by performing with a backing band on the east coast, the first time he’s done so in these parts.
Benefitting from local hospitality, Ron Pope is looking forward to being just another face in the crowd. He speaks with Benny Doyle about entertaining in any form.
ew 30-year-olds have got a catalogue as deep as Ron Pope; even less can match the songwriter’s drive and enthusiasm.
The New York-based songwriter broke through via the YouTube traction of 2005 ballad A Drop In The Ocean – 30 million-plus views and counting – but hasn’t even considered resting on his laurels. This year’s Calling Off The Dogs is Pope’s 11th full-length – a record that sees the musician chasing a bigger, more dynamic sound. And although he admits he was unsure whether fans would appreciate the risks he took, he was never going to be held back by those fears.
“When you’re in the studio and you’re making a record, nobody knows if they’re making a hit record,” Pope says during a press session in LA, “except for Quincy Jones, maybe he knows that what you’re doing is a hit record, otherwise nobody has an idea.” For Pope, outside opinions are meaningless – it’s just about making music that he feels is good. However, he still admits with a smile that it’s “unnerving to go out and play the songs for the first time”. On this upcoming tour Down Under though, he’s got safety in numbers, doing justice to his intricate Calling Off The Dogs material
This in itself is exciting for punters, but what’s even more interesting is that rather than bring his own crew over, Pope has used Aussie connections – spawned from a friendship with Sydney muso (and tour support) Cam Nacson – to source a full band of crack local players for the shows. “I’m using all-Australian musicians on this tour,” he confirms. “They’re [practicing] without me, but when I get there we’ll have some rehearsals and lock it in. But everybody is a pro, so I’m very lucky to be in this position. When I hit the ground we’ll rock’n’roll.” Surprisingly for us though, this situation – a member of a band, rather than a singer-songwriter – is more natural for Pope. And even though he’s made his name as a troubadour over in these parts, he’s still coming to grips with the fact. “I [only] released a few little acoustic recordings in 2005 under my own name because they didn’t sound like my band [at the time],” he admits. “I had never played solo until, I don’t know, I grew up playing in a band, I’d probably been playing music in front of people for ten years before I ever played one show by myself. “But the acoustic shows are special ‘cause I have to reimagine all the songs as something I can play all by myself with my acoustic guitar and my keyboard and that’s it. It makes everything very simple – you get the songs, you get me, and there’s nothing else.”
WHAT: Calling Off The Dogs (Brooklyn Basement) WHEN & WHERE: 6 Jun, Princess Theatre
THE FAILING ORDER
Propagandhi frontman Chris Hannah runs Daniel Cribb through the morbid reality of the current prevailing order. Warning: It seems we’re all screwed.
or most bands, it’s a solid week or so of jamming to prepare for a tour. For Canadian band Propagandhi’s frontman Chris Hannah, the approach is a little different. “Before we head out to a place I really start poking around and getting a sense of the temperature; the political, social temperature of where we’re going,” Hannah tells. It’s no surprise the left-wing political figure hasn’t been too inspired by Australian headlines as of late. “I feel like you’re going on the same path [Canada] is and it’s not necessarily the way that is going to benefit future generations… I think often about the connect between our countries in terms of the colonial history. “We’re so similar, it’s almost like our countries are leading the way in a race to the bottom in terms of appealing to base human overreactions and prejudice, and it’s going to fuck up our countries. I mean, our countries are fucked up to start with; we colonised these places and displaced people who lived on the land and destroyed their way of life… Now we’re just doubling down on the stupidity.” It’s not by chance the band’s sixth and most recent album, Failed States, approaches political issues in a broader manner, placing the focus on long-term issues involving future generations. Hannah had his first child around the time of its release, and welcomed another son at the start of the year. “I talk about it with him in the gentlest way
and the least nightmarish way possible because I want him to have a childhood too, and not just have this cloud hanging over him, even though the other side of me thinks I should just tell him the truth right now. “For now it’s just trying to put it into kindergarten terms for him, and relate it to his world and try not to extinguish his hope and his idea that there is goodness in the world.” Last year the band celebrated the 20th anniversary of their first record, How To Clean Everything, and in a couple of years they’ll be celebrating 30 years together, yet Hannah believes they haven’t done nearly enough.
“If this band hadn’t happened, I would have just been another fucking guy sitting in front of the TV, getting drunk, watching hockey and just deferring to the prevailing order and doing nothing, so I think we’ve had more of an impact this way than I would have otherwise. But what we’ve done isn’t really sufficient. “I try not to think of it like that because otherwise you just feel like a piece of garbage, so I try to concentrate on whatever stuff I think has been good, like connecting people who are doing that sort of direct action, connecting those marginalised political activist groups with a more sort of a more mainstream grouping of people who don’t necessarily have that connection.” WHEN & WHERE: 8 Jun, Hi-Fi; 9 Jun, Miami Tavern Shark Bark, Gold Coast THE MUSIC • 4TH JUNE 2014 • 21
Published on Jun 3, 2014
Published on Jun 3, 2014
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