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Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Brisbane dance-pop band the Belligerents are set to release a new EP and embark on their first major tour. I got the chance to ask bassist Konstantine a few questions before it all kicks off…

I’ve heard all sorts of stories about the band forming – strange German girls? Dating each other’s sisters? Let’s set the story straight once and for all…

James and Konsti [sic] knew each other from school, Lewis knew Konsti because Konsti was/is dating his sister and Lewis knew Andy because he pashed his sister once at a festival. Stag came along soon after and the band was formed as one.

Some of your influences shine through pretty clearly in your recordings (Foals, for example), but what are some less obvious bands or artists that have helped to shape the sound of the Belligerents?

Talking heads, Nintendo 64, The Rapture, The Klaxons, Metronomy, Ke$ha, NWA and Eminem

You’ve had amazing success with the Triple J Unearthed program. How has this helped the band so far?

It helped us heaps. We got our tunes on the radio, which means a lot of exposure to a lot of people. It’s also a great way for people to find out about us. It’s not the be all and end all but it is an amazing tool for bands.

Pretty much every live review I’ve read praises you guys for your energy – is there anything you do to prep yourselves before a show to give that much energy?

We like to do naked stretch exercises. Lewis is a professional equestrian so he knows how to properly warm up for shows which is a real advantage for the whole band. Three days prior to our shows we only eat raw meat, which gives us a bit of an edge compared to other performers.

Why was it so important to capture this energy so well on the record?

The energy of our live show is very important to us. We wanted to make a record that captures the energy without adding elements that we aren’t able to recreate live. Every part that is played on the record is played live as well.

Is the title of your new EP Less Arty, More Party referring to anything specific?

We were chatting one day and trying to figure out whether we could get on this festival bill. Then I said something along the lines of: “I don’t think we fit in there. We’re less arty more party.” Lewis the smart little munchkin picked up on it and we decided that it described our band perfectly.

I saw you guys support the Paper Scissors last year – how were they to play with? What other bands have you enjoyed playing/touring with?

Paper Scissors support was fun, those guys play some cool music and we had a mad booty shake with them. Some of our other supports have been Metronomy, Neon Indian and Yacht Club Djs and they all blew us away for different reasons.

You have a pretty decent tour coming up in April for the new EP – what has your touring experience been like so far? Any hilarious stories to tell yet?

We played a show in late-2010 at the Evelyn Hotel in Melbourne with Northeast Party House. The show was insane, big crowd, great bands, but it was all the stuff that happened around it was even funnier. I got food poisoning and barely made it onto the plane, after the show Lewis nearly got arrested because he pissed off a cab driver, Andy passed out and James got lucky.

What can the uninitiated expect from a live show?

Naked men wearing nothing but black sunglasses, pony’s [sic], blow up dolls, confetti and bumper cars.

What’s on the horizon for the Belligerents after this east coast tour?

We’ve got a plan for the rest of 2011 but that’s super secret. What we can tell you is the party won’t story and we’ll be releasing some even fresher tunes later this year.

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Glen Esmond (the Butterfly Effect) took time out to answer some questions about his new band, A Family of Strangers.


Firstly, what sparked the decision to start another band?

It was a natural extension of the fact that I had a bunch of songs written and wanted to record them and play them live.

I read that you don’t want to call A Family of Strangers a side project, why is it important for you to establish this?

I don’t want people to think that this band is somehow less (in an artistic way) to anything else I’ve done. Sometimes people think that a side project is somehow flippant or a musical scrap heap of sorts. This music is very important to me.
How are you planning on juggling the two bands?

The band cycle usually involves an ‘on’ year (touring and releasing) and an ‘off’ year (writing). The two bands will leap-frog each other in a perfect world.

The EP wasn’t really done in a ‘traditional’ way in that you wrote most of the songs and recorded them before actually assembling the band. What made you decide to do it all this way?

I had done all the demoing for the songs in my home studio and so because I knew all the parts and could play them all, I thought it’d just be easier. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough hands to do it all live.

How did the band come together?

I have played with all of these guys in one form or another over the last few years. They’re the best players in Brisbane in my opinion.

Musically, what have you been able to explore with a family of strangers that you haven’t been able to with the Butterfly Effect?

First and foremost is the lyrical and melodic aspect of the writing. I’d never really done this before and naturally it’s not even my jurisdiction in TBE. But overall, there’s more directness with AFOS in the themes and melodies I think.

What made you decide to self-manage and self-promote?
It’s cheaper and easier. The days of the big labels doing it all for you are kind of over. There’s more artistic control ultimately.

How do you think doing all these extra roles yourself instead of in the hands of others will change things?

It has it’s upsides and it’s downsides. It’s pretty ok at this level but as the band grows, we’ll definitely look at expanding the team.

How have the live shows being received so far?

The shows have been small but people are really getting the passion that we deliver and the songs are going over great.

What’s on the cards for a family of strangers in the near future?

I have a plan to release another 3 EPs over the next year. I really want to hone my craft more, write better songs and play more shows.

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Finally getting around to posting my interview. Sorry that some of the content is a little bit dated now, but still pretty interesting if I do say so. If you’d prefer to read the full article instead of Q&A style, go here.

I was able to have a quick chat with Dean on Sept 29, the night before the band’s album launch. He was driving back from the Gold Coast after playing an instore show at City Beach, Pacific Fair…


So how did the in-store go?

 

Yeah, it was bizarre. It’s a weird kind of show to play where it’s sort of foot traffic. You know, you’re in the middle of a shopping centre so that’s a lot of people coming and going and stopping for a song and then got somewhere to be. But yeah, it was cool. We signed a bunch of things. I guess it’s good to play shows for – it’s good to have these opportunities to play for people who are under 18 and might not be able to get to these shows.

 

I feel a bit ripped off that I thought tomorrow night was supposed to be the debut night.

 

Yeah, well, it was news to me as well! We turned up and the record was there! It was actually the first time we got to have a look at them. It was obviously nice and exciting for us but I was sort of led to believe that the first ones would go out tomorrow night, but oh well.

 

So are you excited for tomorrow night?

 

Extremely. It’s a big night for us in a lot of ways, I guess. A lot of cultivation of a lot of work that we’ve been doing. It’s good because it’s in our home town, and those shows are always really special. It’s the first show as well we’ll be debuting a lot of songs. The whole show, and the way it has been put together, it a lot bigger of a production than we’ve done previously. We’ve got an extra touring member with us. We’ve got some new gear and some fun stuff to take up on stage with us. It’s really exciting, I can’t wait.

 

I read about that fifth person…who is this mysterious person?

 

The mysterious fifth person! It’s a really good friend of ours – a guy called Remy. He and Kane, our keyboard player, have a project on the side that they do now and then. We’ve been discussing for a while, the idea of getting someone in to flesh out the sound for the live show because the record that we’ve made it’s really quite sort of lush sounding. It sounds a lot bigger than the past EPs. We wanted to match the sound of the record on the tour and Remy was just sort of a natural fit. We sat down and talked about who could possibly come along, and as soon as Remy’s name was mentioned it was just something that we all felt really good about getting him along to play the show. We’ve trialed him – he came and played a festival with us on the weekend, and we played a small show in Sydney on Friday night and he’s just a natural at it. We’re really excited about introducing him to the people at our shows. Should be good!

 

Is he going to be an official Hungry Kid, or just in the live band?

 

At this stage, just a touring member. We haven’t really discussed it…whatever the outcome is at the end of the tour. It may be that we decide that we want to keep him. And it’s also going to be a matter of whether he’d be interested in staying. It’s only early days. That hasn’t really been discussed yet.

 

The tour seems pretty big, are there any places that you’re going that you haven’t played before?

 

Uhh there are a few I think…just trying to think of where we’re going. I know there’s a lot of venues that we haven’t played before. The last couple of years have been pretty full on for touring for us but there’s not too many places in the country now where we haven’t been, so I’m not sure. We’re doing the Beach Road Hotel in Bondi and we’ve never done that before and it’s sort of a gig that we’ve been waiting to do for a while because we’ve been told that it can be quite a bit of fun.

 

That sounds nice!

 

Yeah…I’m still just trying to think….I think all of the places we’ve played at least at one point or another, but never on our own. Never headline shows though.

 

Come back tomorrow to read Part 2 of my interview of Dean from Hungry Kids of Hungary.

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Prefer full article format? Read my article for TOM Magazine here.

 

So, with the new album, it’s called Modern Day Addiction. Can you explain the meaning behind the title and do you think it sums up the whole album and the songs through it?

Modern Day Addiction is kind of a term that we coined to help explain the way we distract ourselves with the pleasures of the modern world. And it’s obviously quite a satirical album, there’s quite a bit of tongue in cheek in it – it’s a bit of a cheeky title. But it just kind of refers to all of the different ways to distract ourselves and also it refers to one of the themes of the album which is the relationship between society and addiction….and addiction being a spectrum experience with all of us having our own little vices be it coffee or you glass of wine at the end of the day, your chocolate on Tuesday, your 20 bucks in the gambling machine, your addiction to exercise – whatever it is, most of it is the modern world. Most of us have some way that we play out the story in our heads that we can be perfect, that there is a perfect answer, that there is another perfect person. And I think that’s been really one of the fascinating things about this ridiculous celebrity obsession that we’ve had over the past umm…that’s really kind of increased over the past 6 six years or so. It’s really just telling us something interesting about ourselves and our search for meaning.

Do you think it’s also sort of your reaction to your growing fame over the years?

I’ve really always felt like a bit of an observer in the world I’m in. I guess in the experience of having started releasing albums through a major label and so on, sometimes I feel like the music game is a bit of a popularity contest and that’s off-putting for people like me because I don’t thrive on that style of competition and I just enjoy being able to be an observer. For me the thing about this album is that I’ve had this position as part of my job which is essentially a songwriter and storyteller means that I’m invited into spaces where I get to observe absurd behaviour, that being people idealising other human beings and also other human beings taking pretty incredible privileges with this thing called fame. So that’s a really interesting place to be and I certainly don’t stand in judgement on the sidelines because that is part of what it means to be able to continue making music in Australia. You kind of have to be in there to some degree. But it’s certainly been a confronting experience for someone like me I think.

Along those lines, did you feel any pressure in trying to make an album that will live up to your past couple of albums that have been so well received?

I feel a lot of pressure about a lot of things in my life but that kind of wasn’t one of them. I think we do have a pretty thinking, active, loyal, dedicated fan base and I know that and anyone who’s come to our shows over the last 2 years, or any of our last shows actually – they accept us for who we are. So I feel pretty happy knowing that we’ll always have them. The only thing that ever concerned me, I know that this album has a more immediate, contagious flavour the than other ones. And by that, I mean it needed to have those elements in order to tell the story of these modern times that we live in that we think are so unique but actually all of these things that are playing out is just human nature, with just different scenes and settings. So my worry was always that perhaps this would be misinterpreted and people wouldn’t give the entire album a chance and judge it as me having changed styles, but that’s not the case.

It was pretty interesting to see that it was a lot less folky than some of your previous work, and I put that down to maybe it being a different back band you have – the New Slang instead of the Feeder Set?

Yeah, I think our singles have always been quite folky but I think the substance of our album has always been fairly diverse. With this one our band expanded. I had dedicated time in Berlin to write this album, and I had enough time to be able to arrange and develop songs in a different direction and be influenced by some of the people I was listening to at the time and the ideas I was also listening to. So now we have an 8 piece because I had written so many vocal parts we needed that many people in order to delivery them. And a lot of it was written on keys as well as opposed to guitar. So I think all of those choices that we made did certainly lead to reveal a new side of ourselves. I’m pretty sure that anyone who knows us will hear us in there. There’s no attempt to have an image change etc, it’s just a different way of telling stories.
 
Miss out on Part 1 of the interview? Go read it here.

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Prefer full article format? Read my article for TOM Magazine here
 

Firstly congratulations on your new album, it’s just about to be released – are you excited?

Yes, I am excited. Kind of in a way I haven’t been before. Normally we really rush to finish albums and get them out quickly after they’re finished and this one we just sat with for a while. And it kind of allowed to be excited again about it.

How long did the whole process take?

I first started writing on the Casio in August 2008, which was the beginning of a kind of comedy project to help fill in a solo tour and that’s what kind of inspired the song ‘The Start of War’…. So it was 2 years ago. And we started recording probably about one year ago.

I read that you did it half between Australia and half in Germany. Did that affect how the album was done and any of your songs?

Yeah it did. It was the first we had ever worked with other producers. We worked with Nick Harvey in Australia and with Mocky in Berlin. And when I say we I mean me and my partner Marty Brown – Marty is usually the main producer of everything we do. And I sometimes co-produce with him. So this time we kind of entered into a different way of doing things and recording somewhere other than our home studio. We recorded at Hansa [studio in Berlin] and that was such an incredible studio with so many stories and so much history and you kind of felt that when you were in there. And yeah I guess we just gave ourselves over to it in a new way. We just put ourselves in the hands of the experts saying ‘What do you think’ instead of being completely insular. It was kind of fun, and very scary.

Did you get to play any shows while you were over there?

I did actually. I played quite a lot of shows. I toured with one month throughout Europe with Gotye to start my time over there, and then we did another kind of two week tour of Germany and I played quite a few just little low key little underground-y shows just in Berlin to try some new tricks. And that seemed to work well.

Did you end up getting a pretty decent following in Germany?

It’s funny. It felt to me just like it felt in Melbourne 5 years ago, or 6 years ago when we were starting out. So we were doing maybe a couple of hundred people a show…. Some shows I would play to ten people and some shows I would play to a few hundred. It was kind of luck of the draw. But it was really kind of like beginning again. And it was a kind of pretty safe space to try out new ideas around people who didn’t know me. That was exciting.

Why did you choose Berlin out of anywhere else in the whole world that you could go?

There’s a few things actually. It’s quite near to my family in Holland, so could have always chosen to go to Amsterdam, but for some reason we didn’t…in 2006 I supported Art of Fighting touring around Europe when Marty, who’s my husband and producer and also the drummer in Art of Fighting, and me got to Berlin we just had this funny feeling. We both just thought this place is extraordinary, let’s try and come back one day. And I thought it was just a bit of a pipe dream, but I was getting a bit restless in Melbourne…I knew I had all these new ideas coming up, but I wasn’t quite sure how to play them out. And then this foolish, crazy idea came to us that we would try to put together this tour to go over to Berlin and it ended up being this living adventure. So it was a random adventure. We called it a Random Creative Adventure with No Fixed Outcome. Bringing in some new fresh air into what we were doing, and maybe having a change of perspective. It just feels like a really creative city where possibilities are endless and always in Europe, as a musician you feel like it’s a legitimate profession. You feel like you’re treated as a genuine contributor to society. It’s really welcoming as opposed to being a slack, old bludger, which is kind of how we think of our musicians sometimes.

How do you manage to keep a good work life and family balance with what seems to be the busiest year you’ve had so far?

This notion of work/life balance, I actually have a theory that its a pile of bullshit that someone brought up in order to sell us something because I have no idea what that means. It’s like work, life, chaos a lot of the time and it’s a really happy chaos. You know, it is kids painting on walls and it’s us having 20 instruments in the house to keep them occupied so we can buy ourselves some time. It’s kind of madness we have 2 three year olds and a 7 year old, with friends in and out. It’s a lot of community and it’s a lot of relying on everyone… a lot of shared meals. And it’s pretty much mental and we love it. It means accepting that you’re tired all of the time and you can’t keep up appearances at all. But it’s happy and refreshing and good it a way because it keeps everything level all of the time. And it also, you have such a single minded process in away. Like your life is just fairly simple if the little ones and you are happy then everything else it a bonus. I mean they’re not always happy times. Some of the stresses of touring in Germany with little kids. It’s not one thing on the road, it’s all the planning and press and endless nights on the road…you just hit your stride after a while.

It must be easier having your husband on tour with you instead of having to leave your family behind.

That’s exactly it. So it’s us as a family. We decided early on, this is the kind of family we are going to be and this is how we anchor ourselves. And once we accepted that it was always going to be a little bit crazy, we allowed it to be what it is.

So with your upcoming tour I’ve noticed you’re playing smaller towns like Mildura and Warnambool – do you go out of your way to play to these places?

Yeah, we do of course. And we love doing it. I mean you can’t…. the route of playing only four or five, or maybe 6 major cities. Touring in Australia is incredible and it’s very expensive and you don’t get to do it in the way that you want to, and this time we thought ‘fuck it, we’re going to take all 8 of us and we’re going to go as far as we can possibly go and just get to all those little towns’. Essentially it’s the people in those towns who have given us our livelihood for the past 6 years – they’re these who listen to Triple J and bother to kind of support us. And when we go to those show’s they’re always energetic and exciting because they appreciate live music. So we’re doing big cities and little regional towns.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview with Clare Bowditch later this week…

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You have a fairly big tour schedule coming up over the next couple of months, including some international shows supporting the Cat Empire. Have you ever played internationally before?

No never. I sang at a Leonard Cohen festival in Canada last year and played some solo shows in New York but this is Tinpan’s maiden voyage!

You seem to have a pretty tight relationship with the Cat Empire, with Harry Angus producing your last album – how did that friendship begin?

Um well, Harry is my husband… it’s a family affair!

Is there any pressure in opening for such an impressive live act as the Cat Empire?

I was very nervous to open for them when their manager offered us the gig. I almost wanted to say no. but i reassured that they have often had low key bands open for them, especially in Canada where folk is really big. I think also, overseas they still have a more ‘underground’ following… they are less pop over there and more appealing to big music lovers who are attracted to the musicality of the players. I think we often attract that kind of crowd too, so I think things will gel.

How do you think overseas audiences with receive Tinpan Orange?

Well, judging from the European travellers we’ve met along the way, Germany and France will be in the bag. The rest, we’ll see… We are all 1st generation Aussies.. most of our parents are from Europe so hopefully it will be a homecoming of sorts.

The band is officially a three piece, but you have a few songs that have some extra instruments. How do you transfer that into a live context? Do you have extra touring musicians?

We have a keys player when we can. We travelled with a string section last year but it’s too difficult to take so many people overseas. Harry plays keys for us when he’s not busy with other stuff… we are stealing Ross Irwin (The Bamboos and Cat Empire horn section) for the tour.

You guys have played towns and places that other artists would normally skip over, like Darwin or Pinjarra coming up in this tour – is it a conscious decision to play to smaller towns, or is it just part of the tour route?

We have a real soft spot for Darwin. That is where we cut our teeth. We spent a winter up there 3 years ago playing and busking everyday. We made some good friends and had some mad times. We go there every year now. It’s important to go to small towns.. the crowds are often very welcoming and the air is fresh.

Festivals also seem to love having you on the bill, does the band’s show differ in a festival context than just a regular show?

Not really. At festival its all killer no filler!

Who have been some of your favourite bands to play with, either in a festival or supporting?

Mama Kin, Clare Bowditch, Renee Geyer

Your new single ‘Like Snow’ sounds great – does this mean there will be another album coming soon?

Yes! It’ss just a star in the sky right now but it in the midst of being concieved…

Will there be an accompanying music video for it in the near future?

Glad you asked! Me and my friend Miss Polly Armstrong (photographer to the stars) were playing around in my backyard last week with costumes, confetti, glitter and a camera and came up with a cracker film clip. Its for ‘Like Snow’… keep an eye out for it!

Thanks, and good luck on the tour!

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Adelaide lads Steering by Stars are moments away from releasing their debut album Cables. This post rock group has been making some waves in their local scene and over the blogosphere for the past couple of months now and bass player Adrian Reveruzzi was kind a enough to answer a few questions from yours truly.

 

1. How did the name Steering by Stars come about?

If I remember rightly the name was stolen from an educational poster about the navigation methods of American Indians. Obviously it was the imagery of the words which we found appealing and not the specific context in which we found them. At the time we were starting to develop our sound and the atmospheric and grandiose imagery seemed a good fit.

2. Can you tell us about how the band came together?

Like so many bands it began as a forum to thrash out all of the ideas which didn’t seem to fit in the mould of the other bands we were in at the time. I have to credit Lachlan with organising the first rehearsal to jam on some fairly raw ideas. Many of them being scary solo piano pieces which I had no idea how to write a base line to.  Increasingly though, I think we realised that this band was becoming a rewarding creative outlet, as well as resulting in some pretty interesting music. It took almost a year for the interesting music we were creating to be arranged in a way that would loosely resemble a live rock band performance. From then on we haven’t really looked back.

3. The recording process for Cables was pretty quick – only three days, I read! Was there any reason behind this?

One reason which can’t really be ignored is the fact that as a fledgling band there never is a lot of funds to put towards recording. You have to accept that if you want to go the studio route, hopefully to achieve a good quality of recording, you’re going to have to be thrifty with time. This had an influence on how we approached it but it was definitely not the only reason for such a short recording time frame. From the outset we were fairly confident that our live sound would produce a full and dynamically interesting recording, so we went into the studio with the intention to record our music as we would play it live. Four of us, in a room, playing our instruments. This not only allowed us to lay down almost all of the tracks within such a short period of time but also meant that we were able to capture a lot of the rawness and energy present in the songs when performed live, which we think is an important aspect of our sound.

4. Was it difficult to try and capture the band’s ‘live’ sound on record?

As I said previously, we really went into the studio with the intention to produce what was in the main a live recording. I think playing through the songs together as a band and in the same room really helped us to generate the same energy that you would in the rehearsal room or on stage.  It might seem funny to say that, considering that alot of the album is quite ambient and low key but as a band we rely a fair bit on nods, smiles and other gestures to know where the song is heading next. In this way the band dynamic is just as important in the more ephemeral music. To answer your question;  it wasn’t too difficult to recreate the live band dynamic. What proved tricky was setting up in the studio, the loops and textures, including the effects on Lachlan’s vocals, which form such an important part of our live sound. I think that the end result was worth it though.

5. What made you guys decide to release Cables on vinyl as opposed to CD?

I think a vinyl, as an object, is a beautiful thing. That is not the only reason why we wanted to release it this way though. The album was written as a bit of a journey with the songs relating to each other as well as sometimes fading into each other.  We would love people to listen to it from start to finish and I believe that the vinyl medium encourages this. We have included a digital download with the record sale so people are able to have the music in a digital format as well. We aren’t trying to be retrospective or anti technology at all; we just appreciate the vinyl format both visual and musically.

6. You site some of your influences as Explosions in the Sky, A Place to Bury Strangers, and Vangelis…anyone else we should know about?

Deerhunter has been a big influence along the way. There use of aggressive rhythms and clever use of sparse layering inspired us to look beyond postrock’s sometimes overly gloomy and elaborate shoegaze.

7. Who have been some of your favourite bands to play with?

Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! Have been great friends of ours for a long time and we have shared in some memorable gigs along the way. We also recently played with Parades, who I thought set a new benchmark for us in terms of a live performance.

8. After the album launches, will there be any other shows around other parts of the country (in Brisbane for example! hint…hint…)?

We are currently going to test the water in terms of interstate touring with a show in Sydney in July which will be our first out of Adelaide. We are in the process of organizing a tour which will see us heading up to Brisbane in the not too distant future to play a show, but as yet nothing is confirmed.

 
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