RIDERS ON THE STORM With a crack new band behind her, KIRSTEN VERWOORD tells NICK ARGYRIOU that practice makes perfect.
irsten Verwoord is one intriguing character. Hailing from Perth, where she wrote for a music paper and presented a radio show since 2003 on RTRfm, Verwoord started writing songs with musical partner and right-hand-man, Alex Archer of the Kill Devil Hills. But when he split to work with Felicity Groom, Verwoord felt betrayed, feeling like Archer had left her for another woman. “It felt like being cheated on from a ten-year marriage… I love her and I think she’s great, but it’s how I felt,” she says. Packing her bags for Melbourne in 2007 for a fresh musical start, Verwoord spent time restoring old furniture in a Richmond warehouse before being befriended by the lads from the Cosmic Psychos. “I made friends with them around town and ended up with a five- or six-month residency playing Friday nights at the Cherry Bar. I built my relationships from there,” she admits. Taking Archer’s wise advice with her to Melbourne, Verwoord set out to right a few wrongs in both her playing style and personality. “Alex’s advice was that I needed to work on confidence in my own ability to execute songs that I write, and play them like I really mean them, so he said ‘Go play 101 shows and then come back to me’ – so I did and now I’ve gone onto this new line-up,” she tells.
THE BLUES BROTHERS Fusing blues and post-punk, BROTHERS GRIM sing about lust, sex, fighting and fucking – “you know, all the good stuff,” JAMES GRIM tells TONY MCMAHON.
liked, Verwoord was introduced to Jimmy Stewart (Clinkerfield) by Archer and went and watched his shows, before finding her way into the Silver City Highway lair through their leader Fergus McAlpin. “I was checking out their drummer Sime Edwards’ style and knew he was who would drum for me… so we spent hours talking about music and our love for Indian food and then we got Adam Afiff [Silver City Highway’s bass player] to play with us,” explains Verwoord.
mainly dirty dog inspired, you know, raucous tunes about love and lust and sex, fucking and fighting. You know, all the good stuff. Our basic premise is to take that old, ‘20s Delta blues and twist it and wrangle it in any way we can.”
With go-to-man guitarist Damian Hooper jumping on board, alongside Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Silver City Highway viola player Jason Bunn, Verwoord would assemble a cracker band that also consisted of fellow Silver City Highwayman, pedal steel gun Seamus O’Sullivan. Throw Kirri Buchler on violin and the Night Terrors’ Miles Brown on theremin into the mix to help build atmosphere around Verwoord’s smokey noir vocals, and her rhythm guitar shuffle and grind, and you get The All Night Riders – Chapter Two.
“I’m happy to be bracketed with Nick Cave. He’s a genius. An absolute legend.”
Having recorded demos in Afiff’s studio at RMIT, to rehearsal spaces in Collingwood, the very fine ‘rough cuts’ can be found on the band’s MySpace. Hoping to record their debut album in August, Verwoord has also applied for one of the 550 spots at CMJ 2010 in New York. After attending in 2009 where she spent time networking and “eating apple pies as big as my head and partying at a CMJ kick-on at John Mayer’s house”, this year Verwoord says she hopes to rekindle a long-term on-and-off (mostly off) relationship with her “lovely” US producer partner in New York, wishing to combine a little pleasure with business and stamp the All Night Riders’ sound in the biggest smoke of all. But, it’s the little things that give Verwoord the most pleasure. “Sime and I have been putting together cheese and wine gift bags for soloists who come and play with us, or those who support us, to show our appreciation… There’s a lot of love in music and the art that we do and we want to show that,” she explains. WHO: Kirsten Verwoord & The All Night Riders WHEN & WHERE: Tonight, the Old Bar; Thursday and Thursday 24 June, the Gem; Wednesday 23 June, the Empress Hotel
Continuing to build her friendship group by drinking at pubs and bars that played the sort of music she
A loose reference point here is perhaps Nick Cave, who kind of did something similar, and whose music, as with Brothers Grim, has trouble written all over it. Grim has no problem with the comparison.
droitly and insanely mixing the darkest elements of Delta blues and a peculiarly Melburnian postpunk murder ballad aesthetic, Brothers Grim are quite possibly the darkest and most interesting band in this town at the moment. A quick trip to their MySpace site or a visit to the Gem later this week will have true music fans disbelieving their own ears and wondering where the hell this band came from. The answer, of course, is from somewhere under a rock, quite possibly on another planet, where they’ve been writing killer tunes and drinking whiskey. Fascinated and slightly frightened, Inpress managed to corner singer James Grim for a chat. He begins with the not-at-all-ridiculous claim that he and his band have invented a new genre: ashtray music. “The first semblance of the writing that my brother and I did, three or four years ago now, we called ashtray music. Basically, it’s just bitter, dark-edged blues. We both grew up with blues, but for some reason we always played rock’n’roll. We never performed them, and before we knew it we had about 20 songs just sitting on a hard drive. A friend asked us to play at their CD launch and as we were preparing for that, my brother played me this song and I was like, ‘Fuck, that’s what I want to be doing, I love that shit’. Before we knew it, we were pumping out the blues.” But it now seems that the new genre has evolved even further. Wait till you get a load of this… “What we call it nowadays is sex-voodoo-Delta-bluesabilly. It’s a pretty good description of what we do. It’s
“How good is it?” he says. “We’re very happy with the line-up. We think the line-up is killer. There’s something really great about putting together a line-up like this. And, of course, the backstage scenes are always fascinating. They’ve all just got great stories. It’s wonderful. All the performers are so road-hardened and just have amazing stories to tell. I feel really privileged. Basically, you do a lot of eating and drinking and talking. It’s great. There’s always something really special about a benefit. Everyone’s doing it for nothing and there tends to be a really great vibe.” Talking of doing things for nothing, Nankervis is both elegant and straightforward when it comes to the reasons for his involvement.
Thrillingly, the Brothers have a studio album coming out later this year that should see them garner some of the recognition they so thoroughly deserve, as well as blowing a mind or two in the process. Given their music is so connected to a live setting, though, Grim says that by necessity a lot of thinking has gone into how it will be recorded. “That’s something we’ve been talking a lot about. We love that old sound, so obviously we’d like to record to tape. I think the simple answer is that we’ll record live and do it straight to tape because that’s how we play as a band. I’m sure that there will be a bit more of a studio sound, but it’s just a matter of finding a happy medium. If we produce it in the way that we want to, it’ll also be done in a way that we can play it at live shows, too.”
WHO: Brothers Grim WHEN & WHERE: Saturday, the Gem
In hindsight, JESS CHALKER would have done things differently after a song she wrote for her fiancé went viral on YouTube, she tells TONY MCMAHON.
“I’ve had a few dealings with the Sacred Heart Mission over the years. I live in St Kilda. I care, I suppose. You know, there’s a lot of sadness and a lot of trouble in this world. And it’s very frustrating when you feel like you can’t do anything. In a way, this is just a way of contributing a tiny bit. Most people want to contribute; I think it’s a fairly common desire. The human spirit sees someone in trouble and we want to give them a hand, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. So, for a performer, somewhere like the Sacred Heart Mission is a fantastic place to start.”
“Blues used to be played in these juke joints, in these tiny little venues. The Gem’s like that, so we’re more than at home. We’ll be crammed in this corner and under the influence of these powerful beverages, riding on the energy of this insanity. I don’t know, I can’t describe it. There’s a real kick to having this direct interaction with an audience rather that being up on a stage and just giving them a show.”
Amazing local talent are lining up to raise money for St Kilda’s Sacred Heart Mission, concert producer BRIAN NANKERVIS tells TONY MCMAHON.
eaturing a line-up to absolutely die for – including Daryl Braithwaite, Adam Hills, Tex Perkins, Archie Roach, Clare Bowditch, Mick Thomas, Stephen Cummings and Judith Lucy, to name only a very few – The Heart Of St Kilda concert, in aid of that suburb’s Sacred Heart Mission, is perhaps the finest example this year of a mutually beneficial situation for everyone concerned. All money raised goes to supporting the Sacred Heart Mission’s community work of providing food for the homeless and those living in poverty; social work and counselling services; accommodation; drug and mental health treatment; and, perhaps most notably of all, a pilot program, A Journey to Social Inclusion, which has the forward-thinking aim of breaking the cycle of homelessness by reintegrating the chronically homeless into society. Even producer Brian Nankervis (better known as MC of the preposterously cool RocKwiz), despite the fact he’s used to hanging out with rock royalty, is excited as a kid at Christmas in Toorak.
As part of important venue the Gem’s fourth birthday celebrations, Brothers Grim are playing a show in that intimate pub that should be both exhilarating and frightening, possibly dangerous. Almost certainly, Grim says, it will be something to see.
And it seems that, in his role as producer/ curator, Nankervis is making sure that this concert not only has a broad appeal, but is focused on the local community as well. “As I mentioned before, I live in St Kilda, so it means a lot to me to be doing this. And a lot of the people on the bill live in St Kilda, as well. Also, we’re certainly encouraging the comics to have a little bit of their material somehow reflect the suburb.” Naturally, Nankervis is reluctant to isolate any one aspect of the night as a highlight. If someone had a gun to his head, though… “That’s such a tough question. You know what I’m really excited about? Seeing a young band from Geelong called The Frowning Clouds. I’ve heard them on RRR, there’s a real buzz about them. They sound incredible. They sound sort of like a garage rock band from the ‘60s. I always like to get onto a new band early on. So, yeah, The Frowning Clouds, that would be my tip.” In parting, Nankervis emphasises the important point that there are few ways for punters to spend their hard-earned that are more fun or more worthwhile than this one. “It’s a chance to come and have an incredible night of music and laughter and actually be contributing, to actually be spending your money wisely and knowing that it’s going to a good cause. So, it’s a real win-win situation.”
WHAT: The Heart Of St Kilda WHEN & WHERE: Tuesday 29 June, Palais
production can make things a little more interesting.”
ydney folk guitarist/songstress Jess Chalker got her start by recording a song for her fiancé that became a sensation on YouTube. Now, with the release of her debut EP, Said The Raindrop To The Seed, she tells Inpress she wishes she’d done things just a little differently. “I guess the main thing it taught me was to have a little more faith in myself,” says Chalker, talking about the overwhelming online response to her music. “In hindsight I wish that I had some recordings to offer people. If only I’d known. It might have helped to fund future recordings, especially when that song was featured. I’m still kicking myself about that. Ah well!” And it seems that the aforementioned fiancé didn’t have a problem with all the attention. “It’s funny, Paul has always been the one that races to the computer to see who has commented on YouTube and sent me various other bits and pieces elsewhere in the social networking ether. So yeah, he’s been super supportive and instrumental in my taking the music thing further. He’s a cool guy.” For the recording of her debut record, Chalker added a number of other instruments to complement her own delightful strumming, mainly, she says, in order to add to the storytelling nature of the sound. “I always like to try and write songs that have strong legs when they’re performed in acoustic format as I’m often performing solo at this stage. But I do think that a discerning addition of instruments and arrangements can add to the narrative of the music and lyrics. It’s good to be taken on a journey and sometimes a bit of good
Chalker has had some serious success in songwriting competitions recently, having placed highly in both the Vanda & Young and John Lennon competitions. Pointedly, though, it appears as if she measures success by different standards. “It’s really encouraging, but ultimately if you’ve created something that you yourself aren’t happy with, then no amount of others liking it can make you see differently. It’s important to me that I like what I’ve written above all. I do feel a bit more pressure as a songwriter now. The creative process has changed for me somewhat also in that I’m more conscious of various things that can constrict your natural flow. And my expectations of myself are higher, which can be a good and bad thing.” After only her second gig, Chalker gained a support slot with superstar-in-the-making Lior. Fortunately for Inpress readers, Chalker is more than willing to share the dirt on her touring partners. “Lior’s pretty clean, although one secretly feels that all of this beautiful folk stuff he does is just the development phase of his real ambition to write death metal tunes, bite the heads off birds and go crowd-surfing,” she says. “But don’t tell anyone I told you. There was this singer/songwriter/love-child-of-Fabio in Sydney I did a gig with a while back who kept talking about all of the women he’d slept with throughout his set, which was both funny and weird because it soon became apparent that the only people in the audience who had actually come to see him were his parents.” Sadly, it seems the rest of the band won’t be accompanying Chalker on her Melbourne trip, but she assures Inpress this will not detract in the least from the power of the night. “This one will be more of an intimate, solo show. I can’t afford to bring the band with me just yet unfortunately, so it will be intimate. Plus I’m a real dag so… you’ll just have to wait and see.”
WHO: Jess Chalker WHAT: Said The Raindrop To The Seed EP (Independent) WHEN & WHERE: Thursday, Revolver; Friday, Wesley Anne
Melbourne is one of the few true rock’n’roll capitols of the world. And Inpress magazine is the voice of this great rock’n’roll city. For ov...
Published on Jun 16, 2010
Melbourne is one of the few true rock’n’roll capitols of the world. And Inpress magazine is the voice of this great rock’n’roll city. For ov...