Ties appearing at three of these five shows, this is a great opportunity to see two of the best bands in the country doing their thing.
Radio Birdman And Died Pretty Announce Double Headline Tour Radio Birdman and Died Pretty have announced that they will be uniting for a run of joint headline shows in June. This is exciting news for fans of both bands, neither of whom perform live with any regularity. Radio Birdman, who were one of the biggest punk bands to come out of Sydney in the mid 1970s, initially broke up in 1978. They then reformed in 1996, and have continued to tour sporadically, and with some lineup changes along the way, in the years since. Died Pretty emerged from Sydney in 1983, going on to have wide success in the 1990s with the albums Doughboy Hollow and Trace in 1991 and 1993 respectively. The band announced their end in 2002, and have staged several live reunions since then, including festival appearances at Homebake, the Big Day Out and A Day On the Green. The two acts will alternate headlining positions each night, with supports including Kim Salmon and Dave Graney and the MistLY. For the full list of tour dates, head to mixdownmag.com.au
TOUR DATES FEB 16 – BRISBANE HOTEL, HOBART, TAS FEB 17 – GRACE EMILY HOTEL, ADELAIDE, SA FEB 26 – NGV, MELBOURNE, VIC MAR 3 – NEWTOWN SOCIAL CLUB, SYDNEY, NSW MAR 4 – HOUSE SHOW, NEWCASTLE, NSW
Melbourne rock band The Pretty Littles have just released their latest single ‘Helluva Tuesdi’, and announced a new string of touring dates. The band have gone from strength to increased strength since releasing their fourth album Soft Rock For The Anxious in 2016, which saw their profile rise on a national level. Not only was the album well received by the likes of Beat Magazine and Pilerats, but the first single, ‘Pride’, was added to rotation by triple j, and by the end of the year they had signed with booking agency 123 Agency. TOUR DATES 4 MAR - HOWLER, MELBOURNE, VIC 17 MAR - EL TOPO BASEMENT, BONDI, 18 MAR - CAMBRIDGE HOTEL, NEWCASTLE, NSW 19 MAR - NORTH WOLLONGONG HOTEL, WOLLONGONG, NSW 30 MAR - WOOL EXCHANGE, GEELONG, 31 MAR - BY THE MEADOW FESTIVAL, BAMBRA, VIC 1 APR - PIER LIVE, FRANKSTON, VIC
Xylouris White Announce Shows Having recently toured the country in support of PJ Harvey, Xylouris White have announced their own headlining shows. A musical collaboration between Dirty Three drummer Jim White and the Cretan lute master George Xylouris, the acclaimed duo are set to wrap up their summer tour with shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and a debut appearance at WOMAdelaide in March. Recent performances from the two-man show have received rave reviews from critics and the public alike. TOUR DATES MAR 2 – THE TOTE, MELBOURNE, VIC MAR 5 – LA TROBE UNIVERSITY, MELBOURNE, VIC MAR 9 – CAMELOT LOUNGE, SYDNEY, NSW MAR 10 – WOMADELAIDE, ADELAIDE, SA MAR 11 – MONSTER AT HOTEL HOTEL, CANBERRA, ACT
Wil Wagner Announces Solo Tour While his main enterprise, punk heroes The Smith Street Band, ensure that Wil Wagner is a busy man, he has never been one to remain idle. In between tours – the latest of which wrapped up in November – Wagner has made time through to the years to release several albums worth of solo material, including 2013’s Laika. Smithies fans will have a chance to see this material live when Wagner steps out for a two week national solo tour, with support from several of his international friends, including Laura Stevenson (USA), Ian Graham (USA) and Iona Carns (UK). Comprising of eleven shows around the country, this will be a great opportunity to catch Wagner before The Smith Street Band return with their next album, which is reportedly due later in the year. TOUR DATES FEB 15 – THE ZOO, BRISBANE QLD FEB 16 – THE NORTHERN, BYRON BAY NSW FEB 17 – THE SMALL BALLROOM, NEWCASTLE NSW FEB 18 – UNI BAR, WOLLONGONG NSW mixdownmag.com.au
FEB 19 – OXFORD ART FACTORY, SYDNEY NSW FEB 21, 22, 23 – THE MELBA SPIEGELTENT, MELBOURNE VIC FEB 24 – BADLANDS, PERTH WA FEB 25 – MOJO, FREMANTLE WA FEB 26 – ED CASTLE, ADELAIDE SA
Jeff Lang Announces Australian Tour Blues/roots guitarist and singer Jeff Lang has announced that he will be embarking on a huge national tour that will stretch from March to June in support of his upcoming album, Alone In Bad Company. It’s a record that demonstrates why Jeff Lang has long been considered one of the best guitar players in the country. The Melbourne based musician has been a staple on Australia’s touring circuit throughout his 25 year career, having won three ARIA awards during this time and been nominated for a total of seven. For the full list of tour dates, head to mixdownmag.com.au
The Hills Are Alive Reveal Lineup The Hills Are Alive, the music and comedy festival that takes place over three days in South Gippsland, Victoria, has announced its lineup. Musical acts such as Cloud Control, Dope Lemon, Northeast Party House, Ocean Alley, Amy Shark, Gretta Ray, Dorsal Fins, Jordan Rakaei and Remi will share the bill with comedians, such as Dave O’Neil, Bob Franklin and Geraldine Hickey. Occurring over a weekend in March, this will be the event’s ninth year of operation. For more information head to thehillsarealive.com.au
The Smooth Delay SD-1 delay pedal Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au
Akai Pro Unveils New MPCs
The Polish company G Lab Guitar Laboratory have released the Smooth Delay SD-1 delay pedal. The pedal features an analogue voice circuit with adjustable attenuation of the high and low frequencies, as well as a ‘Smooth’ function, which emulates the sound of classic tape echo. The SD-1 has a tempo foot switch, allowing users to manually tap the tempo, and can also be controlled via MIDI.
Electric Factory | elfa.com.au
At the recent NAMM Show in Los Angeles, Akai Professional made headlines with the unveiling of two new additions to their MPC product line - the MPC X and MPC Live. The reason for this is that both units are standalone MPCs, but can also be used as controllers for MPC Software 2.0, which is included in the purchase. MPC X is the new flagship model, and comes with improved high-fidelity phono preamps courtesy of Denon DJ, and has a 10” multi-touch hi-res display. Among the many features you would expect, the MPC Live has a rechargeable battery, allowing up to five hours of use without a computer, a great prospect for mobile producers and beatmakers.
Bassist Marcus Miller Teams With Markbass
Jet City Introduce The Jettenuator Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au
The new attenuator by Jet City Amplification is a powerful hand-wired attenuator capable of working up to 100 watt amps, and is designed to be versatile enough to be used in either a live or studio setting. The Jettenuator also has a line-level output with its own level control so that it can used to connect to an external power amp or effects processor. Added to this is the balanced XLR MicSim output, which simulates a microphone in front of a speaker, so that the user can attenuate their amp and send a nice sounding feedback to the mixing desk.
Ernie Ball Release the Unbreakable Paradigm Strings CMC Music Australia | cmcmusic.com.au
CMC Music Australia | cmcmusic.com.au
RME Fireface UFX II Audio Interface Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au
Marcus Miller, the American bassist, jazz composer, and producer has announced that he is officially partnering with Italian amp manufacturers, Markbass. Throughout his career Miller has worked with some of the biggest names in jazz music, including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, David Sanborn and soul singer Luther Vandross. “I’m excited to announce that I’m joining forces with Markbass Amps,” said Miller. “We’re looking forward to doing some very cool things together this year. Keep an eye on us!”
The Fireface UFX2 audio interface utilises RME’s well known lowlatency hardware and drivers, and places them within a flexible recording unit. The interface has a unique USB recording function called ‘DURec’, which, when combined with the ‘TotalMix FX’ mixing and routing software, results in a set of features that will appeal to both professional recording engineers and home studio owners. With 30 channels of inputs and 30 channels of output, as well as supporting sample rates of up to 192kHz, the Fireface is an extremely versatile and powerful interface capable of being used for recording, mixing, monitoring or live performance.
Positive Grid To Launch In Australia
Soundcraft’s NEW Ui24R Digital Mixing & Multi-track Recording System
Link Audio | linkaudio.com.au
Soundcraft have announced the arrival of their new Ui24R, an all in one digital mixing and multitrack recording system. In one streamlined design the Ui24R features a flexible I/O, with professional sound quality, and wireless control. The system can be controlled by up to ten devices via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, making it possible to control mixing and multitrack recording wirelessly. The inbuilt Lexicon, dbx and DigiTech signal processing yields impeccable sound quality, while the 20 Studer designed microphone preamps deliver more professional inputs than any other mixer in its class. The Ui24R is part of the new HARMAN Connected PA range and offers versatility, power and value.
Having been on sale in Europe and the USA since late 2016, Positive Grid guitar amplifiers and pedals are now coming to Australia. The brand‘s BIAS head & rack are available in 600 watt powered and non-powered versions, as well as their range of BIAS distortion and delay pedals. The brand established themselves initially as an innovative designer of guitar and bass apps, including JamUp, which has over three million users worldwide.
Ernie Ball unveiled their new Paradigm guitar string line on the opening day of the recent NAMM trade show in Anaheim, California. Paradigm strings are the world’s first guitar string to feature a guarantee against breaking or rust. If they do within 90 days of purchase, Ernie Ball will replace them absolutely free. This groundbreaking product was subsequently awarded the ‘Best in Show’ award on the final day of the trade show. Paradigm strings feature superior break-resistance and unparalleled durability, wihout compromising the company’s well loved tone. The strings feature a combination of Ernie Ball’s proprietary Everlast nanotreatment, coupled with a breakthrough plasma process that further enhances the corrosion resistance like never before. Paradigm will be available in a variety of gauges for electric, and the acoustic varieties will include both Phosphor Bronze as well as 80/20 Bronze.
Jands | jands.com.au
Mooer Release 10 New Guitar Preamp Mini Pedals Jade Australia | jadeaustralia.com.au
At the recent NAMM trade show in California, Mooer announced the release of ten new guitar preamp mini pedals. Each of the new units are digital recreations of the preamp sections of classic valve amplifiers. These were developed by using a new technology to analyse and capture the sound, dynamics and response of each of the original amps. Each Micro Preamp pedal has dual channels, an integrated speaker cabinet simulation and dual operating modes to suit the needs of all users. The integrated speaker cab simulation allows the user to connect directly to a soundcard, powered monitor or PA, without the need for an actual amp or speaker cabinet at all. Each of the ten pedals also have an independent three band EQ, gain and volume controls for each channel and a channel A/B for footswitch operation.
Shure Releases New Glx-D Advanced Digital Wireless Products Jands | jands.com.au
At the recent NAMM show held in California, Shure announced some new additions to its GLX-D Digital Wireless line. These include the GLX-D Advanced Frequency Manager, a rack mount receiver system, remote antennas, and accessories. The range offers notable features such as exceptional digital audio, automatic frequency management, and intelligent rechargeable batteries. The new rack mountable configuration means that the system can allow up to six GLXD4R receivers to be linked to a GLX-D Advanced Frequency Manager via the RF ports. The Frequency Manager automatically assigns optimal frequencies to all six receivers via the existing RF cables, allowing for a simple installation and ease of use.
The Teenage Engineering PO-32 Tonic Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au
Teenage Engineering more or less have the field to themselves when it comes to manufacturing pocket synthesiser modules. Their small and clever devices are designed to create new and fun ways to make music wherever you are. The latest product is the PO-32, which the company says will be the ‘new gold standard drum machine’. The unit has a drum synthesiser inside of it, allowing users to carry around a fully functioning drum machine in their pocket. What’s more, the PO-32 has the ability to import and export tracks via a 3.5mm jack as well as its built-in microphone, so users can make and transfer audio between devices with ease. With 16 buttons included for selecting sounds, patterns, or effects and two knobs for controlling pitch and modulation, this is tiny device is almost too good to be true.
Meris Release The Ottobit Jnr. Pedal Studio Connections | studioconnections.com.au
Los Angeles based company, Meris, managed to get people talking with the release of their Meris Ottobit 500-series Bit-crusher, a unique piece of equipment that ‘crushes’ audio down to emulate the sound of early video games. Now the company have taken that idea and made it into a pedal – the Ottobit Jnr. The pedal features a vintage synth inspired low-pass filter, triggered stutter effects, a variable sample rate, and a sequencer module for pitch, filter or ‘decimation’ pattern sequencing. The pedal has stereo in/out as well as MIDI and expression pedal control over all of its parameters simultaneously. Put simply, this is a pretty cool piece of gear, and it will be available in Australia in March.
One Control BJF Pedals Hot Apple Distribution | hotapple.com.au
Japanese pedal manufacturer One Control has teamed with Swedish pedal engineer Bjorn Juhl to collaborate on the new One Control BJF series of mini effects pedals. One Control has already made a name for themselves in mini switchers and utility boxes, and Juhl has previously created successful designs for Mad Professor and Bearfoot FX, with the union promising to mean big things for mini-pedal format. Four of these stompboxes were released at the recent NAAM trade show in Anaheim, California, specifically the Dimension Blue Monger, which is a unique modulation device, the Gold Acorn OverDrive Special, which is designed to replicate the overdrive and dynamic range of Dumble amplifiers, the Cranberry Overdrive, and the Lingonberry Overdrive. mixdownmag.com.au
Mapex Launches The Black Panther Design Lab Premium Snare Drums Electric Factory | elfa.com.au
Mapex have announced the Black Panther Design Lab series snare drums. These professional level snares were developed with the performance needs of top players in mind and engineered to blend sound and performance with modern design. The Mapex Black Panther Design Lab Series embodies the performance qualities desired by top players. These distinctive instruments have been engineered using the Design Lab’s “Concept Hybrid” approach to sound design, shell composition and drum construction. Our understanding of how different tone woods, bearing edge profiles, counterhoop styles, lug casings, snare wires, drumheads and even shell finishes can affect the acoustic performance of a drum has allowed Mapex to combine “Sound Concepts” to create unique and personal instruments for the demanding player. The series comprises of four distinct drums - the Equinox 14” Snare, the Heartbreaker 14” Snare, and the Cherry Bomb 14” and 13” Snares, which are a reimagined and optimised versions of the original Cherry Bomb snare. Each of the new Black Panther Design Lab Snares are built with the Mapex 10-lug hoops, Puresound premium snare wires, Cylinder-Drive Strainer, and SONIClear Bearing edges.
Denon DJ’S ‘Prime’ Range Electric Factory | elfa.com.au
The New VOX MV50 Series Yamaha Music Australia | au.yamaha.com
Making its debut in the year of Vox’s 60th anniversary, the MV50 produces a serious guitar sound that rivals conventional tube amps, boasting 50 watts of power and weighing less than half a kilogram. The MV50’s unique analogue preamp design incorporates the Nutube, a new type of vacuum tube, to achieve an authentic tube amp tone. Vox’s engineers took full advantage of this technology to design a true, low power, low voltage miniature amplifier. The ‘Clean’ model provides a natural, undistorted sound with plenty of headroom. The ‘AC’ model serves up the classic chime and distinctive crunch of a Vox AC30, while the ‘Rock’ model delivers more aggressive high gain tones. The MV50 also incorporates specially designed circuits with a variable operating point, in order to more accurately reproduce the dynamic character of a traditional tube amp. The result of this unique circuit design is a guitar tone reminiscent of the great tube amps of the past. MV50 will be available in Australia from March.
Kawai Unveil Three New Models Kawai Australia | kawai.com.au
Kawai have added three new models to their line up – the ES110, CN27, and the CN37. The ES110 is an excellent introduction to Kawai’s portable piano and features responsive hammer action with matte key surfaces, 12x8 cm speakers, and Bluetooth and MIDI connectivity. The CN37 emulates the action and power of a grand piano, advanced audio features and hundreds of realistic sounds such as the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX concert grand sounds and the Kawai K-60 upright piano sounds. The CN27 offers the new standard in digital piano value and performance, with progressive harmonic imaging sound technology and 88-key stereo sampling. The keyboard also has the brand’s Responsive Hammer III action, with triple sensor detection, graded hammers and counterbalanced keys.
Denon DJ have been have been leading the DJ market for several years now, thanks to their continual release of cutting edge products. The new ‘Prime’ range is no exception to this, being made up of three products – the SC5000 Prime Media Player, the X1800 Prime Mixer and the VL12 Prime Turntable. SC5000 is perhaps the most exciting of the trio, with the onboard Engine Prime software enabling 100% standalone performance without the need of involving a computer. One of the most compelling features about Engine Prime is the ability to write new metadata, such as cues and loops to your music and then take those updated files with you to your next gig. The VL12 turntable is the first non super-OEM turntable since the Technics 1200. It is all analogue, and boasts industry leading motor isolation and feedback rejection - giving you the best possible sound and performance in the most demanding of conditions.
Fender’s New American Professional Series Fender Australia | fender.com.au
Fender has announced a new series of guitars and basses, which debuted at the NAMM trade show in January. The American Professional Series is closely modeled on the brand’s flagship guitars, while introducing them into a new era. New versions of the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Precision Bass, Jazz Bass, Tele Deluxe, Jaguar and Jazzmaster are all included in the line. The Jazzmaster will feature Fender’s new V-Mod pickups, which are single coils made with a mixture of alnico magnets, each one voiced specifically for its particular position and designed by Tim Shaw. The range incorporates a new ‘Deep C’ shaped neck profile, new electronics, and narrow-tall frets, which allows for more expressive playing. In total the Professional Series will comprise of 16 models, available in 11 colours, including three new ones: Sonic Gray, Antique Olive and Mystic Seafoam.
Alesis Strike Kits Electric Factory | elfa.com.au
Alesis Strike Kits were in a playable pre-production condition at the recent NAMM show in California, and are expected to be hitting Australian shores in March 2017. The Strike will be available in two different formats; the Strike, which is a five piece kit with crash and ride, and when sold together with the Expansion Pack the Strike turns into the Strike Pro as a six piece kit with three crash cymbals and a ride. This module comes loaded with 100 factory kits and over 1600 multisampled instruments, but perhaps most exciting is the included Strike Software Editor that allows you to create your own custom kits. The module even functions as a sampler, and the playability is unlike any other Alesis kit yet.
Yamaha $100,000 Schools Giveaway
The Jackson X Series Signature Scott Ian King V KVXT
Yamaha Music Australia | au.yamaha.com
Fender Australia | fender.com.au
Yamaha Music Australia are on the look out for schools that need a helping hand with their music program. ‘Off To A Great Start’ education advocacy program is offering $90,000 worth of Yamaha instruments, as well as training sessions and a launch concert at the winning school with Guy Sebastian. From the schools that apply, a final five will be selected, with the four runners up being allocated a further $10,000 worth of prizes between them. Applications for the ‘Off To a Great Start’ program close on Monday March 13. For more information head to greatstart. yamahabackstage.com.au/giveaway.
The X Series Scott Ian King V KVXT is a new electric guitar from Jackson, and something of a throwback to the Flying V design of the models which made the company’s name in the 1980s. The brand’s X Series showcases a range of Jackson styles, with the Scott Ian King KVXT featuring a mahogany body and neck with neck-thru construction. The model has a 12”-16” compound-radius rosewood fingerboard with 22 jumbo frets and pearloid block inlays, white binding around the neck and a headstock capped by a traditional Jackson six-in-line headstock. The guitar has two Duncan Designed™ humbucker pickups, specifically the HB-103B in the bridge position and an HB-103N for the neck pickup. Together they result in a distinctive tone, articulate tone with enough bite to be applicable for a variety of playing styles. The guitar also features a Jackson compensated and adjustable TOM-style bridge with an anchored tailpiece and Jackson die-cast tuners. mixdownmag.com.au
THE DAMNED 40 years and counting, The Damned are still kicking arse and taking names. Captain Sensible, guitarist and infamous larrikin of the English punk icons shoots the shit with Mixdown in the lead up to the band’s 40th anniversary tour, one that will visit Australia in March – not to mention a new album just around the corner.
It’s 10 pm in Australia. It’s early morning in London. Captain Sensible, born Raymond Burns, fires stories of old at his computer like its running out of battery. Our Skype session has caught him bright and early at the studio in which The Damned is piecing together the makings of its 11th studio album. Burns’s current tale of youth in revolt and the early incarnations of the English punk rock scene is interrupted by a loud thud, followed by silence from the 62 year old guitarist; another thud blasts through the speakers, succeeded by a series of whip cracks, similar to that of a snare drum. “I’m in the studio at the moment; in the drum booth. Can you [thud, thud] hear it?” It’s clear that Burns is not one to take life too seriously, almost every statement is followed by a self-depreciating, light hearted gag – Burns is quick to extinguish the jaded, burnt out musician stereotype. His carefree demeanor takes a back seat when asked a question about the current state of the music business. Burns muses on the modern age, both musically and politically – he has his opinions, but he is hesitant to point the finger, opting for a more diplomatic approach. “I don’t know what’s happening in music today,” he says. “I’m the wrong person to ask” The Damned is crowd funding its yet-to-be-titled forthcoming album off the back of a PLEDGEMUSIC campaign, a method to which he also admits naivety. “We did the pledge thing, which is amazing for an old fart like me to be dragged into the new millennium. I don’t recognise what happened to the music business. I’m not complaining or anything, because if people want to pay us to make a record, that’s great. We won’t have a record label breathing over our shoulder. We can do what ever we want now. To anybody who’s pledged: don’t worry, we won’t be pissing it up in the studio – 30 years ago, we definitely would have run off to the nearest boozer with that dosh and it would have been gone by now. “I know there are good bands around like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard,” Burns says. “I really like them. There is a kind of psychedelic renaissance going on, but you wouldn’t find out about it watching TV, or listening to mainstream radio. It’s wall-to-wall plastic nonsense of the Simon Cowell persuasion… X-Factor and all that shit. But there is good music and bands like King Gizzard should be championed, just like the Kinks, The Move and the Small Faces were back in the 60’s. They all went on to have amazing careers, mainstream careers, but it was quality, kickass pop. I feel that at the moment it’s ‘machine’ pop. If you’ve heard one drum machine, you’ve heard them all.” It’s been nine years since the release of the band’s last record, So, Who’s Paranoid? A long time between drinks, but nothing out of the ordinary for the punk stalwarts. From the band’s early beginnings in 1976 to present day, there have been many 14
“To anybody who’s pledged: don’t worry, we won’t be pissing it up in the studio – 30 years ago, we definitely would have run off to the nearest boozer with that dosh and it would have been gone by now.” reformations and musical incarnations of the group. One thing that has remained consistent is the essence of the band – its punk ethos. They are known to many as one of the ‘original punk bands’, championing an ethos that its PLEDGEMUSIC campaign states is a stand against ‘the face of plastic entertainment and scripted reality’. “We have the benefit now of old age. If we’ve got anything to say to younger people – I mean I’m still fairly angry about the way society and the world is – it’s that it’s learned absolutely nothing since our day and age,” Burns says. “Look at the ‘60s, where things started to change for the better – civil rights, feminism and stuff like that. I look back at those days, and think ‘we’ll never go back to that’, the war mongering and old garbage governments dish up, but it has gone back to that. I’ve seen election after election and you pin your hopes on some new politician and you think ‘this time it will change’ and it doesn’t. In the new album, yeah we’ve got something to say. We think the world’s pretty insane. Let’s not forget that daft American election. I’m sure everyone’s writing a Trump song at the moment.
We tackle the subject of inspiration. What, after 40 years, keeps a band who’s middle finger has been permanently perched facing the ‘establishment’ motivated and driven? “There’s so much plastic garabage around, I feel that the reason we [as a band] exist is because people are fed up with what’s on TV. We just do the live thing and we do it well. It’s not choreographed – what ever happens, happens. The Damned shows are a law unto themselves. It’s a glorious live spectacle.” The Damned live show is nothing short of legend. The list of lewd tales and shenanigans during the band’s heyday is long and hilarious – in 1977, they kicked Sting out of their dressing room, denying him their precious rider and exclaiming he was welcome to it when he was the headliner, encouraging him to work on his act in the meantime. It’s been a long time since the incident, and the many incidents that are a part of the band’s reputation. With an Australian tour immanent, what’s to be expected from The Damned live show? “We [still] like to keep each other on our toes,” Burns says. “Mr [David] Vanian, often looks across the stage to me and sometimes he’ll play with his watch as if the guitar solo’s going on a bit long, and I’ll have a go back at him. Sometimes the audience throws some choice comment of the derogatory nature and that might run through the whole gig. It’s just ‘what ever happens, happens’. There’s less debauchery these days, thankfully [laughs]. I remember some gigs back in the day, I had to be carried on stage and plonked on a chair. As for whether or not we will see new material take part in the tour set list, it seems to be in the hands of lady luck. “I don’t know if we’re going to finish it before we hit the road. We might have half, or even more than half finished. We haven’t even started rehearsing for the tour yet.” One thing’s for certain, the 40th Anniversary Tour will be a celebration of the band’s lengthy history and back catalogue. “It’s difficult to write a set list for The Damned,” he says. “We are like two or three bands in one. We’re punk, we’re goth, we’re a bit garage psych – we could write a set list for every genre the band has covered over the years.” Either way, there’s little doubt fans will walk away satisfied and saturated when the band grace our shores in March. BY AARON STREATFEILD The Damned will be touring nationally this March. For more information visit selecttouring.com.au.
Dune Rats 2017 promises to be yet another mammoth year for Australia’s favourite bong-rippin’ band, Dune Rats. The three piece have just released their latest single ‘Scott Green’ which will preclude the release of their new album The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit. I got a chance to catch up with Dunies’ bass player Brett Jansch this week to talk about the story behind the single, recording the new album and scoring weed in the backwaters of the United States. Our conversation began talking about the creative process behind the aptly titled The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit. Recorded by Zach Carper of Fidlar fame, sessions began in Southern California at the infamous Joshua Tree, best known in music terms because of some Irish band that Dune Rats have very little in common with. “We went out there for a ‘writing session’, that was the first time we went there with Zac cause we’d been on tour with Fidlar, so we recorded three demos out there and yeah, that’s where everything began,” said Jansch.
Thundamentals By the time you’ve hit record #9, you’ve probably picked up some fairly decent insight into the creative process. Sure, everyone is going to approach music differently, but across three solo albums and six releases with Thundamentals, Tuka’s grasp of songwriting sounds pretty slick. As the Aussie hip hop crew unveil their latest effort, Everyone We Know, the straight-shooting rapper gives some real insight into what makes a song tick and, why despite the tribulations of 2016, the music is stronger than ever. “I was pretty candid on socials about how fucked my year was,” says Tuka aka, Brendan Tuckerman admits. “I wasn’t going into extreme depths, but I think like a lot of people in 2016, it was a weird year. That being said, I think when bad things happen, art always rises to the top. It’s unfortunate, but a godsend at the same time. I think I have a lot of artillery now not only for the album that we’ve just written, but for the next, like, ten records. It was great working together every day, and to tell you the truth, the band is going better than ever, but our personal lives, everyone had some pretty big barriers come up, deaths or severe problems, which all came out in the record.” 16
With Fidlar very much being America’s answer to our Dunies, it’s difficult to believe that these sessions would be productive but Jansch couldn’t disagree more, “He’d always be on our back, making us do shit. Creatively he’s a great producer and we work really good together ‘cause that kinda silly thing with Dunies TV, that really bled into the record and Zac really got a hold of that and took it to the next level.” To those not in the know, the band have their own online TV show, which is essentially tour videos showing the boys at the peak of the stonercomedy routines that they’re so known for. After the Joshua Tree sessions, and a few others across Australia’s east coast, the band eventually landed in Melbourne last year to record at Head Gap studios, the same place that their self-titled debut was recorded. “The studio’s not our favourite place to be but this time we upped our game a bit. We’ve all learnt how to write better over the years and we just wanted it to sound bigger ‘cause we’re now playing in larger venues” says Jansch, speaking about the band’s writing process. “We were always going off the idea that if you’re doing something new or enjoyable everyday, like we’d go off for a surf or whatever, then when we would come back to have a jam we’d be heaps more psyched, way more proactive. Most of the songs didn’t reflect on the places we were so much, but we were happy to be in these places anyway rather then sitting there bored in a recording studio.” One song that definitely reflects the place it came from is the new single ‘Scott Green’. Written about the Dunies quest to score some pot in Joshua Tree, Jansch describes the situation vividly. “We got some off this guy who survived cancer so he had a medicinal card, he was really friendly but a bit of a weirdo. We went back to his house and he was a hoarder, he had all these old grandfather clocks and an emptied out pool with rusty bikes in it. We waited awkwardly for like half an hour just trying to shoot the shit with him but it came through. I wonder if he now knows about our single, I wasn’t sure if we ever told him about the band or anything but I reckon if he
heard it now he’d have a massive chuckle.” The video for the song is set at a wild house party, with the band in search for ‘Scott Green’. However, the video contains interactive elements, allowing the you to pick which doors the boys enter, helping them search for the weed they so dearly crave. When the song ends the viewer even receives a score. I revealed to Jansch that I got 140 points, thinking I’d done well. “I think you got about a third of the way. The lucky 420 number is the highest score. The first time I played it I was wrapped about it cause it felt like all the extra work we did when filming it was actually worthwhile.” While you can watch a standard video clip for the song, the interactive video is likely to be a hit with teenage stoners all over the world. “It was our manager’s idea, there was always a big back and forth about it, but then when we eventually all agreed on it. It took so much planning, especially when using the technology in the editing stage.” So now with the album ready for release and a single with a gimmick-filled video to boot, Dune Rats are geared for the next tour, a national jaunt that will take them across the country with their good mates Gooch Palms and Skeggs. “It starts in Fremantle so we’ll be going the backwards way around the country, we’re gonna up what we can do as a show, we wanna make it as sick as it can be and as Dunies as it can be. We’ll have some theatrical shit, it’s gonna be mad.”
Across Everyone We Know there are countless references seemingly drawn from life. It has always been one of Thundamentals strengths; inserting those kind of universal, everyday details to make a song seem somehow closer – more relatable for the sincerity and specificity of their lyrics – one of the most entertaining songs on the album, ‘Sally (feat. Mataya)’, is a prime example. “That’s part of being authentic. That song is based on a real experience. I basically had this huge crush on this girl, and she just totally wasn’t having it. Then one night she rings me up really randomly and says ‘look, I’m at this club with some friends, you should come meet me’. And I was like, ‘sweet!’ And once we got dancing, she seriously danced like Elaine from Seinfeld. It was hilarious. But that said, she’s a very suave, beautiful person, she had heaps of style. It was almost a good attribute, it was showing her having fun and not caring whether she can dance or not. It was actually really attractive. I’m not trying to poke fun in the song, I’m more saying to be comfortable in your own skin. In all the songs, we like to try and make things feel inclusive. We think that everyone is feeling isolated in general now, because of technology and all the stresses to live. We’re trying to bring people together, hence the title, Everyone We Know.” From outside the band, it seems like an appropriate album title for a variety of reasons. There is Tuka’s own insight into inclusiveness; there is also the album’s somewhat retrospective tone, looking back across not only the life of the band, but their own personal histories. There is also, of course, the hip hop staple of inviting the other artists you meet along the way to jump on board and make a song soar. “We pretty much wrote all the top lines ourselves, where you have this voice in your head of what kind of character is going to say this narrative. Mostly, what’s in your head you can’t perform, and so then you have to go out and find who it is. But in that is the magic of creating some thing brand new that you still have half control of. There’s ‘Think About It’. When we wrote that, the chorus,
I imagined a kind of Joy Division male vocalist there. But as we went along and couldn’t find the right voice, Peta & the Wolves kind of came up with her own awesome spin, and we thought, you know, when a song wants to go a different direction, you have to trust that sometime.” Tuka isn’t the first artist to talk of songs having their own autonomy, nor will he be the last. But he comes across as truly sincere about needing to serve the song before serving how the band intended it to sound. The task is all the more difficult when they are each emerging from a difficult year, with no clear vision of what Everyone We Know would eventually resemble. “You can’t think about it while you’re putting it together. These days when I go into a project I just accept that I don’t know what it is yet, and all of a sudden, after a couple of songs, a collage of themes start to appear. It’s really misty and you can’t see what it is, but the more you’re aware of that collage, the more attention you pay it, the more you start to see. You start moving things around, like, mixing up the track order, or working out how many times have I said ‘everyone we know’? How many characters are here that we could bring back later? Once you’re aware the collage is there, you can start getting deeper. You just move everything around until the pieces of the puzzle start making sense in your head. Communicating that to other people though, that’s another art in itself.”
BY ALEX PINK
The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit by Dune Rats is out now via Warner Music Australia.
BY ADAM NORRIS
Everyone We Know by Thundamentals is out now through High Depth.
Hot 8 Brass Band With a career that started by fulfilling their neighborhood’s demand for a brass band to lead marches at community events, New Orleans act Hot 8 Brass Band have become one of their city’s most prolific global exports. With so many Creole and Cajun restaurants opening up all across the country, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it would be a welcomed advent for a New Orleans band that tours the world, but you’d be wrong. “When we’re out on the road for the most part we try to have an open mind and do a little local food but [if we do try New Orleans cuisine] it only winds up making us really miss it and want to go home. Sometimes we try to get accommodation with a kitchen so we can cook our own food,” says band leader and sousaphone players Bennie Pete. The homesickness that Pete’s referring to makes complete sense
when you consider that Hot 8 Brass Band’s identity is tied very closely to their community at home, playing a huge role in the band’s formation and continued success. A lot has been made about the fact that they come from the projects of New Orleans – the band even featured in the Spike Lee directed two-part documentary series When The Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts (2006) and If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise (2010), which focus on the devestation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill respectively. Pete reflects on the band member’s lives in New Orleans in 2017, compared with when he first started the band in 1996 by bringing together two Fortier High School student groups: the High Steppers and the Looney Tunes Brass Bands. “[We live in] the same neighbourhood, if not we’ll pass through because some of us have had to move, but no too far because the city’s not that big. We’re [for the most part] in the same neighbourhood, with our kids at the same schools. I think we need that: doing local gigs, hanging out with local bands, just sitting and doing gigs with other cats, we kinda use all that music to charge us up for when we go on the road, to help us kick it without going crazy. “When we are at home we enjoy that time. Right now we are counting down because we know that we have a month left [before] we gonna be gone for a while, so we’re sitting in with other bands, going to see other bands, everybody making their rounds,” explains Pete. The tour he is referring is going to see Hot 8 Brass Band away from home a while as they headline WOMadelaide – Australia’s preeminent world music event – as well as performing in every mainland capital city. “We have just released a new EP [Can’t Nobody Get Down] so we will include the songs off that.” says Pete of what their set will be like. “But other than that we working on it. I am at rehearsal right now, working on the show and how we want to present it dealing with what ever time
“It’s like packing up a present or a gift to send to somebody, we are trying to pack as much as we can into this one box that we bring with us – makin’ sure we got a little bit of everything and put it on stage and just let everybody go for it.” slot we got and how can we fit everything in. It’s like packing up a present or a gift to send to somebody, we are trying to pack as much as we can into this one box that we bring with us – makin’ sure we got a little bit of everything and put it on stage and just let everybody go for it. We repping our city as best we could, you know what I am saying?” BY DAN WATT
Hot 8 Brass Band will be touring nationally and appearing at WOMadelaide. For more information and dates head to hot8brassband. com. Can’t Nobody Get Down is out now on Tru Thoughts.
Ocean Grove Talking down the phone, Luke Holmes sounds excited. Although he and his band Ocean Grove have been making music for the last seven years, their new album The Rhapsody Tapes is still days away from being released and he listens keenly to our impressions. “We haven’t had much feedback so far because only a handful of people have heard it,” explains the singer. “We’ve kept it to ourselves until now.” The album is something of a change of pace for the Melbourne sextet, seeing them move away the influences of Slipknot and Korn that informed their previous work, and embracing a diverse range of sounds and structures. “We’ve always wanted to push the envelope as far as we could and be an experimental band, but in the past we hadn’t had enough time to fully explore the possibilities,” he says. “It was a natural inclusion of music that we’re all into. We’ve all got different tastes in music and literature, so it was really important to us that this record represents all of those interests.” They were afforded this freedom by taking matters into their own hands and recording everything themselves, holing up at the home of drummer Sam Bassal and spending long nights writing and recording. “Sam’s house is about 50km west of Melbourne. The setup is
Meat Wave Three albums in, Chicago punk band Meat Wave have established certain norms in their sound and working methods when it comes to recording. Both their self titled debut in 2012 and 2015’s Delusion Moon, which earned them a degree of international recognition and acclaim, were self recorded attempts at reproducing their live sound. Their new album, The Incessant, which arrives this week, saw the trio break this pattern by reaching for outside help. “It was just a desire to change up the process a little bit,” said singer and guitarist Chris Sutter. “We either wanted to travel somewhere and do it ourselves or we had a very small list of people who it would be amazing to work with. Steve Albini was our number one.” Albini owns and operates the recording studio Electrical Audio in Chicago, and is best known for playing in influential punk bands Shellac and Big Black, as well as working as an engineer on seminal albums by the Pixies, Nirvana and many more. 18
minimalistic, just four walls, drums and not much else,” says Holmes. “It was like shift work, we’d come and go, people would do other jobs, and then we’d be up all night. Except for Sam, he was there all the time. “It was maddening trying to get it done in one big hit sometimes, but those were limitations we put on ourselves. It’s about the effort and the quality of hours, not number of hours you put in. The process was a bonding experience for us as well.” One of the album’s biggest surprises is the way in which elements of electronic music are effortlessly interwoven with their established heavy rock sound. This is thanks to band member Mathew Kopp, who also releases music under the name of Running Touch. Although Kopp does not perform live with Ocean Grove, much of the impetus for The Rhapsody Tapes started with him. “It all started with Running Touch,” says Holmes. “That electronic influence has been in our music previously, but this time we let him take the reigns and bring whatever he wanted. We were keen to explore that side of the sound, and it brought this dark mood to it. The majority of the writing was just Sam and Running Touch, and Dale [Tanner] and myself with our vocal parts.” “Running Touch had all these little snippets that he had started making on Ableton, and he came and played them to us, either as they were or on guitar,” says Holmes. “Some of them, like ‘Stratosphere Love’, were just little snippets, and some of them stayed that way. Songs like ‘From Dalight’ has more of a drum and bass rapping going on it, which is something that I’d never really done before. It made me push my boundaries and be a bit more adventurous. It helped us grow as musicians. “Sam uses Logic to record on and he imports the samples from Ableton. But really some songs were just the Ableton track and not much else anyway. ‘From Dalight’ was a session with just that whole track in it and some vocals I sang over the top.” Embracing the experimental nature of the sessions, the band were determined to let the music lead the way, rather than force its direction. “There are some songs that I’m not on, which is pretty unusual I guess for
a band to not have their lead singer,” says Holmes. “There’s one song, ‘The Wrong Way’, that Dale sings, and that’s because if I was on there it would take away from the credibility of the track. We wrote to our strengths, so it didn’t make sense to force anything to go any particular way on songs where it was written by just one or two people.” That’s not to say that the process of interpreting the sample-based tracks as a band were seamless. As Ocean Grove prepared one of the album’s singles they realised that something was not quite right. “We had ‘Thuderdome’ as a finished song, and it got to the release date and we said to the label it’s not ready.” says Holmes. “We had this issue with taking a minimalist electronic track and adding all of the instruments to it, and we probably went a bit too far the first time. So we had to pretty much scrap it and start again.” Looking ahead, this does raise the question of how Ocean Grove will replicate the layered sound of The Rhapsody Tapes when they play it live. “We’re going to have to go and spend some time perfecting the songs before we got out and tour,” admits Holmes. “We’ve played a couple of the songs already, we’ve played ‘From Dalight’, which is quite sample based, we’ve played ‘Beers’, and ‘Intimate Alien’, so we can pull off these songs. “We’re still quite in check with who we are as a band and we’re not going to go out and do something that we can’t do live. The same with my vocals, I made sure we didn’t do anything in some crazy key that I cant sing, because then people would say ‘the recording sounds good but they can’t pull it off live.’”
“We hadn’t met him until that first day that we got to the studio. We started setting up and then in walks Steve. We were totally aware of what he’s done, so there was some intimidation, he’s done some of our favourite records” said Sutter. It was actually the idea of recording with Albini that determined the project’s direction, even if his methods were decidedly hands off. “Before a lot of the album was written one of the things we talked about was doing more of a studio project where we would really fuck around with things,” said Sutter. “When it became a possibility to record with Steve, we honed in on what we’ve always done, which is play live, and really capture that energy.” Bassist Joe Gac has made all of the band’s previous recordings, including The Incessant’s pre-production. “We recorded it twice ourselves before going into the studio,” said Sutter. “So we had a really good idea of what we wanted it to be. We knew we wanted it to be very straight forward and sound like a band playing in the room. “It’s kind of cool to compare what Steve did and what Joe did, I mean it’s not too far off. Joe, I would say, is a student of Steve Albini. I think a lot of his ethics and how he works and how he captures sounds is very similar. Maybe at some point we can release those recordings.” Not wishing to risk diluting their sound, the band recorded with the minimal equipment with which they perform live. “I use a 1972 thinline Telecaster and I actually use Joe’s amp, I don’t even have an amp. Joe’s got a Marshall JCM-900, so I’ve used that since we started the band,” said Sutter. “Even when we were recording, for the longest time I’ve used one pedal, which is a Boss digital delay DD-6. So I’ll fuck with that, otherwise it was just raw right from our amps. There’s this warp setting where if you just keep pressing on the pedal it kind of crescendos into this cacophony of noise. When we first started playing I became obsessed
with that feature and I’ve basically used it and honed it from there.” The demo sessions were also a chance for Sutter to refine his lyrics and melodies, which in themselves marked a change in direction. “It started with a lot of these stream of conscious poems that I was writing when we would tour,” said Sutter. “Every day I would write a different poem just to keep a log on my thoughts and feelings, ‘cos meanwhile I was getting out of a long relationship and trying to navigate through life as a newly single person after not being single for half of my life. When we started actually writing the record a lot of it was just self-reflection and trying to figure out why I was so confused or why I was always changing my feelings. A lot of it was trying to reflect on that and trying to become a better person and to see maybe where I went wrong. “I think that was healthy. It was both cathartic and kind of exhausting, I’d never written a record like that, it was always very outward. It just happened naturally and there was a lot of doubts in making a very personal kind of record and having people listen to it who don’t know me personally. But I’ve come to terms with it and I’m glad we did it like this.” As evident in their recording practices, Meat Wave are a live band, though Australian fans will have to wait a while longer to see them on tour. “We would love to come to Australia,” said Sutter. “We’re still a super small band so we don’t have a lot of money. We toured with Violent Soho when they came to the States and they made us want to go out there more, so hopefully soon.”
BY ALEX WATTS The Rhapsody Tapes by Ocean Grove is out now on UNFD.
BY ALEX WATTS The Incessant by Meat Wave will be released on Friday February 17 through Cooking Vinyl Australia. mixdownmag.com.au
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The Courtneys The Courtneys make music that sounds like something very beautiful falling apart. The Vancouver-based band’s first album, a self-titled collection of bristling choruses and jangly, buzzed-out melodies that dropped back in 2013, worked precisely because it seemed so on the verge of imploding, and there is something distinctly off-kilter about their take on the power pop style. Given they gain so much from pushing proceedings so close to the edge, it’s perhaps unsurprising that they’ve had a few gigs go wrong. “I can think of a few really disastrous shows,” says the band’s guitarist, Courtney Loove. “Probably the worst one was a show in Montreal where we were playing a big old theatre. “There was some weird problem with the guitar, and we couldn’t get it to work at all for the entire set, and instead the guitar was just making horrible screeching noise. After the set, everyone backstage was saying stuff like, ‘I’m so sorry’, rather than, ‘It wasn’t so bad’, so you know it was bad.” “We had another really bad show the next time we played Montreal
Melbourne Ska Orchestra “There are certain things that resonate with different individuals about ska. For me ska has a sense of community. “From a musical perspective, ska has a percussive aspect that’s almost from another world, the one-drop, the skank and the sharp guitar,” says Nicky Bomba, drummer and notional leader of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra. “The important thing about ska is that it has many different layers of rhythms. You can dance to it fast, you can dance to it half-time. It’s all simple. It comes together like cogs in a machine. Still to this day I’ll put on some ska and I can’t help moving and being sucked into that vortex.” Bomba first came across ska via Two Tone, the UK label that released records by such legendary ska bands as The Specials and The British Beat. There was a vitality about the music, and an attractive aesthetic. “There was a sense of belonging about those bands, the way they were all styled up,” Bomba says. “I thought ‘I 20
too, where right before we went on stage, I checked my phone and had about ten missed calls from the Montreal Police. Someone had broken into our van outside the venue. So we played the show, but we were really upset.” Nonetheless, such catastrophes seem inconsequential when weighed up against the band’s incredible rise and resounding successes – successes like their powerful new album II, for example. A perfect second record, the album builds on the pleasures of their first without ever trudging over ground that has been covered before. Ultimately, there’s little wonder it took them a little time to produce. “We wrote it over the course of about two years at our weekly band practice,” explains Loove. “I’d say the process was pretty organic. We just kind of wrote songs here and there between time spent rehearsing for shows, and eventually we had enough songs for a full album. When we write a new song we like to play it live for a while before recording, and let the loose ends tighten up in that environment.” According to Loove, the band ensure that the live process always influences and strengthens their sound, relying on lengthy jam sessions to work out whatever kinks the material might initially have. “I would say that for us, our writing process is very much a live setting itself,” Loove says. “Almost all our songs begin as a jam, and I guess we feel like if the jam sounds cool to us and we are digging it, an audience will as well.” II, set for release this month, is due to be distributed by the lauded New Zealand label Flying Nun. As a result, The Courtneys are the very first non-NZ band the antipodean company has ever associated with professionally, something they mark up as a true achievement. “We’ve always been huge fans of Flying Nun,” Loove says. “When we were a smaller band just starting out we would email them and tweet to them and stuff – and then one day they tweeted back! We were so excited. Their [distribution] company, Flying Out, wanted to distribute our [first] album in New Zealand. “Then, we got a chance to do a little tour of New
Zealand, Flying Nun booked that tour for us. We were so impressed by those shows. They were some of the best shows we’ve ever played, anywhere. So we knew they would do a great job with our record and were super stoked when they were on board to do it.” That New Zealand influence has even seeped into The Courtney’s visual style – the music video for their lead single ‘Silver Velvet’ is a direct homage to the video Flying Nun band Bailter Space released for their song ‘Splat’. “We made the video a while ago too, before we even knew we’d be working with Flying Nun,” Loove explains of the clip, a highly choreographed exercise in lo-fi oddity. “The shoot was fun: we just collected together some friends and had them all run through the [moves] a few times. The video is all one-take so we had to make a pretty detailed plan beforehand of exactly where people needed to be and when, and where the camera would travel. We got it right on about the seventh try.” In terms of their plans for the future, right now the group’s priority is touring. Although Loove admits hitting the road can sometimes be hard, they manage to keep themselves sane by indulging in all-important downtime – after all, life is about the little things. “We try to always eat a good breakfast every day on tour, and get outside into parks and take in some nature when we can, which helps,” Loove says. “Also, finding relaxing things to do on days off like going to a movie or the Korean spa. We already made a reservation at a hot springs in Oregon for our next tour.”
wanna be part of that.’ ” When Bomba realised that ska songs such as The Specials’ ‘Message to You Rudy’ were in fact covers, he immersed himself in the rich history of ska and its Caribbean antecedents. “That’s when the whole world exploded and I realised about Prince Buster, Elton Ellis, Allan Gray, Toots and the Maytals. There was a really fresh energy about the music.” In 2003, Bomba and PBS DJ Mohair Slim decided to celebrate the release of arguably the first ska record, Millie Small’s 1963 hit My Boy Lollipop. A one-off gig at the Esplanade Hotel became an annual ska celebration; by 2009 the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, featuring anywhere between 17 and 35 members, was touring regularly in Australia. A recording contract with Four Four Records followed, with the band’s eponymous debut album released in 2013. A second album, SierraKilo-Alpha, followed in April this year, affirming the Melbourne Ska Orchestra’s reputation. “Initially the label just wanted us to do covers, but we said we had our own songs as well, and we wanted to have our own voice,” Bomba says. “We’ve got so many great musicians, and we’ve got a really strong multicultural mix as well: Scottish, Venezuelan, Trinidadian, Maltese, English, everything’s there. We’ve got the library to choose from. “The first album was very much a tribute to the old school and the pioneers, and we also started exploring some hybrids. With the second album, it’s an advancement of that, it’s a more thought-out production. The first album sounded more vintage, and the second album can stand up against any contemporary release. We think we got the formula right. And I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do. The idea is to be constantly creative, constantly trying new ideas.” By the time the Melbourne Ska Orchestra had finished recording for Sierra-Kilo-Alpha, it had 22 songs, only 11 of which were featured on the album. Unwilling to
ignore the other tracks, Bomba and the band decided to release another record, Saturn Return. Like SierraKilo-Alpha, which came with a 3D album cover, booklet and comic book-style images, Saturn Return has a distinctive presentation: a spaceship-shaped USB and electronic liner notes that refer to the orchestra’s search for “the eternal S.K.A. codes” in the “Saturn scene”. “Music has been reduced to files a lot of the time, so when you’re presenting something, it has to be something that makes people notice,” Bomba says. “That’s why we went with the USB spaceship design for Saturn Return. That’s one of the different things we’re doing with the Orchestra. It’s a tactile, artistic product that you can really have fun with.” 2017 promises to continue Melbourne Ska Orchestra’s quest to ‘discover the eternal frequencies’ of ska. The Orchestra has shows scheduled in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney this March before they head back overseas. “We have a great band, great energy, and some of our shows are absolute mayhem,” Bomba says.
BY JOSEPH EARP The Courtneys II by The Courtneys is out February 17 through Flying Nun Records.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Melbourne Ska Orchestra will be touring around Australia this March, for more information visit melbourneskaorchestra.com. Sierra-Kil-Alpha is out now through ABC Music. mixdownmag.com.au
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XYLOURIS WHITE The Bold New Direction for Australia’s Most Revered Alternative Drummer In the years they have spent playing together, George Xylouris and Jim White have gotten to travel extensively. They’ve played cafes, bars, lounges and everywhere in-between; all across Australia and overseas. In January, however, they faced a new frontier entirely – an arena-sized tour, supporting iconic UK singer PJ Harvey. It’s not every day that a unique blend of Greek folk music and freeform jazz is literally given such a large platform – something not at all lost on the performers themselves. “They were great shows,” says Jim White, the veteran Melbourrne-born, New York-based, drummer who makes up the latter part of Xylouris White. “We both thought that her and the band were just so wonderful on this tour. We got to play over in Fremantle for the first time, we got to play the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the new venue in Sydney [the ICC Sydney Theatre] was really cool... really couldn’t have asked for a better run of shows. I was really taken with how musical and how disciplined PJ’s show was.” Xylouris White’s collaboration is living, breathing proof of music’s complete lack of borders and boundaries; exemplifying the philosophy of music as a universal language. “It’s funny – we’ve been doing this particular project for about four years, but our original connection goes back to before even Dirty Three had formed,” White explains of the duo’s origins. “We’re talking maybe 25 years ago here. George and his dad [Antonis Xylouris] were playing in Melbourne, and he ended up moving there for about eight years. I met him during that time – he was actually my introduction to Cretan music. I found it fascinating. When Dirty Three started playing shows, we’d always get him up to play with us if we were in the same city. It was actually George’s dad – who is an amazing musician in his own right – that kind of pushed me in the direction of playing with him. The long story short is that we’ve been in one another’s musical lives for a while – the idea of doing something together just happened.” Once voted as one of the all-time greatest alternative music drummers by SPIN, White is a veteran of over 35 years. Having played on stages and in studios with the likes of Marianne Faithfull, Cat Power and Will Oldham, White has developed a distinct playing style that allows him to stand out in a big way. When it comes to his particulars surrounding his performance, however, he tends to keep things to a very small, 24
simple set of rules. “I play Vic Firth for my sticks, brushes and mallets,” he says. “The mallets are usually T1 or T3. The sticks are either 5A or 8B wood-tips. I don’t really have a go-to for kits and cymbals, but I definitely prefer my cymbals to be dark and woody in their sound. I like it when there’s no brightness at all. I guess I like older kits, too – at the Sydney show we just played, a friend of mine supplied me with this beautiful old Gretsch kit. It sounded great. Afterwards, my friend told me that the last person to play that kit was actually me – it was the same one I used at the last Dirty Three show at the State Theatre.” Aspects of White’s drumming style include some unconventional techniques that bring out a distinct, identifiable sound. One such technique is White using his dominant hand to tactfully and intentionally drop a drumstick so that it falls onto his ride cymbal, then to the floor tom and finally to the floor. “I’m glad that people are picking up that it’s purposeful,” he says. “I’ve been doing it for about the last year or so. It was something that just came out of jamming and improvising with George – I liked the way that it sounded, so I tried it out and now it’s a part of nearly every set. I’ve even got a name for it now – I call it ‘the drop’.” It would also be remiss to discuss White’s
drumming without bringing up his over-arm playing style, quite literally swinging his way into each rhythm. “That started back when I was playing drums in this band called Venom P Stinger,” White says. “I had written this drum beat, and I had noticed that I sort of rotated my left arm through the air. Somehow, by doing that, I made it sound how I wanted it to sound. I still do it a lot now – I feel like it marks time a little bit within the space of the songs that are a bit more free-form in their time signature. Rhythm is movement, so it allows me to explore different things that I think work best with whatever the song might be.” The rest of 2017 will see White mostly focused on touring with Xylouris White, with a national Australian tour booked for March. His former day job, the inimitable Dirty Three, are currently inactive; and look to be staying that way for the foreseeable future. “We all live in different countries, and at the moment all of us are pretty focused on different projects,” White comments. “There are no immediate plans to get back to touring or writing just yet.” A second album with Seeker Lover Keeper – the supergroup of Holly Throsby, Sally Seltmann and Sarah Blasko – may also come to fruition; although there are only pockets of talk surrounding it. “I saw Holly just the other night, actually – she came to PJ Harvey, so I caught up with her there,” White says. “As for another record with them, honestly, I don’t know. The main reason the last one worked out is because they all came over to New York to make it. I did love playing with them and touring with them, of course. All three of them are such great writers.” BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG Xylouris White will be touring nationally in March. For more information visit feelpresents.com. Black Peak is out now via Caroline Australia.
The Menzingers A lot has changed since 2006, when four school friends who had kicked around in pop punk bands decided to make a go of something new. Then again, a lot has also stayed the same. The Menzingers still hold the same lineup as when they started out; and their dedication to making heartfelt, honest and endearing melodic punk by ways of heartland rock is still as intact now as the day they first plugged in their guitars. Their secret? A strategy one mightn’t initially suspect: just letting it happen. “I don’t like to force myself into working on songs,” says Greg Barnett, one of the band’s two guitarists and vocalists. “The way I see it, songwriting is something that I do because I find it fun. I like to think that I’m still very much in love with the craft of coming up with song ideas, and always writing; but not
necessarily writing strictly with one goal in mind. I feel like it eases off a lot of the pressure for me and allows me to focus on being a songwriter. “After [previous album, 2014’s] Rented World came out, we toured pretty extensively through the summer and winter of 2015; including a big run of festivals through Europe. Once we were done with all of that, we had time to piece together all of these ideas for songs that Tom [May, guitar/vocals] and I had collated over that time. Without that extra pressure, we ended up having a lot to work with.” The ideas in question were being pieced together for After the Party, The Menzingers’ fifth studio album. Recorded in the back half of 2016 with acclaimed producer Will Yip, After the Party is an album of reflection and introspection; spurred on in its creative process by some considerable milestones. “There were a lot of factors involved as far as this record is concerned,” says Barnett. “One of the main ones was hitting the milestone of the band being around for ten years. It’s mindblowing to us that we’ve been doing it that long – I was a senior in high school when this band started. For some, Rented World was the last record they made in their 20s and After the Party is the first record they’ve made in their 30s. There’s a lot of reflection on our 20s on this record – our lives, and everything we dedicated and sacrificed to this band. As the songs came together, it became more and more apparent that this is where the album was headed. We took that overarching theme and ran with it.” Before its release, anticipation for After the Party was uniformly positive. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the album thus far, ironically enough, has been its cover. Although it’s been said you can’t judge a book by such a thing, the situation changes when a) it’s an album; and b) the cover looks as great as this one. “It’s a photo that was taken at Asbury Park in New Jersey,” says Barnett.
“I like to think that I’m still very much in love with the craft of coming up with song ideas, and always writing; but not necessarily writing strictly with one goal in mind. I feel like it eases off a lot of the pressure for me and allows me to focus on being a songwriter.” “The photographer, Jim Moloney, took it back in about 1980. I think it’s perfect – which is funny, considering it almost wasn’t used. We originally decided on another one – it was fine, but I don’t think it was anyone’s first pick except my own. One of the things I’ve learned about being in this band for ten years is if not everyone in the band is completely gung-ho about a decision, then it’s almost always not going to work out. I told the guys to let me look around a little more for a photo to use, and not long after that I somehow stumbled across this photo. I stopped in my tracks immediately – I knew then and there that it was the perfect image to get across what we were doing on this record, and thankfully everyone agreed.” BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG After the Party by The Menzingers is out now through Epitaph.
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29/11/2016 9:12 am
Advice Columns GUITAR
Get Those Hands Working
Developing speed on the guitar takes work. You’re not going to suddenly wake up one morning and be able to fly around the neck at super speed without putting in some time. As playing the guitar incorporates a number of different techniques, there isn’t just one method or approach to building speed. You need to have the technical ability to be able to do it in both hands but you also need to have them playing in sync. Otherwise it just sounds like a sloppy mess. How about some ideas then to build speed and synchronise both hands. I’m sure everyone’s played an exercise similar to Figure A at some stage. Clean alternate picking with your right hand and clear, accurate fretting with your left hand is the aim. You can then obviously move this all over the neck to adjust to the different fret spacing and get used to various positions.
Bringing together a few of the concepts we’ve talked about in recent months – displacement, rhythms and intervals, I thought it was time for some plain old riff based ideas to put them all together. Try Figure A at a slow rocking 80 BPM and make sure to hammer on the D to the E in Bar 1.
Slightly more technical, Figure B develops things a little more rhythmically and harmonically. With an F# Minor sound it contains some cool syncopated rhythms that would sound great locking in with accents on the drums – double kick or snare come to mind as a start). Some long chord pads on keys or guitar would also create harmonic context whilst still leaving room for the rhythms to really groove. Similar to Figure A, this example probably works best at slower tempos around 80 BPM.
Keeping the same constant semiquaver rhythm, and alternate picking with your right hand, there are plenty of variations. Figure B reverses the idea and leads off with your little finger on your left hand. Often your little finger can be much weaker than your other fingers so work at slow tempos ensuring all four notes in each group of four are clear and even.
Figure C breaks up the four fingers in a row idea and builds independence with 1st, 3rd, 2nd and little finger. You can then imagine the various permutations of this idea (reverse and then starting with a different finger). Some variations will feel much more awkward and unnatural. Don’t take this as a negative. Instead, think of it as a positive in that it’s something you’ve identified and are capable of changing with some work. Remember, at slow speeds it’s more about articulation and technique and building stamina and a strong sense of time.
Figure C works as an A minor groove. Again, lots of quavers and semi quavers and rests. Note length is very important and often overlooked. The gaps in the phrases are just as important as the notes giving the riff room to breathe and emphasise the overall part. A quaver is worth half a beat, don’t let it ring for a whole crotchet. I know this can sound pedantic and in very complicated passages or sections with short rests it can be tough to articulate, but great players do this and are aware of the need to do so. You might need to experiment with muting from both hands and also try moving open strings to fretted notes, or vice versa, to make the sound/riff work for you if you’re having trouble with the particular way something is notated.
Continuing with the semiquaver idea Figure D takes a four note phrase that descends and then ascends. Nothing exciting here, but try it at a slow tempo and then build it up. Hands up if you find faster tempos harder then you expected? Don’t be ashamed to say yes. It’s probably not your actual technique or hands, as individually they can do it. More so it’s synchronising the two so that they play cleanly and together. With some concentrated practice 140bpm is good going. Think endurance and try and play it for 20 seconds straight without missing a beat, then move onto a minute.
Lastly, for now try playing through Figure D. G minor-ish in sound, it includes some accidentals along with rhythmic variation to mix things up a little. Experiment with different fingerings to find what is most comfortable and workable for yourself, and of course the suggested TAB is exactly that, a suggestion. Try moving some of the arpeggios if needed and a range of tempos will test you out – especially with semi quavers.
This is just a very simple introduction to some ideas to get your picking really moving. And remember these are just alternate picking as a start, of course there’s sweep picking, economy picking and a load of various concepts around them. Shred guys, country pickers, rock guys and everyone in between can benefit from solid technique.
As there is so much music out there that utilises big guitar/bass riffs, it’s impossible to triangulate any single example that highlights these sounds. But in modern-ish heavy context, artists like Rage Against The Machine, Tool and Periphery all seem to incorporate lots of rhythm and riffs, whilst Dream Theatre and Virgil Donati also apply them, although in a slightly more prog rock/metal/fusion setting. Give it a shot, see what you think.
BY NICK BROWN
BY NICK BROWN
Advice Columns KEYS
The Future of Keys In the last decade we’ve seen a number products attempt to reimagine how one plays a keyboard. The intention being to create a more expressive instrument out of the modern synthesiser, with its huge variety of controllable parameters. This all comes back to MIDI and how a player might naturally and expressively control MIDI signals, rather than, for example, attempt a vibrato effect with a potentiometer or slider. Aftertouch and velocity sensitivity that send MIDI have been features on various synthesisers and controllers for decades, but evolution beyond those two features seemed to slow for a very long time.
Outside of keys, there’s been generations of MIDI guitars, pad controllers like the Ableton Push and Native Instruments Maschine, and even wind controllers like Akai’s EWI 5000 aimed at woodwind players. Don Buchla released a number of MIDI instruments throughout the ‘90s, such as the Buchla Thunder and Buchla Lightning, with experimental interfaces trying to make MIDI instruments more expressive. So where are we at with developing the way we approach playing keys? Well there’s actually a number of products on the market so I thought we could spotlight a few.
ROLI SEABOARD RISE SERIES ROLI have a range of MIDI controllers on the market that don’t do away with a traditional piano layout completely, but evolve and extend its expressive capabilities. Rather than each key being a separate mechanical device, it’s a set of continuous silicone ‘keywaves’, with five dimensions of expression. There’s strike (velocity), glide (horizontal movements between keys), slide (vertical movements up and down a key), press (aftertouch), and lift (the speed of lift off from a key). Each dimension is mappable to control a parameter via MIDI. Each dimension can also be turned off too, if you wish to revert to a more traditional functionality.
TOUCHKEYS If you’re really not keen on re-learning keys on a spongy feeling silicone surface, there’s a solution for you too. TouchKeys is the project of Andrew McPherson, a professor at the Queen Mary University of London, running a group called the Augmented Instruments Laboratory. TouchKeys are thin sensor overlays that attach to any standardsized keyboard that outputs MIDI. Each key uses capacitive touch sensing - the same technology used in smartphones and trackpads - to measure the location of your fingers while playing. TouchKeys can be bought in a DIY kit for your own keys, or you can buy them already installed on a variety of standard MIDI keyboard controllers.
KEITH MCMILLEN K-BOARD PRO 4 Keith McMillen has been on the pioneering edge of multi-dimensional touch control for some time and their K-Board Pro 4 is the latest offering for keys players. It varies from the ROLI range in some key areas but explores some similar ideas. Each silicone key is a separate device, more akin to a traditional layout, so there’s no horizontal glide function. However, each key can modulate MIDI with pressure and movement - vertically or horizontally. There are also four programmable ribbon strips running along the top.
Those are just a few products breaking new ground in the keys arena. Head to their websites to learn more and watch some videos that explain things better than text on a page ever could, or better yet, suss out your local distributor and have a look in person. BY MICHAEL CUSACK
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Advice Columns PERCUSSION
The Alternate Single Stroke Roll NAMM 2017 Edition Thought I’d share with you, a concept that has excited, plagued and annoyed the daylights out of me for some time – Single Strokes. Not that hard right? No, not especially… unless of course you play them alternating between the hands and the feet. This concept isn’t new and some of you might have already got stuck into it at some point or another. For me, I’ve seen it done really well by a lot of my favourite drummers and it seems to be one of the things that I need in my playing. Why? I just think it’s cool, okay? If you haven’t seen Dave Weckl bust out this lick, you’re missing out.
THE IDEA The idea is to play single strokes (RLRL RLRL) between the hands and the feet; the combinations of which, are plentiful. The simplest form is Right Hand and Right Foot alternating. To get things going, you would very slowly start to practice on the snare and bass drum. It’s a familiar sound and as it gets faster, it’s a little easier to hear the phrase repeating. At this point, you can practice till the cows come home trying to get it blazingly quick but even if you do get it really fast, you may encounter the first major issue I did. I couldn’t play the lick when I needed it – in time and in context of the music. SUBDIVISIONS To make the concept become a more solid part of your playing, the best approach is basic subdivisions moving from eighth notes through to 32nd notes. The triplets are really fun to get going, feeling the reverse sticking on every alternate beat. It takes some getting used to though, and practicing with some kind of time feel or reference is recommended. Check out Figure A for the basic subdivisions and how the single strokes work over them. A GROOVE Another great way to approach this idea is using another limb to sustain a time feel (Figure B). In this case, the left hand is on the hi-hats playing quarter notes on the beat. The right hand and right foot play the alternating strokes/subdivision. Once you’re feeling fairly comfortable with this, moving the left hand onto the snare drum for the backbeat solidifies how the idea is really felt over the pulse. Since there are too many 28
things going on the snare drum, moving the right hand to the floor tom can simulate a pseudo double bass drum sounding groove. CONSTRAINTS I’m not going to lie; it took me ages to get this concept going. Maybe it was just myself as a player, but I did find that I had to really just sit there, repeating the sticking over and over before my brain allowed my body to maintain the motion at a higher speed. I did find that through the practice, there were certain constraints with this type of exercise when practicing. Bass Drum Pedal – Type/Brand of pedal and set up can drastically alter how effective you can be. You need the perfect combination of power and response. Heel Up/Down – I really tend to move between these and initially, heel down was more comfortable but only up to certain speed and dynamic level. Pedal Technique – Some players swivel their foot or use heel/toe technique, bounce off the head etc. All will have their impact on how the idea develops. Slacking Off – If I don’t practice the concept regularly, I find that I tend to lose the ability to play accurately quicker than other ideas/licks. Playing Surface – How tensioned you have the drums (bass included) will alter your response times and should be considered if you can’t get things faster. Usually, I’ve found it’s a foot issue first though – as least for me. Good luck! BY ADRIAN VIOLI
So, I’m sure you are all well aware by now that the NAMM 2017 show has just been and gone once again. It’s the reason why you’re reading Mixdown a little later this month, and the reason why there is so much new gear to talk about. 2017 looks like it is going to be a big year for many of the brands you love. With all the gear that there was to see this year in Anaheim, it was almost impossible to take it all in, but there were some standouts that will be taking the spotlight later in the year.
STANTON TURNTABLES ARE BACK In one of the busiest rooms upstairs at NAMM this year, amongst all the hubbub and clutter caused by a lot of Gibson guitars set up to be played and even more people trying to play them, there was a wall display of new gear from Stanton DJ including the very first look at their new range of turntables on offer. Many of you will have used Stanton turntables in the past, and I am fairly certain every DJ that has ever laid hands on a turntable will have used Stanton head shells or cartridges at some point, so it was great to see this name re-entering the world of the rotating platter. Stanton have gone with a ‘no nonsense’ approach to this new range, delivering performance and staying away from unnecessary bells and whistles. The ST.150 certainly looks like a worthy contender as a SL1200 replacement, and the STR8.150 is a nice option for those who prefer a straight tone-arm action. AND OF COURSE, PIONEER WERE THERE It wouldn’t be a product rundown of new DJ gear if we didn’t get a look into what Pioneer had on offer. But that’s the interesting thing, Pioneer weren’t really showcasing any new DJ controllers, having just released one in December. They instead chose to use NAMM 2017 to unveil their new Prophet styled synthesiser, which went mostly unnoticed by the DJ crowd. Denon DJ, however were there with a range of new products to unveil. Their new SC5000 deck looked pretty impressive with a large seven inch full colour HD display, built into a really sturdy case with an eight inch jog wheel for good measure. They also had a new mixer to show and a new direct drive turntable that looked like a 1200 with a neon light built in. It seems that everyone is ready to give vinyl one more crack. Whether it be for data discs to control software, or regular vinyl recordings, it was great to see yet another turntable making its way into the fold again this year. Of course, not to be left out, Technics released news of a new SL1210 model about two weeks after NAMM, showing
that they too understand that it was the DJ community that did so much for their product range and so were continuing to offer products to answer the needs of the market. MOMENTS OF NOTE It was great to see a healthy selection of new products from Gemini on display this year. I have owned and used Gemini gear for over twenty years now and it still routinely takes a beating and asks for more. The new PMX-10 mixer reminds me of why I bought Gemini gear in the first place. It combines a simple layout with a clever design and gives the user the tools they want without loads of flashy tricks. Plus, it comes in at a realistic price and a tough build. Another point to mention is the absence, once again, of Native Instruments, who seem to be making a habit of avoiding the big shows to spruik their wares. It seems the hardware and software giants from Germany prefer to stick to social media to create a buzz, focusing more on their end users’ opinions, rather than the industry folk who mill about at these things. So, whether that means nothing new is on the horizon for NI, or whether they are holding their cards close for a grand reveal later in the year is yet to be determined. We’ll just have to wait it out to see how they respond to the new releases from so many competitors. Now comes those painful few months where we all have to wait for the exciting new products announced at NAMM to find their way into the Australian marketplace. There are plenty more worthy of a mention that have not been covered here, too many in fact. In my three days in Anaheim I certainly wasn’t able to see everything on offer, so I too will have to wait to see what lands later in the year. BY ROB GEE
Recorded in Anaheim Continuing with the NAMM 2017 theme that this issue has obviously taken, it wouldn’t be a home studio discussion at the start of the year without looking at some of the new and exciting products that were on show in Anaheim. There were plenty of amazing toys on show this year for those of you with a love for expensive, vintage-styled microphone preamps and valve compressors. I could have filled a studio with all the gear that I couldn’t afford and generally needed to wipe the drool from my chin at the end of each day. But, aside from the delights of equipment that is possibly unrealistic for my actual needs, there was plenty to see that would be of use and most importantly, within budget.
UNIVERSAL DELIGHTS I think the first product that I have to mention was probably one of the worst kept secrets of this year’s show, with dealers already taking possession of stock before the announcement on Thursday morning. But, it was also one of the more noteworthy ones as Universal Audio unveiled the latest three additions to their Apollo range with the blackface Apollo Twin Mk II. This desktop interface brings UA’s Apollo range all in line with up to date preamps and conversion and allows it to integrate fully with the already available blackface Apollo rack units that have proven the quality of the new preamps. What this means is that those of you running larger rack systems can bring the Twin into the mix for smaller projects, yet still have it operate as a desktop controller and extra inputs in your bigger sessions. For home users looking for an interface upgrade, the new Apollo Twin offers Solo, Duo or Quad core options for UAD plugin processing in real-time in both the recording and mixing stages of creating your masterpiece. THE TEENS DO IT AGAIN The guys at Teenage Engineering certainly attracted a lot of attention this year with only a very small offering. But, as with all their products, size rarely matters; it’s about the cool factor, along with form and function. The release of the new OP-Z had a few people asking where the product was, as this miniature unit is about half the size of their ever popular OP-1 synthesiser, yet it boasts far more power and flexibility. This 16 track sequencer and synth engine has been labelled the ‘dream machine’ from a company that loves Helvetica and refuses to use capital letters in press releases, or websites or product sheets. For those of us that got a look in early, it is everything that a Teenage Engineering device promises and more. It is small, it does look like a toy, it won’t make you feel tough, but it does sound amazing. So, this is one to be on the lookout for later in the year, with this early showing really just a tease. A September release for the OP-Z has been mixdownmag.com.au
announced at this point, so you’ll just have to make do with the Pocket Operators or try to find an OP-1 for sale in the meantime. AKAI KEEP AT IT It has been around twenty years since I first laid hands on an Akai MPC, and although revolutionary the S1000 was too heavy to take anywhere and too painful to sequence. A lot has happened in those twenty years and Akai have grown the MPC range from strength to strength, moving into the computer audio world with their legendary product to give it even more power and control than the earlier models could ever have. So, it was great to see two new MPC models on show this year with the MPC Live and MPC X both turning a few heads. These units are a throwback to the MPCs of old, returning to a fully functioning standalone unit that no longer requires a computer to act as an engine. Akai did something that many manufacturers couldn’t deliver this year at NAMM, and gave us freedom from our computers. Of course, you can still harness the power of your computer DAW and plugins with the MPC standalone models, but to be able to create, product and perform with these without a reliance on a hard drive and operating system in a laptop is going to be a great pleasure for many users. Of course, these are but just a few of the great new releases on show this year. Presonus were showcasing their new Faderport 8 controller, Roland had a room of new toys and even Steinberg were not left out with a range of plug-in updates. I could fill the magazine several times over writing about the cool new products that we saw. So, unfortunately you’ll have to keep your eye on your local music stores for the new products as they begin to hit the shelves throughout the year. BY ROB GEE
Features SOUND ADVICE:
Using Spotify As An Independent Artist How To Make It Work For You While many musicians have understandably had mixed feelings towards Spotify, due to the amount of money that the streaming giant pays to record labels and artists in royalties, there is no denying that the platform is now one of the main ways in which millions of people discover music. Though several established artists like Prince or Taylor Swift have publicly decried the platform and refused to have their music available on it, the potential for independent musicians provided by the company is quite large. As with most technological tools, it’s all about making the product work for you.
GET SPOTTY For independent artists there are a few ways that you can get your music onto Spotify, but the easiest is to use a digital aggregator. There are several of these available, the most widely known being Soundcore and CD Baby, though several smaller agencies have appeared in recent years, such as the Melbourne based Ditto Music, who are able to offer a more tailored and hands-on approach than the larger companies. Once you have submitted all of your artwork, information and audio files to your chosen aggregator you will be able to select which companies you would like your music to be distributed to, including iTunes, TIDAL, Spotify and many others. It is important to get all of the information right, as it is extremely difficult to change song titles or sound files once they have been submitted to all of these companies. MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU Now that your music is on Spotify, it’s time to take control of your artist page, so that you can get the most amount of use from it as possible. When set up correctly, a Spotify artist page can be just as useful as a website, with links to sell music, merchandise and tickets, as well as automatically updated listings of upcoming shows. MAKE IT PRETTY It is therefore important to present your artist page as you would present your website or Facebook band page; you want 30
it to look good and represent the image of your act correctly. Though the cover artwork for the releases is supplied by your digital aggregator or record label, Spotify sources the artist images it uses at the top of the page, in other words the banner, from Allmusic. Anyone can submit their information, including images, to allmusic.com, which is also a useful database to be listed on for when people are searching for information on your act or releases in general. MAKE MONEY So now you have supplied Allmusic with the correct images and your Spotify page is looking good, and hopefully starting to attract traffic. Since we know that there’s not much money to be made from streaming royalties, it’s time to monetise that page by adding purchasable items. This is easily achieved by using BandPage, a platform that is also easily integrable with Facebook. Once you have signed up to Bandpage and created an artist page there you can use it to ‘create offers’, that will appear on your Spotify page once the two accounts are linked. These ‘offers’ can take the form of anything you would like to sell, most usefully merchandise, such as vinyl, CDs or apparel. As this is linked to the Bandpage, unlike with music sales you can set the price and receive the full amount yourself. You can use this tool to not only sell physical copies of your latest release, but to promote specials such as box sets or bundled packages, such as a record and t-shirt deal.
MAKE YOUR ONLINE FANS YOUR LIVE FANS By utilsing the popular concert listing database Songkick, you can have all of your upcoming shows listed on your Spotify page. This is a really useful way of turning those who have discovered you online into real life fans, as anyone can see when and where you are performing next, with dates located close to the listener appearing first. All you have to do is create an account on Songkick, enter the details of your shows and link the two accounts. Then bingo – you have once again turned music streams into actual money through ticket sales. ANALYSE THIS Another useful tool that is included in Spotify is its included analytics, which are available through their Fan Insights. Anyone with music on Spotify can access this, which can be done by following this link, allowing you to see the demographic information of the people who are spinning your tunes. Some of the other information available through Fan Insights include a visual breakdown of how many times your tracks have been played and playlisted, as well as what other artists the people who played them listened to. You are also able to compare your statistics to any other artist on Spotify, so you can keep a close eye on the competition. The potential this offers for learning who and where your fans are is extremely useful for building future publicity campaigns, tours and releases.
INCREASE YOUR FOLLOWS It is no exaggeration that Spotify playlists are now just as important as radio for helping audiences discover new artists. The triple j unearthed playlist is very popular not just in Australia but also overseas, and so the potential offered to unsigned acts is extremely valuable. Many people now treat the many regularly updated playlists that is offered both by trusted organisations such as Pitchfork, and by Spotify themselves, as radio stations. Several aggregators now offer playlist placement as part of their digital distribution services, which is something to consider when planning your music release. Another simple and effective way to build followers is to create your own playlists and share them through your social media channels. This is not only an engaging way to keep your listeners interested, but can also be a great way of creating cross promotion with other bands that are feature on your playlists, and helping to lead their fans to your Spotify page. BY ALEX WATTS
Features RECORDING IN THE AGE OF CONVENIENCE:
The Unique History of Damien Gerard Studios Back in the glory days, if you wanted to be in a band and make music there was a pretty straight path you had to take out of the garage. The first step was you and your mates had to get good. No matter how long it took, there was no way to fudge it, you just had to play everything thousands of times until it was worth spending actual money on putting all your energy and electricity on tape. Here in the age of Pro Tools we tend to unjustly glance over these tales of glory as folklore. However, there are still engineers around who have to not only keep up with that caliber of player, but also form their own ferocious skillset in order to become just as irreplaceable as the musicians they record. This is the depth of history and talent that reverberates through the dimly lit walls of Damien Gerard studios. Marshall Cullen bought into the business in 1985. The 16-channel recording set up and it’s satellite rehearsal rooms had been around for a few years, but it wasn’t until Cullen took it over that things started to really cook in there. When asked about his favourite projects to work on over his thirty-plus year career, he speaks the most fondly of doing demos for The Hoodoo Gurus’ classic Mars Needs Guitars and Blow Your Cool albums. “That was really the beginning of it all. They were absolutely dedicated musos, they weren’t just some young band, so I really got to learn a lot from them.” It was obviously a mutually beneficial pairing as The Gurus now rely on Cullen for their live sound; only recently he was riding faders for them at The Melbourne Zoo when Steve Van Zandt happened to drop in. In the late 80’s Cullen trained up now the chief engineer Russell Pilling, and traded up from the trusty 16-track to the jewel in the studios crown, their 1985 Soundcraft 2400 console. “People love that, everything runs through (it),” he states proudly and it seems that the timeless British warmth and clarity is what keeps bands and artists coming back. “Obviously we’ve taken all of that history and equipment from the start and just added to it.” Somewhere along the line they managed to pick up a 2” tape machine from the same year. Adding this to an already impressive list of mics and outboard gear, and some of the more comfortable looking studio furniture I’ve laid eyes on, you get the feeling that Damien Gerard Studios is less like work and more like home for everyone involved. Since then the empire has expanded exponentially. “Usually, if you’ve got a recording studio
you find you have a bit of down time and it’s probably a good idea to have a record label to fill that space.” Having instilled Pilling as chief engineer, Cullen turned his hand to other aspects of the music industry as a way to flex some entrepreneurial muscle. The 90’s saw him start Foghorn Records to help out bands coming through the studio that shared his vision and energy. “These days of course you can’t really make money out of a record label so we do more of a marketing thing. We can even print CDs if bands want them.” Never one to shy away from a good idea, the empire also stretched out to include Sounds Like Café, an ambient music and marketing enterprise aimed specifically at the hospitality industry. On top of all that he still makes his way doing live sound for bands, albeit bound to home soil more than he used to be. Long story short no one that operates under the Foghorn/ Damien Gerard umbrella is short of work, nor do they show signs of slowing down any time soon. As Cullen himself puts it, “originally I
thought ‘owning a studio would be a great way to retire from live stuff’ but it hasn’t really turned out that way.” There is a ‘no rest for the wicked’ kind of attitude about everything that happens in and around the studio that rings true of the fabled work ethic of those glory days. “You had to sort of fight with the sound a bit more. You really had to understand EQ and dynamics a lot better you know? You had to know it better than you can be taught in a course, and doing it day in day out it’s just the reality of it. It’s in your blood.” This heads down approach is more and more rare these days and to find such a rich seam of dedication and determination in the beating heart of Sydney is what keeps the whole team busier than ever. BY LUKE SHIELDS
THE ANALOGUE PROJECT by Audio-Technica
Heartland Records “Overnight Success” chortles Paul Cook, the unassuming, Kyuss t-shirt clad brains behind Heartland Records as he glances slyly sideways at twenty-five years worth of stories from behind the counter. All sarcasm aside, it is clear from the moment you step inside that Heartland is run by a man who has been able to not just maintain his love of music, especially the vinyl format, but be sustained by it. Pulling up stumps and shuffling around the corner to the Victoria Street address four years ago was a timely move for both the business and it’s owner. “That had kinda run its course you know; the walls were closing in on me,” he says of his original hole in a wall across from the Queen Victoria Market. Twenty years is a long time to stay in one place, and moving into a bigger floor space was an opportunity to expand the scope of the enterprise. What better time than with popular opinion swinging fortuitously back in the direction of the big, black disk. “People used to look in the door there and it sort of looked a bit bleak… I thought ‘I’m not going to do the same thing’,” and so shelves were filled with a wider variety of new and used vinyl, an extensive CD collection, select turntables and audio equipment as well as curios and oddments from just about every era of music history. Since then, Heartland has been steadily on the up hand in hand with the general populace’s refreshed love affair with the licorice pie. The customers have stayed just as weird though; our conversation was filled with stories of film companies wanting to buy records “by the meter”, customers stopping to mull their purchase over in the middle of the road, being unaware of the type of rig necessary to actually hear their new purchase and people throwing hundreds of dollars at one band just to figure out which song it was that’s been stuck in their head. Far from being the surly stereotype that he remembers from his youth, Cook seems to delight in reliving these instances as if the collection of stories was as important to him as the stock. He remains cautiously optimistic about the favorable upturn though. Sure the reign of CDs as preferred format of the 90s was rough, but there is the omnipresence of inept corporate price gouging that takes the sheen off what should be glory days. “I didn’t make as much money, but it was a hell of a lot easier” he remembers in reference to the ceaseless emails and re-issuing of legacy artists entire back catalogues that spew forth constantly from the dinosaurs of the industry. Not that it really fazes him, he’s not going mixdownmag.com.au
to let a healthy distrust of corporate greed get in the way of his absolute love of music. There’s a glint in his eye as he talks about some of his prized possessions, including an original pressing of Nirvana’s first 7” single ‘Love Buzz’ which, he’s sure to mention, does not live in the shop. Asked if there was one that got away he is realistic in the way only a true collector can be. “Nothing I regret really, I regret accidentally selling my copy of something but there’s not really that many things you can’t find again… If you really want (any particular record) you can just go on eBay, but I’m not really a big fan of doing that. I like to find things. Especially if you find it cheap.” Heartland is a place for the newly initiated and propeller-heads alike. “We have the second hand racks as well but most of our stuff’s new, I’m much more comfortable with that.” It’s quality over quantity with records as well as equipment, which is why he leans towards the Audio Technica gear when people come in looking for advice. “I just like them, I think they’re
very stylish” and they sell themselves, “If you’re gonna spend $300 on a (lesser brand) one you might as well get one that’ll last you 20 or 30 years.” So it’s a marriage of convenience and he knows that, as with everything in stock, he’s not going to sell you a dud and have you come back in for an argument. I personally have been digging through the racks at Heartland for a few years now and I really must say that it is refreshing to know that the man at the helm is as realistic, altruistic and in love with his trade as I’d hoped. The years have not dulled his interest one bit and it’s this simple joy that carries a business like this through drought and abundance. BY LUKE SHIELDS Heartland Records is located at 420-422 Victoria Street, North Melbourne. For more information visit heartlandrecords.com.au.
Features NAMM 2017:
Peter Hodgson’s NAMM Diary. Our resident guitar guru Peter Hodgson was on location at NAMM again this year, checking out all the new releases from the biggest names in guitar from all over the world. Another year, another NAMM. Once upon a time I never would have dreamed it would be possible to go to this annual orgy of musicalinstrument goodness. Now I’ve been to eight of ‘em and I look forward to it the way I used to look forward to Christmas. Beyond all the cool gear, it’s a chance to catch up with buddies, make new ones, and see incredible concerts. This year I spent much of my NAMM at the Seymour Duncan stall helping out with social media and artist relations stuff, so I had a slightly different perspective on the event this time around. Nevertheless, I still packed more new gear into my eyeballs than I could ever possibly chronicle. Here’s a little NAMM diary for ya.
THURSDAY As a massive Ibanez geek, the very first thing I did was head over to the Ibanez booth to check out the new Steve Vai Jem reissues. Remember the original Desert Sun Yellow, Shocking Pink and Loch Ness Green Jems? They’re back to mark their 30th anniversary, but this time featuring All Access Neck Joints and DiMarzio Evolution pickups. And they’re beautiful. Their vibrance really doesn’t come across in photos but they’re going to blow a lot of minds when people see them in person. I also zipped over to say hi to Perry Ormsby and Jon Sullivan, again showing their guitars together this year. Ormsby is really killing it with his customs and more affordable GTR line, and Sully displayed a bunch of guitars co-built with Grover Jackson. I look forward to seeing the continued growth of Ormsby. I also went over to Ernie Ball Music Man to meet St. Vincent and talk about her incredible signature guitar. It’s such a unique design, and it really speaks to Annie Clark’s creativity as an artist. If you get a chance to play one of these guitars, you have to try it. It was also great to see all the new John Petrucci Majesty models.
TOP: Peter & Mick Thompson of Slipknot, ABOVE FAR LEFT: Seymour Duncan, Cheap Trick’s Tom Peterson, Maricela Juarez. ABOVE LEFT: Ibanez 30th anniversary Steve Vai reissues. ABOVE: Kirk Hammett’s ESP model LEFT: Ormsby Goliath
FRIDAY Seymour Duncan himself was hand-winding Jimi Hendrix pickups on every day of NAMM, and a few times a day I interviewed him while he was doing so, to get some great stories about the time he spent with Jimi in 1968 and his thoughts on the pickup-makers’ art. Duncan’s a humble guy and I don’t think people realise just how many things he pioneers. He was making his own five-way pickup selector switches when he was still in his teens because you could only get three-position switches back then. I spent some time at Kiesel’s booth checking out their new Greg Howe and Chris Letchford signature models and their new tremolo option for the Vader headless guitar. There was also a mutliscale 8-string Vader that totally and utterly won my heart. I also bumped into Devin Townsend on this day. I’ve known Townsend for 20 years now, so it’s always great to catch up at NAMM. He’s touring here in May, so make sure you go along and check out his Framus signature guitar and Fishman pickups.
TOP: Peter with St Vincent. LEFT: Hamer Guitars are back. BELOW: Sully Stardust FAR BELOW: LTD Multiscale
SATURDAY As a huge Nuno Bettencourt fan, I took some time out today to wander over to Washburn and check out their N4 Vintage, one of my dream guitars. During the process I noticed that USM, Washburn’s owner, has acquired and revived the Hamer brand, which is great news. On the way back I bumped into Bettencourt himself, on his way to a signing. We had Mick Thomson of Slipknot do a signing at the Seymour Duncan booth this year, so I had to go make sure he was checked in and that security was arranged. Thompson is super professional and yet super relaxed and friendly, so it was great to have him hang out, take pics and sign stuff with fans. SUNDAY This was my main day to hang out and check out cool gear. Some highlights: LTD multiscale, ESP Kirk Hammett model with occult symbols, Schecter Robert Smith UltraCure with Bigsby, EVH 5150 replica guitar - this thing is gonna be massive, a PRS display including one of Neal Schon’s personal stage guitars, Line 6’s new Helix Native amp/effects software, Gibson’s amazing new S-Series of affordable USA-made guitars and the killer Brent Hinds Flying V from Epiphone, Misha Mansoor’s new Peavey Invective 120 USA-made valve amplifier, Acacia Guitars’ booth, they’ve just signed Aussie prog legend Dean Wells as a signature artist, Prestige Guitars, who are releasing a signature model guitar for Pantera’s Rex Brown. And with that, NAMM 2017 was over and my feet were killing me. BY PETER HODGSON mixdownmag.com.au
Road Tests TC ELECTRONIC Rush Booster Pedal Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au | RRP: $109
As part of TC Electronics’ ‘Smorgasbord of Tone’ series, the Rush Booster Pedal, like its brothers and sisters in the range, is designed to offer a simple and classic sound and functionality. A good booster pedal is a tool that most guitarists will find a need for in their arsenal, helping to push your signal when needed, whether it be to control variation between songs, between sections, or simply for a desired tone. BUILD The Rush is built like a tank. Wrapped in a diehard steel chassis, this pedal feels like it can take a beating and will stand not only being carried around for gigs, but being stomped on during the excitement of a performance. They casing is extremely sturdy, with an easily depressible on/off switch and one large plastic potentiometer for volume. The volume pot is weighted and contoured, making it feel easy to grasp even on a darkened stage where visibility may not be extraordinary, and with enough weight behind it so that you can properly judge the distance between the incremental volume adjustments you make. It is also of a sufficient size to make it perfect for foot tweaking, which is a definite bonus if you need to adjust parameters whilst playing. Measuring at 58 x 74 x 132 mm, perhaps it is a little bulkier than you might expect for a single function pedal, but at least it will
unaccompanied, which would obviously be different with a full band behind you. In fact, the Rush can boost up to 20dBs, so it is unlikely that you would find that this pedal cannot boost your volume high enough.
stand out when you need to quickly locate it amongst a crowded pedalboard. INS N’ OUTS I’m a fan of keeping things simple. As well as having just a regular ¼” input and output, the Rush has only two controls – volume, and on/off. The top mounted jacks are handy, as when placed on a board with other pedals from this range, or other pedals in general that are also top mounted, you can save space and the units will fit snugly near one another with the
cable pointed away from your feet. SOUND Presumably due to its clean analogue circuitry, The Rush does not give off any extra noise gremlins when switched on, unlike many other pedals of a similar price range. It also has true bypass, so it doesn’t colour your tone once switched off. As you would hope for in a booster pedal, this thing can go LOUD. I found that moving the dial to around 9 o’clock was more than enough when playing
With so much room to move, you can use the volume control of the Rush for subtle boosts or to make a big jump in sound and break up your amp. You can choose to either really push your amp, by placing it after your other gain stage pedals, or before them to get some extra dirty sounds out of your overdrive and distortion pedals. When used on its own or at the end of your chain this provides a solid line boost. Consequently, despite its simple appearance, there is actually quite a lot of tonal variation that you can achieve with this pedal by simply applying it slightly differently BY ALEX WATTS HITS •Solid construction • Does what it is designed for • Up to 20dB of power • Inclusive price point MISSES • The extra size may crowd your pedalboard
TC ELECTRONIC Forcefield Compressor Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au | RRP: $109
price tag. Even the colour scheme and graphic design of the logo evoke some kind of Soviet style practicality and simplicity, although this may or may not have been exactly the Danish company’s intention.
A good compression pedal is an extremely useful thing to have for guitarists who perform live, allowing the creation of diverse tonal and dynamic sections within your playing with ease. It is true however, that many musicians may not have a proper understanding of exactly what a compressor does or is operated, and consequently they are often used merely as boosters. This may be the perfect unit then for guitarists who are interested in experimenting with the functionality of a simple compressor without spending a large amount of money on it. POWER IN SIMPLICITY The Forcefield Compressor is part of TC Electronics’ ‘Smorgasbord of Tones’ range, which are designed to be classic sounding pedals with simple features aimed at the budget market. These units will not double as drum machines; they don’t have side chain inputs or the capability to store settings. They simply do what they say on the box and, thanks to the analogue circuitry and the on/off switch’s true bypass, they won’t rob you of any of your tone. CONTROL This pedal has three controls - four if you count the on/off switch. The ‘Sustain’ pot controls the amount of compression applied, which by default results in many of the notes becoming sustained, the ‘Attack’ controls how fast the compressor reacts, and the ‘Level’ allows some extra boost. 34
IT’S GOOD TO BE ACCESSIBLE Like the rest of the pedals in this range, the Forcefield has a top mounted input/ouput, so that the pedals can sit flush next to each other. This will save space on your board, although obviously a lot of other pedals are side mounted.
The ‘Level’ and ‘Sustain’ controls are related, as the more compression applied, the more you will need to make up for that lost gain. However, you can also simply push the level and use the pedal as a booster during solo sections. By playing with the amount of level you can either achieve a subtle amount of signal leveling, or push it further, thereby squashing your signal and adding sustain, which, again, can often be what you would want during a solo. The ‘Attack’ control has a large bearing over your overall sound – you can set it for a fast response for quick changes, or instead achieve a more open and organic
compression tone. There are no perceptible sounds that come from the unit itself when the noise floor is raised through added compression, which means that the analogue circuitry used is remarkably clean, leaving your signal untainted. LOOKS Take one look at this pedal and you will understand that simplicity and sturdiness are a big part of the design idea. Made from two pieces of steel, this pedal’s rugged construction means you won’t have to worry about treating it gently, despite its budget
CONCLUSION While it is true that this unit lacks some of the enjoyable characteristics of several of the big name and large price tag compressors, considering how much these pedals cost, it does remarkably well. The Forcefield can apply subtle amounts of compression as well as really flattening out your signal and smearing it with sustain. It certainly is made with an understanding of what a compressor is supposed to do and does that admirably. BY ALEX WATTS HITS • Solid construction • Highly affordable • Easy to use MISSES • No option to blend the compressed and dry signals mixdownmag.com.au
Road Tests MOOER Drummer Mini Pedal Jade Australia | jadeaustralia.com.au | RRP: $149.95
Mooer dropped into the world of pedal manufacture a few years ago without much hullabaloo at all. Their first wave of units, a checklist of super cheap clones of the most popular pedals on the market in tiny enclosures, caused shockwaves to tear throughout the industry on both sides of the exchange. People cottoned on quickly to the idea that you could now own that Tube Screamer sound for less than a hundred big ones, and the ‘not bad at all for the price’ reputation sees them sell like hotcakes to this day, with several other companies chasing their tails to whip together a half-way competitive, budget series of their own. Since then it’s been like Pandora opening her box; a seemingly endless stream of new micro pedals with all sorts of weird and wonderful sounds inside. Far from draining the well of sonic exploration, it seems Mooer have their eyes set further afield than first anticipated as they bring to life the new Micro Drummer drum machine. Yet another in a long line of achingly simple ideas, the Micro Drummer is a streamlined drum machine with dozens of patches in a slim-line stomp-box format. There are ten separate styles to choose from with everything from jazz, reggae, hard rock and heavy metal covered like a wet sock on top of a straight metronome. Within each style you have eleven different
modes and scales. Most of the patterns are in 4/4 but there are a few in 3/4, 6/8 and triplet beats if you need, and the Tempo setting has a patch with no accent for those of you who dare to tackle polyrhythms and unusual time signatures. Simply put, it’s everything a Dr. Rhythm does but shrunk down to Mooer’s specs. It might not be the single most essential piece of kit you ever own, but there is certainly a place for Mooer’s Micro Drummer. Whether you’re honing your craft like a ninja or your band’s drummer is on holiday, there is a very practical application for this little machine and I can foresee stumbling across a tutorial made by some smart-arse who has figured out how to wrestle it into an EDM powerhouse. Watch this space. In a world of good ideas it’s so hard to come up with a truly original one and the Micro Drummer is, to say the very least, original. patterns to play against. There are two different ways to adjust tap tempo settings as well as the Speed knob across the top and you can manually adjust the tone and volume of the beat so that it doesn’t compete with your signal as you shred through the buffered output. All the usual specs are there power wise, so you don’t have to do any fancy wiring to drop it into your board and it’s tidy enough a package
that even if you weren’t going to use it in a live situation, it’s not so obtrusive that it demands sacrificing other pedals’ real estate. For the practice-obsessed player amongst us, this pedal could be a real game changer. Learning their practical application within any style you like could offset some of the tedium of going over
BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS • Great for practicing against tempos. • Excellent tempo control, small and affordable. MISSES • Not essential for every player.
GALLIEN-KRUEGER Plex Bass Preamp Electric Factory | elfa.com.au | RRP: $699
It is safe to say that bass players often get overlooked in the world of effects pedals and this probably has a lot to do with the fact that they don’t try to hide behind a wall of effects to improve their sound. But, at the same time, there is always going to be some good use for a pedal that brings a little extra life into a live performance or studio session, and that is what GallienKrueger have aimed to deliver with the Plex preamp pedal. It is the ideal offering for the player who wants some additional tonal character and control without totally changing their sound. When you want that extra push to bring your instrument forward in the mix, or some added subtlety to keep it casual, the Plex will help to find you place in the sound and make your instrument sound its best. NOT JUST ANOTHER EQ PEDAL The Plex is a bit of a Swiss Army Knife for bass pedals in that it offers so much in the way of connectivity and applications. You get Auxiliary inputs, USB recording outputs, DI outputs, headphone outputs, an effects loop and more. It can become a rehearsal tool, and recording device, or simply stand tall as the workhorse it is between you bass and amplifier to give you great control over your tone. It even has the capabilities to be used as a re-amping device via the USB with the signal being passed back from your DAW into the Plex and then on to your amp. There isn’t a lot mixdownmag.com.au
and it all comes together quite nicely. The built-in chromatic tuner just finishes the package off nicely, meaning that you really don’t need much else except an amplifier. You could even get away with skipping the amp and going direct in if you have decent fold back monitoring. BY ROB GEE this unit can’t do. But best of all, it acts as a solid pedal for use in your signal chain to allow you to take complete control over your bass tone. DIAL IT IN The four-band EQ on the Plex gives you plenty of scope to take control of your sound, especially with Gallien-Krueger’s voicing options that drop a certain
characteristic to your signal right away. There’s a great range in each of the EQ controls, to the point where you will probably never want to wind them all the way up or down. On top of this, there is a subtle overdrive circuit included with both the ‘Gain’ and ‘Volume’ controls to give your sound some grit. Add to this the compressor for taming your dynamics and bringing your signal forward in the mix,
HITS • Plenty of options • Includes EQ, Overdrive and Compression • Classic Gallien-Krueger sound MISSES • It’s got everything, but is all that too much? 35
Road Tests MARSHALL Astoria Series Combo Amps Electric Factory | elfa.com.au | RRP: Custom: Combo $5499 Head $4599 Cab $1299 Dual: Combo $5699 Head $4899 Cab $1299 Classic: Combo $5299 Head $4399 Cab $1299
For some, the best way to move forward is to first take a good look at what’s behind you. That way you end up with a clear, objective view of your mistakes and/or take stock and garner confidence from a job well done. This concept is part of the reason why many people look to the classic, antique and vintage for tonal inspiration and why even the Goliaths of musical engineering faithfully recreate some of their oldest designs for generation after generation. Marshall Amplification has never been shy of their rich history and the new Astoria Series is a prime example of them using the past as a guiding light into the future. The rubric here is simple enough, bring the purists all the cleanliness, body and pizazz of tube driven, point-to-point wired combo amps of the 50s and 60s with a few ultra-modern innovations for the sake of ultimate functionality. So many designs have made just this promise and fallen short to varying degrees but Marshall have really taken their time with the design and honestly kicked it out of the park. There are three main roads into Astoria. The Classic boasts nothing but pure, unadulterated clean tone with incredible volume and throw – wired the good, old-fashioned way. The Custom is a step on from there, adding mod cons like footswitchable effects loop, extra tone shaping options and push-pull pots for even more body and brightness where needed. The Dual is the most souped up of the trio, piling on even more tonal options and an extra dollop of gain for good measure. All three employ a unique combination of point-to-point wiring in pillars of PCB, allowing modern engineering elements to
SONUUS Wahoo Wah/Filter Pedal Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au | RRP: $499
If there is one thing the digital age has in abundance it is options. Take social media for example, you can now manually choose your specific worldview from the comfort and safety of your own home. For the music world this has meant an extreme expansion of possibility, people are making afro-punk in the leafy, south eastern suburbs while Scandinavian kids make dustbowl Americana. Stylistic choices are no longer localised and it is now possible to switch from one instrument to another on a dime. This can be a double edged sword though, sure you’re dream sound is closer than ever before, but by the same token you really have to know what you’re looking for in order to avoid drowning in limitless potential. What does that all have to do with a Wah pedal you ask? Well it turns out that British effects maker Sonuus is using the vehicle of choice to revitalise the porn soundtrack staple for the modern player in the Wahoo Wah/Filter pedal.
that studio engineers loathe. There’s a healthy amount of super clean boost at the flick of a switch for when your turn comes to solo, as well as power attenuation via pulling up the Master knob, an effects send and return with a dedicated blend dial in the back and three jacks for any and every extension cabinet option on the market, all of which amounts to unprecedented versatility. Where most amps have a Presence knob at the end of the stack adding high mids to taste, Marshall have opted for what they’re calling ‘Edge control’ and I really found this an interesting bit of exploration. Rather than tweaking information to the tops, the Edge dials in a subtle amount of extra artifact and overtone, almost like a Q contour over the whole of the midrange, which juices up your tone with a bit of enticing, sugary sweetness that I never even realised I needed. sit comfortably alongside the old guard, meaning you really have the best of both worlds. First impressions count, especially in a build that plants its flag firmly in the uniqueness camp. Top mounted, brushed aluminium control panels leave room for the tasteful ‘oxblood’ Marshall logo, used briefly on some plexi models in the 60s, front and center across the face of the amp. Each tier is the series is designated a colour; green and cream for the Classic, red and cream for the Custom and blue and cream for the Dual, meaning that they are all dressed to express their life-of-the-party personality inside. There’s a distinct ‘Elvis in a hotrod’ attitude to the aesthetic but they are by no means limited to that tired, old rockabilly schtick.
Boasting years of experience at various other companies, the engineers behind Sonuus are keenly focused on unhindered innovation through technological advancement. Their other products are MIDI compatible and the team has poured their combined knowledge into making as robust and user-friendly machines as possible. The Wahoo is an attempt to exhaust the length and breadth of filter and expression pedal based sounds. They looked to an extensive collection of analogue synths for the inspiration behind their faithful renditions of much loved envelope, LFO, step and various other filter patches. The wah side of the CPU is a veritable catalogue of voicings – covering everything from 70s Crybaby sweep to ultra-modern, selfoscillating and resonant vowel sounds. There are 100 factory patches worth of possibility for you to explore before you even get to the user presets and to be honest you’d be hard pressed to need much more. You can sculpt just about every aspect of the sound from high and low frequency ceiling and Q rate to wet/dry amounts to oscillator tempos; even to the point of setting an auto-wah to ONLY attach itself to bent notes as you play them. Not only that, but there are two
I spent the most time playing around with the Custom and was deeply satisfied with the maneuverability in the tone stack. The Celestion Creamback peering out from the half closed rear of the enclosure goes a long way to ensuring all the rounded warmth of the vintage voicing is as healthy as it should be. An interesting combination of tubes, one 12AX7 in the preamp, a GZ34 rectifier and a KT26 on the way out, lend a huge amount of originality without veering too far into alien territory. With everything at noon and just the Gain and Master at play, you have all the crispy, British clip that players crave dialed in just the way you like it. Pull the Gain knob up and you add a massive amount of body to the tone without muddying up proceedings and the Treble knob pulls up to unlock shimmering brightness without any of the icy cackle
Marshall’s Astoria series is just what the doctor ordered, a series of amps that satisfies the needs of both the super snobby vintage purist and the modern option addict alike. Schmick looks and personality to match, there is no limit to the fun you’ll have with these guys in your life. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS • Honest dedication to quality vintage tonality and versatility. Personality in spades. MISSES • Little on the heavy side and the look is not for everyone.
filter engines to mould independently of each other, so the possibilities are literally endless. Setting and saving everything is easier than with most workstation style rigs and you also have the option of sculpting sounds on your computer via the USB port, meaning that usability is as high as it could possibly be. It also doesn’t stray too far from the essential goal either. None of the sounds have that ‘cool, but what would I ever use that for’ novelty factor that wastes room on too many units. The patent pending expression pedal design is stiffer than some but smoother and more reliable than any I’ve tried, and with no string to replace or grease in the cogs it is as low maintenance as it is thoroughly road ready. It’s an understandable impulse to try to be everything to everyone, especially where sales are concerned, but in an era where the tonal horizon is wider and farther than ever, it’s a task that few live up to. However, the Sonuus Wahoo is as close as they come to being that be all and end all for wah and filter fanatics. BY LUKE SHIELDS
HITS • Limitless tonal potential and unadulterated functionality. MISSES • Big footprint.
MXL DX-2 Dual Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au | RRP: $349
I have always grumbled about guitarists who spend so much money on not only their guitar, but their amp, valves, speakers, effects, cables and haircuts all in an effort to chase that perfect tone. Funnily enough, so many of these players forget about this all important tone once it leaves their amp’s speakers and don’t concern themselves with how it gets to the audience. Why even bother if you are going to let it get ruined with the character of a beaten up old microphone that some engineer puts in front of your cabinet. Every guitarist should care about the microphone used on their guitar sound and so, it would make sense that every guitarist should get the right microphone to retain their tone. TWO IN ONE As it is often hard to pin the right guitar
DV MARK Frank Gambale Signiature FG212 Speaker Box CMC Music Australia | cmcmusic.com.au | RRP: $1295
The speaker cabinet has always been the unsung hero of the sonic spectrum. At one time or another every tone chaser is bound to go wandering down the rabbit hole only to find themselves lost in a thicket of slanted vs. straight, 4x10, 2x12, open vs. closed back decisions. So few choices are more important as this one, as your cabinet is the last line of defense against melodic mediocrity, and nothing can let an amp head, or indeed an entire performance down like a mismatched or poorly placed set of speakers. DV Mark have a few things going for them as a manufacturer of truly unique, high quality musical equipment. In finding a speaker cabinet to match the definitive characteristics of their Frank Gambale signature series
MARTINEZ MTT-15 MOP Traveller Guitar Jade Australia | jadeaustralia.com.au | RRP: $249
tone with just one microphone, MXL have created the DX-2, a dual diaphragm cardioid dynamic microphone for just this purpose. Both capsules are mounted in a side address fashion so you can simply hang the microphone over you amp, removing one microphone stand from an already crowded stage and placing the capsules in the right proximity to the speaker for them to work effectively. The first capsule is a little larger than the second and so offers a wider range of sound with more bottom end and a high frequency bite that is ideal with both clean and overdriven sound. The second capsule is slightly smaller and has a more focused, mid-centric tone that pushes a guitar sound forward in the mix. BLEND AWAY Just as most guitars offer the ability to choose between the tones from the different pickups, the DX-2 allows you to choose between the two capsules. But it is not just an On/Off situation, as a completely variable knob allows you to blend between the two capsules to find the perfect balance for you combination of amplifier, pedals and guitar. One side greatly opens up the EQ
range and delivers noticeably lower end to the sound, the other focuses the mid-range to a point that undoes a lot of the scooped EQs on a lot of amplifiers. Finding the balance is going to be a personal thing, and this is why MXL made this microphone, so you can get the sound you want from you amp to truly represent what you want out the front. There is no point spending a lot of money to have a great stage sound if the audience doesn’t hear it. The DX-2 will help you get your sound heard, the way you want it heard.
Multiamps, they left absolutely no stone unturned. As such the FG212 slanted cab is every bit the brawn to the Multiamp FG’s brains.
face of the top speaker bolsters the mid to high frequency range for on stage presence and clarity. The speakers themselves are DV Mark’s own cream backed neo-classic design powered by their patented, ultra-lightweight neodymium magnets. These are mainly responsible for the way the whole cabinet feels like it is cleaning up the wayward artifacts and ugly overtones that amps can give off unintentionally, almost like it’s looking out for you like a friend with a good set of ears.
One thing DV Mark does particularly well is a uniquely sized cabinet. The first two things you notice about this build is its short, thin stature coupled with just how incredibly light it is. Weighing in at a miniscule 11.4kg it’s easier than carrying a case of beer and I found I could lift it out of the box with one hand, a relief to anyone who has spent years lugging huge black boxes up flights of stairs. This comes at no sacrifice to capability however, -it’s built to handle 300 watts RMS and with two 8-ohm parallel inputs, that bridge if you only need one. It’ll handle just about anything you can throw at it. Much like its companion, it’s a stylish looking thing too. The tolex is the same cream and black as the head on a classy, almost art deco diagonal across the sides. The open lower half of the back serves to further enhance your low end, while the tidy angle of the slanted Nothing ruins a holiday quicker than one of two things. The first, and most maligned, is dodgy street food, but we won’t go into that here, the other is homesickness. You could be anywhere in the world, surrounded by the most fascinating landscape on the face of the earth and something will remind you of any miniscule detail of where you came from and all of a sudden you’ll pine for home more than Dorothy clicking her heels together. For some, a simple phone call or picture of a partner or pet is enough to keep them gazing back into the wild, blue yonder but what do you do if the thing you miss the most is your beloved six-string? Martinez think the answer lies in their extensive range of small-scale traveller guitars, particularly the MTT-15 Traveller. In a lot of ways Martinez are the unsung heroes of the Australian guitar market. Their builds are in just about every rock shop in the country. Having hit a stride in the late ‘90s on the more budget conscious rung of the ladder, their Heidelberg home base has kept a steady tide of quality instruments flowing into the market since and, as opposed to going up against juggernauts like Cole Clark and Maton, they have well and truly carved a comfortable
BY ROB GEE HITS • Variable tone control • Dual capsule for different guitar and amp combinations • Side address for easy placement on crowded stages MISSES • It’s yet another tone adjustment for guitarists to endlessly ponder
It may not be as imposing as a full stack to stand in front of, but what DV Mark’s FG212 lacks in stature it more than makes up for in portability, stamina and usability. It’s not there to flatten you or your audience as much as it is there to floor them with unprecedented clarity, headroom and individuality that few other cabs can boast. Sheer might gives way to style and substance like never before, and it makes for a refreshing change. BY LUKE SHIELDS
niche for themselves as the first port of call for countless new and not-so-new Australian players. No stranger to the parlor, ¾ scale and alternate sizing game, Martinez have yet again come up with a surefire backpacker’s delight in their new MTT-15 MOP model. On first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of optical illusion, as there is very little about the visage of this guitar to remind you of how small it is. The body is a classic flattop shape with the detailing and filigree dialed back to a sleek minimum. The MOP in the call sign stands for ‘Mahogany Open Pore’ which is what the back and sides are made of, the dark nature of the wood itself lending some much needed body to balance out the lack of room in the resonating cavity. Adding to this, the low density lends a touch of lightness to the tonality that reaches farther into your playing to bring out a lively and player friendly personality. The thing that I liked the most about it aside from the details is the fact that it doesn’t feel like a throwaway hunk of wood or a placeholder to make you stop missing your
HITS • Lightweight yet solid construction, neat and tidy tonality. MISSES • Not as much sheer volume as some people might look for in a cab. main guitar. It plays like it’s ready to travel with you, as opposed to being carried around, and has just enough personality, both tonally and where playability is concerned, that you’d forget you’re away from home at all. I have a lot of time for companies whose job it is to give people their first foray into the world of making music. Martinez in particular strike me as a company who take the ‘affordable guitar’ mantle very seriously and steer well clear of skimping on the experience of playing a great guitar for the sake of saving a few quick bucks. The MTT-15 MOP Traveller is another fine example of a guitar that will go everywhere with you even if you’ve only just learned to play as a cure for loneliness. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS • A good thing that comes in a small package. MISSES • You might look funny holding it.
Road Tests MXL A-5S Snare Drum Microphone
A-5T Tom Drum Microphone
Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au | RRP: $179
Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au | RRP: $179
There are plenty of ‘do-it-all’ microphones that people use for a range of drum applications in order to get the job done. But, the problem with these microphones is that they are often the same ones being used on guitar amplifiers, as well as a host of other instruments too. So, why would you use a guitar microphone on a drum when both sound sources are vastly different in volume, tone and dynamics? If you really want to do your drum sound justice, then considering a microphone that is designed for the purpose is going to be the best starting point, particularly for the snare drum. That is why the MXL A-5S is such a good addition to any microphone kit, given that it is purposely voiced for a snare sound.
When you use microphones in a drum kit, the first place to start is with a pair of overhead microphones to capture the stereo spread of the entire kit. This, in theory, should get you a complete sound, with all the drums in the kit falling within the range of these two microphones. But, it is for added definition and depth of frequency response that we will almost always see microphones on all the drums in a kit along with the hi-hats too. But of course, no one microphone is properly suited to the task of capturing every drum’s different characteristics up close, so a different tool is needed for each application. The one drum, or section of drums, that often gets overlooked is the toms, but MXL have changed that with the A-5T dynamic tom drum microphone.
BANG THE DRUM I don’t think I need to point out just how different the sound of a snare drum is to the toms or the kick drum. It has a unique characteristic that makes it such an integral sound of most drum kits and one that you want to stand out from all the others. The MXL A-5S comes into play as a dynamic microphone that is voiced just for this purpose. It is capable of extremely high sound pressure levels, allowing it to be set up very close to the drum head and used with even the heaviest of hitters. Hitting the snare and listening will tell you what I am banging on about. The A-5S delivers a warm, punchy mid-range with plenty of sizzle that grabs the snare sound and propels it forward in the mix. It’s great how it captures so much definition and clarity, allowing you to peel back any unwanted frequencies to match it up with the other drum sounds in the kit. GIG READY The easy mounting ring that is included allows for the A-5S to be snapped onto the
side rim of a snare in a moment and a quick adjustment of the capsule’s angle means you are all set to go. The rugged housing is strong enough to take the occasional wild stick shot, although it can’t do much to reject the big sound when this does happen. It’s tighter-than-usual cardioid pickup pattern ensures there is plenty of side rejection from other sound sources, but doesn’t reject the sound of a stick cracking across the casing. But, you can’t win them all. HITS • Great voicing for use on snare drums • Compact, drum mounted dynamic microphone • Capable of handling very high sound pressure levels MISSES • A little limited with use on other instruments
TIGHT AND PUNCHY The toms are often the hardest drums to tune properly and can create the most problems with resonant issues, so it only makes sense that you should have a specific microphone designed for this purpose. The tricky part is that you get a crisp higher mid-range from the attack of a tom with a booming bottom end to follow, so you need a microphone that will capture all of this. Set up fairly close to the top head of a rack tom, the A-5T does just that quite well. I find it better suited to smaller toms in the 10 to 13 inch range-most of your rack toms in fusion style kits-and wasn’t as full sounding with larger floor toms, although it still delivered plenty of punch. That is what you want from your toms-a full, warm decay that follows a sharp, punchy attack to the note.
with, especially if you are placing them on every tom around a kit. They come with drum mounting clamps, so you don’t have to use a stand for every one, which saves on space and setup time. In the mix, they are fairly forgiving, as they seem to sit in there nicely without too much EQ work required unless you have a loud stage that needs taming. And when you think of the purpose of every microphone on a kit beyond the overheads, these adhere to the task at hand, in delivering more definition and clarity to each individual drum on the rack. They’re ideal for the engineer or drummer on a budget that wants to bring more life to the live of recorded sound of a drum kit and they don’t require a degree in order to get a decent sound out of them. BY ROB GEE HITS • Warm and dynamic sound for to drum use. • Compact, drum mounted dynamic microphone • Capable of handling very high sound pressure levels
GIG READY These are a fairly easy microphones to work
MISSES • Not so good on larger floor toms
Ultimately this is an amp built for shredders by one of their own; you won’t likely see some scummy punk band playing one of these heads at a warehouse party. It’s an amp built for people who read the manual first, people who like to know the ins and outs of their equipment as much as they know how to play it. For some this may mean that the interface can be quite fiddly. Take a deep breath and think about what you’re doing, and there is quite a lot that the Multiamp FG can offer. MIDI and USB compatible, the SD card slot allows you to expand the already hefty CPU meaning it’s a powerful unit in more way than just the wattage. With its sleek, black and cream façade, enormous digital capacity and considered
tonal range, the DV Mark Multiamp FG is a wise choice for the brainy player in all of us. If you know what you’re asking and just the right way to ask, there’s no telling the answers that you’ll get.
DV MARK Multiamp FG CMC Music Australia | cmcmusic.com.au | RRP: $2895
Nothing splits a room full of guitar players in two quite the way a conversation about modeling amps does. When talk turns to these tonal smorgasbords you’ll find the gulf between which side of the argument considers themselves the purists is never wider with both parties at the mercy of points of various validity and relevance. Love them of hate them, the steady march of technological advancement has found no smoother passage than the digitized, option rich path carved by companies like DV Mark who confidently tread that route time and time again. Aussie Jazz Fusion legend and star of any number of instructional, ‘shredder’ videos from the late 80s/early 90s, Frank Gambale has long been a fully-fledged member of both the Mark World and the modeling amp fraternity. It comes as no surprise that his signature is emblazoned on the faceplate of the DV Mark Multiamp FG. This 250-watt, black and cream mean machine is packed to the rafters with all of Gambale’s favourite effects. The crunch and lead tones are searing yet creamy, clean channel is brisk 38
with sky-high headroom and the chorus and vibrato patches full of that woozy, drunken feel that some of you may recognise from trying to keep up with his sweep picking exercises. The functionality is simple enough on paper. You essentially start out with a choice of three channels, clean, dirty and more dirty, add virtual pedals to a chain on the display and send it out the other side. All the usual suspects appear, the reverb is a classic dark hall that you can lengthen and colour to your heart’s content, delay along the DD5/7 line, deep and rich chorus and vibrato tones and a few secret essentials like noise gates, pads et al. With the added bonus of a fully programmable speaker cabinet simulator before the final output stage there’s more subtlety and pliability in these presets than most other modelers and it’s all peppered liberally with Gambale’s particular sense of cleanliness and considered order. That’s not a limitation, more like a promise that you’ll never find yourself lost in a messy, haywire cacophony. He’s even prepared 20 of his favourite patches for you as a starting point.
BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS • Impressive CPU and power capability and considered tonal range. MISSES • Little on the fiddly side and changing presets on the fly can be quite a slow process. mixdownmag.com.au
Road Tests FENDER American Professional Stratocaster Fender Australia | fender.com.au | RRP: $3399
The hallmarks of an American-made Fender Stratocaster will forever be a classic combination, embraced by guitarists, and imitated by competitors. There’s no going past the versatility of three quality singlecoil pickups, that classic double-cutaway body shape and a vibrato bridge. With rumours mounting in late 2016 that Fender was planning to discontinue the production of the American Standard Stratocaster, a sense of panic was unleashed amongst the guitar community. What we weren’t aware of at the time, however, was that Fender were planning to unveil a new Strat – the American Professional Stratocaster. It’s with this new model that Fender have both honoured and enhanced that of its predecessors – most notably with the instalment of newly developed pickups. For this reason alone it’s a welcomed upgrade from what we have seen in the past. MODERN MENTALITY Before trying the American Pro Strat on for size, it’s worth sitting back and admiring the nuanced and finely constructed instrument. The alder body is finished in a rich, newly applied Antique Olive – my pick of the 12 twelve colours on offer with this particular model. A maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, and a jet black pickguard round out the marvellous make. A key difference between the Standard
Strat and the Pro Strat is the neck shape. Instead of the former ‘Modern C’-shaped neck, The Pro is equipped with a ‘Deep C’ neck that sits between a ‘Modern C’ and a ‘U’ in terms of shape. The extra depth and the narrow tall fret size, a deviation from the previously medium jumbo size, are contoured to provide extra hold and control. The playing experience as a result becomes one characterised by precision and a superior level of control, with the fret size an avenue for accuracy when playing lead, and an enabler for complex chord phrasing’s when working on rhythm. The American Pro Strat feels like a modern guitar; it’s light and streamlined, designed with a tapered body that hugs the torso. And it’s housed in a new ‘elite’ moulded case with TSA-friendly latches, which is a nice touch. Important, though, is the fact that none of these construction-related alterations are too drastic. They much rather represent an upgrade to previous models. A NEW TONAL STRATOSPHERE The biggest design shift with the Pro takes
place where it matters most – the pickups. Replacing Custom Shop varieties are three V-Mod Single-Coil Strat pickups, designed by the one and only Tim Shaw. He’s responsible for producing the now infamous Shaw PAF pickups found in higher-end Gibson guitars in the early to mid ‘80s. The results, as one would expect, are positive. On the bridge pickup we get a sweet clarity and great articulation, particularly on the highs. There’s some classically rewarding cleans here, yet the dynamic response also means there’s some bite on offer with elevated gain. Pickup positions two and four touch on the quack tones that we have become so accustomed to from a Strat. From position two to the Middle position, and finally position four, the chime-y, glistening tonal character of the guitar really takes shape. And then once you hit position four and the Neck Position a broader roundness takes over, perfect for playing blues, or for even adding bellowing colouration with high OD settings. Overseeing the guitar’s entire tonal character is a treble-bleed circuit that upholds tone at any level – meaning you can
play at any volume without sacrificing tone. CONCLUSION With newly developed pickups, improvements in construction and design, this new version of an old classic is a testament to the ongoing success of Fender. Having laid the foundation for electric guitar manufacturing, they continue to stay ahead of the kerb with a keen thirst for refining and enhancing the end product. BY CHRIS SCOTT HITS • Tim Shaw V-Mod pickups • ‘Deep C’ neck shape for greater control • Really like the new colours – especially the Antique Olive MISSES • Couldn’t find anything bad to say about this wonderful guitar
FENDER American Professional Telecaster Deluxe HH Shawbucker Fender Australia | fender.com.au | RRP: $3399
Fender is a guitar manufacturer always excited by the prospect of entering new ground, lead by a team intently focused on what will come next. Hence the decision late last year to discontinue their American Standard Series line of guitars, and to replace it with the freshly inspired American Professional Series. Rather than resting on their laurels, with this shift in production Fender have provided us with a newly evolved Tele and Strat, along with the addition of three new models – one which is the American Professional Telecaster Deluxe Shawbucker. This guitar here is an ode to The Deluxe of the ‘70s – when Fender made their first foray into the world of humbucker pickups – and is a reinvigorated upgrade of the Classic Series ’72 Telecaster Deluxe that the company released in 2004. Like the entire American Professional Series, this Tele Deluxe comes with new pickups, a new neck shape and a treble-bleed tone circuit – and as such, a whole lot of intrigue. ROAD WORTHY, ROCK READY The immediate impression of the Tele Deluxe is that it’s a compact, inherently well-made guitar that’s tour ready. The three-colour sunburst and three-ply black pickguard on the alder body impart a real rock sensibility. Aesthetically it looks beefed up, while on the contrary it’s quite light and streamlined. mixdownmag.com.au
The maple neck, rosewood fingerboard and white dot inlays are a most welcomed classic combination. The satin urethane finish on the back of the neck results in a stark, natural looking surface that brings to the fore a touch of class – in fact, class is a good way to describe the entire make. A significant change from a construction point of view is the implementation of a ‘Deep C’ neck shape, and a narrow tall fret size, as opposed to Fender’s previously customary ‘Modern C’ neck shape and medium jumbo fret size. As a result the neck on this Tele Deluxe ShawBucker fills up the hand a little more than previous models, while the taller frets allow you to move up and down the fretboard a little more easily, and make bending slightly easier with the extra height. Overall these two changes provide smooth playability. BUCKING THE TREND As its name suggests, the Deluxe Tele HH ShawBucker employs two ShawBucker humbucking pickups. It’s the addition of these new pickups that truly brings new life to this reinvigorated guitar model. With the use of these newly designed
humbuckers that classic Tele bite and twang is underpinned by a greater breadth of sonic frequencies – most specifically, a greater low-end presence. These are vintage-voiced humbuckers characterised by warmth and a richer tonal palette. On the bridge pickup there’s the brightness and liveliness you would expect with a Tele, yet for better or worse it’s a slight shift away from the all out bite and twang we have come to expect from a Tele. When rolling back the Tone knob from 10 to around seven, this guitar can deliver a punch-y high end with a rounder mid and low-end presence. With the inclusion of individual Tone and Volume knobs dedicated to each humbucker, it’s able to summon a plethora of sounds. Importantly though, this deeper tone hasn’t sacrificed that seductive tele heat – all that is needed is some OD, and the bridge pickup can nail anything from crunch and growl, to a fuzz-like burn. On the neck pickup the greater girth and warmth is prominent, enabling the application of blues and jazz style playing. While cranked up gain and drive allow for a dynamic distortion and, if desired, some more menacing OD tones. With the treble-
bleed circuit, which acts to retain high-end clarity when adjusting volume, there’s no thinning of high when playing on different volume settings. A NEW POINT OF ATTACK The new Tele Deluxe is equipped with a powerful new tone, that’s both dynamic and versatile. It’s an important addition to the Fender family that will be embraced by guitarists looking for a greater tonal breadth to go along with all of the classic Tele sound. BY CHRIS SCOTT HITS • Redesigned ShawBuckers offer a new perspective on the Tele sound • New neck shape and fret size offer improved playability • It’s a classy looking guitar MISSES • Shift in tone may not appeal to Tele purists
Road Tests PRESONUS Faderport 8 Mix Production Controller Link Audio | linkaudio.com.au | Expect to Pay: $799
easily by simply clicking on a channel with your mouse, making it easy to lose track of what is going on at your fingertips. The scribble strips keep you in the loop, especially when you jump through entire banks of channels to adjust a new one.
I first started using one of the original PreSonus FaderPorts about eight years ago and was immediately drawn to just how much it improved my workflow. Right away I used the computer’s mouse a lot less and didn’t have to remember as many keyboard shortcuts. For a ProTools user, it’s always a good thing to be able to drop a few shortcuts from the memory bank to make way for the other eight dozen that you need to use, so the FaderPort was a real blessing. But that was the humble, compact device that eight years ago kept me happy, nestled in amongst the mix bus of my analogue console. Things have changed since then and I rarely sit at the large console now, working mostly form a couple of other computers, more in the box, yet I still need that ‘hands on’ workflow. I got to run my hands over the newest member of the PreSonus family at NAMM this year, but luckily I was able to spend some more time with the FaderPort 8 upon my return. AT YOUR FINGERTIPS For all my years using the original FaderPort, I never had any problems with it and would have continued to use it had my workflow requirements not changed so dramatically. I can attest to the build quality, having punished the rotary encoder, faders and most of the buttons on a daily basis – only ever having issues when I updated computer systems and had to get drivers to be happy once again. Other than that, it was and still is a great unit. So, the introduction of the FaderPort 8 this year was a real treat to discover, as it now offers what the original was lacking, plus a little extra too. For those of you looking to work more within the box, but still want to maintain some hands on workflow, this is a great
MERIS Mercury7 500 Series Reverb Studio Connections | studioconnections.com.au | RRP: $799
Well, this is the second 500 series module from Meris that I have had the pleasure of messing around with and again, these guys have not failed to impress. There are plenty of reverb plug-ins available that will suck the power from your computer and slow down performance greatly, whilst still not offering quite what you want in control and creative input like this unit does. Being a 500 series rack module, you need never worry about the Mercury7 chewing up your RAM and you can use it in a number of ways within your signal path to create some truly ethereal sounds that are more musical than you might have thought a reverb could be. MORE THAN JUST A PLATE I am often guilty of just jumping to a favourite plate reverb and pulling up some standard settings before making it fit in a mix so that the reverb really doesn’t stand out at all. And if that is what you are looking for, the Mercury7 is probably not for you. But for many of you who 40
unit that feels at home on any desktop, no matter what computer setup you are running. It’s a good size, allowing enough space for all the controllers to be carefully laid out for optimum access, but not being so big that you won’t fit it on your desk. The curved from panel is great too, offering a comfortable rest for your hands when working through long sessions mixing. As far as ergonomics go, this is a nicely designed unit. I wasn’t a fan of the placement of the big knob on the right side of the unit, and this isn’t the fault of the PreSonus designers in any way, it is more to do with me still being very much used to the layout of the smaller model. That said, everything was in a slightly different location, so it was a little off-putting to begin with, but one soon got the hang of the
new layout. It all works well; even though I sometimes think it would be good to have all the transport controls under the left hand while the right hand rides the mouse.
understand how a reverb device can be used as an instrument to give more life to your music, you will love what can be achieved with the Mercury7. The two reverbs on offer are the Plate and Cathedral setting, but they offer far more than the titles suggest. As with other Meris modules, the knobs and buttons generally have multi-functions with the addition of an alt key that wildly opens up the possibilities within the unit. Furthermore, a pair of Mercury7s can be linked with a stereo linking cable so the second unit’s controls slave off the first’s for stereo applications.
my favourite part and one that made me want to listen to the reverb and not really pay any attention to the notes from which it was created. The ability to have the decaying sound vary in pitch is brilliant; especially the Pitch Down and Pitch Up features which have the notes drift off in a dreamscape of colour. It sounds like a Replicant was walking into the room; the effect comes that close to the sounds from the film. If you don’t own a 500 series rack, this device could well be the tipping point to get one into your studio. After you hear what it can do, you will understand that the reverb tank is more than just a bunch of springs.
TAKING A LISTEN This is a reverb device that needs to be heard to be understood. It is iincrebibly musical and offers so much variety that you will most likely waste days just listening to the sounds it can create. In a design that was inspired by the reverbs used in Vangelis’s soundtrack to Blade Runner, you can take control of every stage of the reverb from the pre-delay right up to the last moment of the decay. The Space Decay control at the top of the unit really enhances this feature when combined with the Pitch Vector control. This was
MORE POWER Of course, the big difference, aside from a clever workflow integration, and the big knob and additional buttons for more control is… yes, there are eight faders on the FaderPort 8, as the name suggests. There is still only one pan pot encoder, but it is all that is needed really, as you never really adjust multiple pan pots at one time. Each motorized fader has an LED scribble strip above it to relay information back from your DAW so you know exactly what you are controlling. This is great given that you can jump from one channel to the next
Setting up the unit is fairly simple, with a quick install of drivers and applying the correct setting to your DAW software and it is fully functioning without the need to map out any features. The faders snap into position quickly and quietly when you jump from one bank to the next, so you are always in the right place when adjusting volume levels. The big, prominent transport controls on the lower right side of the unit make it so easy to jump around through your session with a reduced use of the mouse. All the buttons have that familiar firm snap to them, so I have no doubts in their ability to go the distance and, aside from my personal dislike of one knob’s placement, I have to say this is really an excellent controller that will improve your workflow no matter what you do with your DAW. BY ROB GEE
HITS • Easy setup for great software control • Solid build and ergonomic layout • Motorized faders are just so much fun to play with MISSES • Nothing worth mentioning again
BY ROB GEE
HITS • Unlimited reverb possibilities • Amazing clarity in the mix • Spot on latency from the analogue mix of wet and dry MISSES • Not everyone owns a 500 series rack mixdownmag.com.au
Show & Tell Wil Wagner Of The Smith Street Band What piece of equipment do you have to show us today? I have a 1976 Fernandes Stratocaster copy How did you come across this particular item? I bought it from Music Swop Shop in Melbourne What is it that you like so much about it? I love old Japanese guitars, I have a gold top copy, a les Paul Jnr copy and another strat. This one leapt out at me in the store because it has p-90s instead of the normal strat pick ups. I love the combination of the natural stratocaster jangle with the thickness of a p-90s neck pick up. This guitar sounds to me how I always wanted a jazzmaster to sound, jangly and punchy but with a nice fat bottom end. It also has the best neck I’ve ever felt, its smooth and really well worn. How do you use it and how has it shaped the way you write music? I use it as my main live guitar and my main rhythm guitar in the studio. Because it has such a balanced sound I can play little riffs amongst chords and they cut through really nicely. It also sound incredible fuzzed up and there are parts of songs that I’m always excited to play because I can hear this guitar through my fuzz and two amps and it kicks arse. Any other interesting points? There is an amazing quote on the headstock that says “Our purpose is that we, Fernandes Electric Sound Research Group, express the musicians mind changed into music exactly. To researching the excellence of total balance that our instruments have to be.” Tell us a little bit about what you have coming up? I am doing a bunch of solo shows around the country this month. And, we’re gonna release a new Smith Street Band album on our new label, Pool House records, and then go on tour forever!
Quality Since 1946 GUITAR & STUDIO EQUIPMENT
EH Series XLRs
Patchbays, Cables, DI Boxes/Splitters AVAILABLE in AUSTRALIA For your nearest stockist Phone: 02 9482 1944 mixdownmag.com.au
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