Items filtered by date: December 2013
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 16:24

Transvaal Diamond Syndicate: Estranged Blues

Purveyors of original blues, Transvaal Diamond Syndicate bring an energetic, dancey vibe to a genre known for its melancholy.

“I love to be able to get to the stage where I'm making a living through my art alone,” guitarist, vocalist and percussionist Christian Tryhorn says. “You have to cut your teeth in the Australian music industry. It's one of the hardest places in the world to get recognised.” 

Respected as one of the hardest working bands in the country, and earning airtime on Triple J, it should come as no surprise that Transvaal Diamond Syndicate are one of the most requested acts on Australian Community Radio.

“We had a bit of a realisation at the end of [the last] tour. We played a sweet gig at Queenscliff Music Festival and were chatting to a couple of bands we look up to, and they said 'You guys are really running yourself into the ground, you need to step back and be a bit more selective about your shows’. So we're going to scale back just a little bit on touring and concentrate on playing higher end shows.”

While their fanbase is predominantly young adults, the band enjoys a wide array of fans.

“We see a range of people at our shows. Originally when we started we thought we'd appeal to the Triple J, 18 to 28 year old crowd, but we are seeing a lot of 40 to 60 year old people at the blues festivals we play. That can be mixed with ages 18 all the way though to 70.”

After two years on the road, clocking up over 200,000 kilometres in their trusty tour van, the TDS Express, the blues rockers are once again headlining a 35-date tour promoting their latest single, 'Estranged Blues', from their soon-to-be-released album.

“The album covers a wide scope of what we do, from the slower introspective blues numbers all the way through to heavy rock, with a lot of our stomping upbeat tunes in the middle.”

Transvaal Diamond Syndicate play The New Globe Theatre December 13.

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 16:04

Arj Barker: Comedy In Preview

Get ready to laugh because comedian, Arj Barker is back in Australia and will be heading to Brisbane in December to wrap up his latest critically-acclaimed, stand-up show ‘Go Time’.

“It’s mostly a stand-up show — a new stand-up show and it’s just had a great response,” says Arj. “A lot of people have said it’s their favourite show yet, a lot of people who have come back to four or five different shows of mine so I’m relieved that they think I’ve kept the bar high. If you’ve seen me before you can expect to laugh a lot.”

Although reluctant to give too much away, Arj says ‘Go Time’ is both “what audiences expect from me and the last thing they expect from me,” but fans need not worry as it doesn’t mark a break from Barker’s renowned comedy style. “Not at all,” he says, “what I meant was that it’s mostly stand-up comedy and jokes. You know if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s solid material and the kind I like to write, but it also has a little touch of singing and dancing … just at the very beginning, only for two minutes. I don’t think people necessarily expect that from me. Some of the show is observational, some of it’s silly, some of it’s personal, some of it’s philosophical — it’s quite a good mix, you know.”

A regular visitor to our shores, Arj has become known for his witty and off-beat observations on Australian life which he says come from simply spending so much time here as an objective outsider.

“I think it’s like anything: if you spend enough time here you start to notice things and also when you go somewhere else, some things tend to stand out more. So it’s not really that difficult. I’ve been here a lot and I notice more and more things over the years but now it’s almost come full circle where a lot of the things seem normal to me.

“I just live my life and try to pay attention to things and sometimes things stand out by themselves and they beg writing about. I think the research is just being alive — research is essentially the shit that happens in life.”

With his uncanny understanding of Australian culture, wickedly astute observations and a downright hilarious imitation of our accent, it’s no wonder Arj Barker is known as ‘Australia’s favourite American comedian’, a title he wears proudly like a badge of honour.

“Well that’s quite a compliment, there are a lot of American comedians out there and I do feel the support when I tour around and get these amazing audiences. I think Brisbane audiences are some of the best and it’s a nice way to end the tour,” he says.

Barker will spend almost three weeks in Brisbane during December for ‘Go Time’ and hopes to sample all the city has to offer in his downtime. “I’m going to go out a little bit here and there, maybe go to a bar or a club occasionally after the show. I also want to spend some time in the daytime, do some yoga; I might borrow my friend’s X-Box and play some games in my hotel.”

Although he doesn’t consider himself a ‘gamer’ as such, Arj does admit to a penchant for a certain popular first-person shooter. “I’ve been stuck playing ‘Call Of Duty’ for a long time. I keep going back to that multiplayer team death match and just trying to blast some other people … it’s pretty addictive. I also played 'Grand Theft Auto V' but haven’t got very far yet, it takes a lot of time.”

Beyond his stand-up comedy, Arj has also dabbled in television with his own self-produced animated short series, ‘Arj & Poopy’, as well as his work with 'Flight Of The Conchords' and hopes Adam Hills’ recent departure from his television hosting duties frees up some airtime for other comedians.

“It might be a chance for some other of us to host a TV show now that he’s not hosting every goddamn TV show here.”

‘Go Time’ runs from December 3-22 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Published in Comedy
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 15:55

Hopsin: Breaking The Rules

A high school dropout, LA rapper Hopsin has since crafted himself a healthy niche among the city’s independent scene. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing.

“When I was growing up nobody was really supporting me, especially in LA,” Hopsin recounts.

“I did sign to Ruthless Records, but they didn't really support me. There's just a lot of hate in that neighbourhood. A lot of people knew I rapped, but they didn't really care until they saw me on TV.”

Now everybody is certainly taking notice of Hopsin, who’ll be visiting Australia this month to tour his new album, ‘Knock Madness’. “I was a rapper who was 13 or 14 years old at one point and it was a dream. I used to see videos of other rappers around the world and I used to hope that I could be like that one day. And now I'm doing it. It's crazy that I'm doing it, but I never gave it up.”

Hopsin may have been disenchanted with the scene as a young rap artist, but instead of throwing in the towel after struggling with his first major record deal with Ruthless Records, Hopsin started his own record label, Funk Volume. “Once I signed to Ruthless I saw things were going downhill and I saw that early. So I went and got a business partner, his name was Damien Ritter and his homie Swizz from high school. It was the three of us and we were just putting out little mixtapes here and there to try and build a buzz.

“We were doing online promotion and we started doing little showcases around Los Angeles. Then I guess we got off the label Ruthless Records and went full throttle with Funk Volume and I dropped my album ‘Raw’, which kind of put me on the map and took the whole label to another level.”

Even though Hopsin has found success by his own means and on his own terms, it doesn’t make managing the alienation of fame any easier. 

“I focus so much on music and whatever that when I come back from touring I have nothing to come home to, so it kind of rubs me the wrong way. Being the king of hip hop is not really on my priority list.”

With his continued popularity, Hopsin says there are always people looking for a slice of his pie. “A lot of people gave it up back in high school. They got into other things that they shouldn't have been into and it just took its toll. They're not really living a life that they're happy with. And then they come to me and they want a piece of the pie, but I can't hand it over to them because they gave up and I didn't. And it's not my job to help them.”

Witnessing many of his friend’s lives destroyed by drug and alcohol abuse has led Hopsin to lead a “straight edge” lifestyle. “The [values] that I think are important that I have been expressing is the message to be straight edge and to use [your] natural body and energy and mind to accomplish things and not look for a boost or easy way out of situations; to tackle your problems directly without running from them. Just to be positive overall and accomplish your goals. It might be hard, but it has worked out for me.

“I just want people to know the reality and I want people to see the world as it really is – the world is our playground and we can do anything we want to do on it. Everyone else needs to see it that way – there are no real rules.”

Although music will always be Hopsin’s primary form of self-expression — a “personal diary” as he calls it — he’s not planning to limit himself to the lifestyle of a rap artist. “As far as me trying to take it somewhere – it used to be my goal, but at this moment I'm kind of lost with myself, I don't really know what I want to do with my life. I kind of just want to work on my personal life over anything else.”

Hopsin plays The Tempo December 13 as well as the Gold Coast Beergarden December 16.

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 15:44

Tijuana Cartel: Sweet Times

With an upcoming album release on the horizon, Gold Coast electronic-rock outfit Tijuana Cartel are ready to return to the road.

“The craziest gig we ever played was one we played a couple of years back, where a few of the audience members got naked at a place we used to play at on the Gold Coast,” frontman Paul George says with a chuckle. “And that was pretty interesting. It actually ended with the owner, Neil, who's a good friend of ours, was chasing this lady — she was a Swedish backpacker — around the car park telling her to put her clothes back on. It was a good time.”

It hasn’t all been nudity-related fun and games for Tijuana Cartel, with the group about to embark on a series of interstate gigs to promote their new single, 'Candy'. “I'd say it's an extension of our earlier work. It relates particularly to the sound we've been developing between the last album and this one. But it's probably a bit more electro, it's probably a bit more pop than anything we've done before too.”

Paul acknowledges their sunswept hometown was not an ideal environment for budding electronic artists, but they made the best of it nonetheless. “There wasn't really a scene; we just kind of made what scene we could. It wasn't too bad in a way. You know, there were a few bars and clubs that we could play every week. We used to get quite a good following, we used to play at a place called Central Bar and I think we used to get to 400 or 500 people in a week, and we thought we were quite famous in our early twenties. It wasn't much, but it was enough to keep us going.

“I've always wanted to play music for a living, and then I guess it was just trying to pursue something that I had passion for and that I'd enjoy doing for a long time. I mean, sometimes I second guess it. I'm not sure how I ended up with such a random sound. It was never a conscious decision, we just kind of write and it happens as it does."

With the life of the band never stronger, Paul says the group are beginning to gain a more sophisticated narrative to their songs. "It's a little bit different now. We're sort of maturing. We're now starting to think, why are we choosing this? What does this song represent? That's a fairly new occurrence.

“There is a common theme in our music. Not one that I can put into words, but there's definitely common influences between most of the songs. Mainly we write songs that people can dance to, with some kind of Middle Eastern or world influence I suppose. [The songs are] generally about touring and personal things, women and life, I think.”

No strangers to the furthest reaches of Australia, Tijuana Cartel have played their fair share of regional centres. "At first, to be honest, we were scared of a few places that we went to. For instance, Port Hedland in Western Australia, or the more regional areas [the crowd must have] thought, ‘Well, here's a band with some weird influences, electronic music, no drummer’. We thought we were going to get killed.

“One common thread is people in Australia like to dance and drink, and generally by the third song we've found we've turned the town, town by town. Now when we go to towns, people know what we're doing, and we're quite happy with the crowds we get, they keep us in business, and we love it.”

The development of Tijuana Cartel’s sound has mirrored the rise of live electronic acts. "There's so many different sounds coming out all at once, it's not like when we first started. It was always cross-genres and things, but it tended to be more specific, whereas I think every month there's some kind of new sound I'm hearing from somewhere.”

Tijuana Cartel perform at the New Globe Theatre December 7. ‘Candy’ is available now.

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 15:32

DZ Deathrays: Great Expectations

Considering he grew up in Bundaberg, you might not think the Big Day Out played a big part in the life of DZ Deathrays frontman Shane Parsons. You'd be wrong.

“It was what I looked forward to every year,” he remembers. “I've only missed two since I was 14. I've been to, like, 11 or 12 of them. So, yeah, it was a big thing. It was the only live music I really got to see. There weren't too many all-ages shows in Bundy. I got to see Frenzal, they played there once, and there were some random bands that you'd just go see because you wanted to see live music. I was in a band at school, but we just used to play at house parties. So Big Day Out was… it was a huge thing.

“We got on a bus, leaving at four in the morning, and the bus would take us down to the Gold Coast. We'd hang out at Big Day Out all day, moshing and jumping and running around having a great time. Then we'd get back on a bus, all sweaty, and we'd just freeze our arses off because of the air conditioning all the way back to Bundaberg. We'd get back at four or five in the morning. So it was a huge day, but when you were young, you just didn't care. You were just so excited.

“Everyone would have mix CDs of all the bands they wanted to go see, and we'd put it on in the bus, and people would say, 'Oh, you've got to check out this band, I've made this mix CD of all their hits!' It was rad. I just remember standing there watching bands at Big Day Out, just thinking, 'I don't even know what I'd do if I got a chance to stand on that stage'.”

These days, of course, Shane and fellow Deathray Simon Ridley know exactly what to do on a Big Day Out stage. It's the same thing they do to every stage — lay waste to it, mercilessly, until God takes pity on anyone who has to follow them. Debut LP 'Bloodstreams' was a masterclass in brutality, winning the Brisbane-based duo an unlikely ARIA and earning them rave reviews from international tastemakers Pitchfork and NME — giving them plenty of opportunities to destroy stages in the US and UK, as well.

At the next Big Day Out, however, audiences will see a new side of DZ Deathrays. New single 'Northern Lights' is the closest the duo have ever come to recording a ballad, and opens up a whole new world of possibilities for their forthcoming sophomore LP. “It's probably the softest song that we've ever written,” Shane says, “but we thought it'd be cool to release it to show that we're not just doing loud stuff all the time.”

The pair wrote the track while isolated from the rest of the world, and from the pressure to follow up 'Bloodstreams' with more of the same. “We went and spent two weeks out in country New South Wales; there was this house in Yass that Jack Ladder and PVT recorded at. We just hired it out and did demos there by ourselves, just me and Simon. The owner was there, but he and his partner were away most of the time. So we were in this four-story, 10-bedroom, 120-year-old homestead by ourselves. It was creepy as. We spent two weeks just writing, and that's when we wrote 'Northern Lights'. It just felt right.”

That isolation had an undeniable influence on 'Northern Lights', which feels more introspective than anything they'd previously released, but so did Shane's increased interest in storytelling. “I would never class myself as a strong lyricist at all,” he qualifies, before explaining his new approach.

“I just take different things from different places, kind of like a snapshot of my life. Other times I'll just write about a story that I make up in my head, or a fake person that doesn't even exist, but they're fun to write about because you can imagine all the shit they'd get up to. I've been doing that a little bit more recently. The lyrics on this record might seem like they're about me, but I'm just writing about stories that I have in my head. I've just been sitting around thinking, 'Imagine if that was something that happened,' you know?”

Unsurprisingly, 'Northern Lights' has been another success for Shane and Simon, even going into rotation on BBC Radio 1. It's the sort of thing that would be unthinkable for most local bands, but is almost inevitable for DZ Deathrays. Not that they're taking anything for granted. “We don't expect anything,” Shane stresses.

“That's always been our little motto — don't expect anything. The only time you're going to be really disappointed is when you expect that you're going to be played on the radio; when you expect that you're going to play at a festival and it's going to be packed out. If you get those opportunities, don't expect anything, and you'll always be surprised. That's always been the way I've felt about it, you know. Don't expect anything. It's better to just do things.”

DZ Deathrays play Big Day Out at Metricon Stadium and Carrara Parklands on Sunday January 19.

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 12:00

The Big Pineapple Festival Returns

The Sunshine Coast's biggest independent music festival has announced its next line-up.

2013 saw people from all around the nation flock to one of Australia's most recognisable icons for The Big Pineapple Music Festival, as the likes of Birds Of Tokyo, British India and Grinspoon played to a sold out crowd of 12,000 (unlucky patrons who missed out on tickets had to listen in from the car park).

Next year, the usually quiet town of Nambour will host a much bigger line-up, satisfying all tastes from hip hop, rock, indie, roots, EDM and blues. The capacity's gotten a little bigger, too (the site can now hold 13,000 people across three stages), with camping grounds for 2,500 and parking for 2,400, all surrounded by lush rainforest.

There'll also be stalls, food vendors, bars, skateboarding and wakeboarding demos, vintage cars, amusements and a whole lot more.

This year's bill reads as follows:

Bliss N Eso
The Living End
Art Vs Science
Violent Soho
Alison Wonderland (DJ Set)
Peking Duk
Hat Fitz & Cara
Mr Hill & Rahjconkas
Band Of Frequencies
Cheap Fakes
Total Eclipse (USA)
The Tea Society
Young Franco


Big Pineapple Music Festival expects to sell out again this year, with more acts — including another headliner — to come. The event takes place on Saturday May 17; tickets go on sale from 9am on Monday December 9 from

Published in Events Music
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 13:45

Top 5 Aussie Chick Musos With Katie Noonan

Songs That Made Me is a project that Katie Noonan has conceived and put together.

“In honour of the Songs That Made Me gigs that feature an all girl six-piece band and some of my favourite Aussie chick musos — Angie Hart from Frente!; Abby Dobson from Leonardo's Bride; and gorgeous young singer Martha Marlow — I thought I would reflect on five of my favourite female Aussie musicians."

1. Chrissie Amphlet. Well it's just got be said that Chrissie is the undisputed Queen of Aussie rock/ pop music. Who else had that swagger, that voice, that sexiness and that depth? She absolutely rocked a career filled with killer songs, great outfits and amazing stories — and all with an incredible sense of honesty and integrity.

2. Dame Joan Sutherland. At her peak, Dame Joan's crystal clear soprano voice was absolutely unequalled. She is such a testament to seeing real results from working really hard. She took her self from a mezzo soprano all the way through to one of the best coloratura soprano voices of all time. I was lucky enough to do a vocal workshop with her, and she was incredibly down to earth and had an awesome no bullshit Aussie attitude. On the day she died, I was incredibly honoured to sing on the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall Stage with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; it felt incredibly special to be there, on the stage where she had taken her final bow from performing, on the day she took her final bow from life.

3. Deborah Conway. I have to take my hat off to a woman who has the lyric: "Your pubic hairs are on my pillow"... and does it with such aplomb! I was lucky enough to do 'Man Overboard' as a duet with Deb and my band George — what a thrill for me as a young woman to sing with such a badass chick! She is a truly fabulous woman. She really calls it like it is, looks you in the eye intensely and she keeps on making her beautiful art with great integrity. ‘It's Only The Beginning’ is still one of my favourite Aussie pop songs.

4. Kylie Minogue. Well I gotta say I don't really love her voice ( sorry!!!!!) but I do love her work ethic and her ability to constantly re-invent herself and make really, really great pop music. I also love her style. Her album pics are really works of art. In the Songs That Made Me concert we do a nice sultry, sexy slow version of ‘Confide In Me’ — my favourite Kylie tune.

5. Ruby Hunter. I adored Aunty Ruby and am still so sad she is no longer with us. I remember meeting her and her soulmate Archie Roach years ago at the ARIAs and feeling a real kindred connection. Years later we shared the stage together and a career highlight for me was when she called me her "deadly sister". I love her song 'Women's Business' and the way she growls to the men — "This is women's business — LEAVE IT ALONE!" R.I.P AUNTY RUBY.

Songs That Made Me plays at The Old Museum Concert Hall Saturday December 14.

Published in Pop/ Electro
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