WA’S HIGHEST QUALITY STREET PRESS • THURSDAY 5 JULY 2012 • 295 • FREE
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Secret Sounds presents
EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS plus WILLY
Sat-13-Oct BELVOIR AMPHITHEATRE PERTH Tickets from ticketmaster.com.au & 136 100
TICKETS ON SALE 9AM MONDAY 9 JULY secret-sounds.com.au
Pre-Order the new Mumford and Sons album. More details soon at mumfordandsons.com
THE DRUM MEDIA • 3
NEWS FROM THE FRONT
IN BRIEF Mushroom Group Chairman Michael Gudinski has topped SPA and TheMusic. com.au’s AMID Power 50 poll. Head to themusic.com. au for the full list, which includes John Butler and Brad Mellen from WA. BEACH HOUSE
BEACH BOUND A couple of weeks ago Southbound announced that next year it will again take place at Sir Stewart Bovell Park in Busselton, on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 January 2013, and as promised they’ve just unleashed the first artist announcement. While it’s only a few acts, there’s plenty to be excited about, with dreamy popsters Beach House, beach-rockers Best Coast, indie-folk champs Boy & Bear, hip hop hero Coolio, weird-poppers The Flaming Lips, silky-smooth beatsman SBTRKT and Brit-rockers The Vaccines getting the ball rolling. Soundbound 2013 will see the two-day, two-night, 18-plus format return, for a no-doubt spectacular way to start the New Year, presented by Drum Media.
After a successful first round last year, the Natural New Zealand Music Festival will return to Red Hill Auditorium Saturday 1 December. The full line-up announcement is due August 20, with tickets available September 3. Likewise, Sets On The Beach has announced Sundays December 2, January 13 and March 24 as their three summer dates. Head to Mills Records or call 9335 5066 for an exclusive $135 plus BF season pass.
THE LIVING END
ROLLING ON The Retrospective Tour will see Australia’s legendary rock’n’roll sons The Living End play each of their six albums in full, back-to-back, start to finish, over six nights. The Rosemount Hotel plays host to the momentous set of dates on the Perth leg: Thursday 1 November they play State Of Emergency; Friday 2 Modern Artillery; Saturday 3 The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating; Sunday 4 Roll On; Monday 5 and Tuesday 7 The Living End; and Wednesday 7 White Noise. Tickets via Oztix, with the option for a Big Red Ticket offering access to every show.
The date for Hyperfest’s Youth Arts Exhibition HyperVision submissions has been extended ‘til Friday 13 July. hyperfest. com.au to enter.
FEST FIRST Hilarious and controversial US stand up comedian Anthony Jeselnik (Comedy Central, HBO) will be making his Australian debut and will also be the first international guest in Rottofest’s history when he does his thing at the fourth annual Rottofest, Saturday 8 to Sunday 9 September. There’ll be a host of other comedic guests including Tim Ferguson, Mel Buttle and more – check Front Row for more details. However, the music line-up has Drum HQ pretty excited too. Brisbane indie surf-poppers Millions headline (perfect for island party vibes), along with a host of local champions including Stillwater Giants, Sonpsilo Circus, Sam Perry, Anton Franc, Patient Little Sister, Cow Parade Cow, The Flower Drums, Tomas Ford and more. Head to Rottofest.com.au for the full line-up, and early bird ticket options until July 20, proudly presented by Drum Media.
Muse’s new single Survival will be the official song of the 2012 London Olympics. Their new album The 2nd Law is due September. Cancer Bats have postponed their upcoming east coast tour - they’ll instead be back for Soundwave 2013, heading to all state capitals. Lamb Of God vocalist Randy Blythe was arrested in Prague last week on manslaughter charges and released on roughly $200,000 bail - check our The Abyss column in LIVE for the full story.
STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS
TRAFFIC JAM Not since 2009 has Australia had the pleasure of the company of Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. However, 2011 saw release of their excellent Mirror Traffic album, a split 7” with LA Guns and other recorded delights, which finally gives them a reason to pack their ultra long-distance suitcases, and head to Australia for their 2012 Mirror Traffic Tour. They play the Rosemount Hotel, Friday 28 September. Tickets via heatseeker.com.au. MARIA MINERVA
Adele’s 21 is still the highest selling album in Australia this year. In the mid-year ARIA report it beat out One Direction’s Up All Night and Hilltop Hoods’ Drinking From The Sun. Following their purchase of EMI Music Publishing last week, Sony/ATV now own publishing rights for over two million songs.
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MUMFORD AND SONS
FOLK-ROCKIN’ BEATS Returning to wow Australian audiences this October, Mumford & Sons will play an incredible ten concerts across major metro and regional venues around the country, kicking off in Perth at Belvoir Amphitheatre, Sunday 13 October. The band’s Australian Stopover tour sees support from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and Willy Mason. Anyone who has been lucky enough to see them before will tell you it is guaranteed to be one of the biggest and most exciting nights on this year’s live music calendar. Tickets via Ticketmaster. YUKSEK
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SWAN SOUNDS On the heels of her new LP and ahead of her Integration collaboration with LA Vampires, young Estonian songstress Maria Minerva appears in Perth for the very first time this August. Upon the banks of the Swan River, Minerva will perform in concert with special guests Mei Saraswati, Leure and DJs Rok Riley and Jo Lettenmaier, Sunday 26 August at the Maylands Yacht Club, from 5pm. Tickets via oztix.com.au. HOME BREW
The triple j Unearthed Splendour In The Grass winners for 2012 are Kingswood.
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Chief Executive of Parisbased entertainment group Vivendi, Jean-Bernard Lévy, has stepped down from his position due to a “divergence of views on the strategic development of the group”. Vivendi owns the Universal Music Group. Blur have revealed two new songs written for their Hyde Park show, Under The Westway and The Puritan, in a special online show beamed from a secret UK location earlier this week.
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Brisbane street press title Rave Magazine announced that last week’s issue would be their last after 21 years in existence.
YUK IT UP After dropping the acclaimed album Away From the Sea, Yuksek had a lot to live up to. All it took was some serious time on the road and at home in the fertile music scene of Reims, France to plant the seed. Now the flower has bloomed in Living On The Edge Of Time. The new album is full of rousing electro-jams at their finest and you can catch Yuksek Friday 27 July at Villa at Speakeasy, with support from Melbourne’s Clubfeet, Audageous, Paper Planes and Metric DJs. Tickets $33 plus BF via Moshtix.
Hermitude have signed a worldwide deal with the legendary 1914-formed Regal Records, an imprint of Parlophone.
LEAVING HOME Off the back of launching their self-titled double album (the first hip hop album to debut at #1 in New Zealand since 2003) by throwing a 48-hour party in an old brothel, having their controversial pop-up store closed down early, then touring the carnage around NZ, Home Brew are bringing the party to Australia. They’re joined by Sky’High and DJ Substance at Amplifier Thursday 9 August to showcase that very album. Tickets via Oztix.
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THE DRUM MEDIA • 5
NEWS FROM THE FRONT
RTRFM Winter Music Festical with Felicity Groom, Usurper Of Modern Medicine and French Rockets.
There’s some mighty fine happenings going down right now in WA, and we don’t just mean figuring out how to spend your share of the $30mil Lotto draw you won last weekend... if you did. EMMY LOU HARRIS
COUNTRY QUEEN Already celebrated as a discoverer and interpreter of other artists’ songs, 12-time Grammy Award winner Emmy Lou Harris has, in the last decade, gained admiration as much for her eloquently straightforward songwriting as for her incomparably expressive singing. Emmy Lou Harris’ contribution as a singer and songwriter spans 40 years. She brings her impressive discography to Perth with Her Red Dirt Boys at Perth Concert Hall, Tuesday 6 November. Tickets via BOCs.
SMITTEN Poison City Records has revealed that burgeoning buzz band The Smith Street Band will release their second album Sunshine & Technology on Friday 24 August, the follow up to their debut success No One Gets Lost Anymore. To celebrate its release the band will tour extensively, and they play headlining shows in capital cities Australia-wide. The tour stops in Perth Friday 31 August at The Rosemount Hotel.
THERE GOES MY HERO Hailing from Sydney, For Our Hero’s highly anticipated first full-length record Strange Days has rocketed to number two on the iTunes rock charts and earned a number three spot on Australia’s Independent AIR Charts. Having already toured with well known national and international artists, they return to Perth and play the Rosemount Hotel, Thursday 26 July and YMCA HQ Friday 27 July. Tickets via Moshtix.
FRONT PAGE The incredibly gifted and ever-hilarious multiinstrumentalist and looping artist Adam Page will be performing his solo show around the country in his first major gigs since leaving Australia to live in New Zealand in 2011. Performing in international festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Uijongbu Arts Festival in Korea, he also played Australian festivals such as WOMADelaide and the Big Day Out. He brings his talents to Perth Tuesday 21 August, playing the Ellington Jazz Club.
HEATING UP Jungle Fever is back, Saturday August 11 at Villa Nightclub, with its biggest lineup yet, featuring Kenny Ken, DJ SS and MC Skibadee, some of the UK’s most legendary and iconic figures in drum’n’bass – true pioneers of the genre who have all been there right from the beginning and are still smashing dancefloors all over the world to this day. Support from Greg Packer & Assassin, Qbik & Seeka and Illusiv & Dvise. Tickets $45 plus BF via Moshtix.
THIRTY QUENCHER One of Australia’s most respected musical talents, Rai Thistlethwayte, best known as the frontman of Thirsty Merc, is heading out on a rare solo tour this July/August. A highly accomplished pianist, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Rai will be road-testing some new material and putting a unique spin on some much-loved Thirsty Merc songs when he plays Friends Restaurant Thursday 2 August; Charles Hotel Friday 3; The Boulevard Tavern Saturday 4; and the Indi Bar Sunday 5.
Local rockers Axe Girl, featuring Addison Axe, Nat Ripepi and Vanessa Thornton & Brett Mitchell (Jebediah), kick off their residency at Mojo’s Thursday 12 July, then play there the next two Thursdays.
Perth’s own The Love Junkies will support Band Of Skulls at The Bakery Monday 23 July, while Sugar Army take opening honours for The Smashing Pumpkins, Thursday 26 July at Challenge Stadium. Bringing their soulful reggae vibes to Mojo’s Saturday 28 July is NGATI, with support from The Weapon Is Sound and DJ Corby. Will Stoker & The Embers, Lucille, Blazing Entrails and Paul Mccarthy team up at The Fly Trap to bring you a night of smokin’ guitar riffs and good old fashioned rock n roll, Saturday 28 July.
The beginning of a new nightlife experience, Dank Magic, kicks off Thursday 5 July at the Velvet Lounge, with DJs Oddstar and Musako. Perth punk-rockers The Decline have announced a national tour that kicks off tomorrow at YMCA HQ, then Prince Of Wales, Bunbury Saturday 14 before they head over east, and return home to play The Rosemount Hotel Wednesday 1 August.
Band Of Frequencies have announced Dilip N The Davs will support them at Mojos, Sunday 5 August, and Simon Kelly & The Big Bamboo at The Indi Bar, Wednesday 8.
Magicians of melody Bastian’s Happy Flight headline Innerspace at Geisha, Sunday 15 July with support from MmHmMm, Leure and DJ Cameron George (Usurper Of Modern Medicine), $8 entry.
After launching new EP Vile Horizons, Mezzanine are set to embark on their first national tour, which kicks of at The Railway Hotel, Saturday 21 July, for the
This spring The Amity Affliction will embark on their biggest run of Australian dates yet, in support of the highly-anticipated release of their Roadrunner Records debut Chasing Ghosts. In addition they’re supported by California’s metallic hardcore kings The Ghost Inside, Brighton’s modern metal lords Architects and is capped off with local juggernauts Buried In Verona! The tour takes control of Metropolis Fremantle Sunday 7 October, and again Monday 8 for an all-ages show. Tickets via Heatseeker.
ALL GROWN UP To celebrate 20 years of dedicated Pharcyde delivery, and following their successful performances at Good Vibes in 2009, California’s Imani and Bootie Brown of The Pharcyde are bringing their original, idiosyncratic style of hip hop back to Australia this August with a special audio/visual show. Saturday 25 August sees them take control of the Capitol to work their magic for WA audiences. Tickets via Oztix.
M A R L E Y
LET THERE BE ROCK
THE MERRY WEST
Always reliable to roll out the rock when someone special comes to town, Rock It is back on WA’s festival agenda, with the 11th edition at Joondalup Arena, Sunday 28 October. Initially announced a few weeks ago with rockin’ twosome The Black Keys, you can now include John Butler Trio, Birds Of Tokyo, The Panics, Lanie Lane, Last Dinosaurs, San Cisco, Abbe May, Royal Headache, Graveyard Train, Brothers Grim, The Toot Toot Toots, The Kill Devil Hills and Emperors. Tickets are $99 plus BF via Heatseeker from tomorrow.
As if the North West Festival in its first year wasn’t big enough already, they are adding more names to the bill. Joining the already rock solid line-up of Hilltop Hoods, The Living End and The Cat Empire are Regurgitator, Dead Letter Circus and San Cisco. Even better, ticket prices will be remaining the same. These six artists will be blasting into the Pilbara region and taking over the Port Hedland Turf Club on Saturday 18 August. Tickets via Moshtix.
BIRDS OF TOKYO
WINTER WARMERS The recent dip in temperatures can only mean one thing – the RTRFM Fremantle Winter Music Festival. Saturday 21 July get warmed up by some toasty local tunes as 25 local acts take over five stages at the Railway Hotel, Swan Hotel and Mojo’s. The acts playing are Felicity Groom; Usurper Of Modern Medicine; French Rockets; Mezzanine; Rocket To Memphis; Cal Peck & The Tramps; Blazin’ Entrails; Ruby Boots; Ensemble Formidable; and heaps more. Head to rtrfm.com.au for tickets, the full line-up, and who’s playing where.
Best, Mike Bowring, Tom Bragg, Tristan Broomhall, Rob Browne, Rick Bryant, Michael Caves, Travis Collins, Cyclone, Marcia Czerniak, Sebastian DíAlonzo, Kitt Di Camillo, Daniel Cribb, Naomi Dollery, Cameron Duff, Cam Findlay, Tomas Ford, Chantelle Gabriel, Olivia Gardiner, Baron Gutter, Rueben Hale, Simon Holland, Craig Hollywood, Christopher H. James, Jason Kenny, Angela King, Mac McNaughton, Tom OíDonovan, Nic Owen, Gabriel Pavane, Katie Rolston, Ted Schlechte, Michael Smith, Andy Snelling, Aimee Somerville, Anthony Williams, Mitchell Withers
6 • THE DRUM MEDIA
THE LONG ROAD
In an era beset by an abscess of competition and the gasping breath of Regurgitator’s 19th year, they’re not looking back for the sake of looking back. Instead, they take a knife to the face of nostalgia and sculpt it a new nose with the highly unexpected – playing Tu Plang and Unit back to back at The Astor, Sunday 7 October with support from Indonesian twopiece phenomenon Senyawa. Tickets via BOCs. They’ve also joined the North West Festial line-up – check Festival News for deets.
DEAD LETTER CIRCUS
CREDITS Rockhampton duo Busby Marou are currently on the I Still Don’t Believe Tour, celebrating the new single of the same name. Joined by Leader Cheetah in duo mode and The Hello Morning, the troupe plays Prince Of Wales, Bunbury Friday 6 July; Rosemount Hotel Saturday 7; and Newport Hotel Sunday 8. Tickets are via Oztix, Moshtix and Heatseeker, or to nab one of TWO DOUBLE PASSES to either the Rosemount or Newport shows, email giveaways@ drumperth.com.au with “BUSBY BELIEVE” in the subject header, and which show you’d prefer.
Already confirmed to return to Australia this September for the Deni Ute Muster, Kelly Clarkson will also be playing a run of national arena shows on her return. Clarkson’s acclaimed career took off after winning the inaugural American Idol competition in 2002, and her first album was released in 2003. Five albums and countless top-ten hits later, she continues to stun crowds. She lands in Perth Friday 8 October and plays Challenge Stadium with special guests The Fray and Sarah De Bono.
BACK TO BACK
After two rockin’ parties so far, Syrup returns to the Irwin St Alleyway, Friday 20 July, for a third instalment featuring Kit-Pop, Clunk, Dat A$$, Dragon Rock, Robihusslin and Allstate.
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Announcing their first ever appearance in Perth, Octave One play The Bakery Saturday 22 September. Arriving onto the electronic scene with I Believe in 1990, the core unit of the band, made up of Lenny and Lawrence Burden, have had the privilege of bringing their high-energy live shows to many parts of the world. The tour is in support of retrospect compilation, Revisited: Here, There, And Beyond.
HEART’S ON FIRE Known for their brutally energetic live sets, Jackson Firebird are set to bring their brand of high-octane rock to WA for two special shows this July. The band has earned their touring stripes alongside You Am I, King Cannons, Snowdroppers, Little Birdy and The Fumes. It’s now WA’s turn to catch them in headline mode on their Paper Scissors Rock Tour, Friday 13 July at the Hyde Park Hotel and Saturday 14 The Railway Hotel.
GAMBLING ADDICTION London’s Philip Gamble, better known in the sonic realm as Girl Unit, gave the post-dubstep continuum its most spectacular boost in 2010 with the eerily addictive stutter and icy cheeps of Wut. Nodding to southern rap, Chicago juke, the dark kitsch-glitch of witch house, ravey R&B and beyond, Gamble’s tracks promise a constant redefinition of what’s considered pop, and he drops in for a set at The Bakery Saturday 4 August.
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THE DRUM MEDIA â€¢ 7
Wellington to playing to 15,000 people at Hollywood Bowl – mostly doing the same stuff! That was so exciting. Usually we’re pretty blasé; it’s really great touring but it’s not like we get amped every show or anything like that, but that time we were actually running around pretending to be rock stars and talking in our stupid rock stars voices, which is like this [approximates grizzled old rocker], ‘Alright, Hollywood!’ That was before the show, before we’d even started! “We used to do that a little bit when we first started doing shows in Wellington, sometimes we’d do this joke and put on these rock star personas before we’d go on and once I did it so much that I lost my voice. It was like the time where Bret had to cover with the guitar, except this time he had to cover with all the singing – I could only talk in a very weak, very distant-sounding freaky voice. “So some things are the same [as the old days], just the amount of people is different. And we get paid now! We used to get paid for those little gigs, but it would just cover the guitar strings that we’d bought for the show, so we’d break even.” With all of this recent film work under their collective belts there’s been strong talk of a Flight Of The Conchords movie in the offing.
On the eve of Flight Of The Conchords’ inaugural Australian headlining tour, the taller of the Kiwi duo, Jermaine Clement, promises Steve Bell that the incessant Aussie bashing of their TV show is all in jest and that they really do love their neighbours.
ou can call the guys from Flight Of The Conchords many things, but you certainly can’t question their courage. They may have moved up in the world since their years spent as New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘fourth most popular folk-parody duo’ – a swag of shared awards including a Grammy, as well as individual accolades including an Oscar for Bret McKenzie and an Emmy nomination for his partner-in-crime Jermaine Clement would surely attest that they’ve climbed a few rungs on that particular pecking order – but the pair haven’t been to Australia since their eponymous TV show became a massive worldwide smash, debuting on US comedy giant HBO in 2007 and wrapping up two years later, having made the pair virtually household names on a global scale. But it’s not just the tyranny of distance that makes their imminent live tour of Australia so daunting for the cocky Kiwis; they’re more concerned about how they’re going to live down the incessant Aussie bashing and anti-Australian rhetoric that liberally littered their TV show. Who can forget characters like conniving Aussie sheila Keitha, the cloyingly smug Australian diplomat Maxwell or the montage of the Conchords guys flipping the bird at the Australian Embassy in New York (where Flight Of The Conchords is based), a cross-Tasman rivalry best summed up by their description of Australians in the first series as a “bunch of cocky a-holes descended from criminals and retarded monkeys.” Them sounds like fighting words... “We do not hate the Aussies!” Clement roars laughingly when confronted about their treatment of our nation on the small screen. “Although when we were doing the show – because we have a quite a few Aussie jokes – we did get a bit worried. We were worried about how it would be received, but in general Australians have taken to it with great humour. We thought we’d be ostracised in both New Zealand – for how we made New Zealanders appear – and Australia, and we’d have
8 • THE DRUM MEDIA
to live on an island. We’re coming over to apologise for all of the terrible stereotypes we purported. We’re just going to apologise profusely and then leave. “But you know what I find the funniest thing – with all the Australian characters we had we did play around with them a bit, but we always made you guys the winners. We were always the losers. But when Australians make fun of New Zealanders it’s always the same way around too – you guys are the winners and New Zealanders are the losers. So we’re just kidding.” The Flight Of The Conchords’ quest for contrition finds them returning to their roots, performing live and relying primarily on their hilariously whimsical songs to offset the duo’s naively stunted ‘fish out of water’ worldview and twisted inter-personal relationship. It’s how they started performing in their native Wellington back in the late-‘90s, building up the premise to the point where they were offered a BBC2 radio show in the UK in 2004, which in turn was tweaked to form the basis of their riotous TV series. “Yeah, except our shows when we started were very much like our shows in the TV show – there were hardly any people,” Clement chuckles. “They were more dedicated than in the TV show – we had fans, but they would fit on two couches that would be at the front of the venue. I remember Bret’s dad seeing us early on and saying, ‘You guys are world class!’ and I laughed at him. I thought, ‘That’s a nice dad! That’s a nice thing for a dad to say about his son’s stupid band!’” The ‘Conchords relied on this marriage of music and comedy from the get-go, but in the beginning each brought a particular skill set to the table. “We were just learning guitar, so it was mainly about learning how to play a guitar,” Clement smirks of the pair’s early material. “Actually, at my first gig I was so nervous that I couldn’t move my hand! I’d done comedy stuff before but no music and Bret had done music before but no comedy. Fortunately Bret – having played music gigs before – was confident enough to move his hands, so some sound came out.
“We met doing comedy stuff – theatre stuff – in Wellington. Our first songs were just weird songs; they didn’t necessarily have jokes, they were usually about people dying and stuff. I think our very first song was actually the French one that we still do sometimes, Foux Du Fafa, which wasn’t about anything – we just wanted to sound like Serge Gainsbourg. Most of that song only has two chords and then Bret wrote some more chords to go on the end of the song. “Our first gig, we were doing auditions and stuff and Bret was playing in several bands. We were both really poor – we were flatting together – and then a friend of mine got a job booking comedy at a local club. It was the only comedy night in Wellington – it was once a week – and he said, ‘Do you want to be the band at this comedy gig?’ so we did that. Our songs had a few jokes in them [at the outset] and we just got more and more jokes, until eventually it was all jokes almost. But we were never serious, we were always doing stuff that amused ourselves at least and then eventually we started doing stuff to try and amuse others as well as ourselves.” And amuse others they did, with the duo’s two albums to date – 2008’s Flight Of The Conchords and 2009’s I Told You I Was Freaky – being released on seminal US indie Sub Pop to much acclaim. Now, after years spent making the TV series and some serious forays into the film world – most recently McKenzie worked as music supervisor for The Muppets movie, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song for his tune, Man Or Muppet, while Clement stars as the lead villain in Men In Black 3 – the pair are looking forward to once more treading the boards. “When we’re well-rehearsed and everything, it’s the easiest and the funnest and the most interesting thing to do. It’s strange doing really big venues now though. Plus people know all the words now. Last time we toured was about two years ago, in Europe mostly. The biggest one we’ve done is Hollywood Bowl: it’s a massive leap going from ten people in downtown
“Yeah, if we come up with one,” Clement smiles of the prospect of a movie project. “It’s the same as with songs – we only do it if we come up with it. If we don’t come up an idea for it, we won’t do it. But it probably won’t be [a continuation of the TV series], although we’d probably use the same cast. Like Monty Python I guess, where the movies aren’t really related to their TV show. But that’s only because we’ve talked about three stupid ideas so far: ‘What if we’re in medieval times? What if we’re astronauts?’ We haven’t even thought of one really where it’s, ‘What if we continue on from the TV show?’” Irrespective of where their movie project takes them, Clement won’t be bringing too much of his experience filming Men In Black 3 to the table. “I haven’t seen it, but it was a really weird experience, because it was such a different scale – it’s just massively huge,” he recalls. “Both Bret and I would talk often when he was working on The Muppets and I was working on Men In Black about how it’s really hard going from being the boss to not being the boss. It’s really hard for me – I would just tell Will Smith alternative story lines the whole time and he was so sick of me! And the director too! I’d go up to him and go, ‘What about this? What about this, Barry? I’ve got an idea for this!’ When we do Conchords, if I say that everyone just has to make it happen, as long as I get Bret to agree, but it’s a bit different in Hollywood. I don’t think I learnt that until I was thinking about it in retrospect; ‘Oh, they were really sick of me for suggesting things.’ I don’t want to spoil anything, but generally bad guys in movies don’t get the call up for the next sequel anyway, so it’s not the end of the world.” And despite all of their massive success so far, Flight Of The Conchords aren’t really getting ahead of themselves – they’re not even all that surprised at how well things are going. “No, when we were starting out and playing small clubs we were thinking, ‘Why aren’t we really successful? We’re handsome, we can play guitar, sort of...’” Clement deadpans. “I think we had delusions of grandeur even then and they just happened to come true.” WHO: Flight Of The Conchords WHEN & WHERE: Wednesday 18, Thursday 19 and Friday 20 July, Challenge Stadium
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THE DRUM MEDIA • 9
GAME, SET, MATCH
“Our street performance is more of a dance version of what we do live. Live we’ve got a bass player and a keys player and a full drum kit, so it’s a bit more musically developed, I’d say. the busking stuff is almost like doing an acoustic show… after this tour, we’re not planning on doing it anymore, just because of travelling and recording and playing festivals. The main reason that we’ve gotten to where we’re at is because of how much work we’ve done busking,” says Josiah Willows on their future busking prospects, the art form that set them up to where they are now. Of course, Set Sail aren’t the only ones who can list busking as a factor to their success, and Drum lists a few others:
Now selling out national tours on a regular basis, John Butler is known for his busking origins. He claims that performing on the street helped him develop a unique dynamic and ways of holding an audience.
Since the release of their debut EP last year, indie-pop outfit Set Sail have been arrested in Europe and had a member deported from Sydney. Violinist Josiah Willows tells Daniel Cribb that it’ll take a lot more than that to stop them.
aking on a world tour with only one EP at your disposal may seem like a big leap of faith, but for Sydney’s Set Sail, it was simply an excuse to travel the globe as friends during a gap year. The band’s 2011 debut, The Riley Moore EP, set the stage for a series of memorable adventures and crazy stories, and when it picked up speed it took the band with it, breaking through any roadblocks in its way, eventually selling 14,000 copies. “In the beginning we were just burning them ourselves, then it got to the point where we were burning like 100 a day,” Willows laughs. “We’d spend all morning hand stamping CDs and numbering them. The first 2000 copies were all handmade,” he recalls. Their success can be somewhat attributed to intense hands-on promotion and street performing, the likes of which were cause for highlights and lowlights on their overseas World Stage Tour. “The classic is when we got arrested in Madrid. We set up and played a couple of songs in the main square in front of 300 people, and just across the square was a massive tent village for a protest and I think the cops thought that we were someway involved with that. So these two Spanish policemen show up, don’t say anything and just take us to the station… We were shitting ourselves in the meantime, because they’re all speaking Spanish and looking official and there’s so many of them and we’re sitting down in these chairs against the wall, interrogation style. In the end, someone who speaks English was like, ‘Hello. We like your music, but you can’t play without permission,” he laughs.
There’s more to this story
on the iPad
Even between cities they found opportunities to grab the attention of anyone willing. 37,000 feet above sea level, they busted out into Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours during a Virgin Atlantic flight, scoring free pretzels and Carlsberg for the rest of the flight. You’d be surprised how easily one can attain complimentary snacks, plane tickets, clothing and accommodation with a few acoustic instruments, a laptop, video camera and some underwear. Set Sail have mastered life on the road. “This clothing company in London was having a sale where the first hundred people to come in their underwear got free clothes. We were broke and we didn’t have any clothes, so we were going to come in 10 • THE DRUM MEDIA
our underwear and just get some free clothes, but we woke up late, like a half an hour before it started, so we figured we might as well go play and film it. We ended up playing in the freezing rain in our underwear and the company was like ‘Hey, we like you guys. Why don’t you come in and get some free clothes’. They ended up actually not coming through on it and just giving us t-shirts, so I wrote to their head office and was like ‘Oi, they promised us jeans’ and then they ended up seeing the video and flying us to Madrid and having us play there again for it and giving us a pair of jeans. That’s how we got to Madrid from London. “The whole time in Europe we maybe stayed seven days in a hostel, out of three months. All the rest
Brandon Hoogenboom, who is a US citizen, was deported from Australia after the band tried returning home from a New Zealand songwriting trip. “He had a three-year ban on him entering the country, so we did a public petition on Facebook and we ended up getting like 80,000 people involved on that and then a lot of the Sydney media was supportive – we were on the cover of one of the Sydney newspapers. That, as well as the Department Of Immigration being nice about it, ended up overturning the ban and granting him an entertainment visa.” The main issue with Hoogenboom being deported was the songwriting the band had worked so hard on suffered from the delay – their creativity was no
I THINK WE WENT A LITTLE BIT CRAZY.” was just going on Facebook and being like ‘Hey, we’re coming to Berlin. Anyone have a place we can crash?’ and one of our fans on Facebook would be like ‘Hey, yeah! Just crash here’. So we’d go and meet these random people and stay at their house and go get kebabs together. We did that all over Europe and America. It was a really cool experience.” Returning to Australia, the band had developed into something completely different from what it was when they departed. With their debut release garnering success around the globe and pulling in a worldwide fan base, Set Sail all of a sudden had expectations to live up to and the pressure was on. Hey! is their sixtrack follow-up and Willows says it wasn’t an easy 13 minutes of music to write, record and release. “It took us about six months of recording. I think a lot of the pressure that we felt came from ourselves because we wanted to really present something that was musically a lot more developed. We ended up cutting quite a few tracks actually, because we wanted to have a very solid musical statement and just have four killer songs on it. We recorded nine and ended up putting only four on there. That’s not counting stuff that we demod, so we had about 15 all up.” A long, drawn-out recording process also included some issues with the release date being pushed back numerous times. The first time the release of Hey! was rescheduled was when vocalist/guitarist
longer ‘fresh’. Upon his return to the country, Set Sail had to “reset” as a band and spend some time touching up songs before entering the studio, where more issues awaited. “When we actually went into record, it just evolved into a situation where, because we rented a studio space and bought the gear and made our own studio, we were spending like 14 hours a day in there, for like three or four weeks in a row. It got to the point where we’d listened to the tracks so many hundreds of times that we were putting things in, taking them out, and changing the sounds. I think we went a little bit crazy,” he laughs. So what’s next for Set Sail? No doubt the interesting and chaotic antics will continue, with an album not too far over the horizon. “Well, we have the songs. We’re going with a guy called Rick Will, he just mixed our EP and he’s done Thom Yorke, Johnny Cash and like everyone you can think of. He’s an absolute legend, so we’re taking him to Iceland and will hopefully get the album our early next year.” WHO: Set Sail WHAT: Hey! (Independent) WHEN & WHERE: Friday 13 July, Rosemount Hotel; Saturday 14, Melville Youth Centre (Under 18’s); Saturday 14, Mojo’s; Sunday 15, Clancy’s Dunsborough
HUMAN NATURE They now have multiplatinum albums, but pop act Human Nature was birthed as a street show, under the name 4Trax. From there they scored club gigs, won several awards and then signed to Sony before changing their name.
Thousands of people walked past a young Eric Clapton playing guitar on the street during the early days of his career, and now he is regarded as one of the best guitar players of all time. It’s hard to snatch tickets to his shows before they sell out.
You may not guess it, but The Wiggles used to busk around Sydney when they first kicked things into gear. After discovering they were able to draw an audience and entertain them, their rise to fame was a quick one.
SOME OTHERS YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF:
Billy Bragg, Elliot Smith, Bon Jovi, Norah Jones, The Blue Man Group, Rolf Harris, Barenaked Ladies, Bob Dylan, Beck, The Violent Femmes, Janis Joplin, Neil Young and Rod Stewart…
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THE DRUM MEDIA â€˘ 11
THE POWER BROKERS MICHAEL CHUGG
TheMusic and SPA presents the AMID Power 50 has arrived. Michael Smith talks to four of those who sit at the top of the inaugural industry list.
ust who are the most powerful people working in the Australian music industry today? The people that have made things happen, who have shaped the industry as we know it today, and who are already shaping the way it will look tomorrow? These are pretty big questions and inevitably there are no truly definitive answers, and some of the selections the AMID team have made, in consultation with a number of industry professionals, are bound to be contentious. ‘What about so and so?’ and so on… But this is how things seem to stand, right here, right now, based on the criteria upon which the selections were made: an individual’s ability to ‘shape’ the scene - whether within a structure they’ve created themselves or something already established that facilitates that involvement in industry initiatives; their overall career accomplishments; the economic impact of their endeavours; and their public profile. There are no winners or losers either – the Power 50 is simply a celebration of outstanding achievement and dedication to the music industry. Those who made the 50 can justifiably be perceived as simply the best of the best. Michael Gudinski has to be one of the canniest men in the music industry. He began as a gofer at one of the leading agencies in Melbourne in the early 1970s and managed bands like Chain before he set up his own label, Mushroom. Today he oversees Frontier Touring, Premier Artists, Liberation Music and so on. Yet he’s the first to admit that, for a few years there, he actually took a step back. “At the moment I’ve been pretty spurred on with work and stuff,” he explains, “because, number one, I think there’s the best cluster of Australian artists I’ve seen for 25 years. Not just stuff we’re involved with like The Temper Trap and The Rubens but in general, acts like Husky, Jezabels, Gypsy & The Cat, the list goes on. I just hope a few of them can follow up on the success we’ve just had with The Temper Trap and Gotye, because it’s one of the dreams I’ve had for Australian music. There was a bit of a burst a long time ago I guess with Men At Work, Kylie, INXS, Midnight Oil, but there’s never really been the full onslaught and I really think there’s some amazing music. “The tyranny of distance is nowhere what it used to be but it’s still obviously very, very competitive. I think in a way iTunes has been an incredible innovation that the record companies really should have been on top of many years before. The great thing about iTunes, I think, is there’s no such thing as returns anymore; the sales are factual. The downside, I suppose, is that while singles are way more than they’ve ever been, the album has been decimated. The big thing though is don’t look back – what was 15 years ago, the business is different; you’ve got to look forward. The biggest-selling singles in the ‘80s or the Kylie days in the ‘90s, you’d sell 200,000 copies and that would be massive, but both the LFMAO and the Gotye/Kimbra song, they’ve done about 800,000 copies – there’ll be a song soon that’ll do a million copies in Australia – that’s just phenomenal!” Much of the reason for Gudinski’s rediscovery of his “mojo” as it were he puts down to the enthusiasm and determination of his son to create his own niche in the industry in co-founding the Illusive Group of companies eight years ago. “You can’t take for granted owning your own company. There aren’t many people in the world that own their own companies, and sure, I could have sold to Live Nation, from a Frontier point of view, but for myself to be committed and active because I’ve got a son and so many key staff that have been with me so long, I just thought, can you imagine me going to a worldwide meeting going, ‘I’m Mr Live Nation Australia, can I speak?’ I can understand why Michael Coppel’s done that but there’s always going to be, in all fields of the music business, there’s always going to be independents and that’s something I’m really enjoying because, when you’re doing it yourself, you sometimes forget. 12 • THE DRUM MEDIA
“When I sold Mushroom Records, it was the right thing to do but I mostly rebounded very quickly with Liberation. Even so I went through a few years where I really wasn’t loving music and it’s been amazing that, as you get older sometimes you think maybe you’re not up to certain current trends and you’ve got to have the right people around you, but I still love good music and I think that The Temper Trap were very significant for Liberation because that really gave the label a little modern tinge. And I really can’t underplay what my son’s done to my own interest I guess because he’s been such a leader with new technology and stuff like that, and I’ve been renowned to be [chuckles], much as I’ve absorbed it and invested heavily into it, it’s only the last couple of years I’ve been working on an iPad. I’ve certainly invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Frontier site and was very proud that it’s seen as the best touring site. “I was definitely a leader. I look at all these 360 deals the last ten years and I most probably came up with that whole format but the difference was we had the companies to handle each part of the rights. I think it’s pretty unfair for people to grab rights that they’re just going to farm off to other people. Seriously, it’s about having patience, nurturing and letting artists find their feet. It’s really all about the music. “One thing I’d really like to achieve in the next period of time is to have a massive reunion, because the artists and the staff have really been the strength of the company. I’ve been doing it a long time and it’s nice to get a bit of a little of recognition but really I think it’s very much a tribute to Melbourne and the people around me.”
“Well, we’ve certainly got a lot of fuckin’ promoters! That’s growin’ every day,” Chugg laughs, never one to mince words. “I think, you know, we built a really, really good organisation and a great team, we’ve some fantastic people on board running marketing, promo and production, and, you know, just making things work. I think all our work over the last 12 years on the internet – we utilise the internet now to be a marketing tool… You know, the one thing that I’ve learned is the whole internet thing is very, very strong but at the same time you still need all the traditional marketing tools as well, so it’s about broadening the marketing horizons and using everything. “There are some acts you can virtually sell-out just by using the internet and Twitters and phone technology and all that, but in the main it really needs everything going for it. But certainly the internet’s changed so many things. Bands have short-circuited the process of moving forward; no longer are big acts automatically signing with major record companies, and there are a lot of young indie labels sprouting up all over the world, and I think that’s very exciting. People in this office are checking things all the time and it’s very much becoming a live world now. The records are basically becoming a way of getting known and being able to work – bands that can cut it live are in a really, really good position.
There hasn’t a more recognisable music industry figure over the past 30 or 40 years, though the punters at his concerts may not always realise that the shouty guy in the black t-shirt bossing people around from the stage is Michael Chugg. Chuggi has grown from passionate lover of music to tour manager to international tour promoter heading up Chugg Entertainment.
“All the majors selling to each other or going broke and what I think could well happen in the next few years, a lot of these new indie labels will get together and they’ll become the next WEA, the next PolyGram conglomerate. But the thing that’s changed and will never be the same again is that the acts are more in control now. So the acts are getting the lion’s share of the money, and the digital sales of songs is booming and the same with ticket sales. Traditionally it was the box office, the agencies and the phone. Then internet ticketing, print out your own ticket at home came along and that was a huge part of it. Now people are buying through their phones – that’s just gone to about 80% of ticket sales.”
“From an international promoter’s point of view, things are pretty good,” Chugg says of the current state of play. “I mean, patterns of ticket sales have changed; certainly with the economic times, people are being very careful and they’re once again picking and choosing the sort of shows they wanna go and see. But overall, from a big band point of view right down to unknown acts, it’s doing extremely well. And it all bodes well for the future with new venues in Perth comin’ online, things like that.
Chugg Entertainment too is changing as quickly as the times and technology. “We’ve probably been the main promoter of young indie acts. With our partner Danny Rogers we created Laneway, which has become a great vehicle for Australian and international acts, and we’ve broken quite a few acts – Florence & The Machine, Feist, people like that all broke out of Laneway. Now it’s in New Zealand and Singapore and we’ll probably go into a couple of other territories in the next 12 months.
THE DOOM AND GLOOM OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS IS JUST SOMETHING I’M NOT BUYING INTO… THE MUSIC FUTURE IS ACTUALLY SOMETHING TO BE EXCITED BY AND TO BE EMBRACED” – PAUL PITICCO
“From an Australian music point of view I think it’s just getting stronger and stronger, both here and internationally. I’m very excited about the amount of young bands that are here. There’ve been some great initiatives in the last couple of years, like Sounds Australia, that works with the international community at conferences and conventions and showcase events all over the world, and that’s really, really working for Australia. And the amount of young Aussie acts I see all over the place, it’s just fantastic, and I think that’ll continue as well. So, from my point of view I think it’s a very good time and it’s a very exciting time.” What does Chugg feel he’s brought to the whole business of international tour promotion that younger emerging promoters can now utilise to enhance the future of the industry?
“So we’re certainly changing. We’re also looking at getting involved with young Australian artists on a world basis. The first one we’ve actually signed – we haven’t made a big noise about it yet – is Lime Cordiale, a Sydney band. Obviously we’ve got lots of contacts worldwide and if we believe in a young Aussie act we can certainly get ‘em placed in the right places. Of course, touring will always be the mainstay but we’d like to start getting involved in releasing records – we’ve released a few acts’ records over the years, but in the next 12 to 18 months we’ll certainly be concentrating a lot more on that. We also want to keep developing our Singapore office we’ve had open for about three years, and doing a lot more acts in that part of the world and Australia, and tour Australian acts, to expand Australian music really.”
Millie Millgate is one of the all-too-few women within the upper echelons of the local music industry. Millgate is Music Export Producer with Sounds Australia. She began in the music industry two decades ago booking acts into the now sadly defunct Hopetoun Hotel in Sydney’s Surry Hills, and has been a band manager, for The Camels among others, and a MusicNSW representative. “Definitely, in all parts of the world, I can’t recall a healthier time for Australian music,” she admits. “Just the sheer number of artists that are out there touring and securing partnerships of all kinds, getting various synchronisation opportunities into film and television, it’s really amazing, and I think more than that, it’s the people just talking about Australian music. I think the internet’s certainly been an element of access and discovery and Australians overall have been quick to adapt to the new technologies and really use them well, and certainly for young artists and self-managed artists as well. “But I think what Sounds Australia has done and what the Australia Council, through their investment in that program, has done has just allowed more and more people to learn about Australia, and the idea of being isolated is just getting knocked down every time there are 400 of us at South By Southwest (SXSW), and noticing more of us every year at The Great Escape and Canadian Music Week and into the Asian events. “I don’t think Australia as a market alone is sustainable any longer, just with the decline of sales generally. I think people need to look abroad a lot earlier than they might have, and I think the capacity to do so has opened up and we’ve got some amazing and enthusiastic, savvy and smart young managers that are really leading the charge, and artists that are damn good! I do feel that, with time, it’s that touring circuit and the really strong infrastructure we’ve got here that prepare our artists [for the international market]. One of the easiest jobs I’ve got is preparing and putting on showcases, and knowing that pretty much every time the Australian act’s going to get up and really deliver in the live arena. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of what opportunities Sounds Australia can bring to Australian artists; there are so many other markets and the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America, and different, sort of more unique and boutique events as well. So I think just getting the model right with the big one [SXSW] has been great and just to see how embracing the industry’s been and how much they’re prepared to work together, help each other and share networks is just so encouraging.” As to the future, Sounds Australia is in the enviable position of having been given $1.7 million in the 2012 Federal Budget, handed down in May, as part of the federal government’s $3 million commitment over the next four years to “support contemporary music artists by increasing the number and frequency of venues booking live music and to encourage international acts to use local support acts”. “We need to really preserve our venues,” Millgate adds, “and encourage spaces to allow live music is vital. But for the most part, I think it’s really exciting and we’re really in a high time for Australian music. Thanks to that really tidy budget allocation, which really took us all by surprise, Sounds Australia is in a really exciting time internally just looking at how we can best we can use that money to enhance what we’re already doing – open up a number of other markets that we really feel there’s a need and a demand for us to provide support. “And I guess in a much more strategic and holistic investigation beyond just the showcase thing, world and the conference side, what else could Sounds Australia look at doing? And just in terms of professional development generally, working more with other sectors and their export plans; and other ways to, you know, through media, really start to promote Australian music.
MILLIE MILLGATE Up until now, our remit has absolutely been just about the showcase conferences, so we’re starting to look at how that might build out and, just generally, bring on more people, which would be wonderful,” she laughs, “because at the moment it’s just two of us doing Sounds Australia. Just having more resources, sharing that wealth of knowledge in terms of the international networks, and certainly the number of people now that are championing Australian music, the more access they have to those networks the better. It’s been a really incredible example of what can happen when everyone plays together.” Paul Piticco is the founder of musician management company Secret Service Artist Management, and established two indie record labels, Dew Process and Create/Control, in 2002 and 2012 respectively. Dew Process boasts Sarah Blasko, The Living End, The Hives, Mumford & Sons, The Grates, Last Dinosaurs and Bernard Fanning on its roster. Create/Control was established to present a different business model to traditional record labels. Piticco is also, with business partner Jessica Ducrou, co-promoter of Byron Bay music festival Splendour In The Grass and co-promoter of Secret Sounds Touring. Both are also partners in a sponsorship company, Secret Sound Sponsorship, “working,” as Piticco explains, “in a new and rapidly developing area of the music business and one that we feel is going to be vital for survival of bands in the future”. Ducrou also runs her own agency, Village Sounds. Piticco came to management – like most young, enthusuastic people entering the music industry before courses began to be available – from an intuitive angle, and learned along the way. He was fortunate enough to begin that journey looking after the interests
R E W PO 50 N IO T I ED
of Powderfinger, as well as Magic Dirt, Big Heavy Stuff and more. “Always one of the great principles of Powderfinger, and one that was enforced upon me, was think about things from the fan’s perspective – always, every consideration, from how you price the tickets, how you market something, what song you pick first. “It wasn’t really about what we thought would sell the most or get the best reviews; we started from the audience, who the Powderfinger fans were and worked back from there, trying not to take into consideration all the things that are between an artist and the fans, which back in those days – they’re far less numerous these days because with the internet you can connect direct, it’s so much easier – but then you had to negotiate with your A&R guy at the record company, and the A&R guy had to convince somebody at radio, then somebody at radio had to convince the programmer and eventually, if it was supported by all those people in that chain, a song might find its way to ears of a fan or potential fan. “And to be honest, all the things that we do, we try to base on that philosophy. Sometimes we make mistakes and have to correct them if we misinterpret what our audience wants, whether it be a festival ticketholder, somebody that’s buying a record from the label or what that might be. Ultimately, you need to make sure that you’re in tune with the person that is your customer.” Piticco soon found that as well as managing bands, his company found itself making a lot of the A&R decisions for the various labels to which the bands were signed – where to record, what to record, make the videos and so on. “After a while,” he explains, “we kind of had some success with those acts and we’re thinking, ‘Well, why are we in all essence doing this free for another
entity, creating great copyrights and great music that we’re not really getting rewarded or some degree of acknowledgement for.’ So the idea was to start a record label that followed all those principles that we had as a management company and try to be more creative in A&R, and try and find a way to get the artists’ wants and needs across, and even to this day, Dew Process artistic control clauses in contract still ultimately end up with the artists having the final say, and always will be that way.” The creation of a second label, Create/Control, “was a reaction to the fact that, you know, it’s evident, in looking at the charts and looking at our industry, that people are finding out about and consuming music differently, and the net result of that I guess is a decline in revenues from music sales, and with that decline in revenues comes a decline in investment. Dew Process still operates under the old model because some artists really need a record company’s investment and are prepared to accept the terms that go along with investment today. “The idea with Create/Control was to have an alternative to ourselves, because we didn’t want to be necessarily Dew Process saying ‘Sure, if you need and want what we do, that’s great, but if you don’t need and want what we do, and you have amazing music, we would love to still have a forum or a format to be involved with you.’ It’s very important to a lot of artists these days to control their copyright and own their masters, and they can get that if they go to a distribution company, but those companies, whilst they’re very good at distribution, they’re not particularly good at developing careers, marketing, promotional activities, all the full services if you will of a record company. So the idea, as simple as it may seem, and I’m surprised nobody’s really done
it here before, is to provide everything that you get as if you’d signed an extensive contract but yet have the flexibility and the copyright ownership remaining with artist that you would if you just did the distribution deal. “And the interest in Create/Control, I must say, has been immense – we’ve been inundated with people making enquiries, wanting to know how it works – and there’s no shortage of great music coming up through that label; we feel really excited about it. And interestingly, it’s a model that, if we get down right in the next year or two, can work outside of the music business. It could work for up-and-coming authors, maybe visual arts, who knows where we could go with it.” As to how Piticco sees the way the industry may be moving into the future, he feels that “the doom and gloom of the music business is just something I’m not buying into. It’s different to how it was, and the revenues might be different, but there’ll be music and there’ll always be an audience for music that’s good. I speak to a lot of young people, either in their 20s or in their teens, that are just entering the music business, and they don’t know how it was ten years ago – it’s just how it is for them. There is no comparison, and I try and think of it that way. I just try to always towards the future and innovate. The same with Jess and the same with all our businesses – what’s next? How do we make this relevant we can now? The music future is actually something to be excited by and to be embraced.” For the full list of the AMID Power 50 go to the 48th edition of the Australian Music Industry Directory and themusic.com.au
VISIT WWW.THEMUSIC.COM.AU/STORE themusic.com.au
THE DRUM MEDIA • 13
PUSHING BUTTONS For the past 17 years, Tom “Squarepusher” Jenkinson has built an extraordinary creative legacy, continually overturning lazy preconceptions of what’s possible or not. Christopher H James discovers that the cutting edge can be lonely place.
like trying to make the impossible work,” Thomas Jenkinson vaunts. It’s perhaps the best way to explain the perpetual twists and turns that his career as Squarepusher has taken for nearly two decades. Arriving in the mid-‘90s, his impossibly fast, fluctuating beats, aligned with strong jazz sensibilities, seemed to position his music somewhere to the far left of the thriving drum’n’bass scene. However, his organic, almost post-rock 1998 album Music Is Rotted One Note stunned many followers. Since then an unpredictable deluge of releases has ensued without any seeming long term masterplan. Jenkinson has been as likely to release a live solo album of jazz bass as he has bewildering machine breaks, lustily pursuing whatever parts of the musical map he feels are yet to be fully navigated.
“It’s just that when people speak so confidently about this or that in music, how this kind of music is just bad, how this instrument can’t do certain things, it just gets my imagination going,” he explains. “There is so little that is genuinely final and certain in music.” His latest, Ufabulum, is a personal rule-breaker once again, as it’s his first album to be entirely programmed - not a live instrument in sight. This is a record that was “envisioned” rather than jammed out. “Playing parts live makes the process more laborious and stressful,” he elaborates. “That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed doing that over the years, but as it adds a requirement of technical expertise in terms of playing instruments, it certainly complicates and intensifies the recording process. This album was quite quick to make due to leaving out those live elements. Sometimes it can take days to get the sound right playing instruments. When it comes to playing instruments live, you just have to get it right there and then.” Strong reviews for Ufabulum and praise for tracks such as Dark Steering and the remarkably brutal Drax 2 have rekindled interest in Squarepusher following the lacklustre reception for 2010’s Shobaleader. One might think Mr Jenkinson is looking forward to regaining places on those end-of-year lists. “I don’t care about ranking things,” he declares. “To me such things are just static, hot air. It’s ok for people who can’t develop their own opinions to have music stratified into best-ofs and charts and so on. But to me it’s like turning music into sport, as if satisfying certain statistical criteria makes a piece of music good, like you’ve sold that many records, so you’re good. What that completely misses is the individual qualities of each listener’s experience... it seems obvious to me that one person’s hit on YouTube is not equivalent to another, so adding up those numbers and forming a comparison between pieces of music on that basis is utterly meaningless.” Jenkinson’s singularity has undoubtedly made him hard to pin down. In particular, his advanced musicianship is exceptionally rare amongst bedroom boffins and studio wizards. “I would love to have a group of people I could call peers or contemporaries, [but] quite frankly I’ve never met anyone that I would genuinely describe like that. I have yet to meet anybody who has a comparable command of both electronic and live instrumentation and harmony. I don’t care if it sounds arrogant; it’s just how it is. But I don’t know about doing something totally unique; I wouldn’t make that claim. And I’ve made some duff tunes over the years, I’d never deny that.” The odd duff tune may be the reasonable by-product of a rampant, almost “one album a year” prolificacy, but certainly his sprawling output consistently defies pigeon-holing; no matter how tempting it may be. The last thing you want to do is ask what he thinks of the “drill‘n’bass” tag journalists and musos applied to him in his career’s formative days. “It’s just more static, window dressing, polishing, waffling, missing the point,” he dismisses. “Fundamentally, why the fuck would anyone concern themselves with that boring shit if they were able to thrive and enjoy making music themselves? But why??
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IDEA OF HAPPINESS N E W A L B U M O U T J U LY 6 THU JUL 5 - CAPITOL vanshe.com
“I really can’t believe you think I’d have anything to say about this,” he continues, rather miffed. “Terms like this are attempts to nail down and pacify the messy activities of musicians. Partly it’s to do with non-musicians trying to operate in a musically territorial way, to divide up the land and signpost where you should and shouldn’t go. Again, it’s ok for shepherding people who just consume music in a somnambulant way, beyond that, maybe it’s journalists and critics organising and stratifying the work of musicians to assert power over music and musicians for the sake of it, or maybe it is itself like a kind of music-making, where individual pieces are the minutiae of a gigantic canonical work organised by commentators. To me it’s generally stupid to pronounce verdicts. Of course, we’re now surrounded by exactly that given that the Internet has made critics out of everybody, but the ensuing sea of nonsense only seems to show that in the end so little can be asserted unequivocally in music.” Ok, I think we’d better leave that there. Regadless of how anyone seeks to define his work, his achievements over the years certainly stand up by themselves. They are enduring statements of technical expertise and far reaching vision. Although with such a cerebral canon, one does wonder what Jenkinson’s guilty listening pleasures are when he wants to switch off his brain off and just feel happy? “Ha ha good question,” he concedes. “I have been known to listen to ... oh no, time’s running out. What’s the last question?” Grrr, denied. Well, how about confirming if the whispers we’ve heard that he’ll be heading down under for a festival appearance in the not too distant future are well-grounded? “Nothing is confirmed as yet, but it’s certainly looking likely,” he nods. And quite a show it promises to be, featuring an ambitious LED “videosynth” display. He’s still having a bit of tweak and a tinker, but “at the moment the imagery is shown on a large screen behind me and on a small LED screen mounted on a helmet, worn by me during the performance,“ he explains. “The basic motivation on the imagery side was to try to articulate some of the mental images that came to mind when I was making the record. The images were made using a home-made bit of software that uses mathematical functions to generate images. The images are influenced by the audio. The videosynth is operating in real-time, so that as I process and change the audio signals on stage, the images that are generated change accordingly. But probably best to wait and just see it for yourself - by the time I get to Australia it’ll probably be quite different!” Whatever forms his live show takes, no doubt it will embody the overriding characteristic that’s been consistent throughout Jenkinson’s zig-zagging career path – unpredictability. WHO: Squarepusher WHAT: Ufabulum (Warp Records/Inertia)
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THE DRUM MEDIA • 15
SMOKING GUN Alex Smoke still loves hip hop, but is somewhat unimpressed with the direction of the genre these days. He’s got no beef with dubstep or the Australian health system, however, as Cyclone discovers.
cottish DJ/producer Alex Smoke (aka Alexander Menzies) could be the techno braveheart. While DJing at Melbourne club institution Revolver in 2010, he suddenly felt crook. Menzies was rushed to the Alfred Hospital, where it was discovered that his lung had collapsed, necessitating keyhole surgery. “Basically, I shouldn’t have really done that tour of Australia,” Menzies now says wryly. “I was already ill.” The muso, forced to cancel his remaining dates, was well looked after, the Alfred “amazing”. “I’ve got just nothing but good memories of that tour. I loved it. Even the week in hospital was nice. I was quite happy.” Menzies, who first toured in 2007, returned last winter – and he’s back this July. Indeed, he’s actually contemplating a move to Oz (Menzies has family here). Until recently, Menzies was living in London, but he’s staying temporarily in his native Glasgow – and feeling restless. “I’m planning what to do next. Maybe I’ll go back to London, but maybe I’ll move somewhere else. I’m not sure. I was even thinking about Melbourne. So I’ll wait and see.” There will be no visa issues: Menzies, whose father is Kiwi, has a New Zealand passport. Menzies’ Mum, a music teacher (and professional violinist), encouraged his musicality from the outset. Little Alex won a scholarship to the Durham Cathedral Choir School in North East England (its former pupils include Rowan “Mr Bean” Atkinson and Tony Blair!). Apart from fulfilling his duties as chorister in the Norman cathedral, he learnt cello, piano and drums. Later, Menzies decided to become a marine biologist. But, before long, music again took precedence as the fan of classic techno, hip hop and clubbing put his student loan towards studio gear – and quit uni. Airing singles in the early 2000s, Menzies created a deep, dubby techno, veering from minimal to maximal, and alternating between the hedonistically groovy and melancholic. In 2005 the Chica Wappa producer delivered his full-length debut, Incommunicado, on Slam’s Soma Recordings, following the next year with Paradolia. Menzies, who has likewise released EPs on Berlin’s Vakant, then teamed with ex-Soma staffer Jim Hutchison to launch Hum+Haw – and it was through H+H that he disseminated his third LP, the murkier Lux, two years ago.
16 • THE DRUM MEDIA
Of late the versatile Menzies has been involved in orchestral projects, composing for Scottish Ensemble. Many younger classical musicians enjoy EDM – and they’re seeking to change “the whole rarefied atmosphere” of their industry by reaching out. “They’re excited to work with people like me because it’s a totally new world for them and they like to experiment.” Menzies has even remixed (the admittedly elitist) minimal pioneer Steve Reich’s Proverb. His endgame is to score movies. “I’ve always had a passion for film. Ever since I really first started Incommunicado, I always had that in my mind as being somewhere I’d like to end up. I’m still very much on that road. I’m just constantly working at it.” Last year Menzies presented a score integrating classical and electronic elements for German expressionist F W Murnau’s silent film Faust, which premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival, and performed his own ambient music at Glasgow’s Concert Halls alongside Craig Armstrong – a Massive Attack associate who often collaborates with Baz Luhrmann and scored Ray. Nevertheless, on another front, Menzies is rationalising. H+H is “kaputt”, he affirms. “It’s just too much work, too much money lost.” Menzies freely acknowledges that he had “no interest” in having a label, regarding it as Hutchison’s baby. “All I want to do is make music.” Menzies expects 2012 to be big. In September he’ll unveil the song-orientated side-project Wraetlic on Brit Damon Kirkham’s Convex Industries. Menzies hasn’t secured guest vocalists: the old choirboy, his adult voice heard on 2005’s Don’t See The Point, sings himself on the introspective yet experimental enterprise. “I’m not a big collaborator. I prefer just to do things myself, so it’s me singing – and singing live as well. It’s a bit scary, to be honest. I’m sort of at a stage where singing’s very personal, and I still get quite nervous doing it, but it’s the only way I could see to do it. It’s a personal project and so I want to sing on it. It’s okay – you need to just take things on, do them, and then overcome your fears...” Wraetlic isn’t Menzies’ only new work. He’s also shopping around another Alex Smoke LP. “It’s pretty much ready to go,” Menzies reveals. “I’ve just been through a very creative spell, so it’s good – I’ve been busy.”
Menzies had a previous vocal project. He devised the hip hop Fool, hooking up with Los Angeles MC Non (Shadow Huntaz). Alas, their album Mad Man’s Drum never appeared. “I loved the principle of it, the idea, but I just wasn’t happy with the finished result,” Menzies confesses. “I think it’s unlikely I’ll ever revisit it. I tend to just move on. When something’s past, it’s past.” Besides, the modest Menzies reckons that Flying Lotus and his compatriot Hudson Mohawke have forged an electronic hip hop “way ahead” of his. That said, he still loves hip hop – with some reservations. “I have to say I’m disappointed with so much of where the culture has gone – and even people who I really love like.” People like hot Miami rapper SpaceGhostPurrp. “I can’t get away from the bullshit misogynist blood patter, which is just really boring. I would like to hear some hip hop which is political and good but at the same time cutting-edge – and there’s a lack of that.” Menzies is more buoyant about (underground) dubstep – he buys more of that these days than house or techno. (The DJ snuck a Burial track onto 2006’s mix-CD Sci Fi Hi Fi, Volume 3.) “I think more and more of the stuff which is exciting me is not really fitting any genre,” Menzies states, citing Actress and Zomby. “These things aren’t fitting in any genre whatsoever, they’re just ‘electronic music’. That’s a big positive. All that stuff has been a massive influence… just all genreless music – music
for music’s sake – [with] lots of different influences, but [that’s] not trying too hard to sound like anything else.” This visit Menzies will again stage a live laptop set. But, though he’s already performed Wraetlic material at his inaugural show at MUTEK in Montreal last month, Menzies is noncommittal about doing so Down Under. “I’m not sure,” he ponders. “It’s too early to get a tour in Australia doing the Wraetlic thing. Maybe I’ll do some, but not the full thing – because it’s like a full audio-visual tour. Maybe I’ll touch little bits of it, just to give people a taste, but it won’t be the proper thing... I’ll see how responsive people are. But it’s pretty miserable – it’s not as clubby as the Alex Smoke stuff!” Time will tell whether or not Menzies settles in Australia for even a year or two, as he says. “Deadly serious” about his scheme, he has considered the disadvantages (“You just wouldn’t be able to tour Europe every weekend”). However, if Menzies proceeds, this lover of “the great outdoors” may yet mastermind his most panoramic electronica in our midst. “Ideally, I would be like Boards Of Canada – have a lovely studio with an amazing view, live in the country, miles away from anyone... that’s heaven for me.”
WHO: Alex Smoke WHEN & WHERE: Saturday 7 July, Geisha
DEFENDERS OF THE HARDCORE FAITH Hardcore OGs Terror are returning to set pits off nationwide. Mark Hebblewhite caught up with guitarist Martin Stewart to discuss new records, hardcore ethics and the band’s recent spat with legendary Swedish outfit Refused.
f there’s any band synonymous with hardcore it’s LA veterans Terror. And by hardcore, we don’t just mean a style of music or an accepted dress code; we mean an all-encompassing lifestyle and an unceasing advocacy of what that lifestyle entails. Terror don’t just say it: they live it. “I know it sounds clichéd, but hardcore is more than just a guitar sound, or a way of dressing, or something to do on a Friday night,” explains the band’s guitarist, Martin Stewart. “To me hardcore is about walking away from what society expects you to do or be. It’s about standing up for yourself and your choices whatever the consequences and whatever the shit you cop from other people for doing it. That’s what this band is all about – all of us at one time or another have been told we’re wasting our lives and we refuse to take those attitudes lying down. So when you hear all the stuff about hardcore being a way of life and that people in this scene should stick together, it’s more than just rhetoric. We’re standing up for ourselves and for the kids that come to our shows.” Recently rhetoric met the road when Terror vocalist Scott Vogel went beyond scene unity pleas and his patented ‘Vogelisms’ (Google it, there’s a website) to take aim at the recently reunited Swedish underground legends Refused. Subsequently his barbs went viral, and hardcore message boards went into meltdown. Stewart is happy to talk about the stoush and even happier to back up Vogel. “Yeah, that did stir a few things up,” he laughs. “Basically, it’s like this. I loved Refused back in the 1990s: I went out and bought The Shape Of Punk To Come when it came out all those years ago. And it wasn’t just the music, it was everything they stood for, the underground, being against the money side of things, doing it yourself and not giving a fuck about what anybody else thinks. I even like how they went out saying ‘Refused are fucking dead’: strong and uncompromising. But now after saying all that they’ve reformed to play all these huge festivals and it just
seems completely contrary to what that band were about and their whole ideology – especially with regards to not caring about fame and popularity. These things are important and I think people have a right to speak their minds about it and ask questions. “That said, I don’t expect every single person to blindly follow my opinion, or Scott’s opinion for that matter: because in the end, they’re our opinions and nobody else’s. But again I don’t support what Refused are doing and I’m not going to hide my opinion on it.” With this episode being a good example of the Scott Vogel = Terror view held by many in theSmusic press, do the rest of the members ever feel they’re bit players in the ‘Scott Vogel Show’? “No, not at all,” laughs Stewart. “I know there are people out there who think that, but that’s their problem, not ours. We all get along, really well and we’ve achieved what we’ve achieved because we work as a unit. No one person in this band thinks they’re more important than anyone else. It’s a great band to be in because it’s made up of great guys.” Internet drama aside, it’s been a busy couple of months for Terror. Along with playing their usual ridiculous amount of shows, the band have been hard at work crafting a follow-up to 2010’s superlative Keepers Of The Faith. Not surprisingly Stewart maintains that the new record, which will be Terror’s seventh full-length LP, contains some of the band’s finest material to date. “The new album is going to be called Live By The Code and we recorded 14 songs, although we’re probably only going to put 12 on the actual record,” he explains. “Right now it’s slated to come out in January of 2013 so we still have a bit of time before it drops.”
Keepers Of The Faith but at the same time there’s some different stuff on there as well. The material is definitely exciting, the band is playing better than it ever has so the creative juices have really been flowing well, and I think the songs reflect that.” Now free of the studio Terror are returning to our shores for a series of shows across the country. Not surprisingly Stewart is more than happy to be coming back.
As to the sound of the record, Stewart maintains that it’s classic Terror but with a couple of unique twists.
“I don’t want this to sound the wrong way but coming to Australia is like going on vacation for us,” he laughs. “The shows are always so good and we always make a point to get out and see as much of your country as we can because it’s such an awesome place.
“Everyone is going to know that this is a Terror record as soon as they put it on. I think as a whole it’s a continuation of what we were doing on
“The hardcore scene in Australia is so amazing and in many ways represents the best of what hardcore as a scene has to offer. I mean you’ve
got guys like Mindsnare and Miles Away who have built great reputations across the world, and then there are all these newer bands coming out of the underground – we’ll be playing with a band called Iron Mind at some of the shows who are just incredible and everyone should go and check them out. “Hopefully everyone comes out to support all the bands who are playing – we’re really looking forward to the tour and we’ll be playing a wide range of stuff and might even do some of the new material, although that’s not been decided yet. We’ve never had a bad show in Australia and I guarantee that we don’t intend to start now.” WHO: Terror WHEN & WHERE: Thursday 12 July, Amplifier
THE DRUM MEDIA • 17
SHY GUYS Ahead of the launch of their debut release Dozen Clouds Wide, Troy Mutton chats with Shy Panther vocalist Dan Fragomeni to try and find out what it is about the group that has Perth all a-flutter.
underwater, dreamy, galaxy, atmospheric sort of…” The video clip for single Erving definitely fits the vibe – and continues the recent spate of local acts crafting international-quality clips in our own backyard.
And around these parts, for now, that band is Shy Panther, a laid-back four-piece who’ve got trip hop down – a sound not really tackled around here thus far, although one we’re clearly eager to gobble up. A sold-out video clip launch a few weeks ago (for one of the year’s most beautiful video clips – anywhere), a few spins on that national radio station we all love to hate, and slots on the recent Groovin’ The Moo and the upcoming Parklife festivals… Yeah, things are going pretty swimmingly for vocalist Dan Fragomeni and co.
Cracking video clips, festival slots, EP launches… Since “the full shape of the animal, the panther” only came together in the last 12 months, are these cool cats (yep, I did it) feeling the bite of a rapidlygrowing fanbase? “We’re kinda ‘Easy, Breezy, over Girl’ kinda dudes,” Fragomeni states with a casual chuckle. “I’m a fairly laid-back sorta character like the rest of the guys are, so I don’t know if we feel much pressure or stress so to speak. But without trying to sound to cliché, we’re just enjoying it at the moment. Rolling with the punches and going with the flow... so there’s two clichés used.”
t’s no secret that our little corner of the country – nay, the world – is a hotbed of musical talent, and it’s for this reason when a new band crops up and people start taking notice almost immediately that it makes them all the more exciting.
“It’s come from nowhere, but we’ll take it, the positivity,” begins a casual Fragomeni, acknowledging their unique sound. “I think the appeal I suppose is that it’s fairly fresh. I’ve heard a few people say there’s not too much else like us in Perth at the moment. And I suppose that’s an advantage and we’ve kinda got that on our side. “It’s nice to get a couple of great opportunities to play some big shows after only really coming to full form in the last year or so. It’s nice and Perth is a really great place when you’re starting out playing music. Obviously, I can’t really compare it to anything else, but it’s quite a nice community, because it’s so small. We kinda just got a little bit lucky I suppose; a couple of people liked what they heard and passed it on to a couple of others and it’s all flowing from there.” A more appropriate word than ‘flowing’, you’d be hard to find. While the descriptors in the groups’ press release are lofty indeed, they do go someway towards explaining the group – some kinda midpoint between the -heads Radio and Portis, Prince and DJ Shadow, and it goes some way toward explaining the group’s driving, atmospheric jams. Fragomeni has a few of his own: “We were all doing a fair bit of travelling over the last year as well and I think that definitely plays a part in [our sound]. Like
Noted. In fact, throughout the interview, this is the only really indication that Shy Panther really are a young group, and dare it be said - a little shy. Fragomeni, while not purposely careful with his words, often checks himself, or makes selfdeprecating jokes about sounding too cliché, or “standard”, and it’s nice to chat to a young group that aren’t buying the hype, but just stoked to be doing what they’re doing. Although it’s not all easy, breezy sailing just yet. “At the moment, the biggest stress we’re facing is because the EP launch came around quicker than we expected so we had to quickly get the printing done on the hard copies of our EP. So now the pressure is if they’ll arrive before the gig,” he laughs again, somewhat nervously. In the days after this interview, the group do indeed get the physical release, and of its recording Fragomeni states writing for Shy Panther is a collaborative process through-and-through. “It’s a pretty family-based method I suppose. We all bring something to the table I think. Ben [Santostefano], our drummer, will generally come up with a groove on the drums, which is generally the foundation of each track. And Rhien [Tan] who’s our mastermind behind the electronics and computer stuff, keys and all that jazz, he’ll sort of formulate the groove
and I’ll chip in with some literature if you like. Some vocal melodies, harmonies and stuff,” he explains. And while they (were) somewhat stressed about getting the EP on the front door of their launch in time, for Fragomeni the physical release is really just a bonus for people who like the live show, which is where he –and the group’s – heart truly lies. So much so that they’ve expanded the line-up to feature two drummers in an attempt to recreate the record as live as possible. “We actually haven’t played with two drummers yet. It could very well fall flat on its face but we thought we may as well take the risk for our EP launch. We spent a lot of our time playing at smaller venues. But now we’ve got the opportunity to use a bigger space, and I think the sound on the EP is quite a big sound and it’s very atmospheric. While it is possible to do that with fewer people, I think if we can get the double-drum attack going, and going well, I think it’ll be a really nice thing to watch.” It’s pretty clear from early in the conversation that Shy Panther are a group of smart musicians, who most importantly know what they want to get out of a live music experience, and want to transfer this into their own. “We all really, really love to watch music in Perth live, and a couple of the shows
that we’ve seen and have really liked, [like] Sufjan Stevens and Bjorks’ live shows… the top three live shows that we always put in our top shows are all very big and there’s a lot going on and they’re memorable. And I think we, to a degree, are hoping to try and get to that level and make it a memorable night. Give people good bang for their buck. “It’s an EP launch, so it’s gonna have a lot of friends and family down there. It’s nice to put on a good show for them. And also there might be people there who are seeing us for the first time, and we wanna make a good first impression. We’re getting to a point where we really want to try and make each show a big performance, and the live element is pivotal for us I think. And trying to recreate the sound on the EP. If they like it at the end they can take a little somethin’ somethin’ home with them. It’s very important for us, and we wanna try and make it as special as possible.” WHO: Shy Panther WHAT: Dozen Clouds Wide (Independent) WHEN & WHERE: Saturday 7 July, The Bakery
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18 • THE DRUM MEDIA
THE DRUM MEDIA • 19
BRING BACK THE BUFF
Kelly Hogan has spent the last decade lending her beautiful voice to other people’s projects, but now it’s her turn to step into the spotlight. She tells Steve Bell about aiming for the stars and making it.
On the verge of Manhood, Muscles (Chris Copulos to his mum) tells Matt O’Neill, “I feel like I’m in my own little universe and I’ve got no path to follow from other people.”
f you’ve had even a fleeting interest in the Americana genre over the last decade, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard the beautiful voice of US singer-songwriter Kelly Hogan. You might have heard her on a Neko Case record – or at a Neko Case show, the two are practically inseparable – or perhaps on an album by Drive-By Truckers, The Waco Brothers or Tortoise. She was a mainstay on the Chicago live scene for years and a go-to backing vocalist for Steve Albini, but was always working on other people’s projects. Finally Hogan decided to release another album of her own, and not one to do things by halves, she assembled an absolutely killer band – featuring the iconic Booker T Jones on keys, soul drumming legend James Gadson and Gabriel Roth (Sharon Jones) on bass – and then got some of the biggest names in the US indie circuit to supply the songs. Simple, really. “What a relief!” she laughs of finally having I Like To Keep Myself In Pain completed. “It was like I was hatching an ostrich egg. I’ve got turtle metabolism, but we finally got it out there. I haven’t been idle – I’ve been really busy – but what a crazy fantasy camp year. What a crazy project to be involved in.” It’s not Hogan’s first album – it’s her fourth, in fact – but it is her first in some 11 years. “My last record came out a few weeks after 9/11, and everybody was kinda sitting still, for good reason,” Hogan recalls. “It’s hard to tour when you’re a peanut-level musician anyway. It’s not about whether you’re going to lose money, it’s how much money are you going to lose. I felt bad because I’d do these tours and I couldn’t pay my band what I thought they deserved, so I thought, ‘I’ll stay close to home’. And Chicago is such an incredibly fertile place to play music. You can play every night of the week, and I did – I had all of these different projects and did all of
this different recording. Then playing with Neko, her stuff just took off, so after 2006 we were crazy busy. “I was really busy but I was exploring, and to be able to make this record I was really glad that I’d been able to do what I didn’t know was research – I was just living my life and just doing as many different types of music projects as I could. Then I had to walk in there on a Monday morning into this amazing legendary studio and play with Booker T Jones! And meet James Gadson and Gabriel Roth and then just count off a song and go for it. It was tough to do that without needing a diaper.” At the instigation of Andy Kaulkin from AntiRecords, she approached some of America’s best songwriters, and ended up with an album of songs penned by people such as Robyn Hitchcock, M Ward, Vic Chesnutt, The Handsome Family and Stephen Merritt. “He’d been thinking about all of the work I’d done in the last 11 years, and he said, ‘You know what – let’s talk to these people that you’ve worked with and see if they can give something back,’” Hogan marvels. “I didn’t think that they owed me anything, but he told me to call in favours. I begged people to send me a song. Every stage of the project was fraught with terror, but it was like this crazy wave of positive responses. I have way more songs of course than I could fit on the record, so I hope to somehow record everything in some way one day.” WHO: Kelly Hogan WHAT: I Like To Keep Myself In Pain (Anti-/Warner)
JOKER VISION A
“I think having your own sound is a very big thing,” Joker says. “In a way no one has a 100 per cent original sound because everyone is influenced from some other music. But instead of copying music you like, take ideas, be influenced by it and turn it into your own thing.” When it came to releasing his debut longplayer, The Vision, he delivered a record that lived up to the expectation in surprising ways. The change in direction for the dubstepper was as notable as the quality of the record. “It’s hard to say,” says Joker. “With my album, I was just being me and that was it. I think everyone thought I was going to make a full album full of purple cities and trons, but I didn’t really wanna do that.”
As a working DJ, he had club and festival commitments around the globe. That can get in the way of serious stretches in the studio. While many of his contemporaries can work on planes or in airports and hotel rooms, Joker’s modus operandi is different. “To be honest, it was quite hard being everywhere then trying to make tracks at the same time,” he says. “I know a lot of my friends can make tracks on their laptop while they are on the road. but I feel like I need my whole studio, a full-sized keyboard. So there was times when I would take off three to four weeks off just to stay in the studio.” There are few bigger places to launch your album than Glastonbury. That festival booked and an album to drop on the world, even if it was a few months away, Joker decided to make a few phone calls and get the vocalists on The Vision to the Worthy Farm and perform the whole thing live. That’s quite the way to reveal your work to the world, but Joker remains humble about that show.
The record featured a whole lot more vocalists than his previous releases. “I think the second I start making a track I know if it’s gonna need a vocal or not,” Joke explains. “I Can’t explain how, I just know.” Whether that was intentional remains unclear. It wasn’t part of any concept going into the studio.
The rest of 2012 sees Joker working on the next record and exploring the ways he can expand his show.
“Yeah, I did have a idea in my head when I started it,” he says, “and then a few tracks in I lost my whole direction of where I was going and I just ending going completely somewhere else.”
“Yeah, I’m starting my second album already. Sounds soon, I know, but these things take time so it could take a year or two. I’m trying to do a lot of work for other people’s albums and maybe work on a live show.”
The many positive reviews for The Vision also noted his growth and development as a producer. Joker doesn’t see it that way.
Surely, there’s no time to joke around.
20 • THE DRUM MEDIA
“There was this Aussie wave – bands like Pnau, Empire Of The Sun. Even now, you have groups like Miami Horror and Art Vs Science kind of keeping the momentum going,” Copulos reflects. “It was really, really cool from an Australian point of view – to see these artists getting support both in Australia and overseas. But then, everyone is sort of on their own path. My music doesn’t sound anything like their music.”
“Well, it didn’t take five years to write it,” he laughs. “It’s really just been the last two. After Guns Babes Lemonade was released, I was really on tour for a couple of years – until about the start of 2009 – and then I wanted to just take a break for a little bit. That’s why we released that EP, Younger & Immature, back in 2010. We wanted to give people something to tide them over until the album was done.”
Copulos has always operated within his own continuum. Since inception, his work as Muscles has been a weird overlap of contradictory outlooks and influences, from the simple collision of experimentation and pop hooks that was debut release, Four Months, in 2006 to the combination of raw electro and meticulously layered vocal hooks (see: Ice Cream) that has since become his trademark.
Manhood itself presents further evidence. Noisy, dark and eclectic, Muscles‘ second album isn’t generic Australian electro. It’s weird, sleek, sexual work. Aggressive and mercurial, Manhood does not arrive without Copulos‘ immediately recognisable vocal hooks and quirks – but it’s a product for the clubs, not the radio. Even in its softer moments, it feels too singularly unusual to stand alongside today’s electro-indie crowd.
“I kind of feel like Muscles is a special project,” the producer suggests. “You look around and there’s a lot of indie bands around who sound kind of similar to each other and a lot of hip hop, but I feel like Muscles is a special project. I feel like I’m in my own little universe and I’ve got no path to follow from other people. I’m kind of creating my own path with this music, if that makes sense.”
“I’m excited by it,” Copulos says of the album. “I feel like it’s a nice, sexy little dance record, you know. I hadn’t listened to it since I finished it, until just recently when I decided to take it for a spin in my car, and I was just listening to it thinking, ‘This is exactly the kind of follow-up record I wanted to make.’ It’s exactly the second album I knew I wanted to make from the moment Guns Babes Lemonade was released. I can’t wait for people to hear it.”
The proof is in Copulos‘ delivery of a follow-up album – or, rather, his refusal to immediately deliver a follow-up album. One of the biggest breakthroughs of the late-noughties’ electro explosion, Guns Babes Lemonade debuted at #14 on the Australian
WHO: Muscles WHAT: Manhood (Modular/Universal)
Local country/folk/indie kids The Flower Drums have gone far in a relatively short time, but Cam Findlay discovers from Leigh Craft and Aden Senycia that they still rely on Perth for inspiration – and specifically, one very special house.
“I think it may have come across as a bigger thing than it was,” he says. “But because my album just come out I thought I might as well get everyone to just do it live instead of me just playing the tracks. So I gave everyone a phone call, booked a flight for Silas, and everyone came down. As simple as that.”
“To be honest, I don’t think I have developed a lot until right now until after my album came out. It’s hard to explain why I feel like that, but that’s what I think.”
charts and topped the Australian dance charts. Yet it has taken Copulos nearly five years to get around to releasing follow-up album, Manhood.
Since he was just a wee jester running around the clubs of Bristol, Joker has been dropping beats and turning heads. Jason Kenny checks the beat. series of 12” and single releases pumped straight into the clubs around the world. His first release was on the Terrorhythm Recordings label run by Plastician, who’s also heading to Australia for the upcoming Big Ape Birthday tour.It was those early releases, and DJ nights, that cemented Joker’s style in the dubstep and grime circles and began building his acclaim.
hris Copulos’ Muscles moniker was introduced to Australian audiences with a wave. Dropping in late 2007, Muscles’ debut album, Guns Babes Lemonade, saw the Melbourne producer’s name inextricably linked to then fellow rising stars like Cut Copy, Pnau, The Presets and Van She – early breakthrough hits such as Ice Cream and Sweaty coinciding with a national explosion of interest in locally produced dance music.
WHO: Joker WHEN & WHERE: Wednesday 18 July, Big Ape 1st Birthday, Villa
eigh Craft has been in the scene for a while now. Originally a member of Streetlight, he had been gradually developing his own work, spending time here and there – or, to be more clear, between Perth and Melbourne. It was there that Craft met Aden Senycia, a producer who helped him mix the tracks for his debut EP, Shadows Aren’t Real, which was recorded in Ferntree Gully. “It was kinda weird,” Craft laughs when remembering the process of that EP, while we sit outside a well-known Mount Lawley pub with a few pints on an uncharacteristically clear day. “I wrote a bunch of songs, and they were all kinda about the places I grew up and where I’ve lived. But we recorded it on the other side of the country so... it put this whole new spin on it, I guess.” Shadows Aren’t Real was the culmination of a great deal of personal reflection and musical exploration, a process which led him to rethink his musical career, and one which initially saw his move to Melbourne. “It’s funny, I never really thought about the music I was writing in any professional way, it was stuff I was just doing with friends, for friends,” Craft explains. “With Streetlight, it was this total kind of collaboration between all of the band members, but The Flower Drums I feel is my own creation, in a way. I didn’t really want to write music that way any more, I wanted to think about it a little less seriously. We have people coming in and out of the band, who were all mostly my friends from the hills. They weren’t necessarily my first choice for musicians, but they were all people I loved to hang out with. So yeah, the ‘Drums is definitely my own little thing.” After cutting that EP and returning to WA, Leigh enlisted the aid of said musicians to get the Flower Drums ship rolling. Senycia made the move not long after, re-establishing his roots in Perth after spending many years in Melbourne. “It was a bit weird at the start,” Senycia laughs. “I’d been coming back [to Perth] now and then, but when I moved back not more than
a few months ago, Leigh had a lot of it sorted out, so it was just a process of getting everything going again. Like, with this new EP [Suburban Wilderness, set to launch in the next few weeks], we had to get all the instrumentation sorted, all of the tracking sorted. But I think we had the right place to do it in.” That place mentioned may just be one of the keys to The Flower Drums’ music. Their jam house, recording studio and what by all means appears to be their spiritual centre is a little place in Highgate, affectionately dubbed the “Walcott white house” by those who have spent time there. “It’s this really communal place,” Craft describes. “In truth, it’s probably one of the worst, or at least strangest, houses on the street,” he laughs, after pausing to think of the best way to describe it. “It’s really strangely built: all the rooms are huge, the walls are 20 inches thick, and the ceilings are ridiculous,” Senycia adds. “But that really works for the sound we’re trying to get. It has that really cool, I guess church-hall sound.” “It’s just a place where all these creative minds get together,” Craft adds. “We have musicians, graphic designers, artists and writers all living under the same roof. It’s not weird for someone to dissappear into their room for three days. They come out, and everyone else is like, ‘Where the fuck have you been?’” He tells, while Senycia chuckles knowingly. “But, by the end of it, they’d come out of their room after three days with something really great, something beautiful.” WHO: The Flower Drums WHAT: Suburban Wilderness (Fat Shan Music) WHEN & WHERE: Saturday 14 July, The Bird
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