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n e l Al ne o t S

2019 BLUESFEST SIDESHOWS presented by presented by











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this month what you’ll find inside…

ISSUE 743: Wednesday 7 November, 2018


EDITOR: Joseph Earp joseph.earp@seventhstreet.media NEWS: Tyler Jenke, Bianca Davino, Lars Brandle ART DIRECTOR: Sarah Bryant PHOTOGRAPHER: Ashley Mar COVER PHOTO: Ben Sullivan ADVERTISING: Josh Burrows - 0411 025 674 josh.burrows@seventhstreet.media PUBLISHER: Seventh Street Media CEO, SEVENTH STREET MEDIA: Luke Girgis - luke.girgis@ seventhstreet.media MANAGING EDITOR: Poppy Reid poppy.reid@seventhstreet.media GIG GUIDE COORDINATOR: Belinda Quinn - gigguide@seventhstreet. media REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Arca Bayburt, Lars Brandle, Tanja Brinks Toubro, Alex Chetverikov, Max Jacobson, Emily Gibb, Emily Meller, Adam Norris, Holly Pereira, Daniel Prior, Natalie Rogers, Erin Rooney, Anna Rose, Spencer Scott, Natalie Salvo, Aaron Streatfeild, Augustus Welby, Zanda Wilson, David James Young Please send mail NOT ACCOUNTS direct to this NEW address Level 2, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046 ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE: Carrie Huang accountsseventhstreet.vc (02) 9713 92692, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046 DEADLINES: Editorial: Thursday 5pm (no extensions) Ad bookings: Last Wednesday of the month 12pm (no extensions) Finished art: Last Thursday of the month 5pm (no extensions) Ad cancellations: Last Wednesday of the month 12pm Deadlines are strictly adhered to. Published by Seventh Street Media Pty Ltd All content copyrighted to Seventh Street Media 2017

“We are educating people through the spirit of our culture.” regulars 10 49 53 60-61 65-66

The Frontline The Watcher Game On Sounds Like Gig picks

“There’s no space for pop music to be pretentious.”

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Bangarra Dance Company


A Wrestling Junkie In Japan




Jason Blum And Halloween


Spike Vincent


Hold The Dark and Savaging




The Kids Of Medicinal Ketamine


Julia Holter


Jim Jefferies


Kurt Vile



Matt Corby

Beautiful Boy, Halloween, Christopher Sabat


Bill Ryder-Jones


Red Dead Redemption II


Holly Throsby


Shaun Tan






On The Streets

“I’m the most stubborn of arseholes.” 30-31



Lou Bega


Trophy Eyes



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EDITORIAL POLICY: The views and opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher, editors or staff of the BRAG. follow us:

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“When I did Paranormal Activity I felt like I had found my people.”

David Page photo by Myles Formby



DISTRIBUTION: Wanna get the BRAG? Email jessica.milinovic@seventhstreet.media



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the frontline

With Geordie Gray, Patrick Campbell, and Joseph Earp

YOUR ONE-STOP SHOP FOR DILDOS I love Gwyneth Paltrow. I love that she never shies away from her wealth. After all, there is simply nothing on this planet more infuriating than a celebrity with a substantial cash flow crying poor: picture your celeb crush posting, “lol guys eating nothing but Mi Goreng I’m so desperate to relate to the youth!” So, to that end, I spent my afternoon scrolling through the Goop website for the first time in my life and it was nothing short of enlightening. As I was combing through the “Between The Sheets” section of her website, I came across perhaps the most gorgeous, Gwyneth Paltrowesque item I’ve ever seen in my entire life: a 24k gold dildo, cost price $3,490. A quick Google search was enough to let me know that this was not Miss Paltrow’s first voyage into the world of luxury sex toys. Back in 2016, the actress was flogging a $15,000 vibrating gold dildo. Excessive and out of touch with culture? I don’t think so. I believe that her decision to endorse such an opulent, luxury item on her website is as stunning as it is brave. Moreover, Gwyneth is offering a Marabou Pleasure Puff Ring. To be honest with you, this is without a doubt my favourite product Goop has to offer. The product description reads as follows: “Topped with delicate marabou feathers, this sterling-silver statement ring also works as a playful tickler in the bedroom. Slip it on and graze your hand over your (or your partner’s) skin for a gentle jolt of pleasure.” I am simply gobsmacked. I can’t believe the splendour of it all. This fabulous accessory can be yours for $673.00.

ALL ABOUT THESE BALLS Speaking of Paltrow’s sexy time, high cost apparatus, let’s just keep doing a deep dive on Goop, why don’t we? Next on the list is an incredible set of devices called the Benwa Balls. I won’t lie to you, I didn’t think Benwa Balls actually existed. To me it was always a reference in a Blink-182 song I never understood. But the divine powers of Goop have proved me wrong. A description on the website reads “Kill two birds (stronger kegels + better orgasms) with two stones: According to ancient wisdom, holding these marble-sized spheres inside the vagina strengthens the pelvic floor and intensifies pleasure all at once.” These bad boys can be yours for a humble US$885.00. Who amongst us could turn down such an exceptional offer?

Margot Robbie


Ready and willing to bring up Portlandia, am I. Another delectable though distinctly confusing product, Paltrow’s Goop are also shipping off Cacao and mushroom mix to their unsuspecting and eager to please customers. Let the truth be told, however, by me, right now: I don’t understand so many things about this. Like, literally nothing. Apparently the brand, Four Sigmatic are “a natural superfoods company that produces a delicious range of responsibly-sourced mushroom-powder supplements designed to support the body in everything from better sleep and clearer energy to overall balance and brain function.” Let’s be real with one another, shall we: what does literally any of that mean? I don’t understand a single fucking word. And moreover, it’s time to face facts: that sounds more than just illogical. It sounds absolutely revolting. But then again, I’ve also done a charcoal lemonade stint, so I have no authority to criticise superfood trends no matter how irritating they may be. I’m right in there as one of the worst. But then again, my criticism remains: I’m really concerned about the taste. What kind of mushrooms are we dealing with here? Button? Enoki? The vile Porcini? There is no clarity. Let’s all be afraid. Be very afraid.

I’M PICKLE PIZZA There’s been a new, controversial pizza trend that’s been brewing in America for quite some time. Now, finally, that trend has hit Australian shores. The pizza in question is a pickle pizza. We’ve traced the pizza’s origins back to a Rhino’s Pizzeria in upstate New York. Their original recipe consisted of homemade garlic sauce, mozzarella cheese and dill-seasoned pickles. Delicious. Now, a Sydney pizzeria, Parrino’s Pizza, is leading the pickle revolution with their popular ‘Mr Pickle’ pizza. Inspired by cult Adult Swim TV show Rick And Morty, the Mr. Pickle consists of a gorgeous garlic base, sliced pickles, sun-dried tomatoes, and Spanish onion. We can already feel our tongues vibrating from all that acidity. It’s a piz de résistance.

PEAS GLORIOUS PEAS The latest in the unnecessarily large group of dairy-free milk options has arrived! Pea milk is here and we’re not quite sure why. Introduced to the Australia’s Own range earlier this month, “Like Milk” is a milk made of pea protein, which is rich in amino acids, calcium, vitamins B2 and B12 and vitamin D, according to Australian Food News. Coming in a sweetened and unsweetened option, both have significantly less sugar per serve than the typical amount found in a serving of dairy milk. (Hello? Anyone there? Please save me.) Other vegan milk options include rice, soy, oat, almond, and coconut milks. The pea milk trend is apparently becoming very popular among fitness fanatics, as it offers similar nutritional benefits to dairy milk. However, retailers seem to be less enthused. A spokesperson for ALDI told Australian Food News, “At this stage, we don’t sell pea milk in our stores and do not have any immediate plans to stock this product.”

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“I bloody well better get it right otherwise [David will] be haunting me for the rest of my life.” 12 :: BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18



In Tribute Belinda Quinn talks to Stephen Page of Bangarra Dance Theatre about the legacy of his brother, musical composer David Page

“We are educating people through the spirit of our culture, and that spirituality lies with dance and stories.”

O David Page photo by Jess Bialek

ver two years ago now, Australia lost the one-of-a-kind, dynamic, and respected musical composer, David Page. A son, brother, uncle and cousin to the Nunukul and Munaldjali clans, he was dedicated to preserving Indigenous tradition through sound and dance. With the help of Bangarra Dance Theatre, he presented Australian histories as told from First Nation peoples across the country. And now, his brother Stephen Page, the centre’s artistic director since 1991, plans to celebrate David’s legacy with the two-part performance series Dubboo – Life Of A Songman. “I bloody well better get it right, otherwise he’ll be haunting me for the rest of my life,” jokes Stephen over the phone.


The two brothers were incredibly close, having worked on at least 25 productions with Bangarra. “I really, really, really miss the beautiful creative relationship we had – and I don’t think I’ll ever have that again with another person,” Stephen says. They were two minds moving in tandem: Stephen was headstrong and direct; David was cheekier, a peacemaker. “He was mischievous, he was naughty. He always put a smile on my face,” says Stephen. “He’d always write these crazy melodies and lyrics. He tried out for the Bangarra competition, and I was like, ‘I don’t think that’s gonna work for contemporary sounds.’ And he would be a little bugga sometimes, he’d always sneak some in.” Born in Brisbane, David was the eighth child. “We had a crazy upbringing you know,” says Stephen.

He remembers growing up in inner suburbia; there’d often have big family gatherings – “always chaos…” he remembers – with the odd DIY variety show. “We’d dance and there’d be a lot of sharing of stories,” he says. He remembers David putting on his own floor show. “He’d dress up and come down and do Bette Midler or Aretha Franklin.” When David was just entering teenhood, he won a talent quest at the Sunnybank Hotel in Brisbane. And after seeing him perform, Warner Music Australasia’s Harry Geran signed him to Motown label, Atlantic Records – he was the first Australian to sign to the label. “At the time my parents knew nothing about the business or industry,” says Stephen. “[They were focused on] putting food on the table and a roof over our heads.” He became known as Little Davey Page, releasing

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In Tribute


hit singles like the doo-wop, slow-dance ‘Dream Time Lover’ in 1976. Many saw him as Australia’s answer to Michael Jackson. Although, his pop star career was cut short when his voice broke at 15. However, his pop spirit never ran dry. “In a way I think I should have pushed him more into that,” says Stephen of David’s affinity for musicals and more commercial outlets. “But he loved the challenge of composing what the land would sound like of places he went to, and how that would work with the traditional stories being told, and which instruments were going to complement that … There’s nothing more that he loved than that,” he explains. “He wasn’t just a retired pop star. He was probably the only one working in this medium of traditional and contemporary music the score for dance theatre,” says Stephen.


he first half of Dubboo will see compositions with a string quartet, featuring songwriters and vocalists that worked with David over the years. “Iain Grandage has been a great help because he’s been doing the musical directing of a string quartet, and he’s been trying out listening to David’s songs and responding to them,” says Stephen.

The second half will be a variety performance led by performer Ben Graetz as his alter-ego Miss Ellaneous. “David loved the performance side, and

Bangarra takes its performances to venues as diverse as the Sydney Opera House to smaller rural communities all over Australia. “I think for us its just constantly keeping our cultural stories from a black perspective,” Stephen says of how the theatre aspires to instigate social change, which is one of the mission statements listed on their website. For example, Bangarra’s recent work Dark Emu was designed as a response to Bruce Pascoe’s book Black Seeds: Agriculture Or Accident?. Pascoe, a Bunurong man, used the records and diaries of Australian colonisers to prove that Indigenous peoples were cultivating the land – sowing, harvesting, irrigating – effectively challenging the hunter-gatherer stereotype. “Last year there were close to 50,000 people who saw Dark Emu. So we are shifting people’s consciousness; we are educating people through the spirit of our culture, and that spirituality lies with dance and stories,” he says. “So if that’s prompted from a black perspective on social issues then it’s coming from our voice. That’s what we mean: hopefully we’re just re-educating the landscape in a different way.” When Stephen was in school, he was suspended for questioning why Indigenous history wasn’t being taught. “[Your education] doesn’t tell some of the historical moments in this country – we don’t talk about the assimilating people to this country and the First Nations and the settlement,” he says. “We went to Berlin a couple of years ago; we sold out five shows in a 2000-capacity venue, and,” – he uses World War II as an example of addressing guilt – “the Germans have dealt with their guilt –

“We have a black history and so I think for Bangarra we feel that it’s about the resilience.” 14 :: BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18

they get on with it, you know. “And you’re constantly debating the constitution. First Nations always [have to] take a back seat, and over here we’re discussing another Australia Day again. It’s just really embarrassing. We have a black history and so I think for Bangarra we feel that it’s about the resilience,” he says. We discuss this resilience and the ways white Australia fails its Indigenous peoples: from higher rates of imprisonment and detention, to rural communities being left behind in government policies. “And we can’t even put in a senior Indigenous person to look after that. You’ve got to get someone like an ex-minister to be your Indigenous Affairs Officer. We can’t even make our own decisions. The respect of elders, and leadership, and knowledge of the land… Yeah, it’s very shameful,” he says. “And look, putting that aside, you have the whole drought system, and the whole farming [situation]. It’s very much knowledge about the land that Indigenous people know that we didn’t take from and share,” he says. Stephen is one of Australia’s longest running artistic directors with 27 years under his belt – and next year, the theatre responsible for teaching Australia’s Indigenous history will enter its thirtieth year of practice. “30 years compared to 55,000 years [of history] is just nothing,” he says of the stories waiting to be told. “You’ll have to be there for 100 years before you do any good damage.” Asked how he feels about being in the role for so long, he explains that the thought doesn’t so much as cross his mind. “I just think about what’s ahead, how to reflect the past, be in the present,” says Stephen. “And to make sure that that learning and that hunger for knowledge and caring is around for the next generation for the future.” ■ What: Dubboo – The Life Of A Songman will take place at Bay 17, Carriageworks from Thursday December 6 – Saturday December 8


David Page photo by Daniel Boud

Archie Roach, who worked with David on Bangarra’s 2000 production Skin, will perform, as well as long-time collaborator Ursula Yovich and member of the Munyarryun clan of northeast Arnhem Land, Djakapurra Munyarryun. “He’s very instrumental in terms of his traditional language,” says Stephen.

the cabaret side, and the variety side of things,” explains Stephen. “So the second half is just collating some of his favourite songs, so there is more of a variety response to that, using excerpts from when he told stories in Page 8.”


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Allison Gallagher chats to emerging Australian indie pop royalty Sunscreen about sweaty gigs, good friends, and the scarcity of bassists

Sweat It Out


unscreen was a project that began, as many do, in the garage of a sharehouse. Specifically the band’s birthplace was Sarah Sykes’ old Newtown sharehouse, circa the summer of 2016, after the performer invited guitarist Alexander McDonald and drummer Hugo Levingston to help develop the songs she’d been writing. “I’d been writing songs and invited [McDonald and Levingston] over to have a jam. It wasn’t like, ‘We’re going to start a band and be successful.’ We came up with a few songs and got a gig and we’ve kind of been running with it since.” From these relatively humble beginnings, Sunscreen have gone on to become a frequent name on gigs around Sydney, establishing themselves as a band to watch with their debut EP Just A Drop in 2017. “I don’t think it was particularly intentional to play live a lot – we just get offered a lot of good shows and we love doing it. We’re not one of those bands who worries about, like, flooding the market – we don’t really think too much about that sort of thing which I think is good,” adds Levingston. On the live front, the band bring a rare energy to their indie pop – a faster, more visceral interpretation of their dreamy, layered studio recordings.

“I got vivid flashbacks to playing some of our sweatiest gigs,” says Levingston. “The guy before us was drenched in sweat when

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he came out – I think ours was a little easier, we were a little slightly sweatier,” says McDonald. Sykes disagrees. “Speak for yourself.” It’s interesting to think about where Sunscreen will go from here, given their somewhat peculiar place in Australia’s current musical climate. While the band are often tagged with descriptors like ‘garage rock’ or ‘punk’, there’s a nuance to their sound often missing from such categories – the hazy guitar melodies and the dual vocal lines of Sykes and McDonald, for instance. Ultimately, the band are more in line with groups like Australian indie-pop royalty The Go-Betweens, or dream pop icons Cocteau Twins. For her part, Sykes explains that those influences tend to work on a more subconscious level than an overt one, given largely to the improvisational nature of how the band write songs. Currently, the quartet – rounded out by fairly new bassist Oliver – are working on songs that will likely materialize as a new EP. “We’ve been working on new songs for a long time, some of them have been around for a year and a half, some we wrote last month. We’ll write a new song and kind of test it by playing it live. Way more collaborative than it used to be. Our bass player Ollie has brought a new energy to the band. A lot of our stuff is faster than it used to be.”

For Sykes, lots of things have changed within the band since they first came together. “Having a bass player now helps a lot. We began without one, and we were so desperate for one at the beginning. We played a show at the Botany View and I said between songs, ‘Hey guys, we don’t have a bass player, who wants to come play bass with us?’ “Our identity has changed a lot over time. I think it’s been really cool because we started playing live right from the beginning, we never really had a long incubation period, so we’ve kind of found our identity through playing live shows. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on new artists to have it fully formed from the get go. Our new music I think is totally different to where we started and it just comes through jamming and playing shows.” Levingston agrees. “It’s developed as we develop as musicians.” The band’s creative process has indeed become far more collaborative. “It’s a very live thing; the guys will start jamming and I’ll write over the top of that,” says Sykes. “A lot of the songs will start with me and Hugo and then Sarah will write and record an amazing song over the top” explains McDonald.



Sunscreen photo by Life Without Andy

They brought that energy to a recent Rekorderlig Sauna Session. While it was something of a change of scenery from the inner west pubs that the band have made their home territory over the past few years, there was one aspect that wasn’t different – perspiration.




The Return Of Dolewave Allison Gallagher chews the fat with Spike Vincent, a bastion of Sydney’s underground scene who is unafraid to bring old sounds and styles back



pike Vincent has been a fixture of Sydney’s live music scene for a good few years now, crafting jangly rock that feels at once personal and relatable. A lot has changed for the songwriter within the past year or two though, with the project going from a primarily solo endeavor to having a full backing band. “When I started playing I was doing solo shows by myself, a lot of open mic nights, just testing the waters. And then a friend would see me play and I’d be like, ‘Why don’t you play for me?’” With band in tow, Vincent’s shows are now a far more raucous, much more energetic affair. “The band sort of evolved into this big wall of sound. When I was writing the songs initially they were bedroom demos, really quiet - and they’ve evolved into this huge sounding beast. The sound has definitely gotten a lot more hectic and the new songs are a lot crazier than the first ones.” His self-titled EP was recorded live too – a shift for the songwriter.

another one – resulted in Vincent having to get a fairly lengthy Uber ride to the sauna. “It was a really good experience though. I like saunas. I feel like saunas are a good place to hang out,” he laughs. “I had some friends working on it so it was a comfortable experience.” For the session, Vincent chose to play a slower, relatively stripped back version of ‘I Like You’, the first song on his self-titled 2017 EP. Here, the dreamy, reverb-soaked arrangement suits the sauna like a charm. The songs on Spike Vincent permeate with a particular kind of suburban Australian identity, and there’s a strong sense of place throughout many of Vincent’s discography. Vincent attributes a lot of this to the autobiographical nature of the project. It’s an attempt to reflect himself and his environment in a way that feels genuine; a conscious effort to avoid pastiche or insincerity. “It’s my solo project, and it’s my name, and it’s kind of biographical. So I kind of tend to lean towards topics that are true to me, and place comes into that,” explains Vincent.

“It was sort of just happenchance,” says Vincent. “I was traditionally a bedroom producer and I love that process of layering and using lots of effects, but I think it was situational - lack of money - led us to do the record live, do it in a day. We were really surprised when it turned out sounding good because we’d kind of thought they’d maybe a bit of a throwaway thing. I recommend it to every band; try it out.” Vincent recently brought a similar energy as part of the Rekorderlig Sauna Sessions – although, he explains it was a bit of a whirlwind process. Living in the southern coast town of Austinmer – where missing a train results in waiting around an hour for


“I don’t want to pretend that I’m from Tennessee or something, so singing about place is important to me. A lot of Australian artists I admire do a similar thing, and I’d like to do the same.” According to Vincent, who grew up in Sydney and has seen hundreds of bands come and go, whole scenes disappear, it feels like a pretty good time for music in the city at the moment. “There’s been what seems to me a resurgence of bands that do have a strong attachment within Sydney,” says Vincent. “I feel like there was a while there it was like, oh, this band’s doing Arctic Monkeys, this band’s doing Americana. It seems

like a lot more people in Sydney have adopted a more authentic identity, one that we’re sort of making up for ourselves as we go along. I feel like that’s more honest, and there’s probably more longevity in that.” In a lot of ways, the music and aesthetic of Spike Vincent is reminiscent of the “dolewave” scene that sprung up predominantly in Melbourne and Sydney in the early 2010s. Bands like Dick Diver and Twerps brought an unpretentious and lo-fi approach to indie rock, often writing songs that directly reflected the suburban environment around them. “I loved a lot of the dolewave bands when they were around, it was a special thing to be a part of. I was lucky enough to see all those bands when I was 15, sneaking into pubs. That definitely informed me in a lot of ways.” Looking to the future, Vincent and his band have a steady run of shows booked for the remainder of the year, and have also been workshopping new material. “Me and the band are writing together at the moment and trying out the new songs live. We’re just playing constantly and hopefully getting into the studio and see what happens.”

“I LIKE SAUNAS.” BRAG :: 742 :: 03:10:18 :: 17


“You Mirror Yourself In Other People”:

Robyn And The Power Of Pop

Robyn photo by Mark Peckmezian

By Allison Gallagher



t’s been eight years since Robyn last released an album. That album, Body Talk, cemented the Swedish pop icon as a master of writing songs that felt equally as suited to making moves in the club or crying alone in your bedroom. Tracks like ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ and ‘Dancing On My Own’ served as the quintessential soundtrack for a newer generation of her fans, predisposed to dancing through the heartbreak. Then, Robyn more or less disappeared. While sparse touring and collaborations with the likes of Röyksopp and Neneh Cherry followed, there was no solo release for almost a decade. Until now, that is. Honey, the eighth studio album from the queen of bittersweet pop, feels like a culmination of the styles Robyn has worked with in the past, and an exploration of new ground. While glittery opener ‘Missing U’ is

reminiscent of the Body Talk-era, songs like ‘Because It’s In The Music’ and ‘Between the Lines’ have a kind of space to them, a groove and rhythm that – for all their tenderness – are playful, too. It’s likely the most diverse collection of Robyn songs on an album yet. For an artist that has largely eschewed the ‘pop star’ label in its most conventional sense throughout her career, it feels like a natural progression, done – as always - entirely on her own terms. Diving back into things after the time away from the public has been hectic for Robyn. “Right now is kind of crazy. I haven’t unpacked my bags since I was in Ibiza like a month ago,” she says, referring to her return to the live stage on the Balearic island back in August. “I’m really happy and excited by everything but it’s full on.”

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The process of writing songs for Honey began in Robyn’s own office studio, a process which she approached with equal levels of exploration and self-care. In the period between albums, around 2015, she experienced a major breakup as well as the death of longtime collaborator and friend Christian Falk. She knew that going back to the studio would mean being kind to herself. “I didn’t have a clear vision at all,” she says. “I was just really exploring and trying new things. It was definitely a very open time for me. I think I knew what kind of music I wanted to make. I had an idea about dance music and how it makes me feel – which is not something new, I’ve done records from that point before, but in a different way this time.”


here’s a focus throughout Honey on the rhythm and grooves behind the songs, drawing from Robyn’s experiences of dance music and clubbing. These, rather than lyrics or melodies, served as the jumping off points for the songs on the album.

“It came from a really raw place; it wasn’t a conceptual idea,” she says. “It was more like, me producing beats and DJing and listening to rhythms, listening to old disco records, finding a lot of new club music and clubbing a lot. “I was going through a really rough time and I was very sad, so when I started feeling like I wanted to make music again, that was a really delicate thing. I couldn’t push through it. I had to really do things that made me feel good, so it was all about that.” At this point in the conversation, Robyn pauses, considering how to describe her feelings throughout that time. “You know that feeling where you’re just about to fall asleep and everything feels really open and very calm?” she finally asks. You can hear that feeling in the beats, and Robyn’s own distinctive voice. The tracks on Honey feel like they’ve been crafted with a certain sweetness – the sound of being gentle with yourself while still refusing to play it safe; to take risks. “I was exploring… but I wasn’t doing it for anyone but myself,” is how Robyn puts it. For Robyn, there were two primary reference points for Honey’s composition. First, the softer sounds of the pop artists she grew up on – “Kate Bush and Prince, always,” she says. “But a particular part of their work, that I’ve always listened to but never really put on my own records. I wanted things to move me in a particular way, and rock me in a way that made me feel good, and I couldn’t do that with the kind of even, forceful groove that I’ve worked with before.” What that meant for Robyn was totally reworking the way she related to rhythm. “I, like many people, have had club experiences that have been really beautiful and amazing. There’s a way of listening to club music that’s very different to listening to a pop song,” she says. “It’s not about getting to the chorus, it’s about something else, it’s about liking where you’re at. I wanted that to be a part of it as well, a different way of relating to the curve of a song. I think this time I explored that a little more.” Duality and juxtaposition has been a recurring element in Robyn’s music, but it’s done to a much fuller extent on Honey. “It’s all in the rhythm I think, not just the music but how you put the words together,” she says. “Whatever’s catchy about a song is as much about the rhythm as it is about the melody and I think there’s certain scales, certain harmonies, notes you can be in that are more open than others, you know? They kind of embrace something sad and happy at the same time. I always want that in a song: I want that kind of complexity if possible.”


fter this initial period of writing in her own studio, Honey’s recording was spread out over sessions in Stockholm, London, Paris, New York and Ibiza. And while Robyn played a far more integral role in the production side this time around, she also worked with longtime collaborator Klas Åhlund as well as Joseph Mount of Metronomy, Adam Bainbridge (Kindness) and others.

Many of Robyn’s songs are written in second person, directly addressing a ‘you’ figure. There’s a difference, she says, between singing about someone and singing to them, and many of the songs on Honey interrogate a feeling in a more conceptual way; themes of happiness and sharing love with others. Themes which, Robyn admits, may seem “a little hippie-dippie” to some.

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“I think songs with a message are usually not something that I feel comfortable with, but on this record there actually are some of those songs, which I haven’t written in a long time. I don’t think that I ever thought I would write songs like that again. I’m conscious of feeling pretentious and nostalgic, which are things I think are just in the way of the good stuff. But on this record there’s some songs like that – when there’s a ‘you’, when I’m talking to someone, it is sometimes other people, and sometimes it’s myself.” Pop music has always been at its best when it leans into emotion without fear of judgment. It’s understandable how that kind of vulnerability could be crucial to the way an artist like Robyn writes. So much so, in fact, that Joseph Mount has admitted he had to adjust to Robyn’s “emotional transparency” while the pair were working together – acknowledging that it’s an integral part of how she creates. “There’s no space for pop music to be pretentious,” Robyn explains. “If it gets pretentious it gets kind of boring. So I think pop music is amazing that way – you can say really powerful things. I like when the music tells you something too, when it’s not just about the melody and lyrics, when it’s about the vibe and the way the music moves you. That’s the best, when that happens.” Part of that power, too, is the way that personal impact is contextual from person to person. The songs across Robyn’s oeuvre are impactful exactly because of the way they feel as equally relevant dancing in the club or crying alone in a bedroom, and many of the songs on Honey feel similar. “The best way of making someone feel something is to leave space for them to feel their own feelings, and not mine,” she says. “When I was growing up and I listened to Prince or Janet Jackson or whoever, the amazing thing – that I still love about music – is when I listen to a song and I feel like they put their finger on something that I recognise, that I felt, but I didn’t know how to explain. I think that’s amazing. Like, ‘Oh, I know that feeling, I know exactly what that feels like, I just haven’t thought about it that way’. It’s the same with books or films. You mirror yourself in other people, and I think music is a way of mirroring yourself.” That desire to be universally relatable tends to be scoffed at as insincere or inauthentic by pop’s detractors. But, it must be asked, what is more sincere, more vulnerable, more authentic than fully submerging yourself in the extremes of your emotions, being transparent as possible in the hopes that listeners will connect and relate to their own experiences?


ithout sounding hyperbolic, it’s difficult to capture exactly how powerful an impact Robyn’s music has had in the lives of her listeners. It’s been a long eight years for her fans, waiting with bated breath for news of new material. When an early incarnation of Honey’s title track debuted on an episode of Girls in 2017, the ensuing, fan-driven #RELEASEHONEYDAMMIT campaign caught on like wildfire. In the clip for ‘Missing U’, Robyn sits in a hotel room listening to voicemails recordings that her fans have left, explaining what her music has meant to them. Many of Robyn’s fans are queer – “Robyn is like, the literal soundtrack of me coming out of the closet” explains one voicemail. Later, she turns up at a fan-organised Robyn party in Brooklyn – one that’s been running, independently for eight years. “It’s amazing,” she says when I ask what it’s like knowing how pivotal a role her songs have played for her fans. “For me, visiting that party was a way of revisiting this empty space or radio silence that I’ve been in. I found out about this party they’d been throwing in Brooklyn for years and it was just amazing that they’d kept going, that they’d built this community of people who kept coming every time they did it. Coming there was familiar; it was like closing the gap. “This was a place I could meet people that have supported me throughout this whole period where I’ve been gone. I’ve been in rough patches, I’ve been in great patches. A physical space for that time. They’ve done things and I’ve done things and there’s been this amazing connection between us throughout this whole thing. “Seeing their vibe, their community – there’s a lot of things that have happened at that party that have nothing to do with me. Just being a part of what their thing is, is really nice.” What: Honey is out now



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As A Bird Acclaimed indie-popper Julia Holter tells Allison Gallagher that writing her new album Aviary was a fresh kind of freedom


or her fifth album Aviary, Julia Holter took a turn away from her much-lauded 2015 record Have You In My Wilderness. Here, she trades the baroque pop of her previous album for a record that stretches out, experiments and often goes to some complicated places sonically. On Aviary, Holter rejects the binary approach that dissonant or harsh sounds can’t create something beautiful, and tracks like the album’s first single ‘I Shall Love 2’ sit with a kind of ambiguous tension that makes for a compelling, if occasionally challenging, listen. “With all my records I feel like there’s a different approach every time; they’re all very different projects,” explains Holter. “None of them are ever me trying to go in a specific trajectory for the whole rest of my life. Wilderness felt like a specific journey for me. I had written ‘Betsy On The Roof’ and ‘Sea Calls Me Home’ many years prior, and I wanted to make a whole record to work with those songs.” In addition to the poppy nature of Wilderness, the album also saw Holter lean away from other tendencies – to experiment with text, and have extended forms that the sound dictates. With Aviary, however, Holter says she let her subconscious guide the album’s composition – beginning with what she calls “cathartic solo improvisations” at home. “This record is more kind of letting myself do the thing I’ve done in the past to a greater extent; being even freer in a way. I don’t usually set out with a really specific goal in mind. It’s usually more that the form of the record kind of emerges through writing and so in this case, I was following the sound… I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I just started improvising.” While the recordings started at home in a relatively barebones manner, the songs on Aviary are lush and textural, filled out with strings and brass arrangements Holter wrote and took to session musicians. “I record things at home which are sometimes demos but sometimes get used in final recordings. In the case of this record, and most records, the thing that happens is I’ve recorded things at home, we go into the studio, I put up charts for the musicians. In the past it’s been Cole MGN. This time Kenny Gilmore joined us too, and we’re there in the studio recording the musicians.

“There’s these distinctions between what’s good and bad, and what is consonant and dissonant. I somehow made these loose connections in my mind; like there’s an ambiguity in certain music where it sounds really good, but also really harsh.” Holter points to Aviary track ‘Everyday Is An Emergency’ as an example. “There’s kind of a shrieking sound I really like in it. It’s kind of painful, but I really enjoy it.” Holter is known for a level of intertextuality in her songs, enmeshing references to other works and time periods. ‘I Would Rather See’ borrows from a Sappho poem translated by Anne Carson; ‘Why Sad Song’ is an English phonetic translation of a song by Nepalese Buddhist nun Choying Drolma. Musically, there is a juxtapositional collage between old and new – with futurist synths sitting alongside elements of medieval chamber music.





One track on the record is entitled ‘Colliegere’, a Latin word which means to collect – Holter explains that she sees her writing in a similar way, a process of collecting different materials. “A lot of the stuff I’m reading while I’m writing, I kind of just get ideas when I come across them. With this record, I did seek out this book, The Book of Memory, which I had read in the past because it felt like it was applying to what I was doing. “So, often I’ll remember something and re-read it. The Book of Memory came to mind, this book I had read, the word “aviary” came into my mind, and then I thought about this book which talks about the way that bird cages were seen in the middle ages as symbols of storage of memory. “I’ll be reading things and realise they resonate with what I’m doing. I think of music making and art making as kind of translations.”

Julia Holter photo by Dicky Bahto

“There’s parts that are more improvised than others, but with every record it’s different. I tend to go home after the studio musicians and record myself at home. I recorded most of my synth parts at home. The beginning and end is me recording at home; it’s like a studio recording sandwich.”

think is right – Holter seeks through the textures and sounds on Aviary to fi nd room for ambiguity, for subtlety, for sitting with what isn’t immediately clear. Voices swirl together, and it can be hard to immediately identify concrete melodies. Holter uses this to make connections to the world around us. Can sitting with that ambiguity form an active resistance to the cacophony that surrounds us? Can disrupting the hierarchies of history, language and musical form create something that instead communicates empathy and connection?


What: Aviary is out now

Holter took the album’s title from a passage in a piece by writer Etel Adnan– “I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds”. At a time when there is so much going on – so many people screaming about what they

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Take It On The Road Allison Gallagher and laidback guitar maestro Kurt Vile chew over the nature of his reputation as a congenial slacker


urt Vile is a traveller. Similar to the record that preceded it, the writing and recording process for new album Bottle It In was spread out over several years and locales – including recording sessions in Vile’s hometown Philadelphia, along with several stops in Los Angeles and Connecticut. “Honestly, I just travel to play music all the time anyway,” says Vile of the album’s geographically diverse recording. “A gig will take me somewhere, and I’ll stop somewhere if it’s close. Playing a show gets me in a certain place where I’m more one with music, and my guitar, rather than blocking out the outside world. I’ve found that my favourite sessions for this record are the ones I came from a gig and was just in the studio for a couple days. “I’m kind of used to traveling. When I’m traveling it’s usually related to music, and it’s like being on an airplane. You’re moving, but your mind goes to all sorts of places. Traveling is its own place for me. One day I’d like to record in my house, and it does feel natural to be at home, but it’s a little harder to get in the zone there.” While often inaccurately branded with labels like “slacker”, Vile actually comes across as the sort of person who is constantly staying creatively active. The recording process for Bottle It In, for instance, was interspersed with the recording of his collaborative album with Courtney Barnett, opening for Neil Young in front of 90,000 people in Quebec, and the constant hum of touring for b’lieve I’m goin’ down. “When I’m moving anyway, playing gigs, that puts me into high gear so I like to capitalise on those times where I’m more confident.” Lyrically, Bottle It In fixates around geography and place, both in regards to the physical world and the abstract, and the way those two overlap. Opening track ‘Loading Zones’ is situated in Vile’s native Philadelphia but contains such ruminations as “how beautiful to take a bite out of the world”. In ‘Bassackwards’, Vile talks about being at the beach or on the ground, “circa planet earth”, before taking a sojourn to the moon – presented in a way that doesn’t suggest any discrepancy between the reality of these two places. The kind of tension that comes with that feels apparent too, and Vile acknowledges that he uses music as a conduit for expressing those feelings. Songs like ‘Mutinies’ directly address the anxiety of modern life – “The mutinies in my head keep stayin’ / I take pills and pills try and make them go away / Small computer in my hand exploding / I think things were way easier with a regular telephone.” Musically, Bottle It In sees Vile returning to his psychedelic roots and experimenting with sound while retaining the melodic elements


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WHERE I’M MORE ONE WITH MUSIC, AND MY GUITAR.” present in his more recent work. Songs like ‘Bassackwards’, with its nearly 10-minute run time, are a kind of marriage of these styles, a track that at once feels poppy and sprawling – it’s easy to get lost in these songs. “I get nostalgic about the old times while still trying to move forward with confidence. A good combination of the two is ideal,” explains Vile. Part of that nostalgia is the “weird keyboards” that create the sonic backdrop for tracks like ‘Bottle It In’ and ‘Cold Was The Wind’, harkening back to Vile’s early lo-fi recordings. “In my earlier records, those weird keyboards and synths were the things to use at home so that your lo-to-mid-fidelity recordings sounded interesting. I like that stuff anyway, and they make it sound cooler. Lately I’ve been surrounded by a lot of my old keyboards. I moved to a new house with my family, and I had room for all that stuff. A lot of those ideas were conceived at home.” Like much of his work, Vile took a collaborative approach for Bottle It In. “I’ve always been inspired by all kinds of people and I’m lucky to have kind of accumulated them,” he explains. The album’s engineering saw him record with is previous collaborators such as Rob Schnapf – who recorded ‘Pretty Pimpin’ and ‘Wild Imagination’ from b’lieve i’m goin’ down and who Vile describes as kind of like a father figure. Peter Katis also returned, and Shawn Everett – who Vile hadn’t worked with before in the past – was brought on for another professional perspective. “You gotta get multi-dimensional,” explains Vile about the process. Alongside Vile’s long-time band The Violators, other collaborators included Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa on the title track, and the iconic Kim Gordon contributing guitars to tracks such as ‘Mutinies’. With the album’s release and the wave of touring that will likely follow it, for the seemingly constantly-productive Vile, learning to balance all the activity with time to relax is becoming a more and more pivotal aspect of his life. Kurt Vile photo by Jo McCaughley



“I like [it] when I’m just chilling at home. I enjoy just watching fucking TV at night, you know? I gotta have it all. I feel like that’s my new philosophy – take it mellow when I can because I know I’m going to have to start running around again.” Where: Enmore Theatre When: Monday April 15 And: Bottle It In is out now




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The Return Erin Christie talks reformation and recalibration with the master of folk stylings himself, Mr. Matt Corby




att Corby is a musician without equal. Over his long and varied career, Corby has crafted a sound that is his and his alone; a striking mix of folk stylings, haunting vocals, and uplifting, deeply felt lyrics that have amassed him a small army of loyal supporters.

It usually takes me about two years to make an album. In another two years who knows what I’ll be listening to or what I’ll be placing value on musically, or creatively. It’s kind of fun ... As long as my skills are at a point where I can get the actual sound and the point across, it doesn’t really matter, you know what I mean?

That’s never been more clear than on his new record, Rainbow Valley. It is quite clearly the performer’s magnum opus: the kind of bold, heartfelt document of life that he has been building up to for his entire career.

Is it at all intimidating to share something with your fans that’s quite different to what you’ve done before? MC: Oh, it’s so scary. It’s always scary. Anyone that says that they’re not scared – kudos to them. In this day and age, to be quite fair, it’s probably one of the harshest social and cultural environments to be doing things in a public manner. Any sort of artists, I think they’re probably criticised and judged more harshly than in the past. This is the way of the world, the way it is on social media – it’s a global conversation now.

The BRAG: Do you think you could talk me through the process of writing ‘No Ordinary Life’? Matt Corby: I mean, we started pretty simply. We just started with some chords: it sounded kind of cool, and so we thought long and hard about melody. We had a couple of ideas and none of them sounded good. But eventually we sort of came across this whimsical melody: kinda like [singing] ‘Da-da-da-da’. It was like, ‘Oh, that’s almost kind of so Disney it works.’ And once the melody was cracked, the song pretty much wrote itself from that point – we were just in the room. You’ve said already that Willy Wonka inspired the song, but I was wondering if there were any pivotal events that spurred the creative process? MC: No, not really. When we started making the record I’d been experimenting with sounds and songs for about a year. I think when we got into the studio I was well practiced and ready to see how far I could push my ideas. In a way this whole album is a bit of an exercise in cool song-writing. It’s been two years since you released your last album; what’s one way your music has evolved in that time? Would that be the new sound and the new instruments, would you say? MC: I mean not really, I just think every album is going to be different each time. I’ve never really got to the point where I’m like, ‘Oh yeah this is my vibe.’ I don’t really understand my vibe, so every time I come across another thing that sounds cool, a song gets made, and when you’ve sort of made a couple of songs with a somewhat similar vibe it sort of gives you a bit more direction. So then you kind of finish off the whole record. But yeah, I don’t think I’ll make another album that sounds like this. I think I went pretty ham on the writing ... I was very conscious in a sense to try and ... How do I put this? ... To try and make it as agreeable as possible, and not in like a blasé sort of way, but in a way that ... I don’t even know. It’s so hard to try and explain the things you do. I do the music and then I’m like, ‘Oh, how do I talk about it? Matt Corby photo by Matt Johnson thebrag.com


That’s always daunting because there’s always a possibility of oh, everyone might hate this, or everyone might really, really like it, or it might end up being somewhere in between. You basically have to lose your expectations on all of it, and basically pretend like no one else in the world exists in a weird way. You just have to be okay with putting it out there and not becoming a nervous wreck because of it. I think it’s very easy for all humans to go down like a selfcriticising rabbit hole when they’re trying to do things in the public. And people tend to pay more attention to the negative stuff as well, I think. I used to do that a lot. If someone was like that, I’d be like, ‘Fuck, shit’, and I’d dwell on it for a little while and then realise that it shouldn’t affect me. That should be their own thing, and they can hate it, it’s fine. You know, it shouldn’t be a real negative reflection on who I am as a person, it’s just opposing their current tastes. Like, there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no point to getting upset. Do you think your resilience has grown across your career? MC: Big time. Every now and then I get a little bit like, ‘Oh, what the fuck am I doing to myself?’ and is this even worth doing – like, am I even on the right track here? But then there are days when it’s like, ‘Cool, I’m just happy doing what I want to do, and I’ve worked so hard as a musician over such a long period of time now that I know it well, and I’m nowhere near mastering anything but I’m at a really happy point with creating freely and not being too judgmental on myself. Where: Hordern Pavilion When: Friday March 29 And: Rainbow Valley is out now



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Facing The Future Belinda Quinn talks to Bill Ryder-Jones about wanting to stay relatively unknown and using music to ease tension


t’s ten past ten in the evening in northern England and I’ve just interrupted Bill Ryder-Jones mid-chat with a woman at his local bar. “[She just] left, so thanks very fucking much, you,” he says, laughing. It’s like this for the rest of our conversation: the composer, record producer, and ex-Corals co-founder moves between moments of disgruntled cheekiness and enthusiastic verbosity.

That said, he’s reluctant to give away too much about his new release Yawn. Ryder-Jones senses it’ll be a work slow to unfold; one that’ll take years to peel back the layers on. “I’ve spent a lot of time writing lyrics and melodies that weren’t instant – that was the whole point. I just didn’t want to come out and have something that was innocent and easy to understand,” he explains. In Yawn, Ryder-Jones’s lyricisms document everything from instances of psychotic paranoia in a lover’s bed, failed relationships, to an ode to his mother. “The only thing I’d say about the record is that it’s meant to be funny in spite of its obvious melancholy,” he says. Nonetheless, it’s tricky to decipher which lyrics are tongue-in-cheek and which are Ryder-Jones’s more earnest expressions of vulnerability. Maybe blurring those lines is intentional; a means of self-preservation for the 35-year-old artist.

The past few years haven’t necessarily stirred Ryder-Jones’s urge to write; his motivation usually comes from some form of hardship or loss. He’s been producing, – “[I] stopped drinking for a bit, split up with a new partner, did some gigs,” he adds – and receiving invitations to his friend’s weddings (six, to be exact) – weddings he assures he doesn’t attend. Asked why he went with Yawn for the title, he’s uncertain. “I’m always tired. There’s one,” he contemplates. Ryder-Jones liked the word, the way it looked, he says, before adding that sometimes it feels like writing music isn’t enough. “We’re clearly living in an age of apathy, mass apathy, because everyone’s striving for contentment rather than excellence. And I’m not content with being content,” he says. Boredom is Ryder-Jones’s enemy; it’s when he claims he does “silly” things. “And I also thought it was quite funny, you make an album and you basically tell people that it’s quite boring. That was the thing that tickled me, the challenge to journalists to say, ‘This album’s actually quite slow and a little bit boring.’ Yes. I fucking know it is. And I beat you to it.”



When prodding and poking at its contents, he stays resistant. I assure him I’m trying to determine what he’d like his audiences to know about the record. He responds quickly. “Oh, no,” he says, “I don’t want them to know anything.”

And he’s right. On a first listen, Yawn’s meandering oft six-minute-long tracks all merge into one long wash out. But it’s one of those sneakier records, where you soon feel a desire to dip back into its brooding sonic waves.

Originally filled with 12 tracks each around the eight-minute mark, his label Domino suggested he shorten the album a little. “I’m the most stubborn of arseholes … I was like, ‘Well that’s probably a good idea, but you know, fuck you,’” he says, noting feeling like Morrissey. “They did say, ‘Could you make it shorter?’ And I was like,” – he makes an over-dramatic cry – “you fucking bastards!”


Earlier in his career, Ryder-Jones shied away from commercial success, opting out of playing guitar in The Coral to write film scores, work as a session musician for acts like The Arctic Monkeys, and produce the records of musicians he respected in a studio that sits conveniently around the corner from his house. His father’s a gardener, and his ma’s a cleaner. The physical labour and the long hours are so hard on his mother’s body he says she “takes to bed” for three days out of each month. “You know, if I made my career a bit more like that, I’d be fucking flying. But I’m too modest and I’m too scared of being seen as someone who wants the world; who wants to be massive, you know,” he says.

Bill Ryder-Jones photo by Ki Price

I question him on whether the track ‘No One’s Trying To Kill You’ is about personal paranoia. “Them lines are things that people could do with being told in Britain and across the world – that there is no great fucking evil that wants to take over your land. And you know, maybe there is, but it isn’t any different than it’s been for millennia,” he explains. “But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Put it out there and see if people think I’m saying something political or sexual or just moaning about me fucking life like usual.”

Asked what it is about making music that brings him back to the medium after all these years, he takes a moment to think. “When I sit down at night with my guitar usually in my boxer shorts, it’s because I don’t feel good, you know? And I don’t have anything else to do. I don’t take drugs anymore. I don’t really drink all that much, and I don’t have a partner, and I don’t really like Netflix.” Music is a form of world building for him; it garners a sense of control. “The world is silly isn’t it? And it doesn’t make sense. So you make your own world. And sometimes I get quite angry about the world and angry about how I am and whatever, and it eases the tension,” he says. But although he’s a little disgruntled, for the most part, RyderJones is quite happy with the way things are going. “My rent’s taken care of and I have enough money for cigarettes and coffee. I have a small group of people who really believe in me, and that’s what I wouldn’t give up for the world. Everything’s fine in my world. You’ve got to keep telling yourself that.” What: Yawn is out through Domino now



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Getting Real Matthew Gravolin from Hellions met Geordie Gray in her apartment to discuss the bands’ latest album Rue, finding comfort in philosophical pessimism, and the all-encompassing power of love.


he inception of Hellions’ fourth effort, Rue, was no easy feat: the band were forced to travel back to their studio and second home in Thailand to complete the record no less than three times. “It was the better part of two years,” explains the band’s Matthew Gravolin. “Three of those months were in the studio – which is insane for us. We’ve only ever done one month per record before. So that was crazy.” Though it has been a turbulent few years for the Sydney quartet, they have arisen victorious. Rue is a heart-rending, affecting, and ambitious body of work, exploring themes of grief, depression, childhood, self-loathing, and personal and societal neurosis with a careful hand. It is a record that challenges its audience to think – but perhaps more importantly than that, it encourages them to care. THE BRAG: Talk me through the writing process of this album. Where did you find your

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inspiration? Were there any pivotal events that spurred the creative process? Matthew Gravolin: Musically, I tend to look back rather than around the present. So we were listening to Queen and things that have come and gone, more so than anything contemporary. I think it’s important for our music to be different; it needs to stand out. For it to be valid for me, it needs to be different from anything going on now. I had a bout of… I don’t want to call it depression exactly, but I struggled with anxiety. A deep and lingering unhappiness, I guess. That was hugely influential on the lyrical side of things. I turned to philosophy. I lost myself in reading. In particular philosophical pessimism was a big thing for me. I found a comfort in it. It’s the strangest thing, generally; it’s quite dark. It helped me and that showed in the writing. Could you talk to me a bit about the characters and themes that populate the album? MG: So with the opening track, you’ve got Mr.

Blue, who is referred to in ‘Blueberry Odyssey’. The verses are spoken by Mr. Blue himself and the chorus is spoken from the perspective of himself as a child. The reason behind him being called Mr. Blue is sort a satirical… You know, he’s sad because he’s “blue”. And from a childlike perspective that is the most obvious way to express that [sadness]. It’s how I wanted Mr. Blue to be communicated – like what would a 5-year-old say to a person that’s carrying themselves this way? It would be so bewildering to a child to see that when you still have all your youth intact. We’ve got a ringmaster that announces side B of the record in the form of Beth Morris, whose stage name is Luna. She is a personification of anxiety. That character is basically my inner anxiety and all my stress and worry portrayed as a woman. There’s also a constant Jekyll and Hyde battle; more specifically a guilt versus a guiding light.




Did you catch yourselves comparing this record to previous Hellions’ records throughout the process of writing and after the fact? MG: Yeah, it was so scary. We’ve never had that pressure before. The last record, Opera Oblivia was our first successful record. So it was weird this time. There was a pressure that we’ve never experienced before. We had glowing reviews, mostly, which we were so lucky to have received. Going into this one was like, ‘Okay, how come that one did so good, and how are we gonna do that again?’

At times we deal with things a little too gingerly. There are important conversations to be had and we can’t be too precious about it. Or else you’re not going to be able to spread your message. The band has always seemed to push an agenda of mental health support. Did you feel the need to speak of this due to personal experiences within the band? Matt: Absolutely. Anthony [Caruso], our drummer had some struggles himself in 2014 and that was really eye-opening for me. My perspective of mental health changed massively after that. I’d had some unidentified feelings up to that point that I didn’t really understand; that I hid from. What happened with Anthony forced me to look that in the eyes and discuss it. It was becoming something that was increasingly more difficult to talk about on a day to day basis.

They’re warring throughout the whole thing. The guilt shows itself in ‘Harsh Light’ and in ‘X (Mwah)’, which was more of a suicide note. The guilt really comes to the forefront in that. The opposition of Jekyll manifests itself most distinctly in the title track ‘Rue’ – which is just a humanitarian anthem. It’s all our well-wishing for the world. What do you hope people take away from ‘Rue’? MG: Rue is a commentary – it’s a truth. It’s not a handbook for anybody. If there is something that somebody has to take from it, I hope it’s that you’re not alone. Especially in our generation, it’s just rife with mental illness, in a way that things have never been before. The way we struggle is insane. The most important thing that we can impart is that you’re not alone. You’ve stated previously that “the tracks are divided into the pessimistic and humanitarian sides of life.” Did you consciously set out to make an album that explores this divide, or did it just unfurl itself organically over time? MG: It just happened. When we set out to make a thebrag.com

record, we don’t set any linear [story] or else the record refl ects that. We want to colour outside the box. I’m not sure how that came about specifi cally. Again, philosophical pessimism acted as a source of comfort for me, as some rational explanation for where we are and how we’re here. It’s essentially that we’re not meant to be here; we’re mistakes and our consciousness is far too high for us to enjoy an entirety of a single day of our lives. Which sounds really morose, and it is. I think for myself and for a lot of people, we’ve got our anxiety and depression and self-consciousness. They’re the three things we’re riddled with every day. But there’s more than that: it even comes down to minor things like financial struggles and maintaining a relationship and all those sorts of things. Is it scary to share something so personal? MG: It is, but we’ve become accustomed to it at this point. I guess music is not any good unless it’s brutally honest and personal. it has to be that way.

Hellions seem to have built something of a community. Is that something the band is aware of? If so, was it part of the plan or did it happen naturally over the years? MG: It wasn’t a part of the plan but it’s so sick. Who knows where they come from but they’re there and it’s so lovely to have that. I don’t think that’s something that’s exclusive to us but we’re so fortunate to have people that are so loyal. I hate the word fan. It’s sort of implying a hierarchy. Why do you feel like your fans have such a personal and emotional attachment to you as a band and individuals? MG: I like to think it’s because we’re honest. That would be the nicest thing for me if that were that case. What are your core values? MG: Love. That’s it. That’s the thing that binds us. It’s the only thing that matters. What: Rue is out now


From that point onwards it was important for us to use what little power we had to raise awareness. It made me brave with my lyrics; made me more open about the way I was feeling, even down to the scary stuff, the suicidal thoughts. It only helps others to be more honest about it and that’s always been an important thing to Hellions.


Recently, there’s been a political shift in the music landscape. Do you feel the need to be more aware or cautious of what it is you put out into the world? MG: Yeah, indeed. You’ve got to pay attention to the social climate. I think most of it now is bang on, a lot of the new movements and schools of thought are moving in the right direction and it’s a beautiful thing.

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“My whole life has become much more tranquil.”

“I’d rather be the mambo guy than, for example, someone who has to lock themselves in darkness.” singers, I think James Brown was there, and Diana Ross … I was much more a spectator than I was a performer.” Although Bega has lived an enriched life of travel, in recent years, he says he noticed a spiritual lack in his life. “Even though I’ve made a good living and from the outside I would say I’ve lived a life of praise, of love, and I had a fantastic family, cars and money, and all these things, this success – things that people work so hard for, right? There was still something dawning on me,” he says. “I was always trying to look for spiritual truth. And well, I couldn’t really find a complete truth that would satisfy me,” Bega continues. Around three or four years ago, he started steeping himself in Christian literature. Bega repented, got baptised and gave his life over to the good Lord. “But it’s a process, it’s not something that happens in one day. It can be quite gruesome sometimes. I would say it’s a battle between the flesh and the spirit you know. The flesh wants things that are not good for the spirit, and vice versa.” When asked how he perceives the raunchy lyrics of ‘Mambo No. 5’ after his spiritual awakening, Bega says the song was actually the catalyst behind his journey to Christ. “It was a portrayal of my life, right? The ‘Mambo No. 5’ was Lou Bega in the year 1998.” He talks me through the lyrics, picking them apart piece-by-piece, woman-by-woman. “So many girls right?” he says. We arrive at the line Bega wants me focus on: “So, what can I do? I really beg you, my Lord.”

The Mambo From Above Lou Bega explains to Belinda Quinn how writing ‘Mambo No. 5’ led him to Jesus Christ


ou Bega is feeling lucky. And we’re not talking ‘getting lucky’ lucky, an act the self-described ‘gigolo’ has documented so often throughout his Latin American dance-pop oeuvre. The Sicilian-Ugandan who wrote ‘Mambo No. 5 (a Little Bit of…)’ – the ’90s hit that saw him lusting over nine women – has found Christ. “My whole life has become much more tranquil,” says Bega of his newfound faith. “There’s a peace in me now that wasn’t there before in my private life.” A lot has changed since 1998. Back then, when the German resident penned ‘Mambo No. 5’ at just 21 years old, he wasn’t feeling so hopeful about the prosperity of his career. “The first sponsors were not really promising at that time,” he says. And yet the track would go on to become 1999’s best-selling single in Australia, remaining at number-one in the ARIA charts for a sturdy eight weeks. Recut from a 1949 jazz instrumental by Cuban musician Dámaso Pérez Prado (which subsequently led to a seven-year copyright trial), the track was used as the theme music for Channel 4’s international cricket coverage for not just one, but seven (long) years, and was crowned number six in Rolling Stone’s ‘20 most annoying songs’ poll. Bega has since toured almost every nook and cranny of the earth, but one memory stands out to him. In the middle of 2001’s Sopot Festival in Poland with UB40, the Royal Moroccan Air Force dropped by to pick up Bega to play a show for the country’s king at the time. “Ali [of UB40] was just so funny – he made me laugh a lot, so I didn’t want to leave Poland,” says Bega. Alas, he had no choice. Bega was flown out to Morocco, picked up by around eight limousines and driven into the desert. “There were pitched tents, but these tents were as high as sky scrapers,” claims Bega. “There were cakes maybe 20 metres high. I’ve seen princesses, and other

“You can already see that there is a relationship with the Lord I had at that time,” he explains. I interrupt to question if he believes he was really asking for direction. “Yeah. I ask for direction and repentance that I really didn’t have at that time, and it is amazing. I wasn’t aware, but the lord told me 20 years later, he said, ‘Hey, look at your own song.’ So I love the song because it already foreshadows my walk without me knowing it. I was really the one writing it, myself, while a higher power already knew my path – how could that be?” He breaks to laugh. In a 2010 Euromaxx interview, which was conducted at a time when Bega was a new father and on the cusp of a breakup with his management, he describes himself as impatient, happy-go-lucky, out of balance. “I mean we live with our traits, right? They are part of our being, but I’m a much more rounded out guy now than I was in 2010,” Bega says of how he feels today. His albums are full of lyricisms that are so direct to the point of feeling absurd. In 2010’s Free Again, he sings of drooling over a woman he’s met online in ‘Mommy Is Hot’ while brash trumpets swirl; he concludes the track feeling duped when he meets the woman in real life: “she was made by photoshop,” sings Bega in his raspy droll. And ‘Boyfriend’ sees him crack out the lines, “I love your tongue and your bum bum … but I hate your boyfriend.” Asked if honesty has always been important for Bega when he’s writing music, he says, “For someone who has no interest in truth, truth doesn’t mean much, especially in our current political times,” he laughs, “Honesty is not something that is valued highly enough. A direct approach was always the way that worked best. Beating around the bush wasn’t the style I chose.” Growing up with a mixed heritage allowed Bega to avoid being pigeonholed into any particular genre. “On the American continent when people always guess that I’m a Latino, Cuban or Haitian or whatever, I tell them that I’m Italian, African and raised in Germany and that’s a bit much for them sometimes,” he explains. “It did help me to not fall into a certain trap of whether you only see yourself as a rap or RnB artist, for example. Or if you’re only Italian, you only have to sing Italian folk songs. I was free to pick whatever liked.” Music, Bega says, began as his means of self-healing. “I love to write absolutely positive stuff, and I want to bring joy to people and make them smile,” he says. “But I think I wanted to make myself smile first, you know? And as a child and as young teenager I had my depressions and my fair share of darkness… so I think I wanted to make myself feel and be joyful.” I add that genre can be powerful in the way that it affects an artist’s personal experience of the music they’re making. “Yeah, for sure, especially with all these suicides that we’ve seen in the last years in the music business. It has a lot to do with the stuff you bring out as well,” he says. “I’d rather be the mambo guy than, for example, someone who has to lock themselves in darkness. Not that I don’t like other genres, but for your own health, I think it’s better.” What: So Pop 2019 With: Aqua, B*Witched, Vengaboys When: Friday February 1 Where: Qudos Bank Arena

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No Longer Angry Trophy Eyes And The Great Power of Change by Bianca Davino


n 2016, change reverberated throughout Australia’s heavy music scene. Longtime heroes assumed the position of seasoned legends, uncharted musical territory was explored, and those who’d spent years carving hard yards caused hysterics.

Sweeping up the year in a flurry of circle pit-inducing catharsis and fury, Trophy Eyes captured the imagination of a scene ravenous for bleary-eyed heartache dressed in warm yet dissonant guitars and arm-swinging choruses. 2016’s Chemical Miracle chronicled a band who had come of age travelling the world in search of recognition, milestones and glory, only to realise that growing up occurs in the midst of everyday realities. After spending years gathering legions of fans in Australia’s hardcore scene, Trophy Eyes were catapulted to a new level of impact. Once a favourite of local clubs and hardcore venues, the band made their way to the stages of the country’s biggest festivals and global audiences who revelled in their confident glory.

To say their most recent effort The American Dream, released late this year, was highly anticipated is a sore understatement. Upon the release of lead single ‘You Can Count On Me’, fans were thrown an anthemic curveball – a symphonic cacophony of gang vocals, mellow verses and shredding lead guitars. It was fan’s first introduction into something truly ambitious and triumphant. “Going into the recording of The American Dream was easier for us, because with Chemical Miracle we took a bit of a risk sound wise with not writing a conventional ‘pop punk’ or ‘hardcore’ record,” explains bassist Jeremy Winchester. “After taking a chance writing a record like that I think we went into recording thinking, ‘Oh now we can do whatever we like.’ I didn’t feel any pressure: we wanted to push it even further.” The American Dream is a mission statement – a doctrine for those navigating the trials and tribulations of growing up. It’s a catalogue of grief, loss, and depression, peppered with hopeful sentiments that promise the eventual joys of love and finding home. Each lyric is ready to be tattooed on the limbs of angsty 20-something fans, whilst every guitar line and vocal hook is tailor-made to sung in amongst crowds of thousands. Heavy bands can often find themselves at a Catch-22 when it comes to changing their sound – rely on formula and run the risk of falling victim to being “generic”; expand and the phrase “sell-out” gets a throw around. “People are always passionate about their favourite bands but your favourite bands write music because they want to,” says frontman John Floreani. “I think when people kind of understand that, it will be easier to take in that regard. But we have noticed it’s been mostly positive. Obviously, some little bits of negativity have occurred here and there from some people, but it’s welcomed. You’re entitled to your own opinion. It’s what makes us all different and special and unique. We celebrate it. We don’t take bad criticism badly. It’s all a part of the job.”


nthemic lead single and album opener ‘Autumn’ is a monumental event. It’s lyrical pure content: saccharineleaning vocals and delayed guitars will satiate the palates of Aussie scene kids who’ve grown up amongst the glory of local legends like Break Even as much as they have U2. Tracks like ‘Something Bigger Than This’ and ‘I Can Feel It Calling’ are odes rock anthems of yesteryear. Lyrically, Trophy Eyes’ discography plays out like a narrative of growing up – for frontman Floreani, The American Dream is the next sequence. “The best thing about music is that you can play whatever you want. It can be as expressive or as creative as you want. Trophy Eyes, in a lyrical sense, is a large story: you can kind of follow this timeline of myself and all of us I guess. “Lyrically, you can see where we were and how we felt. You can kind of follow those lyrics. Now this new music is out. Well, it sounds new, but it’s a different part of the story: it’s like a sequel to when we closed the old book and started this new story.” If you’ve seen a Trophy Eyes show recently, you’d have noticed the

thebrag.com thebrag.com

absence of double-kick drum beats and mosh calls, found on their debut Mend, Move On and early EPs, traded for huge singalongs. “It felt like it wasn’t portraying us as people anymore, that sort of music we were writing. We aren’t angry kids anymore. We have all matured. We have grown up and that’s the way our music came out naturally, so it was definitely good to get some closure on those past experiences. “For now we aren’t going to play the old stuff – but in the future who knows? We might get angry again.”


ith Trophy Eyes, and contemporaries like Hellions, Ocean Grove and Polaris assuming headliner status, it truly feels like a new era of the scene has been ushered in.

“After Soundwave, playing festivals like Unify Gathering, bands have been bought together, like us, Hellions and Ocean Grove. We’re playing side by the side with older bands like Amity and Parkway – Hellions played just before them at Unify this year and brought the same energy,” explains Trophy Eyes’ guitarist Kevin Cross. Fans involved can vouch for the sentiment that the Australian hardcore scene is one of the world’s most vocal, tightly bound and dynamic music scenes. There’s a sense of camaraderie that comes with that involvement. Although, admittedly, there’s a darker side to that connection too, one that often come with a sense of confine and a pressure to fit in. “We have always [encouraged audiences] to wear whatever they want; to dress how they like; to dance how they like, Everybody is welcome at our shows and I think the whole thing of being too cool is a shitty thing. “The reason there’s even a golden era is because bands get shared around. That’s what I think. It’s like going to a gym and finding somebody that doesn’t know how to use the equipment. Help that person and try to make a positive change. People who like heavy music want to see their favourite bands flourish and more bands like that to come into the scene instead of belittling people and hurting their feelings because they don’t dance right or weren’t there on the right day. That’s stupid. If you want your band to have more golden era’s invite everybody. “When experimentation is met with a positive attitude and gets kinda pushed forward: that’s when you see that kind of change.” With a number eight debut on the ARIA Charts, their biggest headline tour to date lined up and a headlining slot at Unify Gathering on the way, Trophy Eyes have clearly carved a path like no other for themselves. The American Dream is the perfect culmination of familiarity and pushed boundaries – it’s an unabashedly confident statement that will inspire a generation to come. “People can take whatever they want from The American Dream. Music is subjective. Whatever they feel is exactly what we want them to take from it. “Personally I think I’d like some people to leave with just something they know is real. If they get a real experience from this then that’s all I want. Our music comes from real things and moments in my life. All the things on the record are real things that affect me. It’s just a real experience that was really felt and that [I hope] they’ll remember.” What: Unify Gathering 2019 With: Underoath, Ocean Grove, State Champs, and many more When: Friday January 11 – Sunday January 13 Where: Tarwin Meadows, Gippsland, Victoria

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arts in focus Allison Gallagher examines Jägermeister’s bold new venture, the Meisterpiece project

One Cold Shot



yron Bay-based photographer and film developer Dan Marsh of Bayou film has a style entirely of his own. Shooting industrial exteriors as though they were human faces, the prodigious talent has spent years crafting images in bold, unashamed black and white. Now, excitingly, all that skill – that raw, monochrome talent – is on proud display in a zine included in this copy of the BRAG, a part of the Jägermeister’s Meisterpiece project An astonishing piece of art in its own right, it’s a striking collection of work by Marsh, who returned to his home town of Melbourne to pursue the assignment. Spending several days exploring the Victorian capital in search of inspiration, the final selection of brooding, black and white shots expertly capture the city’s stark, edgy architecture – images that are at once as gritty as they are graceful.

“Marsh’s photography zine is the third in the Meisterpieces series.” Operating in an exciting and fruitful field entirely of his own, Marsh demonstrates a love of showing wide, open spaces and landscapes across the zine’s pages. It’s all part of Jägermeister’s new Meisterpiece project, a series of collaborations between the iconic German brand and some of Australia’s most talented makers and creatives, in celebration of the brand’s long history of craftsmanship. As they point out, photography is “a craft that requires a delicate blend of ingredients. The exposure. The subject. The framing,” and this combination of elements that goes into Marsh’s work makes him something of an alchemist. Marsh’s photography zine is the third in the Meisterpieces series. It follows projects with the likes of Sydney-based custom motorcycle builders Sol Invictus – who built and designed a one-of-a-kind café racer - and Melbourne


typographical designer Tristan Kerr, who created a custom artwork inspired by Jägermeister founder Wilhelm Mast and based off German traditional and modern fonts. A dedicated darkroom artisan, Marsh is passionate about not just the act of taking photos themselves, but the precise art of print-making. So much so, in fact that, Bayou has developed a one-of-a-kind darkroom to produce this very task. Now Marsh runs workshops on all aspects of film photography and photo processing by hand, and the space has recently begun holding exhibitions of local talent. Facilitating opportunities for photographers of all skill levels to come together and learn is all testament to Marsh’s devotion to the craft. For Marsh and Jägermeister, much of the project’s impetus was highlighting the skill and attention to detail that’s an essential aspect of both of their crafts. Marsh hopes that the zine lets people see what can be achieved with time, effort and passion inside the darkroom, and the beauty of the developing process. “There’s something special about seeing hand-printed photos,” he explains inside the zine. “You’re taking a blank piece of film and using traditional processes to make an imagine out of nothing. That’s pretty special.” Whether it’s carefully brewing Jägermeister in Germany or deftly putting together the perfect photo on the other side of the world, the zine is an example of what the right ingredients and a commitment to quality craftsmanship can do. Raise a glass and take a look.

“A dedicated darkroom artisan, Marsh is passionate about not just the act of taking photos themselves, but the precise art of print-making.” BRAG :: 742 :: 03:10:18 :: 35

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arts in focus


A Wrestling Junkie In Japan

“Japan’s star power has rivalled and surpassed some of the best that wrestling has to offer anywhere in the world.”

By Erin Dick Finding My Feet

“Do you sell pro wrestling tickets here?” I asked the lady behind the counter at Korakuen Hall box office, my eyes wide. She gazed back at me in disbelief. When I landed in Tokyo, I expected to be embraced with open arms by a community of wrestling fans I’d heard so much about. I envisaged the streets crawling with locals sporting their favourite wrestling T-shirts. Yet, they were nowhere to be seen.

Wrestling was my first love. I bought DVDs and T-shirts; I tuned in every month for WWE pay-per-view events, and I begged my parents to take me to stadium shows whenever WWE came Down Under. I spent a few years in the closet, while my teenage ego was fragile, before falling head over heels again at a live show in Melbourne. I learnt more about Melbourne City Wrestling, then uncovered a handful of underground Australian hotspots. From here, I discovered a whole world of pro wrestling at my fingertips, including a rich history embedded in the cultural fabric of Japan. In the world of pro wrestling, Japan is well-known for its unique style of puroresu and the commitment of its cult fans around the globe. From icons of yesteryear – Antonio Inoki, Giant Baba and Jyushin “Thunder” Liger, to Tiger Mask, The Great Muta, Kenta Kobashi and Mitsuharu Misawa – to today’s elite, Japan’s star power has rivalled and surpassed some of the best that wrestling has to offer anywhere in the world. Come 2018, a handful of Japanese companies have established a fruitful market. DDT (Dramatic Dream Team) caters to competition and comedy, Word Wonder Ring Stardom shines a light on female competitors, BJW (Big Japan Pro Wrestling) bleeds hardcore, and NJPW (New Japan Pro Wrestling) rivals WWE as the world’s biggest stage for the sport. Much like in the West, when it comes to Japanese wrestling, there’s something for everyone.

“Spectators clapped along to the entrance music of performers and threw streamers at their heroes.


So, where were all these fans? I ventured to Champion video store, a short walk from Suidobashi Station, where I met Morio. Morio has lived in Tokyo all his life. He has owned the store for 11 years, where he proudly sells a plethora of wrestling relics – DVDs and videotapes, T-shirts, and tickets. Champion is a wrestling lover’s haven and one of many “hole in the wall” wrestling merchandise stores in Tokyo. Morio loves all styles of Japanese wrestling, his favourite being NJPW, or “New Japan”. He idolised WWE’s ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and the Rock in their prime and welcomes many foreigners into his shop all year round. Morio says that foreigners enjoy Japanese wrestling for its technical presentation and athleticism, in comparison to WWE’s emphasis on entertainment and larger-than-life characters. I stocked up on tickets from Morio, keen to check out some local shows. First was a Stardom show at Shinkiba 1st Ring. A tiny warehouse at the end of the train line, this didn’t feel too far from home, where shows take place in community halls and warehouses across Melbourne’s suburbs. Spectators clapped along to the entrance music of performers and threw streamers at their heroes. They absorbed the spectacle, occasionally calling out the names of their favourites to encourage them along. Both competitors bowed at the end of the bout, an act that was received by the crowd with applause. Spectators appreciated the athletic efforts of the performers in front of them, regardless of their moral stance. Anywhere is the world, there is a culture of mutual respect ingrained in all aspects of the industry. Nevertheless, when the crowd is invested, they go all in.

Photos next page: Video store by Erin Dick, Wrestling match by Lucy Dayman


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“When I landed in Tokyo, I expected to be embraced with open arms by a community of wrestling fans I’d heard so much about.”

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Photo by Zoe Ridgeway

Fighting Spirit Many gaijin (foreigners) have ventured to Japan to witness “puro” in person. One of these people is Joel Bateman – the 28-year-old Melbourne-based pro wrestler and fan found himself at home with the Japanese style. “When I was watching WCW (World Championship Wrestling) and ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) [a renegade underground company that gained cult following and commercial success in the late ’90s], Japanese wrestlers would pop up: guys like Ultimo Dragon and Yuji Nagata,” Bateman refl ects. “[Pro-Wrestling] Noah was the [company] I got into first… I loved the characters and their physicality, but mostly, I loved the psychology behind their physicality. I am completely controlled by the psychology of a wrestling match, where without subtitles or a script, two people can tell amazing stories with their bodies alone,” Bateman explains. Wrestling is like theatre. Yet, theatre can be divergent and diverse. “In the West, wrestling is fake,” Bateman continues. “We know that. In Japan, it’s still very much considered a sport. It’s not often as fl ashy. There are points and scoring systems like [there are] in martial arts, judo, tae kwon do or jui jitsu. Matches are very slow and methodical, with a lot of long drawn out submissions. It is in still many ways presented as a shoot [real].” Wrestling always appears to be changing, and Bateman reckons he knows why. “As a society, we’re much more cynical. That’s why ECW was so successful. The people who are teaching their kids about wrestling now are the people who grew up on ECW, and the Attitude Era. That’s [a large portion of] the demographic that are losing their shit to New Japan [Pro Wrestling].”

“Much like in the West, when it comes to Japanese wrestling, New Frontiers there’s Both Western and Eastern something for wrestling shows are now hosting competitors of a variety everyone.” of colours and backgrounds. This is probably down to exposure, not to mention a range of other factors, as Bateman tells it. “I think that New Japan, for example, recognising a massive gap in the worldwide wrestling market [is a by-product of that fact that] there are more worldwide big stars who aren’t Caucasian. Seeing Asian people at the top of cards [or, main eventing] in Western cultures isn’t so foreign anymore,” he says. Wrestling is reaping the rewards of cross-cultural success. Fans have access to endless types of wrestling, as days of tape trading are a distant memory. Wrestlers are chasing their dreams and finding work abroad. Nations have established a multi-faceted wrestling identity that captures the hearts and minds of locals and foreigners everywhere. Recently, New Japan appointed the first ever nonJapanese President in the company’s 46-year existence, Harold Meij. They have capitalised on international attention, marketing their product to the US with a United States Championship and hosting shows around the west, even at Melbourne’s Festival Hall earlier in 2018. Relationships between transnational companies have allowed for Australian visits from Japan’s top stars; Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, and more have all made their way to our fair Isle. Fans can watch their favourite Japanese wrestlers do their thing right on their own doorstep. Then, for Australian talent, and fans like myself, crossing the border is easier than ever.

Here, in a foreign country’s prestigious sporting hall brimming with excitement and passion, I had never felt more at home. •

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Photo by Lucy Dayman

On my visit to Korakuen Hall to watch a New Japan show, I stood in the stands with fellow wrestling fans at my side. We may not have spoken the same native tongue, but we all understood and adored the language of wrestling. I was, and always will be, utterly captivated.




Jason Blum The Long-Awaited Return Of Michael Myers By Belinda Quinn


years have passed since Halloween’s infamously nonverbal serial killer Michael Myers escaped from a psychiatric institution and returned to the ‘burbs of Haddonfield, Illinois. He wielded nothing more than a modified Captain Kirk mask and a signature slow yet steady walking pace that terrified audiences. At the time of shooting, its co-writers – who were partners at the time – John Carpenter and the late Debra Hill had no idea the legacy that their 1978 slasher would leave behind. thebrag.com

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“I think one of the reasons I really love horror is I love this idea of using the genre to import great unique stories to a large audience.” “Most of the movies that [Blumhouse] do, we’re really in control.” “When I did Paranormal Activity I felt like I had found my people.”

In fact, Carpenter was more interested in making Westerns; his general approach to the film went along the lines of ‘if it’s a flop, it’s a flop; if it’s a hit, well, great.’ Having a budget of just $200,000 to work with, Halloween’s lead actress Jamie Lee Curtis was paid a total cut of just $8,000. But the innocent, yet undeniably resilient character would ultimately launch the actresses’ career – one that proved similar to that of her mother Janet Lee, who got her break in Hitchcock’s Psycho – and inspire a wave of slashers that followed Halloween. 11 Halloween films have been made over the last four decades, but Blumhouse Production’s follow up to the original film effectively scrapes the slate clean. There’s no indication that Myer’s and Strode are siblings, and of course, Strode lives on after being killed off not once, but twice in previous sequels. Instead, now a grandmother, Strode’s every thought is fuelled by her post-traumatic stress disorder and by the fear that Myer’s will somehow get free – which, inevitably, he does. What sets the film apart from previous sequels is the combination of voices that built it. John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis (who both worked as executive producers behind the scenes) allow for a sense of continuity of the original film’s legacy, while writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley breathe in a fresh comedic voice – what could have otherwise been completely jarring, strangely works. The sense of humour so many of the lead characters exhibit is so endearing that it only makes it all the more devastating when Myers decides their time is up. What made the original film so successfully scary was its simplicity. Michael Myers does not convey your everyday 42 :: BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18

murderer. He has no motive. He is often described as pure evil. To attempt to understand the reasoning behind his desire to kill is utterly futile. As pointed out by film critic Amy Nicholson in her podcast Halloween Unmasked, it’s important to remember that the original Halloween was written at a time where we didn’t yet have a word to describe a serial killer – because people were yet to discover they even existed. They were referred to as monsters or possessed by evil – some were even trialled as werewolves in the 14th century. We often, to our great disadvantage, mythologised what might now be considered a result of mental illness.


ounded by Jason Blum, Blumhouse Productions are known for their ability to pull together unique stories on a tight budget. The studio first gained mass attention on releasing Paranormal Activity, a film that cost $15,000 to make and earned $200 million at the box office, making it the highest grossing film in terms of budget vs. gross of all time. The production house is also known for instilling social and political messages into its films. Blum recently told Billings Gazette that the new Halloween is about “women’s empowerment” and exploring intergenerational trauma. The latest version of Laurie Strode is consumed with tracking the serial killer’s every move: she spent her daughter Karen’s childhood training her for Myers’ potential return and obsessively rigging her house with traps and safe room. And this (warranted) paranoia inevitably lead to the state intervening and taking custody.

While Blum’s Halloween succeeds in creating an authentic rendition of the original by bringing Carpenter and Curtis into the production process, there is still some way to go. The film will likely capitalise on the #metoo movement in that it represents women standing up to those who’ve brought violence into their lives. And it’s even being hailed as a feminist horror by Nicholson. But it seems our bar is still too low – for a film that centres around three women characters and their experience of intergenerational trauma to have no women at the writing stage should ring some alarm bells. That said, the film still succeeds in many areas: every new scene has you on the edge of your seat, groaning in anticipation for Myers’ next hideous kill. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. The BRAG: What made you decide to bring humour into the sequel? Jason Blum: I think having comedy in horror movies makes them even scarier. When you give the audience the chance to relax and laugh, the next scare is much scarier because they’re relaxed and not expecting it. So we knew when we hired David and Danny to do the movie that we were going to get an element of that – and I was really pleased that we did. I encouraged them to really lean into it. But look at Paranormal Activity 3, which is another movie we did that was 55 per cent jokes, and 45 per cent scary. Australia actually has a very particular relationship to the horror comedy, which is a very tough thebrag.com


“I was always kind of an oddball, and horror fans, like me, and horror filmmakers were always outcasts in a way.” movie to make – actually, we haven’t done any of those, they’re really hard to pull off – but I think horror with comedy is very effective. What was Danny [McBride] like to work with? Jason Blum: Danny is great to work with because he’s very enthusiastic and he’s very adaptable. So if you were to say, ‘Uh, that idea doesn’t work,’ he would say, ‘Oh, well how about this one?’ He’s not precious, I should say. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. And he’s extraordinarily talented – his voice is incredibly unique. You can hear the Danny McBride lines in the movie, which I really love. But it was a pleasure to work with him. And he and David, they have a company together and have worked on many things together, so it was very easy for them, and very easy for the two of them to work together – it was a lot of fun. Jamie Lee Curtis said in an interview with Vulture that she’s not really afraid of scary or damaged people, but she’s afraid of people who aren’t what they seem. And Michael Myers is often represented as the personification of evil. What does it mean to be an evil person, from your perspective? Jason Blum: To be an evil person, to me, means you have to have no empathy and no moral compass. That to me is very scary. There are a lot of people out there like that, so that’s scary I think. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while shooting the film? Jason Blum: The biggest challenges making thebrag.com

Halloween were … because the franchise has been around for so long there were a lot of people involved, there were a lot of decision makers. There’s Miramax, and we had John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis as executive producers. Although, I think the hardest thing was getting everyone on the same page through the big creative choices in the movie: whether it was hiring David and Danny, or the concept that they had, or the casting – like casting Judy Greer, who’s not necessarily a Scream Queen, right? The hard part was to get consensus among all the different parties involved in the movie. And that’s very new for us, because most of the movies that we do, we’re really in control. We pass that control onto the director. If we disagree it’s between the director and I, and that’s it. The hardest thing was all the voices in that creative process through the making of the film. But having all those voices in there was also what made it great, right? Jason Blum: Yeah, I agree. I agree. One of the ways that we were able to the balance new and old, and solve making happy that have seen the ten movies before versus the [horror] fan who has never seen Halloween, was by mixing David and Danny, and Jamie and John. And I think that the mix of those four people really created something that is at one time new and creative, and different and innovative, and at the same time a real Halloween movie. I think we got the right mix of people, but it could have gone south at any time.

What do you think it is about films that work off of people’s fears that drew you into making a career out of them? Jason Blum: What drew me in to scary movies is I really loved independent movies. Independent movies, straight independent movies are very tough. The work of independent movies has largely migrated to television. What I really first loved about horror – and Sinister is when I really discovered this – is the challenge of taking what would be a great independent movie, and asking [the director], if you take out all the scares, would the movie still play at Sundance? Would it still really work? Does the storytelling still really work? Sinister is about a guy who is struggling, and choses his career over his family, right? He puts his family in danger to help his career. And I think one of the reasons I really love horror is I love this idea of using the genre to import great unique stories to a large audience. Was horror ever something that you went to for an escape when you were younger? Jason Blum: No. My personal connection to horror is that I was always very weird, and Halloween was always my favourite holiday ever since I was fi ve years old. I was always kind of an oddball, and horror fans, like me, and horror fi lmmakers were always outcasts in a way, and that is something I really relate to and love. That was it, I think. More than the actual horror movies, it was the people who – both fans and fi lmmakers – are involved in the horror world. Really, when I did Paranormal Activity I felt like I had found my people. ■ BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18 :: 43


They Call It Savaging:

Hold The Dark And The Myth Of Human Progress By Joseph Earp


ARLY IN JOHN GRAY’S THE SILENCE OF ANIMALS, the philosopher tackles the peculiar myth of human progress. It’s a lie, he says, albeit one of the most intoxicating kind. After all, to live inside the myth is to see it as a self-evident fact. “Humankind is, of course, not marching anywhere,” Gray writes. “‘Humanity’ is a fiction composed from billions of individuals for each of whom life is singular and final.” Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold The Dark, adapted from the novel of the same name by his long-time friend and collaborator Macon Blair, shares that same desire to unpick the story of human uniqueness. Whereas Saulnier’s last film Green Room made the thesis less explicit, slowly peeling away layers of civility to reveal the callous, utterly human propensity for violence hiding underneath, in Hold The Dark, the message is as abrupt and clean as an arrow sailing through a throat. The human characters – amoral drifters whose heroic acts are often indistinguishable in motivation from their cruel ones – are no different from the animals around them. All are capable of the same brutality; of the same simple drive for self-preservation. The veneer of civilisation is sanded away quickly in Hold The Dark. Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) has barely finished eating the squares of chocolate proffered to him by the grief-addled Medora Slone (Riley Keough) before she is

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“The film’s human characters – amoral drifters whose heroic acts are often indistinguishable in motivation from their cruel ones – are no different from the animals around them.”

approaching him in the night, naked save for a simple wooden mask, manipulating his hands to wrap around her own throat. The mission Medora sets for Core – to find and avenge her son, who, she alleges, has been taken by wolves – lasts about as long. It’s a red herring, resolved within the film’s first act, as Core stumbles across the boy’s dead body in the basement, murdered not by a wolf, but by another animal – his own mother. What follows could be described as a revenge story, as Core seeks to find and save Medora before her husband Vernon (Alexander Skarsgard), newly returned from war and seemingly keen to seek retribution for the loss of his son, gets to her first. But ‘revenge’ is the wrong word. Vernon isn’t really seeking revenge, as much as Saulnier and Blair might make it initially seem like he is. He is merely killing, the way a wolf kills; the way humans do. After all, as Core points out early in the film, revenge isn’t part of the natural world. Vernon is just another animal; a man unbridled from the fiction of human morality. He kills police officers; an old friend; a mortician. None of these acts are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, in the traditional sense. They just are. He spares some people – an elderly hotel owner who remembers meeting him as a boy – and kills some has no reason to – Illanaq, a witch woman. His icy unpredictability occasionally calls to mind Anton Chigurh, the antagonist of Cormac


arts in focus

“Even Vernon’s most ‘heroic’ murder – stabbing a fellow soldier who he catches raping a local woman – is presented as a simple, uncomplicated bit of bloodletting.”

McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men, but Vernon is a different beast entirely. Chigurh believed in chance; in fate. Vernon doesn’t even believe in that. Even Vernon’s most ‘heroic’ murder – stabbing a fellow soldier who he catches raping a local woman – is presented as a simple, uncomplicated bit of bloodletting. Vernon doesn’t relish it; nor does he seem particularly interested in the plight of the woman he has just saved. He is simply a man who has briefly and accidentally stumbled into the boundaries of the violence society permits. Within moments, he stumbles back out. Vernon is not alone, either. Cheeon, Vernon’s friend, unshackles himself from morality in much the same way – confronted by the police, he calmly and quietly heads to his attic, opens the doors, and slaughters them with a machine gun. The bloodbath is shot coolly – like Peckinpah without the ballet. You could as easily be watching a teenager pick off pigeons with an air rifle. And when it’s all done, when Cheeon is confronted in his attic, his face bloodied with shrapnel, he gives no real explanation for his acts. Neither do Saulnier or Blair. Motivations are unnecessary anyway. Cheeon has simply resolved himself to the realities of human nature. Then there are Medora’s twin crimes – both birthing and murdering her child. After all, though Saulnier and Blair never make it explicit, it is strongly suggested that Vernon and Medora are brother and sister, their child the product of an incestuous, ‘unnatural’ union. The biggest clue comes early: while leading Core through the woods, the wind whipping through her blonde hair, Medora mentions having no memories that Vernon is not in. So maybe it is tempting to read Medora’s murder of her child a way of righting a wrong. She has saved him from the dark – from a life as a taboo-shattering, misbegotten progeny. But it is equally as tempting to see the murder and the birth as having no moral weight at all. Incest; matricide; murder. All these things are permissible in nature. We see them happen: Core stumbles across a wolf pack engaged in the act of savaging, mauling one of their own. It is only a flimsy story of ‘ethics’ and progress that stops us from committing such acts all the time; a fear of repercussions that Vernon, Cheeon, and Medora suddenly and starkly see through. No-one is avenged at the end of Hold The Dark. Nobody is really saved, either. It might be true that Vernon stops himself from murdering Medora, even as she stands there before him, his hands around her throat. But there is no great moral import to him surrendering his desire for vengeance. The act has the eerie echo of Vernon’s earlier stabbing of the rapist: Vernon looks bored, not heroic. Medora is his brood. He is an animal that has briefly recognised that fact. That’s all. At one point in Hold The Dark, Core surmises that Medora has summoned him to tell her story; to bear witness to it. But what has happened to her is barely a story at all. It has no forward propulsion. It is a series of bloody actions, as devoid of meaning as a pack of wolves tearing apart a cub in the snow, the wind howling around them. What: Hold The Dark is streaming on Netflix now

“No-one is avenged at the end of Hold The Dark.” thebrag.com

BRAG :: 742 :: 03:10:18 :: 45


This story contains descriptions of drug use and suicidal thoughts.



E N I M A T KE By Toby McCasker


“There’s ketamine inside,” she says. ts many muted colours do not play over her fingers, even as her fingers play over it. With as many turns as one must use to open champagne perfectly (six), she is relaxing her mind so that she may dance with abandon.

She’s not dancing alone, but she is dancing by herself. It’s a common enough sight, down here underground where the lights are red and clothes are shed, willingly and often, on account of the broken fans. Fittingly, no one cares right back. They are already practicing an accidental form of self-care best exemplified by a loud call to arms I overheard in the male or female toilet bloc (gendered by design, unisex by determination) around midnight: “What are iPhone screens really for, babe?” Huge fucking slugs of ketamine, I’ve noticed. They vary from powdery and piss-yellow to white and crystalline, and the drug is now so ubiquitous I can even tell it by smell. The question is why. It’s not the cheapest – $200 for a gram – and its effects tend to send a person inwards. Though, it’s weirdly great for dancing: it peerlessly enables that old adage, Dance Like Nobody’s Watching.

“She’s not dancing alone, but she is dancing by herself.”

Walking or talking not so much. You also can’t drink while you’re on it. Or you can, but double depressants means double demerits on that trip to paralytica. There’s also the question of K-holes, akin to an overdose. “I first did ketamine in high school, and K-holed hard,” says Alex, who’s been self-medicating first for depression, then anxiety, then possibly bipolar with weed and alcohol. “Then I didn’t do it again until I was probably 27. Not from any particular aversion, just wasn’t round it ‘til then. “Just hanging with friends, it was what was going around at the time. So I would use it probably once or twice a week just going out with friends. This lasted a month or two before I noticed a pattern of feeling noticeably less depressed after going out and doing K. So I just started keeping a gram around, and if I was having a really down day would just have a bump when I got home. It seemed to work pretty good. “I found that, as opposed to weed, which would merely abnegate the depressive thoughts and feelings and allow me to relax a bit better, with ketamine I found those depressive thoughts and feelings just occurred less frequently, and less intensely.”

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“Though Australia is currently ground zero for the world’s largest randomised trial of ketamine as a treatment for major depression and results have been promising, most people don’t even know what this shit is.”


arying degrees of Not Being Here seem to be fundamental to ketamine’s appeal. The world melts away so one’s mind may become the centre of the universe. Someone describes it as feeling like a “galactic baby.” Others nearby agree.

“Someone once told me, ‘Ket’s the kid’s idea of what drugs are.’ You go a bit dissociated and everything goes loopy and weird. Woo!” laughs a guy called Goz, who admits to pretending he digs K for its party flavour so he can get it for mental health purposes. “As you know, depresh comes in flavours. Some people have the ‘lay in bed for a week’ sort – and perhaps K is not for them. Perhaps some kind of upper would be better? K being illegal means what you get can be just about anything, and have a variety of effects. Unless you really need that sedative effect, fucking around with K can make things worse with depression. So, not for everyone. I supplement with K on top of my antidepressant: 100 micrograms of Pristiq. It would be a very bad idea to drop your pharma drug for just K. At least it would be for me.” Ketamine’s therapeutic value is increasingly well-documented in medical literature, but in a world where the idea of legalising weed can still send certain developed nations into a conniption fit, it’s unlikely we’ll see it on that agenda for some time. Though Australia is currently ground zero for the world’s largest randomised trial of ketamine as a treatment for major depression and results have been promising, most people don’t even know what this shit is. The awareness of its virtues by anyone working in an ER is high - it’s commonly used for pain relief. While MDMA has shown empirical promise in treating PTSD, it’s the people below the streets who’ve stumbled over ketamine’s potential to stem the tides of anxiety and depression. I’m surrounded by them tonight and every night. All of them started using it recreationally. “Ketamine has always been recreational for me, but there is an element of it where I use it to push away the depression,” says Hedon. “To speak frankly, I feel like I used to have depression until I started using ketamine. Halfway through 2016, I had the largest amount of ketamine in a single session at that point of my life and the next two, three weeks afterwards I felt like a different person.

“It’s the people below the streets who’ve stumbled over ketamine’s potential to stem the tides of anxiety and depression.”

“I felt like 10 years of depression left me and for the first time I realised that I was actually depressed that entire time. Ketamine relaxes the mind in a way that doesn’t stop it from functioning. With too much K, I feel like I get to a point where there’s too many thoughts for my brain to process, so it kinda just doesn’t, but with the right amount, I get put purely in the moment. The future and past don’t matter because all that matters is feeling. I think it’s medically induced mindfulness. Chemical nirvana.” “After consuming I almost always feel like I’m in a better headspace,” mentions Hedon’s partner, Spacie. “Even after it has worn off I’m normally left in a fairly upbeat mood and I notice I have a generally happier outlook on things even days after taking it. Because of my depression, a lot of the time I just feel like I have this dark cloud hanging over me constantly. It’s really hard to get rid of and I normally just have to wait for it to pass, but after consuming K I just feel happier.” “From my uni studies of psych treatments I was never convinced in the neuropharmacology of antidepressants,” Hedon adds. “They seemed to just give the brain what it needs rather than give the brain the ability to build what it needs on its own. “I remember reading an article that there’s a theory that ketamine can induce a chemical change in neurotransmitters, which I guess jumpstarts the brain into generating the correct chemicals? I agree to an extent. I think that depression is really just caused by your brain not working properly. After ketamine, my brain started working correctly.” Contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you or someone you know is struggling with depression.


The BRAG does not condone the use of any illegal drugs for the purpose of selfmedication.

BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18 :: 47


“Jim’s success is thanks to the fact that he’s always stayed true to his unique style and tone.”


No Laughing Matter

“Jim’s approach hasn’t changed – he’s always been an insanely prolific writer.”

Joseph Earp chats with Andrew Taylor, the man behind extraordinarily popular comic Jim Jefferies, about the future direction of comedy

The BRAG: When did you first meet Jim? Andrew Taylor: I met Jim in Edinburgh in 2005 or 2006. Funnily enough, while I was on my way to see his show I bumped into a prominent comedy administrator from Australia. When I said I was off to check out Jim Jefferies, they proceeded to regale me with a long list of reasons they felt Jim was giving comedy in Australia a bad name. Well, he seems to have done quite well for himself, despite that opinion! Did you immediately know that you wanted to be Jim’s manager? AT: I did. It was love at first sight.

y this stage, Jim Jefferies is pretty much ubiquitous. The delightfully foul-mouthed, unabashedly full-on comedian has developed a style of show that is so close to the Australian way of life that it feels as essential as thongs and sunscreen. To that end, he isn’t just one of the most entertaining comedians in Australia – a performer wellknown for his propensity for pushing buttons and taking already dark material even darker places. He’s one of the most Australian comedians in Australia; a man who distils culture into a sand-blasted, Southern Cross-tatted package.

Has Jim’s comedy changed over the time that you’ve known him? AT: Jim’s material has evolved more or less as you’d expect of a man who has evolved into a more mature comedian. Just as importantly, he has also evolved from a single man with no strings attached to being involved in long-term relationships and parenthood. So, his content has changed from the perspective of a single, partying guy to the humour that can be found in being a Dad. And of course, his observations on politics and things like gun control have become even more bitingly funny and astute.

But there’s more to the Jim Jefferies story than meets the eye. Behind his blowy, joyfully abrasive exterior is a dedicated comedian who works on his set as hard as an electrician might work on refitting a house; a comedian who gets down to the simple job of making people laugh in the most uncomplicated way imaginable. That is, after all, why his audience love him. It’s the sheer force of appreciation that has kept him going for decades now; a kind of unashamed passion for humour, heart, and the Australian people that remains oddly unusual in this day and age.

Do you have to approach breaking Jim differently into different markets? Does it make a difference whether it’s a domestic or international market? AT: I represent Jim in Australia and New Zealand – and in those two markets, no. The rest of the world is not my problem!

But don’t just take our word for it. To celebrate the comic’s upcoming arena tour, we talked to his long-suffering manager Andrew Taylor about life, stadium tours, and the fresh new challenges of our alert and informed age.

Do you think Jim’s approach to standup comedy has changed over the time that you’ve known him? AT: His approach hasn’t changed – he’s


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always been an insanely prolific writer and sharp thinker who is constantly writing and seeing the funny in everything, from the minutia of everyday life to politics. Jim’s brain never switches off! Jim has a joyfully abrasive style of comedy. Do you find that you have to think about that kind of comedy differently given contemporary debates about PC culture? AT: Part of Jim’s success is thanks to the fact that he’s always stayed true to his unique style and tone. ‘Joyfully abrasive’ is a great way to put it. His fans love him because of his unflinching honesty and fearless approach to hot-button topics, and I don’t see him ever changing to appease people who more often than not are reacting to words, instead of listening to what is actually being said. What’s your favourite part of Jim’s set? AT: I haven’t seen the new show he’s about to tour so I can’t say anything about this new set. From prior shows, I like his atheist material, gun material, and the infamous April 18 gag. But going on the road with Jim, I have seen him time and time again develop an entire new hour and I have seen him performing almost a different show by the end of the tour. He is that prolific. What do you see as being the future for Jim? AT: Jim will continue to tour live stand-up for the foreseeable future, but I suspect he’ll lean more into the world of American TV and possibly movies. Hopefully many more Australian arenas! When: Saturday December 15 - 16 Where: ICC Arena thebrag.com

ew to stre n am s at’


W h

arts in focus




he Haunting Of Hill House, the new Netflix horror television show directed by Mike Flanagan, really shouldn’t work. It’s a steady accumulation of unbelievable happenings: the show features everything from violent ghosts, to potentially telepathic trauma survivors, to twins who can ostensibly read each other’s minds. More than that, in its rigorous examination of the effects of trauma, it is almost astonishingly po-faced. Telling the story of a dysfunctional family and their runins with the titular evil house across two distinct timelines, The Haunting Of Hill House takes itself deadly seriously. Initial reviews that referred to the show as a “goth This Is Us” are right on the money; like that treacly megahit, The Haunting Of Hill House mixes the absurd with the melodramatic with the soapy without ever cracking a smile.

“The Haunting Of Hill House really shouldn’t work.”

The Haunting Of Hill House

Yet, despite seeming ready to crack apart at any given moment, The Haunting Of The Hill House never once does. Indeed, by episode six, an astonishing technical feat filmed in no more than ten single takes that’s probably the best single hour of television since Mad Men’s “The Briefcase”, it becomes clear that excess is the key to the proceedings. If Flanagan and his stacked cast and crew played things even a little safer, they’d stumble straight into disaster. As it is, this is probably the single best piece of content that Netflix has ever produced: a flawless masterpiece that demands your attention.

digressions are copious – there’s a talking, checkersplaying animatronic koala; a segue into virtual reality hentai; and a weeping robot – but none of them amount to very much at all. It’s all guff and no heart, a fatal flaw for a show that ends up trying to sell itself as almost painfully sincere.

“The target audience for Maniac is clear. This one has been custom-built for your perpetually stoned uni mate, the one whose walls were plastered with posters for 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tool.”

Worse still, it suffers from the most egregious problem infecting the so-called Golden Age of Television: it’s far too fucking long. One particular sub-plot involving a stern-faced doctor who dies at his desk and his distinctly pathetic stand-in is absolutely nothing but padding, designed to drag out an already achingly dull series to the interminable lengths designated by the Netflix higher-ups. Cut this series down to even two hours, and you’d have something at least watchable: as it is, this is a cringy, unpleasant mess. Onto bigger and brighter things – much brighter, as it so happens. Namely, we’re talking Synecdoche, New York, Charlie Kaufman’s astonishing feature film debut, which is streaming now on Netflix. Exactly the kind of bold, overstuffed examination of death, grief, and artistic achievement that Maniac so clearly wants to be, Synecdoche was unfairly ignored by critical bodies on its initial release, making it perfectly placed for a rediscovery. Synecdoche, New York

The magic realist epic follows Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman, ever wonderful), a theatre director whose life has hit the skids. His wife is clearly bored by him; the main interaction he has with his daughter involves her getting him to check her (green) poop or explain pipes to her; and he’s convinced himself that he’s dying of every ailment under the sun. Determined to do something important with his time before it’s totally run out, Caden starts work on an improvised theatre production in a massive unused warehouse, aiming to artistically capture the very essence of life itself. But before long, the production begins to grow, spreading like a tumour, becoming a lopsided, allconsuming thing, ready to swallow Caden whole. The Haunting Of Hill House

Significantly less successful is Maniac, helmed by the director of the recentlyannounced 25th James Bond film, Cary Fukunaga. Unlike The Haunting Of Hill House, which achieves everything in its execution but sounds rather wobbly when you have to plead its case during after work drinks, Maniac sounds wonderful on paper. A sprawling, magic realist sci-fi story, it’s a mash-up of the speculative worlds of George Saunders, Kurt Vonnegut and David Foster Wallace that sees two equally fucked up, star-crossed lovers (Jonah Hill and Emma Stone) participate in an experimental drug trial. Needless to say, this is no ordinary trial, and before long the pair are living countless lives together, transforming from daggy suburban mum and dad to highland warriors. The target audience for Maniac is clear. This one has been custom-built for your perpetually stoned uni mate, the one whose walls were plastered with posters for 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tool and who’d have you chatting about DMT for literal hours. But it’s hard to imagine even Maniac’s intended demographic clicking with the thing. Rather than giving off the effortless absurdist cool it’s clearly going for, Maniac is an unpleasant, desperately cloying mess. The thebrag.com

Oh, and here’s another hot tip for my horror pals out there (are you guys out there? Is anyone out there?). Robert Zemeckis might not be known for his horror chops – the director is better regarded as the man behind the Back To The Future series, alongside a string of some of the worst films ever made (Beowulf, The Polar Express, and The Walk, anyone?) but he does have one legitimately great chiller in his back pocket: What Lies Beneath, available on Netflix now. It’s this creepy, slinking thing; a ghost story with scares that resemble those you might find in a Japanese slow-burner. Harrison Ford is brilliant in it; Zemeckis’ direction is surprisingly assured; and the end has a creepy jolting power all of its own. Check it out, why What Lies Beneath don’tcha. BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18 :: 49

arts in focus

FEATURE Chris Neill sits down with the voice of Vegeta himself, Chris Sabat, and learns the seasoned performer is as warm as he is talented

Beautiful Boy

Enter The Dragon ■ FILM REVIEW

Beautiful Boy is a well-meaning misfire By Joseph Earp


rugs make you absent. Sometimes literally – your friends and family awake in the morning to discover you haven’t come home; you disappear for months that you later find you can’t reliably account for – sometimes not. People look across the breakfast table at you, and it’s like you’re somewhere entirely different, even as you’re sitting there, pouring milk across your cereal. It’s this very absence that Beautiful Boy, a new film based on a series of memoirs by father and son David and Nic Sheff, captures perfectly. We don’t even see Nic (Timothee Chalamet), a talented young writer with a taste for self-aggrandising authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and a drug addiction, for the film’s opening chunk. But even when he’s off-screen, he is felt; his absence giving off a feeling entirely of its own.

“It is in Nic’s intermittent returns that Beautiful Boy starts to show its flaws.” Instead, we open on his father, David (Steve Carrell). Nic hasn’t come home, and David’s anxiously awaiting him, pacing up and down his study. Before too long, we realise that this isn’t the first time Nic has gone missing. A little bit after that, we learn that it won’t be the last, either. And even when Nic does start showing up – begging for help in a coffee shop; shivering and soaking in a dirty alleyway – we never really feel like we’re seeing all of him. Only the parts of him that need things.

Yet it is in Nic’s intermittent returns that Beautiful Boy starts to show its fl aws. Chalamet, so commanding in both Lady Bird and the star-making Call Me By Your Name, is dealing with a different kind of character here, and he struggles with it. Nic is essentially and immediately earnest in a way that none of Chalamet’s previous characters have been – he has none of Elio’s guarded side eye, or Kyle’s defensive snobbishness. But rather than let that honesty reveal itself slowly, Chalamet tuckers right down into the scenery, his performance an antic mix of lip-sucks, and stiff arm spasms, and odd, affected head tilts. Instead of going true, Chalamet goes big.

And if none of those ring any bells, you’ll definitely know his most iconic role: Dragon Ball Z’s Vegeta. For almost two decades, Sabat has been the English voice actor for the stubborn Saiyan warrior, playing him in the anime, spin-off movies and over 20 videogames (He also lends his voice to a range of other Dragon Ball characters, such as Piccolo, Yamcha, the eternal dragon Shenron.)

Perhaps that would be alright if the players around Chalamet aimed for the same thing, but they don’t. Carrell doubles down on the skills he demonstrated in the quietly powerful Last Flag Flying – drawing the action close to his chest; speaking softly and slowly – creating an odd, unsettling dissonance when the two leads come head to head. A scene in a coffee shop, clearly designed to be the film’s emotional fulcrum and one showed off heavily in the marketing materials, feels more like an acting exercise than anything else: as though Chalamet has been instructed to take things high energy, and Carrell to take them low.

Originally airing in Japan from 1989 to 1996 (and based on the popular manga series created by Akira Toriyama), Dragon Ball Z follows the adventures of Goku, a powerful martial artist who protects Earth from a series of escalating villains. In 1996 Funimation Productions licensed Dragon Ball Z for an English dub. After two short-lived attempts that were produced by contracted studios, Funimation would go on to hire their own voice cast in 1999, which included Sabat.

Worse still, Beautiful Boy struggles to find a straightforward way to capture the repetitive pattern of sobriety and relapse essential to Nic’s story. Getting clean is agonisingly dull, despite the tumultuous affect it can have on one’s life, but director Felix Van Groeningen fumbles this key narrative element with a messy timeline that cuts back and forth between Nic’s highs and lows in a manner clearly designed to keep the action moving. And then, tellingly, the film ends not so much with a bang but a whimper. Indeed, the real story comes to close after we’ve cut to black, in a title card flashed up before the end credits, and not in Beautiful Boy’s muddled climax.

Despite being Dragon Ball’s hero, Sabat is less than impressed with Goku, finding the character to be a bit lame and selfish, paling in comparison to Vegeta’s rich

It’s a shame. The creative team behind Beautiful Boy clearly have nothing but good intentions – another title card, pointing out the limited support addicts and their families get at a governmental level makes that perfectly clear. But as it stands, Beautiful Boy is at best a well-meaning misfire, and at worst a strange, uneven weepy.

What: Beautiful Boy is in Australian cinemas now

“Nic hasn’t come home, and David’s anxiously awaiting him, pacing up and down his study.” 50 :: BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18


hristopher Sabat’s name or face might not seem familiar to you, but if you’ve watched the English dub of any popular anime series of the last two decades, chances are you’ve heard his voice. He’s Roronoa Zoro in One Piece, Alex Louis Armstrong in Fullmetal Alchemist and, most recently, All Might in My Hero Academia.

Right and above: Vegeta, one of the characters voiced by Chris Sabat

“Now anime is so ingrained in popular culture that you see it represented at all of these big pop culture conventions.”

backstory and character development. Although he admits that stance might come from playing Vegeta for all these years. [Author’s note: Sabat’s opinion is 100% correct.] Throughout the course of Dragon Ball Z, and sequel series Dragon Ball Super, Vegeta has gone from cold-blooded villain to gruff hero: “In Super he’s like a family man. You kind of forget that this is the same character who killed Nappa [his sidekick from his initial appearance] because he thought he was useless,” Sabat says. After bursting into the Western market, Dragon Ball has become a pop cultural phenomenon. For a start, you probably know the “It’s over 9,000!” meme. Goku’s orange outfit and spiky hair – black or blonde, depending on whether or not he’s gone Super Saiyan – is as recognizable as the costumes of Superman or Batman. Ask anyone under the age of 30 to perform a Kamehameha, and the chances of them getting it right far outweigh the chances they won’t. Since Sabat first started as a voice actor, the popularity of anime in Western pop culture has changed. “It was this cult, niche thing.” Sabat reminisces. “Now anime is so ingrained in popular culture that you represented at all of these big see it repres pop culture conventions. People be caught dead going wouldn’t b to an anime show twenty years ago because it was weird.’” ‘too w While Dragon Ball’s popularity may have waned popularit while no new manga or anime being produced for a were be majority of the 2000s and major early 2010s (the first new movie Battle of Gods mov premiered in 2013), it has pre remained a consistent rem entity of popular culture. en The latest chapter in the Th Dragon Ball saga is set Dr hit the big screens in to h early 2019 with Dragon earl Super: Broly, which Ball S will exp explore the eponymous, fan-favourite character, whose fan-favou muscles are enormous battle cries are throatand batt rendering – an impressive feat renderi considering Dragon Ball is consid known for its huge muscles know and cconstant yelling. “Right now [Dragon “Rig Ball] is experiencing this generation loop,” Sabat gene explains while discussing expla thebrag.com

arts in focus ■ FILM REVIEW

Halloween is one of the most cathartic movie-going experiences of the year By Joseph Earp

“Dragon Ball Z is this amazing, magical show that never seems to go away.” the series’ renewed popularity. “It was really popular in the latenineties and early-2000s, and then it kind of faded off for awhile because there wasn’t any new content. Recently, because of Dragon Ball Super and the new films, it’s come back into the public eye. “Now all the kids who were six, seven, and eight when they were watching it originally are 26, 27, 28 years old and they’ve got kids of their own. There’s this whole process of feeling nostalgic and introducing your kids to something you watched when you were their age.” The fingerprints of Dragon Ball’s fandom can be seen almost everywhere. Modern American cartoons like Steven Universe and OK K.O. wear the influence of Dragon Ball on their sleeves. After scoring a touchdown, Cleveland Browns players Darren Fells and David Njoku celebrated by performing one of Dragon Ball Z’s battle techniques, the “Fusion Dance.” At WrestleMania 32, WWE tag-team The New Day entered the ring dressed in Saiyan armour. Musician Thundercat has performed live while wearing similar armour too. In his book The Tao of Wu, rapper RZA calls Dragon Ball Z “one of the deepest cartoons in history”, and that it also “represents the journey of the black man in America.” It should come as no surprise that Sabat is immensely proud of his work with Dragon Ball, and is excited to be a part of something that continues to be so big: “When we got to dub Battle of Gods, it was with all of these actors who have been honing these characters for almost two decades. Watching a new piece of Dragon Ball on the big screen for the first time with all of our voices was a truly magical moment.


ut a few short years ago, a reinvigoration of the Halloween franchise seemed like one of those obviously awful mistakes Hollywood just can’t stop itself from making. After all, out of ten Halloween films, only one is excellent – John Carpenter’s lean, uncompromising original – only three are interesting – Halloween III, the unfairly maligned sequel that ditched its masked killer Michael Myers altogether, and Rob Zombie’s two sort-of remakes, strange, oversaturated films longawaiting a critical reappraisal – and the rest are outright garbage. Moreover, resetting the table seemed like a dangerous move. The series had already tried to reinvent itself, messily, at least four times, each go-over with ever diminishing results. And anyway, the history of late-inthe-game franchise restarts is not a happy one, having been dominated for years by those hacks over at Platinum Dunes, who managed to botch both Friday The 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street with derivative, lacklustre remakes. All of which makes the ensuing Halloween sorta-remake all that rarer a beast. Directed by David Gordon Green, starring Jamie Lee Curtis herself, and given the nod of approval by Carpenter, Halloween is a remarkable achievement: a thrilling, cathartic film in its own right, and the first obviously brilliant successor to Carpenter’s original vision.


“The secret is Halloween’s simplicity.” has always been about the gradual build-up of tension, not its messy release, and he films Myers as though he’s a shark moving through cold water, in long, sustained takes.

The secret is Halloween’s simplicity. Rather than the muddled, backstory-saggy killer he became, Michael Myers has been returned here to his original form: a remorseless, unknowable force of evil. No longer the brother of Laurie Strode (Curtis, in the finest performance of her career) thanks to a nifty bit of retconning, Myers is an enigma once more – a remorseless, impassive figure who examines his frightened victims with all the detached curiosity of a taxidermist.

Not to confuse Halloween for one of the drier, more academic “elevated horror” films that critics are drawn to like catnip these days. No, Gordon Green and his co-writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley understand they have the room to be a little ridiculous now and then: some of the barked quips towards the film’s third act have all the gleeful cheesiness of action movie one liners, and there’s one gag that involves some ‘unique’ pumpkin carving that’s downright ludicrous. But these splashes of absurdism are carefully controlled – respite from the film’s tougher examination of grief, guilt and trauma.

That also means that, for the first time in decades, Myers is genuinely terrifying again. An early kill that involves the sprinkling of bloody human teeth and a later one featuring a helpless teen goring themselves on the barbed tips of an iron gate are tied for the film’s grottiest moments, but, much like Carpenter’s original, this is no blood and guts-fest. Gordon Green understands that Halloween

As much as Myers has been changed, so too has Laurie. She’s steely, sure, as she was in the messy Halloween H20, but underneath all that John Wayne swagger lies a lifetime of hurt and pain. Myers has left her paranoid and twitchy: her house is decked out with an arsenal of weapons befitting a small militia, and even low-key family gatherings are disrupted by her penchant for lowering the mood.

This, then, is another of Gordon Green’s masterstrokes: he takes Laurie’s pain seriously. Myers has robbed her of so much: of her youth; of her family; of her romantic potential. And more than that, her grief has multiplied, affecting her resentful, torn daughter (Judy Greer, long overdue major film roles like this one), and cloaking even her granddaughter in a shroud of pain and confusion. None of the Strode women are free from the spectre of Michael Myers. And their struggle against him – an individual and collective one – is what elevates Halloween to a new realm of excellence entirely. There are, it must be said, occasional stumbles along the way. Sometimes the film is too cute in its desire to ape the original: one character is introduced as “the new Dr. Loomis”, and a reversal of Michael’s original balcony fall feels a little too glib. But ultimately, by the time the film’s admirably lean running time is up, such quibbles fade away. Against all odds, Halloween isn’t just a fresh new start for a franchise in desperate need of a facelift, although it is most certainly that. Halloween is a stunning achievement in its own right: a cathartic, trembling examination of guilt, and trauma, and the ways that we can, against all of the odds, make our way through the darkness, and back towards the light.

What: Halloween is out in Australian cinemas now

“Directed by David Gordon Green, starring Jamie Lee Curtis herself, and given the nod of approval by Carpenter, Halloween is a remarkable achievement.”

“When we first saw our dub on TV in 1999 it was interesting, but none of us knew at that time how big Dragon Ball truly was. Now we know how much it’s affected people’s lives. It’s this amazing, magical show that never seems to go away.” ■ Halloween thebrag.com

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Gaming news and reviews with Adam Guetti


RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 in Red Dead Redemption 2 and are amazingly dictated purely by chance.

Watch just five minutes of Red Dead Redemption 2 and you’ll be gobsmacked. Experience over an hour and you’ll realise that Rockstar Games isn’t just crafting perhaps its greatest open-world title so far, but an experience that will likely alter the videogame landscape forevermore. Set 12 years before the beloved 2010 original, Red Dead Redemption 2 transports you to America in 1899 – a time where the “wild” west is increasingly less so, as lawmen around the country do their best to put an end to the last remaining outlaw gangs. The Van der Linde gang is one such group of criminal rascals, and you’ll be able to live their tale through the boots of Arthur Morgan – a loyal and senior member who was brought in by Dutch Van der Linde at a young age.

“Watch just five minutes of Red Dead Redemption 2 and you’ll be gobsmacked.”

The sequel features Rockstar’s first world built from the ground up for the new generation of hardware, and it shows immediately. Visuals are positively breathtaking and the level of detail on offer is immense. Horse tracks are visible in snow-covered environments, while blood and dirt remain on Arthur’s clothing until you shell out for the occasional bath. Even his facial hair will grow at a steady rate, meaning a poor choice with grooming can’t be immediately retconned. Taken individually these may look like inconsequential additions, but when combined highlight the fact that the developer, now utilising all its studios around the globe, is in a class of its own. Cinematics are also scoring an upgrade, with the transition from cutscene to gameplay now smoother than ever and a new cinematic camera option (which can be triggered at any time) that will swap between angles to impart a bit of Hollywood flair to your adventure. It’s a neat inclusion that is most effective on long rides where you can hold X or A to make Arthur’s horse stick to the trail – giving you the opportunity to switch between cameras yourself. What impressed us the most about the game, however, is the sheer scope it presents you with: a world that continues to live and breathe whether you spend the time exploring its nooks and crannies or not. As we wandered about the wilderness while hunting, for example, we eventually stumbled upon a man tending to his horse. As we began to approach, we were told that we could either greet or antagonise the stranger, but wanting to keep the peace, decided on the friendlier option.

“Cinematics are also scoring an upgrade, with the transition from cutscene to gameplay now smoother than ever.”

52 :: BRAG :: 742 :: 03:10:18

But as the stranger made moves to reply to our greeting, his horse, unexpectedly spooked, threw back its hind legs – straight into the head of its owner. Before we even had a moment to process, the man was dead and the horse in the wind. It was quick, brutal, and completely random. Encounters like this are a dime a dozen

During another ride we struck up a conversation with a stagecoach driver, the two of us halted at a train crossing. This time, however, we’d taken the antagonistic approach, quickly firing off an insult that heated proceedings up equally as fast. From there you’ll have the option to deescalate the situation or further stoke the fire. The former will see Arthur downplay the whole affair, while the latter goes all in on the smack talk. We chose the riskier path, but before either of us could continue the verbal sparring, the train had left, allowing us to bolt off back into the wilderness. As we fled, a Rockstar rep told us that if we had stayed a while longer, things could have eventually lead to a violent, bullet-ridden conclusion.

This time our destination was the Van der Linde camp, which serves as the major hub for most of your activities. Rockstar wants to avoid bombarding your map with unnecessarily messy HUD information, so expect to be seamlessly led into story content. Exploring the camp, for example, we spotted an unknown man tied to a pole. As we drew closer, the game launched into a cutscene – triggering a new side mission which required us to infiltrate a rival camp.

Taking a stealthy approach in this task is now made easier by the ability to order team members to complete specific actions, but the plan still went belly-up after a poorly aimed throw saw a knife painfully land in the arm of a foe, who naturally alerted his friends to our presence. Making the best of a bad situation, we used the shootout to experiment with the return of Dead Eye. The shooting mechanic now sees five different levels – ranging from slowing down time to manually painting targets to unleash a violent flurry of bullets – each of which thankfully remains incredibly satisfying. Almost every element of the game has been significantly upgraded, but none is more obvious than your noble steed, which Rockstar has now intrinsically linked to Arthur. There will still be a variety of breeds to discover, each possessing its own set of traits, but the more experiences you share with an individual horse, the greater the bond between you both – ultimately reducing a crucial wildcard element should things spiral out of control.

“Unexpected gunshots for example, may spook and unnerve your equine partner, requiring the need for a calming pat.”

Unexpected gunshots for example, may spook and unnerve your partner, requiring the need for a calming pat. Grooming and feeding the animal, meanwhile, will similarly develop the relationship and allow you to improve important characteristics like speed, stamina, and the radius in which it will respond to your call. Make an especially strong connection and you’ll even be able to unlock horse riding skills like proper dressage and skid turns – the western equivalent of a handbrake manoeuvre.

Like we said, Rockstar Games is all about the attention to details, and its these details that make Red Dead Redemption 2 an obvious must-buy when it blasts onto store shelves on October 26 for PS4 and XBO. What: Red Dead Redemption 2 is out now through Rockstar Games


NOV 2018

New Releases

As 2018 slowly comes to a close, we arrive at November – the last bumper month of video game releases. Kicking things off on Friday November 2 is Nickelodeon Kart Racers (PS4, XBO, Switch), which features childhood cartoon favourites like SpongeBob and the

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles amongst frantic multiplayer fare. Jumping ahead to Tuesday November 13, Hitman 2 sneaks its way onto PS4, XBO and PC. The sequel adds in a fresh campaign and co-op mode to sink your teeth into. Also out on the 13th, Spyro: Reignited Trilogy heats up PS4 and XBO fans by presenting a ’90s classic with beautifully remastered visuals. A day later on Wednesday November 14, we’ll all be able to find out how Fallout 76 fares with its online-centric world after previously cementing itself as a solo experience. You’ll be able to grab it for PS4, XBO and PC. Pokémanicas, meanwhile, can get their fix on Friday

November 16. That’s the day Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu/Let’s Go Eevee will take the world by storm. For the uninitiated, the Switch title is a reimagined version of Pokémon Yellow. Those looking for something a bit more action-packed best wait for Battlefield V (PS4, XBO, PC), which introduces female soldiers to the mix. It’ll fire onto store shelves from Tuesday November 20. Finally wrapping things up on Tuesday November 27 for PS4, XBO and PC gamers is Darksiders III. The action epic, released six years after the previous entry in the series, focuses on Fury – a horseman of the apocalypse.

Review: Jimu TruckBots Kit


intendo might be trying to win over the littles one with its experimental Labo designs, but while the company has copped criticism over the project’s basic uses, there’s always UBTECH Robotics – a global leader in intelligent humanoid robots. The latest in the company’s line is the Jimu TruckBots Kit – capable of creating two different robots: GravelBot and DozerBot. A mix between LEGO and Meccano, with a bit of motorised fun thrown in for good measure, the construction of these bots is the most enjoyable part of the process. There’s a wide assortment of pieces, motors and wires to wrap your head around, and watching your progress build over time is immensely satisfying. It’s worth noting that while the box claims ages 8+, we

recommend lending an adult helping hand for those on the younger end of the spectrum. Even we encountered moments of confusion, and some of the smaller pieces can be difficult to get back out. That said, once you download the Jimu app, handy visual instructions will take you through each step one-by-one. The app itself is also the foundations of introducing kids to Blockly coding – allowing them to play around with various command options that are then reflected via their final robot. It’s easy to see why UBTECH has become so successful. Its line-up of robots are smartly designed, great fun for children, and a perfect introduction to coding and robotics. You can find the TruckBots Kit in JB Hi-FI, Harvey Norman and Officeworks for a RRP of $179.00.$79.99 for the Remote), but once you have everything up and running, you’ll never be able to look at any room the same way.

reviewroundup By Adam Guetti

Soulcalibur VI (PS4, XBO, PC)

The Soulcalibur series hasn’t exactly been able to keep up with its competitors over the last few years, but this latest attempt feels like a positive step in the right direction. Fights are fast and furious in the semi-reboot, with mechanics that are simple enough yet immensely satisfying. Plus, who doesn’t want to kick arse with Geralt of Rivia? 4

Forza Horizon 4 (XBO)

Starlink: Battle for Atlas (PS4, XBO,

Assassins Creed Odyssey (PS4,



Ubisoft has entered the toys-to-Life genre at an interesting time, but more interesting is the fact that the game is arguably an easier experience without them – the digital iteration not requiring the constant swapping of components. The fact that you can completely sidestep the game’s hook entirely is a curious move, but regardless, Starlink is an enjoyable 3 adventure, even if it’s a touch repetitive.

Without question this is the best the Assassin’s series has been in years. Greece is a beautiful location, the RPG mechanics are deeper and more enjoyable, and 4.5 there’s a positively daunting amount of exploration.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (PS4,

FIFA 19 (PS4, XBO, Switch , PC)

XBO, Switch)

Forza’s Horizon series has always been an exceptional racer, and the fourth iteration is no different. There are plenty of fun challenges, even more cars to unlock, and the game is jawdroppingly gorgeous as you speed through its British scenery. Plus, if you have Xbox Game Pass, you’re entitled to it already.



The decision to ditch Call of Duty’s annual campaign was a ballsy one, but by purely focusing on multiplayer, the polish is more noticeable, and the wide assortment of modes and maps helps keep things fresh. The addition of Blackout (the series’ attempt at entering the Battle Royale market), meanwhile, might seem like a reactionary move, but surprisingly 4 has some legs and could put a dent in Fortnite’s juggernaut fanbase.

If you’re a die-hard FIFA fan, you’re going to adore this year’s iteration – especially with the inclusion of Champions mode. If you’re more of a casual onlooker, it’s a harder argument to justify a repeat purchase. There’s some noticeable tweaking that solidifies its position as the best soccer sim on the market, but much like the 3.5 last few entries, they’re hardly gamechangers.

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“I am really interested in people and psychology.”



olly Throsby has released six solo albums over the past decade and a half, but these days the Sydney singer/songwriter is arguably becoming better known as a novelist. Her first book, 2016’s small-town Australian mystery Goodwood, got shortlisted for no less than five awards, and she has now explored another quaint microcosm in Cedar Valley, equally suited to book-club unpacking. But Throsby says all those years of songwriting – often on an intimate, insightful scale – didn’t really help her much with penning the two novels. “It’s not really something I explored in songwriting – telling other people’s stories,” she explains. “It was generally more of an impressionistic feeling than a real character study. [The books were] probably more influenced by my day-to-day life than my songwriting life. I am really interested in people and psychology.” That said, her 2017 album After A Time bore echoes of Goodwood’s home-spun wisdom, with the Mark Kozelek duet ‘What Do You Say?’ edging close to dialogue. Throsby even admits that the opening ‘Aeroplane’ feels like a song that Cedar Valley’s protagonist could have sung, but says her songwriting is more about poetry than narrative storytelling, while her books are more about the latter. “My books are not particularly poetic, I don’t think,” she muses, with a laugh. “They’re narrativebased, and very much about the characters.” Both books are set in the early ’90s and contain elements of crime and mystery, though both also double as Winton-esque slices of domestic drama. While Goodwood centred on a pair of missing people in a tight-knit New South Wales community, Cedar Valley is about the mysterious

“My books are not particularly poetic, I don’t think.” 54 :: BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18

death of a stranger in a nearby (and also fictional) town and a young woman’s nagging curiosity about her recently deceased mother, who left her mark on the town decades earlier. Locating it in the same era allowed the possibility of bringing certain characters across into the second book, like a police sergeant who makes a cameo in the first book but becomes one of the most prominent characters in the second. Despite its menagerie of relatable, true-to-life characters and quiet flecks of heart-warming humour, Cedar Valley hews closer to a police procedural than its predecessor – “even though it’s a very laconic, Australian police procedural,” says Throsby. That means it’s dotted with playful red herrings and open-ended clues, which has fuelled much speculation amongst readers so far. “People think all kinds of things – all the layers of meaning that they read into it,” she admits. “When you’re trying to solve a mystery, you kind of look everywhere.” This particular mystery dovetails into a real-life incident from 1948 – alternately dubbed the Somerton Man case or the Tamam Shud case – that lives on in infamy, especially in South Australia. As in Cedar Valley, it involves the sudden demise of an unknown man. The case has inspired many books and articles over the years (not to mention The Drones’ ‘Taman Shud’), with podcasts and documentaries still devoting considerable time to it today. As someone who still subscribes to the daily print edition of The Sydney Morning Herald and reads widely, Throsby couldn’t resist incorporating the unusual case. “The more you look into it,” she says, “the more it opens up into this crazy maze of things we probably couldn’t even make up. I was hoping for readers who didn’t know if it was true or not. I think people in Adelaide would scoff at the fact that you didn’t know about it, because a lot of people in South Australia grew up with it. It’s also quite generational.”

Beyond the key influence of that enduring true-crime puzzle, Throsby couldn’t help being informed by movies and television, considering that she worked at The Video Shift in Balmain for eight years, devouring as much as she could in that time. The since-shuttered husband/ wife shop specialised in cult, foreign and arthouse films, and Throsby calls it “a really nice compliment” when people describe her books as cinematic. There’s actually a screen adaptation in the works for Goodwood, but she can’t discuss it just yet. The two books read very much like companion pieces, and each even references the titular town of the other book, though you don’t need to have read one to fully enjoy the other. But why did Throsby want to return to a small-town milieu and early-1990s setting after Goodwood? “When I finished that book, I knew I wanted to leave the main characters suspended at the end of that story,” she says. “I wanted to leave them and move somewhere else, so I can still work within the same universe, because I was still very attached to it.” Meanwhile, in her musical life, Throsby’s friend and collaborator Sally Seltmann – with whom she shares the trio Seeker Lover Keeper with Sarah Blasko – has also turned to writing books. Her debut novel, Lovesome, came out this year via the same publisher as Throsby’s. And speaking of Seeker Lover Keeper, that ensemble should finally follow up its 2011 self-titled debut in the near future – before Throsby’s next solo album. The latter seems like it can wait, with Throsby disclosing, “I feel like I’ll probably go right into another book” rather than a new album. In fact, when I remark that I should probably ask about music at some stage in the interview, she laughs and says, “You don’t have to!” What: Cedar Valley is out now



Tales Of The Fantastic

“I find cities very strange places.”


“I find entirely photorealistic painting doesn’t work so well with repetitive narrative.”

It’s a sort of bestiary, with each chapter dwelling on a specific animal in alphabetical order. Looking at these creatures, who are portrayed alternately as prosaic and fantastic, in the context of modern human civilisation, Tan spins poem-like fables about the blessing and curse of co-habitation. Like all of Tan’s work, from The Lost Thing to The Arrival to Rules of Summer, the book blends whimsy and melancholy so deeply that the two can’t quite be separated.

“This is a question I’ve grappled with my whole career,” admits Tan. “Like Maurice Sendak said in an interview, I do books and other people say they’re for kids [or] adults. I don’t think about it so much myself when I’m working on something. I have a certain luxury to let it evolve and see what it is. I don’t really guide it one way or the other.” As for the thematic focus on animals this time around, that was partly inspired by frequent trips to Melbourne Zoo with his young daughter. Tan found thebrag.com

One of the most striking spreads in Tales From The Inner City is a close-up, photorealistic painting of an owl’s penetrating eyes. It stands apart from much of the more surreal work that Tan has done over the years. But Tan points out that when he started as a commercial painter, he was doing realistic paintings of dragons and people on horseback for the covers of fantasy novels. “I find entirely photorealistic painting doesn’t work so well with repetitive narrative,” he explains. “It’s somehow boring, and also hard to maintain consistency, because of the level of attention required. The closest I’ve come [to it] is The Arrival.” Thankfully, Tales From The Inner City benefits from a great deal of internal variety, which plenty of difference in length, mood and style from chapter to chapter. “It’s not something I had much control over,” says Tan. “I suppose it’s like how dreams have different styles. It’s often whatever feelings of anxiety are provoked by the different animals or their situation.” The intimate owl chapter, for example, came from visiting with children undergoing chemotherapy.

True to its title, Tales From The Inner City sprang from Tan’s relocation to Melbourne proper a decade ago, in clear sight of the city centre. “I’d written a lot of stories about the suburbs where I grew up,” says the WA native, “so I thought it’d be interesting to address this experience of being closer to a city. And I find cities very strange places, but good material for fiction.” The presence of the city – from crowding to commerce – lends itself to social commentary, whether it’s a fleet of bears showing up with lawyers to sue humanity or a boy genius who is mistreated by society and dreams of hippos. As ever, Tan’s poignant meditations draw heavily on childhood without being specifically for children or adults. Rather, they’re for anyone and everyone.

sculpted the cicada years ago, only to have it sit on his desk “asking” where it belonged. Tan is no stranger to sculpture, having devoted himself to the medium for 2015’s The Singing Bones, a stark retelling of Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

the presence of animals like tigers and monkeys so close to the city fascinating, and that juxtaposition comes through in nearly every chapter. In contrast to Tales From Outer Suburbia, meanwhile, Tales From The Inner City is more than twice the length, with longer bursts of writing and many painterly twopage spreads. The new book arrives just months after Tan’s 32-page picture book, Cicada, a Kafka-esque tale of an anthropomorphic cicada doomed to endure punishing office life. While the timing is accidental, Cicada was actually the seed idea for Tales From The Inner City, before it developed a life of its own. Tan compares it to Terry Gilliam’s movie Brazil and George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, and says he

Some of the book’s art has appeared in previous commissioned work, but Tan always specifies in contracts that he can repurpose pieces later on. He calls the anthology format “an opportunity to go through my compost,” in fact. “There’s a lot of environmentally friendly recycling of ideas in my work, and nothing’s ever wasted,” he adds. “There are always a lot of orphans from other projects in sketchbooks, and I can’t stop thinking about them. I know they’re just waiting for their time to come into being.” Just like that patient desktop cicada, then. Similarly, Tan never jettisons an idea, even if it appears unsuccessful at the time. Because there’s always a chance that it will find new, successful life down the track. “Whenever I get a bad idea,” he elaborates, “I don’t throw it in the bin. It just needs another bad idea to come along and make it a good idea.” What: Tales From The Inner City is out now

“There’s a lot of environmentally friendly recycling of ideas in my work, and nothing’s ever wasted.”


en years ago, Shaun Tan released Tales From Outer Suburbia, an anthology reimagining the humble suburbs as a breeding ground for stoic water buffalos, displaced divers, alien flora, abused stick figures, and other peculiar beings. Now the much-awarded Australian author, painter, sculptor and illustrator has given us a spiritual sequel in Tales From The Inner City, a darker and more immersive vision of what lies on the fringes of mankind’s collective self-absorption.

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P Marie

Alexander is a Melbournebased author and journalist.

Tat toos BY M A R I E A L E X A N D E R


he hugged him goodbye. He took in the deep scent of her – her perfume, the shampoo she had used to wash her hair, the faintly musty smell of her clothes. He found himself stroking her back with one free hand as they hugged, just gently, up and down. And then she pulled away and stared at him right in the face.

She must have only looked at him for five seconds, tops, because as soon as he realised that she was waiting for him to kiss her, she had already pulled back, suddenly looking awkward. “Anyway,” she said, “it’s been really lovely. See you again soon, yeah?” He found himself blushing. She had been so close to him, and now she was standing, straight as a flagpole, fiddling with her handbag and not looking him in the eye. “Definitely,” he said, trying to smile. “I’ve got your number.” He was an idiot. An idiot. She had wanted him to kiss her – she had begged for it – and he had been too stupid to realise what was going on. The moment had been lost. Gone, forever, the tiny window of time, that in some ways, he had been waiting for his whole life. He caught the bus home. Fiddling with his fingers, he tore a tiny strip of skin off his thumb, right next to his fingernail. The whole day had been leading up to that moment: the non-kiss. The whole goddamn day. He felt sick thinking about it. When he got home, he put on a record, had a few beers, and generally tried to make himself feel better. But it didn’t work. By the time he went to bed – not nearly drunk enough – he was feeling bitter, and sad. He dreamt strange things, fitfully. It didn’t feel like rest at all. When he awoke, he felt groggy, as though hungover. He struggled up – read the paper, ate a few slices of toast. It was only when he stepped into the bathroom that he realised something was up. At first he thought he was seeing things as he stared into the mirror. Printed across his forehead, backwards in the mirror, was a thick string of capital letters. He rubbed at it. Nothing changed. He filled his cupped hands with tap water and splashed it over his face. The words didn’t even smudge. Slowly at first, he started to panic. He stepped out into the garden, and lit himself a cigarette. He hardly smoked it at all. It burnt down to the filter between his fingers. Inside, he rooted around on the kitchen table for his digital camera. The battery was almost gone, but he had enough time to point the camera at his pale face, and take a single picture. He looked back at the photo. His own face stared back at him, panic stricken, and there, now perfectly legible,

“The whole day had been leading up to that moment: the non-kiss. The whole goddamn day.” 56 :: BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18

“The whole day he scrubbed at the text. He used soap, a loofa, a fingernail brush, a toothbrush – but nothing. The words did not change.” left to right, were the words: DIDN’T KISS THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE WHEN HE HAD THE CHANCE, tattooed across his forehead in black letters. The whole day he scrubbed at the text. He used soap, a loofa, a fingernail brush, a toothbrush – but nothing. The words did not change. DIDN’T KISS THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE WHEN HE HAD THE CHANCE – in print small enough to fit on his face, but big enough to be visible from a while away. He didn’t go outside that first day. He stayed in, staring at the mirror, scrubbing, resting only to have a beer. The skin on his forehead was rubbed red raw, and he only stopped when it was too painful to go on. The next day the text was still there. And the next. And the next. He started to look into having it lasered off. But whenever he Googled pictures of people who had had tattoos lasered, the end results threw him off. All the laser surgery seemed to do was replace inked lines with nasty, babypink scars. The outlines were still clearly visible. And the idea of his skin being burnt off, no matter how safe all the websites made it sound, was too much for him. He spent another day drinking, and fell asleep on the couch, tearing more and more thin strips of skin from his fingers. It took him a long time before he summoned the courage to go out in public. He tried hats, bandanas, foundation. But the text was always visible. There was too much of it, and it was too dark – a kind of midnight blue that refused to hide beneath makeup, no matter how much he applied it. Three weeks after the tattoo emerged, he got a message from the girl, letting him know, very politely, that she had gotten back together with her ex-boyfriend, but hoped that he was well. He didn’t even have the energy to cry. He just watched talk shows for six straight hours, and drank warm beer. It was a while before he saw someone else with a similar tattoo. He was walking through the mall, blushing as strangers looked at him with a mixture of pity and ridicule – their mouths frowning but their eyes bursting with laughter. He was going through the checkout, buying his weekly rations of canned tuna, men’s lifestyle magazines, and microwavable meals, when he looked up at the face of the boy serving him. Tattooed in familiar font across the boy’s forehead were the words: NEVER TRULY LOVED HIS DEAD FATHER. The two strangers locked eyes. DIDN’T KISS THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE, bowed his head a little, in the mutual recognition of a shared problem, and NEVER TRULY LOVED smiled back, halfheartedly. After that he started seeing a lot more of the tattoos around. Some actually made him feel a little better about his own predicament: on his way to the



“Three weeks after the tattoo emerged, he got a message from the girl, letting him know, very politely, that she had gotten back together with her exboyfriend.” movies one day, he saw a broad shouldered, blonde haired teenager, with DRUNKENLY FUCKED HIS SISTER tattooed across his forehead. A few weeks later, at a farmer’s market, he spotted a pale, nervous looking woman with SMOKED ALL THE WAY THROUGH PREGNANCY tattooed in dark print. He tried to say hello to her, but the woman only looked away, ashamed, and pretended to be very interested in a tub of organic yoghurt. He found that with all these other tattooed souls around, people looked at him with slightly less interest. He still knew when they were reading his forehead – and could always count on their sad smiles, and hopeless shrugs when he caught their eyes – but life managed to retain some vestige of normality. He still went on dates for example, but always kissed girls too soon, before either of them were ready, and could always tell by their frowns that they knew why he had done it. His boss at work came in one day with ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A T-REX, tattooed on his forehead, which was certainly the strangest he had ever come across. He saw a bus driver with ALWAYS THINKS OF ANGELINA JOLIE DURING SEX, and a notably absent wedding band on his finger. WET THE BED UNTIL HE WAS TWELVE. ATE DOG SHIT FOR A BET.

There was an awkward little pause. She fidgeted a little, playing with her handbag. Then, finally, she summoned the bravery to spit it out. “Was I really the love of your life?” “Oh,” he said, spluttering, trying to cover the text with his free hand. “You know, it’s a pain, having this here. It drives me nuts sometimes, really does.” “Sorry, you know, I’m being rude anyway. Being presumptuous even asking about it.” “Maybe a little presumptuous. But yes, anyway. You were.” “I was?” “Well, I really liked you. And I would have really…liked to date you. Or something like that.” “I did want you to kiss me,” she said, smiling sadly. “I really did.” “I know you did.” “Well,” she said, trying to smile a little more. “You could always kiss me now.” “You…I mean, I thought you had a boyfriend.” “I do. But it’s only one kiss. That can’t really hurt, can it?” With nothing to say, he stepped forward, his arms wrapping around her. He took in the deep scent of her – her perfume, the shampoo she had used to wash her hair, the faintly musty smell of her clothes. He found himself stroking her back with one free hand as they hugged, just gently, up and down. And then she pulled away and stared at him right in the face.

SET FIRE TO HER GRANDMOTHER’S CURTAINS. And he kissed her, just like that. GAVE A HANDJOB TO HER BOYFRIEND’S DAD. Afterwards, they said their goodbyes. HAS NEVER REALLY BEEN IN LOVE. “You know, I think I was lying before,” she said. One day, on his way to the gym after work (he was convinced all those microwavable meals were making him fat) he ran into a familiar figure – the girl he had never kissed, crossing the road towards him. She was dressed as perfectly as ever; scarf around her neck, bands up her arm, red shoes clacking across the asphalt. In fact, she looked almost exactly as she had that fateful day – except for the tattoo, across her forehead. As she got closer, he saw it read TWICE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE. “Hey!” she said, grinning. “How are you?” They chatted for a little bit, in front of the gym, the light fading around them. Never once did he ask her about the mark on her forehead. He asked her how her love life was – she said she was still happily in a relationship, that life was treating her pretty well, all things considered. She looked at him. “How about you?” She asked. “Yeah, fine. Work is work.”


“About what?” “About being good, and being happy, and enjoying work.” “Yeah,” he said, quietly. He trained at the gym for an hour exactly, like usual. Back at home, he put on a record – a slow, sad gentle one. In the bathroom, he checked the text in the mirror. He wasn’t sure if he really believed that kissing her would make the tattoo go away. In any case, it hadn’t. The print was still there. He touched it faintly with one hand. No, kissing her now wasn’t going to change anything. Because she wasn’t the love of his life anymore. Once, she had been, that was certain, and he had the tattoo to prove it. But now a kiss between them wasn’t going to do a bit of good to anyone – just two lips brushing together, two people thinking of other things. He turned off the light in the bathroom, then sat in front of the tv, watching chat shows, till early in the hours of the next morning. M

BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18 :: 57


P Joseph Earp is a Sydney-based film and music critic, and an author of short fiction. He tweets at @ TheUnderlook.

x. BY J O S E P H E A R P


eaning to say x, I said y. I realized the mistake a moment too late, and my face flushed red. Blushing too was inappropriate. In order to rectify the situation, I said y when really z would have been more appropriate and was met with undignified silence (s).

Thinking on my feet, I combined a self-depreciating anecdote containing a pop culture reference (g within m) with an attempt at physical intimacy, masked as an accidental touch of the elbow (i, masked as q). When this too, went down like a lead balloon, I panicked, following this with a semi-serious curse (a), and a hearty chuckle (b), hoping that b would counteract the possible negative implications of a – balancing each other out like two halves of the perfectly formed equation that they were, in some general sense, a naturally occurring copy of – or at the very least, working in conjunction, to create an entirely new meaning, c, which, although not independent, could in its way be interpreted as the beginning of a new line of conversation, C(a). As may be obvious by this stage, C(a) was where I had always meant to direct the conversation, and indeed my earlier gaffe (y instead of x) was a misdirected attempt to lead myself to that point, (in theory, y leading naturally leading to k (k being a sweet romantic compliment) for her to then come back with a repeated k, enhanced by the introduction of f (f being a broad, but powerful reference to some pleasant moment in our shared history,) to which I could draw the connection between f and x (hoping, in a best case scenario that x (x being the argument put forward that we should admit our undying love (l) for each other (to clarify: x being the argument, l being the actuality)) and f would become completely entangled) – meaning that C(a) could be reached as pleasantly, subtly, and romantically as possible. Unfortunately, due to their proximity a (the curse) and b (the hearty chuckle) served only to enhance the negative interpretations of each value, which is in itself a mathematical truth (a positive integer multiplied by a negative integer will always become negative in value), something that I should have realized before I had even opened my mouth. I.e. a became -a2 (i.e. vulgar, unpleasant, aggressive,) and b became -b2 (i.e. self serving, obnoxious.) In response to this, she came back with a sarcastic (e) mimicry of my –b2: a heartbreaking e(–b2), (unfair for a number of reasons, the most obvious one being I wasn’t aiming for -b2, I was aiming at b, and such a mistake should have been noted and forgiven in a person with all the

“Thinking on my feet, I combined a self-depreciating anecdote containing a pop culture reference (g within m) with an attempt at physical intimacy.” 58 :: BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18

“To her e(–b2) I had no immediate response, and so fell silent (s) but unfortunately by this stage, even my silence was filled with meaning, which meant that s became –s.” qualities of generosity (g) and understanding (u) that I perceived her to have). To her e(–b2) I had no immediate response, and so fell silent (s) but unfortunately by this stage, even my silence was filled with meaning, which meant that s became –s, and, as it became worse each second it was allowed to continue, it could more accurately be described as –s (s x s ). I became aware that the increasing value of s was lethal to any future line of conversation, s holding such negative value that anything it touched would wither (e) and die (d) (remember, the interrelationship of positive and negative values, mentioned above), meaning that even hours later, if I ever wanted to bring up c(a) again, it would have become –c (a), or even worse, s (-c(a)). Drawing on my last reserves of energy, I came back with b (chuckle) in conjunction with a reference to s (s1), followed by an actual s, used for comedic purposes, followed again with a repetition of g within m (“remember that time…just like Katy Perry) hoping that I could somehow make reference to s in a lighthearted, vaguely selfdepreciating but ultimately brave way, thus bringing it into the open and reducing its negative value – in short, leading to b + s1 + s + g(m) = c(a) (and definitely not s(-c(a))

“She looked at me for a long time.” She looked at me for a long time. What followed was not s as we had used it before – not s for comedic purpose, nor s as a necessarily negative value– it was a new s. A silence unlike any I had ever heard, as though some great and powerful composer had written an empty new absence of sound solely for this moment, and I had absolutely no idea what it meant. I was stumped. When this new s was finally broken, it was broken by her, broken with a sentence fragment (k +s) and all she really said is, “I don’t know how to say what I want to say.” And whatever I had been going for, whatever final equation, flew out of the window, and everything drifted from my hands. M




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BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18 :: 59


Bobbie Gentry

Still on the box set front, the recent release of Loving The Alien (1983-1988) has given me excuse to get re-obsessed over my favourite musician in the whole damn world, David Bowie. The box set is the fourth instalment in a series that’s been slowly parsing out Bowie’s back catalogue, following on from Who Can I Be Now? and A New Career In A New Town.

I’ve had an oddly relaxed start to Spring. See, I have bipolar, and my highs and lows are usually kicked off by changes in the seasons – the start of Winter brings with it the start of a long-depressive episode, and the start of Spring sends me manic. But Spring still hasn’t really even started – we’ve had these long, cool days in Sydney, with lots of rain – so I’ve been surprisingly placid. No nights spent writing till 4AM; no sudden and all-consuming bouts of interest in some bizarre, far-flung interest area; no reckless boozing, or poor decision-making. I have been surprisingly… mature, even, so far, which is a definite change for me come this time of year. That relaxed feel has crossed over to the music that I’ve been listening to. On heavy, heavy rotation has been The Girl From Chickasaw County – The Complete Capitol Masters, a mammoth box-set that collects together the complete recorded output of Bobbie Gentry. Gentry is probably best known for her eerie single ‘Ode To Billy Joe’, a strange, winding tune that feels cut straight out of the pages of a Flannery O’Connor short story. But even a quick dip into The Girl From Chickasaw County reveals the full depth of Gentry’s musical talent. Highlights

range from the arch and smoky ‘Lazy Willie’ to rousing versions of classics like ‘Tobacco Road’ and a particularly inspired take on ‘Eleanor Rigby’ that strips proceedings down to nothing but Gentry’s nicotine and diamonds voice, and an elegantly finger-plucked guitar. It’s the kind of back catalogue that you could happily spend the rest of the year moseying through, revisiting old favourites and discovering strange, forgotten B-sides. Physical media nuts should take note, too – there’s an eight-disc version of the collection up for sale. You just might have to mortgage your house to afford it.

Loving The Alien will be more of interest to die-hard fans than the crowd-pleasing Who Can I Be Now? – after all, that earlier box set contained Bowie’s best critically and commercially recognised records, from Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane, whereas Loving The Alien contains his stranger, glossier work. But even still, everywhere you dip with Bowie is gold, and Loving The Alien boasts extraordinary transfers of some of his most challenging,

brilliant material, from the melancholy ‘Let’s Dance’ to live versions of ‘Cat People’ and ‘Breaking Glass.’ Any excuse to pore back over Bowie is a good one, so whether you’re the kind of obsessive who has spent the last five years trying to come up with the perfect Bowie tattoo (guilty) or a relative newcomer, this is a perfect one to pick over. On the newer (and admittedly less laidback front) is Do You Know Enough?, the extraordinary new EP from Moaning Lisa. Every once in a while, a band that comes along that feels unique enough to reset the entire damn table – Moaning Lisa is that band. Acknowledging their scuzz rock roots without ever becoming slavishly obsessed to the past, Moaning Lisa make music as sharp and transparent as shattered glass; ‘Carrie (I Want A Girl)’ might be one of the most important, David Bowie

“The recent release of Loving The Alien (19831988) has given me excuse to get reobsessed over my favourite musician in the whole damn world, David Bowie.”

“Even a quick dip into The Girl From Chickasaw County reveals the full depth of Bobbie Gentry’s musical talent.” 60 :: BRAG :: 742 :: 03:10:18


albums Moaning Lisa

St. Vincent


perfectly realised anthems of the year, while ‘Lily’ has a snarling, repressed energy entirely of its own. I quite literally cannot recommend it enough. Let’s stay local with Body Type, the self-

titled EP from the Sydney-based band of the same name. Combining the sheer, unashamed authenticity of The Shaggs, with the technical proficiency of guitar whizzes Parquet Courts, this is indie rock of the most essential variety. Songs flip Body Type

“The future belongs to Body Type.” thebrag.com

back and forth between melancholy and might, with the anthemic ‘Ludlow (Do You Believe In Karma?)’ sitting precisely between those two extremes. “I know it’s over,” goes the chorus, “but just stay with me.” And proceedings judder themselves into pieces with the EP closer, the reverbsaturated ‘Arrow’, a song that holds you up against a mood, a time, and a place, and then nails you there. The future belongs to Body Type. Finally, let’s talk about MassEducation, St. Vincent’s new “reimagining” of last year’s similarly titled MASSEDUCTION. I’m not gonna lie to you – despite being an almost slavish devotee of Annie Clark, I found MASSEDUCTION to be one of the most devastating disappointments of the year. I tried my hardest to ignore the thing when it first came out – I didn’t even review it for this column, so uncomfortable was I with the idea of giving one of my favourite artists a dud review. In my head, I blamed producer Jack Antonoff – it was he, I

decided, who had given the thing its ugly varnish, turning a series of soulful songs into another pop artefact. But along comes MassEducation, determined to prove me wrong. See, even these stripped-down, piano-led versions of MASSEDUCTION’s songs disappoint – indeed, it reveals their essential weakness; their strange, lopsided, oddly snooty attempts at pop stylings. ‘Pills’ remains the worst song St. Vincent has ever released, both in minimalist and overproduced form. In the immortal words of Hannibal Buress, this sucks man.

Highlight Of The Month: Body Type

Dud Of The Month: MassEducation

BRAG :: 742 :: 03:10:18 :: 61

on the streets SYDNEY VS. MELBOURNE

It’s a question as old as either city: is Melbourne or Sydney the more expensive to rent in? Certainly Sydney has the reputation as the more soulless city. It has earned itself the distinction of being considered a kind of cosmopolitan, contemporary rat’s nest – there’s a reason it gets called ‘the bad city’ across Australian twitter. But is it as expensive to rent in as it is occasionally depressing to live in? Unfortunately for us sad Sydneysiders, the short answer is yes. According to a recent report, rental prices in Sydney are a whopping 46.19 per cent more expensive than in Melbourne. So yep, you’re not just imagining things: there’s a reason that there’s been a mass exodus away from Sydney and into Melbourne as of late, with all of your cool mates packing up their things and heading stateside. Even worse still, though salaries are higher in Sydney, they’re not much higher – certainly not enough to soothe the pain of the massive disparity between Sydney and Melbourne rental prices.

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS AFFORDABLE HOUSING THEN? Everyone deserves access to safe and affordable housing. In an increasingly challenging private rental market, it’s important to be aware of the support you are able to receive with regards to subsidised and affordable housing. FACS defines affordable housing as accommodation that meets the needs of people on very low to moderate incomes – priced in a way that they are able to afford other basic living costs such as food and clothing. In New South Wales and many other states, affordable housing is typically managed by notfor-profit community housing providers or private organisations. The funding of many affordable housing properties has been under the National Rental Affordability Scheme, a program which aims to reduce rental costs for low to medium income households and increase the number of more affordable rental houses. The NRAS household income limits are a good general guide to whether you are eligible for affordable housing. Other factors which may affect eligibility include whether you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia, whether or not you’d be reasonably able to secure adequate housing in the private, and whether you can show you’re able to maintain successful tenancy. According to FACS, there are two ways in which the amount of rent you will be required to pay is set. The first is as a discount of current market rent, usually around 20-25 per cent below market rent. “Where amount is set this way, the amount you pay will depend on the market rent for a similar property in the same area”. The second way is setting rent as proportionate to a household’s income before tax – with households being charged between 25-30% of their income before tax for rent. Typically, affordable housing tenants are required to enter a fixed term lease, and you will need to remain eligible for subsidised housing the whole time you are under that agreement. While still eligible for affordable housing, the lease can usually be renewed and continued.

WHAT ARE YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AS A TENANT IN AUSTRALIA? More Australians are renting than ever before – in many areas of Sydney and Melbourne, more than half of households are tenants. As this number has increased, so too have calls for increased rental protections and tenancy rights. In the case of urgent repairs – that is, ones that pose a danger or significant inconvenience – a landlord must respond immediately once you raise a concern. These include things like blocked or broken toilet, gas leak, dangerous electrical fault, flooding and burst water service. Non-urgent repairs are required to be carried out by your landlord as necessary to maintain the property to a reasonable standard. If damage is not your fault, you are not required to pay for the repairs. The reality is of course that many tenants experience issues with repairs after raising concerns. And while you’re unable to stop paying rent if a landlord refuses to carry out repairs, you may be entitled to apply to your tenancy tribunal to have you rent paid in a separate account until they are complete. On a rolling lease (that is, not a fixed term) your rent can be increased once every six to twelve months depending on which state or territory you’re in… except for New South Wales, where there is no limit. Outside of the NT, you’re required to receive a notice period of 60 days for any increase. This increase is not allowed to be “excessive”. While there’s no hard and fast rules about

what that really means in most states, if you feel like an increase is unfair you can apply for its prevention through your state’s appropriate service. According to Choice, the idea that getting your bond back is entirely at the whim of your landlord is somewhat misleading. In most states or territories, you’re required to lodge your bond with the relevant bond authority once tenancy is over. In the case of disputes, the bond is held with a third party. What this means is that you’re able to apply to receive your bond independently should there be a dispute. In New South Wales you are able to independently apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to get your bond back, and in Victoria you can apply directly to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal if there is a dispute between you and your landlord. While on a fixed term agreement, a landlord cannot evict you without having good cause. However, outside of ACT and Tasmania, once you’re month to month, you can be kicked out with basically zero grounds. In some states, though, if you feel like an eviction is a direct retaliation to you asserting your rights as a tenant, you can apply for orders challenging the eviction, and eventually take it to the tribunal if not resolved.

DESPAIR, MILLENNIALS If you’re a masochist like me, you’ve probably found yourself interested in that terrifying question: what are the most expensive suburbs in Sydney? After all, Sydney is pricey, and only getting pricier. It feels like real estate agents have been promising us that the property bubble is about to burst for going on a decade now. Personally, I feel like I’ve lived my whole life getting promised that one of these days the market is finally going to crash. Every time I go over for tea, my boomer parents assure me that before long I will no longer find myself utterly terrified at the prospect of never being able to own a house. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to believe them, to be quite honest. But hey, while we’re all sitting around waiting for that bubble to burst – a task about as fruitful as waiting for Godot – why don’t we cause ourselves a little angst and look into the most expensive suburbs in Sydney. Most of the suburbs in Sydney are too expensive. But the really expensive suburbs in Sydney are mostly located in the Southeast, according to a 2018 study by the website Finder.Com.au. As also noted in a news.com.au article, in particular, the suburbs of Kensington and Kingsford are nigh-on unaffordable. Houses in those areas can be up to 23 times higher than the average income. Ouch.

62 :: BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18


With Joseph Earp and Allison Gallagher

MAKING A DOG’S EAR OF IT It’s time to face facts: most of us aren’t going to be able to own properties for a long, long time. It’s not enough to say Sydney’s property market is a little hostile right now. Indeed, it’s downright inhospitable. Rich boomers who have had a silver spoon in their mouth since the moment they popped onto the planet are locking younger generations out of the property market, leaving us to pay an absurd amount of our annual income on rent. Most landlords and real estate agents justify their lack of lenience when it comes to their tenants owning pets with the excuse that animals can cause “significant property damage.” And sure, unsupervised, poorly-kept animals can indeed cause a degree of damage: dogs can scratch floors; cats can chew curtains; hell, pet mice can ruin skirting boards. But you know what else can cause damage to property: tenants. The weather. Time itself. Properties can and do sustain a little bit of damage constantly. Landlords already take a bond as a way of protecting themselves against property destruction: the minimal amount of damage that pets might do can easily be covered by that bond as well. The ‘damage’ excuse simply does not hold water anymore. Landlords should own up to their hypocrisies, and admit that their bias against animals is simply unjust. Tenants don’t just want animals for the hell of it. It has already been proven in many, many reports that owning animals can actively and positively impact on people’s lives. Owning a dog makes you happier, healthier, and more productive. In short, it makes you a better tenant. What right do landlords have in taking away a simple, uncomplicated source of joy in the lives of their tenants? Simply put: the tide is changing against antianimal bias. The lawmakers in Melbourne have already made the right step towards true rental rights, and have now decreed that landlords can no longer turn down the desire of tenants to own pets. For too long, an archaic and misguided attitude has stopped renters from caring for the animals that they have every right to own. It is high time that Sydney follows Melbourne’s lead, and make real changes towards a positive, petowning future.

THE NAME’S BOND. END OF BOND. Are there any life events as peculiarly stressful as moving out of a rental? It’s a crying shame, really. Moving shouldn’t be the kind of fresh horror that keeps you up late at night, tossing and turning. In a perfect world, it would be a great opportunity for rebirth; the chance to find yourself in a fresh new locale, and to start afresh. The problem lies in all of the jobs you’ve got to do. Moving is never simple, and it’s the kind of work that creates a thousand hitherto unseen tasks. You think it’s a question of simply booking the moving van, choosing the right friends to help you carry the heavy stuff, and handing over your old keys. But then suddenly you’re sweating the small stuff, and before you know it you’re scrounging around the internet at midnight searching for bond cleaning in Sydney so your landlord doesn’t take a massive bite out of your bond. That’s where we come in. Sure, we might not be able to help with that heavy lifting (sorry: we’re uniformly scrawny around these parts – it’s what a lifetime of sitting behind a screen and typing does to you.) But we can help you with sourcing that all-important service: finding bond cleaning in Sydney. Here then are four examples of the best bond cleaning in Sydney, all for your perusing pleasure.

Sydney Bond Cleaners

Neighbours Cleaning

Nobody likes ordering bond cleaning in Sydney and finding a company that sends out cleaners illquipped for getting the worst of the dirt, which is what makes Sydney Bond Cleaners special. Their workers are decked out in the best cleaning equipment that money can buy – and, best of all, they offer a carpet steaming service too.

Based out of Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, Neighbours Cleaning have been around for over a decade, and are well-known for their studious, hardworking cleaners. Best of all, they use quality control measures to ensure their cleaners are working at the very top of their game. Looking for bond cleaning in Sydney that’ll be done in a jiffy? Look no further.

JUST A BIT OF WEAR AND TEAR Renting can be stressful, and rental agreements are often packed from top to bottom with weasel words, with ‘wear and tear’ being one of the more egregious examples. For those unfamiliar with the term, ‘reasonable wear and tear’ is damage to the property that tenants do not have to pay for. After all, landlords and real estate agents understand that renters are ordinary people with ordinary lives who don’t walk around their home with cotton-wool on their feet. Nobody expects a house to stay in pristine condition – hell, the second law of thermodynamics rules that disorder only increases; the same is true of your rental property. But there lies the all-important question: what does reasonable wear and tear actually entail? It’s stressful to think about as a renter – how are you meant to know whether that scratch on the fl oor is going to be considered reasonable wear and tear, or if your landlord is going to take out a chunk of your bond in order to pay for it? Let’s


Ricky’s Cleaning Service Want bond cleaning in Sydney that’ll have your landlord gasping at the sight of his new, waxed and polished home? Then hit up Ricky’s Cleaning Service, a small business that boasts hundreds of satisfied customers. “Ricky did an amazing job,” wrote a recent customer on OneFlare. “He was efficient and very polite and completed the job without leaving any mess.”

JCO Cleaners JCO Cleaners are one of the most trusted cleaners in Sydney, leaving them in a perfect position to blow the socks off any customers looking for bond cleaning in Sydney. Oh, and even better than that, they’re supremely affordable, meaning you’ll have a top of the line bond cleaning in Sydney that won’t leave you feeling ripped off after.

help explain it to you. Basically, ‘reasonable wear and tear’ is considered any ‘natural’ damage to your house. Say you have hardwood fl oors like I do. Hardwood fl oors are notoriously easy to damage: even rolling back and forth on chairs will leave ugly black marks. And those very ugly black marks are perfect examples of reasonable wear and tear. So is slight damage to walls that results from posters being pulled off. So is worn hinges. So are scuff marks on the floor. So is rust to your front gate. So are cracked window frames. These are all instances of ‘reasonable wear and tear’ because they are instances of damage that happen through no fault of the tenant. What’s an example of damage that isn’t reasonable wear and tear? Well, if your child gets out a compass and scores lines in the hardwood – that’s not reasonable wear and tear. Neither is any kind of damage that involves some kind of active agency on your part. So unfortunately, if you throw a party and burn your house down – that’s not reasonable wear and tear either.

BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18 :: 63



y p p a H day! h t r i B

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g g guide gig g Submit your gig and club listings, head to: thebrag.com/gig-guide.


Sam Smith

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard

Sam Smith Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park. Wednesday November 14. 8pm. $121.69. Sam Smith, pop’s premiere peddler of sad boi ballads, is back in the country that he loves so much, playing a series of arena shows. Get on it, and bring the tissues.



Kamaal Williams Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $39.98.

Enmore Theatre, Newtown.

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard THURSDAY NOVEMBER 8 Mike McClellan The Basement, Sydney. 8pm. Free.

Smash Mouth Enmore Theatre,

Newtown. 8pm. $89.90 The Animals The Bridge Hotel, Rozelle. 8pm. Free.

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 9 The Aints Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $56.60.

Smash Mouth

Mike Love + Declan Kelly The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7pm. $27.50. Sam Smith Qudos Bank Arena,

8pm. $76.70. Sinsaenum Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7:30pm. $60.


Sydney Olympic Park. 8pm. $121.69.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 15 Josh Smith Power Trio + Shane Pacey Heritage Hotel Bulli, Bulli. 8pm. Free.

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 16 Forever Diamond Leadbelly, Newtown. 8pm. Free.

The Go Set Marrickville Bowling Club, Marrickville. 6pm. $12. Hermitage Green The Stag & Hunter Hotel, Mayfield. 7pm. Free. Jah Prayzah & Third Generation Band Max Watt’s, Moore Park. 8pm. $45.25. James Metro Theatre, CBD. 8pm. $69.95.


Conan + Bell Witch Manning Bar, Camperdown. 8pm. $61.75. John Williamson Hornsby RSL, Hornsby. 7pm. Free. Katchafire Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 8pm. $51.10. Smash Mouth Twin Towns, Tweed Heads. 8pm. $54.50. Steven Wilson Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $99.90


Smash Mouth Enmore Theatre, Newtown. Thursday November 8. 8pm. $89.90 Here’s the deal: somebody once told them that the world was gonna roll them; they ain’t the sharpest tools in the shed.


Shin Dig Irish Music The Mercantile Hotel, The Rocks. 7pm. Free. Katchafire Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill. 8pm. $51.10.

YG Hordern Pavillion, Sydney CBD. Friday November 23. 8pm. $99.40. YG is a modern rap superstar, a beatsmith and chameleon who has the ability to swap styles at the drop of a hat. Come ready to belt “fuck Donald Trump” at the top of your voice.

BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18 :: 65

g g guide gig g Submit your gig and club listings, head to: thebrag.com/gig-guide.

Have a gig or club listing to get in The BRAG? You can now submit your gig and club listings, head to thebrag.com/gig-guide. Gang Of Youths

Gang Of Youths

Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. November 22. $89.90 Sure, beloved Sydney-based power-rockers Gang Of Youths are playing the Enmore on November 22, but maybe more importantly, that’s the birthday of the editor of this magazine. Keep him in your thoughts when you’re singing along to ‘Let Me Down Easy’.

Sam Smith Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park. 8pm. $121.69.

YG Hordern Pavillion, Sydney CBD. 8pm. $99.40.

Smash Mouth Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul. 8pm.



The Church NEX, Newcastle West. 8pm. $45.12.

Australian Trilogy Heritage Hotel Bulli, Bulli. 6pm. $12.

Mark Seymour & The Undertow Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $69.45.

Hermitage Green Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $44.07.

Shihad Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 7pm. $51.50.

Holy Holy Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 8pm. $40.10.


Sam Smith Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park. 8pm. $121.69.

Shin Dig Irish Music The Mercantile Hotel, The Rocks. 8pm. Free.


free stuff head to: thebrag.com/freeshit

Kamikaze Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 8pm. $89. Passenger Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $86.25. Shin Dig Irish Music The Merchantile Hotel, The Rocks. 6pm. Free.


WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 21 Gang Of Youths Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $89.90

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 22 Gang Of Youths Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $89.90

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 23 The Angels Metro Theatre, Sydney. 8pm. $39. Bohemian Beatfreaks Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $189.90.

SUSPIRIA Suspiria is one of the film events of the year – a remake that has the gall to use its (excellent) source text as merely a suggested starting point. Indeed, rather than sticking slavishly to Dario Argento’s giallo original, Suspiria 2018 settles for entirely new targets: it’s a film about feminism; about the fallout of war; about the lies that we tell ourselves, and tell others. It is also one of the most extraordinary films to come out of a major Hollywood production company in decades. To celebrate the release of the film, which opens in Aussie cinemas on Thursday November 8, we have ten double passes to give away. Simply head over to thebrag.com/freeshit to enter. 66 :: BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $76.70. Press Club Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 8pm. $16. The Coronas Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 8pm. $66.70.

MONDAY NOVEMBER 26 Gang Of Youths Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $89.90

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 27 Gang Of Youths Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $89.90

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 29 Gang Of Youths Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $89.90

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 30 Gang Of Youths Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $89.90 Golden Vessel Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 8pm. $15. Young Franco Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 8pm. $29.70.

SATURDAY DECEMBER 1 Antagonist A.D Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 7:30pm. $16.

SUNDAY DECEMBER 2 Shin Dig Irish Music The Mercantile Hotel, The Rocks. 8pm. Free.

For our full gig and club listings, head to thebrag. com/gig-guide.






REGISTER NOW SAE.EDU.AU | 1800 723 338 *Conditions apply, see sae.edu.au/win-a-trip. AU residents 16+ only. Starts 20/10/18. Ends: 11:59pm AEDST 15/2/19. Limit 1 entry /person. Draw: 373 Ewingsdale Rd, Byron Bay NSW 2481 on 20/2/19 at 5pm AEDST. Winner at www.SAE.edu.au from 25/2/19. Prize: 1x trip for 2ppl to the winner’s choice of 1 SAE Creative Media Institute campus (from the following 3 options: London - UK, Paris - France or New York - USA) valued at up to AU$10.5K. Promoter: SAE Institute Pty Limited (ABN 21 093 057 973) of Australian Headquarters, 373 Ewingsdale Rd, Byron Bay NSW 2481. Permits: NSW. LTPS/18/26262 ACT. TP18/01370 SA. T18/1252

g g guide gig g Submit your gig and club listings, head to: thebrag.com/gig-guide.


Sam Smith

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard

Sam Smith Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park. Wednesday November 14. 8pm. $121.69. Sam Smith, pop’s premiere peddler of sad boi ballads, is back in the country that he loves so much, playing a series of arena shows. Get on it, and bring the tissues.



Kamaal Williams Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $39.98.

Enmore Theatre, Newtown.

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard THURSDAY NOVEMBER 8 Mike McClellan The Basement, Sydney. 8pm. Free.

Smash Mouth Enmore Theatre,

Newtown. 8pm. $89.90 The Animals The Bridge Hotel, Rozelle. 8pm. Free.

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 9 The Aints Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $56.60.

Smash Mouth

Mike Love + Declan Kelly The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7pm. $27.50. Sam Smith Qudos Bank Arena,

8pm. $76.70. Sinsaenum Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7:30pm. $60.


Sydney Olympic Park. 8pm. $121.69.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 15 Josh Smith Power Trio + Shane Pacey Heritage Hotel Bulli, Bulli. 8pm. Free.

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 16 Forever Diamond Leadbelly, Newtown. 8pm. Free.

The Go Set Marrickville Bowling Club, Marrickville. 6pm. $12. Hermitage Green The Stag & Hunter Hotel, Mayfield. 7pm. Free. Jah Prayzah & Third Generation Band Max Watt’s, Moore Park. 8pm. $45.25. James Metro Theatre, CBD. 8pm. $69.95.


Conan + Bell Witch Manning Bar, Camperdown. 8pm. $61.75. John Williamson Hornsby RSL, Hornsby. 7pm. Free. Katchafire Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 8pm. $51.10. Smash Mouth Twin Towns, Tweed Heads. 8pm. $54.50. Steven Wilson Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $99.90


Smash Mouth Enmore Theatre, Newtown. Thursday November 8. 8pm. $89.90 Here’s the deal: somebody once told them that the world was gonna roll them; they ain’t the sharpest tools in the shed.


Shin Dig Irish Music The Mercantile Hotel, The Rocks. 7pm. Free. Katchafire Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill. 8pm. $51.10.

YG Hordern Pavillion, Sydney CBD. Friday November 23. 8pm. $99.40. YG is a modern rap superstar, a beatsmith and chameleon who has the ability to swap styles at the drop of a hat. Come ready to belt “fuck Donald Trump” at the top of your voice.

BRAG :: 743 :: 07:11:18 :: 65

Profile for The Brag Magazine

The Brag #743  

http://thebrag.com/ SYDNEY’S FREE STREET PRESS Hitting the streets monthly, with the best music, movies, arts, comedy, food and gigs. Thi...

The Brag #743  

http://thebrag.com/ SYDNEY’S FREE STREET PRESS Hitting the streets monthly, with the best music, movies, arts, comedy, food and gigs. Thi...


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