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Frankie’s Pizza FREE ENTRY. Doors open at 4pm



in this issue what you’ll find inside…

The Frontline


Back To Business


Drawn Out


Cosmic Psychos are putting in the hard yards


“In a way, we’ve kind of always treated each show like it was our last.” (24-26) 24-26

Don’t call Tropical Fuck Storm a side project

The Dillinger Escape Plan might be gone, but they are far from forgotten


Lady Bird




Wake In Fright


Alex Cameron


Will Poulter


Rachel Maria Cox



Cigarettes After Sex

Professor Marston And The Wonder Women


Major Leagues




Jigsaw, Murder On The Orient Express


Spinifex Gum




Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself




Game On


Tamworth Country Music Festival


Sounds Like


Out & About


Gig guide

“Outrage is kind of fun.” (10-12)


Dillinger Escape Plan photo by Derek Sampson / Tropical Fuck Storm photo by Bleddyn Butcher





the frontline ISSUE 727: Wednesday November 15, 2017

With Tyler Jenke, Brandon John and Nathan Jolly

PRINT & DIGITAL EDITOR: Joseph Earp NEWS DIRECTOR: Nathan Jolly SUB EDITOR: Belinda Quinn NEWS: Nathan Jolly, Tyler Jenke, Brandon John

cheese to their range, it seems like a sure thing at this point.


ART DIRECTOR: Sarah Bryant PHOTOGRAPHER: Ashley Mar COVER PHOTOS: Cosmic Psychos by James Adams, RACKETT by James Adams, Mini Skirt by Luke Henery, Shearin’ by James Adams ADVERTISING: Josh Burrows - 0411 025 674 PUBLISHER: Seventh Street Media CEO, SEVENTH STREET MEDIA: Luke Girgis - luke.girgis@seventhstreet. media MANAGING EDITOR: Poppy Reid THE GODFATHER: BnJ GIG GUIDE COORDINATOR: Kenneth Liong - REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Arca Bayburt, Lars Brandle, Tanja Brinks Toubro, Alex Chetverikov, Max Jacobson, Emily Gibb, Emily Meller, Adam Norris, Holly Pereira, Daniel Prior, Natalie Rogers, Erin Rooney, Anna Rose, Spencer Scott, Natalie Salvo, Aaron Streatfeild, Augustus Welby, Zanda Wilson, David James Young Please send mail NOT ACCOUNTS direct to this NEW address Level 2, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046 EDITORIAL POLICY: The views and opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher, editors or staff of the BRAG. ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE: Carrie Huang - (02) 9713 9269 Level 2, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046

DISTRIBUTION: Wanna get the BRAG? Email PRINTED BY SPOTPRESS: 24 – 26 Lilian Fowler Place, Marrickville NSW 2204 follow us:

like us:



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DON’T FEED ’EM AFTER MIDNIGHT Mogwai are one of those singular bands that do exactly whatever they want, prolifically and consistently (and noisily), all while amassing a huge audience along the way. So far, they’ve churned out an incredible ten albums, a video game soundtrack, the score for a documentary… Essentially, they’ve followed each and every whim that has occurred to them. Live they are a huge-sounding band, which you’ll be able to witness first hand (the best way to witness things, I think) on Sunday March 4 when they play the Enmore Theatre. It’s an allages show, so if you bring along a toddler, pop some noise-cancelling headphones on ‘em, won’t you?

PRETTY CHEESY STORY If you’re still reeling over the shock news that Australia’s own money isn’t vegan, and if you’re still jealous of those lucky Finns who get to indulge in a McVegan burger, then it looks like you might finally have some good news on the horizon, as Domino’s looks ready to introduce vegan cheese to their pizza. Taking to their Facebook recently, Domino’s Australia made a post in which they asked for feedback in regards to the idea of introducing vegan cheese to their menu. Upon clicking their link, you’re given the option to submit your email address to register your interest, and to be notified “if we do introduce it to our menu.” Admittedly, while Domino’s haven’t yet made an official statement indicatingthey’re planning to introduce vegan


ALWAYS… It’s one of the most famous pieces of public art in Sydney, but in just a matter of weeks, Reko Rennie’s ‘Always Was Always Will Be’ is set to be removed. Located on the T2 building in Taylor Square, ‘Always Was Always Will Be’ has been one of the most visible and most famous pieces of art in Sydney since its creation in 2012. Commissioned by the City of Sydney and intended to be a six-month installation, Melbourne artist Reko Rennie created this influential piece of artwork as a way to pay tribute to his association with the Kamilaroi people of north-western NSW. However, the artwork will not be around for much longer, as the City of Sydney prepares the building for sale. The council has announced that the artwork is set to be painted over on Monday November 20, so if you’re yet to see this iconic piece of Sydney art, make sure you head along and view it before it’s gone.

YASSSS KWEENS Listen, we’re not gonna lie to you: the Australian marriage equality plebiscite has been one long, slow, unrelenting shitshow; a glorified display of everything vulgar, and backwards, and disingenuous about this bloody country. It has clearly revealed that the stale humane farts we call conservative politicians are willing to do anything – even pay for a wasteful, non-binding utterly useless plebiscite – in order to get out of enacting the will of the Australian people. But, thank god, it’s finally over: the day this magazine hits the streets, Wednesday November 15 will be the day that the results are finally released. That means you know reading this whether it’s time to celebrate, or if it’s time to discard this vapid cesspool of ignorance and bigotry once and for all. If it’s the former (which the majority of polls suggest it certainly will be), then you’re in luck: the Lansdowne are throwing a Yass! party featuring DJs from Girlthing and Australia’s

ON THE DOWN LOAD It’s been a while coming for heavy music fans who’ve been waiting for the long-rumoured local version of the enormous Download Festival to make its way to Australia, but now the lineup has finally been announced. Featuring on the first ever bill will be names like Korn, Prophets of Rage, Limp Bizkit, Mastodon, Good Charlotte, NOFX, Suicidal Tendencies, Gojira, and a list of 29 bands playing across four stages – two thirds of them international. Locked in for Saturday March 24 at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse, the grounds will open up to 25,000 punters for the day as a licensed, all-ages event. And while the inaugural event has chosen Melbourne as its home for this year, there are already plans to expand into a full-scale touring festival when the time is right.

“premier and original tribute lip syncing group” The Magda Szubanskis. Oh, and it’s free, too.

PARAMORE Listen, it’s been a pretty “hard time” (pun intended) having to see Paramore tour the world and skip Australia and New Zealand. But we should never have doubted the pop punk three-piece: after four years, Paramore have finally announced that they’re returning to our shores for four massive arena shows in February. And while it’s been a while, Paramore – we’re still into you. Having released one of the best albums of the year in After Laughter, we can’t wait to catch the gang at Qudos Bank Arena on Friday February 9.

Mastodon photo by Jimmy Hubbard

DEADLINES: Editorial: Friday 12pm (no extensions) Ad bookings: Friday 5pm (no extensions) Finished art: No later than 2pm Monday Ad cancellations: Friday 4pm Deadlines are strictly adhered to. Published by Seventh Street Media Pty Ltd All content copyrighted to Seventh Street Media 2017

HURLING GRENADES We love ole mates Grenadiers – the Aussie pub rock specialists have a technical maturity that tends to be sadly rare in their scuzzy, nicotinestained subgenre. Luckily for us then, the band have just released their third long player, the gloriously titled Find Something You Love And Let It Kill You, and they’ll be playing The Chippo in Sydney on Saturday February 10. Exciting, huh?

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Back To Business Music Industry News powered by The Industry Observer

With Poppy Reid and Nathan Jolly

Oxford Art Factory

numbers on a “range of real-life dance venue scenarios.” It discovered an average saving of 3.8 per cent for venues currently licensed under both APRA AMCOS’ and PPCA’s current schemes. In any case, venues playing recorded music for the purpose of dancing have been invited to provide feedback on proposals online. The consultation papers can be accessed at onemusic.

ONE BIG ALLIANCE Spotify, the market-leading streaming music company, is set to lead a lineup of new media companies that will form a pan-European lobby body for digital services. The new alliance, Digital Music Europe, was presented to be public recently, its stated mission being to “serve as a resource for policy-makers, media and the digital music industry” and to “advocate for policies that shape a favourable business environment for digital music.”


Sydney’s famed live venue Oxford Art Factory could have a new landlord in the near future. The beloved Darlinghurst venue will go under the hammer later this month and is expected to fetch about $5 million. Oxford Art Factory has occupied the property since 2007 and still has hold of the lease until 2031, with options to extend that even further. Current owner and operator Mark Gerber is selling the strata-titled property at 1/38-46 Oxford Street, which was previously occupied by Central Station Records and covers almost 600 square metres. Gerber plans to invest the cash in other venues. The auction will take place on Tuesday November 28.

DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY APRA AMCOS and PPCA’s joint licensing venture OneMusic Australia has invited venues who are playing recorded music for the purpose of dancing to provide feedback on an initial licence proposal. Venues have until Monday November 27 to plead their case as to whether a newly proposed pricing structure for licensing fees should be revisited. The move follows a threat by the Surfers Paradise Licensed Venues Association to boycott Australian artists off of venue playlists and a reported court action at the proposed new royalties fee structure for playing recorded music. The venues believe the proposed fees would be ”crippling” to their livelihood.

LOVELY DAY TO GO TO THE PUB Back in June, the Australian Hotels Association NSW, in conjunction with APRA AMCOS and the Live Music Office announced the creation of the ‘Rockin‘ The Puburbs’ band competition. Dedicated to finding the next big pub band, and giving New South Wales musos the chance to get a leg-up into the world of Aussie music, the comp has today announced the winner of its inaugural event. Today, Rackett have been announced as the winners for the first edition of this fantastic comp. Having formed

only last year, Rackett have wasted absolutely no time in kicking off their career, managing to record a debut EP which has already spawned three singles, and having supported some huge names, including The Bennies, The Darkness, Sticky Fingers, and DZ Deathrays. It’s also worth mentioning the sleeve of their EP is made up of recycled copies of this very publication – and that they’re on this issue’s cover. “This will be a great opportunity for us to be exposed to people we wouldn’t otherwise get to play in front of,” said guitarist and vocalist Bec Callander. “We will get a chance to play for the

Also on board at the inauguration are streaming businesses Deezer, SoundCloud and Qobuz, long-standing British-based B2B company 7digital and analytics startup Soundcharts. The DME aims to “create a legislative and regulatory framework that supports the growth of digital music, and brings benefits to both artists and consumers.” Policy debates on copyright, geoblocking, online platforms, e-privacy, data transfers, digital contracts and taxation are already on the go. Clearly, the alliance has big things in mind – only time will tell if they get achieved.

people who matter and really build an audience – we are really excited.” Having won the event, Rackett are now set to receive a $15,000 prize, including a dedicated tour publicist, mentoring sessions with industry professionals – including APRA AMCOS Ambassador Mark Lizotte (Diesel) – and they will play a number of gigs across NSW hotels over the next year. The group’s next big gig is set for Tuesday November 21 when the band perform in front of 1,200 guests at the Australian Hotels Association NSW Awards For Excellence in Sydney. RACKETT

Richard Mallett, APRA AMCOS’ Head of Revenue and Licensing said the published information by some media this past fortnight was “grossly incorrect”. “The example given was a dance venue with a capacity of 500 people trading six days a week, every week of the year. Even if such a venue existed in Australia, under the current two licences, and based on an 85 per cent attendance rate, they would be currently paying a total of $320,813. Under OneMusic Australia’s initial proposal, this venue would see a reduction of $24,413, to $296,400.”

Oxford Art Factory photo by Ashley Mar

APRA AMCOS has used the following example to better explain its proposed fee structure: if a two level club operates only one level on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, their fee on those nights will be based on the lower ‘one level’ capacity, not the full capacity of the club. If a venue with a capacity of 100 sees 500 people come and go in a night they are still only charged at the 100 capacity rate. In fact, the collecting body has run the

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Drawn Out 1. Draw yourself:

2. Draw the cover of your debut album Good Luck:

We launched this Drawn Out column three issues ago, and when we did, I think all of us here at the BRAG knew that it was only a matter of time before someone sketched a butt as their answer to a question. Well, Sydney scuzz pop heroes Food Court have fulfilled the prophecy this issue – the band behind the excellent album Good Luck, released back in September, went all crude when we sent ’em over some queries.

5. Draw your dream audience: 3. Draw your ideal rider:

4. Draw your favourite musician of all time:

free stuff head to:

Cosmic Psychos photo by James Adams

Cosmic Psychos Listen, we’ll be real with you: for our money, two of the most exciting bands in Australia right now are Cosmic Psychos and Rackett. We love them both. We love them both a lot. So, it’s safe to say that we are pretty chuffed by the idea of VB Hard Yards, an event that will see the Psychos play alongside three emerging acts – Rackett, Shearin' and Mini Skirt – at the Lansdowne Hotel, as part of the Hards Yard initiative. One band from the three newcomers will win a very special award: a cash prize, and the opportunity to record a split with the Psychos. Want the opportunity to attend this ultra exciting, ultra prestigious event? Tickets aren’t available for purchase, but we have three double passes to give away. All you have to do is take a photo of yourself with the front cover of this issue of the BRAG, upload it to Instagram, and pop the hashtag #VBHardYards in the caption. We’ll get in touch if you’ve won!

BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 7

David James Young discovers life is pretty bloody good for Cosmic Psychos’ Ross Knight


The tour is in support of the band’s new standalone single, ‘Better In The Shed’, but the truth is the Psychos could arrive on any city’s doorstep, year in year out, and have a rabid audience awaiting them. Such is the bond they’ve built up with crowds over the course of 30-plus years, all of that love and appreciation motioned along by Ross Knight, AKA Knighty, the bass player, lead vocalist and sole remaining original member. 8 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

“I mean, if you didn’t enjoy it, then why would you wanna do it?” he reasons, knocking back a beer after soundcheck while his bandmates and the rest of the crew mill about the bandroom. “I mean, some people might like hitting themselves over the head with a stick. After a year, though, they’ll go, ‘This hurts! I don’t wanna do it anymore!’ The constant for me is being able to go out and have fun doing it. We’re lucky enough that we all still get along and we still really love doing it together. We don’t live in each other’s pockets, we don’t overthink it... We don’t even rehearse.”

“Yeah,” Knight replies. “Although keep a couple of songs as back-ups – just in case it all goes to shit!”

As if to prove this, John McKeering – the band’s guitarist, best known as Mad Macca – wanders over to the table to ask Knight a question about the setlist. “Those songs we did at soundcheck – keep ’em?” he asks.

Indeed, this is where VB Hard Yards comes into play, an initiative in which independent rock bands have submitted their songs for the chance to play with the Psychos themselves later this month. After an overwhelming amount of entries, three bands have been

Obviously, there’s no pretension or delusions of grandeur when it comes to the Cosmic Psychos – they still sound as guttural and rough as they did back when the band originally formed in 1982. Even so, these days there is unquestionably a veteran status that hangs about the band, and they’ve had years of experiences to impart on those new acts coming up through the ranks now.

Cosmic Psychos photo by Luke Henery


t’s another day at the office for the Cosmic Psychos as the band and their crew load into the recently reopened Lansdowne Hotel, mere minutes from the CBD of Sydney. The punk legends are gearing up for a bumper weekend, during which they’ll play two shows at the venue, both of which have sold out well in advance – as have most of the shows on this run, as it happens.


“Some people might like hitting themselves over the head with a stick. After a year, though, they’ll go, ‘This hurts! I don’t wanna do it anymore!’” “We were lucky, though. We had friends like The Celibate Rifles – a great Sydney band. We got to play a lot together – we’d go up to Sydney, they’d come down to Melbourne – and we were very supportive of one another. They were going over and doing tours through Europe, and in those days you’d play cassettes at the mixing desk between bands. They used to play a bit of the Psychos while they were over there, sharing our music with other people. That was a great show of support for us – it really was a massive help in getting over to Europe. Even if it’s just a little bit of encouragement, every little bit helps.” Our conversation is interrupted briefly by Amyl and the Sniffers, the Melbourne garage punk band who are on tour as the national support with the Psychos. They give a loud, thrashy soundcheck of their song ‘I’m Not A Loser’, which blares messily through the PA as Knight watches from afar. It’s their brief musical interlude that contextualises the next line of questioning, regarding how Cosmic Psychos are viewed by a younger generation. After all, many of the audience members who attend the band’s shows now were not even born when the Psychos first started, having been exposed to them by things like the 2013 documentary Blokes You Can Trust or their 2015 co-headlining tour with Dune Rats. Knight is grateful that a band from humble, rural beginnings can still draw such a crowd after so many years – and that a whole new group of Psychos fans have made their way up the front.

“Rock’n’roll sort of fucked itself about 20 years ago when independent rock became profitable and money-making rock all of a sudden. People just got disillusioned with the whole thing.” “We get along so well with those blokes in Dune Rats,” he says. “I regard them as some of me best mates now. I love looking at a young band like that, enjoying every second of what they’re doing. They never look like they’re at work – they’re just having fun. The same reason they’re doing it at their age is the same reason I’m doing it now, at a thousand years old.” Knight laughs: “Alright, maybe not a thousand. I am fifty-fucking-six, though. When I get up on stage, though, it doesn’t matter. I’m 18 again.

“It’s always been difficult to break out and to make a name for yourself as a band, but it’s even more so now – there’s a lot less venues, for instance.” selected as finalists – Rackett, Shearin’ and Mini Skirt – and they will make up the bill for the Lansdowne gig. As well as each scoring a mentoring session with the Psychos, a winner will be announced on the night for the grand prize: a recording session for a single to go on a split 7-inch with the Cosmic Psychos, and $3000 cash. When approached about the initiative, Knight and the rest of the Psychos team were immediately on board – to them, it seemed like a real no-brainer. “Bloody oath,” says Knight. “It seemed like a great thing to do. I don’t wanna sound too old and decrepit, but we’ve been around for a long time. It’s always been difficult to break out and to make a name for yourself as a band, but it’s even more so now – there’s a lot less venues, for instance. Rock’n’roll sort of fucked itself about 20 years ago when independent rock became

profitable and money-making rock all of a sudden. People just got disillusioned with the whole thing. Any initiative to help any band starting out is a good thing, I reckon. Any leg-up is a good leg-up.” One of the main reasons Knight and his bandmates were so responsive to the initiative was because they took the time to imagine what something like Hard Yards could have done for the Psychos themselves back in the early days. Knight recalls a very different climate when the band was first making their way around Melbourne in the ’80s – the venues were there, but the camaraderie was not. “It was pretty competitive,” Knight recalls. “Melbourne was an ultracool scene, and there didn’t seem to be a lot of support there from your fellow bands. You were either cool or you were stupid – and, needless to say, we fell under the stupid category.

“With a band like Amyl and the Sniffers, I see a lot of what me and the boys were doing 35 years ago. It’s great to see that kind of attitude still alive and well. I mean, it still works. It works a lot better for them than it does for a bunch of old cronies like us. I can only hope they’re still doing what they’re doing now in 30 years, and then they’ll be the ones to teach the next batch of bands to come through how to do it.” Knight smiles, as he turns to the stage and ‘I’m Not A Loser’ blares out again. A nice day to go to the pub indeed.

What: VB Hard Yards Where: Lansdowne Hotel When: Wednesday November 22 With: Shearin’, Rackett, Mini Skirt More: You can win tickets to attend the ultra exclusive VB Hard Yards gig via a competition in this issue of the BRAG. Head to the front of the magazine for more info.

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BY ALLISON GALLAGHER hroughout the two decades he’s fronted alternative rock icons The Drones, Gareth Liddiard – the band’s sole constant – has written dozens of tracks that coalesce the confrontational with the deeply relatable. On ‘Taman Shud’ from the band’s most recent album, 2016’s Feelin Kinda Free, Liddiard snarled with contempt for the superficial icons of Australia’s current zeitgeist, from Anzackery and MasterChef to mining booms and the Murdoch press. “I don’t give a fuck about no Andrew Bolt”, spat Liddiard, encapsulating in one sentence a collective generation’s exasperation at the increasingly prominent pedestal afforded to right-wing mouthpieces. And it’s that kind of frank, full-throated lyricism that has resonated with fans over the course of The Drones’ seven studio albums. Liddiard’s latest project Tropical Fuck Storm released their first single back in August, and the band has already proved similarly confrontational. The new group pairs a volatile art-punk aesthetic with acerbic reflections on the current cultural and political landscape, and sees Liddiard collaborating with fellow Drone Fiona Kitschin on bass and drummer Lauren Hammel of hardcore punks High Tension, as well as Erica Dunn, who has worked with outfits such as Harmony and Palm Springs. “We met Erica yonks again through her playing in Harmony, and then she wound up singing at a few Drones gigs with the Harmony girls,” says Liddiard. “Lauren, we didn’t know. I just saw a High Tension gig; it was her first, and I was amazed. When it ended up that we needed a drummer she was our first choice, so we just rang her out of the blue and it went well.” When asked about the intentions behind forming the band (who’ll play their debut headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne at the end of the month), Liddiard laughs. “I just got bored of doing the Drones for 17 years and needed to do something different.” Certainly it’s interesting the way that the psyched-out punk of Tropical Fuck Storm’s first two singles, ‘Chameleon Paint’ and ‘Soft Power’, while distinct, are vaguely reminiscent of cuts on newer Drones material – particularly the unsettling sense of paranoia that permeated much of Feelin Kinda Free. Liddiard’s trademark Western Australian howl feels right at home amongst the off-kilter guitar melodies and Kitschin’s swaggering rhythms.

Or How Gareth Liddiard Learned To Stop Worrying And Love America (Kinda) 10 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

“There’s maybe been kind of an idea in the press that Tropical Fuck Storm is a side project, but it’s not a side project. It’s a front and centre project.” “I guess the difference would be that TFS doesn’t come with a bunch of patterns that need breaking,” says Liddiard when asked whether TFS allowed him to explore musical ideas he felt reluctant to bring into the fold with the Drones. “If we wanted to do a two-and-a-half minute pop song, it would be easy with a new band because there’s no baggage. But ultimately, any band I’m in is going to sound a little like the Drones – we’ve had a million lineups, you know?” Apart from the upcoming headline shows, the immediate plan for TFS is to release four 7-inch singles eight weeks apart – ‘Chameleon Paint’ and ‘Soft Power’ being the first two. Each single also comes with a cover of a song the band “love and wish they had written”: so far they have dropped a snarling cover of The Nation Blue’s excellent ‘Mansion Family’, and a distinctly unique take on Lost Animals’ ‘Lose The Baby’. “We want to feature really good songs that no one’s heard of,” says Liddiard of the concept behind the covers. “With something like the Lost Animals song ‘Lose The Baby’, unless you’re real deep in the scene you just haven’t heard that song. Anyone who hears it is like, ‘Holy shit, how did I miss that?’ That’s the perfect example of what we’re trying to do with that.”

f course, the steady stream of singles TFS will drop over the next few months also helps keep them tight. They are new kids on this particular block, and they want to take on as many opportunities to hone their sound as they possibly can. “Doing the 4x 7-inch is cool because it gets us working, and doing the covers means we can play a song and arrange it without having to make it up. It’s good training for the band, because you’ve got to play together heaps before you get tight. We were lucky to do the four 7-inches and also have the big American tour. We sort of started out pretty uncoordinated and by the end of it we were really good.” Indeed, that recent stateside jaunt across the US, one that saw the band opening for Band of Horses and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, was a kind of trial by fire; an opportunity to dive right into the pressures and stresses of life on the road. And for his part, Liddiard feels spoilt to have been able to tour the States right off the bat, explaining that playing the Fillmore in San Fransisco – only the group’s ninth show ever – was a particular highlight. “We had a great time. In the south with Band of Horses, it was amazing; it was like playing headline shows here. We were treated really well and people were showing up for us – we were playing first, you know? It was cool.”

“It’s hard to gauge if people are paying attention to the lyrics, and if they are, what they’re getting out

Tropical Fuck Storn photo by Bleddyn Butcher

Of course, there was always the possibility that American audiences might not exactly respond well to Liddiard’s caustic, political songwriting, and I ask Liddiard what it’s like to be an Australian playing charged songs like ‘Soft Power’ to a San Franciscan audience. After all, that song features the opening line, “Hold your fire man, don’t shoot / Here comes the umpa lumpa with the nukes.”

“Outrage is kind of fun.” BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 11


of it. Sometimes I’d go, ‘Fuck, you could say anything and no one would notice’ and after a gig people would come up and say, ‘That was a really interesting line’. It’s really subjective. There’s a lot of political stuff in there, but I don’t know whether people are picking up on it.” From his time overseas, Liddiard reckons the sheen of stability and success that the United States have projected for decades is finally starting to corrupt; there are very visible chips in the paint. “The whole situation over there is so outrageous. “Everyone’s take on it is wildly different. The whole fucking place is coming apart at the seams. The veneer is coming off; that whole ‘greatest country in the world’ thing, it’s just bullshit. You go somewhere like San Fransisco and there’s people shooting up in the street. That’s third-world shit, man: that’s not the greatest country on earth. I think people were happy to be deluded in the 20th century, but now it’s harder to maintain that delusion. If you introduce a political song into that mix, sometimes I wonder if anyone even notices, because the universe there is already so politicized at the moment.”

“If you think you’ve got moral superiority on someone and you treat them like an evil onedimensional object, you’re a hypocrite.”

hile ‘Soft Power’ sets Trump and his denizens in its sights, first single ‘Chameleon Paint’ has a different target entirely. The screeching, danceable track is a frank reflection on the modern instaoutrage machine, where cycles of online shaming and mob mentality – facilitated by an unfettered access to technology – dehumanize relationships and reduce the capacity for empathy.

I suggest that we have a tendency towards misdirecting our rage at abstract, detached targets rather than looking in our own backyards or what our governments are doing. “If you’re

“There’s no such thing as evil.” 12 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

Our collective refusal to aim criticism where it is deserved may also be reflected in the Australian culture’s distaste for artists who make politics a part of their methodology, instead preferring our musicians to serve as politically-mute jukeboxes. Just look at last year’s Feelin Kinda Free, which received flak from a host of commentators for its confrontational subject matter: the aforementioned Bolt, in response to his inclusion in ‘Taman Shud’, penned a self-congratulatory blog post aimed at the “foul-mouthed Drones, stamping on the ashes of the West’s musical traditions”. Similarly, a comment left on the Youtube video for ‘Chameleon Paint’ reads: “this could have been great if it didn’t bring their obvious political opinion into it”, which is kind of a laugh, given that anyone familiar with Liddiard’s work over the past 20 years would be well aware that it’s a common thread in his practice. “Yeah, it’s a minstrel kind of thing; like I’m just there for your entertainment,” says Liddiard when I ask about the expectation for artists to shut up and sing. “Especially with that song, if you removed the political shit, what would be left? What would that person enjoy that’s depoliticized? It’d just be a bassline. Then you get people like [Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst] saying, ‘No one writes political songs anymore’ and it’s like, for fuck’s sake, what do I have to do? Do I have to kill myself onstage? Or, take someone like Dan Kelly for instance: every song he writes is political and he’s been doing that for 15 years. You just can’t win either way.” Of course, it is possible that Liddiard’s work doesn’t immediately get recognised as political because the missives that serve as the backbone of his lyrics are typically idiosyncratic. His

songs are first and foremost concerned with the human rather than the abstract, and his work extends beyond the range of most simplistic and reactionary reflections. “Yeah, that ‘smash the state’ political thing doesn’t have any empathy; doesn’t have any heart or anything,” says Liddiard, when I ask what it’s like mashing up the human with the political. “It can a bit boring, really; the ‘political punk rock’ thing. When I’m reading the paper or listening to the radio, it gives it so much more soul when something has that kind of empathy. “From the perspective of the person who has to sing that shit every night as well it makes it a lot easier to sing. There’s just a lot more in it. The thing is, nobody’s perfect and no one has a monopoly on morality. That is what I find frustrating about that online morality shit – you’re not perfect. It’s that throwing stones in glass houses thing. You should see the human in anyone, even people you’re criticising. Otherwise you’re just a fucking lynch mob, and you’re no better.” He pauses for a moment. “If you think you’ve got moral superiority on someone and you treat them like an evil one-dimensional object, you’re a hypocrite. There’s no such thing as evil. There’s dickheads who’ve gone down the wrong road, and we’re all a product of our environment and all that. People forget that: we become really onedimensional and cruel.” Looking ahead, Liddiard is keen to start recording the debut TFS album in December, working with Aaron Cupples who recorded parts of the last Drones album. “We’ll put it out in May – that’s the plan – and tour. There’s maybe been kind of an idea in the press that it’s a side project, but it’s not a side project. It’s a front and centre project. We’re a band, and we’re going to do what bands do.” ■ Where: Lansdowne Hotel When: Saturday November 25, Sunday November 26 With: Dispossessed, Mere Women, Tim And The Boys And: ‘Soft Power’ is out Friday November 17 through TFS Records/Mistletone

Tropical Fuck Storn photo by Bleddyn Butcher

And although it might seem like that’s just the way the world is now – that grumbling is the new norm – Liddiard thinks there’s going to eventually be a kickback against holier-thanthou proselytizing. “Outrage is kind of fun. It’s fun to get on there and go, ‘fuck you’ – it’s fun for people to get out of the office for a minute. But I think the pile-on, mob-rule thing; it’s just unsavoury. It’s a good thing and a bad thing simultaneously though: it’s been a boon for say, the queer community. I think that mostly I just don’t like when it becomes self-righteousness. I think that’s a bit weird.”

an activist online, you’ll be getting death threats and copping heaps of shit, but I doubt Peter Dutton is really copping that in the same way,” Liddiard says. “If people were really aiming venom at the government, maybe the refugee situation would be a little better.”


360: A Fine Vintage Deftly mixing the old with the new, Matt Colwell’s new record under the 360 name is his best yet. He told Brooke Gibbs all about it


60, AKA 31-year-old Melbournian Matt Colwell, has just released his fourth studio album, Vintage Modern, and he is, for all intents and purposes, an artist re-invigorated. Colwell wrote the bulk of the album on the guitar, creating melodic acoustic pieces first, before teaming up with a tight-knit production crew including longtime collaborator Styalz Fuego, executive producer Nic Martin and chief instrumentalist Carl Dimataga to shape the album into the banging, textural beast it is today. Fuzzed-out layered, Vintage Modern pairs Colwell’s trademark charm, honesty and razor sharp raps with a lush sonic backbone of guitars. It’s somehow both immediately familiar and genuinely gamechanging for the artist, with live instrumental loops taking the place of the heavy synths and electronic drops Colwell’s music is traditionally known for. Colwell attributes a lot of the album’s success to the involvement of Fuego, Martin and Dimataga, describing Dimataga in particular as the best artist he knows. “He’s just incredible. He makes such amazing music, and he’s just a real musician. He’s like an encyclopedia of music. You can ask him about any artist from any era and he knows about all of them, so he can deliver any style

of music that you want. Nick and Styalz are probably the best producers in the country. I’m just incredibly lucky to work with people like that.” And that’s not even to mention the swathe of guest stars Colwell pulled in to collaborate with him: everyone from Hein Cooper to Teischa to Seth Sentry to PEZ got involved. “I feel like working with Hein Cooper on ‘Yesterday’ was great – like, he’s just an incredible songwriter and artist. Also, Teischa, who’s on ‘Way Out’ just has one of those incredibly, incredibly unique voices – the kind that I haven’t heard in a long time. “Then there’s Gary Clark, who’s on ‘Trouble’ – he is such an outstanding writer. The chorus on that song is incredible and the lyric “the trouble with God is man” is probably one of my favourite lyrics on the whole album. I think it sums up what the song is about perfectly. He’s someone I’ve worked with in the past a fair bit, and I’ll hopefully continue to work with.” The driving manifesto behind Vintage Modern was, much as it says on the tin, about combining the traditional with the cutting edge. That, Colwell explains, is why you’ll hear both a lot of organic instrumentation and a lot of modern production: why you’ll hear both guitar work and pitch-shifted drums. “With the rapping we wanted to do the same thing as well,” Colwell says. “We wanted to have a modern kind of feel. It was really about just blending vintage music and modern music together, and trying to create one album that’s like a perfect mix of both.” Colwell’s personal favourite track on the album is ‘Tiny Angel’, which he describes

in no uncertain terms as the best song he’s ever written. “I think it’s just the best songwriting I’ve done. I feel like it’s important for me as an artist. I really wanted to show my songwriting ability and show that I can do stuff that’s not always about personal experiences that I’ve gone through; that I can write songs about other stuff that’s not necessarily anything that I’ve experienced myself. So to put myself in someone else’s shoes and write a song like that and have people connect with it... I feel like it really worked.” Moreover, Colwell feels Vintage Modern is a fresh start for him, both as an artist and as a person.“I actually feel like I’m starting over again. I have got a fanbase already, so I feel like this is a careerdefining moment for me to actually release an album after such a long time off, being clean and off drugs. Releasing this album is just a really huge deal for me – just even being able to do it.” Colwell has a huge national tour coming up, one that will see him take in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and more. As he tells it, he feels like this will be the first time he will properly be able to drink up the experience of being on the road, given his head is that much clearer now. “I can’t wait to get back out there and be really present in the moment and soak it all up. It’s really easy to get run-down, so it’s important to stay healthy and look after yourself. In the past I haven’t really thought [touring] out properly and was just winging it everywhere that I went, but this time, I really want to try and have a routine set in place so when I do wake up in the morning, I go for a run or do a bit of exercise. I’ll try and eat really

“I really wanted to show my songwriting ability and show that I can do stuff that’s not always about personal experiences that I’ve gone through; that I can write songs about other stuff that’s not necessarily anything that I’ve experienced myself.” healthy while I’m away, and try and keep my shit together rather than just eating junk food.” After that, Colwell isn’t really sure where his road will take him. His plans for the future get no more complicated than this: he wants to open people’s minds, break out of boxes, and quietly, ambitiously, change the game. “If you think of a painter, a painter would never create the same painting twice. They would always make something new and different. and that’s something that I hope really comes across with my music. I want every album to be different; every album to show a lot of growth, and to hopefully inspire other people to do the same.” Where: Metro Theatre When: Friday March 2 And: Vintage Modern out now through Universal Music Australia

“I want every album to be different; every album to show a lot of growth, and to hopefully inspire other people to do the same.”

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“I stopped being concerned whether I was happy a long time ago.” of getting on stage; welcoming people to that world, like a gothic theatre... It’s grotesque, is what it is.” Cameron’s music may be rather mournful – not to mention more than occasionally downright creepy – but he maintains that it is designed to be resilient above everything else. That’s thanks largely to his refusal to engage in ‘happy/sad’ binaries, and his habit of accepting contentedness; of the adequate rather than the extreme. “I stopped being concerned whether I was happy a long time ago; I’m aiming at satisfaction,” he purrs. “If I can go to bed at night knowing I've done right with my loved ones, knowing I've learnt something about how the world works and the way humans work, gained an understanding of the habits of people, and I can find that thread of hope through my writing or conversation, then I am satisfied. I think happiness is a byproduct of satisfaction. You don’t get to plan to be happy. You just get it when you get it, and you’re grateful you have it. People should be aware of that. It’s a chemical response in the mind to satisfaction.” For Cameron personally, satisfaction is achieved by surrendering oneself to the throes of romance. And although his albums wail with the sound of bad sex, sleaze and depravity, Cameron thinks it's important that his music has room for a female influence, lest it became a machismo echo chamber. “From time to time we get an opportunity to relax. I really do recharge when I'm in love; I get a feeling of having good fortune when I'm with my girl. There's a really important female influence on this record, all the way to the subject matter to personnel on the record. Even the sound engineer, in my opinion, is the world's leading sound engineer – she mixed a good decent chunk of the record and two singles. My record is written from a male perspective, but I am under no illusion that I am singular, and that I could get the job done myself. I want collaboration and I, especially, want women involved.” That said, Cameron’s ‘business partner’ and saxophonist Roy Molloy is his go-to; the two are happily carving out their niche in a fussy world, and working like mad to ‘live the dream’.

Alex Cameron: Perverse Player Having shed the stony-faced makeup of his ‘character’, Alex Cameron tells Lisa Dib he is finally comfortable getting up onstage and letting his songs do the talking for him

“I always enjoy playing in Australia,” Cameron says. “I’m sad not to come back. I wish there was more work for me there. There's a way you can work every night here, which is not the case in Australia; you’d play, max, two times a week on average as a musician. As someone who wants to get better and improve, you have to work regularly to get sharper. It’s hard to do that in Australia, so I jumped at the opportunity to come to the States. I look forward dearly to come back to Australia. When I come back, it'll be kind of exciting.

“You don’t get to plan to be happy.” 14 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

There's an attitude that's unique; they [audiences] like to be involved.” While listeners loved Jumping The Shark for Cameron’s downtrodden protagonist, the ’80s inflected melodies softening the blow of our narrator’s self-pity and shame, Forced Witness strips away the artifice of our craggy-skinned host and keeps things more real. Not, mind you, that Cameron has abandoned the streak of darkness that defined his debut, or its interesting penchant for sleaze. “The songs were better than I was giving them credit for. I was employing a lot of different ideas to get the message across. It was satisfying creatively, but I prefer when the songs lead the way. I've been playing with this act for four years, and I’ve learnt that I appreciate the songs more than I do the theatre of it. I've just become more comfortable performing. I have embraced the exposed element

“He’s a hard-working guy, Roy. We've been touring non-stop and we share that mentality, like, ‘Why on Earth would we want time off?’ Why should we, as musicians, expect to do nothing with our days? Between me and Roy, we've worked in every kind of field: we've done retail, Roy has done physical labour and hospo, I've done clerical and government jobs... Roy is highly educated; he went to uni. I didn't. If we want to make a living off it, it’s gonna take a lot of work.” What: Laneway 2018 Where: Sydney College Of The Arts, Rozelle When: Sunday February 4 With: Aldous Harding, Father John Misty, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Shame, Wolf Alice and more And: Oxford Art Factory on Tuesday February 13 Also: Forced Witness is out now on Secretly Canadian via Inertia Music

Alex Cameron photo by Chris Rhodes


SA-via-Sydney performer Alex Cameron is feeling alright. He’s in a good place; he’s currently in Los Angeles, rehearsing and getting ready for a slew of U.S. shows. The man you might know better as the melancholy failed entertainer ‘character’ from his 2013 album Jumping The Shark has returned for the new record Forced

Witness, and with a bang: while Jumping The Shark was initially released for free on Cameron’s website, Forced Witness was a major label affair, with hype drummed up by cultural tastemakers as varied as Pitchfork and Henry Rollins.

“I needed his tone on there; it’s kind of like a totem.” Cameron explains. “It’s an important part of what we do; every chance we have, we get the sax on the record. That's what he does. He plays a type of sax that’s less pop solo-driven and more melodic. It’s a kind of beacon symbol for what we like.


Rachel Maria Cox: Sad Grrrls’ Mastermind Rachel Maria Cox, the organiser of the acclaimed Sad Grrrls Fest, takes time out of their busy schedule to tell Joseph Earp they are more at peace than ever


achel Maria Cox is checking their phone in a crowded Starbucks in Sydney’s CBD. The Newcastlebased singer-songwriter is getting a text from a friend – an old friend is how they describe him, although the pair haven’t actually known each other for that long at all. “In years, it isn’t a long time, but in terms of the person who I was it feels like a long time ago,” Cox says, smiling a little.


Cox is sober now; something that some of their old friends find hard to get their heads around. They describe it almost like becoming a new person; there is a part of them that has blossomed now, and they don’t know if that’s always easy for people to take. “It’s kind of weird hanging out with people who only knew me when I drank. A lot of my friends from Sydney and a lot of my high school friends knew me as a big party animal. I feel like they expect me to be a wild party animal now, so I think they’d be surprised to find out that now I spend a lot of time negotiating how much space my cat gets in the bed, and drinking tea, and watching every single romantic comedy on Netflix in the bath. That’s my life now. I’m so boring. But I love it.”

One gets the distinct sense talking to the 22-year-old Cox that they have hit their stride. They have released an excellent record, Untidy Lines; they have Sad Grrls Fest coming up, a day long celebration of music made by gender non-conforming and female performers that they have spearheaded for years; and they seem happy; you know, genuinely happy; happy in the way that just radiates off a person. And a lot of that is reflected in their music. Just as their last release, the excellent I Just Have A Lot Of Feelings dealt unsentimentally and honestly with loneliness, and (self) love, and the weird anxieties that come from living in a social media saturated age, so too does Untidy Lines never pretend to be anything other than confessional. It is the sound of a young musician who has mastered their craft, and, more than that, knows that it can help them say things they might not otherwise be able to put into words. So although Cox has a “brand” – even casual fans of the songwriter might be aware of their love of Lee Harding’s ‘Wasabi’, Mother energy drink and Netflix rom-coms – that hasn’t been designed as a gimmick, or a way of throwing Cox’s audience off their scent. “Netflix is part of my brand because it’s a lot of what I spend my free time doing. I guess with my songs, they’re pretty autobiographical. And it means if people know my songs, then they know me for who I am. If you know my image as a musician, that’s like knowing me as a friend in a lot of ways, because it’s just the way I am. “It’s this authenticity thing, I guess.

Netflix is part of my brand because it’s a lot of what I spend my free time doing, and it’s the same thing with my songs. They’re just a pretty accurate summary of my life. I try not to be too gimmicky; I don’t want them to date.” Part of that meant going metaphorical instead of literal. So although Untidy Lines is astonishingly honest, it is honesty like poetry is honest. It is not a catalogue, or a litany of exes and damage done, and Cox’s story is not told in sordid details and name-drops. It is a record that you understand innately on the deepest level that you understand things, rather than a record that you academically process and disseminate. “It’s honest in sentiment,” Cox says. “The whole record is probably less literal than the EP. I tried to make it a little more imagery heavy and metaphorical. I started teaching this songwriting course at my work, and that kind of made me think a lot about saying more by saying less.” Cox bats a green tea back and forth between their hands. “You can almost track the order in which the songs on the LP were written just in terms of the most verbose to the least verbose. The least verbose songs are the most recent – because I like that approach. I have to edit more. That’s a good thing. It’s good for all my romantic partners. I mean, ’Emotionally Untidy’ as a song – that could have been a real emotional attack. But I tried to make sure that it wasn’t. "I tried to be kind. I mean, partly that’s self-preservation: if I write a song that I have to play a lot, I don’t want all those

“I spend a lot of time negotiating how much space my cat gets in the bed, and drinking tea, and watching every single romantic comedy on Netflix in the bath.” emotions to be brought up every single time that I play the song.” More than that, Cox doesn’t have much room for emotional attacks anymore. They are, in the truest sense of the word, at peace. And their music reflects that – the last song on Untidy Lines is called ‘Stronger Lines’, and it ends with the words “I am stronger than I was before, no, I’m not losing sleep anymore.” “I don’t like holding onto bitterness,” Cox says. “Occasionally I will write a song that is bitter about someone, but I never play it live. I write it, I never record it. I play it once, for myself, and then it is done.” Cox smiles. “I guess I try to be a bit more forgiving.” What: Sad Grrrls Fest Where: The Red Rattler When: Saturday November 18 With: Major Leagues, Moaning Lisa, Antonia And The Lazy Susans, Sports Bra and more

“I don’t like holding onto bitterness.” BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 15


Cigarettes After Sex: Bedroom Talk Greg Gonzalez tells Augustus Welby that he wants his band to follow in the footsteps of Madonna


t’s becoming an increasingly familiar story: a musician posts a few songs online to not much initial acclaim or attention. But then fast forward a few years and those songs have racked up tens of millions of plays, attracting a global – and distincly committed – listenership. Such is the story of Brooklyn-via-El Paso foursome Cigarettes After Sex. Rolling on from the momentum generated by breakthrough YouTube hit ‘Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby’, the ambient dream pop act released their debut self-titled LP in June 2017. From a creative perspective, the swelling fanbase didn’t derail the vision of songwriter and bandleader Greg Gonzalez – but that’s not to say that his ambitions have ever been modest. “With this group, it was always about aiming to be a band like all the huge mainstream artists that I grew up with,” says Gonzalez. “I’m using a lot of influences that are more cult or more obscure, but a lot of my biggest influences are Madonna or someone like that – someone who’s more mainstream.”


Most discerning indie rock fans probably aren’t accustomed to their favourite new acts citing Madonna as a primary influence, and, for the sake of clarity,

it’s worth pointing out that the songs on Cigarettes After Sex sound almost nothing like the hits stuffed in the pop megastar’s repertoire. However, Gonzalez says the influence stems more from what Madonna was trying to do with her music than what it sounds like – particularly during her ’80s to ’90s heyday. “It was very quantitative and very sexual; very pop. I don’t think the band really feels like her music. It feels more like Elvis on Sun Records or Sinatra when he did In the Wee Small Hours. But both of those were still as mainstream as possible.” Thematically, Cigarettes After Sex centres around romance, relationships and lovemaking, with the latter given particular precedence. While not all songs directly mention sex, it’s never too far away from the action. Not that the band’s coverage of lust is typical, mind you: although a lot of other songwriters pair overtly sexual lyrics and outwardly provocative music – sweaty sounds, evocative of pulsing muscles and sizzling lust – Gonzalez’s songwriting is more representative of tenderness and intimacy.

of the passion and the feelings that you feel and love – all these things just really intermingle for me. And I just felt like it was better to talk about it [as a whole].” Gonzalez occasionally brings colloquial sexual terminology into his lyrics, using expressions like “tits” and “sucking cock”. Any heterosexual man using this kind of language risks sounding predatory or lewd, but Gonzalez’s naïve, wistful vocal delivery helps to dodge perversion. “I just felt that sort of language had to be in there as well since it was my background, coming from everyday language with my friends or with lovers or even films,” he says. “It’s just the language of now that I felt it would be dishonest to exclude. But you have to walk a very fine line when you say those things in a song, because it’s all about the way that they are said within the framework of the song. What I’m trying to achieve here is to say things that might be sexually blunt, but to do so in a way that comes across sweet. It’s more a bedroom kind of talk.

“Sex is so dangerous to talk about, mostly because of what it can mean to so many different people,” he says. “It can really go horribly wrong in some situations. But the music I want to make is coming from an honest place. [It’s about] this more passionate thing you might have with someone that can still be very positive and still hit you very deeply.

“There’s humour there and there’s honesty there and it’s everyday language, which is why I wanted to present it that way. But I can see it being taken as harsh by some people that don’t have the same background as me, even though I felt it was very normal to put those words in those songs. It’s something that was missing in modern pop music as well; anyone writing this way.”

“There are relationships I’ve had where sex was a really big part of it. In terms

Gonzalez has previously admitted that all of his lyrics are based on

“Sex is so dangerous to talk about, mostly because of what it can mean to so many different people.” 16 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

“Sometimes I’ll play a show and there’ll be a very intense memory associated with the song that enters my mind. It’ll almost choke me up.” experiences from his personal life, which has allowed him to re-engage with specific memories and emotions when performing live. During the course of touring the album this year, his connection to those memories has changed shape. “[The songs] definitely evolve and they start to take on more meanings. Sometimes I’ll play a show and there’ll be a very intense memory associated with the song that enters my mind. It’ll almost choke me up. It’s nice – you have a memory and it’s this thing that puts your whole life in perspective. So if I’m playing a show in London to 3000 people and then I think back to the memory of the song where it was just me and a girl in a room and we had nothing at that point, it’s amazing what that kind of contrast can do to your feelings. “Also when I see people and I hear their stories about their connections with the songs, or I see them first hand in the audience, then I start to gather more memories of what these songs have meant to different people and how those new memories will affect me. It’s this interesting evolution.” Where: Max Watt’s When: Wednesday January 3


“The Breeders are probably the biggest influence for me. They have attitude and killer songs; they’re just all round a great band.”

Major Leagues: The Sound Of The Future Belinda Quinn talks Buffy The Vampire Slayer, band dynamics, and The Breeders with Major Leagues’ inimitable Anna Davidson



guitar sound and Stephen Malkmus [of Pavement] is definitely one of my biggest lyrical heroes. Those bands are all big influences, all for different reasons.” The band’s debut album Good Love is tied together with dark thematic threads and upbeat rhythms, making Major Leagues a genuine standout when compared to the fuzzy, summer-soaked bands that tend to stick to light-hearted lyricisms.

here’s something about listening to Major League’s melancholic slacker-pop that transports me to Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s fictional Californian nightclub and watering hole The Bronze, which hosted fierce, feminine-fronted acts in the cult show’s early years, including The Breeders, Bif Naked and Cibo Matto. “I’ll definitely tell Vlada [Edirippulige, bassist] you said that because she is a huge Buffy fan!” says vocalist and guitarist, Anna Davidson.

That said, while their music can be heavy-hearted, they’re not a onedimensional band. When Good Love’s first track ends, someone abruptly and comically belts out a theatrical introduction: “Welcome to the Major Leagues album, track two coming up next”, an addition so bizarre that I had to double check it was really in the track – and this moment perfectly captures the foursome’s cute and silly nature.

“The Breeders are probably the biggest influence for me. They have attitude and killer songs; they’re just all round a great band,” she says. “My Bloody Valentine inspired us to get more creative with our

“I think Good Love is lots more cohesive than our previous releases,” Davidson says. “I think it’s probably because Jaimee [Fryer, guitarist] and I collaborated a lot more in the first stages

“Major Leagues is one thing that has been a constant in my life, even when everything else has turned to shit.”

“If I’m feeling stressed or upset about something, making up a story and writing a song or even just messing around on guitar usually helps take my mind off things.” of writing the songs. Previously we would bring our songs nearly completed to each other and the band. With Good Love, we sent each other parts and collaboratively built the songs from the bottom up.” The title track starts with an ear-catching, glittering riff and repeats the lyric, “If you wait good love is on the way” until they become mediative. “Jaimee wrote that one,” Davidson offers. “It’s about a conversation she had with a friend of ours who was going through a really rough time. “She had been through some shitty relationship stuff and was feeling like she’d never find someone that would really love and appreciate her. I guess in the song Jaimee is telling her that things will turn out; it will just take some time.” When asked what drives her to make music, Davidson answers quickly. “It’s a way to express how I’m feeling. Or sometimes it’s just a good way to get out of my own head. If I’m feeling stressed or upset about something, making up a story and writing a song or even just messing around on guitar usually helps take my mind off things.”

Major Leagues sprung out of the same Brisbane music scene that fostered the growth of punk and indie acts Babaganouj, Velociraptor and DZ Deathrays. “The best thing about the scene is how supportive everyone is of one another’s bands,” Davidson says. “The worst thing is that it can still be a total boy’s club, and I still see lineups that are all bros. Things are getting better as people become more aware of how this is problematic, but we still have a long way to go.” In the meantime, Major Leagues will just have to do what they have always done: find their support in one another. “We’ve been through so much together; the really bad and really good. Major Leagues is one thing that has been a constant in my life, even when everything else has turned to shit. We are best friends and it’s an amazing bonus that we get to travel around together doing what we all love.” What: Sad Grrrls Fest 2017 Where: The Red Rattler When: Saturday November 18 With: Sports Bra, Moaning Lisa, Antonia And The Lazy Susans, Dog Dirt and more

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Spinifex Gum: The Empire Of The Outback David James Young talks to The Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl about his new project Spinifex Gum, and finds the musician feels more politically active now than he ever has before


’ve seen a lot of this country over all of my years of touring,” says Felix Riebl, singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and frontman of veteran funk-pop collective The Cat Empire. “I’ve visited all the big cities, a lot of small towns and my fair share of indigenous communities through it. None of it was anything like the Pilbara.”


The Pilbara region is found to the north of Western Australia. Its population is just shy of 60,000 people, and the area covers some of the oldest rock foundations on the face of the earth – and that’s not just a superlative. The place has a history to it; an ancient history. Riebl originally came to the area back in 2014, after being asked to travel there to write music for the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir. And not only did he go there, he kept coming back –

Riebl developed a fascination with the area, and was ready to go well above and beyond the call of duty in order to bring the sounds of the area back over to the east coast with him. “It’s rare in life that a project finds you,” he says. “I went there with a very open mind, walking around with a field recorder. I kept doing the same thing over several trips, and I became really interested in the sounds that were coming out of the place. Ollie [McGill, The Cat Empire’s keyboardist] and I found all these moments in those recordings when we were listening back to them, while we were out on tour with The Cat Empire. We ended up sampling those moments and programming them into some drum machines. The album revealed itself in that way to us. It was a wild production idea – making these gnarly, industrial beats and putting this teenage choir over the top of it. It just kept on giving – the more we did, the more exciting it became.” The album is the self-titled debut release by Riebl and McGill under the moniker of Spinifex Gum. Pieced together over the better part of three-and-a-half years, the record predominantly features the voices of a group Riebl assembled himself from the aforementioned Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir. Naming the choir Marliya, Riebl wrote songs that were refl ective of the Pilbara’s people, its plights and their stories. “I can honestly say that this is the most exciting album

“It’s been a lot of work, but I definitely think we’ll make more albums.” 18 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

that I’ve been involved in – artistically, socially, politically,” he says. “It happened because the music took us there, if that makes sense. When I’m writing for The Cat Empire or for a solo record, I know the confines within which I’m working. That’s not to say those albums can’t sound fresh – but you have a pretty clear idea of what you’re doing and what you’re working with. With Spinifex Gum, I was confronting aspects of Australia and a side of Australia that I hadn’t really seen before. It took me into a community that I felt incredibly grateful to be a part of. It’s a really broad, ambitious album that gave me an entirely different outlook.” Joining Riebl, McGill and Marliya on Spinifex Gum are three very different guests, but three musicians that nevertheless perfeclty fit the vision of what the album and its songs are attempting to convey. They are Midnight Oil frontman and former Labor minister Peter Garrett; Shepparton rapper and one half of A.B. Original, Briggs; and indigenous blues singer Emma Donovan. Having put together the songs with each of those players in mind, Riebl now expresses his gratitude that they all said yes to getting involved; the project might well have collapsed had they not. “I’ve met Peter a few times previously, so I reached out to his management to pitch him the track,” says Riebl of Garrett, who sings on the song ‘Malungungu’. “When I’d written this song, I started to wonder who would best fit the character. Peter immediately came to mind, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ The worst he could do was say no. Thankfully, though, he loved the track. He came and did his bit,

“I can honestly say that this is the most exciting album that I’ve been involved in – artistically, socially, politically.” and he’s even in the music video. It’s just as much his song now as it is ours. As for someone like Briggs, he is someone that has been more outspoken than anyone in regards to the disproportionate rate of indigenous youth that are incarcerated. Through his work and through his music, he’s become a real advocate for the cause. He got right behind it when he heard the track, ‘Locked Up’ – I think the whole thing really appealed to him.” With Donovan sealing the deal on a thrilling cover of Tom Waits’ ‘Make It Rain’, Spinifex Gum is unquestionably one of the most unique records to be released this year – not just within Australia, but on a global scale. That’s not something that’s lost on Riebl – he speaks of Spinifex Gum with the most revered of tones, and is well aware that this is far more than just a side-project. “With this album, we wanted to make music that’s uplifting, exciting and political – all at the same time,” he says. “It’s been a lot of work, but I definitely think we’ll make more albums. Whether that’s in a totally different place or not, I’m not sure yet. I can certainly say, though, that we’re interested enough and invested enough in it to do it.” What: Spinifex Gum is out now through Universal Music Australia


!!!: Still Shaking It Up David James Young learns, amongst other things, the origins of Nic Offer’s now legendary suit/shorts combo


his year marks the 21st birthday of !!!. That means 21 years of confused looks, 21 years of awkwardly asking how to pronounce the name (the most common is “chk chk chk”) and 21 years of raving unto the joy fantastic. From their mid-’90s beginnings to their mid-2000s boom and their continued work into the 2010s, !!! are still going strong, dropping excellent, danceable record after excellent, danceable record. They don’t show any signs of slowing down either. Most of 2017 has seen the band on the road in support of album number seven, the punky and anthemic Shake The Shudder, and it’s been quite the birthday party – as every 21st should be, after all. “It’s been a lot of fun,” says Nic Offer, the band’s frontman and founding member.


“This is our first year touring with our new drummer, a guy named Chris Egan. We’re also currently going between two different female vocalists, depending on where we’re touring. Lili is used whenever we go over to the UK and to Europe, and in the States we perform with Mia Pace. They both sing on Shake

The Shudder, and they both bring really different elements to the performance side of things. It’s great to have them both on board – I’m really lucky that we get to go between the two of them.” Shake The Shudder, released back in May, arrived some 18 months after their last LP, As If. For those that don’t understand the album title, it’s essentially a turn of phrase that means ‘dance your cares away’; a suggestion that if the world’s getting you down, simply shake the shudder – get on the dancefloor and show the world what you’re working with. It’s something Offer takes to heart – even after all these years in the game, !!! is still his top priority. “I put everything into this band and this music,” he says. “Everything I do is focused on the group. Any book I read, any album I listen to, any film I see... I channel it all and use it to get better at what I do, and put that into the music. Even after all these years, it’s still the main thing that’s on my mind. Honestly, whenever we set out to write something, it’s always in the pursuit of doing something new. A lot of the time, it comes back to just making great dance-punk songs – and, even then, that’s us pushing against the limits of our sound.” !!! are commonly referred to as one of the pioneers of dance-punk as we know it – a catch-all term that refers to music that incorporates club elements into live instrumentation. Disco beats, big synthesizers and dynamite grooves

“I put everything into this band and this music.”

“I started wearing shorts onstage a few years ago – first because of practical reasons, and then I just kept doing it.” are the business of the genre – and business is good. Acts such as LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture have long had the tag associated with them, and !!! have certainly done their fair share of work in regards to keeping the sound alive long after the hype of the blogosphere (and, indeed, much of the blogosphere itself) died away. “I always use glam-rock as an example,” says Offer. “T-Rex just made the same record over and over again because it worked for them, but there were always artists within that genre that pushed the sound to its extremes. Look at people like David Bowie, like Roxy Music, like Sparks. That’s what they were able to do, and I’ve always wanted to do the same for dance-punk or disco-punk or whatever people want to call it. I don’t want to see the limitations. I want to push it out there.” One of the singles from the album – and perhaps a succinct anthem for the band itself – is ‘Dancing Is The Best Revenge’. Its music video, shot in Los Angeles, features drag queens with incredible names such as Kamryn Moore-Fierce and Phoebe Monroe DeLa Strawberry, and was inspired after Offer developed an alter ego to account for pitched-up vocals on the record, which he dubbed Nicole Fayu. “It was a really fun video to shoot,” he says. “When I was working on the groove of that song in the studio, I

envisioned it as a real strut. It really reminded me of the kind of drag clubs I’d go to, and you’d see so many people just walking it out on the dancefloor. There’s a real ballroom element to it. I felt like I was really adapting a persona by using a different voice on the track – the whole thing just came together really, really naturally. Making the video felt like I was really following through on finding a character through this song.” You may also notice that all recent videos of !!! performing feature Offer in a distinctive royal blue suit jacket and matching short-shorts. This has become his de facto uniform for the Shake The Shudder tour – and it’s not coming off anytime soon. “The guys tend to just wear street clothes, but I’ve been rocking the suit,” he says. “I started wearing shorts onstage a few years ago – first because of practical reasons, and then I just kept doing it. I think the turning point actually came after a show that we did in Paris a few years ago. Full disclosure, it absolutely sucked. It was horrible. Afterwards, all of these people came up to me – but not to complain about the set. They were asking, ‘Why didn’t you wear the shorts?’ I took that as a sign to go with them from then on.” Where: Oxford Art Factory When: Thursday December 14 And: Shake The Shudder out now through Warp / Inertia BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 19

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07:11:17 :: Oxford Art Factory :: 38-46 Oxford St, Darlinghurst 9332 3711

the growlers

03:11:17 :: Oxford Art Factory :: 38-46 Oxford St, Darlinghurst 9332 3711

confidence man

What we’ve been out to see this fortnight. See full galleries at

s n a p s


26:10:17 :: Oxford Art Factory :: 38-46 Oxford St, Darlinghurst 9332 3711

13:10:17 :: The Factory Theatre :: 105 Victoria Rd, Marrickville 9550 3666

the clouds

25:10:17 :: Metro Theatre :: 624 George St, Sydney 9550 3666

04:11:17 :: Oxford Art Factory :: 38-46 Oxford St, Darlinghurst 9332 3711

less than jake

the belligerents

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Slowdive: Moving In Slow Motion Christian Savill and his fellow members of Slowdive had to think long and hard about whether they wanted to release a new record, Savill tells Augustus Welby


like your old stuff better than your new stuff” isn’t only an excellent Regurgitator song – it’s a maxim that has vast relevance in the world of popular music, particularly in the case of iconic bands releasing much hyped, long-delayed comeback records. After all, in most instances, such releases are lukewarmly received, with key cultural players and critics falling over themselves to diagnose a whole range of creative problems.

However, at the risk of telling the story before the ink has figuratively dried, it feels pretty safe to say this isn’t how history will remember Slowdive’s new self-titled album, the UK five-piece’s first since Pygmalion in 1995. The record has been warmly embraced since its release in May not only by the band’s extensive fanbase, but by critics over at Pitchfork and The Guardian, who have

called it a riveting return to form. Ultimately, all that resounding praise is a testament to the patience and caution with which the band approached the album. They didn’t rush the thing; they teased it out carefully, never putting pressure on themselves. “We were slightly apprehensive about bringing out a new album,” says guitarist Christian Savill. “Obviously people loved what we did 20-odd years ago, so you worry that you might ruin what people liked about you. But what’s been really nice is that the new songs that we’re playing are going down as well as – if not better than – the old ones. And there’s quite a lot of young people [at the shows], so we’re pretty amazed by that.” The five core members of Slowdive kept

making music in the 22 years between Pygmalion and Slowdive. Singer/guitarists Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell formed Mojave 3; drummer Simon Scott fronted Televise; and Savill formed his own band, Monster Movie. But despite the individual achievements of these various projects, the announcement of a new Slowdive album was always going to attract a heightened level of attention and scrutiny. “When we got back together, the hope was that we would do a new record,” says Savill. “We didn’t want to be a band that just played old songs. We wanted to be a fully functioning band, because the first time round that’s what we enjoyed doing – making music together. “But similarly, we didn’t actually know if we could still make music, and if we did, what it would sound like. We’d done other stuff for 20 years; it could be that

“When we got back together, the hope was that we would do a new record. We didn’t want to be a band that just played old songs.” Slowdive might not work anymore. So we just worked quietly, trying to see where we could go, and for a little while we didn’t know if we could make a record that we liked. But slowly it came together, and we ended up being really happy with it.” Even if Slowdive was conceived in relative secrecy, there was still some internal pressure attached to making the album. Slowdive isn’t a new project after all: even in their second life, the band had a stack of hardcore fans and three adored albums to keep in mind. So the challenge became experimenting with new ideas while remaining true to the Slowdive sound – to wrangle with past creative achievements, as well as the era and experiences that shaped the band’s original incarnation. “We’d be working on songs and we’d think, ‘Oh, it doesn’t sound like Slowdive would do this.’ So we did always have in the back of our minds that it still had to be a Slowdive record,” says Savill. “We wanted people to listen to it and think, ‘This is still Slowdive,’ and not some totally separate thing. But it was hard to get a balance. Sometimes you’re thinking, ‘Is this too much like Slowdive? Is this not enough?’” Before showing any new music to the world, the band needed to feel confident they’d created something they could feel satisfied with, no matter the widespread critical and commercial response. Anything short of that and they’d have pulled the plug. “We wouldn’t have released it if we didn’t like it. We always said if nothing good comes of these sessions, we just won’t release anything and [we’ll] disappear into the shadows again. We were happy with it, but to be honest we were nervous about how people would receive it. We’d done other records in the past which we’d liked and other people had, at the time, not liked.

“Obviously people loved what we did 20 odd years ago, so you worry that you might ruin what people liked about you.”

“You can never be sure of what people are going to think about it. So we were nervous about it. You’re putting something out there and it’s got your name on it and you hope people like it, but you can’t control that. We battled with that until we could get to the point where we forgot about all that. When we just got on with it and stopped thinking about it, then it came together.” The shoegaze figureheads will be landing in Australia for the 2018 Laneway Festival, and Slowdive’s appearance on a festival tour that tends to bypass nostalgic bookings is further verification of the direct impact the band’s new album has had. “Australia’s one place we always really hoped we could get over to, and we weren’t sure if we could. We didn’t know if anyone would want us there to be honest. So it’s going to be pretty amazing to get over there. Getting on the Laneway Festival was pretty amazing as well, because that’s a load of current bands. To be thought of in that way is really nice for us.”

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What: Laneway 2018 Where: Sydney College Of The Arts, Rozelle When: Sunday February 4 With: Aldous Harding, Father John Misty, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Shame, Wolf Alice and more And: Metro Theatre on Wednesday January 31


“Tamworth Country Music Festival isn’t just about country music: it’s about spectacle.”

Tamworth Country Music Festival: The “The festival’s DOB City Versus The Outback is often debated, Rebecca Green investigates the appeal of one of the biggest country music festival celebrations in Australia, Tamworth Country Music Festival


amworth Country Music Festival isn’t just about country music: it’s about spectacle. Across ten days over the January long weekend, every square inch of the northwest NSW town is taken over by buskers, stalls, punters and artists. It’s the second largest country music festival in the world after Nashville, with over 2,800 events and 120 venues, and makes room for everything from altcountry to yodelling. In 2018, 50,000 punters will make their

way to Tammy, placing it among the ranks of Australia’s other internationally recognised regional festivals such as Byron Bay’s Bluesfest, Queensland’s Woodford Folk Festival and Falls Festival. However, unlike those festivals, TCMF is open access and family friendly with plenty of free shows, making it accessible to audiences who might not otherwise be able to afford to travel the distance to an established music festival.

bands and singers all have beers with the crowd after the shows.

Tamworth Country Music Festival’s founding father, Max Ellis recently spoke to the Northern Daily Leader about what makes the festival so special: “It’s the social aspect of it; it seems to be improving [with] a lot more artists and a lot more fans.”

The festival’s DOB is often debated, but most point its inception back to January 1973, when local radio station 2TM launched the Australasian Country Music Awards, now known as The Country Music Golden Guitar Awards.

Born-and-raised Tammy local and heavyweight TCMF fan, Caitlin Mcinerney, similarly spoke to this social aspect in conversation with the BRAG. She noted, “people come from all over Australia just to visit Tamworth for country music. All the gigs are up close and personal, and the

“The town comes to life with street buskers and poets. Huge market stalls line the Main Street and everyone is there to have a good time; it’s one of the best celebrations of country music Australia has to offer. Not to mention [there are] way too many hotties in jeans and boots — a girl gets whiplash.”

While Sydney’s venues have been knocked back by the state government’s lockout laws, as well as excessively expensive liquor licenses and the residential noise complaints that come with a rapidly gentrifying city, Tamworth Regional Council actively funds and supports TMCF. In an article for The Guardian, Shain Shapiro,

but most point its inception back to January 1973.” organiser of Sound Diplomacy’s Music Cities Conference, commented on the pros of having a healthy music heritage: “It increases tourism. It increases city branding. It makes young people want to stay.” Tamworth as an entire town has come together to pull off a festival that’s genuinely communal. Similar to what you might see in the organisational efforts behind a fringe festival, venues have the autonomy to curate their own lineups and events for TCMF; local artists are brimming at the town’s helm to play and it’s relatively easy to get involved, no matter what stage you’re at. The regional town’s 40-plus years of investing in its musical identity has positively impacted on its tourism and agriculture industries, leading to the acquiring of new hotels, museums, and a major tourism information centre. “Tamworth Regional Council’s Gross Regional Product is estimated at $2.86 billion, which represents 0.5 per cent of the state’s GSP (Gross State Product),” reads a statement from the ABS. So, what standout country names can we look forward to in January? They’ll be shows from well-known acts Kasey Chambers, John Williamson, Troy CassarDaley, and (of course) Lee Kernaghan, as well as emerging talent from Fanny Lumsden and Tori Forsyth. All in all, no self-effacing music fan can stand to miss out.


What: Tamworth Country Music Festival When: Friday January 19 to Sunday January 28 With: Kasey Chambers, John Williamson, Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kernaghan, Fanny Lumsden and so many more

BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 23


Infinity Calculated:

The Dillinger Esca Esca BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG

At The End

t’s Wednesday night at the Bald Faced Stag, a relatively small bar and venue in Leichhardt on the tipping point between Sydney’s innerwest and its CBD. As is common, the clientele in the bandroom are almost entirely clad in black, all of them the kind of folk that favour music of the heavier persuasion – metalheads, hardcore kids, punks; that kind of thing. They’re all gathered to mourn the loss of one of heavy music’s greatest modern purveyors, The Dillinger Escape Plan. But they’re also here to celebrate the band’s 20 long, stunning years together: to commemorate all of the mind-blowing shows that the Escape Plan have played in Australia for well over a decade, and the unwavering support of the fans that has come with each album release. In essence, they’re here to ensure that, if The Dillinger Escape Plan are going down, then they’re all going down with them. Before the show kicks off, a song blasts through the PA. The playlist has been a cheeky nostalgia ride prior to this moment, picking out hits from guilty pleasures like Disturbed and Limp Bizkit. But before tonight’s openers Totally Unicorn take to the stage, a certain song makes its bombastic entry over the speakers, sticking out like a sore, purple thumb: Prince’s ‘1999’. The pound of the gated snare, the chirpy guitar and the big, poppy chorus may seem a world away from the downtuned dissonance we’ve paid to see, leaving many arms folded and eyes rolled as it plays out. Contextually, however, the song draws parallels closer than one might have initially thought. “2000 zero zero, party over, oops, out of time/So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999,” go the lyrics. And despite the song’s catchiness, and the latter line turning into a cheesy catchphrase, there’s a dark undertone of impending doom. It will all be over soon – so you might as well make the most of this moment right now. “It’s funny that song was played,” says Ben Weinman, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s lead guitarist, backing vocalist and founding member, a matter of

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“Kids have grown up with us here. I’ve had a bunch of guys in their mid to late 20s come up to me at the shows on this tour and tell me that I helped them sneak into a bar or a club when they were underage so they could see us play.”

pe Plan, Of Everything days later in the greenroom of the Metro Theatre. “Yknow, 1999 was the year our first record came out [Calculating Infinity], so it probably was a little prophetic.” It’s put to Weinman whether he and the rest of his Dillinger bandmates are indeed partying like it’s 1999 by heading out on one final world tour – playing each show like it is their last because, as far as the audiences in the places they’re playing are concerned, it is. “The audience is definitely way more sentimental in their interactions,” he says. “A lot of these people have seen us in the past, and they’ve grown up to go do other things – and they’ve been coming back to see us, because this is their chance. We’ve also had a lot of people turn up on this tour that have never seen us before, and they’re coming to the shows for the same reason – because this is their chance. There’s all kinds of circumstances. “I would say that it’s different for the audiences in that respect. For us, though... I mean, we always strive to give 1000 per cent at every show. In a way, we’ve kind of always treated each show like it was our last. The only thing is that we’ve been coming to a lot of these cities – particularly in other countries – without the guarantee that we’ll ever be back there again.”

he Dillinger Escape Plan formed in 1997 in Morris Plains, a county in central New Jersey. Emerging from a hardcore punk background, the band quickly established a sound that was simultaneously all-encompassing, quintessential and unclassifiable in its approach.

show like it was our last.” planned. I had never heard music like that before ... I loved every minute of it. It was fast, aggressive, uncompromising ... It didn’t give a fuck.” That ferocious, high-energy nature translated into the band’s live show, which quickly won them fans globally. Peter Zaluzny, a Sydney-based photographer and writer who attended three shows on the farewell tour, had no prior experience with the band before witnessing their set at the 2009 Soundwave Festival. “My friends were talking about them all morning, so I decided to join them and see what the hype was all about,” he says. “The show was so wild... Greg [Puciato, vocalist] threw a sundae into the crowd and hit a kid in the face 50 metres away. Ben threw himself off the speaker stacks and didn’t miss a beat. Some kid punched me in the stomach while we were moshing then ran off before I realised what had happened.” Nielson has a similarly vivid recollection of seeing the band live for the first time. “I had never seen music of such a technical calibre performed that aggressively, chaotically or destructively, making sure every note was also played perfectly as well. It was unbelievable.” It did, however, come at a cost: “I was also left with a gash on my head from Greg throwing a guitar cab into the crowd,” he laughs. Of the 20 years that Dillinger was together, the band came to Australia with pretty consistently for over half of them. “Kids have grown up with us here,” Weinman says. “I’ve had a bunch of guys in their mid to late 20s come up to me at the shows on this tour and tell me that I helped them sneak into a bar or a club when they were underage so they could see us play. We’ve long had a kinship with Australia. In some ways, it’s so exotic and far away – but at the same time, it’s also so familiar. I think we were really surprised with how comfortable we felt the first time that we came here. It’s not necessarily something we’ve gotten in Japan, or in France – there’s still a pretty big cultural difference that you feel. We have always felt so connected to the people here, and that’s very interesting to us.” ▲

Lee Nielson, Totally Unicorn’s bass player, distinctly remembers hearing the band for the first time in the mid-2000s. “I was going away for a weekend, and decided to purchase some CDs of bands I hadn’t heard before,” he recalls. “They were Calculating Infinityy and [Converge album] You Fail Me – needless to say, it wasn’t the relaxing weekend we had

“In a way, we’ve kind of always treated each

BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 25


“We have always felt so connected to the people here, and that’s very interesting to us.”

Dillinger Escape Plan photo by Derek Sampson

“We’ve long had a kinship with Australia.”


n 2016, the announcement of the band’s sixth studio album, Dissociation, came with the bittersweet news that it would also be their last. After nearly two decades of chaotic genre shifts, a stretch of line-up changes and one of the most notorious live shows around – not just within the metal scene, either – the decision was made within the camp to bring the band to a natural, logical conclusion. Zaluzny remembers the band’s announcement vividly. “It was 1am, and I was on the last train home after a night at the pub,” he says.

people I’ve met through this band.” He smirks, adding cynically: “I’m expecting the phone to start ringing a lot less.” “The truth is that I honestly have no idea what it’s going to be like. I’m sure it will involve a lot of decompressing for a while. We’re probably going to feel all of the emotions, but probably not at the time you’d expect. It might get to day two, looking at the calendar, and you’ll be like, ‘Fuck, I’m not actually going out on tour this week. This month. Ever.’ I don’t know what that’s going to feel like.”

“I happened to be killing time on Facebook when I saw the article go up. Booze, fatigue and one of my favourite bands breaking up was not the best combination – I wound up moping for the entire ride home. That later changed to anticipation for the inevitable tour announcement.” The tour made its way around North America and Europe before Australian dates were announced earlier in the year. Nearly every show sold out the day they went on sale, and eventually every single date had all of its tickets snapped up. When Totally Unicorn were announced as one of the support acts for the tour, Nielson couldn’t believe it. “To say I was honoured is a massive understatement,” he says. “They’ve been such a huge influence on my musical career, so this opportunity was a massive dream come true.” Each show on their world tour leads Dillinger closer and closer to the end – Friday December 29 at New York’s Terminal 5, to be specific – which begs the question of what Weinman thinks he’ll miss the most about the band once it’s all said and done. “God... so many things,” he says after a pause. “The people. The friends we’ve made. The beautiful things we’ve seen. Getting to visit all of these places again really puts things into perspective. When you’ve been a band that’s gone as hard as we’ve gone, there’s so many things we’ve gotten to experience that so many people don’t. That said, there’s also a lot of things that most people get that we’ve had to miss out on due to the lives that we live. I think it’s important now for us to really appreciate what we have, and to really express gratitude about the privilege of getting to do this for so many years.” Weinman notes that one of the most frequently asked questions on this final run has pertained not to the shows themselves, but the day after the final show. The first day of the rest of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s life. Truthfully, he’s not even thinking forward to Saturday December 30 yet. Weinman isn’t deterred or put off by the question, though. The reality is that it simply hasn’t set in that “Ben from Dillinger” will have that title extracted after holding it for essentially his entire adult life. “It’s such a big part of my identity,” he says. “If I went through every number that I have in my phone right now, I would say that 90 per cent of them are

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hat’s all still to come. For now, we look at the carnage left in the wake of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s final Australian shows. Both the Bald Faced Stag and the Metro Theatre shows are indicative of the full-scale insanity that comes with the price of admission. The former is one of the smallest shows on the entire tour, with bodies surging and spilling left, right and centre. The latter, while on a much larger scale with twice the capacity, maintains that level of intensity and chaos. Puciato leaps onto the crowd from the mezzanine during ‘Prancer’, while parts of the drum kit are handed out to the front row during ‘43% Burnt’. Over in Melbourne, Zaluzny was also a part of a memorable interaction with the band itself during the song ‘Black Bubblegum’.’ “There’s a giant concrete pillar smack bang in the middle of the Corner floor, not far from the stage,” he says. “People were climbing it all night so I decided to have a go, leaped off during the bridge and surfed up to Greg. He grabed my arm, dragged me over the security guards and shoved the mic in my face as I fell to the floor. I was a bit disoriented, and the next thing I heard was Greg screaming, ‘Get the fuck up, motherfucker!’ While I was on the floor, I felt an arm across my chest. I thought it was security, and that I was about to get thrown out, but no. It was Ben. He’d jumped down, thrown his guitar around me and pinned me to the floor while he finished the song.” For diehard fans like Zaluzny, it’s memories like these that will permanently leave their mark, always influencing how he remembers the band. “Each performance leaves its imprint on the studio recordings,” he says. “The songs take on a new life after you see them live, and even though they’re calling it a day those experiences are going to stick with me forever. “Or, at least, until the inevitable memory loss from the brain damage I got from all those Dillinger gigs.” ■

arts in focus


Lady Bird: Coming Of Image

Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird

[FILM] Greta Gerwig is the hero we need in this post-Weinstein world, argues Bianca Davino


ith the film industry in disarray, torn apart by the misconduct of those in power, it’s quite clear that the position for a kind-hearted, fearless and accepting leader is vacant. We need a film hero who sees into the core of the human condition: the good, the bittersweet and the relentlessly, blissfully mundane. A figure who isn’t afraid to dive neck deep into the nitty-gritty details of grief and document what it means to spit in the face of adversity; to flash a welcoming grin and drop a sarcastic retort. After all, the stressful events that have split the film industry in two over the last few weeks – trying and deeply troubling as they have been – have also acted as the perfect breeding ground for a new kind of industry player to rise once more to significance. All we need now is someone who cares. Greta Gerwig is a master of acknowledging and embracing the perfectly imperfect. Powering onto the scene via a slew of mumblecore indies before making it big with 2013’s Golden Globe nominee, Frances Ha, Gerwig has now turned her steady hand to directing. Her solo directorial debut, Lady Bird is set to hit Australian

cinemas this coming February, and given it’s already garnering acclaim and praise from critics and viewers alike, it’s clear that Gerwig’s unique take on the tricky, lopsided experience of growing up is resonating with audiences at a time of considerable personal, political and social unrest.

media representation deal. And in this way, Gerwig acts as a voice for a generation of underdogs, lorded over by misunderstanding governments while struggling to learn how to connect with one another in a dynamic and ever-changing climate of digital communication.

What else would one have expected from Gerwig? She’s carved a niche within contemporary cinema, setting herself apart from her peers with stories that are empowering not only for women but for millennials generally. The compassion, kindness and unpretentiousness of her work is indicative of her understanding of the sensitivities of audiences – she is a creator who clearly depends on art to resolve inner conflicts. Capable of providing both a welcoming hug and an ear to listen, Gerwig is here and more than willing to accept your problems; to transform them into an intensely emotional journey.

This inter-generational disconnect lies at the very heart of Lady Bird. Centred around the adolescent struggles of a young rebel named Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), the film is all about the conflict between the young and the old; about the horror of being ignored that both teenagers and retirees must face, one way or the other.

After all, given they are constantly being lambasted for seeking careers that align with their passions and not a pay cheque, and often being told they’re unable to accept criticism, millennials are facing the raw end of the

Moreover, the film’s focus on the domestic and how it can intrinsically shape who you are is rooted in the genre of the bildungsroman; those narratives about growing up, usually messily. And whilst the last couple of years have produced films like The Edge Of Seventeen and Perks Of Being A Wallflower, we’ve yet to experience a groundbreaking and enduring classic. Although, if there’s anyone fit to reward us with a tale to stand the test of time, it’s gotta be Gerwig.

“Gerwig has carved a niche within contemporary cinema, setting herself apart from her peers with stories that are empowering not only for women but for millennials generally.” Each woman she writes, portrays and directs is formed by their own self-discovery, not the concerns of others. After all, as Gerwig explained herself in a recent interview with The Guardian, “One of the things that happens when you write characters – and maybe this is my own sentimentality – is that I always find I have an instinct to protect them”. There’s a kindness and welcoming spirit in every character Gerwig brings to the screen; a kind of radical empathy, powerful enough to dissolve prejudices and predispositions, the sheer force of joy allowing Gerwig’s characters to evolve and grow. Which is exactly what the genre desperately needs: we have too many millennial-centric stories that are focused on fuckingup; too many dramas that leave no room for resolution and growth. The characters in Girls spent six seasons revelling in the decay of their youth without moving forward or growing whilst Master Of None is a show about glorified navel-gazers.

“Greta Gerwig is a master of acknowledging and embracing the perfectly imperfect.”

And though both are exceptional pieces of pop culture, they don’t do well in branding the millennial psyche. Conversely, Gerwig’s stories tend focus on how pointless it is to try to ‘figure life out’ in the first place. Frances Ha is about a young woman who remains positive amidst a series of failures, while in Mistress America and 20th Century Women, Gerwig takes on the role of the unenthusiastic mentor – a character who cares for others, but never pretends to have all the answers. The post-Weinstein world will be a strange place for a while. Finally, we won’t be subjected to a string of Academy Award acceptance speeches dedicated to domineering cowards who utilise their position to hobble and intimidate. Those who have been ousted and unloved will have their day: it’ll be the voices of the underdogs that will usher the industry into a new era of acceptance and discovery without a militant overlord controlling the success and acclaim of the output. Hopefully on awards night the acceptance speeches will burst with the words of Gerwig and company – a triumph in a trying time. BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 27

arts in focus


“Apparently, during an early screening of Wake In Fright, a man stood up, pointed at the screen and yelled, ‘That’s not us!’”

David Wenham and Sean Keenan in Wake In Fright

Wake In Fright: The Horror Continues [TELEVISION] Cameron Colwell picks apart the 2017 television remake of Wake In Fright, and makes the argument for the original being one of the truly great Australian films


he main distinction between the two adaptations of Kenneth Cook’s acerbic 1961 novel Wake In Fright – the 1971 Ted Kotcheff film and the recently aired 2017 TV miniseries – is the effectiveness with which they critique toxic masculinity. After all, Kotcheff’s version, a long lost classic that was only recently restored, showed Australia a nightmarish vision of itself, holding up a vicious mirror image that many weren’t entirely ready to confront, while the new, updated version has all the edge of soggy cereal. Kotcheff’s film follows the story of poor, doomed John Grant, a teacher who finds himself stranded in the town of Bundanyabba after he loses his flight money in a game of two-up. He ends up suckered into the alcoholic, ultra-masculine way of life of the town, pining for coastal Sydney and his girlfriend, Robyn, who waits for him there. It’s a simple story, and one told with a relentless pace; it’s as jagged and mean as a broken whiskey bottle, and managed to upset both critics and audiences alike when it was released. Indeed, there’s a widely circulated – if not entirely believable –

anecdote often relayed about the film: apparently, during an early screening, a man stood up, pointed at the screen and yelled, ‘That’s not us!’ At which point Jack Thompson, a young actor who starred in the film yelled back, ‘Sit down, mate. It is us.’ While not entirely reliable as a story, it does neatly captures why the film has burned a place into Australia’s cultural memory. The men in the original Wake In Fright are terrifying, bloated figures – they alternate between flashes of aggressive friendliness and violence, coercing Grant into a kangaroo hunt with smiles rather than physical force, and chiding him when they discover he’d rather talk to a woman than drink beer. It’s the depiction of this kind of aggressive hospitality – one forever lubricated by copious amounts of alcohol – that makes the film so memorable. Of course, the film also boasts a distinctive visual element: Kotcheff instructed the costume and set designers to avoid using any cool colours, giving the film a sun-sick look. That, coupled with heavy therimen usage on the soundtrack, made the film more like a horror movie than anything else – a strange, lopsided look at

“Australian masculine savagery is not the domain of snarly methcookers tied up in town-wide conspiracies involving secret dead children and murders – it’s in all Australian men.” 28 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

a culture squirming around in the dirt. And while its critique of everything Australia holds dear – beer, blokiness, and anti-intellectualism, for starters – did little to endear it with mainstream audiences, over its lifetime it has been championed by figures as diverse as David Stratton and Martin Scorcese, with the latter selecting it as a Cannes Classic in 2009. Nick Cave even called it one of our culture’s finest self-portraits; a brutal self-analysis daubed in beer froth. Ten’s recent miniseries, while slickly produced enough, lacks the same punch. Rather than giving off the infernal atmosphere first broadcast by the book’s very title (it’s based on a medieval curse), director Kriv Stenders’ take feels more like a straight crime thriller, and seems determined to dilute the central themes of the novel with complicated and distracting subplots. Everybody who Grant encounters in this particular version comes off as both more overtly aggressive and yet somehow less threatening than in Kotcheff’s adaptation. Some of the characters have changed race or gender, which, while a nice nod to inclusivity, blunts the film’s critique – at least in the case of transforming Kotcheff’s ‘Dick’ into the ex-MMA fighter ‘tough girl’ cliche ‘Mick’. It’s hard to figure out what the adaptation is trying to say, if anything, in its million twists and turns. I don’t believe in the sanctity of ‘original’ versions, and I think that one of the storyteller’s most

Jack Thompson in the original film version of Wake In Fright

vital tools is recontextualising old stories. But Stenders’ version never really proves its worth, and its tampering with the original feels desperate rather than inspired. Instead of alcohol, there’s a meth lab. Rather than sheer bad luck, Grant’s incarceration in the town and embroilment in the secrets of the locals seems like a vast, complex conspiracy, giving the whole miniseries the feel of an antipodean Hot Fuzz. And while it does prove an entertaining watch, with Stenders’ deft sense of tension on full display, the miniseries doesn’t add much to the cultural conversation about Australian toxic masculinity, something pre-empted several decades earlier by the first adaptation. At the end of the day, Kotcheff’s version had a sort of spiritual universality. It was a hideous reminder that all it takes for anyone, regardless of how civilised they might think themselves to be, to descend

into barbarity is desperation, bad company, and a whole lot of beer. In its well-meaning depiction of financial strain and dark and torrid pasts, the TV miniseries comes across as soulless in comparison. In that way, the central message that Cook tried to convey with his novel is almost totally absent in 2017’s Wake in Fright, which seems custom built merely to add to Australian TV’s two grand traditions: lackluster thrillers and middling dramas about the outback. Australian masculine savagery is not the domain of snarly meth-cookers tied up in town-wide conspiracies involving secret dead children and murders – it’s in all Australian men. The point of Kotcheff’s depiction of Grant’s degradation was not that violence and repression is exclusive to the outback. The point was that it’s meshed into the bloodstream of white male Australia; that it’s been replicated, time and time again, in countless different ways, since colonialism.

arts in focus


Will Poulter: The Power Of Politics [FILM] Ever-charismatic rising star Will Poulter tells Michael Louis Kennedy that starring as the antagonist in Detroit changed his life


hen Will Poulter first laid his hands on a script marked Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project he knew he was on to something significant. The film, subsequently titled Detroit, tells the story of the Detroit race riots of 1967, and in particular a violent altercation at an inner-city motel in which police shot and killed three young black men and brutalised many others. Poulter plays the role of Krauss, an unrelentingly brutal policeman whose racial prejudices and vitriol spur much of the film’s central conflict. His was an immensely challenging role to play, and one that he describes as being perhaps the most important of his career to date. Fittingly then, preparing for the part proved difficult. “The worst preparation I could possibly have done to play a racist is to educate myself, because racist people are undereducated, or they’ve been educated about the wrong things; they are innately misinformed,” he explains. “It was quite tricky; I had to believe in a bunch of propaganda. I had to believe in a bunch of bullshit in order to properly play my character.” And yet however daunting the prospect may have been, Poulter has never been one to shy away from a difficult character. “I like the challenge that lies in encouraging people to see from the perspective of someone who is not necessarily obviously likeable; someone who isn’t innately empathetic.” Indeed, for years now, Poulter’s only preference has been “to play characters with integrity – even if that is an ugly form of integrity; people who are believable and real.” And believable he is. The combination of Bigelow’s trademark cinéma vérité style and Poulter’s explosive and terrifying performance results in a film that is almost stiflingly intense. As Krauss beats and threatens the young men and women in the motel we, the audience, are made to feel as though we are in there with them; as though we are just as trapped, and just as cornered.

“I like the challenge that lies in encouraging people to see from the perspective of someone who is not necessarily obviously likeable; someone who isn’t innately empathetic.” This effect was in part achieved thanks to Bigelow’s unconventional shooting schedule. Many of the young actors – breakout stars like Algee Smith, Anthony Mackie and Jacob Latimore – were deliberately left in the dark as to which scenes would be shot on which day, meaning the fear and anguish on their faces was mostly authentic. Poulter however, as the architect of much of the chaos, was one of the few given the schedule in advance, and the emotional intensity he had to draw from the other actors did eventually take its toll. “Most days I really just wanted to go home, try and get the best night sleep possible and just take on the next day. I think too much time conscious, awake and on my own in the process of shooting this film meant that I would sort of eat away at myself and guilt would kind of rack up and take over; I needed to just be a bit robotic.”

The filming process was also uniquely surreal, in that three of the people present for the actual Algiers Motel Incident were on site as consultants: Cleveland Larry Reed, Melvin Dismukes, and Julie Hysell. Ms Hysell, played by Hannah Murray, is a white woman from Ohio who had been staying at the motel with a friend on the evening of the incident, finding herself brutalised and harassed by the police alongside the AfricanAmerican men.

transformative. It not only opened his eyes to the structural nature of racism – to the brutalities enacted upon minorities everyday – but, perhaps most importantly of all, it taught him about the extraordinary power of empathy. “I received an education, and I hope that everyone gets to have the experience that I’ve had, in a way. I know not everyone gets to be part of a film like Detroit, but hopefully everyone receives that sort of education one way or another.”

Her experiences and testimony proved vital for Poulter in developing his performance. “Julie’s strength and composure on set while we recreated what I can only imagine to be the most harrowing moments of her life was astonishing,” says Poulter. “It was so inspiring and invaluable to us in terms of doing things accurately.”

After all, even if the audience may not ever get the experience of creating a film with the raw political power of Detroit, there is still much to be gained from taking the time to see it. It is an unflinching, unrelenting indictment on racial violence that speaks volumes to the experiences of people of colour in the present day.

Indeed, the young actor considers the whole experience deeply

“And that’s the thing about watching this film,” suggests

Poulter. “You’re not just receiving a piece of entertainment, or something that really emotionally affects you and then leaves you a few days later. I think the full potential of this film is characterised by people who gain a life-changing vantage point on how the world works: how it has worked, and how it can work, looking forward.” When asked about his own future, Poulter is quick to return to the power of Detroit, and the revolutionary value of cinema. “I think being a part of a film like this has increased my appetite to be in films that are responsible from a socio-political standpoint; films that seek to do more than just entertain. And while there’s room for everything, and I may well be part of films in future that aren’t as political as this one, I hope I can be in more of them.” What: Detroit is in cinemas now

“The worst preparation I could possibly have done to play a racist is to educate myself, because racist people are undereducated.”

Will Poulter and Anthony Mackie in Detroit

Poulter in Detroit BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 29

arts in focus ■ Film

Jigsaw is a mostly frustrating, occasionally admirable entry in the Saw series By Joseph Earp


or all the conservative fretting that horror movies are depraved, and lacking in clear ethical boundaries, in truth the genre has long flirted with the ultra-moral. Slashers of the ’80s were all about punishing those who transgressed: Jason’s machete-split victims in the Friday The 13th series were a gaggle of drug users, perverts and bullies, and even lesser-known titles like Happy Birthday To Me and Black Christmas subtly railed against the excesses of youth. For the last 13 something years, the much-maligned Saw series has taken that legacy of black-and-white morality and ramped it up to the Biblical. Jigsaw, the films’ gravelly voiced antagonist, is a kind of substitute God – a deity to deal with all the sinners that the great man in the sky has somehow missed. And for all of the series’ cruelty and toecurling sadism, at its heart it is as concerned about sorting the goodies from the baddies as a Marvel movie, or a folktale by the Brothers Grimm.

“There’s only so many times you can dump a bucket of gore and gristle on your viewers. Before too long they’re just gonna get bored.”

Taking that notion to its logical conclusion, Jigsaw, the newest instalment in the franchise, is less a film about the titular serial killer himself, and more about the sect of those who worship him as though he were a literal god. Intertwining the plight of not-so-innocent souls trapped in a torture barn and the throng of stock standard detectives racing against the clock to free

them, at its best, the film is an examination of cultlike behaviour – a look at those willing to dedicate themselves to a man who, however brutally, absolved the misguided and reverse bear-trapped the deviant. Note the use of the phrase “at its best”. This is a Saw film, so there is a lot not to like about Jigsaw – so much so that even fans of the series will have to grit their

teeth and pretend to enjoy the proceedings. There’s the violence, for a start, which is uniformly ugly, and directors Peter and Michael Spierig make the same mistake that every filmmaker associated with the series save for James Wan has made: they confuse the disgusting with the genuinely transgressive. Despite what the pair clearly think, there is nothing boundary-pushing

about watching a woman get hydrochloric acid injected into her neck, or a young man diced up by a glorified fruit peeler – that kind of violence is briefly unpleasant for the time that an audience has to sit through it, then immediately forgettable. It doesn’t speak to some deep mastery of taboos and how to transgress them; it speaks to a puerile misunderstanding of how to

push an audience’s buttons. There’s only so many times you can dump a bucket of gore and gristle on your viewers. Before too long they’re just gonna get bored. Then there’s the glaring lack of style. Say what you want about the first film – at least it had a sense of visual panache, no matter how grotty and neon-lit. By contrast, Jigsaw is about as interesting to look at as

■ Film

Professor Marston And The Wonder Women combines wit and heart By Ella Donald by the seniors; an event of unguarded kink in an institutional space that very much shuns such things. The girls line up, and Olive is commanded to “discipline” her charges over one knee. And as the moment of punishment approached, I began to feel the mood in my theatre change, the unsuspecting audience slowly realising what they were about to watch. I could practically sense their buttocks clench, and the cinema rang with a sharp collective inhale. The reactions ranged from pearl-clutching alarm to delight, with one audience member muttering, “come on”, encouragingly under their breath when Olive was handed the paddle.


experienced my favourite movie going moment of the year during a Friday night showing of Professor Marston And The Wonder Women. I mean, the entire film could easily count as one long,

ecstatic, unforgettable cinematic moment – I don’t remember the last time a movie prompted such delirious joy in me – but the particular scene I’m speaking of contained a very special kind of pleasure.

The moment comes about 20 minutes into the film. It’s 1928, and we’re at Harvard’s sister school Radcliffe in the cosily autumnal-toned eastern United States. Psychology Professor William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans)

and his accomplished researched partner/ wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) have been asked by keen student Olive (Bella Heathcote) to observe a sorority initiation where the underclasspeople dress as infants and are spanked

But regardless of the specific response, one thing proved clear: the audience was completely thrown by such an act being shown so matterof-factly. “What fi lm am I watching?” seemed

“Professor Marston frequently feels like the cinematic equivalent of a Trojan horse, effortlessly interrogating taboos and gender and sexual roles and doing so in the most subversive possible way.” 30 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

to be the question the audience was asking itself. And despite first appearances, the answer is something pretty goddamn revolutionary. After all, Professor Marston frequently feels like the cinematic equivalent of a Trojan horse, effortlessly interrogating taboos and gender and sexual roles and doing so in the most subversive possible way, undoing a myriad of expectations all the while. It’s a biopic concerned with a fascinating but widely unknown story – William would go on to create the Wonder Woman comic book and a breakthrough version of the modern lie detector test, all with the help of the titular Wonder Women, Elizabeth and Olive, the trio happily living together in a polyamorous relationship. On first glance, the film is custom-designed to appease. It’s all homely yellows and oranges, and there’s a cushy framing device of a mostly flashback-driven interview between Marston and Child Study Association of America director Josette Frank (Connie Britton). Everything looks very

arts reviews ■ Film

“For all its flaws, Jigsaw is bafflingly watchable.” a TV movie. It’s all digitallyblurred edges and flat, even lighting, with the boobytrapped barn our heroes must fight their way out of coming across more like a stage in a video game than anything suitably menacing. Even the house in Saw’s creaky second instalment felt like a character unto itself; here, the Spierig Brothers’ mangled handle of tone leaves even the most spiky traps feeling like so much set-dressing. But – and this is quite a but – for all its flaws, Jigsaw is bafflingly watchable. Sure, it’s ugly – both ethically and visually – but it does clip along a quite a pace. Neatly sidestepping the convoluted plotting that derailed 2010’s Saw 3D, Jigsaw keeps things as simple as a film of this type can. There is no sudden reappearance of a character only tangentially related to the series; no intersecting storylines; and, just when it looks like the film is ready to start messily retconning

strait-laced, swathed in wool sweaters and hidden behind old wooden doors. But first impressions are deceiving, and the seeds of subversion are sewn from the opening scenes, when William and Elizabeth lock eyes with Olive in a classroom. The Marstons and Olive quickly fall in love and build a life together over the course of decades, their story laid out via a second framing device using Marston’s DISC theory (dominance, inducement, submission, compliance). Friends since childhood, the Marstons’ love only grows when Olive enters the picture, and the problems they face aren’t amongst themselves, but instead against a society that hasn’t caught up with such beautiful possibilities. The trio bristle up against the rules of Radcliffe, testing their attraction across tables in dark speakeasies, and at picnics. Indeed, the breakthrough for their lie detector test is discovered during attempts to finally voice their true desires – in a moment that shows how carefully attuned they are to one another, Elizabeth observes how the blush rises on Olive’s cheeks and her voice shakes when she lies, the trio then concluding that

Kenneth Branagh does admirable work with an underwhelming story in Murder On The Orient Express By Joseph Earp

its own mythology, a late in the game twist keeps things admirably lean and stripped-down. For the first time since the original Saw, audience members won’t have to start racking their brain trying to work out which Jigsaw acolyte from a past film has suddenly popped up in the third act. And, about that twist. It might not be as effective as the vicious meathook of an ending that capped off the first film, but Jigsaw’s denouement does have a sick kind of glee all of its own. Sure, it’s essentially a cobbling together of the ending of Saw and Saw II, but, crucially, it doesn’t feel like a cheat, or a rehashing of old glories. The clues really are all there for viewers to put together – sometimes, in fact, shoved right down their unsuspecting throats – making the ending feel as carefully controlled as one of Jigsaw’s elaborate traps.

“On first glance, the film is customdesigned to appease.” blood pressure is the key to measuring the truth. But despite the hardship the heroes of the film face, there is a buoyant hope and playfulness that defines every single one of their actions, further imbuing the film with a revolutionary energy. The audience frequently begin to feel themselves like the subject of a psychological test conducted by director and writer Angela Robinson, who controls Professor Marston’s emotional energy so confidently and freely that she’s able to switch between tones with a single expertly directed line reading. I skate around one in particular, because it’s a moment that should remain unspoiled – not to mention one that goes down as one of my favourite pieces of direction and acting I’ve seen this year. That confidence and skill is visible in all of Robinson’s directorial choices; particularly in the remarkable chemistry

Better still, the twist actually explains away bumps early on in Jigsaw’s road – moments that feel like glaring oversights on the Spierig Brothers’ part are eventually clarifi ed and resolved. It’s a rare case in which the audience underestimating the fi lm kinda works in its favour; you will accept plot holes you might not otherwise have accepted, only later on to discover they’re not really plot holes at all. Jigsaw is not a great fi lm. To even call it ‘good’ feels too generous. But, in its unfussy meanness, it occasionally scrapes the genius of the original. Let’s just hope the inevitable Jigsaw 2 – dropping October 2019, I’d guess – does the same.

What: Jigsaw is in cinemas now

between the three leads, who bounce off each other with an infectiously intelligent glee that comes with discovering not only an emotional and sexual but also intellectual soulmate. The central trio spar with a dizzying well-readness, and though they are shunned by the world, they remain adored by their partners; they are outsiders who have at last found understanding in the life they have created with one another. Indeed, Robinson keeps the proceedings light and fun even during the sex scenes, during which the trio experiment with costumes and bondage. I have to say, after watching countless films where sex is played as a deadly serious act, it is refreshing to find sex viewed as something playful, beautiful, and integral to a character’s sense of self. “People play roles in everyday life,” a character says in the third act as the Marstons witness a demonstration of bondage. “Fantasy is possibility”. Certainly fantasy, even in the most surprising places, can start a revolution.

What: Professor Marston And The Wonder Women is in cinemas now


gatha Christie spent her career playing games that her audience were designed to lose. After all, while a good twist presents readers with all the clues – albeit cryptically – Christie actively withheld information from those patient enough to slog through her spasmodic and overstuffed novels. Her denouements were full of seemingly dead bodies re-animating themselves; culprits multiplying; the rules of the game suddenly and unfairly shifting. Murder On The Orient Express, though arguably Christie’s famous work, is no different. Remember that much derided poster that came out a few months ago to promote The Snowman? Remember its laughable tagline: “Mr Police, I gave you all the clues”? Well, the tagline for Orient Express, both the original novel and the new Kenneth Branaghhelmed adaptation, could easily be, “Mr Police, I gave you precisely zero of the clues”. And although Branagh and his team do an admirable job, they are ultimately engaged in the business of slapping a new coat of paint onto a bear trap; one custom-built to swallow unsuspecting audience members’ legs whole. The plot is bare bones simple: world-renowned and moustachioed detective Hercules Poirot (Branagh, having a lot of fun), eager to take a much-needed holiday, finds himself instead embroiled in the murder of a gangster (Johnny Depp, all scar tissue and elasticated gurning) while trapped on a snowbound orient express. The potential suspects are many; the clues are myriad;

“Branagh’s Poirot is, while occasionally moribund and lovesick, mostly a zany cross between Inspector Clouseau and a straightedge Raoul Duke.” and time is running out. So, yeah, as that plot description probably indicates, Orient Express manages to be somehow totally predictable, and emphatically, infuriatingly unpredictable; it’s cliched and hammy until all of a sudden it’s not at all. But at least the proceedings are – if deeply irritating – reasonably entertaining. Branagh is an underrated director (his 1996 film version of Hamlet remains not only one of the best Shakespeare adaptation to date, but one of the most singularly impressive films of the ’90s) and he keeps things clipping on at an agreeable pace. Those familiar with his back catalogue might be used to his tricks – splicing in black and white footage into scenes otherwise shot in colour; long, expressionistic wide shots; canted angles – but that doesn’t take away one dot from their effectiveness. And while he does throw a little too much at the screen, hoping anything and everything will stick, his excess is rather the point. Best of all, he never takes himself or his subject matter too seriously. Branagh’s Poirot is, while occasionally moribund and lovesick, mostly a zany cross between Inspector Clouseau and a

straight-edge Raoul Duke, if such a thing can be imagined. He snaps, and shuffles, and does a great deal of acting through his impressive moustache, his sometimes wobbly accent very much part of the fun. It’s a shame the rest of the cast don’t quite give as much. A litany of decorated players make an appearance (Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley and more all show up), and although the seemingly endless list of cameos is kinda amusing at first – it gives the proceedings the feeling of a variety Christmas TV special – it does all rather wear thin. Moreover, no-one seems quite as willing to skirt with the parodic as Branagh does: Ridley in particular trembles and titters her way towards the point of total caricature without ever reaching it. Nonetheless, the real glaring flaws are down to Christie, not Branagh, with the wobbly finale (complete with shoehorned in sequelteasing) eliciting vocal groans from the screening this critic attended. Oh well. Maybe that fits with the classic road movie formula: the destination might be a disappointment, but at least we had some fun on the way? What: Murder On The Orient Express is in cinemas now

“At least the proceedings are – if deeply irritating – reasonably entertaining.” BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 31

book club ■ Book

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself has the power to change your life By Joseph Earp transformative, and to redirect one’s life. Empathy is how we learn the ways in which our self and our path are defective. Empathy is what makes this experiment that we call humanity worthwhile.

What: Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace is out now through BDWY


here is this idea that empathy is something passive; that it means being agreeable, and polite, and putting up with things that you would have absolutely no other reason to put up with. But that’s bullshit. Empathy, in its purest form, is radical. It has the power to be

“Although should be of interest to both fans of Wallace’s work and complete newcomers.”

It is also, of course, the engine that drives the machine of fiction. David Foster Wallace, the acclaimed author behind Infinite Jest, knew that only too well; Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, a 320 pagelong interview transcript based on a series of conversations with Wallace conducted by David Lipsky, is littered with discussions of what it means to be good, and how one is meant to understand and empathise with their fellow human beings.

Although should be of interest to both fans of Wallace’s work and complete newcomers; to those who still have the complicated and intertwined world of his fiction and non-fiction discover. The author’s work is famously hard to get a grip on, and it takes time to get into his distinct, rigid rhythms – Although gives a taste of his thought processes without requiring the reader to wade through Wallace’s dense footnotes, and artfully timed tangents.

The book was first published in 2010, although a new version has been released to tie in to the recent(ish) film The End Of The Tour, an underwhelming adaptation that sees Wallace dorkily and awkwardly played by Jason Segel. Indeed, the film and the book that inspired it are interesting counterpoints, as opposed as two works could be: End is reductive; Although is expansive. End is overly concerned with Wallace’s fame, and the success of Jest; in Although, Wallace himself spends a lot of time and energy playing that book down. Although is inviting; End is exclusive.

Not that Although is without some meandering. It might essentially be a road trip, as Lipsky and Wallace travel the States, picking apart everything from the fiction of John Updike, to the joy of labradors, to Alanis Morissette, but its path is never direct. It is not a book from which you pull heady, inspirational quotes; it contains no direct life lessons. It can even, in its way, be distinctly depressing – there are long stretches in which Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008, worries he might be “glamorising” mental illness.

And yet above everything else, Although is an exercise in expanding the reader’s capacity for empathy. It is big-hearted, and clear-eyed, and it is radical. Read it to discover new things about yourself.

“There are long stretches in which Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008, worries he might be ‘glamorising’ mental illness.”

■ Book

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a masterpiece ready for reappraisal By Joseph Earp LeCarre’s attention turned to Central America, and then later, predictably, to the Middle East. And yet, given the events of the past year, it is suddenly en vogue to have Russians cast as conniving villains again. After all, it’s not hard to imagine that Karla, the antagonist of a string of Le Carre’s novels, including his masterpiece Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, might be behind the recent hacking of the American election, the shadowy villain swapping his world of anonymous agents for a small army of Twitter bots.

What: A new edition of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is now available through Penguin Classics


ack in the ’90s, John Le Carre ran into a Russia problem. The sprawling Soviet Empire, home to his cast of shady, chessplaying antagonists, had gone to fat, and was in the process of being slowly dismantled. Suddenly, it didn’t seem so realistic to have a genius Communist spymaster pulling the strings behind international conspiracies, and so

Whether or not that is the reasoning behind the release of new editions of Le Carre’s Karla trilogy – Tinker, The Honourable Schoolboy, and Smiley’s People – is hard to guess. Certainly, it won’t harm the sales; the pages of our newspapers are increasingly becoming mini-Le Carre novels in and of themselves, and those hungry for a brand of intrigue that has less worrisome global ramifications might well like to dive into the author’s distinctly English, wormy works. The reappraisal couldn’t come soon enough. Unfairly considered little more than a writer of prosaic, middling potboilers – the kind of thumbed paperbacks you devour on your holiday and then never think about again – Le Carre deserves to be recognised as one of the greatest prose stylists still working, and Tinker as his greatest achievement.

John Le Carre

“Le Carre deserves to be recognised as one of the greatest prose stylists still working, and Tinker as his greatest achievement.” The plot is too dense to compact satisfyingly here – and anyway, audiences will have more fun if they go into the work almost entirely blind. Safe to say, the novel is an elaborate chess game played both by spymaster extraordinaire George Smiley and his nemesis Karla, and Le Carre and his audience. Huge tracts of the text concern the comings and goings of a small village’s worth of upright gentlemen operatives, but Le Carre never loses sight of his characters, or sacrifices them upon the altar of jargon. Karla might only ever

be a vague, silhouetted threat, but Smiley is a flesh-and-blood hero, as complicated as the story that unfolds around him. This, indeed, is Le Carre’s genius. There will be those who read Tinker for the plot – for the way it wraps itself around the audience like so much string – and there will be those who read Tinker for its characters, and the strange, vague tragedy that permeates its pages. Both types of reader will be rewarded tenfold. Tinker isn’t just a classic of the spy genre; it is a classic, full stop.

“Tinker isn’t just a classic of the spy genre; it is a classic, full stop.” 32 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

game on Gaming news and reviews with Adam Guetti

Xbox One X Special REVIEW

XBOX IN 2018 While there’s plenty of quality games inbound for 2018, here are a handful of Microsoft exclusives you’ll be able to play on your One X.

Sea Of Thieves


icrosoft is making some bold claims with its Xbox One X – namely that it’s the most powerful console in the world. But with great power comes great responsibility, so we decided to put the new kid on the block through its paces to determine if itss admittedly impressive eed been put abilities have indeed to good use. he Priced at $649, the ot a Xbox One X is not t, cheap investment, but measuring in at all six centimetres tall by 30 centimetress e wide, the console is surprisingly compact – especially owerful considering its powerful eighs in at less than interior, which weighs four kilograms. Much like the S before it, the X makes the original Xbox One look monstrous in comparison and mercifully bids farewell to that annoying power brick – everything is housed within the matte black shell. Needless to say, you’ll want this beauty on your shelf. Nonetheless, the real beauty is on the inside, the console breathing more life into existing games. Gears of War 4, for example, now supports 4K resolution, high-definition textures and HDR (provided your television is capable of handling it). That means you’re in for a dramatically prettier experience that nails up to 60 frames per second and boasts significantly deeper colours. Similarly, Forza 7 makes an already glamorous game appear even more so. And even if you haven’t invested in a 4K TV, don’t fear: the One X will still look

improved on older displays thanks to supersampling, which shrinks a 4K image down to 1080p in an attempt to make the visuals smoother overall. Put the gaming aside and you can also use your One X to watch 4K video. While i the supreme streaming Netflix content in su resolution is supported, many h Australian households can’t, so luckily the One a in-built UHD X has an Blu-ray player just cas You’ll need in case. do to download a free playe player from the cons console’s store, but it’s a pretty painless proc process that will get you u up and running fairly quickly. Within a few minutes I fou found myself marvelling at the wonders of David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II, impressed with the incredible detail that the highend video presents. Sure, it’s not a feature everybody will care about, but it’s a definite win over the PS4 Pro, which strangely lacks the same capability. At the end of the day, the One X is an attractive proposition for both hardcore players looking for an upgrade, or newcomers ready to enter the video game world. The system is definitely futureproofed, and a marked improvement over its predecessors, but arguably, doesn’t exactly solve the main issue facing Microsoft at the moment – games. With only a handful of exclusives to see the company through this holiday period, there isn’t a whole lot designed to make use of the One X’s raw power – for now. If you’re happy to wait, however, then you’re in for an absolute treat.

4K GAMING So, you have your Xbox One X, but what can you actually play? Quite a lot, actually, although there are a few caveats. The first is that not every single game is going to be ‘Xbox One X Enhanced’ with the full breadth of 4K resolutions and HDR. While most Microsoft-produced titles will make the use of the console’s sheer power, for other titles, it’s up to their creator.

Crafted by gaming royalty Rare, Sea Of Thieves takes you to the high seas with a cooperative pirate adventure that is bound to elicit fits of laughter from everyone involved. Explore, plunder, and track down boatloads of precious treasure, all from the comfort of your living room.

State Of Decay 2

Zombies: lots of them. That’s the basic elevator pitch of State Of Decay 2 – an open-world zombie survival action-RPG. This sequel hopes to be bigger than its predecessor in almost every way, boasting a brand new co-op mode.

Crackdown 3

Quantum Break

At time of writing, the list is already quite substantial, with Gears Of War 4, Call Of Duty WWII, Assassins Creed Origins, Forza 7, FIFA 18 and many more all optimised. Of course, the number of enhanced titles is only bound to increase over time, but it’s worth doing some research to find out whether your favourites are set to be upgraded, and what exactly that includes. A full list of titles, both past, current and upcoming can be found by visiting xbox. com/enhanced. Also worth noting is that once you do have a title ready for enhancement, the download files are going to be… sizeable, to say the least. We’re hoping the process gets a little better in time, because currently the most egregious example is 2016’s Quantum Break, which has a 4K patch size of a whopping 90GB. Once you add that to the game’s original install, it brings the number up to 178GB – over 10 per cent of the One X’s hard drive space on a single title. Although that’s certainly not a deal breaker, it is definitely worth knowing walking in.

A long-awaited sequel, Crackdown 3 will allow you to stop crime as a superpowered Agent in an insane sandbox of mayhem and destruction. This is destined to be fast, paced, unique and a hell of a lot of fun.

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Last week I was at Coles, trying and failing to locate the hummus, when my iPod shuffled through to Julien Baker’s ‘Appointments’. I had heard the song before – lots of times, in fact. But I hadn’t really heard it, you know? Like, I hadn’t give it the time or space to seep in; was still taking it prima facie.

Julien Baker

But for whatever reason, that’s when it hit me – there, in a supermarket aisle on a Thursday afternoon. The phrase “stops you in your tracks” is mostly bullshit, but I can’t think of any other way of describing what happened to me. I just stood there, stock still, a little dazed, and started to tear up. I hadn’t really listened to the lyrics before – hadn’t processed that Baker was singing about the end of a relationship, and disappointment, and the way that we pretend things are better than they are in order to make the unmanageable

manageable; in order to keep on living. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned, and there was an old man, cane in one hand, bunch of bananas in the other. I think I scowled at him. I thought he was gonna tell me I had to keep moving; that he was gonna piss and moan in that way old straight white men love to do. But he didn’t. He looked at my teary eyes, leaned in close, and said, “It’ll be alright. I promise.” And then he patted me once on

the shoulder, and kept walking, off down the aisle. Sometimes – and only ever sometimes – the universe reminds you that people are kind; and that they care; and that they are capable of doing deeply humane things for no reason at all. David Foster Wallace said it best, because of course he did: he said the most important thing about us as a species is that we are able to “treat people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they [are] human beings.”

Turns out it was wrong to underestimate Baker. She has neither turned in Sprained Ankle 2, nor sold out on what made her special. Instead, she has gone bolder, if not necessarily bigger; has doubled down, without duplicating. Turn Out The Lights is impossibly clear-eyed, and humble, and beautifully realised. It is some kind of perfect.

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As, for that matter, is a recent single by another nu-emo giant – ole mates Pinegrove, who dropped the heartbreaking ‘Intrepid’ and the brilliant news that they are touring Australia early next year. A clear continuation of the spools of barbed wire approach the band took on their unparalleled breakthrough record Cardinal, ‘Intrepid’ bundles together brittle choruses and big, bold vocal lines, and is generally exactly what you’d want from a band who can both ruin and redeem you. Significantly less impressive, if no less emotionally devastated, is the new record from eternal mope Sam Smith, The Thrill Of It All, out now. Smith has long sought to combine the frothy hysteria of The Smiths with a host of distinctly more poppy touchstones – the vogue-ing of Madonna, the classy baroque jazz of Amy Winehouse – and The Thrill Of It All is one more slow, hard slog through broken relationships, and warbling choruses, and bangers with all the bang taken out of them. ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’ might be a relentlessly dull pile of sub-Adele

Julien Baker photo by Nolan Knight

In fact, decency and love are the words of the day when it comes to Baker’s new record, Turn Out The Lights, out now. After the surprise success of her debut, Sprained Ankle, it wasn’t clear how many paths were open to Baker: what was her follow up gonna sound like? Was she going to copy the spiderweb melody lines of Ankle, recreating the thematic beats that made fans fall in love with her at the risk of widespread moaning that she was nothing more than a one trick pony? Or was she gonna go for the whole band experience, jeopardising the intimacy of her music for something new and expanded? And how was she meant to reproduce the angst of Ankle, when her life had – at least from an outside point of view – taken a sudden and dramatic uptick?


The Defender BY JOHN SAMPSON In The Defender, the BRAG’s writers pick out a pop culture artefact they feel has been hard done by. This issue, John Sampson argues that The Room is actually, legitimately great. The Room



Amusingly tone deaf title aside, Red Pill Blues, is a big, smudged pile of nonsense. At least ‘Moves Like Jagger’, despite being sugar sweet enough to cause diabetes, had a hook, and some substance.

horse-shit, but hey, the title did rather give that away.

We’re wading through the shit; might as well wade a little further over to the throbbing tumour people tend to refer to as Chris Brown, and his new record Heartbreak On A Full Moon, out now. The thing’s 45 tracks long and doesn’t contain half a second of originality, or of life. It’s as ugly as roadkill; as morally and intellectually vapid as the man who made it. I’d rather shave off my eyelids with a cheesegrater than ever, ever listen to it again.

Pinegrove photo by Phil Randall

Oh, and don’t even get me fucking started on the new Maroon 5 record, Red Pill Blues, out now. Not only did the band’s publicist forget to do a quick Google search to make sure the title didn’t allude to a bullshit theorem peddled by a band of misogynistic neckbeards – it does – but the band also forgot to check if their album contains any actual songs – it doesn’t.

But, lest I run the risk of sounding like that little asshole who declares people are liking something wrong, I have to make my case for a different way to enjoy The Room. Sure, it’s fun to poke at its plot holes, and Wiseau’s melodramatic gurning – but it’s unfair to call the film a mess, or even to suggest that it is anything less than a masterpiece. It’s an accidental masterpiece, sure; but in this postdeath of the author age, what does the agency of the creator have to do with anything? The Room is a film at war with itself, thematically and structurally. It is, in essence, a family drama – a low-key, intimate story about the breakdown of

a marriage – but it is shot through with the gusto and ambition of an epic. Characters come and go as though they are part of an ensemble cast, their sub-plots flashing in and out of focus, and Wiseau is clearly painting on a canvas much bigger than he knows what to do with. Simpleton Denny and drug dealer Chris-R have a violent run-in that is never mentioned again, and Claudette brings up her cancer only to seemingly forget about it. It is as though Wiseau lost sight of the film as he was making it.


t feels kind of weird to be defending the honour of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. After all, for a film that has continually been heralded as one of the worst ever made, it sure does have its admirers – it plays monthly at Sydney’s own Hayden Orpheum, and interactive, dress-up screenings attract sell-out crowds. Fans have the film memorised; have Wiseau’s own twisted grimace tattooed onto their flesh; have, in short, dedicated their whole lives to a film that features impressionistic green screen work, and muddied dialogue, and some of the strangest performances ever to be captured on the screen.

But rather than that ambition hamstringing the film, it makes it what it is. In all its dazzling bigness – in its size, and its drive – The Room shares more with expressionistic films of the silent era than American indie dramas. It explains lead character Johnny’s interior world in a way that circumvents monologues; it translates his ambition, drive, and, eventually, his paranoia and madness, via a string of unconnected characters, choppily edited scenes and cryptic dialogue. So sure, go and see The Room every month. Go dressed in your best Johnny get-up, with your ratty black wigs, and your ill-fitting suits. Hurl plastic cutlery at the screen, and bellow that Lisa is tearing you apart. But don’t call The Room a disaster. In the middle of all its strangeness, there lies glinting a true work of art.


The Room

Album Of The Fortnight: Turn Out The Lights. Dud Of The Fortnight: Heartbreak On A Full Moon, that dribbly mound of faeces.

BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 35

out & about Queer(ish) matters with Arca Bayburt

On Kevin Spacey


n a move that stunned literally nobody, Kevin Spacey recently confirmed via Twitter that he is indeed a homosexual. Of course, this statement came out as an immediate response to allegations made by actor Anthony Rapp, who accused Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when he was just 14.


Fittingly then, the calculated diversion tactic employed by Spacey and his team has been ripped to pieces by most of the progressive media. As a man who had spent much of his life in the public eye, he always maintained that he was an intensely private person, and so was mostly left alone. Few pried into his life.

Spacey didn’t really come out. It’s more accurate to say he was outed – he was forced to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality in no uncertain terms, in a bid to… I don’t know, somehow distract people from the unsavoury accusations piling around him.

All that said, since his deflection and poor attempts at manipulation have failed to shield him from a thorough shitsmearing on par with Harvey Weinstein’s current media lynching, there has been a lot of gay apologia for Spacey’s actions that is incredibly disappointing.

Here is his statement: “I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor. I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.

Spacey’s homosexuality is incidental in this case. A prick is a prick and an abuser is an abuser: the rest is just decoration. It’s a mistake to attempt to parse out bad behaviour and connect it to homosexuality as its innate cause. It also diminishes the seriousness of the allegations, because it then becomes a gay issue rather than a human issue.

“This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fuelled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy. As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man.

There has been criticism of the gay media’s coverage of Spacey’s scandal, in that it has broadly lacked nuance. I’m inclined to agree that it isn’t admissible to simply discard arguments that support punishing Spacey by not allowing him to claim a safe space beneath a rainbow banner – but at the same time I’m wary of allowing Spacey to manipulate the discourse by focusing it on homosexuality and not on the allegations themselves.


“I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behaviour.” Unfortunately for him, this bizarre attempt at smoke-screening his alleged assault of a minor by coming out as a gay man has backfired horrendously. And rightly so.

The zeitgeist demands that we hold people accountable for sexual harassment, no matter who they are. Public consciousness has been raised, and it’s not possible to return to how things were before the curtain was lifted on this one. So let’s consider the Spacey controversy in a little more detail. The idiotic declaration he made about choosing to live as a gay man has led some commentators to conflate homosexuality with paedophilia. Thanks Kevin: you’re a real pal.

36 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

Some media have also given airtime to the idea that Spacey was essentially forced to behave like a predatory lout because it was hard to be openly gay and have a career in the 20th century. I understand how one could hypothesise this, but I don’t understand how one could feasibly defend or prove this theory to be anything other than horseshit.

Kevin Spacey image courtesy Paul Hudson/Flickr

Since Rapp came forward with his story, four more men have followed suit with similar allegations, indicating a pattern of behaviour that has continued largely unscrutinised over the last 30 years.

Instead of pushing that Spacey isn’t welcome in our queer wonderland, we should condemn his cowardice and lend our focus to the allegations made against him, not bicker about his place at the table.

The idea that predatory or shitty behaviour was more accepted “back in the day” is rubbish, as useless as worthless defences like, “It was a different time”. It wasn’t, and just because it was less acceptable to be a gay person in 1986, that doesn’t mean the behaviour was justifiable – because being a homosexual and being a predator are not the same thing.


This is perhaps why Spacey’s reaction to the allegations stung so many people. I suppose queers were afraid we’d once again be painted as automatic rapists or abusers. Desperately claiming membership of a marginalised minority group like a chickenshit didn’t save Kevin Spacey. I’m glad we didn’t let him get away with it.

g g guide gig g

send your listings to :


Peterson, The Teskey Brothers, WAAX and more Parramatta Park, Parramatta. 1pm. $79.

Sunday Social – feat: Helena Ellis, K-Time, Lavida, Melkior The Argyle, The Rocks. 9pm. Free.

The Scientists Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $42.


The Ultimate Wild Tour – feat: DJ Sammy, Pandora, 666 and more Luna Park, Milsons Point. 7:30pm. $100.50.

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 19 Acoustic Sessions The Botanist Kirribilli, Kirribilli. 2pm. Free.

Paul Kelly

Mikelangelo And The Black Sea Gentlemen Leadbelly, Newtown. 8pm. $35.

Sydney Opera House, Sydney.

Paul Kelly

+ Steve Earle + Middle Kids 5:30pm. $99. WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 15 Drake Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park. 7:30pm. $101.75. Frazey Ford Leadbelly, Newtown. 6pm. $36.75. Marlon Williams Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $39.90. Silke Eberhard + The Women’s Jazz Collective Foundry 616, Ultimo. 8:30pm. $42.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 16 Don Fernando + Hobo Magic + Zong Rad Bar, Wollongong. 8pm.

$15. Frazey Ford Brass Monkey, Cronulla. 7pm. $36.75. HTRK + Julianna Barwick Cake Wines Cellar Door, Redfern. 6pm. $48.

Kyle Lionhart Leadbelly, Newtown. 7pm. $23.50. Midnight Oil + John Butler Trio + A.B. Original The Domain, Sydney. 4:30pm. $81.50.

Kyle Lionhart Leadbelly, Newtown. 7pm. $20.

Take That Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park. 8pm. $117.

Phaserland Factory Floor, Marricvkille. 8pm. $35.

The Protestors Django Bar, Marrickville. 8pm. $17.90.

Ta Go Lak + Napology Venue 505, Surry Hills. 8:30pm. $20.

Silke Eberhard + The Women’s Jazz Collective Foundry 616, Ultimo. 8:30pm. $42.

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 17 Hobo Magic Stag And Hunter, Newcastle. 7pm. Free.

The Stems + Grinding Eyes + Rocket Science Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $49.50.

Totally Mild + Gussy + Sachet Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $11.50.

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 18 Beaches Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $17.85. Don Fernando + The Neptune Power Federation + Drug Mother Small Ballroom, Newcastle. 8pm. $15. Frances Madden Foundry 616, Ultimo. 8:30pm. $36. Gold Class Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $25. Harbourlife – feat: Daniel Avery, Kidnap Kid, Made

Don Fernando + Hypergiant + Zong The Bald Faced Stag, Leichhardt. 5pm. $15.

Paul Kelly + Steve Earle + Middle Kids Sydney Opera House, Sydney. 5:30pm. $99. She Sessions – feat: Asta The Clovelly Hotel, Clovelly. 3:15pm. Free.

In Paris and more Fleet Steps, Sydney CBD. 2pm. $129.48.

Paul Kelly + Steve Earle + Middle Kids Sydney Opera House, Sydney. 5:30pm. $99.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 21 Lorde + George Maple Sydney Opera House, Sydney. 6pm. $114. Lindi Ortega The Bunker, Coogee. 7:30pm. $25.65

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 22 Lorde + George Maple Sydney Opera House, Sydney. 6pm. $114. The Temper Trap Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 7:30pm. $73.55.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 23 Francis Castley Knox Street Bar, Chippendale. 7pm. $16.50. Gabriel Garzon-

The Scientists

Hobo Magic + Buffalo Trio + Green Amphibian + Hypergiant + Zong Marrickville Bowling Club, Marrickville. 8pm. $15. Mikelangelo And The Black Sea Gentlemen Leadbelly, Newtown. 8pm. $35. MTV Beats And Eats – feat: Nicole Millar, Rudimental, Teddy Cream, Yolanda Be Cool and more Stuart Park, North Wollongong. 10pm. $53.23. The Plot – feat: Airling, Bec Sandridge, Manu Crooks, Sloan

The Scientists

Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Saturday November 18. 8pm. $42. After a 30-year hiatus, Australia’s post-punk pioneers The Scientists have reformed to tour the nation. Their endearingly trashy aesthetic and turbulent performance makes them a sight not to be missed.

BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17 :: 37

g g guide gig g send your listings to :

Montano Landsdowne Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $39.80. Lime Cordiale Rad Bar, Wollongong. 8pm. $17.90.

$15.30. Shattered Fortress Metro Theatre, Sydney. 8pm. $74.90.

Vance Joy + Gretta Ray Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $86.25.

The Snowdroppers + Born Lion + Gay Paris Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $25.

Wallis Bird Leadbelly, Newtown. 7:30pm. $23.50.

UB40 Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park. 6:30pm. $98.40.


Wallis Bird Leadbelly, Newtown. 7:30pm. $23.50.

AFTA-1 + So Crates + Danny OSX _ New Venusians Hudson Ballroom, CBD. 6:30pm. $16.83. Library Siesta + Team Vom + The Nah Botany View Hotel, Newtown. 9pm. Free. Marshall Okell Stag And Hunter, Newcastle. 7pm. $14.30. Peter Andre Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $80. Rifleman Chippo Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm.

For our full gig and club listings, head to Lorde

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 25 Bad Pony Brighton Up Bar, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $12. BBQ Food Fest – feat: Thirsty Merc Australian Hotel And Brewery, Rouse Hill. 5pm. $5.50.

Lorde + George Maple Sydney Opera House, Sydney. Tuesday November 21. 6pm. $114. Having just turned 21, Lorde radiates the emotional maturity of a seasoned pro, and her artistry has become more influential than that of many twice her age. Catch her at the Opera House on her Melodrama world tour.

Blackbear Manning Bar, Camperdown. 8pm. $61.10.

Assembly The Bearded Tit, Redfern. 4pm. Free.

Borneo Leadbelly, Newtown. 6pm. $15.

Lime Cordiale Metro Theatre, Sydney. 7pm. $22.75.

The General

Run Rabbit Run

+ Paravelle + Wolves In Fashion Captain Cook Hotel, Paddington. 8pm. $10. The Snowdroppers Factory Theatre, Marrickville.

Marlon Williams

7:30pm. $25/ Spy VS Spy + The Overtones Caringbah Hotel, Sydney CBD. 8:30pm. Free. Tropical Fuck Storm +

Dispossessed Landsdowne Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $23.50.

Sessions The Botanist Kirribilli, Kirribilli. 2pm. Free.


Harry Styles Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $99.


The Nature Strip + The Flies Leadbelly, Newtown. 6:30pm. $17. Sunday Social The Argyle, The Rocks. 9pm. Free.


Marlon Williams Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. Wednesday November 15. 8pm. $39.90. New Zealand charmer Marlon Williams has embraced a fresh sultry and smouldering look to accompany his new horror flick-inspired single, ‘Vampire Again’, which you’ll get to hear at the OAF mid this month.

Have a gig or club listing to get in The BRAG? You can now submit your gig and club listings, head to

38 :: BRAG :: 729 :: 15:11:17

She Sessions – feat: Asta The Clovelly Hotel, Clovelly. Sunday November 19. 3:15pm. Free. Love live music but hate the boys’ club? Then She Sessions is the event for you. From now till Christmas, every Sunday the Clovelly Hotel are set to host an afternoon of tunes fronted by female artists. Up first is Asta, so don’t miss the chance to catch the Tasmanian wunderkind up close.

01:11:17 :: University Of Wollongong Unibar :: University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue,Gwynneville

tonight alive

s n a p s

What we’ve been out to see this fortnight. See full galleries at

HD 25

Music legend. For music lovers. For music makers. For perfectionists. At home. On stage. In the mix. For 30 years.

Rediscover the legend:

Brag#729 SYDNEY’S FREE STREET PRESS Hitting the streets fortnightly, with the best music, comedy, food and gigs. This issue: • C...