Items filtered by date: March 2013
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 14:30

The Bamboos with Tim Rogers: Live Review

Last Thursday night, QPAC’s Concert Hall witnessed more funk than the venue had most likely ever encountered.

The perpetrator? You could say the nine-piece soul ensemble The Bamboos were the source. But even though frontman Lance Ferguson implored the seated audience to get up and boogie if the mood warranted it, it was that renaissance man from North Melbourne who fronts a bunch of rascals labelled You Am I that propelled the somewhat timid audience up onto their feet. From the moment Tim Rogers entered stage left he owned the stage, flitting about Lance and Kylie Auldist like he’d been in the band for years. The roll-call of songs was impressive — from You I Am covers to ‘60s soul numbers — while trying to keep up with Tim’s pelvic thrusts and running on the spot moves was impossible. Special mention to Ella Thompson, who took the breath out of the room while Rogers dealt with a costume change, singing a little ditty that showcased her amazing vocals.

One to keep an eye on.

click here to see more photos from the gig

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 14:20

The Basics: Hope Yet for The Basics

The Basics may have taken a back seat to Gotye, but they’re not completely done for.

Band member Kris Schroeder skypes in from Kenya to provide a glimmer of hope for the band.  I guess there’s still some life in the old dog left,” says bass player/ vocalist Kris, who co-founded The Basics with Wally de Backer (Gotye) back in 2002. “It’s always up in the air when you’re this far apart, but … Wally has said that we should get back together and do some more stuff.” However, Kris remains realistic about the prospect of a band reunion any time soon, due to his involvement with the Red Cross in Kenya, as well as the incredible ascension of Gotye.

“[Wally has] probably got the most to lose out of that, so I guess the decision would be more his than anybody’s.”

Kris also marvels at the success his long time friend has enjoyed in the last year. “Who could have imagined that Wally de Backer, an Australian, would win three Grammy awards? I guess we sort of get the impression that an event ceremony as huge as the Grammys is not fair and open enough to even conceive of him being able to do that, let alone him going on and doing it!” 

Kris is also quick to point out that although the success of The Basics is dwarfed in comparison to that of Gotye, they were still successful in their own right.

“If you compare The Basics to 99 percent of other Australian bands, we were hugely successful, but of course, The Basics are now always going to be compared to the success of Gotye.”

What is particularly impressive about The Basics is how prolific they were. Drawing from a pool of over 100 previously unreleased recordings, the band has digitally released ‘Leftovers’, a compilation of 38 tracks from their back-catalogue, which is also available in an abridged vinyl version.  “At the end of the day, of course, I’m happy that people are still listening to the music,” affirms Kris. “I’m happy that we’re gaining at least through Wally’s success some of the recognition that I feel that our hard work has deserved over the years.”

‘Leftovers’ Is Available Now.
Published in Rock
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 14:16

Stereophonics: Painting Trains

It sounded like footsteps on the roof.

Is Kelly Jones going mad? He rips the blanket from his body, listening intently for the sound to repeat itself. He can feel his heart pounding, the night air flowing through the bedroom window like a ship's wake. But only quiet remains in the darkness; the only sound Jones can hear is his own quickened pulse beginning to slow. Maybe it was nothing — maybe it was just a dream. He pulls the blanket from the floor, laughs at himself, and goes to sleep.

The noise again, the footsteps. Only this is no dream. Jones rushes to the window, determined to finally catch whoever is out there.

"There were a couple of guys on the roof," Kelly Jones tells me, his nonchalance carrying down the phone line. "I thought they were burglars. I shouted out to them, and they told me 'Oh, no, we're not trying to burgle your house. We're trying to get to the trees at the back of your house to get to the train track to graffiti the train.'"

The Stereophonics frontman could have been angry. He had every reason to be. Yet the bizarre truth is that whoever those kids were climbing over his house, Jones owes them. Big time. While artists all over the world are rocking back and forth waiting for ideas to come crashing into their heads, those kids gave Jones enough material to completely reinvigorate his career.

"It was a strange thing because I didn't think a lot about it, but it was obviously in the back of my subconscious. A few weeks later I wrote a song and played it back on a tape recorder. The chorus line just said ‘Graffiti on the train’. I guess I wanted to write a story about why you would take so many risks to leave your mark on something. I ended up writing the album and the screenplay at the same time."

The screenplay Jones is talking about, 'Graffiti On A Train', is currently being optioned for development. Impressive, given that he's not even a screenwriter. But we know what album he's referring to. Stereophonics has potentially taken a bold step with 'Graffiti On The Train', their eighth LP since forming in 1992. The album has seen the band walk away from a contract with Universal Music and embark on a path that, in Jones' own words, would make a major label nervous.

"When we did ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ I was really proud of the record, but I was very disappointed in how it was sold. I'd tried to make a different record with a different producer and I thought the songs were strong and the songs were received well. But after Universal didn't get the first song on the radio, that was the end of the record. I don't think anybody can get the taste of an album from one song. I never want to sell a record in the same way ever again.

“I wanted to go away and do some of the things I've always wanted to do, like write films and release music with visuals and try to direct for the first time... things that a major label would be very nervous about."

Mind you, when Jones says that it was the end of the record, it still went gold. Regardless, walking away from a major label isn't a decision you take lightly. The move can mean less promotion, less organisation... and less airplay. Without the backing of a major, bands run the risk of scraping a living in the music wilderness. To be fair though, that risk is greatly diminished if your band has a 'Greatest Hits' album that went double platinum.

"[Universal] only wants hits. If we'd carried on doing the same thing I think we would have ended up becoming very depressed. It's a very pop-saturated market right now and if you put all your eggs in one basket — the radio — I think you can come away very disappointed. You know, when you're in a band you're afraid that if you stop you won't be able to pull yourself back to that level you were at. But we knew that if we stopped and  failed we'd always have the catalogue. And I think we actually ended up with some of the best music we've ever made."

‘Graffiti On The Train’ is out now.
Published in Rock
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 14:08

Birds Of Tokyo: The Journey Begins

A proud Perth phenomenon Birds Of Tokyo may be, but these days the band members are scattered along the east coast.

When vocalist Ian Kenny gets on the phone it’s from his new home in Melbourne. Adam Weston, the band’s drummer, is based in Brisbane, while guitarist Adam Spark, bass player Ian Berney, and keyboardist Glenn Sarangapany are all living in Sydney.

“It makes sense to be on the east coast,” Kenny says. “A lot of our touring is here, our label [EMI] is based out of Sydney and Melbourne, so it just makes sense to be this side of the country. It might sound trivial, but being in Perth, because of the distance you tend to lose a day each time you travel. It’s a bit of a hassle.”

It’s a by-product of the internet age, but a little strange to get your head around given Birds Of Tokyo last week released what’s surely their most collaborative album yet, ‘March Fires’. A sprawling work lined with majestic rockers and vertiginous anthems, it’s been almost two years in the making.

“A lot has happened since [our last record],” he says, “and through all that happening we were still writing. We wrote for the best part of two years for this record, and it’s great having Glenn and Ian in the band for a while now. The fact that everyone’s contributing to the writing – it is more of a collaboration and it feels like a better band than it ever has been. Everyone’s really confident in what they’re doing, it feels right.

“It finally got mastered in November of last year. So since then we’ve been sitting and trying not to listen to it a hell of a lot. Because it can drive you insane. It’s funny, we start rehearsing in Sydney tomorrow. It’s actually starting to come to life. It’s going to be exciting: we’ve got a week’s rehearsal and then straight into the tour and we’ll be in the thick of it.”

The story of ‘March Fires’ reads like a lost volume of Tolkien. After beginning the writing process in Australia, the band decamped to France to further develop their ideas, before travelling again to hook up with Dave Cooley in Los Angeles and record the album.

“This is record number four for us,” Kenny says, “and we were asking why we’re making music again and why we’re at album number four. So we took as much time as we thought each part of the process needed. And that was the conversation at each part of this process, right up to committing to record it in LA – the fact that we wanted to remove ourselves from what we do at home and who we are at home – so [that means] spending time overseas away from everything where you don’t speak the language, you can get a little house up in the hills, survive on a shitty bottle shop and a shitty bakery, and do nothing but make music.

“We share a philosophy in this band that we’re fortunate to be where we are, and if we can get away to write, we will. Your environment completely affects your creative space. And we’ve found in the past that it works for us. Our outcome each time is different, so we’ll continue to do it.”

Working with Cooley in particular was a massive change for the band. They were put onto the producer via his work on Silversun Pickups’ 2009 album, ‘Swoon’. Cooley would eventually become much more than the man behind the boards, almost taking on a mentorship role with the band, looking to challenge each individual member and push them out of their comfort zone.

“He was working on this record with us for the best part of five months,” Kenny explains. “That’s a long time to work with a producer. He understood the band, worked with the band, and when it came to arrangements and approaches to songs, he came up with the goods and we never really had to fight with him, which is always great.

“He made me think more than I have previously about the lyrical conversation on the record: what’s being said and the tone for a particular song. So I worked a lot harder and that made me pay more attention to things, which is awesome. And not many people can do that.”

With such a journey behind it, you begin to wonder: does ‘March Fires’ have more traction emotionally with Kenny and his bandmates? Does this record mean more to them than previous efforts?
“It’s still very fresh. And that kind of perspective comes after we’ve toured the record and lived with it a little longer. But there was a lot of shit that was going on when making this record, a whole tonne of shit. And some of what was happening – some of the colour that was happening around the band – we got a lot of it in there, thankfully.”

For now, though, it’s all about getting out on the road. It will be the band’s first tour in Australia for 18 months, and they can’t wait to present the new material to a local audience.

“Purely as players and guys who like to play – fuck yeah,” Kenny laughs. “It’s one of those things where when you’re in the studio for a few months and you think, ‘God, I’d love to go out and play and try this stuff out’. And then when you’re touring you’re like, ‘God, I wouldn’t mind spending some time in the studio’. So it’s one or the other, but at this point we’d just like to get out there and play with what we’ve got in our hands.

“It’s funny when you look at new music and you think, ‘Wow, I’ve got to invest myself in this now. I’ve got to bring [myself] into this live place that the band is in.’ And you wonder how you’re going to do it. But once you step up to it and get in there and start playing, you just walk straight over it. As soon as you get in there and start messing around with things you start to think, ‘Yeah, this is gonna be good!’”

Birds Of Tokyo play The Tivoli March 21-22 and The Coolangatta Hotel March 23. ‘March Fires’ is out now.
Published in Rock
Friday, 01 March 2013 11:33

Tributes Pour In For Ajax

Tributes have been flowing this morning for Adrian Thomas, aka DJ Ajax, arguably Australia's most influential DJ and widely considered its best.

The Age reports that Thomas ran onto a road in Melbourne's inner north and was struck by a truck in the early hours of Thursday morning. Police have confirmed a pedestrian was killed when he was struck by a truck in Parkville.

One of the founding members of the Bang Gang crew — and the founder of record label Sweat It Out!, which released 'We No Speak Americano', among other dance floor perennials — the 41-year-old has incredibly been voted one of Australia's top five DJs in the inthemix 50 poll every year since 2005, taking out top honours in 2006 and 2007.


As you'd expect, tributes from industry luminaries and fans have flooded Twitter:

Published in Electronic
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