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INSIDE This Week
A BR IEF HIS T ORY OF R IGH T-W ING A R T
SY DNE Y'S BE S T B A NH MI The top ten places in town.
ECIPE FOR SUCC E
And how it hijacks creativity for its own purposes.
M I L KINGSWOOD K Y CHAN CE
W INDH A ND
Breaking out from the confi nes of doom metal.
HOL LY T HRO SB Y
SPIDERB A I T SLEEPM A K E S WAV E S DA R A Ã“ BR I A IN T R IP OD A ND MUCH MOR E
BOY & BE A R
Fortifying a legacy in the Australian music scene.
The musician-cum-author is back in our ears.
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in this issue
what you’ll find inside…
head to: thebrag.com/freeshit
Back To Business
10-11 Milky Chance found fame with a bedroom album, and now they’re taking on the world 12-13 Holly Throsby, Sleepmakeswaves 14-15 Spiderbait celebrate the anniversary of a classic LP, Windhand
Out & About: Disney Makes History, And The Internet Reacts
26-27 The top ten banh mi in Sydney, Bruce Tea & Coffee reviewed, bar of the week 28
Album reviews, First Drafts
29-31 Live reviews
Boy & Bear
Vices, Damien Gerard Sound Studios, The Khanz
Pete Herbert, Off The Record
18-21 Why Right-Wing Art Sucks: A Brief History
“It’s weird to have a job which people admit is their greatest fear.”(22)
Dara Ó Briain talks about the perils of stand-up comedy
Inside Jokes, arts reviews
“I went to Splendour last year, and it was just full of 18-year-olds with six packs. When did teenagers get the time to get abs?” (24)
THE TEA PARTY
Australia’s favourite adopted Canadians, The Tea Party, are playing some of their biggest ever shows in our land this April. Joined by a 48-piece orchestra, the Jeff Martin-led three-piece will perform tunes from across their 24-year career, spanning their 1993 debut album to 2014’s The Ocean At The End. The Tea Party are renowned for their incorporation of unusual instrumentation in their music, from the oud and sitar to the hurdy gurdy and tabla, so having an extra 48 musicians with them will make for a stunning show. The Tea Party play The Star Event Centre on Friday April 21, and we’ve got two double passes to give away. Head to thebrag.com/freeshit to enter.
the frontline with Chris Martin, Nathan Jolly and Ben Rochlin ISSUE 704: Wednesday March 15, 2017 PRINT & DIGITAL EDITOR: Chris Martin firstname.lastname@example.org SUB-EDITOR: Joseph Earp STAFF WRITERS: Nathan Jolly, Adam Norris, Augustus Welby NEWS: Nathan Jolly, Tyler Jenke, Ben Rochlin ART DIRECTOR: Sarah Bryant PHOTOGRAPHERS: Ashley Mar ADVERTISING: Tony Pecotic - 0425 237 974 email@example.com PUBLISHER: Seventh Street Media CEO, SEVENTH STREET MEDIA: Luke Girgis - firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING EDITOR: Poppy Reid email@example.com THE GODFATHER: BnJ GIG GUIDE: firstname.lastname@example.org AWESOME INTERNS: Anna Rose, Ben Rochlin, Abbey Lenton REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Nat Amat, Arca Bayburt, Chelsea Deeley, Christie Eliezer, Matthew Galea, Emily Gibb, Jennifer Hoddinett, Emily Meller, David Molloy, Annie Murney, Adam Norris, George Nott, Daniel Prior, Natalie Rogers, Erin Rooney, Anna Rose, Spencer Scott, Natalie Salvo, Leonardo Silvestrini, Jade Smith, Aaron Streatfeild, Jessica Westcott, Stephanie Yip, 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 - email@example.com (02) 9713 9269 Level 2, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046 DEADLINES: Editorial: Friday 12pm (no extensions) Ad bookings: Friday 5pm (no extensions) Fishished 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 DISTRIBUTION: Wanna get the BRAG? Email george.sleiman@ seventhstreet.media PRINTED BY SPOTPRESS: spotpress.com.au 24 – 26 Lilian Fowler Place, Marrickville NSW 2204 follow us:
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The Sydney music scene has been dealt another blow, with the closure of Mr Falcon’s. The news was announced last week on Facebook. A post by staffer Tim Kent added: “Pretty fucking heart-breaking to see yet another iconic live music venue suffocated by Sydney’s irrational lock-out laws and frivolous noise complaints.” The City of Sydney has issued a statement, saying: “The closure of Mr Falcon’s was a decision of the property owner. The City of Sydney has previously contacted the premise about instances of trading outside of approved hours, but did not take any enforcement action and did not ask the property owner to close the premise or cease staging entertainment. The City supports live music and performances and wherever possible we work collaboratively with venues to resolve issues.”
THE DAY STREET BAND FOR A CAUSE
For the second year running, The Day Street Band will play the Leichhardt Bowling Club next week to raise funds for women’s refuge program, Detour House. Detour House was set up in 1984 with the goal of helping women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Joining The Day Street Band for this charity gig will be The Soul Messengers and Amanda Easton. Last year, the event raised over $3,000 for Detour House. The benefit show is at Leichhardt Bowling Club on Sunday March 26.
NEWTOWN SOCIAL TO REOPEN… WITH GOLF
Sydney live music venue Newtown Social Club will be revamped by its new owners to open as a mini-golf bar. The announcement of the venue’s impending closure was made in January,
and Sydney music lovers reacted with a mix of disappointment and anger. Now, the BRAG can reveal that the new proprietors of the venue formerly known as The Sando plan to renovate the bar and reopen it as Holey Moley Sydney, a mini-golf club similar to the Holey Moley bar in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. It is due to open in early June. Head to thebrag.com for an exclusive interview with Michael Schreiber, CEO of Holey Moley’s parent company Funlab, which also operates Strike Bowling and the Sky Zone trampoline centres.
DRUGS BUSTS AT SYDNEY FESTIVALS
NSW Police ran drug operations at a number of festivals in Sydney over the weekend, resulting in 150 busts. A series of festivals and large concerts across Sydney were targeted by police. Saturday’s Days Like This festival was hit the hardest, and saw 97 charges of drug possession, and two
charges of drug supply. Moore Park, which hosted two separate events, was the site of a drug dog operation which nabbed 38 people for illegal drug possession. Finally, ten underage people were caught with drugs at an event at Olympic Park. The ABC pointed out that, with a capacity of 5,000, two per cent of attendees at Days Like This were charged.
MERRICK JOINS THE SEARCH FOR A COMEDY STAR
Comedian and radio host Merrick Watts will host the 2017 Raw Comedy final for New South Wales. The winner of the state final will head down to Melbourne in April to compete in the National Final as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival on Sunday April 16. Previous years’ winners include Josh Thomas, Hannah Gadsby and Adam Spencer. For $25, head down for a laugh at The Comedy Store in Moore Park on Saturday March 21.
THE LOCKHEARTS HIT THE ROAD
Their album’s not done yet, but that’s not going to stop those gig addicts The Lockhearts from embarking on another east coast tour. Following up from a second edition of Old Mate’s Block Party at the Factory back in January, and a sneaky Frankie’s show in February, Jameel Majam and co. have set out on their Album’s Not Done Yet Tour to venues in New South Wales and Victoria this month. This Friday March 17, the tour rolls into Brighton Up Bar. If you want a taste of what’s next for The Lockhearts, here’s your chance. Xxx xxx
MR FALCON’S CLOSED
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Back To Business Music Industry News with Lars Brandle
A.B. ORIGINAL CLEAN UP AT THE AMP
Congrats must go to hip hop duo A.B. Original, winners of the 12th annual Australian Music Prize for the best Australian album of 2016. A.B. Original’s no-nonsense Reclaim Australia emerged as the winner at a ceremony last Thursday March 9 in Melbourne. A.B. Original – made up of Yorta Yorta man Adam Briggs and Ngarrindjeri man Daniel ‘Trials’ Rankine – are the first indigenous artists to win the AMP. They share the $30,000 winners’ cheque and join an illustrious circle of previous winners that includes The Drones, Big Scary and last year’s recipient, Courtney Barnett. All told, more than 360 albums were submitted for the AMP judges’ ears.
AIRBNB BRANCHES OUT INTO MUSIC
Airbnb, the online room-letting service that disrupted the accommodation industry so effectively it now has a price tag of US$30 billion, is branching out into the world of music. The Silicon Valley firm has launched a range of international “music experiences”, including exclusive access to sold-out shows and intimate live performances. Airbnb pledges its new offering will “support up and coming and local artists by connecting people to their events and generating a little extra income”. International live music brand Sofar Sounds, which has a chapter in Sydney, is partnering with Airbnb on the project.
AMAZON MAKES A MOVE ON FESTIVALS
Amazon wants in on music festivals. The e-tail powerhouse is advertising a position for a senior program manager, and the chosen applicant will be tasked with “dramatically” improving music fans’ festival experience in the States. According to the job specs, the new hire will “take an idea – to have a physical festival presence with onsite food and product delivery, custom tour merchandise for purchase, artist meet and greets, and convenience amenities such as free Wi-Fi, water, charging stations, and restrooms – and bring it to life”. Amazon has been ramping up its music activities in recent months. Jeff Bezos’ company premiered its triple-tiered Music Unlimited streaming service last October and recently posted fourth-quarter group revenue of US$43.7 billion, up 22 per cent from last year.
WARNER EXPANDS TO THE CAPITAL OF COOL
Warner/Chappell Music is expanding its footprint in Germany with the launch of a
new office in the country’s uber cool capital, Berlin. The new location, which is primarily A&R-focused, joins Warner/Chappell Music Germany’s headquarters in Hamburg and its existing office in Munich. “Germany is the third largest music market in the world, and Berlin is an artistically vibrant capital,” says Jon Platt, Warner/Chappell Music chairman and CEO, “so it’s great to have a dedicated team in three different cities, seeking out and nurturing talent across this dynamic country. It is our mission to help great songwriters thrive, wherever they are, and to that end, we are continually growing our global presence.”
AIM GAINS A NEW MANAGER
Gee ‘Genia’ Davey is the new in-house legal and business affairs manager at the Association of Independent Music (AIM). Davey joins from AIM member Cooking Vinyl. She starts in her new role from Monday April 3 and is set to report to AIM CEO Paul Pacifico.
SONY LAUNCHES MASTERWORKS
Sony Music has launched Masterworks in Australia as a domestic imprint catering to “mature music fans”. Robert Rigby, senior A&R director of Sony Music Australia, will head up Masterworks, which opens for business here with the release of Remembrance, a 24-track poetry-and-song tribute to the soldiers of WWI. The launch is part of Sony’s “strategic plan to deliver quality projects suitable for the discerning consumers in the adult contemporary, crossover and soundtrack music market”, commented Denis Handlin, chairman and CEO of Sony Music Australia and New Zealand and president of Asia. Masterworks has a 90-year history internationally – it began in 1927 as Columbia Masterworks.
ED SHEERAN DOMINATES THE CHARTS…
Whatever way you cut it, Ed Sheeran’s Divide has enjoyed a supreme start. In the UK, the album shifted a mindboggling 672,000 combined units in its first week, making it the third-fastest seller of all time (behind Adele’s 25 and Oasis’ Be Here Now) and the highest-ever opening sale for a male solo artist. The sales split, according to the Official Charts Company, goes as follows: 62% physical, 26% downloads, 12% streams. Also, in a feat which will have you either rolling your eyes or punching the air, Sheeran has totally owned the UK singles chart, with 16 tracks from the LP cracking the top 20. Divide also set Spotify records for first-day streams (56.7 million) and for most first-week streams (375 million streams), breaking the previous record (The Weeknd’s Starboy, which hit 223 million streams) in a little over four days. Of course, Spotify streaming records are there to be broken, particularly as its subscription base grows exponentially (50 million paid users at last count). It’s a similar story in Australia, where Sheeran snatched the ARIA albums chart title and flooded the singles chart with 16 of the top 20, including the number one with ‘Shape Of You’ for a ninth week. The Brit has 18 tracks in the top 100. Until now, no living act has had more than 14 singles in the survey. In the US, Divide is heading for a huge number one, and Sheeran has made history with 13 songs simultaneously charting on the Billboard and Twitter top tracks list. Ed Sheeran
BUT WHEN IS ED GOING TO TOUR AUSTRALIA?
Ed Sheeran’s quest for world domination should trundle on for some months yet. The Englishman’s manager Stuart Camp last week revealed his ward would tour South Asia, with an announcement due in May. We know when he won’t be touring the region: Sheeran has announced a 48-date North American jaunt, starting Thursday June 29 and running through to Friday October 6. Assuming Sheeran heads to Southeast Asia in the last quarter of this year, a victory lap of Australia and New Zealand would make perfect sense.
SINGAPORE REMAINS A HUB FOR METAL FANS
Singapore is emerging as a true metal music hotspot. The city state – one with a reputation for its impeccable cleanliness – has recently hosted shows by Metallica and Periphery, with Megadeth to come. Spotting a hunger for the harder stuff, promoter Street Noise Productions will be holding three separate shows in the days and weeks ahead, gigs featuring the likes of Whitechapel, Krisiun, Defiled and Aussie act A Night In Texas.
COUNTRY MUSIC CONTINUES TO DOMINATE
It may not be your thang, but country music is turning over a tidy business. CMC Rocks Queensland, a festival co-production by Rob Potts Entertainment Edge and Chugg Entertainment, has put up the sold-out sign for the second consecutive year. With a lineup boasting Dixie Chicks, Little Big Town, Kip Moore and local artists Lee Kernaghan and Morgan Evans, organisers are expecting 15,000 fans will attend the three-day hoedown, which starts Friday March 24. Given the good shape of the genre in this country, it’s unsurprising that America’s Country Music Association (CMA) will send a delegation to Australia this month with a goal to strengthen ties and facilitate opportunities. The delegation will attend CMC Rocks and will include CMA CEO Sarah Trahern, chief marketing officer Damon Whiteside, director of international media relations Bobbi Boyce and CMA board member John Marks, head of global country music at Spotify.
PHARRELL IS STILL VERY HAPPY Pharrell Williams has another good reason to be ‘happy’. The singer and producer was awarded the insignia of Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by France’s culture minister Audrey Azoulay, an honour previously bestowed to the likes of Elton John, Van Morrison and Peter Garrett. Pharrell collected the award at a ceremony in Paris as a testament to his contribution to the arts. The only bummer was his wife and kids weren’t there to catch it.
TICKET SCALPING GETS A LONG HARD LOOK
The dubious practice of ticket scalping is having a rare moment in the public spotlight, and it may just stay there for some time. Consumer advocacy group Choice has referred to the ACC the findings of its investigation into ticket reseller websites. Choice’s dragnet scoped the likes of Ticketmaster Resale and Viagogo. “We found Viagogo was the worst offender when it comes to dodgy pricing practices. From dripping in unavoidable fees in its online checkout to incorrectly claiming it has the cheapest tickets on offer, this company needs to clean up its act,” said Choice’s head of media, Tom Godfrey. The issue blew up when tickets for Midnight Oil’s comeback tour resurfaced online at inflated prices. Choice’s action got the thumbs up from the Oils’ frontman Peter Garrett and the promoter of the Australian shows, Michael Gudinski of Frontier Touring. Gudinski and fellow promoter Michael Chugg also ratcheted up the pressure on scalpers with a few choice words on triple j’s Hack last week. Midnight Oil
Midnight Oil photo by Oliver Eclipse
R.E.M. SIGN REPRESENTATION RIGHTS
R.E.M. have signed with SESAC for the performing rights representation of their entire catalogue in the United States, ending a long-standing relationship with BMI. The new arrangement covers works from across R.E.M.’s career, which yielded 15 studio albums and a slew of hits. Also, the individual members of the Georgia-based group (Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry) have signed with SESAC to handle their individual performing rights. R.E.M. were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
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MILKY CHANCE 10 :: BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17
FROM FOLK STARDOM TO FATHERHOOD BY NATALIE ROGERS
hen vocalist and guitarist Clemens Rehbein met DJ and producer Philipp Dausch on their first day of an advanced music course at the Jacob-Grimm-Schule in Kassel, Germany, no one could have predicted that a few short years later the duo would be known internationally for
their distinctive fusion of folk, reggae and electronica. “No one knew anybody because everyone had come from other schools, so it was an all-new situation with all-new people,” Rehbein remembers. “So we were all checking each other out and deciding who we wanted to hang with, and with Dausch it felt like we were on the same frequency. So we just started hanging out and making music together, and from the beginning it felt pretty natural.”
“THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR US IS THAT WE FEEL GOOD thebrag.com
“THE GOOD THING ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER IS THAT WE BOTH KNOW WHAT WE CAN DO, AND WHAT WE CAN’T.”
By 2014, Milky Chance had become the fresh faces of folk-inspired pop music, and audiences everywhere wanted to see them recreate their signature sound live. In the space of a few months, they sold out New York City’s famed Bowery Ballroom, made their television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and even managed to give a standout performance at Coachella, despite Rehbein being ill and losing his voice during their third song. However, he says his favourite gig in that breakout year was on the other side of the world. “We’ve got the best memories, crazy memories of the first time we were in Australia. All in all we had a really good time, but our favourite place was Byron Bay. We played a festival there for New Year’s Eve, the Falls Festival.
“We played late afternoon – there was great light from the sun, and I can just remember there was a huge bunch of people. We played three songs and there were four guys doing like a shuffle dance – I don’t know what you call it – and then 30 seconds later everyone was doing the same dance,” he laughs. “Like 15 or 20 thousand people! We stopped playing and were like, ‘Woah! What’s happening right now? This is crazy, what are you doing?’ We were blown away. I still have the picture in my mind – it was a very cool moment. Like a moment you will never forget, and it was probably the craziest thing that’s happened to us as a band.” In 2015, Milky Chance became a trio with the addition of guitarist Antonio Greger. They also began work on a second album Blossom, which is released this Friday. “We started recording the album in our hometown of Kassel, in my basement,” Rehbein says. “We recorded the demo, then we went to a bigger, more professional studio near our hometown, because we just felt like we needed more opportunity, more space, you know? We wanted to record real drums, real bass and real guitar using better amps. We wanted to create our own samples and sounds, so it was a natural step to move to a bigger studio, though we were still only 40 minutes away from home.”
At first, they formed a jazz band with a few other students and named themselves Flown Tones. “We jammed a little and then we began to play together,” says Rehbein. “There were five of us – I played the bass and Philipp was on guitar. We played in that band for most of high school, but just before we graduated the band broke up and we formed Milky Chance.”
From these humble beginnings, and after having played only a handful of gigs around town, the innovative pair recorded their debut album Sadnecessary in a homemade studio in Rehbein’s family home. “The good thing about working together is that we both know what we can do, and what we can’t – it’s like a pingpong game of ideas,” Rehbein says.
Soon, the pair began releasing carefully selected tracks onto YouTube and SoundCloud, and it wasn’t long before 2013’s ‘Stolen Dance’ was being heard and downloaded all over the world – achieving platinum status four times in Australia and making it to number four on the triple j Hottest 100, as well as topping the charts in Europe.
For Rehbein, staying close to home was especially important as he became a father for the first time in the process of making Blossom. “There’s one song on the album that I wrote for my daughter, but lots of songs are influenced by the experience. It’s a very inspiring thing that happens to you. It changes everything suddenly, and it changes the perspective you have on things. It changes your state of mind and your general connection to the world – it’s just cool. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me, despite all the other great stuff.” Rehbein’s ability to express and explore universal feelings of love, loss, happiness and fear is undoubtedly one of the factors behind Milky Chance’s runaway success, but he insists
D AND THAT W E HAD AS MUCH FUN RECORDING THE ALBUM AS WE DID WITH THE FIRST ONE.” thebrag.com
Sadnecessary and Blossom were a hands-on collaborative effort. “The lyrics are always up to me – I always do the songwriting and then I come up with the melodies and harmonies,” he explains. “Then we start working on the production – we start working on the beat, the rhythm. There’s a lot of back and forth, but we just have a really easy, flowy way of working together.” Rehbein admits, however, that despite his positive outlook on all things Milky Chance, feelings of uncertainty can creep up on him from time to time. “I’ve had time to think about this because lots of people have asked me how I feel about our new situation – our second album, all the pressure – and it’s a little difficult because people are waiting for something, and they’re expecting something too I guess. But in the end it’s just something you can’t worry about. I don’t have a recipe for success for stuff like this, so the most important thing for us is that we feel good and that we had as much fun recording the album as we did with the first one. “Now we’re just having a lot of fun playing all the new songs live onstage, and that’s what it’s about. We can’t wait to play for people, and we hope they like it, but you never know.” Milky Chance are currently on a world tour and will be back Down Under in April and May for Groovin The Moo and a string of headline shows, including at the Enmore Theatre. While it’s no secret that Rehbein struggles in being away from home for long periods, he says they do their best to support each other. “On the road right now we have ten guys; there’s lots going on,” he says. “We travel with a whole crew – we have extra guys with us onstage. There are two other musicians and our friends, and it’s a group of people that have known each other for years now. We’re just like a small family – it’s really cool.” Joining them on the lineup for Groovin The Moo are a stellar bunch of Australian and international acts. “I know Loyle Carner is playing there, and Tash Sultana – she’s very good,” Rehbein says. “We always try to catch up with as many people as possible – catch up with the music and try to meet new people. We always love playing at festivals, because once you’ve played your set, you can go out and join the crowd and have fun – and maybe even have a dance!” What: Blossom out Friday March 17 through Neon/ Universal With: Amy Shark Where: Enmore Theatre When: Wednesday May 3 And: Also appearing at Groovin The Moo 2017, Maitland Showground, Saturday April 29
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Holly Throsby Time On Her Side By Adam Norris
hazard of the music journalist’s trade is that rare occasion when you finally get to chat with an artist whose music you’ve long admired, only to discover that in person they’re actually rather bland, or a jerk, or both. Most of the time, the individual behind the art matches your projection. Rarer still are the folks who raise your estimation of them even higher. Holly Throsby fits in the latter category comfortably. She’s friendly and self-deprecating, sure; but she’s also keenly intelligent, and her insights into the craft behind writing a novel and writing a song are genuinely compelling. “To me, writing the book [2016’s Goodwood] was a really long and intense and obsessive experience,” Throsby says. “I’ve never been as disciplined as a songwriter. I tend to get as obsessed, that’s for sure; I’ll tend to carry a song around with me in my head everywhere I go, if I don’t write it all in one go. I generally don’t write at once; there’s usually lines that
“I didn’t necessarily think I would make another record, or play music again. It was something I thought I might be done with.”
need to be added. But songs are just such a different form, and I think serve a very different purpose as well. “I find writing the two very different experiences. To me, lyric writing in music is only musical. I don’t tend to appropriate that into another medium. It’s a very self-contained thing to me – the lyrics will come out with whatever melody is happening, and the character of that is embedded within itself. Whereas writing the book, you have this big, expansive world that I would visit to write within that fictional space, and inhabiting those characters felt very unconstrained while I was writing it and could have gone anywhere, which was quite exciting and daunting at the same time.” 2016 was quite a year for Throsby. Though it was also a time that saw the sad close of many creative careers, for the ARIA-nominated singer-songwriter it ushered in not only her literary debut, but the construction of her sixth album, After A Time. It was a fitting enough title given her last LP, Team, appeared back in 2011. “Last year creatively was really exciting for me. The act of finishing the book was something I was proud of. For most of the time I was writing, I didn’t think I would – or could – finish it. When I was at university studying English lit, I didn’t really think I’d be a musician. I thought I would be a writer, but I wasn’t sure what kind of writer I would be. I’d always wanted to write books, so creatively it was exciting, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t
have difficulties. As soon as I finish a creative project I start feeling obsessive about the next one, so to finish the book and go straight into the studio to start a record was exciting because it had been so long. “I didn’t necessarily think I would make another record, or play music again. It was something I thought I might be done with. So it was a happy surprise to feel that excited about music again, and to put a band together I was really excited about. It gave the studio a really warm feeling.” It’s surprising to learn of the uncertainties Throsby felt, especially in light of the album’s strengths. Her creative career seems to grow more interesting and more secure with each instalment, so perhaps that five-year break between releases really is quite telling. Though she has hardly been resting on her laurels all that time – novel notwithstanding, there has been indie supergroup Seeker Lover Keeper, a Bob Dylan tribute tour and her advocacy for animal rights – the absence does lend her lyrics an added scrutiny. Like all authors of note, once their words have washed over you, you can’t help but ponder their genesis. “Sometimes you really feel like some people totally get what you’re trying to do, and that’s a really nice feeling,” Throsby says. “But that can’t happen all the time. We’re talking about the most subjective fields, and I try to keep that in mind. You have to. Especially writing the book. It was a big deal for me to be doing something
completely different, and I didn’t know if I could do it. But you think, ‘Fuck, if a handful of people really love it, that would be great.’ Beyond that, you just get pleased if people respond or connect to it. In the end, I know what my intention is, and you have to be comfortable with that.” Though it’s far too early to guess when (or if) album number seven may arrive, we will still hopefully hear from Throsby again in the not-too-distant future. “It was difficult to leave [Goodwood] in a sense. There’s excitement upon completion, of course, but sadness to not be involved in those lives and stories any more. But in that, the idea for my next book surfaced, which is set in another fictional town mentioned in Goodwood, in a similar era. The tendrils meant that I wanted to continue in a different area, but a similar landscape that I wasn’t ready to leave yet. “I think the way I tend to work across everything is very instinctive. In terms of music, I don’t read music, I’m hopeless at knowing keys. In terms of writing the book, I did the same. Working by feel, no plotting or planning before I set off. So I would hope to write the next book in the same way.” What: After A Time out now through Spunk With: Body Type Where: Newtown Social Club When: Sunday March 19
“There’s so much blood, sweat and tears. And I know that’s a cliché, but it’s the reality of being an artist in Australia.”
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“It was a big deal for me to be doing something completely different, and I didn’t know if I could do it.” FEATURE
Sleepmakeswaves Deserts Of Water By David Molloy
he last few years have been hard for the Sydney music scene, with the loss of music venues left, right and centre, and opportunities for up-and-comers thin on the ground. The adversity makes the few local success stories all the more significant for it. In the past few years, post-rockers Sleepmakeswaves have shouldered their way into the same party as the big acts, sharing stages with every marquee name in their scene – Underoath, Pelican, Karnivool, Opeth, Monuments, Cog, Russian Circles, Boris and Mono, to name but a few.
“It’s cool hearing them all listed – these are heroes!” laughs Otto Wicks-Green, one of Sleepmakeswaves’ two guitarists (alongside Daniel Oreskovic). “All of the bands you listed have achieved a lot of success in their own fields, doing stuff that’s pretty unique and out there, which is one of the cool things they all have in common. That whole idea of sticking your guns and doing stuff that’s original – not being pressured to conform with what’s happening at the moment but doing your own thing – is such an important lesson, and it’s also just how hard each of these bands have worked. “We’ve spoken to a lot of the bands and a lot of the time, people just see the success, you know, they just see the end result, but the truth is there’s so much blood, sweat and tears. And I know that’s a cliché, but it’s the reality of being an artist in Australia.” Wicks-Green came to realise this while co-headlining Belgium’s Dunk Festival in 2012, on one of the band’s career-
defining tours with 65daysofstatic. After a few whiskies, 65days drummer Rob Jones admitted the reality of their chosen field to Wicks-Green. “He said, ‘Look man, prepare to sacrifice everything towards it if you really want it. You’re gonna lose jobs, you’re gonna lose girlfriends, you may end up living above your mum’s garage in a little attic. And that’s what you’ll have to do.’ That was a bit of a wake-up call for me – there’s no easy way out here. There’s no golden ticket in this scene, in this genre; there’s just hard work and sacrifice and trade-offs, and so that’s what we’ve done since 2011. I don’t regret a thing, but sometimes you look back on stuff you’ve lost and it stings a lot.” The sense of loss bleeds through Made Of Breath Only, the band’s latest album to be released next week. Each of the band members has recently suffered loss in one form or another over the last two years, learnt to adjust, and brought that experience to the emotional landscape that Sleepmakeswaves build in the record. “With this record we set out to do something quite conceptually and musically cohesive,” says WicksGreen. “Not like a concept album per se, but something that’s informed by this concept of the Arctic and the Antarctic as a metaphor for loss and for loneliness, and tried to group and write music that fit that theme into something powerful and conceptual.” Given the epic soundscapes they craft – and the fact their second album
was named Love Of Cartography – it’s plain to see Sleepmakeswaves’ infatuation with place and landscape, which informs the emotional spaces they seek to create in their music. For Wicks-Green, landscape acts as natural visual metaphor and as a reminder of that which we lack in an urban environment. “[Cartography] was around maps, map-making and stars, and these things evoke a sense of the energy and optimism in travel, and so with this record it was a couple of things I wanted to explore. The first was this idea of loss and adjustment to loss: we all went through our versions of loss in 2015 and 2016, and they’re all poured into this record in their own form. The metaphor that I kept thinking of for this was the Arctic and the Antarctic because they’re simultaneously very beautiful and awe-inspiring and fragile, but also very bleak and deadly. “I love the paradox of a desert of water – this idea that you’re surrounded by what you need and you can’t access it – and I love that metaphor of going through mourning and grief as being lost in the desert. The paradox of an Arctic desert is quite compelling for me. And then along with that there’s this large thing that we’ve lost connection with place, and human beings in this Anthropocene age we live in, as I’ve heard it described, we walk around on concrete and don’t get out into the bush and into the world enough, and it has all these knock-on effects on our mental health and for the way we relate to one another.”
“There’s no golden ticket in this scene, in this genre; there’s just hard work and sacrifice and tradeoffs.” While this may make the record sound like a maudlin experience, those who’ve seen Sleepmakeswaves live know the sheer joy with which they perform and the profound catharsis they indulge in along with their audiences. Even at a time of loss, these experiences bring life and energy flooding back into a seemingly cold, barren world. “There’s definitely a lot of joy,” says Wicks-Green. “This band is at its heart a live band … In the more serious moments we do get a bit angry and shouty, and we bring both of these emotions along, a sort of healthy aggression. And I suppose a few smiles sneak in as well. It’s generally a very positive energy that we try to bring out, and that’s the vibe that we try to bring to every show, no matter what size the stage.” What: Made Of Breath Only out Friday March 24 through Bird’s Robe/MGM With: Caligula’s Horse Where: Metro Theatre When: Friday March 24
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“We were on tour with Silverchair and we were in Tassie. I’d never heard of triple j so I didn’t know anything about them.”
Buy Me A Memory By Anna Rose
ack in 1996, an Aussie band little known to the world was thrust into the international spotlight with the release of its third studio album, Ivy And The Big Apples. Spiderbait became the face of Australian rock, and in many ways, the popularity of grunge took a step back to make way for them. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ivy’s release, Spiderbait are embarking on a nationwide tour. The tickets are moving fast, a solid testimony to the band’s success – and a state of affairs that the three members couldn’t have imagined two decades ago in their youth. It’s a rare opportunity and a privilege to speak to vocalist and bassist Janet English, who readily admits that preparing to play Ivy in full onstage has taken a good measure of planning and rehearsal. “Individually, we all kind of listened to the record again as none of us had listened to it for about 20 years,” she says. “We
“We spent a lot of time kind of reminiscing and not doing much work.”
had to reacquaint ourselves with what was actually on the album and then went through and relearnt the lyrics, relearnt the song structure and the patterns. “[Rehearsal] sort of triggers what the inspiration was, you know – what the song was written about,” she says. “It was a time where we were all share housing, so you know, there’s songs about people who were in share houses, of incidences that happened at that time. “It was funny, because we spent a lot of time kind of reminiscing and not doing much work [laughs]. But you know what? Sometimes that’s absolutely necessary.” One particularly fond memory for English is when the album’s lead single ‘Buy Me A Pony’ hit the number one position in triple j’s Hottest 100 of 1996. English recalls where she was at the moment Spiderbait found out they’d topped the countdown. “My recollection is, we were on tour with Silverchair and we were in Tassie. I’d never heard of triple j so I didn’t know anything about them – I mean I’d heard of triple j, I didn’t know there was a Hottest 100, I didn’t know what that meant. “I remember thinking, ‘What does it even mean?’ The others have a recollection that’s completely different – like, it’s all a bit of a blur, to tell you the truth, but I guess the main thing was we didn’t realise the significance of it at the time. For a small band from regional New South Wales, it
didn’t really have much meaning.” Of course, Spiderbait’s feelings around their success in 2017 compared to those of 20 years ago have changed, and so has their attitude towards their songs. “It’s only in retrospect that you can kind of grasp that the ground really shifted for us,” English says. “We won the ARIA for that record that year and none of us went to the ARIAs, we didn’t really know anything about it – it was just a different time … Apparently Richard Wilkins took home our ARIA!” Nevertheless, Ivy is a coveted record not just for Spiderbait, but their fans too. “It meant a lot to a lot of people, that record. It was sort of a rite of passage, or there was something about that time in people’s life that really connected. “It was a chaotic time in our lives, because when you’re at the centre of a storm like that, and you are travelling constantly and playing… I mean, it’s such a cliché, but when you’re in the middle of it you just don’t appreciate it. “It’s nice to look back and think of all of those lovely memories of being with my best friends and being in different places in the world, and looking across at each other and going, ‘Isn’t this amazing?’” With: The Meanies, Screamfeeder Where: Enmore Theatre When: Saturday March 18
“We got slagged for our last album and then there are other bands who are ripping our stuff off, note for note.”
Windhand Wolfe Over Wine By Anna Rose
t would be easy to say that Windhand are a band of contradictions, but really, they’re a band of assertions. With a famously vocal outlook on everything from their own music to their fans and beyond, Windhand are as unique on record as they are in conversation.
“The fact I’m sitting here on a Wednesday night talking to someone in Australia is pretty sweet,” says drummer Ryan Wolfe, sipping on a glass of wine as he talks down the phone. “I mean, this band, there’s a reason we play in this band and there’s a reason we’re here in life. “We’re happy and appreciative that this many people around the world enjoy [our music] and wanna hear it – we’re not gonna exploit what we do, it’s somewhat humble and honest. The reward is being able to play music. To have the ability to play music.” Windhand are often described as a doom metal band – even their Wikipedia bio uses the term – but Wolfe voices a few rough truths about such a description. “I hate that word – I hate it,” he says. “I’m not being mad at you – it’s something we’ve tried to shy away from. I honestly feel we’re rock’n’roll, but for some reason there’s a doom genre. But I don’t know; it’s just music to me, man.” As the name suggests, doom is a particularly gritty subgenre of metal, and though it’s the label for which Windhand have become known, their songs have a kind of ambience that’s far removed from the imagery of blood, gore and destruction that the word ‘doom’ suggests. It begs the question, is there anything that makes Windhand metal at all? “The pure volume,” Wolfe laughs. “We play fucking loud as hell. We’re really, really loud – to a lot of sound men in the world, to their disgust, we’re fucking loud.” Though Windhand are presently flying high
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with success, their journey to this point has been bumpy at best. Indeed, their 2013 album Soma was met with mixed reviews (though Rolling Stone called it the third best metal record of the year), and though they’re quickly outgrowing the underground scene of their native Virginia, Windhand have certainly done the hard yakka to get where they are. “It’s very humbling when you do see so many publications mentioning you,” Wolfe says. “But I don’t know – without whoever we’re playing to, without them, we’re nothing. But honestly, we’re playing for ourselves, even more now than before – we’re really trying to be selfish with our music. “I probably shouldn’t say what I’m about to say, but… maybe I’ve had too much wine, but to hear what you’re saying, saying good things about us – I mean, you’re in fucking Australia, you’re on the other side of the world! “We got slagged for our last album and then there are other bands who are ripping our stuff off, note for note – you’re like, ‘What the fuck?!’ [Then] all of a sudden you’re everyone’s darling and you’re what everyone wants to hear and then all these bloggers and writers need someone new. That was a venting – I’ve had too much wine. So many people talk shit about us: what have we done that’s all of a sudden so different that people fucking trashed us?” Slagged off or otherwise, Windhand will not be discouraged, and their 2015 album Grief’s Infernal Flower cemented the group’s reputation for ruthlessness as well as offering a contradiction to all those ‘doom metal’ comments. “I feel like there’s draw from everywhere,” Wolfe says. “We don’t all strictly listen to heavy music – we’re all pulling in different
“We play fucking loud as hell.” influences from here and there; country, folk, psychedelia. “I saw [Windhand] play when I was just moved to town and I wanted to be their drummer,” he adds. “The first thing I wanted to do was to add a jam aspect – early ’70s Grateful Dead is a huge influence for me. The thought of putting that toward this heavy, steady, grungey type of music – for some reason I thought, ‘This can be good. This can be really good.’” Alongside their musical spirit animals Cough, Windhand return to Australia next month with every intention of showing off that excessive volume and eclectic sound. “You said you’re in Sydney? OK, cool. That’s awesome. I. Am. Excited. “Last time we drove in between shows and I find out after we got there that flights were super cheap – why didn’t anybody tell me they were so fucking cheap?” Wolfe asks. “Coming down from Brisbane, a bunch of the highways are mountainous and I could see the fucking Opera House coming over the Bridge, then I played a show at a university and that’s all I saw of Sydney – so yeah, really excited. “I feel like I’m about to fall in love again with my girlfriend. I don’t think I have any fucking idea what’s going on here but I really like it. Finally Australia is gonna talk back to me after I was talking to her all night.” With: Cough Where: Newtown Social Club When: Wednesday April 5
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“You spend more time with people in a group and you get a better idea of how they work and how you work with them.”
Spoon The Heat Is On By David James Young
orget everything you know about Spoon. Alright, maybe not everything. They’re still proudly keeping Texas weird. They still feature vocalist/guitarist Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno, as they’ve done for the entirety of their 24-year lifespan. They’re also still very much in the business of making catchy, bold songs that flirt between avant-garde and accessible. The main difference is that, for their ninth studio album Hot Thoughts, Spoon have pushed the proverbial envelope as far as it will go on their most experimental release to date. “I think that it was really across the board to take this album in the direction that we did,” says Alex Fischel, the band’s keyboardist and guitarist. “It definitely helped having [producer Dave] Fridmann on board. I think that we approached this record sort of as a response or a reaction to what we did on [2014 album] They Want My Soul. ‘OK, we did that. Now what?’ Our response to that materialised in a way that was a lot more experimental than perhaps we initially anticipated. It’s definitely off the beaten path from what Spoon has
done in the past. It was an exciting record to make, and I think that’s why.” Hot Thoughts is also notable for being the band’s first album in 15 years not to feature Eric Harvey, who played with Spoon for 13 years across four studio albums. Harvey quietly departed not long after touring ended for They Want My Soul, leaving Spoon to continue on as a four-piece completed by bassist Rob Pope. “It’s not like it wasn’t public information – it was going to come up eventually,” says Fischel. “It’s honestly all good. Eric is playing in Hamilton Leithauser’s band now, and we’ve got a new guy that we’re touring with. His name is Gerardo [Larios], and we met him because Jim was recording him in Austin. We got together to see if the vibe was right and we’ve been playing together ever since.” Fischel is the most recent person to officially join the Spoon lineup – he entered the fold in 2013, having previously worked with Daniel in the band Divine Fits. Hot Thoughts marks his second album as part of Spoon, and with Harvey gone it was up to
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“With the last record, I was definitely scoping the landscape in terms of my own role in the band,” he says. “I definitely felt comfortable to voice my opinion and things like that, but it was definitely a developmental period for me. You spend more time with people in a group and you get a better idea of how they work and how you work with them. Making this album, it was mostly just the four of us, so it definitely felt as though I was stepping up a lot more … I wrote my first song for the band on this record – I wrote ‘First Caress’ with Britt – and I felt a lot more involved.” Hot Thoughts explores elements of Krautrock, artsy dance rhythms and even a hint of free-form jazz toward the end. It ends up perhaps the furthest removed from any one Spoon record to date: even the album’s press material says this is the first Spoon record to not feature a single acoustic guitar on any of the tracks. According to Fischel, however, the game plan wasn’t to tear down the foundations of the band’s sound bit by bit – at least, not at first. “There’s a song on the record called ‘I Ain’t The One’ which actually started on the acoustic guitar,” he says. “It kind of sounded like a Johnny Cash song. We toyed around with it, and then decided to see what it would
sound like if we moved it over to the Rhodes and sped it up a little. The tone of the organ actually made it darker and a little bit scarier, if that makes any sense. Once we found that, we kind of ran with it. “It wasn’t like we made a hard and fast rule of ‘no acoustic guitars’. There weren’t really any rules for that matter. We spend a lot of time together, so I think we were kind of intuitively going for the same thing. It just sort of happened that way.” Less than a week after Hot Thoughts hits the shelves, Spoon will be in Australia for a whirlwind promotional run that includes two headlining shows in Sydney and Melbourne. “This will be my third tour of Australia,” says Fischel. “I came over with Divine Fits in 2013, and Spoon did a tour in 2015. We’re really looking forward to it. “We’ve kind of just been going through the new stuff and seeing what works live, and what we’re confident enough to pull off. That’s going to be a big part of the show. We might also be playing some songs off [2010 album] Transference that we haven’t played before. We didn’t really get around to it on the last tour, so we’ll see what happens.” What: Hot Thoughts out Friday March 17 through Remote Control/Matador Where: Metro Theatre When: Thursday March 23
Spoon photo by Zackery Michael
“It wasn’t like we made a hard and fast rule of ‘no acoustic guitars’. There weren’t really any rules for that matter.”
him to step up to the plate and play a bigger part in the creative process. Although there was some initial reticence, Fischel definitely feels more at home now than he did at first.
“We got caught up in that wanky new folk thing, and the journey since then has been three albums of trying to find out who you are.”
Boy & Bear Gone Fishing By Anna Rose
like rain but I’m over it,” says Boy & Bear’s Tim Hart. “I’m somewhat a nerd that I started fishing this year – I wanted to do something new and all the mindfulness bullshit… it’s gonna make me want to learn, but I can’t fish when it’s raining.” Hart has had some time on his hands lately, and not just because of the recent Sydney downpours. Boy & Bear have had a quiet start to the year, and it’s given the drummer a chance to get a little more philosophical than normal. “Don’t you reckon there’s too many musicians who try and sound profound when they’re interviewed?” he asks. “It’s like, ‘Come on mate, you’re not Bob Dylan, there’s gonna be no Nobel Prize for you’ [laughs]. You’re a journalist, you want to write something juicy, but I just feel I’ll be so fake if I’m like that.” Tabloid gossip or not, Hart is a delight to speak with, and his sense of humour puts a colourful spin on the otherwise greyscale activities of Boy & Bear this year – there’s no big reveal when Hart is asked what they’ve been up to. “Nothing,” he laughs again. “A bit of rehearsal, but we did massive touring off the last record, finished at Christmas and we needed a few months off. “We’ve got shows coming up – we’ve had two months’ break completely and it makes
you hungry again. When you come off of tour after two years, you just wanna see your family, have a beer.” Indeed, Boy & Bear were out on the road for the majority of 2016 behind their 2015 record Limit Of Love, which garnered further international acclaim among a discography that now spans three albums. The Sydneysiders’ sound is an everinteresting blend of Fleetwood Mac and Dire Straits, and while Hart says they started out without any expectations of what they would become, he fondly thinks of Boy & Bear as a culmination of the sounds of their youth. “I guess what you hear is a result of what our mums and dads listened to and what we listened to, folk music and that sort of thing. We got caught up in that wanky new folk thing, and the journey since then has been three albums of trying to find out who you are. That search always leads you back to who you were when you grew up, so there’s a certain nostalgia to that for us, which makes it possible to play 160 shows [a year].” That “wanky” folk sound may be something Hart wishes Boy & Bear could have avoided, but it served them well. Songs from 2011’s ‘Feeding Line’ through the more recent ‘Walk The Wire’ pulse along with undeniably catchy guitar riffs and sweet vocals. So would Hart suggest their music is something that hasn’t been done before – or
are they at least striving to create something completely original? “I’ve got a flat out answer – no.” His infectious laughter pours down the phone without a hint of irony. “Obviously we wanna be as creative as possible, but I think it’s really quite pretentious to think you’re creating something that hasn’t been done before. Some people do have the ability to do that, but to write a song? Yes, it’s a new creation, it’s unique in that sense, but you’re not reinventing the wheel – it still has melody, still has pop hooks. So to think it’s something massively groundbreaking is just bullshit.” Hart will temporarily hang up the fishing rod for Boy & Bear’s appearance in a coveted slot at this weekend’s Party In The Park festival. After such an extensive stretch of headline performances, Boy & Bear will only be playing festivals this year – and who can blame them? “We’ve played lots of festivals,” says Hart. “To be honest, we’re rubbish at festivals, just because we’re not this pumped-up band who swears to get a reaction out of the crowd. We do rely on our songs. As time’s gone on, we’ve learnt how to craft a setlist to dynamically move from high moments to introspective moments, and in that sense, festivals have become really fun and interesting for us, because you’ve got one shot to impress people and festivals are a good opportunity.”
Joining Boy & Bear on this year’s Party In The Park lineup are the likes of The Delta Riggs, Dope Lemon and Nicole Millar, and for all that he’s excited to be playing, Hart readily admits he has no clue who else is joining them. “I have no idea who else is playing – are The Preatures playing?” (They’re not.) “Nah, it’s gonna be great to see other bands, other friends. No one understands the touring lifestyle like another musician – maybe your partner, but that’s the great thing about festivals: there’s a lot psychology going on, a lot of counselling. Musos need that from other musos.” And when Hart’s not playing a festival stage somewhere in Australia, there’s no surprise about where you’ll find him. “Have you ever seen River Monsters? Jeremy Wade, he’s a bit of a tosser, an extreme wrangler – I’ll be watching that then going back to fishing. I hate killing – I’ll be pulling them up and putting them back, but I’ll get that satisfaction in the name of science and biology… which I was rubbish at at school!” What: Party In The Park 2017 With: Dope Lemon, The Delta Riggs, Nicole Millar, Paces, Bleeding Knees Club and more Where: Pittwater Park When: Saturday March 18
“To be honest, we’re rubbish at festivals, just because we’re not this pumped-up band who swears to get a reaction out of the crowd.” xxx
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Why Right-Wing Art Sucks A BRIEF HISTORY BY J OS E PH E A R P
“It has become a popular mantra of progressives to claim that conservatives are unable to contribute in any meaningful way to art or entertainment in America. The sole defence for the assertion that conservatives are not capable of creating art is that we have no soul.” – FRANCES BYRD, BREITBART
Born In The USA:
The State Of Conservative American Culture “I like a lot of books. I like reading books. I don’t have the time to read very much now in terms of the books, but I like reading them.” – DONALD TRUMP IN AXIOS
ast month, an eminently shouty, distinctly trumped up alt-right spokesperson named Paul Joseph Watson took to Twitter to share one of his more lopsided thoughts. In his trademark smirky manner, the minor internet celebrity and online editor for Infowars – a spurious, often fact-challenged website led by known conspiracy theorist Alex Jones – proudly proclaimed that “conservatism is the NEW punk rock”.
It was in many ways a sentiment that Watson had been leading up to for some time. A large number of his videos posted prior to the tweet contained ‘takedowns’ of celebrity culture, particularly targeting what Watson has long claimed to be the kind of out-of-touch art peddled by his mortal enemies: left-wingers in Hollywood. In one lengthy, straight-to-camera vlog in early February, Watson even made the claim that culture in general – but particularly music, and especially hip hop and pop – has been on a downward slide since the beginning of the 2000s. Holding up Miley Cyrus, the conservative’s favourite target, as proof of his argument, Watson spat moralistic slurs, subtly conflating the ‘Wrecking Ball’ singer’s political stance with her
penchant for nudity and general stylised shock tactics. “Popular culture is more vulgar, vapid, self-absorbed and dehumanising than at any other time in living memory,” he barked at his audience, standing before the map of the world that has served as his backdrop for four years of videomaking, over which time he has laid waste to targets as varied as feminists and the entire nation of Sweden. “For the past two decades, pop culture has only served as a sewer pipe of projectile diarrhoea aimed directly at our gawping mouths.” Watson’s criticisms of art are wide-ranging – he has made videos that claim the music industry is controlled by the Illuminati, and others still in which he argues that “postmodern nihilism” represents a direct threat to the sanctity of the modern family. But amidst all this endless whinging, and his constant, obsessive praising of the alternative credentials of conservatism, Watson is yet to provide anything resembling evidence of the right wing’s cultural superiority or edge. Indeed, the dearth of conservative art is something that no alt-right figure has ever been really able to account for. The superstars of this emerging political form, many of whom openly flirt with neo-Nazism, almost universally have left-tocentre-leaning tastes when it comes to music, literature and cinema.
Miley Cyrus live in Sydney, 2014
Just take Richard Spencer, the white nationalist (read:
“The superstars of this emerging political form, many of whom openly flirt with neo-Nazism, almost universally have left-to-centre-leaning tastes when it comes to music, literature and cinema.” Paul Joseph Watson
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The Pepe the Frog Trump meme
Miley Cyrus photo by Ashley Mar
racist) who was jubilantly punched while explaining the origins of the Pepe the Frog meme to an ABC news camera at the beginning of this year. He is a hardcore Depeche Mode fan who was promptly denounced by his heroes as soon as he made his love of them known. “Depeche Mode has no ties to Richard Spencer or the alt-right and does not support the alt-right movement,” the band told Spin, reacting to Spencer’s claim that the ’80s electronic rockers were “the Russell Crowe in Gladiator
official band of the alt-right”. Spencer, for his part, claimed he was joking. The internet spliced up the footage of Spencer being punched and set it to Depeche Mode’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. The clip went viral. There are so many more examples, a great litany including conservatives like Milo Yiannopoulos, the now disgraced alt-right spokesperson who lost his job at conservative news site Breitbart after a video surfaced in which he allegedly
defended paedophilia, and who has written on a range of cultural phenomena – including, bizarrely enough, the children’s cartoon Digimon. “Digimon has emerged with hindsight as a clear connoisseur’s choice,” Yiannopoulos claimed in an article titled, somewhat preposterously, ‘The Lost Franchise: Why Digimon Deserves A Glorious Renaissance’ – a verbose, bilious missive that might be the most bizarre attempt yet by conservatives to repurpose and retool contemporary culture. “Nowhere in the Pokémon canon exist the moments of maturity, complexity and artistic achievement that Digimon, at its best, has offered its fans.”
f course, neither Digimon nor Depeche Mode are stridently, obviously leftist – though it’s worth remembering that the latter did release a song called ‘People Are People’, including the line: “We’re different colours / And we’re different creeds / And different people have different needs.”
But it is nonetheless curious that conservatives, when confronted over the great abyss where their artistic accomplishments should be, tend to latch on to apolitical works, or art made by those who affiliate most closely with Ayn Randian levels of libertarianism. The writers, thinkers and creatives they cling to are either those who have never
“Conservatives, when confronted over the great abyss where their artistic accomplishments should be, tend to latch on to apolitical works.” made their political aspirations particularly clear – the filmmaker Ridley Scott, for example, who is responsible for a range of films adopted by the right, including Gladiator and Kingdom Of Heaven – or, more troublingly, those who emphasise the kind of humanism that can be misinterpreted as a rejection of ‘political correctness’, whatever that nebulous term means today. For instance, neo-Nazis and the more extreme contingent of the alt-right have for some time been co-opting and rebranding the key figures of the new media movement. In this way, their tastes have expanded away from literature and cinema and into content creators like YouTube star PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg); blank slates onto which they can cast their extremist ideologies. It is no matter to those on the alt-right BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17 :: 19
An American Carol
that new media rock stars like Kjellberg, pop culture figures with considerable influence and heft, are never even vaguely anti-Semitic or racist in terms of their content. Instead, extreme conservatives point to the claims made by Kjellberg that all jokes should be acceptable, no matter how off-colour they might be – he is on record as saying, “I do strongly believe that you can joke about anything.” Such precise chinks in Kjellberg’s armour means he has had his messages hijacked, as his views on intellectual and comedic freedom have been used by extremists as an excuse to push forward dangerous, fascistic subtexts. Indeed, Kjellberg has become an unwitting neo-Nazi figurehead of late, a controversy that came to a head when The Wall Street Journal successfully got him dropped by both Maker Studios, his agency, and YouTube itself, thanks wholly to his favourability among American fascist groups. Needless to say, such a drastic move rapidly proved not only unfair but irresponsible, possibly even immoral, as it implied agency on Kjellberg’s part while ignoring the real root of the problem. The issue was not Kjellberg and his bad, sometimes tasteless jokes, but the magpie-like habit of the right when it comes to art. After all, extreme conservatives have nothing less than a symptomatic attitude towards the repurposing of centrist and apolitical works; an obsessive need to Trojan horse their nefarious tendencies, hiding hatred in the guts of apolitical art.
“Conservative art is forced to be extreme in order to generate anything resembling a central conflict.” 20 :: BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17
Lions And Wardrobes (No Witches):
The Absence Of Conflict In Conservative Stories “The conservative mind is unbalanced – hyper-developed in one respect, completely undeveloped in another. It’s time to correct this imbalance and take the culture war into the fi eld of culture proper.” – ADAM BELLOW,
“A THE NATIONAL REVIEW
s we can clearly see, Cubans have the very best healthcare in the world,” Michael Moore is saying to camera, sipping on a mojito and standing before a hospital slapped with a sign bearing Che Guevara’s name. Or no, not Michael Moore – Michael Malone, a thinly veiled cipher, sporting a gross, swollen belly and a blue baseball cap, perched on a mess of greasy hair. “Not like in America, where it can kill you.” It’s a joke, and a key scene from David Zucker’s An American Carol, perhaps the most aggressively conservative film released in recent years. A spin on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the comedy casts Malone (Kevin Farley, doing his best to live up to the early Jim Belushi comparisons critics heaped upon him) as its Scrooge stand-in. Over the course of this inexcusably long satire, the anti-American Malone is forced to contend with three ghosts who aim to reintroduce the infidel (quite literally – he agrees to assist the Taliban in their attempts to make a goofy training video) to the pleasures of US freedom and culture. It’s not exactly subtle, and its swollen tumour of a subtext is unavoidable. Nor is it very funny. The film, a mess of racist “who’s on first?” jokes that aims to find comedic gold by substituting ‘Hu’ with ‘Muhammad Hussein’ in agonisingly absurdist scenes, is an anti-art curio. It’s remarkable, but mainly as a way of discovering which of your hallowed childhood heroes are bigoted enough to appear in a production that deals in misogynistic and determinedly inhumane jokes (“Leslie Nielsen? Seriously? What is he doing in this movie?!”). But it is also an outsider. It remains one of the few stridently right-wing works released to American cinemas in the last decade; a rare example of a conservative film made for conservatives, rather than a work vague enough to have its ideologies hijacked. And, finally, it is a failure. An American Carol was not only a critical and creative bomb, but a universally derided waste of cash. Against a US$20 million dollar budget,
the film recouped a mere $7 million. Even conservative press outlets tried, however subtly, to distance themselves from the work. “Carol insults conservatives by presuming that they are so simple as to be won over by fat jokes and flatulence,” read a scathing review by Michael Brendan Dougherty of The American Conservative. For many, An American Carol’s main source of repulsion is its unsubtlety. The film deals solely in caricatures – its conservatives, including broadly drawn historical figures such as General Patton (Kelsey Grammer) and George Washington (Jon Voight, a strident Trump supporter), are relentlessly heroic, while its liberals are physically repellent pigs, all hypocritical and heretical. To that end, An American Carol has its political mirror images – films like Paul Haggis’ hideous and hurried Crash, a bizarre leftist Best Picture Oscar winner that confuses heart with boorishness and proves repellent to any but those ready to swallow its message without question. Or the agonising Michael Clayton, a mixed metaphor of a film that attempts to tackle conservative capitalist culture by directly engaging with it. But therein lies the rub: unlike leftist or centralist art, which can emphasise change as a kind of spiritual awakening and an inherently humanistic act, conservative art is forced to be extreme in order to generate anything resembling a central conflict. An American Carol could simply not exist as a less aggressively broad and inaccurately written barrage of mud-slinging – it would not work by halves, and its central conceit requires its antagonist to speak in exaggeration so obscene that reality is soon left far behind.
of a species requires a resistance to what has come before. But on a more practical level, change is also the very driving force of narratives, whether they be filmic or literary. “I always think change is important in a character,” the actor Peter Sarsgaard once said. “The most dynamic choices that you can make for a character are always the best ones.”
‘Get Off My Lawn’:
Borrowed Art In The US And Australia “It has come to my attention that certain groups of people have been using my voice, my songs as their anthems at rallies ... None of these people represent me and I do not support them.” – JIMMY BARNES
he struggle faced by conservative creatives in attempting to make their heroes look powerful is a profound one. How do you make your heroes appear heroic if all they want to do is keep things as they are? In the case of rigidly right-wing films like those directed by noted Republican Clint Eastwood –
After all, by its very nature, anything resembling a rightwing point of view is couched in terms of upholding the norm. The villains in conservative films are those who want to change things, or to insult and tip the status quo – even Malone is defined by his resistance to America, and the film’s Middle Eastern antagonists all want to alter the US so profoundly that it stops resembling the country at all. Of course, when that kind of opposition is toned down ever so slightly, it begins to look a lot like heroism. Change is healthy – necessary even, and the evolution thebrag.com
Cory Bernardi photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
“The villains in conservative films are those who want to change things.”
FEATURE even argued that The Matrix is a powerful exploration of transgender rights. “As I see it, a transgender reading of The Matrix examines three points: Neo’s so-called ‘Path’ to becoming the One, the artificiality and pervasiveness of the Matrix itself, and the rigidity with which it is enforced by not only its creators, but those trapped within,” wrote the academic Hannah DuVoix in 2012. “For those of us who transgress gender as it exists in the world today, we follow a similar path. We must free our minds from an artificial system of control that can’t be seen but is omnipresent, and the system is rigidly, frighteningly self-enforced by those who operate within it.”
Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino
“Underwritten ‘otherness’ simply doesn’t work as a narrative device.” particularly his hokey anti-art oddity Gran Torino – the answer is to make the villains seem insane and careless; without sense, motivated only by anarchy. In Gran Torino, the antagonists are interested in nothing but aggression and thievery for reasons that are never properly defined, and the hero – Eastwood in full gurning, fogey mode – is established as a denizen of sense and safety. The endgame of the film’s enemies is deliberately untenable: it’s nothing more complicated than pain, and therefore can be cast as inherently immoral. But again, such an attitude has its shortcomings, and skewed conservative narratives often require their villains to be simultaneously underwritten and over-thetop. The Persians in 300, Zack Snyder’s fascistic epic (“just what you would expect from the heavily freighted right-wing filmic propaganda of the post-9/11 period”, as critic and author Rick Moody described it) are broad caricatures, driven by desires that could simply be called ‘foreign’. The Persians, led by Xerxes, want nothing more than land, for no other reason than they believe it is their God-given right: the film works hard to make clear their essential ‘otherness’. They are weird, and maybe even (shock horror) a little bit homoerotic, and for that reason alone they are derided as evil. The problem with such a creative attitude is that nine times out of ten, underwritten ‘otherness’ simply doesn’t work as a narrative device, even when viewed from a practical, critical perspective. You can’t hate or fear a villain that you don’t really know, and yet time again conservative films have tried to present waddling, wasted stereotypes as something to be feared. The same gimmick defines The Green Inferno, Eli Roth’s cannibalistic horror film and one designed to humiliate and attack ‘clicktivists’, AKA leftists who have only a surface-level concern regarding the horrors they claim to be trying to protect us from. In this gory, rampantly repulsive film, a group
The Matrix thebrag.com
of well-meaning ‘do-gooders’ attempting to preserve a rainforest are served the ‘ultimate punishment’ when they are consumed alive by the locals they’re trying to save. The joke is obvious: for their crime of generalising, the leftists are murdered. But in order to dole out that moral justice, writer/director Roth makes the exact same mistake, generalising the tribe and casting them as a vague ethnic mass; a force as without identity as a pack of wild animals, or termites decimating trees. In order to bypass this inherent need to underwrite, some conservative narratives have tried the different, slightly more successful tactic of recasting the supposedly ‘oppressive’ nature of cultural policing as a new kind of fascism. Aided in no small part the by the popularity of phrases such as ‘the regressive left’, conservative filmgoers and aesthetes have managed to adopt heroes positioned as Guy Fawkes-esque figures, revolutionaries purporting to upset entire carts full of bad apples. The most commonly upheld example of this phenomenon remains The Matrix. The film has been celebrated by men’s rights activists worldwide as an important text, and has even been mined for some of their most defining language. A ‘red pill moment’ – a term taken from the scene in the first Matrix film in which Neo (Keanu Reeves) chooses to live with the awareness that he is in a computer simulation – has been hijacked by MRAs as a way of explaining their ‘awareness’ that the world is supposedly geared towards supporting women over men. But such a term serves as a bastardisation of the source material’s core principal. Though largely apolitical, The Matrix is a film about freedom; about rejecting mob behaviour, and thinking with independence in a way that requires humanity and empathy – all actions that stand in direct contrast to the tenets of the MRA movement. There are some academics who have
Whether that sounds like a needlessly deep reading or not, the facts remain the same: by recasting themselves as victims determined to overthrow change, extreme conservatives and alt-right activists are misrepresenting themselves, the texts they steal from, and even their own ideologies, ironically undermining their own arguments exactly as they choose to express them. In the case of the appropriation of The Matrix, that irony is particularly sweet, given that the film from which MRAs draw so much influence was directed by two trans women, Lana and Lilly Wachowski. ere in Australia, extreme conservative culture is, if possible, even sadder. Just as the American alt-right has been forced to borrow elements from leftist art, the still laughably small Australian conservative contingent has largely been forced to follow in the lead of its US mates. Meme culture, for example, remains the dominant form of creativity for many on the Aus-right. Pepe the Frog, the cartoon amphibian adopted as a mascot by Trump supporters, has been repurposed and retooled in this country to fit the whims and views of Pauline Hanson followers. These members of what they call ‘Dingo Twitter’ flood the website with poorly illustrated, lo-fi meme art, much of it inspired by (read: ripped off from) the deluge of bad cartoons that swamped the internet in the lead-up to Trump’s election. These conservatives are glorified trolls, and their stances and attitudes are poorly thought-out, insulting in the way that a particularly racist, particularly deluded high school student considers something insulting. “Dingo Twitter argues that the Aboriginal peoples of Australia belong to a seperate [sic] species and must be segregated into the Northern Territories [sic] in order to restrict their atavistic dark energies,” a Twitter user named THRILLHO told Buzzfeed News in October last year. Given their messy, uncoordinated ideologies, it’s fitting that in terms of ‘original’ conservative content, a poorly edited cartoon frog remains just about the be-all and end-all of their output. Some on Dingo Twitter use the image of Mel Gibson to represent them as their avatars, presumably as a way of proudly proclaiming their anti-Semitism. But they don’t seem to have any interest in the man’s actual body of work: there is no study of his films, or repurposing of his art, and they have only the barest of interest in what he represents.
“Extreme alt-righters don’t create, they condemn.” But aside from serving as an easy opportunity to score points off Senator Bernardi, his use of memes is also just another indicator of the lack of extreme right-wing creativity. Aside from their requisite, lo-fi internet dankness, the rest of the right-wing anthems and iconographies upheld by the new political movement tend to be plucked from anything celebrating Australian masculinity or nationalism. In order to find such exhumed indicators, then, extreme conservatives are forced to look back to the ’80s and early ’90s, leaping on such quietly preposterous artworks as Crocodile Dundee and the discography of Jimmy Barnes, or defending the likes of dismissible, racist trash such as Hey Hey It’s Saturday, a show notable only for a controversy in 2009 when several performers lathered themselves up in blackface. As a result, there is something distinctly throwback – something antiquated, even – about the nature of far-right art in this country. Even its most principled and ‘acceptable’ doyens, like columnist and mouthpiece Andrew Bolt, have to mine deep into the past in order to find works that support their world view. For that reason, it should be of surprise to no-one, given the long-standing connection between opera and the right, that Bolt is a Wagner fan. Ultimately, the rest of Australian conservative art and criticism largely exists in contrast to something, rather than as its own distinct entity. Extreme alt-righters don’t create, they condemn, and they tend to try and express their views by criticising the likes of progressive content aired on the ABC. Anything that emphasises diversity – whether it be a program like the surrealist sketch series Black Comedy or the supernatural action/horror/drama hybrid Cleverman – gets torn down and attacked. “Wow, did they make this series to propagandise hate against white people, because this series is one long hate filled anti-white propaganda,” ran a particularly frantic condemnation of the latter, posted to Reddit. “Why is it okay to hate white people in this ‘modern’ world. It’s just racism, no matter what.” Even in their criticism they reveal a lack of imagination, and there is never a concerted attempt to espouse whatever the values of Australian conservative creativity might be. In this country, as in countries all over the world, extreme conservative art has proven to be accidental, incidental, borrowed and stolen. Like a carbon copy of a carbon copy of a carbon copy, the works that extreme right-wingers hold up as masterpieces are lacking in colour, and distinctly smudged – pale, sad whorls of monochrome, read into as though they are Rorschach tests. Paul Watson and his ilk might be convinced that conservatism is the new punk rock, but the great swathe of art they point to is merely a rusted junk shop; a dismal collection of rank, wretched narratives and a couple of croaking cartoon frogs. ■
Yet that kind of disjointed, copycat approach to art isn’t only upheld by fringe groups and extremists. Cory Bernardi, Australia’s own Trump wannabe, has attempted to establish his online identity as the leader of the new Australian Conservatives party by flooding Twitter with memes. “Being the savvy statesman that he is, Bernardi knows that to spearhead a populist movement, he needs to engage the populace, and he’s taken to the internet to do just that – startling and delighting social media … [by] posting meme[s],” wrote Ben McLeay for SBS in a savage analysis of Bernardi’s ‘online dad’ approach to internet humour and culture. BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17 :: 21
arts in focus FEATURE
Dara Ó Briain [COMEDY] Nothing To Fear By Adam Norris
here are many reasons why people turn to comedy. A broken home, a failed life of crime. Premature taxidermy explosion. Perhaps they stared into the abyss and the abyss giggled coquettishly. Perhaps it’s as Eric Idle suggests in The Road To Mars, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours,” and it’s a way of healing everyday childhood trauma. Irish gadabout Dara Ó Briain doesn’t seem too traumatised, but then, looks can be deceiving. “I remember last time I was in Melbourne and Sydney, it would be 2001, and I think back, ‘God, why would anyone have come to that show? It was dreadful!’” Ó Briain laughs. “So you get better because you’ve been doing it for years, knowing how to deliver jokes, how to draw them out. You learn as you go, but I don’t think that extrapolates all the way down to being able to teach anyone to do it. I think at some point, more than you have to have some innate skill, you need to have a need for it. You have to want it. You need to have strangers love you, and I don’t think you can teach that. I think you have to already have that damage. You are desperate to be in the spotlight, and to entertain, and that I think you can’t teach. People have to fi nd their voice and it takes time, but some people just aren’t made for this. “It’s weird to have a job which people admit is their greatest fear,” he adds, chuckling. “I’m not a daredevil, I don’t ride motorbikes or go mountain-climbing. But my normal job is something that people say is their greatest fear. It’s the only thing I have in common with skydivers. And the only thing that keeps me doing it is that emotional damage that requires me to be loved by strangers.”
I first grew familiar with Ó Briain in a similar fashion to most folk outside of the UK; through his appearances on QI. Having been in the comedy game for over 20 years, however, it’s by no means the cherry on his career. Ó Briain is that brand of comedian who seems just as interested in making us think as he is in getting a laugh. Since 2011 he has co-hosted Stargazing Live with Professor Brian Cox, the fi lming of which is part of the reason why he is touring Australia in the first place. While astronomy is such a rich and fascinating study, it may also have a more melancholic side: charting Andromeda as it careens across galaxies, the exhaustion of the sun; there’s quite a bit of despair between the stars. “I know what you mean. Either the
22 :: BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17
sun will go through various cycles, run out of helium, start making heavy elements, and then explode and expand and gobble us up. Or before that, we’ll undergo the heat death of the universe. Or Andromeda will smash into the Milky Way and destroy us. There are a lot of bad things that are going to happen, but they’re not going to happen for many billions of years, so no. I feel it’s not really worth dwelling on. There is also the sense of perspective. That we are merely dots, sitting on a dot, on a scale that is just unnoticeable to the cosmos. But! That also kind of gets us off the hook. We’re not really going to have any long-term effect on anything else nearby, so go ahead and do whatever you’re doing. I fi nd it’s a great leveller, more than anything else.” So before we’re all burned to astral cinders, it’s nice to know we can take comfort in the absurdities of life. To that end, Ó Briain’s latest tour has been a long and winding work in progress – but then, it seems that’s the road comedians are cursed to follow. A strange and unlikely evolution that then keels over and starts life anew like a confused phoenix. “When you start a new show, you never write the show in your bedroom and then walk out onstage in front of 2,000 people. You sort of relive the shape of your entire career over six months to a year. You take your scraps of paper with vague ideas written down, and you go to a club and try them out. Sometimes they don’t work out and you have a terrible gig, which is awful because they know who you are! So you walk out and it’s, ‘Oh my God, it’s that guy off the tele! I’ve wanted to see him for years.’ And it’s just you there with a scrap of paper and fi ve ideas that are like baby birds fl ailing around with their velvety wings and they haven’t learnt to fl y at all, and you try them and they go badly. And there’s just nothing worse than when you walk off to a smaller applause than when you walked on. But you have to do it! “So you start small, and then eventually you’re back to where you were at the end of the previous tour. You’re in your 2,000-person theatre, you walk out, there’s music – ‘Hey, everybody!’ We’re like mayflies. We live our lives in a day and then we die – but then we have to go back and do it all again.” Where: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House When: Sunday April 2 and Monday April 3 thebrag.com
“It’s weird to have a job which people admit is their greatest fear.”
“There’s just nothing worse than when you walk off to a smaller applause than when you walked on.”
arts in focus FEATURE
Tripod [COMEDY] Three For The Price Of One By Zanda Wilson
ussie musical comedy outfi t Tripod have been performing together for more than two decades now, and if the last few years are anything to go by, they’ve no intention of winding things down. Forming in 1997, the boys known as Scod, Gatesy and Yon are veterans of the performing circuit and masters of their trade.
Tripod photo by James Penlidis
It’s clear that Australian audiences still value their sharp, dry wit and the colour that their music brings to their comedy, and in April, Tripod will perform at Dashville’s music festival The Gum Ball. Yon explains that although festivals can be
“It’s weird how we wrote a ‘Suicide Bomber’ song ten years ago and in the last few months it feels much more relevant with Trump’s immigration ban.” thebrag.com
unpredictable, they often provide a more open audience than a comedy show. “It’s more fun really, because we’re this weird beast,” he says. “We’re sort of a comedy and sort of a band – people at festivals are really open to that stuff. Sometimes we’ll do a comedy festival and people will be there like, ‘OK, make us laugh now,’ whereas at a music festival people are up for absolutely anything. “Also it’s cool because usually people have been watching just music, so when we come on – because it’s that mix of silliness – people can have a break. We did a country music festival one time, it went great and afterwards people came up and said, ‘Oh, thank God it wasn’t country music.’ We’re lucky really because we get to feel like a breath of fresh air by the nature of what we do.” One of the key advantages of having been around for 20-odd years is that Tripod have reached a point where they’ve pretty much got a set of songs for any situation, no matter the crowd demographic. “Who knows what the set is going to be? There’s lots to choose from,” Yon says. “We’ll probably try to tailor the set a little bit [for The Gum Ball] but we’ll look into the crowd just before the show and decide what we’re going to do based on
“Sometimes we’ll do a comedy festival and people will be there like, ‘OK, make us laugh now,’ whereas at a music festival people are up for absolutely anything.” whether people are really young or mostly old. “We’ve actually got songs about technology that when we play them to young people sometimes young people don’t even know what we’re talking about, because often we’ll be talking about technology from the perspective of someone who didn’t grow up with it. There was this period during the ’90s and going into the early 2000s where everyone had to master several complicated remotes, and now it’s gone back to one or two.”
really fun. It was challenging even though we knew the songs pretty well – sometimes we’d get one and think, ‘Oh wait, how does this one go?’ It was weirdly challenging because they were sets that we would never decide to do.”
In 2016, Tripod decided to go on tour with some of the best songs they’ve written over the years. The idea was born from the desire to write a songbook with 101 of Tripod’s greatest hits, and tour the songbook, performing songs completely at random so that neither the audience nor the band members themselves would know what to expect.
With the desire to keep performing burning deep within these three funnymen, the past fi ve years or so have been littered with new projects designed to keep things fresh. “We need to be changing things up constantly because it’s still the same people you’re working with,” says Yon. “So a big part of it is working in different formats and different mediums. Also collaborating with other people is something we’re doing a lot more of; we did that tour with Eddie Perfect [Perfect Tripod] for a couple of years and we’ve been doing these orchestra shows, and it kind of keeps us going.”
“That was really enjoyable last year,” says Yon. “The way we toured the book was we had a bingo barrel and 101 ping pong balls in it. You’d roll the barrel and choose songs that way, and the actual performing was
Despite all the effort that goes into trying to fi nd new ways to keep their live show fresh, there are a few older Tripod songs that have unfortunately become relevant again in the current political climate.
“It’s weird how we wrote a ‘Suicide Bomber’ song ten years ago and in the last few months it feels much more relevant with Trump’s immigration ban,” Yon says. “On the one hand you’re really lucky and on the other hand you’re going, ‘Fuck, this is terrible.’ There’s another one which has similar themes really called ‘Santa’s Papers’ about Santa getting sent to a refugee camp. I’ve noticed that people are posting that one a lot in the last couple of years. “We’ve also got this one called ‘Climate Change’ and we’ve got these internal tussles about whether we should play it because it’s very pessimistic. It’s doesn’t propose any solutions, but how do you write a comedy song about climate change that proposes solutions? We’re yet to do that, but it might still happen.” What: The Gum Ball 2017 With: Regurgitator, Kim Churchill, The Funk Hunters, Boo Seeka and more Where: Dashville, Belford When: Friday April 21 – Sunday April 23 BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17 :: 23
arts in focus
KONG: SKULL ISLAND
Comedy, Life and Bullshit with Cameron James
In cinemas now Brace yourselves for monkey madness, folks – the big guy is back, and not for the last time. Now boasting more bulk than ever before, Kong undergoes a Dreddstyle transformation in the brashest, ballsiest blockbuster of the summer.
started going to the gym this year because the guy at my local pizza shop on Glebe Point Road knows me by name, and that can’t be a good thing. You don’t want the pizza shop guy to be your emergency contact. No offence to Perry, he’s a good guy and makes a good pie, but I don’t want him speaking at my funeral: “Cameron was a good man and a valued customer. RIP. Rest in Pizza.” I don’t know when it happened, but everyone’s working out now. I went to Splendour last year, and it was just full of 18-year-olds with six packs. When did teenagers get the time to get abs? When I was in high school I was too busy trying to come up with the perfect fart joke to throw into the middle of a history lesson. There should be a rule: you can either have abs, or a personality – you can’t have both. But if I’m honest, if this rule were true, I’d probs take the abs. Comedy doesn’t get you laid. Abs do.
The only problem with going to the gym for me is that I have no idea what I’m doing. I mostly just wander round, towelling my forehead and trying to fi gure out the correct way to use the pulley-operated torture devices in there. My first session I had a personal trainer named Asher. Never again.
“I WENT TO SPLENDOUR LAST YEAR, AND IT WAS JUST FULL OF 18-YEAROLDS WITH SIX PACKS. WHEN DID TEENAGERS GET THE TIME TO GET ABS?”
I have this theory (that’s 100 per cent original) that people have started working out more in the last couple of years because we’re all more afraid of dying than ever before. Trump has the nuke codes. The world could blow at any minute. The only way to run from your fears is to jump on the treadie. My gym is literally called Anytime to remind us when death could strike.
Personal training is the smartest thing that jocks have ever done. They fi nally found a way to get paid to be bullies. All through high school they called kids fat, those kids grew up to become successful businesspeople, and now they hire those same bullies to yell at them for an hour a week. It’s the circle of life, and it moves us all. Down a belt size.
Ideally, what you want is a way to exercise that makes you hot but doesn’t destroy your personality or will to live. And that’s why I’ve come up with these…
Four Hot Workouts That Won’t Kill Your Soul Beer Yoga
It’s yoga, but you get to drink beer. Because who doesn’t want to get bloated in lycra? (This is 100 per cent a real exercise trend. The rest, not so much.)
Jog. To the pizza shop.
Cardio is important. So instead of driving the two minutes to the pizza shop, why not jog the seven minutes? By the time you get there you’ll have earned the garlic bread.
If you can learn some basic magician mind tricks, maybe you can convince everyone that you have a sick body? I know a magician who always gets laid and I’m 90 per cent certain it’s some kind of mind trick.
Change the systemic body image standards to your exact body type 4.
In the Renaissance, chubby people were considered the hottest. Maybe get in with fashion magazines and convince the world that your less-than-cut body is actually the sexiest body type, then just chill and watch the ripped people start copying your pizza diet.
what’s funny this week?
Thursday March 16 A Mic In Hand at The Friend In Hand, Glebe. A Sydney comedy staple with a fun, relaxed atmosphere and drop-in guests from TV and radio. Thursday March 16 Nailed It at Giant Dwarf. Good comedians
performing shit thinkpieces live onstage. Monday March 20 Comedy Lounge at The Cafe Lounge, Surry Hills. A firecracker comedy room in the inner eest, with an always killer lineup and the best bar in the city.
Cameron James is a stand-up comedian. You can follow him on Twitter at @iamcameronjames, or in the streets. 24 :: BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17
Biologist Bill Randa (John Goodman) is convinced of the scientific value of a near inaccessible and wholly uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Securing funding and an escort unit of Vietnam veterans fresh from their tour of duty, he leads an expedition to the island, only to find a lost world brimming with unimaginable monsters. But this is not Randa’s film: this tale belongs in the hands of the ape king, as seen through the inscrutable eyes of ex-British Special Air Service agent James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston). While the reboot juggles an enormous ensemble cast – not least of whom are Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), Weaver (Brie Larson) and Marlow (John C. Reilly) – these two males are its moral centre, both misunderstood beasts whose violence stems from the urge to protect. It is certainly an overwhelmingly masculine film – take Kong’s chestbeating, captured by Toby Kebbell (whose dual role is akin to that of Andy Serkis in 2005’s King Kong) and the pervasive military vibe – but Jurassic World writer Derek Connolly’s sense for elaborate set
pieces is nicely matched to the character nuance brought by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler, The Fall). Our lead characters’ motivations are more complex than first thought – Packard’s need for vengeance stems as much from the need for just one victory (after the shame of Vietnam) as the deaths of his men. As for the rest, well… someone’s clearly doing some franchise building.
a tale of man versus beast; it is a story of what happens when we unknowingly shake the hornets’ nest. Skull Island, then, shares less in common with Godzilla and its predecessors than it does with 2010’s Predators, an underwhelming flick with an intriguing premise. It relocates capable, intimidating figures to an environment in which they are at the bottom of the food chain, then lets loose on them. Where Predators failed, Kong: Skull Island is alive with promise unsquandered. Its reeling, slow-motion battle sequences and constant focus on making the cast look as epic as humanly possible are joyous.
Kong’s most refreshing aspect is its desire to call back to its history without simply (sorry) aping it. We never make it to New York, because any attempt to transport this universe’s Kong would be laughable. Instead, classic moments are recontextualised, and old action movie tropes (like the noble sacrifice) are played out with surprising conclusions. No attempt to recreate the ‘wonder’ of Kong’s first reveal could suffice for a franchise so well-established, and so all comparisons to the original are moot. This is not a tale of Kong’s enslavement, nor
Blessings from family and friends are bittersweet and supportive but the law still abides, and the joyous moment is stolen from them when the state rules that they be jailed for their illegal behaviour. It’s the beginning of what feels like a lifelong battle with courts, lawyers and the community’s unspoken hostility toward their interracial relationship.
Sadly these sub-characters remain as far back along the wall as possible, scripted to only appear when needed and hardly addressed as more than a title – a mother, a father, a sister, a brother. Yet there’s a quiet confidence in Edgerton’s and Negga’s performances that is endearing. Their strength of characters arises not through dramatic sequences but through their respect, love and willingness to please one another.
Put aside your nostalgia and experience Kong: Skull Island with fresh eyes – the reward is two hours of relentless, colour-drenched fun. The king is back and better than ever.
LOVING In cinemas Thursday March 16 “I’m pregnant.” Spoken under darkening skies, they’re two simple words that can make your heart swell and, in the case of Loving, become the catalyst to a decade of emotional and physical upheaval. Based on a true story, Loving is set in 1950s country Virginia. It’s a time when ‘whites’ and ‘coloureds’ live harmoniously together, but the promise to uphold the state’s anti-miscegenation laws is strict and abiding. Embraced within the boundaries of these laws is Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), a white builder, and Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga), a coloured fieldworker. Never mind a sentimental backstory or formulaic character development, the softness of Edgerton’s compelling performance and the hope emanating effortlessly from Negga are all that is required to see that theirs is a love infallible. So when news of the pregnancy arrives, Richard spares no time in settling in for that lifelong commitment. Like something out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, he purchases an acre of land moments from Mildred’s family, vows to build her a house on it and whisks her away to Washington, D.C. to
Cinematographically arresting, Loving captures the essence of this turning point in America’s history through romantic and worldly eyes. The film’s focus is less on the law and more about relationships; not just between Loving and Mildred but on their family and friends as they weave a network of strength around
Like all good true story adaptations, Loving is patient, it’s kind, it doesn’t boast and it’s incredibly sincere. Stephanie Yip
Queer(ish) matters with Arca Bayburt
N ON O IG E N H LY T !
out & about
Gaston and LeFou in Beauty And The Beast
Beauty And Bestiality: Disney Makes History, And The Internet Reacts
here’s a lot of buzz surrounding the new Beauty And The Beast movie. One of the most exciting things about it for me is that it marks a Disney first: the inclusion of a gay character and storyline. Reading about the film has been interesting, and it’s filled me with anticipation about how Disney is going to handle LeFou as a gay character. In an interview with Attitude, the director, Bill Condon, talked about the storyline. “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” he said. He goes on to say that LeFou is confused about what he wants and is only just realising what his true feelings could mean – “And that’s what has its pay-off at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.” Not long after the news broke, the bigots came crawling out of the woodwork. Of course there are people uncomfortable with a gay storyline, and of course they’ll make their discomfort known to the world at large via sanctimonious preaching. And boycotts. And cancellations. The Henagar DriveIn theatre in Alabama cancelled its Beauty And The Beast session times,
“WHEN THE BACKLASH IS OVER, WHEN THE CONTROVERSY HAS DIED DOWN, THERE’LL BE ROOM FOR MORE QUEER CHARACTERS IN MEDIA AIMED AT KIDS AND FAMILIES.” and the owner made some trite reference to God in a Facebook post: “If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.” Never mind that the central romance is about a woman who falls in love with a man-beast, and if somebody tried to argue, “But he’s not a beast INSIDE!”, well, that just falls flat – since if it’s what’s inside that counts, what does it matter that LeFou falls for another man? Indeed, the entire romantic
premise hangs on the idea that true love is about humanity; it’s about soul. There is probably no better Disney film to introduce a gay arc into than this one. I’m just really happy that Disney is making a direct acknowledgement of homosexuality without making it weird or wrong. It’s just another facet of human sexuality and expression of romance. We’re probably still a bit far from seeing a gay Disney protagonist, but this is a great start. That said, I haven’t yet seen the film and can’t pass judgement on how it handles LeFou’s storyline. I must admit to some reservations about it. While the director might have explicitly said that there is a definite, unimpeachable gay moment, there’s also the possibility that it’s all just lip service and the ‘gay moment’ is a half-second shot of shadowy male figures kind of kissing.
SYDNEYCOMEDYFEST.COM.AU | 9020 6966
top TEN comedy night
Again though, it’s a start. When the backlash is over, when the controversy has died down, there’ll be room for more queer characters in media aimed at kids and families. We can’t spend too much longer pretending that there are no gay kids or gay families in the world: it’s getting a bit silly. Beauty And The Beast opens here on Thursday March 23.
Friday 31st march doors 6pm
this week… This Thursday March 16, Studio Kink Sydney is hosting an introductory class on Japanese rope bondage (shibari). The beginners’ class will teach the fundamentals of knots, safety, consent and bondage patterns. This is the first session as part of a four-week course and requires no prior experience at all to join. You can pay $20 per class or $60 upfront for all four classes.
27 APRIL, 7.15PM ENMORE THEATRE
On Saturday March 18, head over to the newly opened Shift Kitchen on Oxford Street to celebrate Gaynor Tension’s glorious return to the stage while enjoying some fine dining – and fabulous celebrity impressions. Admission is free. Also on Sunday March 18, get down to the duck pond at Victoria Park in Camperdown for a
free community event, Keep Newtown Weird & Safe. The event is part of the Reclaim The Streets movement, with lots of emphasis placed on community bonding. Local artists, musicians, performers and queer characters will come together for a vibrant street party that serves to remind us that our neighbourhoods really do belong to us – not investors.
Special Guests include Danielle Cormack and Socratis Otto, with more to follow!
University of Sydney
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FOOD + DRINK
PAPA GEDE’S BAR OF
ADDRESS: LANEWAY, 348 KENT ST, SYDNEY PHONE NUMBER: (02) 9299 5671 WEBSITE: WWW.PAPAGEDES.COM OPENING HOURS: MON – FRI 4PM-MIDNIGHT, SAT 5PM-MIDNIGHT
E E W
The Top Ten Banh Mi In Sydney BY JESSICA WESTCOTT
If there’s one food I don’t fuck around with, it’s a pork roll. I will eat pork rolls before most other foods. Give me the choice of a Michelin star dinner and one of these delicious babies, it’s banh mi all the way. It isn’t even a choice. That being said, I’m very much devoted to the banh mi for providing me with a relatively healthy, inexpensive and convenient lunch food – one that sadly (having grown up in a country town where there was a total of one Vietnamese family) I didn’t get to enjoy until I was in my early 20s.
Tell us about your bar: Our namesake, Papa Gede, is the voodoo god of lust and laughter – why there are not more bars dedicated to him we’ll never know. Ours is a den of fine cocktails, craft beers and vino, with the vibe of a regular’s bar. In the name of Papa G we love people, we love drinks and we love drinking. What’s on the menu? Our peanut butter pretzels are a crowd favourite and only $4 a bowl. Cracking cheese and charcuterie platters also available from $15-20. Care for a drink? Our signature drink has got to be our Zombie – it’s a festive tiki classic that we’ve embraced wholeheartedly with two rums, apricot brandy, grapefruit, lime and a flaming boozy lime husk. Our Divine Intervention is damn fine: absinthe, fresh apple, passion fruit and lemon. Sounds: Inspired by the best sounds from New Orleans and the Caribbean, we love blues, soul, reggae, a bit of jazzedup funk and the odd ’60s and ’70s favourite. Highlights: We like to think of ourselves as having the body of a supermodel cocktail bar with the wit of a Louis C.K. pub. No need to sacrifice looks for conversation here! On that note, we have a monthly comedy night on the third Tuesday of every month where we let the professionals take care of the jokes. Gives us a break from all our thoughtful insights and sexy banter.
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The bill comes to: Pretzels + Zombie = $23. Two regular cocktails + cheese platter = $47.
Since then, I have travelled across the country and tried banh mi after banh mi. I love the fact that such a consistently delicious food can come out of some of the grungiest looking bakeries you’ve ever seen. Right next to that beloved neenish tart (that honestly I’ve never seen anyone buy), and the vanilla custard slice that seems to follow me throughout my life, is the signature silver bain-marie overflowing with grated carrots and coriander. And that sight makes me smile from ear to ear. I rarely get more frustrated than when I roll past a ‘Hot Bread’ store and I don’t see this little silver fridge of wonder. Now, by no means does this article constitute every bakery in Sydney, but below are listed the greatest banh mi makers I’ve yet experienced. Price is no indication, by the way; the best rolls are those with a good bread/meat/ veggie/sauce ratio, which is trickier than you’d think. No one wants a dry banh mi, but if you are dripping brown liquid through the foil-lined packet then it’s too far the other way.
Mum’s Table Surry Hills Tried and true. This renovated terrace house is home to the tastiest crispy pork banh mi around. Help yourself to unlimited iced tea while you eat.
Vita Hot Bread, Padstow I found this absolute knockout of a sandwich while touring the area – hot BBQ pork and a finger-licking BBQ sauce. Pity it’s tucked so far away… although, the trip is worth it.
FOOD + DRINK
Marrickville Pork Roll The original and the best. The pork is plentiful and juicy, and the ratio is always on point.
King’s Hot Bread, Hurstville
Delish Pork Roll & Juice Bar, Newtown
6. 7. 8. 9.
Amazing baguettes set the scene here. Each baguette is so soft on the inside it melts in your mouth. Super cheap at $4.50 for pork.
This bright green underground haven is great for the quick in-n-out roll. Try the chicken rolls (which I admit is blasphemy) with a freshly squeezed juice.
Banh Mi K, Capitol Square These girls are cash only, but there’s an ATM across the road. Right next to Capitol Theatre, they warm the bread, which is a glorious addition I hadn’t even considered. They also serve sugar cane juice to whet the palate.
Le Cafe, Crows Nest The staff here are some of the friendliest, most generous and warm-hearted people I have met… and they’re on the North Shore.
Enmore Delicious Roll The pork rolls are fresh and cheap, with an especially tasty serve of pickled carrot.
Norton Bakery, Leichhardt Here they use more mayonnaise than usual, but it’s totally forgivable. The staff are so quick at making them it’s fun to watch.
10. D’lish Wrap & Roll, Surry Hills
Great meat-to-veg ratio, and at $5, it’s a steal in Surry Hills. Try the assorted rice paper rolls.
Bruce Tea & Coffee
$: $0-10 $$: $10-20 $$$: $20-35 $$$$: $35-50 $$$$$: $50+
BY SARAH MCMANUS
o new to the cafe scene that they aren’t even on Google Maps yet, Bruce Tea & Coffee is Glebe’s latest offering for Sydney’s burgeoning coffee connoisseurs.
The owners, Tony Sleiman and George Pahali, left the corporate world of offices and suits for a taste of the cafe game, citing a passion for educating themselves about coffee, and wanting to share that passion with their customers. Now, as they educate the masses one espresso at a time, Tony and George are treating guests with the soothing sounds of Louis Armstrong and the wafting aroma of caffeine. When I enter, Armstrong’s ‘When You’re Smiling’ is playing in the background and an array of Star Wars mags are ready to read on my table. The décor is a mix of exposed brick walls and wooden benches, perfectly nailing the warehouse-chic vibe. I am told that there was no specific inspiration, but there was a strong focus on simplicity while still avoiding monotony. Tony explains that Bruce Tea & Coffee uses a variety of roasters from across the country. At the moment, beans are sourced from Mecca, Pablo & Rusty’s, Proud Mary, Small Batch and Stitch. They brew single origin beans only, as opposed to blends, to try to showcase the variety of flavours and differences between origins. On the tea front, they have a heavy focus on single estate teas, mostly sourced directly from the estates in China. We order two coffees; a cappuccino for me (the barista says they do not add chocolate to their cappuccino, so as not to overpower
They brew single origin beans only, as opposed to blends, to try to showcase the variety of flavours and differences between origins.
the fl avours of the coffee) and an espresso for my friend. To accompany the coffees, there’s a tasty selection of baked goods; we choose one of the lamingtons – which my English friend, not having seen one before, says resembles the Borg cube – and a deliciously chewy seeded bagel, cut through with feta and ricotta. The baked goods, like the coffees, are sourced from a variety of places – at the moment, they’re coming from Brickfi elds, The Bread & Butter Project and Infi nity. An appropriate question here would be whether Tony and George plan to broaden their food and drinks menu. They don’t. In fact, the initial plan was to fi nd out if less really is more, and in the case of Bruce Tea & Coffee, a minimal menu with friendly service is in high demand. Where: 12 Bridge Rd, Glebe More: facebook.com/bruceteacoffee
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Album Reviews What's been crossing our ears this week...
ALBUM OF THE WEEK ROLAND TINGS
Each Moment A Diamond Sony
Melbourne-based producer Roland Tings’ latest release Each Moment A Diamond is a phenomenal piece of art; a six-track, 30-minute reprieve from the daily grind. Once inside Tings’ aural landscape it’s near-impossible not to feel utter and complete bliss. The tools of his trade are much the same as those of other producers: 707 claps, Juno basslines and keys, but Tings manages to create something otherworldly, urgent and incredibly sophisticated.
‘Monument’, the final track, does the most amazing fade out – kind of like that friend everyone seems to have who pulls off the most amazing smoke-bombs at parties. This is a thoroughly enjoyable set – I listened to it with a raging hangover, and its charisma and positivity pulled me through what would otherwise have been a really grim workday.
Highlights include the opening track ‘Turn Your Face Towards The Sun’, ‘Hedonist’ and ‘Slow Centre’ – the latter combining samples reminiscent of chiming bells at a Buddhist temple, a xylophone
and plenty of bass. Despite the overlapping of sounds the track doesn’t feel overly busy or fussy; the further you get into the EP, the more you realise Tings has a knack for arranging tracks so they just feel right.
“Tings manages to create something otherworldly, urgent and incredibly sophisticated.”
INDIE ALBUM OF THE WEEK SPOON
Hot Thoughts Matador/Remote Control Spoon have made a career out of changing the questions right when listeners think they have all the answers. In particular, the band’s 2000s output saw the songs that toyed the most with genre semantics become their bestknown tracks – the piano pop of ‘The Way We Get By’, the disco/ glam shuffle of ‘I Turn My Camera On’ and the mariachi-fl avoured triumph that is ‘The Underdog’ naming but a few. On Hot Thoughts, Britt Daniel and co. have assembled a fascinating curveball of psychedelia, R&B and even a pinch of free-form jazz for good measure. The title track somehow
pulls off being both sizzling and ice-cold simultaneously, all churning keyboard drone and downward-spiral chord progressions. Elsewhere, Spoon take big leaps with wig-outs like ‘Pink Up’ and the two-part ‘WhisperI’lllistentohearit’, their sonic ambitions paying off in spades. Even when the tracklist gives way to ‘vintage’ Spoon – the pulsing ‘I Ain’t The One’; the Stones-esque ‘Do I Have To Talk You Into It’ – it still has a sense of vitality and freshness to it. A new Spoon album is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get, but you’re guaranteed something delicious. David James Young
“A fascinating curveball of psychedelia, R&B and even a pinch of free-form jazz for good measure.”
FIRST DRAFTS Unearthed demos and unfinished hits, as heard by Nathan Jolly NIRVANA – ‘SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT’
he song that pushed the alternative movement into the mainstream started as so many do, being bashed out in a garage and captured in all its muffled, tin-can glory on a shitty boombox. Nevermind producer Butch Vig referred to the ‘boombox’ demo years later as “super lo-fi and dirty and trashy, really primal”, which is a polite way of saying “rough as shit”. Vig was speaking of the demo’s curio level among fans, following an extensive reissue of Nevermind 20 years later, but at the time of recording, this audio quality was a merely a byproduct of a workman’s approach to getting
something on tape in order to send to Vig. As they bashed out an embryonic version of Kurt Cobain’s latest composition – a song which married chugging verses lifted from Pixies track ‘Gouge Away’ to a big riff reminiscent of Boston’s ‘More Than A Feeling’ – they certainly weren’t expecting it to be heard by anyone outside of the three band members and Vig. “We were this transient band, crashing other bands’ practice pads,” Krist Novoselic recalled years later of Nirvana’s demoing process, this one recorded in a space in Tacoma, Washington in early ’91. Also among the songs they quickly smashed through during this same session was ‘Come As You Are’, Nevermind’s second hit single. “Kurt was so compelled to write songs, so he’d always be banging something out,” Novoselic explained. “He’d have these ideas, and we’d just kick ‘em around for hours.” In this form, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ would have never been the revolutionary watershed moment it was. It is far too lumbering, with the
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chorus outstaying its welcome and the post-chorus bridge doing likewise. Vig’s role was to trim the fat, helping Cobain shape the track into the tight pop arrangement of the finished version. The verse vocal melody seems to dance more in demo form, being closer to the one heard on fellow Nevermind standout ‘Drain You’. Cobain was yet to write any lyrics, instead mumbling nonsensical phrases, the shape of many he would keep as he placed less opaque words in place. (A fun game is to read the fan translations of these lyrics, none of which are any more than guesswork.) The “a denial” ending drones on for far too long; you can imagine Cobain trying to catch a flailing Grohl’s eye to signal when to end it. The best part of this demo is how it is undeniably great, yet it could easily have been just a rehearsal tape by a local loud garage band. You can imagine the three of them waiting for the final chord to ring out before hitting ‘stop’ on the boombox, and moving onto the next song – none of them suspecting what they had just started. Listen to the original ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ demo at thebrag.com.
“The best part of this demo is how it is undeniably great, yet it could easily have been just a rehearsal tape by a local loud garage band.” thebrag.com
What we’ve been out to see...
It’s a cross-generational affair tonight at the Enmore, with a diverse demographic comfortably fi lling out the room. Whatever age, whatever background and wherever they are in the venue, the 2,500-strong crowd are united in one thing: singing, dancing and celebrating their love of the band that has, in one way or another, kept ska alive for nearly 40 years.
Pixies’ latest Sydney show was, without a shadow of a doubt, a wonderful testament to their body of work.
The lineup has gone through a few shifts in the fi ve years that have intervened between visits from the Coventry natives. Co-frontman Neville Staple and guitarist Roddy Radiation have exited the fold, while beloved drummer John Bradbury sadly passed away in 2015. Still, the band’s core remains formidable – Libertines stickwielder Gary Powell has comfortably transitioned to his new role behind the Specials kit, while mainstays Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Horace Panter complement each other nicely. Also of note is the inclusion of both a violinist and a cellist, heretofore unheard of at a Specials show. It may seem odd to mix strings with ska, but the duo add a surprising amount in key moments throughout the set. Aside from all that, as Led Zeppelin so succinctly put it, the song remains the same. ‘Nite Klub’ creates a surge at the front of the dancefl oor, ‘Concrete Jungle’ enlists the entire crowd’s hands for its trademark clap-along, and ‘Doesn’t Make It Alright’ is as powerful and as resonant now as it was all those years ago – especially with Golding expressing solidarity with the black audience members in attendance and reminding everyone that “black lives matter”. Speaking of Golding, it’s unquestionable that the 65-yearold guitarist is the star of the show. His quick-witted banter, cheeky interactions with his bandmates and his impassioned rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ all score great reactions from the fans, rendering him both irrepressible and entirely lovable.
Hordern Pavilion Tuesday March 7
It’s a catalogue that draws influences from a wide range of places; so much so that David Bowie, a public admirer of the group, once paraphrased the famous Sex Pistols myth – that anyone who attended Pixies’ early gigs had then gone on to form a band of their own. Now, back in Australia to support 2016 album Head Carrier, Pixies’ noisy dialogue penetrated a packed Hordern Pavilion, as they blazed through a 30-song performance of songs taken from across their canon. Underscored by Paz Lenchantin’s bubbling bass and original drummer David Lovering’s insistent consistency, they hit full stride off the bat with ‘Gouge Away’, maintaining an immersive and manic energy throughout the night. Pixies’ recent recorded output can be characterised by its sense of restraint. It’s a little tame – perhaps missing what one seasoned fan described on the night as “the furious dialogue between [original member] Kim Deal and Frank Black”. Officially replaced by Lenchantin, who offers her own sharper singing style, it would be remiss to ignore the dynamic shift from the odd couple of Deal and Black to the current Pixies lineup. There was more than a hint of the band’s former chemistry, though. The unmistakable snarling and shrieking of Black’s falsetto is still present, and he has lost little of his gravitas, whether in the deranged Spanish chatter of Head Carrier’s ‘Vamos’ or the haughty barks and drifting drawls of standout ‘Hey’. What couldn’t be ignored was Pixies’ incredibly cathartic affect and unstoppable pulse. They renewed old material (‘Wave Of Mutilation’, ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’) and their weaker, younger songs alike (the mildly psychotic ‘Um Chugga Lugga’, which is about as good as they’ve been for a while). The woefully underrated six-string architect Joey Santiago, whose sonic palette so memorably coloured their initial period, was masterful, flavouring the set with his dissonant inflections. The twang and chatter of his guitar experiments was just about the best part of the performance, though the band was incredibly tight as a unit.
The night ends with a huge sing-along to The Specials’ version of ‘You’re Wondering Now’. We may know this is the fi nale, but truthfully, we could keep singing all night. Some of us probably will. May the fun never end.
Some might argue that Pixies have, with their most recent albums, drawn closer to a literal embodiment of the ‘Debaser’ term they coined all those years ago on Doolittle’s unforgettable opener. Based on their performance at the Hordern, I’d put that thought to rest.
David James Young
martha wainwright 07:03:17 :: Twilight At Taronga :: Taronga Zoo Mosman
PICS :: AM
The Specials are back in our ghost town, and the fact they open with that titular anthem itself means they mean business. Say what you will, but opening with perhaps your best-known and biggest hit is a bold statement – and there’s plenty more where that came from, believe it.
up all night out all week . . .
PICS :: AM
Enmore Theatre Thursday March 9
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VIEW FULL GALLERIES AT
09:03:17 :: Enmore Theatre :: 118-132 Enmore Rd Newtown thebrag.com
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up all night out all week . . .
VIEW FULL GALLERIES AT
live reviews What we’ve been out to see...
FRIGHTENED RABBIT, ADKOB Oxford Art Factory Friday March 10
The last time tonight’s headliners performed in Sydney, a fiery up-andcoming band by the name of Gang Of Youths were opening. Since then, they have gone on to become one of the country’s most in-demand and celebrated acts – not entirely on account of their Frightened Rabbit slot, of course, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt. In the same position tonight are indiepop quartet ADKOB, and one can easily foresee a similarly prosperous future for them. A creative, engaging live act, ADKOB present a unique, tactful approach to the mould set by genre semantics. Not only are their songs acutely detailed and smartly arranged, their quicksilver nature is complemented by a confident and purposeful live execution. Mark Piccles (vocals, guitar, percussion, samples) and Jane Doutney (keyboard, percussion, samples, vocals) busy themselves through each arrangement, the former even using his toes to trigger sounds while holding down his main duties. In less capable hands, it could easily result in a clutter, but the Sydneysiders ensure it produces a joyful noise. The first thing that strikes you about Frightened Rabbit from a live perspective is their sound – specifically, the amount of it. For a band routinely versed in acoustic guitars and the folkier side of indie rock, it should be noted how loud they can get. It’s got a lot to do with drummer Grant Hutchison – a burly, intense musician who drives the songs while screaming into the ether. There’s also the layering of guitars – at some junctures, there are four being played simultaneously with the low end being held down by Billy Kennedy’s organ pedals.
PHOTOGRAPHER :: ASHLEY MAR
MESHUGGAH, THY ART IS MURDER Enmore Theatre Sunday March 12
There are only two kinds of heavy music in the world – Meshuggah, and those cowering in Meshuggah’s blood-soaked wake. But, as often is the case in this genre, the gods were kind and saw fit to take in Blacktown belligerents Thy Art Is Murder as they ransacked the nation. With the impressively consistent return vocalist CJ McMahon in tow, Murder commanded an impressive crowd – still not enough, though, for McMahon’s liking. “To those wishing we’d get off stage because we’re not Meshuggah, go to the bathroom or something, I don’t give a fuck,” he said. The stance was hardly necessary, given the size of the circle pit churning beneath him. Still, the crowd gave a roar of approval as McMahon announced his one-year anniversary of sobriety, and moshed furiously as the stone-faced band thrashed away at its discography. Murder dropped their more misogynistic lyrics early on in their career, but the attitude has sadly stuck with some of the fan base. On several occasions, women in the mosh were subjected to rough, unwanted attention, and male punters nearby were slow to step in. Only when this grotesque behaviour is purged from the community will metal be universally appreciable – until then, the women diving into these pits are more metal than we can ever aspire to be. A long wait between sets was rewarded by the crushing chug of ‘Clockworks’, and the storm set in. It is difficult to put words to the perfectly structured live
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show that Meshuggah have coordinated over their 30 years in the industry. Unlike their supports, they never betray a sense of obligation, of focusing on doing their job – wreathed in darkness, their stillness and composure speak instead to an immovable, masculine aggression that makes them seem evolved to a higher plane. Vocalist Jens Kidman is the clearest expression of this idea, his silhouetted bear claws and jaw-jutting rising mirrored from the crowd at his feet. Legendary drummer Tomas Haake, on the other hand, is almost invisible, allowing his unfathomable percussive force to emerge organically between machine-gun strobes. For Fredrik Thordendal, the only important thing to see is the speed of his fingers flying. Closed-eye visuals from blinding strobes and surreal patterns forced the viewer into their peculiar zen (aided by ever-present pot smoke). Meshuggah understand this better than anyone – no individual is key to the band, as they are merely cogs in the perfect machine that the quintet create. On to our measly human ears, and with 30 years’ worth of ammunition, the machine laid down precision fire, and none in the raging pit were left untouched. Chaosphere, Nothing, Obzen, Koloss and the new The Violent Sleep Of Reason were all wellrepresented, and all pushed aside in the maelstrom of closing track ‘Future Breed Machine’, taking everyone back to the immediacy of Meshuggah’s blastbeating thrash days. This is a band that never looks down. Meshuggah are the essence of their goals, and we are but instruments of their ungodly machinations. All. Hail. Meshuggah. David Molloy
On top of all of that, of course, is the sheer power with which the sold-out crowd sings back every last one of frontman Scott Hutchison’s resonant and confessional lyrics. ‘Head Rolls Off’ starts with the drone of church organ before the choir attests to Jesus being just “a Spanish boy’s name”, while ‘Holy’ revels in its stigmata: “Stop acting so holy / I know I’m full of holes”. As the night ends upon their perennial closer ‘The Loneliness And The Scream’, we’re a football crowd – clapping, chanting and letting our “woah-oh-ohoh”s be heard. David James Young
NATHANIEL RATELIFF AND THE NIGHT SWEATS, C.W. STONEKING Enmore Theatre Tuesday March 7
It’s been said before that ‘everything old is new again’; an adage that was made quite clear at the Enmore Theatre when C.W. Stoneking fused his take on Mississippi Delta blues to Nathaniel Rateliff’s altgospel country rock, to wondrous effect. As bands and musicians continue pushing into new sounds, these two and their accompanying bands strip it back to what works – something real and intoxicatingly genuine. Stoneking opened the show with the electric call of his blues guitar on ‘How Long’; his backup singers glittering in gold dresses; his horns, keys and bass players all suavely suited; and the man himself buttoned up in his slick white outfit, belting out the songs like a preacher man calling down thunder from the mountains. Working through a set comprised of favourites from King Hokum, Jungle Blues and Gon’ Boogaloo, Stoneking allowed his shy demeanour to come through between songs – a typical attempt at banter was, “I don’t really know what to say, so we’re just gonna play this little song instead.” The crowd didn’t mind – everything that needed saying was there in his music.
After an intermission, Rateliff and The Night Sweats took the stage, playing the gospel revivalists to Stoneking’s preacher man. The soul and swagger could be heard on every note, and Rateliff’s drawl had everyone jumping on the floor. There could be no doubting the connection between Rateliff and his band, who played off each other like pros. They shook, rattled and rolled their way through ‘I Need Never Get Old’, ‘Look It Here’ and ‘Howling At Nothing’ like friends on a road trip. Rateliff worked the crowd with excessive charm and heartfelt gratitude, and had everyone swooning and swaying to his solo ‘I’d Be Waiting’. Convincing a crowd to become a choir can be a bit tricky, but Rateliff and co. whipped them into shape with James Brown levels of efficiency. When The Night Sweats took a bow and walked off stage, the audience uniformly began singing the part from closer ‘S.O.B.’ till the band came back out for the encore. There was something raw and meaningful and true about this show – and while this music might feel a little old-fashioned, Stoneking and Rateliff have made it new again. Daniel Prior
TORO Y MOI, FELIX LUSH, SKULL AND DAGGER Oxford Art Factory Thursday March 9
Synthesisers have been all the rage the last few years in live music. However, having a synth player who practises, has a creative output, and is willing not to look so bored that they might just fall asleep in front of an audience is apparently getting tougher to find. Cue tonight’s opening act Skull And Dagger, who proved that drowning your microphone in delay while trying to look really obscure and creative is just not what most crowds warm to. Felix Lush, on the other hand, was a surprise packet for the night, with the vocalist donning a straightened blonde hairdo that would have made anyone jealous back in the ’80s. While he was down a band member and had a fi llin bass player for the night, the band launched into an array of moody and heartbreaking songs with a punk-like backbeat from a drum machine. With their closing track ‘State Of Mind’ fresh in the ears of those waiting for the main act, it was clear that Lush has a bright and interesting future ahead of him. Chaz Bundick’s elaborate take on the live powerhouse Toro y Moi has now become nothing short of incredible, and this was reflected in the reception he received as he walked onstage with his touring band. As he launched into first cut ‘What You Want’ from his latest record What For?, Bundick’s psychedelic undertones and newly acquired distorted guitar mixed with a range of samples. His bongo player killed it throughout the set, while crowd favourite ‘Still Sound’ brought the funk and kept it there for a good six minutes, with jazzy jam intervals in between. A reimagined take on the Godfather theme kept audiences captivated, even though Bundick remained almost silent for the entire set. Even without talking to the crowd, he led the band into beautiful ballad ‘Grown Up Calls’, before closing out with an extremely danceable ‘Rose Quartz’, as the crowd screamed a soulful “I feel weak” over lush and detailed instrumentation. Hungry for more, the fans stuck around for an overwhelming encore of everyone’s favourite ‘Say That’, with its repetitive and infectious choral soul sample getting under everyone’s skin. As the strobe lights onstage added an amazing end to a great live show, it was easy to see why Toro y Moi has been so successful over the years. The fusion of jazz, punk, funk and anything else you can think of has led Bundick to the recognition he so surely deserves. Benjamin Potter
snap sn ap
VIEW FULL GALLERIES AT
Sydney Opera House Wednesday March 8 Looking around the half-empty Sydney Opera House Concert Hall with only 15 minutes to go until showtime, you can’t help but be struck by how odd a venue this is for a band like Kasabian. With seating all the way down to the stage, no support band, and only two drinks allowed per visit to the bar, the experience is already unlike most rock gigs. There’s a Puccini opera in the theatre next door. But how quickly the surrounds are shaken off. Lights dim, a powerful bass hum washes over the soon-filled auditorium and on stride Leicester’s finest, launching immediately into their latest release ‘Comeback Kid’. “Hello Sydney Opera House, it’s lovely to be here,” says lead singer Tom Meighan, before the pounding riff of ‘Bumblebeee’ starts up. “I’m in ecstasy,” the lyrics loop, and a feeling begins to wash over the audience, now on its feet with arms aloft. The band’s core four is celebrating 20 years together this year. Meighan (tonight wearing a jacket that looks like it still bears the blood stains of the black bull it was made out of), guitarist Serge Pizzorno (in a less gory baggy white tee), bassist Chris Edwards and Ian Matthews (boasting a permanent beaming grin) are joined tonight by an extra guitarist, keyboard player and trumpeter.
The new ones done, here follow five back-to-back classics from the canon: ‘Underdog’, ‘Eez-eh’ which wanders into a jam on Daft Punk’s ‘Around The World’, ‘Shoot The Runner’, ‘Reason Is Treason’ and ‘Days Are Forgotten’. Meighan and Pizzorno do a round of the stage: “How you doing over there? Over there? Back there?” It’s been five years since Kasabian were last in Sydney, Pizzorno explains. “We looked over at this building and said, ‘One day you will be ours, motherfucker!’” Cue psychedelic ballad ‘La Fee Verte’. Puccini this ain’t. The sleazy rave section now: ‘Club Foot’, ‘Re-Wired’, an extended ‘Treat’, ‘Empire’ and ‘Switchblade Smiles’, doing miracles for one punter waving his crutches above his head. New song ‘Put Your Life On It’ couldn’t be less like what it follows: acoustic, gospeldriven and “very emotional”, as Meighan reiterates. Not bad, but not sure. ‘L.S.F.’ is next but it’s what comes after that counts, as the song’s lyric-less refrain is chanted over and over by the audience, beckoning the band back on for an encore. ‘Stevie’, ‘Vlad The Impaler’ and then it’s sing-along time again with ‘Fire’. Kasabian not only rip out the pomp of the distinguished venue, but turn it into a rowdy football stadium. And our side wins. George Nott
james vincent mcmorrow
PICS :: AM
up all night out all week . . .
PHOTOGRAPHER :: ASHLEY MAR
PICS :: AM
07:03:17 :: Sydney Opera House :: Bennelong Point Sydney 9250 7111
06:03:17 :: Newtown Social Club :: 387 King St Newtown 1300 724 876 BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17 :: 31
g g guide gig g send your listings to : email@example.com
pick of the week
For our full gig and club listings, head to thebrag.com/gig-guide.
Boy & Bear
SATURDAY MARCH 18 The Lockhearts + My Echo + Lese Majesty
Pittwater Park Pitt
Brighton Up Bar, Darlinghurst. Friday March 17. 8pm. $10.
Party In The Park
The Album’s Not Done Yet Tour, as the name suggests, sees one of Australia’s hardest-working bands, The Lockhearts, hit the road despite their commitments in the studio.
Taking Back Sunday
Boy & Bear + Dope Lemon + The Delta Riggs + Nicole Millar + More
1pm. $94. WEDNESDAY MARCH 15
Darlinghurst. 8pm. $10.
Chain And The Gang + Angie + Cold Sweat DJs Newtown Social Club, Newtown. 8pm. $38.
Taking Back Sunday + Acceptance + Endless Heights
Spiderbait + The Meanies + Screamfeeder
The enduring Taking Back Sunday have released their seventh studio album, Tidal Wave, and you can see them take back Friday at their Sydney show this week.
Spiderbait’s legendary album Ivy And The Big Apples has turned 20, and they’re celebrating with a national tour performing the record in full.
Enmore Theatre, Newtown. Friday March 17. 7:15pm. $76.
Willie Watson + My Bubba Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7:30pm. $44.
Amy Shark + Timberwolf + Nyck Newtown Social Club, Newtown. 2:30pm. $23.
FRIDAY MARCH 17 Ceres + Jess Locke The Chippo Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $19.
Folk Uke Newtown Social Club, Newtown. 7pm. $30. Raave Tapes + White Blanks + Stay At Home Mum Oxford Art Factory,
Direct Underground Festival – feat: Gorgus + Marduk + MGLA Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7pm. $65.
Inberious Bastard + Horrisonous Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $12.
Sampology + Street Rat Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. $28.
Jordan Rakei +
SATURDAY MARCH 18
Newtown Social Club, Newtown. 6pm. $31.
Dori Freeman + Matt Henry Newtown Social Club, Newtown. 7:30pm. $34.
TUESDAY MARCH 21
Storm The Sky Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 4:45pm. $20.
Eddi Reader + Alana Wilkinson Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $55.
MONDAY MARCH 20
I Built The Sky Factory Floor, Marrickville. 8pm. $15.
SUNDAY MARCH 19
Abaddon Incarnate + Dark Horse +
Enmore Theatre, Newtown. Saturday March 18. 7pm. $61.80.
Dori Freeman photo by Kristen Horton
THURSDAY MARCH 16
My Bubba Newtown Social Club, Newtown. 7:30pm. $37.
the BRAG presents
Newtown Social Club Monday April 10
Newtown Social Club Wednesday April 12
32 :: BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17
MILES ELECTRIC BAND
Enmore Theatre Thursday April 13
NATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL 2017 Exhibition Park, Canberra Thursday April 13 – Monday April 17
CORINNE BAILEY RAE Metro Theatre Sunday April 16
NIKKI HILL Newtown Social Club Monday April 17
THE STRUMBELLAS Oxford Art Factory Monday April 17
ST PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES Metro Theatre Wednesday April 19
on the record WITH The First Record I Bought The first record I bought 1. (besides all the bullshit pop CDs you get as a kid) was Make Yourself by Incubus. It was one of those albums that was really easy to convince your parents that it was a sensible purchase because everyone had heard the song ‘Drive’. While it’s still quite a tame record it really opened my mind to louder and heavier music. It also started encouraging me to explore being more self-aware and politically conscious.
recording was when I was 16 with my mate Liam Cooper. He was a mate I grew up with who was very talented at playing piano. At the time we both were big fans of Ben Folds so Liam decided to give singing a go and we recorded an EP in some guy’s basement. It was decent. After that I had a little run in an indie/punk band called God Rest The Good Doctor with Jack R Reilly, which was sloppy but tonnes of fun.
The Last Thing I Recorded The last recording I’ve 4. been a part of is Vices’ upcoming
First Thing I Recorded The first time I did any real 3. The
The Record That Changed My Life The one record that was the gamechanger for me was Converge’s Jane Doe. I was 16 when a friend from school first showed me the album
The Last Record I Bought The last record I bought was Rebuild by Verse from Resist Records’ rare and out of print section. Everyone in our band is quite obsessed with Sean Murphy and all his projects so this is just furthering my love and need to own his music. If you’re a fan of Verse/politically fuelled hardcore you should check out Sydney’s Homesick. Those boys are doing it right.
MARCUS TAMP FROM VICES
album Now That I Have Seen I Am Responsible. It was recorded late last year with producer Jay Maas (Defeater, Bane, Carpathian) in Brisbane. This release is quite a bit heavier and darker than anything we’ve done in the past.
and it shifted my whole perspective on music. I’d been listening to bands like Good Riddance and Lagwagon for a few years prior but the only ‘heavy’ music I had been exposed to was bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Suicide Silence, which
had completely put me off. My friend showed me Jane Doe to prove to me that not all heavy music was shit and it completely opened my eyes to a whole new sound. That being said, I pretty much never listen to Jane Doe any more, purely because
Converge’s Axe To Fall is the hardest record ever. What: Now That I Have Seen I Am Responsible out Friday March 17 through Resist
studio profile WITH
DAMIEN GERARD SOUND STUDIOS
ive us a brief history of Damien Gerard Sound Studios. The studio began in an old Ultimo wool store in the early 1980s. The clients back then included the likes of INXS, Hoodoo Gurus, Divinyls and many more. In those days it was a demo studio and everyone came there to create, write and record, nut out their albums before going on to bigger studios or overseas. Nowadays at the space in Balmain we are a full service studio recording albums, EPs and singles for just about every genre around. Some of those great Aussie acts from the ’80s such as Hoodoo Gurus and Rose Tattoo are still regular clients. The recent Gurus fourtrack vinyl release was recorded and mixed here. New bands such as Big White (Caroline/ Universal) have ‘discovered’ us now and them and their side projects are often to be found creating and cruising in the building. What makes it the perfect location for recording in Sydney? Only five minutes from the CBD, plenty of free parking, no time or noise restrictions, easy bump in, in-house backline if required and the best and friendliest, easy to work with engineers in Sydney.
What’s the equipment set-up? Pro Tools, MCI JH24 2” analogue tape, Soundcraft 2400 32/24 mid-’80s analogue board, Neve preamps, Neumann mics, tonnes of old outboard such as the Urei 1178 and much, much more. Who are some of the artists who’ve recorded with you? Radio Birdman, Hoodoo Gurus, Rose Tattoo, Screaming Jets, The Vines, The Church, Big White, Sunscreen, Flowertruck, Half Moon Run, GrimSkunk, Ruth Carp, The Hollerin Sluggers, The Dirty Earth, Christina Crofts, Harmonic Generator, The Cruel Sea, Midnight Oil, Hirst & Green, Underground Lovers, The Apartments, The Posies. Do you specialise in bigger projects or smaller single/EP recordings? We do everything from 15-to-25-day album projects to two-day singles; we had a blues guy in recently who recorded and mixed an entire album to tape in one day! Where: 174 Mullens St, Balmain More: damiengerard.com.au
on the record WITH The First Record I Bought Nick Moran: Blink-182 – 1. Enema Of The State / Sum 41 – All
at the start of high school called Absent. I was playing bass in the clarinet ensemble I think (band geek) and Themba asked me if I wanted to be in a punk band and I jumped. Technically our first recording was a tape recorder in our little jam basement. It sounded like shit but it got us in a band comp or two.
Killer No Filler. It’s a tie here. I had a bunch of records bought for me but the first ones I bought myself were these two. When I was a young teenager, these were the soundtracks to my life. Like most teenagers I was up and down like a rollercoaster and the honesty of self-degradation and toilet humour meant the world to me. Also it felt ‘rebel’ to me, even though I doubt pop-punk will ever be thought of that way looking back. I’m sure many people like me were inspired to pick up a guitar after hearing how bad a guitarist Tom DeLonge was (his words) and thought, “Hey, I could jump onstage, play guitar and make jokes about how small my dick is.”
The Last Thing I Recorded NM: We just dropped our 4. debut record Mistakes That Nature
The Last Record I Bought Themba Thompson: Utopia 2. Defeated by D.D Dumbo. I saw
The Record That Changed My Life 5. Harrison Hunt: Oracular
him at Laneway last month and was blown away. Amazing and inspirational.
The First Thing I Recorded NM: Our lead singer Themba and I were in a punk band back
Made. It’s been two years in the making and I honestly couldn’t be happier. We recorded it down at Vienna People Studios in Annandale with producer Michael McGlynn. It’s such a cool vibe down there and Michael was vital to bringing out the most in these songs.
Spectacular by MGMT shaped our sound from the first listen. When that record dropped, the blend of synths, guitars and drums was a game-changer. As kids, we instantly sought to emulate and incorporate some of this sound, and that was
definitely the mark of our departure from school yard rock’n’roll. Even while producing Mistakes That Nature Made, we found ourselves
returning to songs like ‘Time To Pretend’ to get a feel for track levels and sounds that MGMT used, all those years ago.
What: Mistakes That Nature Made out now independently
BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17 :: 33
five things WITH PETE
Dance and Electronica with Alex Chetverikov
The Music You Make And Play 4. Working in record shops for
a decade, you get to hear a lot of fresh music. Then it was just a matter of sticking them all together really. When Dicky and I play together we tend to mix it right up, have a lot of fun and are always packing some serious disco, Italo and house weapons. We do play a lot of Secret Squirrel, Disco Deviance and tracks from our own imprints like Music For Swimming Pools and Paradise Row. And of course tracks by friends like Eric Duncan, Faze Action, Medlar, Frank Booker and Chris Duckenfield’s various projects.
Growing Up The first record I 1. remember buying when I
was a nipper was Fun Boy Three – ‘It Ain’t What You Do’, probably sourced from watching the Max Headroom TV shows, with endless oddball videos played back to back from that time. Later in my teens I was a big fan of the pirate radio stations playing out over the airwaves of London – rare groove, jazzfunk, hip hop, early house and rave tackle. I later did a show on one of these stations out of some dodgy industrial estate in Essex – the kit was pretty basic at the time, so you never quite knew if anyone was even picking up the signal at all.
Influences You can’t beat a spot 2. of Herbie Hancock. He is just an amazing musician with an ace back catalogue. And everyone should listen to Wally Badarou. The first time I heard him, I was hooked.
Your Crew From my late teens I worked in various record shops in Soho, which was obviously handy, so I got into DJing from there. I met Phil Mison in one of those shops nearly 20 years go, who I still make music with now, and obviously me and Dicky [Trisco] go back a long way, from when he first invited me up to Dundee to play his club.
Off The Record
Music, Right Here, Right Now 5. There are a lot of labels out
there now because of the whole digital way things have gone. So it can be a bit of a mixed bag and you really have to dig around. And of course social media is a lot more important now than it used to be. But there are great scenes all over the world in places like Asia and South America and it’s great getting to visit and play in these places. I’ve spent a lot of time in particular over the last nine years in Bali, and it certainly makes a nice change from Bethnal Green.
nternational Women’s Day fell on Wednesday March 8 this year.
Whatever its meaning to you, International Women’s Day is a vehicle for awareness and an opportunity to embrace a necessary and progressive approach to gender equality. It locates the discourse and action in a universal space. Importantly, it engages a variety of voices at both the micro level of the individual, and the general level of the community. It reminds us that this is not simply a ‘women’s issue’. It is an everyone issue. Disparities in gender permeate throughout every aspect of the social organism. Modern generations are, to varying degrees of stubborn opposition, disassembling the dense and rigid patriarchal structures that undermine women at every level. These have seeped into every crevice of the music industry and actively deterred and denied women’s participation in studios, behind turntables, in music writing and journalism. They have been denied influence; the influence of role models on future generations. For every male cultural icon or ‘hero’, there have been countless women neglected. How can we suffocate this expression? Why? Thanks to certain overarching generational beliefs, women are undervalued. Thanks to these beliefs, stereotypes have been
rendered reality. How one can possibly say that women are “less interested in technology or music” when they’ve been deliberately kept adrift, deterred or denied access is beyond me. Empowering and enabling women is essential: locally, at a grassroots level, and publicly, where I believe existing role models have a social responsibility. Not with ‘Top 50 Female DJs’ lists but with education, awareness, opportunity and equity. There are some excellent resources available out there that are stimulating solidarity and expression; international creative collectives such as Femmecult and Female:pressure, Melbourne’s Synth Babe Records (which recently released a downloadable compilation), and FBi’s Dance Class mentoring program for young women. While I think it’s important we consider the low representation of women in DJ charts, for example, or their meagre numbers in event billing, it all ultimately leads back to the issue being a systemic one. We can examine it through any number of statistics, refer to any amount of resources, or make any amount of presumptions. We certainly need to hold institutions and establishments to account, but we need to ensure we’re looking in the right places and targeting the right people.
What: Disco Deviance With: Dicky Trisco Where: Hudson Ballroom When: Saturday March 18
THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST DJ Slyngshot’s Love Unlimited EP for house with a bouncy hip hop/ breaks influence. Also, Sadar Bahar’s Dekmantel Festival Boiler Room mix is funky and soulful jam after jam, and a reminder that you don’t have to mix with seamless technicality to get a floor dancing. And, in case you’ve somehow missed it, Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love!, which certainly owes a debt to P-Funk amongst its varied influences. It’s remarkable the way Donald Glover has realised this record, so distinct from his previous hip hop releases.
RECOMMENDED SATURDAY MA RCH 18
DJ Tennis, Murat Kilic Civic Underground
WEDNESDAY MARCH 22 Good Things Launch w/ Mantra Collective, Ben Fester, Human Movement Goodbar
34 :: BRAG :: 704 :: 15:03:17
SATURDAY MARCH 25
Tiger Stripes, Groove Terminator Chinese Laundry
SUNDAY MARCH 26
Summer Dance – feat: Glenn Underground, Anthony Naples, Daydreams National Art School
SATURDAY APRIL 1
Rings Around Saturn, Cop Envy, Hubert Clarke Jr, Preacha Chippendale Hotel
SUNDAY APRIL 16
DJ Sprinkles, Peter Van Hoesen, Material Object The Red Rattler
LANKS THURS 23 MAR
FREE ENTRY DOORS 6PM DELLA HYDE 34 OXFORD ST DARLINGHURST