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Wednesday, 06 November 2013 14:24

Bluejuice: Do As They Say

I had high hopes.

After seeing the video for ‘S.O.S.’, the latest Bluejuice single, I was sure they'd done it. After years of torment, tears and pointlessly alliterated sentences, finally there was a way to rid the world of douchebags.

Sure, the clip also shows Bluejuice accidentally shooting down a plane and beating on a granny, but if Arnold Schwarzenegger has taught us anything it's that sometimes there's collateral damage. It was only when I spoke to Stav (yes, Stav, not Stavros) that my hope was suddenly and irretrievably assuaged.

“It's just a film clip,” he said. “It's not real,” he said. Well thanks for getting my damn hopes up for nothing. I hope you're happy, Stavros.

"Admittedly a lot of people have asked us for guns like those. I had to break it to them that a lot of that isn't real. As long as you have the budget for sweet special effects you can do anything you want."

The natural question that follows is: if Stav could rid the world of one type of douche, which one would it be? It's a good 20 seconds before he gives an answer. Gosh, there are just so many...

"Pairs of volunteers that try to get your attention in annoying ways as you're walking by them. And they're often for good causes and I'm all for that, but it's the way they come up to you and just try to shake your hand, or are like 'Hey, are you having a great day?!' or these other relentless sales techniques they've been trained in. I don't actually have a problem with the things that they want to talk about, just have a bit of respect for personal space at least!"

Put down the pitchforks, people. It's not that Stav has a problem with charity. I mean, have you seen his stubble? No, it's just that sometimes it's too early to talk about saving the world. Sometimes that damn UNHCR guy should just buy you a drink first. Maybe that's why Bluejuice decided to record 'S.O.S.' in London, so Stav could have a reprieve.

"We've done a few shows over there as part of showcases, but I would suggest [we're] not very well-known [over there]. Jake [Stone] flew over and worked with a few guys that helped produce 'Act Yr Age' and they brought in a whole bunch of awesome session musicians. We're buzzed about the results and it sounds great.

“Interestingly, there's this German company that's interested in working with us, because there's this Austrian MC that's released a hip hop tune called 'Get it Right' that samples 'Vitriol'. As a result this German label's become interested in the band and there's talk of an international version of the record."

I ask Stav if Bluejuice roll around in a large pile of money every time someone samples 'Vitriol', but apparently this is the first time it's happened. Is this really a thing? I feel like Stav needs to lodge a copyright claim or two.

"We haven't seen any results from it just yet. It's only ever been sampled once, to my knowledge. This Austrian MC just had a friend in Australia who played him 'Vitriol' when it came out, and years later he decided to make a bratty hip hop tune."

You may remember an interview that ran in Scene a year or so back, in which Jake from Bluejuice revealed his fear of getting old. At 32, he figured he was 'over the hump'.

"I figure everyone has that a little bit, but I don't obsess over it. I feel like I hear it from [Jake] weekly, if not daily... so not quite at the same level. It's fine, it's what happens. It's life. I think change is more to do with circumstance.

"Whatever phase in life you find yourself in, that probably drives change more than age itself. You find young people that are wise beyond their years, you find much older people that act like teenagers forever. I think it's a headspace thing."

One of the qualities that makes Bluejuice so appealing, apart from their tunes and videos, is the fact they’ll never say die.

"I guess bands are often like families. The bonds are very strong, but that doesn't mean they aren't strained at times. When you work intimately with people for such a long period of time you kind of know their rhythm and end their sentences.

"You know them very well. I think few people in life [with] work experience that level of closeness where you reveal fairly true parts of yourself to one another... as opposed to working in an office where the things that you share are fairly superficial. Being in a band, you share your deepest fears often."

So, when are Bluejuice most likely to hug it out?

"At the end of a really good show. You feel bound in victory, you have that united feeling of conquest. Each and every show is its own unique battle, really. This desperate battle to win people's attention relentlessly.

"Not that it's like that for all bands, but for Bluejuice that's what it is. That's really hard to do, even for just 45 minutes or an hour, to make everyone forget their own lives and to be completely immersed in how you're trying to entertain them."

Bluejuice play The Hi-Fi Saturday November 9. ‘S.O.S.’ is out now.

Wednesday, 02 October 2013 15:05

Owl Eyes: Nightswimming

Brooke Addamo comes across like an endangered species.

The woman known as Owl Eyes is softly spoken, like she's found her feet but isn't ready to step on anyone's toes.

Split-seconds of hesitation meander down the phone line as Brooke launches into a dialogue that doesn't quite relate to the question being posed, instead answering one I wish I'd thought to ask.

She tells me that her favourite artist isn't Madonna, her favourite Beatles song could be ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’, and that her favourite time in life could potentially be right now.

Addamo's story is an unlikely one, although not so unlikely as to verge on the unbelievable. It's a faux pas to bring up her reality TV past. Though so many moons ago, her appearance on that notorious talent show which cannot be named still seems to have left a residual effect.

Brooke believes in opportunism, without being an opportunist. She's careful, without being cautious. There are other aspects of her demeanour, too, which leave one wondering if they exist because of an awkward teenage moment.

"Not too many people bring up ‘Australian Idol’ anymore. Usually in the cities I never get asked about it, but if I'm doing a regional tour I might get asked. I don't mind it. Everyone has a backstory and this is mine. I don't regret it, I just take it with a grain of salt.

"Everyone has their dorky, awkward teenage phase... mine was broadcast live on national TV. The main thing that’s annoying about it is that it's all over Youtube. Once it gets on there you can never take it away!"

The awkwardness would arguably have been greater had Brooke never pursued a career in music. But she's not a TV phenomenon, despite her YouTube acrimony. Brooke Addamo is 22, she's released two EPs, and her debut LP 'Nightswim' dropped onto Richard Kingsmill's desk early this year.

When Brooke refers to herself as an artist it's not in passing; she means every bit of it.

Every silver lining has a cloud, though. Earlier this year, Clare Bowditch told us that young, female artists have to struggle to be taken seriously as musicians, that they have to escape a cloud of doubt and earn their legitimacy, and Brooke doesn’t disagree.

"I guess that argument has some weight to it. I guess when you're a young female artist you get questioned a lot. I was talking to Amy from Stonefield. They get asked a lot of hard questions about whether they actually really love what they're doing or if they're actually just being fed that from a label.

"But I just try not to focus on things like that. You can get very caught up, very overwhelmed and upset by things like that. But that's just the way it is, you just have to take it on yourself to say that you love music and that's what you love doing."

Brooke finds herself in the developmental crossroads that often defines being in one's early twenties. She tells me her age gets brought up quite frequently in interviews, that people like to remind her how young she is. She doesn't feel that young.

"I guess I'm still young, but I also feel quite mature and I feel like I'm finding myself as an artist more than I have in the past. I've been doing music for a long time now, so I don't feel too young. There are so many up-and-coming artists, there's producers who are only 16 that are making music and putting it on Soundcloud and getting signed. But I feel like I can still take risks and not be too harshly criticised because I'm in my lower twenties."

Brooke’s political beliefs are rarely criticised, mainly because she never talks about them. Truthfully it's no one's business to ask... but hey, it's an election year. Let's hear it.

"I don't really get involved in politics because it makes me quite mad. But my main policy would probably be to legalise gay marriage. I think it's ridiculous that we're living in the past. If you love someone you should be able to show that.

"I have a lot of gay friends and I feel quite passionately about that. I'm not too sure what my political party would be called. Probably something funny to do with cats."

Or dogs, perhaps. Given her affiliation with Oscar's Law. Perhaps 'affiliation' is too strong a word, though. She's not so much campaigning for them as she is lending them a face and a name. Brooke is just an artist, after all.

"I don't really take a stand on a lot of issues because I'm not an activist, I'm not a politician. But I do support the belief that if you believe something you should talk about it.

"Oscar's Law came to me and asked if I was interested. I read about them and thought it was a good cause. I do believe in animal rights; I don't think puppy farms are the right way to go. I didn't know much about them before they contacted me but after looking at how dogs are being treated in those facilities I thought it was something worthy of my time... even if it was just for a photograph."

The interview comes to a close and I realise I haven't asked a single question about Owl Eyes' latest LP, 'Nightswim'. It's quite rude, really, and perhaps a little frustrating.

"No, the main thing that frustrates me is when people don't do their research, like when people ask me if I've toured before. I like being thrown different questions. I do have opinions, obviously, I'm not a puppet."

Owl Eyes plays Alhambra Lounge Friday October 11 and the Woombye Pub October 12. The ‘Nightmixes’ EP is released October 18.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 13:19

Simple Plan: Any Suggestions?

Simple Plan is one of the world’s only interactive bands.

When it comes to writing songs, these French-Canadians want to know what we think. They want to read our tweets, our emails, our thoughts, in the hope that we will inspire them to head to the studio.

The immature 14-year-old inside me wants to call this 'laziness', but it's clearly not. It's about inviting fans into the creative space, allowing them to make Simple Plan their own.

As so many artists fight to stay relevant after their time in the spotlight is over, guitarist Sébastien Lefebvre admits that his outfit places an incredible amount of trust in their core group of dedicated followers.

"We're very relevant in our world. We're very important to our fans, we're very important to ourselves in that we still love what we do and we always decide to do it better. How relevant are we in the music world? That's a hard question to answer. Once in a while you'll hear or you'll read that an artist has been to a Simple Plan show, or they used to be fans. It makes you feel relevant."

The track 'This Song Saved My Life' from Simple Plan's latest LP is the example Sébastien throws in the air as an example of what he's talking about.

"It was co-written by the fans, almost. We took their testimonies and turned it into a song. We were wondering what to write about, and we just had that line ‘this song saved my life’, so we asked on Twitter what music meant to people. When all the comments started pouring in, that's how we shaped the verses of the song.

"We actually invited some fans to come to Vancouver and sing on the track. They were pretty good! When 25 people show up you never know how many of them are going to be good singers. It turns out they were."

All of this interactive camaraderie is well and good, but surely it's more important what the members of Simple Plan think of their music, not what the fans think... right?

Crowd-sourcing for creativity doesn't always have the best results. I'm not saying Simple Plan writes music exclusively through Twitter. What I am saying is that they collaborated with Shaggy, and someone needs to pay for that.

"I wouldn't say it matters more what we think. I think you have to keep both in mind. We have a special relationship with our fans. I don't see a lot of bands that have the same relationship... not that it's good or bad, just that the kind that we do have is different. You know, we involve them in our songwriting, our videos. We've asked their opinions about album covers.

"The fans are the reason that the band exists. If you're putting out music but you don't care about your fans then just stay in your basement and don't put out music.

"When we first started [in 1999] it was the very beginnings of the internet. Our personal emails were on the [Simple Plan] website [but] we would always go out to the merch stand after the show and try to meet people, try to take pictures. We always had meet-and-greets and signing sessions."

But now with the internet Simple Plan never have to meet anyone face-to-face again! Right?

"No! That's not true. The next step to all of that was to use social media to share a bit of our lives. It's actually pretty weird because when the fans come to see you they feel like they know you. They'll be like ‘Hey, how was that thing you did last week?’ and I'll be like ‘What?’ Then I'll remember it was on Twitter and that's how she knows."

I have to try not to laugh every time Sébastien says the title of Simple Plan's last album, 'Get Your Heart On'. Put on your best French-Canadian accent and then say 'heart on' three times fast. I'm not the only one that finds this funny. Eagles Of Death Metal named an album 'Heart On' as a joke, so that Jesse Hughes could say he was getting his 'heart on' all across America. He probably was.

"Whenever we put out an album we always want to make sure it's the best album we ever put out. So 'Get Your Heart On' is a fun album, and we really tried to let loose on it, we really tried to have a good time on it. It makes you wanna smile, it makes you wanna have a good time.

"Depending on what we're going through in our lives, that's what we talk about. So on the first album it was more like 'leave me alone I wanna do what I want'. Then on the second album there were songs that said 'don't try to bring me down, I'm still gonna do what I want’."

Simple Plan can talk about their discography until the cows come home, but let's not forget that this is the band that plays the theme song for ‘Scooby-Doo’. That's much, much more impressive.

An ideal Simple Plan show, in this writer's opinion, would be for Sébastien and his mates to come out on stage and play the theme from ‘Scooby-Doo’... This might sound silly, but Sébastien has arguably done sillier, more hilarious things. For one, he singlehandedly started a rumour that he and his merch guy were starting a band together. They even had t-shirts printed.

"We were on tour a long, long time ago with Bowling For Soup. We kept telling people for no reason that we had a band called ‘Man Of The Hour’. So it was me, Pierre our singer, Jaret from BFS, our merch guy who doesn't play any music at all, and we kept telling people that we were going to get signed. So after all that when we started doing radio we decided to call it the Man Of The Hour show."

Simple Plan play Vans Warped Tour at Brisbane’s RNA Showgrounds Friday November 29.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013 14:19

The Rusty Datsuns: Missing Parts

What’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle?

This is the question that I forget to ask Fern Thompsett, fiddle player for The Rusty Datsuns, and it may have been my last chance. Though the Datsuns have only been around for a handful of years, and despite their debut LP having only just arrived (‘Riverbank’), the band will be calling it quits... for a while, anyway.

"That's my fault,” admits Fern. “My sister is living in California and she's about to have a baby. We're really close so I'm gonna move over and live with her for about a year or so. The rest of the band has threatened to follow me over there. But it will definitely be our last show in Brisbane for a little while at least. We've only been going for about two-and-a-half years so there will be a little bit of a lag. But that'll be fine, West End never forgets."

Fern's words are particularly apt. The Dattos are a part of West End, after all. The band lives and breathes the Boundary St air; the suburb is their town, it's where they came together, and it's where they'll be remembered most. Yet with a following as dedicated as the one Fern's outfit has managed to accrue since its formation in 2011, it's with no quick flick of the wrist that she has decided to leave. An adamantine bond exists between Fern and her sister. It's strong, even for siblings.

"She taught me to skate, she taught me to surf. We used to spend a lot of time together growing up. It was really just the two of us. When you're surfing and you spend time out the back of the ocean with one person you become really close."

A year can often seem like quite a short amount of time in the music world, yet knowing that both your band and your friendships are being put on ice for 12 months is no less daunting. It's taken some time for The Rusty Datsuns to come to terms with Fern's departure, though the remaining members will still have enough to keep them busy. Guitarist Sian will be attending to her solo career, while Al Skinner will likely be found chilling out with Chocolate Strings. In the meantime, though, expect some teary-eyed folksters after the Dattos play their last Brisbane show at the Old Museum.

"We're all pretty sad about it to be honest. Playing with them has given me some incredible experiences and it's been tough at times as well, to be honest. But the last time I went to California it was only for two months, and I really missed them! I missed them far more than I expected to. There's been some talk of getting a new fiddler and replacing me! But there aren't that many people that play the fiddle in Brissie. All the other ones have been snapped up by other bands. You know, there's only three of us... wait, that's another exaggeration. I don't know how many there are."

Before the curtain falls, however, The Rusty Datsuns have kindly decided to help out the rest of us. As this article goes to print, all three band members and any friends or passers-by they've cajoled in are huddled around a table, sticking together a thousand individual album covers. It's fitting, without being ironic. A DIY band, departing West End with a final act of DIY madness; a debut album, made by hand. If they were Radiohead they'd just put the album online for free.

"When you fold the CD open this little storybook pops out. But what it means is that we have to make a thousand pop-up albums by hand. We've got a bit of a factory production line going at the moment. I was there from 10 in the morning until 8 at night and we made 50... which means we have 950 left to go! It'll be worth it."

Oh, and by the way. If you were wondering if there's a chance Fern may not return, put your mind at ease.

"I'll be in West End as long as you can buy a $4 kebab there. If West End wasn't in Brisbane it'd be a shithole."

The Rusty Datsuns play The Old Museum on Sunday September 15. ‘Riverbank’ is released September 13.

Wednesday, 04 September 2013 13:58

The Story So Far: #notsodifferent

The music biz can be a tough nut to crack.

Maybe that's the ethos behind a name like The Story So Far; the band is a work in progress, and always will be. Bassist Kelen Capener is driving around his hometown when I call him, not going anywhere in particular. The aimless meander has given him time to think; his unassuming California drawl relays observations more akin to memos scratched into notes on the fridge than actual epitaphs of thought.

"I'm actually sitting here now in my car in Walnut Creek. It's evolved a lot since I grew up here. It's just a nice neighbourhood, it's not a place where you worry about being out."

I ask if people would recognise him if he stopped the car and got out, to which Kelen laughs.

"That only happened to me for the first time the other day. I went to the store to pick up a few things and someone came up to me and was like, ‘Hey man, you're from The Story So Far’. That was kind of weird, I was just shopping for jalapeños.

“Then the other day we were visiting Kevin's girlfriend, she works in downtown Walnut Creek. She gave me this hot chocolate and I was joking, I was like , ‘Yo, what if I just poured this on this kid's head right here?’ Later that kid tweeted that he'd walked by me, so it's a good thing I didn't!"

If you're holding a copy of The Story So Far's latest LP between your claws you'll notice there’s a guy on the cover, and that he's in a bit of a predicament. The album's entitled ‘What You Don't See’ and, not quite ironically, giant, spike-ridden vines are growing out of his eyes.

"Jordan from New Found Glory came up with that interpretation. In the original sketch there was fire coming out of his eyes, but I don't know if that's what we were going for. But we just gave [Jordan] the creative liberty to do it, we didn't really have time to seek art from anyone else. He really did us a huge favour."

The Story So Far play Soundwave at RNA Showgrounds Saturday February 22. soundwavefestival.com

Wednesday, 04 September 2013 13:34

London Grammar: Getting To First Base

Dot Major is ready for commitment.

Over the course of recording their debut LP, 'If You Wait On', the London Grammar trio have forged lasting bonds both as musicians and friends. Each of them are in each other's lives, and it is only together that they have been able to enjoy their recent success. It's no wonder, then, that multi-instrumentalist Dot feels like he's in a relationship, one that he hopes will last the distance. As far as this muso is concerned, he's found the one.

"There are a lot of bands where there would be only one or two main writers. I think the fact that we all write means that we had to learn to let go of things. It's a collective vision, so ultimately there are things that you'll disagree with. But the longer the process goes on, the more you assimilate into each other's likes and dislikes and learn to let go of other things. By the end the three of us were on the same page, but it takes time to learn that dynamic. It really is kind of like being in a relationship."

Writing and recording 'If You Wait On' spanned the better part of 18 months. It's a long time to spend fleshing out a single album, even if it's your debut. It's hard to escape the feeling, though, that the members of London Grammar consider that time as a period of musical courtship rather than one of arduous creative struggle. It's arguably that period that has made the band who they are today.

"The actual writing and recording took place over such a long period of time. We sort of developed it over that time sonically as well. It changed a lot over that period, and there are some tracks where you really notice that. [But] I really enjoyed the writing process. We spent about three weeks in this really cool studio called State Of The Art. The guy who owns it modelled it on the old ‘60s studios; there's all the old ‘60s Beatles gear they used in Abbey Road."

This intimate relationship the band now fosters was inevitable, really. Pick a London Grammar song — any song — and listen to the lyrics. Then listen to them again. Those among you with keen ears will realise that these aren't just phonetic pop patterns being pattered out over some nice chords and drum beats. Inhabited within each song is a personal experience which has been painfully yet unashamedly dragged forth into the spotlight.

"Hannah writes all of our lyrics and they're all really personal to her. All of her lyrics are from personal experience and she's really interested in psychoanalysis; if she wasn't in music I think she'd probably want to be a psychoanalyst. So she can't help writing from within herself and I don't think her lyrics would be as great if she didn't. The result is that we know everything about her, but she knows everything about us anyway. I think, though, that there are some great moments in her lyrics that everyone can relate to."

Many Australians are still wondering how London Grammar's music ever managed to wash up on our shores. Wonders of the internet aside, when 'Hey Now' began pummelling the radio waves the band was yet to sign any deal in Australia. Their music hadn't been released here, it wasn't listed on Australia's iTunes store, and fans had no way of buying the single despite hearing it played every day.

“When we put out ‘Hey Now’ we didn't have anything else at the time. We didn't have any press shots or a video. So when it became big we had to react. I have no idea how it happened. It just got to the stage where it was being played three times a day on Triple J. It's mad! We were all just really surprised by it."

Having your song played three times a day does seem a little excessive, despite Triple J's penchant for mashing the station's repeat button into oblivion. But as Dot points out, being played on the radio isn't the kind of overexposure the band is worried about.

“I don't think airplay on Triple J can really be overexposure ... there are things that I don't think it's best to advise new bands to do and you learn what those things are. We've done a couple of things in the past that maybe weren't right. It's important to realise that even as a new band you can be picky about what you do and what you don't do.”

London Grammar's debut album 'If You Wait On' is out Friday September 6. The band play The Falls Byron, which takes place December 31 until January 3. fallsfestival.com

Wednesday, 04 September 2013 13:24

360: Everything Went Black

Some people are very hard to pick.

There's a persona 360 has cultivated of a brash, obnoxious, unapologetic stalwart of Aussie hip hop that permeates its way through every public appearance and every syllable spoken on a track. To be honest, before chatting to him on the phone it was this persona that I was expecting to encounter; I was bracing myself. In the end, it turns out he doesn't even answer the phone as ‘Sixty’; how did I not already know his name was Matt?

"Everyone sees a successful artist or musician and thinks they must just be living the life, everything must be amazing. But there's so much other shit going on behind the scenes that people don't know about. It's really hard to deal with suddenly going from that dude on the street that no one would look at twice to suddenly getting harassed a lot in public for photos."

Sixty isn't generally one to plaster his issues across the public space. Even having his photo taken in public has been something the rapper has had to come to terms with.

"This was in my time when I was not a very healthy person. I was a little bit anxious. [But] I still struggle with that shit. When everything first happened we had a gig in Perth. I went to a General Pants store before the gig but I didn't realise that it was just when school had finished. Someone came up for a photo and I was like ‘Yeah, no worries’. Next thing I look back and the whole shop is packed, full of kids waiting, just waiting. I had to go out the back door 'cause I couldn't really deal with it."

Sure, public relations can be tough, but at this point I wasn't convinced that Sixty actually had that much to deal with. I asked him what else was going on. I was not expecting to hear he was going blind.

"I've got a disease in my eyes. I had a transplant in my right eye, and I can't see really out of that at all. And now my left eye has just started going. So it's just a matter of time and then I'm gonna have to have another transplant and then I'll have fuck-all vision. I don't think it'll be 100 percent blind, it'll just be about 80 percent. I'll just see colours, it'll look like I'm underwater. That's what it looks like if I use my right eye. It's all good though, man! It could be a lot worse.

“I'm in a very good place now. There's no drug abuse which there was for the last four years. That shit's like a rollercoaster 'cause it's so much fun. It'd be a lie to say that it's not fun to do it but it slowly creeps up on you and becomes something that swallows you and becomes part of your life. You battle with it so many times. It's a fucking nightmare to really go through it. But I feel like a changed person. I've gotten off everything apart from marijuana because I don't think that's that bad."

Perhaps brighter days are ahead, even if Sixty has had to accept the prospect of living them in darkness. He's been keeping himself busy, excited by the prospect of a follow-up to 'Falling And Flying'. His next album will be even bigger, he tells me, even after I remind him he's talking about an LP that went platinum four times over. And then there's the elephant in the room, an elephant by the name of Pez.

“We've always planned to [do an album] together. So the plan is for his album to drop at the end of this year, my album to drop early next year and then for us to work on a Forthwrite album for next year as well. It's definitely gonna happen. One hundred percent. It's just depending on when it comes out, it depends on how long it takes to work.

"Me and Pez are very different in the way we work. It's actually really good. Pez tends to put a bit of time into his shit. Sometimes he puts a bit too much into it. He's such a perfectionist, that's just what he does. I'm the opposite of that; once one thing's done, if it sounds good I just leave it, I don't go back to it. But then when we're together we bring the best out of each other. I get him to just chill out and he gets me to become more of a perfectionist.”

360 headlines Sprung Festival at Victoria Park Saturday September 21. sprunghiphop.com.au

Wednesday, 28 August 2013 14:19

Beach Fossils: Dreaming Of Brooklyn

Dustin Payseur’s voice oozes with that Brooklyn hipster-cool we’ve all heard so much about.

Moving to New York is a dream kicked around by so many inner-city Brisbanites that it becomes hard to separate fact from fiction. Is the mythical land of Brooklynville actually this utopian hub of creativity that we outsiders have built it up to be? Dustin seems adamant that Brooklyn deserves its hype.

"It's extremely diverse, that's probably the best thing about it. You could go out every night and see a line-up of bands and they'd all sound completely different. That's what's so exciting about it; it's not like there's one type of genre dominating music. Everybody's doing their own thing, everybody's taking from what really speaks to them, and that comes out in different ways."

Dustin is quick to admit the low cost of living in Brooklyn is perhaps the main reason for the borough's throbbing cultural and creative pulse.

"A lot of people move here for the same reason I moved here. It's a place that has so much history in music and art... it's a place where people are constantly coming and going, and you can just come and meet other people that are creators and collaborate. It's the kind of place where you can play a show every night and it's not gonna be the same people coming to see you. It's almost like you can go on tour playing in the same city."

In terms of its members, Beach Fossils is perhaps more akin to a sieve than a solid base. Its members have come and gone, and Dustin remains the outfit's chief songwriter and sole permanent member. 

"That's just the way it's happened. I was actually thinking about this the other day, about everyone that's been in the band before and the reasons [they left]. There's never any bad blood or anything, I just wanted to play with people that were motivated and people that I thought were talented. Everybody that I played with also had their own bands, so they've come and gone! But it's great, everyone I've ever played with has been a friend of mine."

Beach Fossils play The Spiegeltent as part of Brisbane Festival Thursday September 19.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 14:27

Bloods: DIY But Do It Later

Procrastination is a hell of a drug.

Bloods wanted to record their EP, 'Golden Fang'. No, really, they actually did want to record it. The trouble was, so Dirk tells me, that the trio were just so incredibly busy. There were so many beverages, he says, and they weren't just going to drink themselves. Yet somehow between the foggy haze of drinking and hanging out Bloods remembered they still hadn't recorded their EP. This troubled them. Something had to be done. The three of them cracked open a beer to figure it all out.

"We went to the Hunter Valley and hired this house in the middle of nowhere. It had no internet or phone, so we were totally dedicated to working on this stuff! When we got there there wasn't even a landline, so even if anything went wrong we couldn't call anyone. I think we just wanted to get away from all our partners and all the distractions. We needed to force ourselves to actually do the work! But we had so much fun just drinking and hanging out that we only got about two songs down, and this was over a couple of days."

Even Bloods know that two songs does not constitute an EP, but luckily the trio had the sense to book some extra studio time and actually do some work. By some miracle, 'Golden Fang' has made it to completion.

"It's just so great having it out there and having people able to hear it," Dirk assures me. Apparently it's a great EP to just drink and hang out to. The irony is that if Bloods took their craft more seriously they'd likely cease to exist. Professionalism goes against the DIY ethos inherent within the bloodied, beating heart of Australian garage punk. Musical ability? Optional. Accurate release dates? Unlikely. The result is, of course, excellent.

"It seems like a real movement happening at the moment. Having Royal Headache is a big part of it, their royal assent to popularity, I think, has led to a lot of people picking up guitars and, you know, doing it. I mean, it shows you that you can do it yourself, you can start out and not even... like, with Bloods, when we started none of us played the instruments that we're playing in the band."

Silly me. I assumed that, given those drumsticks he's holding, Dirk must be a drummer. Wrong — he's a guitarist, one that just happens to be playing drums.

"We were all playing in another band before and we picked up other instruments and thought ‘Yeah, let's just swap it around’. In the old band MC was just singing with no guitar, but she could play guitar. Sweetie has been playing violin since she was three years old, so she thought, ‘Oh, bass could be good because it's also got four strings!’ For me I've always loved drums. I'd played them on and off but I'd never owned a kit. In the past when I was playing guitar in any break I'd get on the kit and have a go. It was probably really annoying for the actual drummer."

Dirk assures me that learning to play drums is very, very tough. One has to partake in a strict regimen of only light-to-moderate pre-show drunkenness. It's a level of self-discipline that requires concentration, deep-breathing, and the repetition of a mantra over a burning stick of incense. Oh, and there's other stuff as well. Like actual drumming. Right. That's hard as well, maybe.

"I'd always tapped along on a desk at school listening to my Walkman. But actually starting this band and recording really early on... it was harder than I thought. Just trying to keep time! You can't get drunk or anything, if you do you totally blow the whole show! Over time I've gotten way more confident with it, but it was just stressful at first."

Dirk and I blow the rest of the interview time reminiscing about the qualities of our respective Walkmans. In a vain attempt to bring substance back to the dialogue I pull the cheap shot of asking who the band will be voting for this election. This is assuming, of course, that any of them actually manage to pull themselves away from drinking and hanging out to vote at all. It could happen, sure.

"Whatever happens, I think I speak for all of us that as long as Tony Abbott doesn't get anywhere near power ... We've already decided we're moving to New Zealand [if he gets in]. It's great over there. A couple of radio stations have picked up the single, so it's perfect!"

Bloods play BIGSOUND at Electric Playground on Wednesday September 11.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 20:16

Shapeshifter: Take It Easy Bro

Beneath the name 'Shapeshifter' lies an unexpected puzzle.

Did the band called themselves 'Shapeshifter' because they're unable to keep still, or does their style keep changing because their name is 'Shapeshifter'? In reality it's a stupid question and one I'm glad I didn't put to P Digsss when chatting to him on the phone.

Given that drum & bass is their craft, the New Zealand outfit can't help but feel the changes that have swept over the audio landscape since their 1999 inception. After mentioning Shapeshifter to a friend of mine the response was, "You can do Drum & Bass live? That's amazing!"

It's really not, although the gentlemen from Shapeshifter certainly are. Poised to drop their latest LP 'Delta' on ear-shaped orifices across the globe, the band still seem surprisingly nonchalant about what they do. Maybe that's the Berlin Effect coming to fruition.

"We decided to live in Berlin for the summer ‘cause it's winter over here but it's still warm over there, you know? It's a really beautiful place. Everywhere there's really amazing art, music, I think it started to impact on us. I mean, I don't know if there was a direct impact on the album. We always approach every album a little differently. It's about trying to make something different, and we always try to do that. But, you know, we also try to find a little bit of inspiration from our surroundings as well."

About half of 'Delta' was ultimately recorded in Berlin, and it will be up to the audience to decide if the European endeavour has left a lasting impact on the final product. Perhaps the release's three lead singles contain a clue — 'Monarch', 'Diamond Trade' and 'Gravity' each showcase Shapeshifter coming from a different angle, as if the band shattered apart before reinventing itself each time. The result is as startling as it is satisfying. I suggest to Digsss that that's why Shapeshifter chose the tracks as singles, and he laughs for quite a while.

"Why pick any song! Well, cause they're three songs on the album, you know? Seriously though, I guess we wanted to show the different sides to ('Delta')... you take those songs, particularly ‘Diamond Trade’, I think, and you can really see the sort of different approaches that we've taken on this LP, you know? Plus we've got some killer videos for those tracks in the works."

The jovialness of Digsss is disarming; it's very hard not to be put at ease by the constant laughter that echoes down the phone line. Not everyone feels that way, though. After opening for Tool, Shapeshifter were left feeling a little bemused, if not bewildered. Few things seem to phase the band, and while they certainly don't view the experience in a negative light, Tool perhaps aren't remembered for the best reasons. Never has a frontman been so aptly described by his band name.

"When we opened for Tool, we never saw Maynard. It was funny, dude. And apparently before he would go anywhere his people would tell everyone not to look at him, like not to make direct eye contact with him. No one was supposed to look at him. But actually we met up with the guys from his band, they came up to us after a show and started chatting to us and asking us stuff... they were some of the nicest guys I've met."

‘Delta’ is out now. Shapeshifter play The Hi-Fi on Saturday August 10.

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