SUPPORTING THE INDEPENDENT MUSIC / ARTS SCENE OF SYDNEY AND BEYOND WWW.MUSICFEEDS.COM.AU
ISSUE 19 APRIL 13 - april 27
tighter than a nun's schedule
e! e r F
THE BASICS SILVERSUN PICKUPS YOUNG + RESTLESS MARY & MAX LITTLE RED SPOD CLOUD CONTROL
young + restless
T E L ED
By jesse hayward
Well lucky you. Due to the fact we are running very late this week after the double whammy Easter Long Weekend the Ed Let this week is going to be rather short.
Firstly let me make clear how much I hate Easter. What sort of a public holiday is it when you can’t go to the pub? WHAT THE FUCK! I’m sorry but the whole reason to get a day off work is so you can get royally slaughtered a day earlier than you usually would. I know I can stock up the day before, which I do, but it’s never enough. Sober me never wants to let drunk me have the booze he wants, and when that happens drunk me gets back at sober me, usually by doing something stupid like stripping my stomach with DIY spirits made predominantly with oven cleaner and rotting fruit and veg. Anyway, I could go on and on… and I will for just a sec. Jesus is a myth. The Easter Bunny raped the Duracell Bunny. Good Friday is the worst Friday of the year… but by now you’re probably tired of my idiotic rantings. We’ve got quite a bit of goodness for you in this issue, including; The Drones, The Silversun Pickups, Young & Restless, Ron Peno from Died Pretty, The Basics and Little Red, not to mention my interview with the Oscar winning filmmakers of Mary & Max.
We also catch up with local spasmodic electro guru Spod, check in again with UK Beatbox freak Beardyman as well as showing all the best snaps from my liver raping experience on The Bacardi Express. Also keep an eye out for me and my sexy crew as we’ll be running round the streets of Sydney in weeks to come with our video camera and Music Feeds TV T-shirts, visiting all the sexiest places the cities nooks and crannies have to offer up. Last week we dropped into Purple Sneakers where I was slapped till I was, well… purple, The High & Dry Fundraiser, Fait Accompli at The Hopetoun as well as watching those long haired and lively libidoed hipsters The Protectors smash up the stage and a few groupies for good measure. Personally I feel as though a drunk Frenchman who’s eaten too much asparagus has urinated all up in my skull. All this work is getting to me so if you want to come help out in any way please get in contact via my email below. If you don’t care, you’re a cunt and deserve to die choking on your mothers labia, in a nice way though. I’m a good person after all. Mikey Music Feeds Baby, It’s Spanish For Awesome!
oung + Restless have been on the run since 2005, when their music broke too many molds and was deemed an enemy of the people by the Ministry of Peace. Though hunted they managed to win the 2006 Triple J Unearthed competition and play the 2006 Homebake Festival. Founding members Mark Falkland and Ash Pegram were taken down by corporate security forces in August 2007 and the band were at a loss until Josh Weller reached them through the underground railroad in 2008. We managed to reach Josh in Sing-Song, the ultra-security music prison, which we infiltrated with a Weyland-Yutani Insectodrone Mk IV. Here are some of the bytes we managed to smuggle out. Given your imprisonment, have you managed to keep yourselves busy? “Well we haven’t seen a stage for about six months but we’ve been keeping things ticking over in the rehearsal room (shared virtual reality). We had a very busy ’08 which was good for me, it allowed me to settle in to my role in the band.”
ART DIRECTOR Dan Clarke firstname.lastname@example.org WEBMASTER Toby Smith email@example.com
SUB EDITORS Rochelle Fernandez, Janet King, Clare Molesworth, Jesse Hayward CONTRIBUTORS Thomas Mitchell, James Paker, Amelia Schmidt, Kurt Davies, Corinne O'Keefe, Matt Lausch, Zarina Varley & Pep's Mum.
“No my presence coincided with the whole band’s desire to do something different. We still want to stay that aggressive, fun, highenergy live act but we want our music to go the distance on CD as well – all while staying true to the sound of the band. We’re a punk band, we’re not going to start rapping or anything. Because there’s only one guitar now it’s a bit stripped back. We can put the focus on the vocals and the music will complement that.” Have you managed to sneak any demos out of your cell? “Yeah we’ve demoed about half of the tracks on the new album. We’ll be releasing a single soon, just to let people know we aren’t dead. That’s also why we’ve got to get out and play again.” Any plans for a prison-break? “We’ve got the Essential festival in Sydney and a show in Brisbane the night before, then a week or so later we’ll be doing shows in Canberra and Wollongong.” Any plans to make musical resistance your fulltime roles?
Was it hard to fit in with this renegade bunch?
“We all have day jobs (secret identities) and lives of our own besides the band. Nugie is still studying architecture and we’re all supportive of that. If it was possible to live off the band I don’t think anyone would complain but until then we’re just doing the work and fighting the good fight.”
“Well I was living in Melbourne and knew the guys already so it was a very smooth transition. Soon after I joined we did a run of shows in four weeks so I quickly became acquainted with the band. This is my first guitar role in a band though, I used to play bass.”
At this point a harsh electronic voice broke into the transmission. Our bug was destroyed by a Seeker-Destroyer Probe and nothing but harsh static reached our ears. We can only hope that Josh and the band will survive the harsh electro-beatings to bring us more of their apostatic static.
“We’ve taken the last six months to write some new songs, pick and choose the best so we should have some new stuff coming very soon.”
EDITOR Mikey Carr firstname.lastname@example.org
Has your presence turned the band in a new direction?
MUSIC FEEDS TV - COMING SOON
Mary & max
by tynan curry
aving a band name that represents leisure, recreation, celebration and joy, The Holidays are all you imagine them to be. They're laid back, chilled and stress free. After speaking with lead singer Simon Jones, I can confirm he epitomises all the images the band name conjures: a laid back approach to a journey they’ve had fun succeeding in. 2008 wasn’t a walk in the park for this group. Releasing two EPs and playing over a hundred shows around the nation, trying to “tighten up as musicians & getting in the string as a touring band” left them creatively stretched to the limit. The result of their efforts is something quite unique. A new sound has emerged from The Holidays.
dappled cities fly
by anthony hess
t’s 11 AM on a Tuesday mor ning and I’m sitting down for a chat with Dave Rennick of Dappled Cities. He’s just barely woken up and still looks a little scr uf fy but with a clear attempt of hiding his tiredness. Neither of us is in a real r ush so we wait for our cof fees before we begin the actual inter view. He is ver y casual and relaxed as we talk, making it feel less like we are here for an inter view at all and more like we are two friend’s catching up after years apar t. After a few minutes our cof fees are ready and now so are we so we decide to get straight into things. “We’re in the ver y final process of finishing our record, which has taken us over a year to make. We’re into our four th studio, Alber t’s Studio in Neutral Bay. We’re just doing final touches and it gets sent up to mastering this week.” “We like to hope it is a development for us. It is cer tainly a much more epic record and epic sound than we’ve ever really done. We’ve expanded our mojos to a big grandeur of feelings but it is still a Dappled record.” Through the tired eyes, you can see Dave is quite excited about this album and that they have all put a lot of work into it. The question is; when do we get to hear it? “We are playing Nor thcote Social Club in Melbour ne and Essential Festival here in Sydney this month. They are two fairly moderate shows, just to get us back in the swing of things here in Australia. We worked up quite a spectacular set for our trip to South by Southwest and we really just wanted to show ever yone here what we did and what we are doing.” “These shows are kind of preempting the new music we are about to release. It is all going to be new stuf f, a new set up with big fancy outfits. We are cer tainly a band that doesn’t like to do what we were doing last time we played a show. The album will be
released just as we’re coming into spring, then we’ll do a big pants of f tour.” I draw a ver y confused look at the sound of fancy outfits and pants of f being phrased quite close together. I’ve recently read on the band’s MySpace blog posts tour stories involving Playboy par ties, nights out drinking with The Grates and two homeless men saving the show in Austin.
The absolute enjoyment experienced both on tour and producing their EPs has shone through in their unique musical interpretation. It feels like a vacation. Not to mention in the past touring with some world famous artists such as Ben Kweller and Jamie T & The Wombats. Simon described 2008 as “fun,” however 2009 has seen a different approach. Being a studio band, ”which is cool in it’s own way” is where The Holidays aim to be through this first half of the year. The last show they played was over the New Year peak at the Falls Festival. The time has nearly come to hit the road again.
The Holidays have developed a routine that works, which is bringing out the creativity they have as a band. Recording demos in a home studio and putting the finishing touches on their debut album, they hope to have it released by the end of the year. Simon is quite excited. The energy emitting from the band is nearly palpable. The album has come with its own challenges. Sitting down and working out what direction to head in, making the conscious decision not to go down the same tracks as the last two EPs has seen them “broadening their horizons” and changing the vibe of the group. They've pulled it off. This is it, the music they’ve wanted to write and produce. The new stuff still holds traces of the old Holidays that you know and love but you can cancel out the “indie rock” in a creative detour for the band. You may be surprised, maybe shocked. It’s going to be a challenge to play it all live as Simon gives me the brief on what we can expect to dance to. On the cards for their new stuff is a funky, slow afro beat. You should bring along your “conga drums & shaker’s” as you may intentionally want to join along with them. An expectant crowd might be surprised by the new approach, maybe others will be as pleased as the group themselves. The Holidays are on the road in the second half on 09 through to 2010.
The band are clearly not ashamed of their wild side. I look for fur ther explanation of this. Dave begins laughing at the memor y of their trip to South by Southwest a few weeks ago. “Yeah that was great. It was a ver y intense and quick trip. We were only in the States for two weeks and then we were back home again with a plethora of diseases and malfunctions but it seemed to go really well. It was our third South by Southwest trip and I think we were really getting noticed. The par tying really is non-stop.” “We got back completely exhausted because the whole time you are there you are lifting gear or drinking or playing or…I don’t know. Just par tying. And then you go to sleep, it’s 5 in the mor ning, wake up at 11 the next day and have to do all again. Just two weeks of that… maybe I’m just getting old and star ting to notice it more. It’s pretty intense.” We laugh at this idea as we both trail of f into our own thoughts. As Dave appears to be reliving the crazy moments on the road with a wide grin on his face, I begin to wonder what these guys will have in store for us. “I don’t know just yet; time will tell (laughs). We’re ver y excited. It’s been a long time between drinks for us. The last tour we did was over a year ago where we just star ted playing these new songs. Now we feel like we’re really ready to make a step into a new realm. We’re about to release the biggest record of our lives.”
MUSIC FEEDS TV - COMING SOON
by mikey carr
I’m not really into hero films,” Mary & Max Director Adam Elliot tells me over a cup of tea and a bickie. “But the more I think about it the more I think these characters are heroic, sometimes more heroic, than a hero in a hero film.”
The film has a quirky charm, but it walks a strange line between a children’s film and a black comedy for twisted adults. “Thank god we have a PG rating,” Adam exclaims. “It’s really going to be up to adults to decide, we don’t have to, and nor do we have to take responsibility.”
He’s sitting on a big comfy sofa next to Producer Melanie Coombs. Having won an Oscar for their short film Harvey Krumpet there was an understandable degree of pressure on the duo to follow up Harvey with something special.
While the film’s complex themes about dealing with life’s problems and trying to be happy are sure to speak to children, what really gives the film its under 13 appeal is Adam’s often than less complex sense of humour.
“There’s definitely been pressure and expectation, there always has been since the day I left film school. You know I started my career with a film that won and AFI, so ever since then I’ve always had this ‘what do you I follow it up with, I better keep winning AFIs.’ But this would have to be most pressure we’ve felt so far in our career. We just want to fast forward to the end of April once the film’s out because it’s been a 5yr pregnancy, we’ve spent a lot of time and it all comes down to an Easer Weekend in 2009.”
“Rectal references, faecal fetishes you might say. Well look, I’ve got a problem,” he laughs. “But yeah it was only a few weeks after we’d locked the film off and it was all too late that I was like yeah, I think there might be one too many fart gags.”
But it wasn’t all bad as with an Oscar come a certain amount of, shall we say, leverage, no? (Insert suggestive wink) “The Oscar is what Melanie calls a Golden Crowbar,” says Adam. “Yeah it lets you get your foot in the door,” she adds. “But with my foot comes Adam’s great script. People never like it when you complain about success, but the pressure has been enormous, but we have a philosophy where we use the hype, we don’t believe it.”
This almost childish bent to the film was also present in Harvey Krumpet, and it seems to have contributed to its success more than a little. “With Harvey Krumpet we knew we thought that was for adults,” Melanie explains. “We sold 40,000 copies on DVD while the average Australian feature is lucky to sell 5,000 and that was a short. But there are also moments like when I saw this group of 11 yr old girls came out of a 7/11 with ice blocks singing, ‘god is better than football’ from Harvey Krumpet. So I turned around and asked them where they’d heard it and they just turned around, gave me this look and said ‘Harvey Krumpet, daa!’ “And Harvey was an M rating,” Adam adds, “yet categorically around the world we know kids watch it. We actually got an email from a woman whose 9yr old son had recently died of cancer,
and she told us that in his last week of living he watched Harvey Krumpet over and over again. And I mean if I had a week to live I know I wouldn’t be watching Harvey Krumpet but for whatever reasons this 9yr old boy who was dying did. So all this stuff about ‘is it for kids is it for adults’ is sort of meaningless, I mean when I was a kid I had the choice to go see the Smurf movie or The Elephant Man and I chose The Elephant Man,” he laughs. “I think thoughtful kids will come out of the film and ask their parents some pretty tough questions,” Melanie elaborates. “As long as the parents are up for that, I think it’s a great film for kids, because what it says is that the most important things in life are friendship and believing in yourself and accepting yourself and other people. I think that is a message every child should receive as soon as possible, I think that is a message children should be force fed at birth.” As the film manages to avoid all but the most abstract of definitions I ask about how it has been received by fans and the industry? “We’ve been getting great responses from audiences and at Sundance,” Melanie answers. “Even though we don’t tick any of the obvious boxes, we fit into the ‘this is a good film’ box, and really that’s the only box we care about.” “Mind you it’s very hard to sell when you’re trying to pitch to people. We said things like it’s sort of a claymation version of Little Miss Sunshine, or About Schmidt, you know, live action films. When we were pitching it around, we would always refer to live action films with complex ideas as opposed
to animated fare because, especially in the US, they think claymation is Gumby, you know they don’t even think Wallace and Gromit they think preschooler.” Aside from the stunning animation and script, the film’s voice acting stands out as exceptional against most other animated features, with the actors sounding almost completely unrecognisable. “Adam has this philosophy where you know sometimes you see an animation and you hear Eddie Murphy’s voice, and immediately you stop watching because you’re thinking about him in a booth with headphones on and it pulls you out of the drama,” Melanie exclaims. “Sure you think of the star, which might be a good thing and certainly with a lot of these films strategically to do that, but for us that was the last thing we wanted.” “I mean obviously people are going to see the poster, and they’re going to go ooh, big stars in there, but hopefully at the start of the film, when it opens with little Mary’s voice, and you think to yourself that’s a little girl, a real little girl, hopefully people will forget about the names and just watch the film and immerse themselves in the drama. That’s what we want, for people to lose themselves in the story, they’ll know they’re watching something that has been hand crafted and laboured over, but really we want them to take an emotional journey with the characters. Like Adam always says let’s make them laugh, let’s make them cry, let’s push their buttons." Mary & Max is out now and I’d give it 5 stars if I were reviewing it, so go see it.
by jesse hayward
en Lee is one of Australia’s most popular soft cock musicians. His cheesy melodies creep insidiously into your mind like the slow crawl of gangrene up a wounded soldier’s leg; his quiet, unassuming visage is to violent anger as night is to day. The fact that he has won awards for music and slept with Ione Sky is definite proof that there is a God and He is a spiteful bastard just like the Bible says. I am filled with trepidation as I make my way to the underground bunker which houses the AntiBen Lee society AKA Benleesacarnt. This solid crew of musical activists have been about their business in the dark alleys and smelly pubs of Sydney. Their business? Stirring up righteous ire with which to smite that mongfaced pussyboy back into the foul womb from which he were spawned. Upon arrival I am ushered down dark hallways towards some vast cavernous space. The walls are pockmarked with shrines to the Elder Gods: Here black candles darkly illuminate a poster of stoner rock gods Zeke; there a collection of maltreated mannequins with Lagwagon masks gently mock. Above it all hangs a giant Bronx banner, rippling lightly in the updrafts blown through this subterranean amphitheatre. But where is the hateful propaganda? Where the pin-stuck Ben dolls? Where the burnt and twisted effigies, making creak music as they spin slowly, grotesquely under their nooses? Arent Benleesacarnt all about that Ben Lee cunt? “Nah, the name’s pretty much a gimmick,” says Miss Alex, bringer of bass and breasts. So, Ben Lee isn’t a cunt? “Of course he is, isn’t it obvious? But we’re more about getting together, drinking and having fun on stage.” I have been deceived. Benleesacarnt is about Ben Lee just as black is about white – that is, not at all. Their sound is self-described as a drunken postie revving his bike while yelling at a male prostitute. Trad rock riffs at punk rock speed
provide a riotous backdrop to the screamed, irreverent vocals. Boskie, the vocalist, usually hits the skins and says he isn’t used to being up the front, so he makes up for his fear of unruly mobs by trying to out-mob the bastards, twisting the fear into steamy punk rage.
ou couldn't take your eyes off it, could you? That startling image is called 'Flight of the Basics.' I know what you're thinking. There's something strangely disturbing about seeing two ginger haired guys naked. Far be it from me to incite some sort of pigmentational prejudice, but that's just not something you see too often.
Chops Chopsson, the Swedish transvestite drummer, didn’t bother to leave his make-up room to speak with me but sent out one of his boys with a perfumed letter assuring me of my place in his affections. These guys are as local as it gets, with songs about the death of Newtown pubs (Fuck The Townie) and the prevalence of pretentious fat girls in corsets in the rock club scene (Bettie Page). Having decided to set themselves up as the justice system of Sydney thrash rock, they go about it with obnoxious glee.
Guitarist Tim Heath sighs. I'm sitting across from him, trying to forget about that image. Drummer and vocalist Willy De Backer sniggers as Tim tries to explain. He wasn't too keen on the idea, he tells, crossing his legs. I can't help but think of Basic Instinct.
I ask Ham, geetarist, what he thinks of the Sydney scene and he grunts and tells me to fuck off. He is watching the soccer while furiously strumming on his Gibson Explorer. I try again but the glare I receive is enough to warn me off future sorties in that direction. Boskie tells me Ham lets his guitar speak for him, which would explain the bloodstains on the fret. After taking their particulars, I sit down to dinner with the band. We are having steak au steak, with steak frites and steak on the side. I ask for mine well done and the atmosphere suddenly turns nasty. “We eat our meat bloody around here. Straight off the bone.” There is a moment of silence. Matt Hell stands to escort me out. As I am hustled out a different hallway I catch a glimpse, through a slit in an iron prison door, of Ben Lee’s much-hacked-at corpse hanging from a butcher’s hook. The much-awaited album is titled Die Fluken, a play on the name of a popular hygiene medicine. As Matt Hell, geetarist and rantwriter, says as his boot assists with my exit: “Diflucan is a thrush treatment. We’re a thrash treatment. We don’t need your kind of pussyboy attitude around here.” So if your nether-regions are looking a bit crusty, get your self down to the next Benleesacarnt gig for some righteous rock action that’ll blow those spores from out between your thighs.
by dan clarke
“It wasn't my idea. The other guys came up with it and I just had to go along. It was kinda weird.”
by mikey carr
aving crooned along to the gentle dripping of Old Man River and made many a bun rise with The Bakery, Sydney based songstress Rosie is ready to step out on her own as she prepares to launch her debut solo EP at SunSets at Fringe Bar on the 19th of April. As we discuss the EP she makes it clear that to her it's really more of a tiny taste. "Rather than calling it an EP, I think I would have to say this release is more of a little appetiser of ‘Rosie’ and what is to come! It is the entrée. What do you call an entrée in musical terms?" she asks pausing a moment in confusion. "Anyway this is my debut solo release," she continues. "It seems it has only been a few hours in the making, as I am frantically trying to finish it – but in reality I have been sitting on a whole bunch of songs since I was 15. I thought it was about time I got my act together. So I decided to set a launch date, before even conceiving the product, and got stuck into recording. I chose 3 songs, which seemed fairly representative of me and my current emotional/musical state. Then, with the engineering talents of my good friend Byron Mark and his ‘Springfield’ Studio, I laid down all the guitars, bass, vocals and sitar in about 2 sessions. Byron provided the keys and percussion. The final tracking and mixing was done at Albert’s Studio in Neutral Bay; the mastering by the awesome Mick Lynch - and then bam - the 3-track musical hors d'ouevre arrived," she laughs, her face lighting up with mischief before leaning in and with a posh accent tells me, "for the entrée on today’s menu we have 3 tasty new songs for your aural pleasure. They were recorded on a full stomach on the back of Byron’s parent’s generous Greek hospitality, and completed via a few favours from some other special people." As I mentioned before, Rosie has been working with local 14-piece funk powerhouse The Bakery and indie folk troubadour Old Man River for a while now. With both projects flourishing, I was a little perplexed at her taking the difficult road of trying to launch a solo career. "I absolutely love doing the big band thing," she explains enthusiastically, "but there is something organically appealing and satisfying about playing in a more intimate context. There is a completely different dynamic in my ‘Rosie’ project and a lot more space, sonically, for me to be my free-spirited self. Besides, in my live shows I commonly call upon many a guest artist to join me. For my launch show Byron will be playing percussion, Chris Arnott will be playing bass and there will be some other surprise
guests too. I’ll give you a hint, they could possibly be related to me!" "My solo project, although on the undercurrent, is what I’ve been doing from the very beginning. I’ve just been distracted of late by the waves of awesomeness that The Bakery and Old Man River have been riding, so I haven’t been able to fuel my solo project as much as I would like. It has kind of been in restless hibernation for the past couple of years. But the time is nigh. Brace yourselves!" While it's easy to see she's loving the solo stuff, it's never an easy task launching a new project, but luckily she's had a little help from her fellow musos. "It can be rather hard to find motivation sometimes, to source out your own gigs, make fliers etc., and “sell yourself” as a solo entity. That's why it's great that I am in close musical association with Byron and a whole other menagerie of talented musicians who support me and are keen to hop on board for my live shows." With her all her projects varying widely in terms of influences and genres, it's easy to see that Rosie was exposed to a variety of different music when growing up, all of which informs her music today. "I was brought up listening to a lot of different music, although I must say that old school soul and funk is what really resonates with me to date. My mum tells me that I was a nappy groover – dancing as a diaper-clad toddler to Aretha Franklin, and Paul Simon’s Graceland. Singing “awah awah”. I also love jazz and that genre they call 'world music'. Having had a pretty crazy childhood spent in a boarding school in the Himalayas, Indian music (classical Hindustani as well as Bollywood) will always transport me to that warm fuzzy place, reminiscent of incense and colourful saris." So her music is obviously not exactly standard fare. "It sounds like a blend of exotic fruit in your favourite cocktail as you sip it on a tropical beach with the sultry summer breeze blowing off the Indian Ocean and the orange sun setting on the horizon. Now imagine this Postcard/Kodak moment wrapped up in a honey coated velvet package – and you have the sound of Rosie." Feeling slightly aroused and very hungry after that comment, I feel it's time to bring the interview to a close. Before leaving, I enquire what's on the cards for Rosie. "Well after this 'EP' I hope to actually release an EP or an album mid next year. But I am inclined to think that I may be tempted to release a range of men’s scented underwear. Or I might just become a nun and move in to hibernation in Switzerland."
I'm tempted to ask more. I try to shrug it off by bringing up the massive touring schedule The Basics embarked on in 2008. They spent most of the year travelling “to some of the most remote outback areas Australia has to offer.” It was a learning experience in many ways. One thing Tim recalls was having to adjust to doing matinee performances. “We were used to having a few beers before we went on stage. Normally we play around ten at night, and all of a sudden we had to get used to playing sober at two in the afternoon. It was an adjustment.” It was a busy and productive time for the band. Most of their new album was written while they were on the road. The new single With This Ship was released on February 24th. Willy explains that it marks “a huge break from anything we have done in the past,” “We have gone from retro styling to a more contemporary sound. This is proof of a more deeply personal and emotional part that has come out in each of us and you can feel that through all these songs.” The familiar influences are still there. The old school soul, rock and pop sounds of the sixties still meander through their music. Their aim now is “crafting a sound of our own, one that continues to draw on these styles but implements them in a more original and progressive manner.” The Basics are touring now to showcase some of their new songs in an acoustic setting. Tim says they're “keen to get back on the road. Last year was great fun, driving from place to place and playing to new people nearly every day.” Work is almost finished on their new album, with a release slated for later this year. Tight lipped as to when exactly, I can't help but giggle when Willy tells me the name. Keep Your Friends Close. Take another look at that picture and tell me that's not funny.
THE SILVERSUN PICKUPS By dan clarke
usic Feeds has always been focused on getting the word out about independent music. That's the main reason I enjoy writing for them. Case in point: two days ago I'd never heard of the Silversun Pickups. Today, as I wait to talk with Joe Lester, keyboard player for the Silver Lake locals, I'm one of their biggest fans. For the uninitiated, the Silversun Pickups sound like a sublime mix of early Smashing Pumpkins and Washing Machine-era Sonic Youth. I'll admit that's a fairly narrow description, but it fits. Think shoe-gazing grunge. I endure a whole minute of infuriating muzak before the Telstra lady finally connects our call. I greet Joe by asking what he's been doing lately. “We just got back from Texas” he says. “We did the South by Southwest music festival and played a couple of our first
shows with the new songs so that was nice. It was good to test them out.” Those new songs are from their second album, Swoon, due to be released 17th April. It's been three years since their first release, Carnavas. Joe explains that the band isn't used to playing new songs live.
“WE DIDN'T WANT TO JUST SLAP A BUNCH OF SHIT TOGETHER AND THROW IT OUT. WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE THERE WAS A REASON TO PUT A RECORD OUT.”
"We'd been around for years when the first record came out, so about two thirds of the songs had definitely been played in front of people and they'd been played in front of people in a multitude of versions.
Three years is a long time between releases, especially for an indie band. “Never in our wildest dreams would we have imagined that we would spend that much time promoting [our first] record” Joe tells me.
“The first time it was like 'oh shit' but I think just by virtue of the fact that we had been playing for a really long time at that point we knew who we were and so it was basically the opportunity to try and play in front of more people.”
"I think the first version of Lazy Eye was really slow and about twelve minutes long. You just sort of edit things as you go along."
It seems the band just couldn't turn down the touring offers that came their way. They've opened for big name acts like The Foo Fighters,
“We've just always approached it that way, regardless of who we're playing with.”
“This is new, to have a whole batch of songs that we've never played in front of anyone is definitely a new and interesting thing.”
Snow Patrol and Australia's own Wolfmother. They weren't really intimidated to be playing such big shows.
Joe reveals that experience has been integral to the band. Starting out in the Silver Lake region of LA, the scene was receptive to musicians willing to put in the time.
“It's definitely its own place. There are a lot of smaller clubs in our neighbourhood, we all still live here, that are really supportive and the promoters of those clubs are really in to music. You can literally just go up to them with a demo and chances are they'll let you play. That was really how the band started.” “There were a lot of promoters at the clubs in this neighbourhood that were always down to let the band play, sometimes it was one o'clock in the morning on a Tuesday, but that was really how the band formed, by playing
live and learning what it was that we were and wanted to do. It's a great community and amazing bands just keep popping up.” Silversun “literally didn't stop touring until the end of December 2007” on their last album before taking some time off. They “didn't even think about anything music related” for a month. Having refreshed the creative juices, the band “started writing, right up until the time we went into the studio.” Joe maintains that the time
spent developing the new album was important. “We didn't want to just slap a bunch of shit together and throw it out. We wanted to make sure there was a reason to put a record out. We weren't going to do it unless we felt like we had songs that were worth people listening to.” “We wrote twenty two songs altogether and scrapped four of them immediately. The rest of them we just chipped away at until we thought we had an album's worth of material.” “I've always been baffled by the bands who are like 'Yeah, you know, we came back and wrote seventy songs and these are the best fifteen.' How does someone even write seventy songs? We just wanted to really make sure that the stuff we had was worthwhile and worth spending the time on.”
The line suddenly goes dead. All I can hear is that annoying muzak again. Just as I'm about to abandon the call, the muzak stops and I hear Joe laughing. Sensing our time is close to over, I've got to play new-found fanboy before I hang up. I ask if the Silversun Pickups plan on heading down under in support of their new album. “We're only just now starting. The whole touring universe is starting to take shape. If it's at all within our power we definitely want to come back. We had a really great time the last time we were there. The crowds were totally fuckin' awesome. Hopefully we can make it happen sooner rather than later.” If history is anything to go by, we can expect a Silversun tour sometime in the next three years then. Hopefully we won’t have to wait that long.
by claudia santangelo
f you get off on 70's rock, soulful vocals or French men in three piece suits you should check out Inspector Cluzo. I'm talking to drummer Mathieu over the phone on day one of their Australian wide tour. Laurent is asleep on the couch, gently cradling his guitar. Mathieu explains that “we've had a lot of traveling.”
The name came from their good friend poking fun at their French accents. Angela Moore from Fishbone (who collaborated with them on their first album) drew the correlation with Pink Panther and the name came from there. Mathieu tells us the name also references “the funny side of our music” like the track “Fuck the bass player”.
Forming only last year, this two-piece rock funk duo are now slipping some of the biggest international festivals under their belt. 2009 is another promising year. They've just hit Russia and Taiwan's Spring Scream Festival, ahead of them lies a summer of European festivals and the prestigious Fuji Rock festival. Now they are enjoying the Australian sunshine and over the Easter weekend are shacked up on the east coast for Byron Blues Fest.
For all those bass player fans out their feeling a little less love for Inspector Cluzo note their aspiring side project, www.fuckthebassplayer. com, a website dedicated to showcasing bass players with interviews from famous bass names giving a voice to the guys that hold everything together but rarely get the feature they deserve. “I'm fucked, I don't get no pussy, the guitar player and the singer getting a lot of pussy, I'm just shit” (lyrics, Fuck the Bass Player).
Mathieu tells me they are keen to catch some big name Aussie acts like the John Butler Trio and Ben Harper and enjoy the smorgasbord of international acts the blues fest offers including The Black Keys.
“It's a good way to promote bass players” Mathieu chuckles.
It's their combination of rock beats, funk grooves and often high note soul vocals that lets Inspector Cluzo walk between the worlds of blues, funk and rock. They have been heavily influenced by 60's and 70's music, from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin to Otis Redding and James Brown. The resulting sound, in the words of AL, Classic Rock Society (UK), is “across the board 21st Century rock cum funky, rappy, soul appeal.” Mathieu and Laurent have played together and with others for over twelve years. I was curious how it ended up just the two of them. “It's easy actually, at rehearsal very often we were only two because the other guys were late or lazy... We thought 'it sounds not that bad, maybe once we have to try a two piece band.' When the band broke up then we had the opportunity... in the end it worked”. Now, their first release The Inspector Cluzo has been named by the chief editor of Crossbeat Magazine as one of the best 10 albums of 2008, along with big names like REM, Weezer and Nine Inch Nails.
Inspector Cluzo's next album is to be created, mixed and recorded this year in their home studio. On the cards for this second release is more collaboration with Fishbone's Angela Moore, splashes of horns and as a natural progression Fuck The Bass player 2.
Inspector Cluzo partly attribute their fast road of success to their high profile industry support. “We have a very good label and booking agency who are connected internationally which always makes things easier.” Importantly, Mathieu goes onto to add “and people like our music, it makes it easier for us as well, I'd say that's the main reason, people are attracted to and like it, maybe because they feel something that we give”. Inspector Cluzo will be giving it to Sydney with their gig at the Vanguard on the 16th. Expect “good energy coming from stage, like when you meet two things together and you feel something special.” Whilst sporting suits on stage, don't expect to catch them like this on King st. If you see two gents in “regular Australian clothing like flaps, surf shorts and a t-shirt” look again, it could very well be Inspector Cluzo.
by amelia schmidt
ook, to be honest, I didn’t go on the Bacardi Express, Mikey did. So when he sent me this recording of his interview with English beatboxer extraordinaire, Beardyman, I listened to it and imagined them sitting in one of these beautiful old train carriages, hungover as fuck talking shit to each other for twenty minutes, probably in their underwear, continually fondling their facial hair. I basically made up all details other than quotes as an imaginary version of the conversation. “My body clock is fucked,” says Beardyman, lounging back and peering out the window across the outback desert as it passes by the window in a blur. "I was on English time, now I’m on Aussie time, and I’m going home in a few days. I’m going home tomorrow.” He pauses, for a moment, thinking to himself. “Wait, that can’t be true.“ “Ah,” he says, disappointedly, stroking his beard. “I’m going home tomorrow.” Home, being Brighton, in the UK, is certainly a long way from the Bacardi Express, which at the time of this conversation is somewhere heading away from Wagga Wagga. Beardyman pauses for a moment and stares out the window with a sense of longing. Mikey asks about how his musical genesis began. “I started off learning piano when I was five and I learnt guitar when I was fifteen,” he begins, still looking out the window. “I like the drums but I didn’t get to play them, and to be fair the geezer on the drums was like way better than I am. He was wicked and really loud.” And at this point we remember we are on a fucking cool train full of kickass musicians, not stuck in an Agatha Christie novel. The Bacardi Express hosted Beardyman last year also, and he comments on the selection of artists this year compared to the previous year. “If I’m being honest I think I preferred last year’s lineup simply because it was more
eclectic, not to do down on any of the bands this time but I really liked the variety last time. [This year is] really cool but it’s a lot more rocky and guitar-based and personally I just really like hearing sounds that I haven’t heard before. Maybe it’s just about being English and being exposed to that kind of music all the time. I’m a bit bored of the sound of guitars. That said they’re absolutely wicked. I’m now a big fan of Bluejuice.” I don’t think it’s because he’s English. I’d hazard a guess that it’s because he’s awesome and deeply talented as one of the best beatboxers around. With the ability to seamlessly weave Prince, James Brown, Drum and Bass sounds and improvisation in to amazing performances, different sounds must be always at the forefront of his mind, if only in thinking how to make them with his mouth. “I do a club night in Brighton called Battle Jam.” Beardyman looks out the window again, thinking of his home. “It’s getting bigger and bigger and it’s really just us messing about, but we’ve managed to make a club night out of us just messing about.” And why would they start a beatboxing night? “Because going out is great but often I find music really shit, but not because it’s not really bad but because it’s too polished. This night that we do is kind of indicative of Brighton – it’s really eclectic; we mess about and make stuff up on the spot. We’ve taken that show and we’re making it really crazy.” Mikey reclines in his chair and lights up a cigarette. I don’t know if he smokes or if smoking was allowed on the carriage but in my mind this is what happens. “One thing that we’re doing is this wheel of genres thing,” Beardyman continues. Mikey nods, blows smoke away from the conversation politely. “So we’ll have two wheels for genres and just spin them and then we have to make it up.” In burlesque costumes, I hope. On some other form of olden-day transport. Maybe a ship. Or a tram. I wonder if there are trams in Brighton.
Little red By jesse hayward
drian Beltrame does not taste like cinnamon, as far as we can ascer tain, nor is his band's name a euphemism for the size of his penis. Research is still ongoing. We catch up with Adrian at his luxurious villa on the Melbour ne peninsula, sur rounded by beautiful women of dubious provenance. He seems far too relaxed, considering the band is cur rently working on their second studio album. Is this all you do to prepare for touring and recording? "We've spent a lot of time preparing for our second album, making demos, practising and ar ranging things." No calisthenics or yoga? "Nah, no r unning or cycling or anything like that. We do a bit of fishing and we do some work on the beach but that's about it. We do more mental exercise. It's surprising how much the body can take." He takes another sip of his cocaine mojito.
You guys have been labelled a lot: white boy funk, RnB etc. Where does the funk come from? Adrian tilts his feathered blue-felt fedora back on his head and thinks. "We listen to all sor ts of music. We still love our motown but we listen to anything that sounds good. Maybe we have a retro tag, that's ok, but our second album will shake that tag, we think." So when you guys go on tour is it a free-for-all? You're not all spoken for? "Definitely a free-for-all. We're really looking for ward to hitting Sydney on Friday for the Big British Sound show. It's sold out, of course, so it should be a big one. Even our mixer has told me he's looking for ward to par tying in Sydney. Down here on the peninsula there's not much to do, you know?" Adrian beckons a bikini-clad beauty to top up his intoxicating cocktail. Do girls get put of f by the band name? Adrian looks angrily through his gold-plated monocle. "You implying something about the
size of our penises? No, girls don't get put of f. I don't think they even make that connection. What is wrong with you? It's a catchy name, a racy little name. We got from, I think, The Rolling Stones song, Little Red Rooster, which is a classic blues track." "We're originally from the suburbs and we used to graf fiti Little Red ever ywhere round our streets so when we had to come up with a name it was the logical choice" We head for safer topics: Have you been to Sydney often? "Yeah we've been there heaps of times, we love it there. There's always something going on. All cities are great for us though, we love travelling, getting out to dif ferent places."
down ever y alley. There's lots of culture. It's a beautiful place." Adrian leans back in his handwoven hammock and glances idly towards two topless lovelies playing volleyball in the hear tshaped pool. "Yeah... A beautiful place." So how long do we have to wait for the new album? "It's going to be a while yet, we're still in the preliminar y stages. We don't have a name for it yet, that will come after, once we hear the full sound. We think it's really dif ferent, really unique. An impor tant album. We'll be playing lots of new songs at our upcoming shows but we're really just taking our time with the album."
How does it compare to Melbourne?
What about par tying? Does that require as much forethought and planning? As much time to prepare?
"Well we grew up here so, you know, wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Melbourne is a beautiful city - the more time you spend there you more you get to know all the little places. You can find great shops and cafes, real gems,
"Man, they're two dif ferent things. There's always time for par tying. Excuse me, I have business to attend to." Adrian slips of f his fur-lined robe and heads towards the pool, his ladies await.
By mikey carr
aving ripped apart stages across the countr y on last years national tour in support of their album Havilah, as well as leaving audiences at both Big Day Out and Laneway crippled and begging for more, The Drones are a band to be feared, respected and worshipped as the lonely Gods of local music they are. With another tour coming up, I had a chat with lead singer and guitarist Gareth Liddiard a month or so back to get the lowdown on the upcoming tour, their first time hosting Rage and why he has the symbol of German industrial music pioneers Einsturzende Neubauten tattooed on his wrist. “The first time I saw them I was about 16 and they were on Rage,” he tells me. “I was trippin out on LSD and they just blew me away, they were playing live and it was just out of control.” Stepping back a second I ask him if he would often make a habit of sitting up to watch Rage on
acid. “Yeah, it happens a lot, we used to set it up so if something bad came on you could just mute it and put some music or another video on. It’s an Australian institution really.”
record albums or recruit new members. With such a gruelling schedule you’d expect the band to hate each other by now, but Gareth reveals they have their own way of keeping things chirpy on the road.
Eager to plumb the scummy depths of his taste in music like the sonic catfish I am, I enquire as to what guilty pleasures he may have chosen to play as guest programmer. “Tonnes of different stuff,” he laughs.
“Funny shit goes on all the time. We tr y to entertain each other because we know each other so well there’s nothing left to say, so in the end we just end up tr ying to crack each other up, and things just get more and more extreme and weird. If someone were to jump into the van mid tour they’d have no idea what the fuck was going on.”
“We got Billy Bob Thornton singing a song called Angelina, you know, guess who, we couldn’t resist that and we got a bit of that 30 Odd Ft Of… ah, Russel Crowe’s band, whatever they’re called, couldn’t help chucking that in either.” Rising to prominence in 2005 with their second album Wait Long By The River & The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By ( a gloriously broken opus of blues drenched rock which won them the inaugural Australian Music Prize in 2006), The Drones have toured relentlessly stopping only to
The band have played extensively through both Europe and the US, following in the footsteps of artists like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and The Dirty Three, experiencing more and more success each time as well as becoming a bit of an ATP favourite, having played Minehead in 2007 with The Dirty Three, New York in 2008 with My Bloody Valentine as well as being scheduled to play Wait Long By The River at both the New York ATP as well as being part of 2009’s Don’t Look Back concert series.
“Touring Australia is hard, there’s five capital cities and if you’re playing that weird kind of music, like it’s not the Screaming Jets, but doing that more kind of left of centre shit, you can’t really do a rural tour, you’ll get lynched. And it really cuts down on your opportunities so eventually you just go ‘fuck this let’s go overseas.’” Part of the band’s popularity has to be attributed to Liddiard’s unique way of playing the guitar, often bringing forth abrasive hooks and jangly rhythms that sort of reverberate up your spine like a vibrator held against your tailbone. “I started when I was 15 or 16 and I was listening to stuff like Kim Salmon (The Scientists), Roland Howard (The Birthday Party), Blixa Bargeld (Einsturzende Neubauten, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) and Greg Gins (Black Flag), and they were all really strange players in their way, they were all pretty indiosyncratic and they weren’t always technical. Like Blixa Bargeld is just fucking amazing, but he wouldn’t be able to play, like, Metallica or some shit.”
Liddiard and his wife and bassist Fiona Kitscin recorded the latest album, Havilah, in their home in the remote Victorian town of the same name. “The album was all written up there,” he tells me, “and there were bits and pieces of songs that I took from stories from the area. It was a pretty wild place back in the day, it was a goldmining town, 2,000 people lived there, 2,000 maniacs.” “You’ve gotta look around, there’s plenty of crazy stories in Australia, it doesn’t have to be all cowboys and indians and knights in shining armour, Australia has a pretty nutty histor y. It might be short, but it’s action packed.” Speaking of action packed, Liddiard and Kitschin were in the thick of it a few months back, with the Victorian Bushfires threatening their Havilah home. “We got back there and the fire had come into Havilah, into the valley. It was pretty ner ve wracking; pretty much one side of the valley was burning, like a wall and then the next day it got to
our house. The house isn’t on a rectangular block or anything, we’ve basically got bush on three sides, but somehow the fire didn’t get into our yard, you know it just basically stopped at our fence.” Moving on I ask him what we can expect from The Drones following the tour, a new album perhaps? “Yeah we’ll probably be done touring around this time next year, I spose, and then yeah have to think about making a new record. Before then we might tr y and do some kind of DVD thing where we record us playing a bunch of shit in a room, you know doing as much different stuff as we can in as many different places as we can and then tag on some of the live shows we’ve filmed over the years and stick them in there as well, I mean why not?” Why not indeed?
Havilah is out now and be sure to catch The Drones at The Metro on April 25th
theredsunband by dan clarke
arah Kelly tells me theredsunband have been “taking some time off to write some new music.” That's something I've heard quite a bit lately. I've heard it from a lot of different musicians. I guess it's just that time of the year. Having released their last album, The Shiralee, in June 2008, we haven't heard much from the band in a while. Sarah tells me the stor y behind the album, and mentions a completely valid reason for their hiatus. “We recorded it over ten days in early 2006. We spent quite a while mixing it, and between that we started our own record label, so that took up a lot of our time.” That's a dream I think many musicians could appreciate. She notes that it wasn't the easiest endeavour, but a rewarding one.
Theredsunband write their “pretty loud, dark, heavy, sad dream-pop” by delegation. “I write most of the songs, then I'll take them to the band and they each write their own parts. I don't write the keyboard parts, for instance. I think we're all at a point now that we've been together so long we just know what we're looking for. We're aware of the kind of sound we're after, so we just go for it.” I have to ask about the various places the band has adopted as creative spaces to write. “I think writing as a band it's important to have a space dedicated to that. You know, you all shack up in a house and just concentrate on writing. We can be lazy, normally we might just go down to the pub instead of recording, so it's good to have somewhere to focus your attention.”
“It was interesting. It was good to know that ever y album we sold we'd be seeing money from. Then there's marketing that you've got to spend money on too, so it's probably a costly venture but it was interesting to see it all from start to finish.”
Having kept quiet for a while, Sarah admits she might be missing the attention.
Having recorded their first two albums in Melbourne, I ask where they plan on laying down some new material. After all, there are plenty of quality studios the band could use in their hometown of Sydney. Sarah explains that the move helped them get motivated.
Their next notable public appearance will be at the Essential Festival over the Anzac day weekend. Sarah is looking for ward to it.
“I guess it's good to go somewhere different to record. We can be pretty lazy, so a change of scener y was good to get us motivated. I think the next album we'll record in Sydney.”
“I'm kind of starting to miss the touring a bit actually. Just getting out there on the road, driving from place to place.”
“Yeah, it should be good. It's a good place to have a festival. The venues are all in close proximity to each other so you don't have to walk too far.” Hard working at times, lazy at others. I'm starting to like these girls more and more.
By amelia schmidt
pod’s cat is called Robby. It’s got long black fur and it’s “rad as all hell.” It’s basically accepted with Brent Grif fin that cats are rad, and if you don’t agree, then you may not appreciate a good par t of his album, Super frenz. And that’s fair enough, because basically cats are rad. I can make a list: 1. They sleep all day, basically whenever they feel like it. 2. They like and dislike people. 3. They do things and people put them on the internet. 4. They’re killing machines. That’s about all I can think of at the moment. But I mean, that’s enough, right? Spod’s powerpointastic video for his song ‘CATS’ is almost as flipping cool as cats are. The song, which features such lyrics as “CATS!” and also, “CATS!” has been described as “warped” and “offensive” as well as “outrageously cute and an incredibly catchy tune”, so make of that what you will. Okay, so what have we established so far? Cats are great, and that makes up at least fifty percent of why Spod’s song about them is also great. The other half can be fairly safely put down to Spod himself.
Spod-related events of comparable coolness include: backup dancers dressed as bir thday cakes, ghosts, other things doing synchronised dance movements; par tial on stage nudity; completely entangling himself in streamers and microphone cables. His high-powered synthesised beat-dropping energised music has been explosively successful for ages now. “I think I need up to upgrade from a 1998 mobile,” says Spod. “It cuts out all the time.” Luckily for us it doesn’t, but unluckily for him technological breakdown issues are a recurring motif for him, star ting from the Super frenz Hard-drive Meltdown Saga in which his whole album and tracks disappeared “into the ether” when his storage drive passed away. “With that hard drive man, I’m cursed” he says, with a sigh. “I think it was that record that was cursed. After I rebuilt the album and finished it, I bought another hard drive and another backup hard drive. Then that drive died too, and then the backup died the next day. Fuck. Anyway, I thought ‘Move on, don’t look back.’” And so he did - rebuilding continued and Super frenz hit out ears with much success.
But there was a lesson about digital diligence to be learnt.
jamming, losing files is the worst, but also least surprising kind of disaster that could happen.
“I won’t sor t of continue working unless I have a good operating backup drive now,” Spod explains. But fur ther, his attitude towards what to keep and what to throw away has changed.
“When you’re in a band you get to sit in a room and you bring either a riff or a song idea to a band and ever yone interprets that through their own instruments and then you can sort of write like that: much easier. But electronically, you kind of have to finish the song other wise it’s just going to sound like shit.”
“I think I’m also just a little less precious with my music now. I had about 800 dif ferent projects just because I’d star t and move on to something else, and I’d be keeping ever ything. So now if stuf f isn’t up to scratch I can just delete it. I’ve been made a better person after going through all that hell!” All of this sounds like heaps of Spod+Robby+Computer Time, so the fact that he’s been doing some (loosely termed) collaborative work recently is a bit of a change. “I’m pretty bad at collaborating,” he says, humbly. “I get sor t of lost. I kind of just like to do ever ything in the one place.” The Harddrive Meltdown Saga almost seems like a product of Spod’s individualistic writing style. With more swapping of tracks than
“So you have to take your ideas a lot further and also, only one person can drive the computer at one time so it has to be more of a swap situation. You do a bit, give it to someone else, they do a bit, that’s how it works.” That said, Spod mentions that he’s also “tr ying to get a live band together for the shows, so for Essential and Come Together I’ll hopefully have a band behind me.” In between that and writing his next album, it’s all about being productive, playing heaps of shows and moving for ward. And hopefully less Meltdown, roughly the same amount of cats and more awesome, synthesised, infinite radness.
elvis Perkins by thomas mitchell
lvis Perkins is feeling the aftermath of South by South West festival. He played there, rocked out and now his body is seeking its revenge.
“I just got back from South by Southwest. I’m a little hung-over; whatever it was it took it out of me” Elvis says, and I can hear the defeat in his voice. But SXSW is one of the most prestigious festivals around, surely he had a splendid time? “It was madness, everybody is squeezing in there, whether its output or input. I gave my all the first few days, but on the last day I just sat back and received. Now I’m paying for it.” All this talk of giving and receiving has me excited, but I focus my energy into this interview. Elvis treats his words like prized pennies. Not willing to waste them, doling them out slowly and cautiously. Ash Wednesday, Elvis’ debut album was very much a solo effort, but for his follow up, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, he called up a merry band of misfits, and packed into the studio. It was a different vibe admits Elvis. “It’s definitely different; it’s also different just to make a second record. The first one is rough, but in the second one I spent more time stirring up creative ideas with a lot of people.” He pauses before continuing, searching for the perfect analogy. “A lot of cooks in the kitchen, not necessarily too many, but there was a lot of transfer to get the vibrations going. It just takes time and energy to weave through everybody’s opinion.” There is a sigh on the other end of the phone; I can tell the effort exhausted him. One can appreciate how tired he must be. He's currently in the midst of a US tour, before hitting Europe. However, adding to that Elvis gets cyber fans accosting him, demanding he grace their shores for a gig. Does he still bother to read these things I wonder?
“I go through phases of looking at it and not looking at it. It’s interesting when you’ve created something and laid it out for the world; its weird to see the feedback, thoughts and feeling it stirs up in people. It’s hard to avoid at times for that reason, so when I am looking at it I think I shouldn’t be.” Despite Elvis’s background (his father won a Golden Globe for his chilling portrayal of Norman Bates in the original Psycho), his entry into the industry was far from glamorous. Spare time in the summer, a second hand guitar and the stark admission that “there was nothing else vying for my attention so loudly (as music) or that I was so passionate about.” That passion has morphed into a career for Elvis and allowed him to traipse all over the world. Yet in spite of his passport being fuller, his mind is perhaps not? “Despite going all over the world, it feels like nothing is happening. You never see quite as much as you would like” Elvis concedes. It seems a lonely existence to travel and play and travel again, but it seems to me Elvis wouldn’t trade it for anything. The future doesn’t look to get easier either, with his fan base swelling like a pregnant chick with octuplets. “I have my work cut out for me when it comes to record number three, I hope to do better with writing on the road this time. Touring leaves you little energy left over to write after performing and travelling.” And it obviously has left him with much to do as by this point he's sort of half snoring and I get the feeling he may have drifted off to sleep. Hearing what I assumed to be drool dripping onto the receiver, I quietly hang up and let the guy get some rest, besides if I ever want to hear his next album I'm best to do what I can to see he gets his slumber. Elvis Perkins In Dearland is out now on XL Recordings via Remote Control. Check out www. remotecontrolrecords.com.au for free mp3s.
Died pretty's ron peno By rowan thomson. photo by iain clacher.
hen 80s indie-rock sound merchants Died Pretty succumbed to the inevitable revival on the festival circuit, singer Ron Peno was pretty laconic about it. They are a band that refused to play on Hey Hey it's Saturday 'that horrible show...' when every other band and their dog was playing on it and then walked away from their label at the peak of success. There's no doubting their work ethic after an eighteen year career, nine albums and induction into the AIG Hall of Fame. With an attitude like that Music Feeds jumped at the chance to catch up with Peno before playing Big Day Out to chat about the festival scene and also to find out what really caused the band to split from Sony after the release of top-selling album Sold. Having long dealt with rumours about the label dumping them due to insufficient sales, Peno's keen to set the record straight: "I have nothing but good things to day about my time with Sony. We could have stayed on the label." "They were going to release a second single off the Sold album; they were really keen on that album - and we said 'No, we'll leave the label'. So it was actually up to us to leave. I think the second single would have done something." What made the band say no? "We just did. I won't go into it; somebody said no, and that was it. And they said fine, we'll let you go. They didn't say 'leave'; we decided to go." It's all very mysterious and rock and roll, not to mention characteristic of Peno's approach to music, an approach made evident during the recording of their debut Free Dirt. "I don't like to dwell too much in the past... it was
our first album, back in the halcyon days of 1986 or something. I actually burnt the lyrics to all the songs in an alleyway after recording and finishing the album," he tells me with a laugh. "I made Brett stand there and I ceremoniously burnt all the lyrics and of course, two weeks later when we were playing I was going 'Oh god what are the words to that song?'" "I know it wasn't the best idea to burn the lyrics, but I did it because I wasn't ever going to record again. Brett was sort of standing there going 'ahh, OK...' And then of course it snowballed into something else, before I knew it there was another album to be recorded." His low-key manner reflects an attitude of bucking commercial trends, and the idea of a 'Died Pretty Reunion Tour' seems to fit someone more geared to rock cliche. "There's nothing worse than bands getting back together every six months or something," he explains in a tone of disgust. "That's really boring; that can be very dull. But for us it felt different because Tim Pittman, the promoter for the Don't Look Back shows here in Australia, approached Brett. The Don't Look Back shows were big in England: Patti Smith did Horses; The Stooges did Funhouse; and I think Television did Marquee Moon... and Tim brought the idea here and we were asked to do Doughboy Hollow from start to finish. Brett rang me and said: 'What do you think?' and I just really liked the concept." "It really appealed to Brett and I; it seemed like a classy way to come back together again. So we just agreed to do that. Then a few months later Brett rang me again and said the promoter from Homebake was at the Enmore show in Sydney and asked would we like to go on the bill for Homebake? and I said 'Oh God this is getting a
bit silly, we're kind of supposed to be split up.' You've got to be really careful with these things!" "Then we were approached to do Big Day Out and I said 'Oh... god, why not' - but it's festivals, it's not like somebody said "I'd like you to do a pub tour around Australia" which we would have said 'No' to immediately... but I think after the Big Day Out we're going to have to think long and hard about doing anything else... We're supposed to be split up... unless we get invited to Glastonbury or something." The conversation drifts to Festivals Of Ancient Legend - when Died Pretty played the first ever Big Day Out (in 1992) alongside iconic Aussie bands like The Falling Joys, Ratcat, The Clouds and The Hard-Ons. "The Clouds sort of kicked up a bit of a stink because they didn't want to play before us... and we sort of went 'whatever, we'll play before you then'... we were grateful to play a festival! "It was an amazing audience because I think Doughboy had just been released, so our following was quite huge at that time, we had about ten thousand or so on the outdoor stage - it was wonderful; we had a great time. And when The Clouds came on - across at the Hordern Pavilion, lo and behold this band called Nirvana had just started to play. So everyone squeezed into the Hordern, I don't know how many people got to see The Clouds..."
them or I'll have a melody and he'll take that and transfer it to guitar; it's a combination of things... and nine times out of ten it works. We're pals you know, we're best friends. And that's another thing you don't find a lot in bands - I mean they split up and that's it, they split up in really horrible circumstances. But we never did. When Died Pretty split we just figured our time had come; and we'd had close to twenty years; and you get older and want to make way for newer bands." "We still write together, we're writing for a side project we have called Noises & Other Voices ... I really love that album. With that, Brett would have a lot of songs and I'd come to Sydney and do the melodies over them in the studio... we just did it all ourselves and got distribution by MGM and we're getting ready to do another round of Noises after the Big Day Out show." "A lot of the stuff was going to be the next Died Pretty album, and nobody seemed really interested in those songs so we just shelved it, and five or six years later we decided to release it; put a few samples and electronica in the background... I really want to keep my hands in the creative stream, so I'm getting into a lot of collaboration."
Peno's laid back demeanour seems to translate across many areas of his life, and particularly reflects the approach he's taken when making music with long-time friend and collaborator Brett Myers.
With collaborators including Black Pony Express, Penny Aiken, Melbourne band Black Cab and Kim Salmon - not to mention a documentary in progress and the band's recent induction into the AIG Hall of Fame, it's fair to say that Don't Look Back is an appropriately Dylanesque motif for the Died Pretty legend to open it's close with - if anything Peno's looking square into the future, and likes the sound of what's on the horizon.
"In a rehearsal Brett will have a bunch of songs; he'll start playing them and I'll start singing
Died Pretty's Free Dirt has been remastered and re-issued by Aztec Music and is available now.
ell a couple of weeks ago now I had to step up to a challenge. I was invited aboard The Bacardi Express. With an essentially limitless amount of booze on offer and me myself being an alcoholic, a tear came to my eye when I found out. If I only knew how hard I would be crying by the end. On my way down to Melbourne in the plane I happened to be sitting next to the very charming Rebecca who worked for one of those alcohol industry trade mags. Suffice to say this was like sneaking into a brothel only to find Charlie Sheen was waiting on the other side ready to give you advice on which whore to bed first. After having sorted out all the boring accommodation and whatnot, we soon embarked out into the Melbourne night for my virgin visit to it’s hallowed laneways and moody drinking dens. The names Sweatshop, Manchuria, Charlie’s Bar and The Emerald Peacock all flew past me in an alcohol induced stupor and before I knew it I was backstage at The Palace hoeing into Bluejuice’s rider. The gig itself was pretty full on. Bluejuice left me standing erect, Beardyman made me mess my pants and Groove Armada’s laser show was so impressive and spasmodic I only escaped vomiting by using every inch of my resilience coupled with an illegally powerful antacid I procured in exchange for a kidney. The next day dawned and we were on the train quick smart. The train was just amazing. Aside from the fact there was a faux casino, chillout lounge and jam room on board, I had a room that, thanks to the magic of fold out walls, managed to include an arm chair and foot rest, bed, toilet, washbasin and wardrobe all in the space of a disabled toilet cubicle. The best part of this was the fold out toilet. The audacity of the engineers thinking people would have no problem shitting where they sleep was quite impressive, but not as impressive as the view of the Aussie outback you got when sitting on the throne. The jam room was the best part of the carriage. Where else could you see Andy from Groove Armada playing Trombone along with some crazy mix of The Lost Valentinos, Bluejuice and British India, and the fact that there was a bar inside only made things better. We lived like kings on that train, or rail snake, with drinks flowing like the hips of a Hawaiian hula princess and dining on such dainties as Foie Gras and Spatchcock. The only problem with the whole shindig was the gigs. Sure they were the reason we were on the train, and sure the exposure they gave was what Bacardi were shelling out all the money for, but from a journalistic point of view, after you’ve spent the whole day on a train getting more fucked up than Drew Barrymore’s childhood the last thing you should be asked to do is to accurately cover anything. I watched the bands at most of the gigs but my memories mainly consist of clumsy and drunken overexcitement followed by clumsy and drunken flirting with what turned out to be on separate occasions a gay man with long hair, a wood carving of a female native American and Jono Ma from The Lost Valentinos. By the last day I was so engorged with alcohol I was unable to get rid of my hangover no matter how many Bloody Mary’s I drank. In the end I was saved by Mikey Cahill from Melbourne’s Herald Sun who kept me swimming in Gin & Juice until it was all over and I was allowed to pass out in a gutter somewhere. Can’t wait for next year.
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