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
Friday, 13 September 2013 00:00

Bigsound Live Night Two Review

After the first night of BIGSOUND Live rocked the collective socks off an unsuspecting populace, could the second night possibly live up to its memory? James Pearson, Daniel Wynne and Nash Johnston rate the second leg of Australia's best music conference.

The line to get inside Black Bear Lodge snakes its way down the Valley mall; standing at the entrance, I still can't see the end. A few punters hypothesise that it's because Megan Washington is playing later, but personally I think it's because these people want to hear Thelma Plum drop the F-bomb. How does she get away with that? Watching her sway her way through 'Around Here' it's easy to see why. Plum is perhaps BIGSOUND's most unassuming artist, and it's not through charisma that she holds this crowd's attention. There is some prime talent on display; every note Plum sings is exactly where she wanted it to be. Expect some big contractual movement after this performance.

Megan Washington needs no introduction around these parts. There's a surge to the front as she takes the stage of equal parts blonde schoolgirls with fake IDs and old men that seem to have snuck out of a retirement community. Washington doesn't so much launch into 'How To Tame Lions' as she does ease into it like a bath of warm, soapy bubbles. Unlike so many other acts that have been and gone over the last two days, the songstress is completely at ease. Thirty minutes breezes by, and even Megan's keyboard is smiling by the end. Megan, if you're reading this, let's get brunch sometime.

By the time Jeremy Neale takes the Black Bear Lodge podium, his quasi-bandmates DZ Deathrays have almost polished off a secret show across the road. This hasn't diminished the crowd though; a surging mass of hair, sweat and spilled beer awaits the Jeremy Neale Comedy Extravanganza (Now with Music). As Jeremy wheels out his usual (can I say usual?) catalogue, songs like 'In Stranger Times' and 'A Love Affair To Keep You There' leave you feeling torn. A small part of you is stubborn, and longs for the rest of Velociraptor to join Jeremy on stage. The rest of you, however, thinks that this is actually pretty awesome.

I will never be as cool as, dress as suavely as, or fight as well as Jeremy Neale. Post-BIGSOUND, I think I'm starting to come to terms with that.
James Pearson

The second night of BIGSOUND Live once again offered something for everyone with a dizzying mix of artists and genres. Gossling and her band appeared early at Black Bear Lodge and performed a restrained yet moody set on a stage lit by shining yellow lights. Switching between guitar and keyboard, the singer-songwriter played both crowd favourites like the single 'Wild Love' and new ballads from her upcoming album. It was a solid set with the most exciting aspect being the chance to hear what she has planned for the future.

One of the best and most exciting acts of the night was definitely North Coast band Mt. Warning. Combining heavy yet melodic rock with ambient electronic elements, their set was made all the more hypnotic by frontman Mikey B’s personal, evocative lyrics and filmmaker Taylor Steele’s arresting stage visuals. The climactic end featured an epic, soaring performance of ‘Youth Bird’ and Mikey B jumping into the crowd and starting a moshpit. To call them a band worth paying attention to doesn’t do them justice. Once they get started it’s almost impossible to tear yourself away.

Sydney’s Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, who are worth it for the name alone, kept a packed house at Rics thoroughly entertained with their particular brand of fuzzed-out power-pop. They were a lot of fun and it’s easy to see why Triple J loves them.

On the local front, the very soulful Nat Dunn and her band thrilled the crowd at Coniston Lane with their retro-pop stylings. Dunn has a powerful diva-ish voice that lends itself well to big love ballads and the collection of tracks she showcased kept everyone in high spirits. One highlight was her “song about mates”, the highly enjoyable ‘Mango Tree’.
Daniel Wynne

For some, the second night of BIGSOUND guaranteed to be a slightly subdued affair following the sheer magnitude of the previous evening, and Rainbow Chan at Electric Playground seemed the perfect choice to bring it in. The Sydney songstress looped and sampled her way through dream-pop rhythms and calypso melodies, and at times channelled a kind of fluid, free-spirited Natasha Khan-esque flair that was enormously captivating to watch. She produced a saxophone at one point (which she kept handy for Jeremy Neale later on) and welcomed an MC in fluro for a surprising touch of variety near the end. Rainbow comes highly recommended.  

On a whim, Saidah Baba Talibah at The Zoo followed. The Canadian group opened with some audacious funk, unabashed and flashy, and had they continued with it they would've brought the place to its knees. Instead, political banter and slow numbers soliciting revolution marred the set. Still, it's hard to entirely disapprove of a group that includes a spontaneous drum solo, plus, one of the members looked like she'd walked onstage after hanging with Santana, circa 1970; afro, tassels, beads and bands — it was wild.  

The winding line into Bakery Lane for John Steel Singers — who've generated considerable hype following a solid new single and 'comeback' of sorts — was a minor blow, and after 15 minutes of idle queuing it was time to move on.  

An elated and slightly intoxicated Dom Alessio welcomed Bored Nothing onto the Triple J Unearthed Stage at Oh Hello. The group played to a moderately sized, slightly unenthusiastic crowd, and Fergus Miller's detached demeanour didn't seem to help the general sense of disinterest in the room. The material is good but performance lacks spark, unfortunately.  

Finally, it was over to Black Bear Lodge for Brisbane's favourite, Jeremy Neale. The man has had an outstanding year; QMA award, Laneway Festival, an exhausting national tour schedule; and tonight he's looking sharper than ever. Liam Campbell broke the whammy bar off his guitar a couple of songs in – no easy feat – and this unexpected incident helped distinguish the set as something extraordinary.

Jeremy welcomed various Brisbane notables onto the stage for 'In Stranger Times'; and his self-proclaimed hit-parade, including the all-time classic 'Darlin', sounded better than ever. The performance was just further demonstration that this guy... Could go... All... The.. Way...
Nash Johnston

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 14:22

Yacht CLub DJs: Shit Daytime TV Shows


1. ‘Airwolf’. This TV show is easily my favourite — it features a nuclear stealth helicopter that sounds like a panther, a renegade military pilot that had his personality and acting ability removed at birth, and for no reason at all Ernest Borgnine (ed: McHale’s Army, voice of Mermaid Man — passed away in July) as a side kick. I never understood one thing that happened and the terrible sped up footage of the shittiest helicopter ever was mindbendingly bad.

2. ‘MacGyver’. This would be most people’s ultimate bad daytime TV and I fully intend to call my next cat Richard Dean Anderson, but it just seems a bit to legit. I can't work out whether I like it because it’s good or because it’s bad. Sometimes the stories make some kind of lucid sense. My butt might have been clenched when he was trying to move the bomb without disturbing the mercury. Seriously though, if he just picked up a gun shit would be a lot easier. But then it wouldn't be MacGyver, it would just be normal army dude. Who cares anyway.

3. ‘Quantum Leap’. This TV show is so shit. I don't even have words. It’s like listening to that ‘80s metal album and only hearing the cocaine and beaten up strippers getting rammed, but without any of that credibility and some jerk travelling through time in other people’s bodies. Don't even get me started about his side kick; that guy should be serving apple strudel and living in a box. Terrible.

4. ‘Magnum P.I.’. I just want to be a good looking dude with a beast of a moustache, cruising around Hawaii in a Ferrari, pretending to solve crimes as a thinly veiled guise for banging hot girls. Simple.

5. ‘Press Gang’. This isn't on anymore, but that’s ok because my friend was dumb enough to buy the boxset. It’s like Degrassi but really, really good and they have a paper or something. The best episode was the one where they get robbed by guys dressed as clowns. It was so unbelievable that I actually got stupider watching it.

Yacht Club DJs support Call The Cops and DZ Deathrays at The Rev Thursday December 13.

Published in Pop/ Electro
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 10:15

2012 Queensland Music Awards

Last night, the State’s finest artists were honoured at the second annual Queensland Music Awards.

Held at Brisbane’s Old Museum, the night belonged to new kids on the block Cub Scouts who picked up two awards including Song Of The Year and the Pop Award for their song ‘Do You Hear’.

Ben Salter collected the Album of The Year Award for his debut solo effort, ‘The Cat’, while Jeremy Neale picked up the Rock Award for ‘Winter Was The Time’.

The Urban Award went to Rainman for ‘The Valley’. Kate Miller-Heidke once again picked up the Courier-Mail Most Popular Female Award – voted for by the public – with Pete Murray collecting the Courier-Mail Most Popular Male Award, while The Grates were voted Most Popular Group.

DZ Deathrays picked up the Export Achievement Award and the legendary Ed Kuepper was recognized for his contribution to the industry, honoured with the Grant McLennan Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rising country music star Harmony James took out the country award, while Marialy Pacheco, who recently took out the prestigious solo pianist award at the Montreux Jazz Festival, received the Jazz Award.

The event also saw the announcement of the Arts Queensland’s $10,000 Billy Thorpe Scholarship, which this year went to newcomers Astrid and The Asteroids.
Published in Events Music
Thursday, 28 June 2012 16:25

Finalists Announced For QMAs

The finalists are in for this year’s Queensland Music Awards.

Busby Marou, Kate Miller-Heidke, DZ Deathrays, Kingfisha, Dubmarine, Rainman, The Medics, Impossible Odds, Seven, Texas Tea, Pigeon and Cub Scouts lead the way, with nearly 50 judges across the state selecting the finalists.

Album of the Year honours will be contested between Ben Salter (‘The Cat’), DZ Deathrays (‘Bloodstreams’), Kellie Lloyd (‘Magnetic North’) and The Grates (‘Secret Rituals’).

Winners across 20 categories will be announced at The Old Museum on August 14, with live performances from Ed Kuepper, Ball Park Music, The Art of Sleeping, Gentle Ben and His Sensitive Side, Rainman and Velociraptor.

For a full list of nominations, click here.
Published in Events Music
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 11:13

St Jerome's Laneway Review

It was a remarkable effort by the organisers to get the entire festival under cover – however, as to be expected, there were a few ‘hiccups’ along the way.

Click here for photos.

One very big one was having headliners M83 hit the stage 50 minutes late to play a shortened set thanks to ‘technical difficulties’ and a noise curfew. But to their credit, when the band did finally emerge apologetically, they put on a crisp, high-energy performance that proved worth the wait. If playing breakout hit ‘Midnight City’ early on in the set was a peace offering, it was lapped up fully by the crowd who had all (fairly) patiently waited around.

Earlier in the day, things also didn’t start too well with sound problems inflicting Yuck’s performance at the EYOE & Young Turks stage. While the band aim for a washed-out vibe, unfortunately the UK band’s sound was just too muddy to fully enjoy their ‘90s revivalist indie rock offerings. Tracks like ‘Get Away’ which should have rang out clean instead sounded like it was coming from the house next door. However, they did enough to warrant seeing them at their own show.

The surprise packet for the day, Canadian band Austra, showed you can mix serious music with fun. Dressed in costumes that evoked Aladdin and his lamp, the genie up their sleeve was the remarkable voice of frontwoman Katie Stelmanis. Like many bands of their ilk, they owe a debt of gratitude to Kate Bush, but have managed to carve out their own style of dark electro pop.

One of the heavier acts on the bill, Brisbane duo DZ Deathrays had a simple mission – to play their tracks loud and fast. Their ‘thrash pop’ live assault was a distinct counterpoint to the sunshine-soaked pop sounds of many of the other acts on the day.

Who would have thought to blend together choral-trained vocals, harp accompaniment and a laptop? With Active Child, the mix works remarkably well. While a more intimate setting might suit their atmospheric music better, there were no complaints from the crowd when single ‘Hanging On’ was played.

While his debut album ‘Forget’ was a study in subtle changes and shadings of light and dark, at Laneway Florida-based George Lewis Jnr and his band were happy to play rock starts. Unfortunately he was scheduled against Feist, meaning a lot of people missed out on what was a hands down highlight of the festival. Announcing the imminent arrival of a new record by playing a few new tracks, it was the older songs that shone, and ‘Castles In The Snow’ was nothing short of epic.
Colleen Edwards

In the weeks leading to St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, promoters pledged more undercover areas and shade to combat the ‘Brisvegas heat’ that plagued last year’s event. But as the poncho procession made their way down Alexandra St last Saturday, it was clear that scorching summer heat would be the least of everyone’s problems.

Click here for photos.

One of few Australian acts to take to The Windish Agency Stage, or any stage for that matter, were Perth darlings The Panics. Opening with ‘One Way Street’, frontman Jae Laffer proudly announced: “This is my first time playing electric guitar on stage”. It would seem Laffer was determined to make up for lost time; playing the Gretsch electric exclusively until retiring to the keys for ‘Don’t Fight It’.

England’s Laura Marling treated loyal fans, and a number of wet weather stragglers, to a regretfully short, but unmistakably sweet eight-song set. ‘Ghosts’ was always going to be a crowd favourite, but ‘Sophia’ and ‘Rambling Man’ also stood up in a live setting.

Leslie Feist took it upon herself to educate her audience (repeatedly) as to what year it was: “It’s 2012. Check your calendars!” Why, thank you Feist. Maybe all the audio feedback finally got to her head… New album ‘Metals’ was well represented throughout the set, with highlights including ‘How Come You Never Go There’, ‘The Bad In Each Other’ and ‘Comfort Me’. The set closed with a rock-ready, and mildly disturbing, rendition of ‘I Feel It All’, which included a gospel-style rant, laced with arbitrary expletives.

From Feist to The Horrors, ‘sound issues’ continued well into the night, but perhaps the hardest hit was M-L8-3 (sorry, M83). Yes, there were ridiculous delays (50 minutes, to be exact). Yes, the set was cut short. But all things considered, Anthony Gonzalez and co. put on one hell of a show.
Jodie Grinsted

Published in Events Music
Wednesday, 07 December 2011 14:18



It's time for reflection on the mighty year that has been for Brisbane music. The ballot is now open to vote for your favourites in the 4ZZZ Hot 100.

Cannon - ‘Girls’. Somebody get me the lyrics for this cos I keep having to mumble the second half of the chorus when I sing-along, but it’s genius garage pop at its finest. 

Keep On Dancin’s - ‘There Goes Your Guy’. I rep this song every chance I get, it’s one of the most legitimately great songs to come out of Brisbane and I am yet to figure out why it hasn't yet garnered massive nationwide attention.

Ben Salter - ‘The Coward’. Sure 'Opportunities' is also an amazing Ben Salter song, but before the album was released this was the only teaser I had and I listened to it constantly for weeks.

Dune Rats - ‘Rat Bags’. This song is bitchin' good. Reminds me of a lo-fi Tokyo Police Club in some ways, however, I'm probably the only one who feels this way. Accessible and often brutal pop. Victory.

Edward Guglielmino & The Show - ‘In The Morning’. Ed G and The Show changed the game forever with this next level track. It's truly an epic from one of Brisbane's best songwriters.

Tape/Off - ‘Backseat’. This song somehow manages to be chilled and violent at the same time. Referencing the ‘90s indie heyday, but also crafting it into their own this is a power pop wonder not to be messed with.

Nova Scotia - ‘The World Is Not Enough’. Bond referencing and pure awesomeness. My description will not be enough, have a listen already.

DZ Deathrays - ‘Gebbie St’. Riff city to the ‘maxtreme’. If you haven't heard the track think an organic two-piece Justice meets Chewbacca in full 'roid rage mode.

Tiny Spiders - ‘Shadows’. Two-piece music is clearly the future. Drums, guitar and two talented sets of lungs have produced a whole bunch of great songs under this moniker, but this one also has a film clip. Win.

D-Wizz - ‘Chocoblock Freak’. It's a lyrical wonder, and although my favorite D-Wizz song will always be his version of 'Happy Birthday' it's about time we saw this track hit the top 10 to say thanks for all the good times and hard work.

Voting closes December 25, with the countdown broadcast on January 1.

Published in Rock


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