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Wednesday, 02 November 2011 12:53

Frenzal Rhomb

Hanging With Katy Perry

It’s no secret the team at Frenzal Rhomb Incorporated have always been about quantity over quality.

But for album number eight, the boys saw fit to treat themselves to some shoe scrub. They shipped overseas to record ‘Smoko At The Pet Food Factory’ with one of the best punk rock record producers around, the infamous Descendents and Black Flag stickman, Bill Stevenson. â€œIf you need a bone marrow transplant, go to the bone marrow guy”, vocalist Jason ‘Jay’ Whalley says. “If you want a punk rock record made, go to Bill Stevenson. All the people who work over there with him at the Blasting Room, they’re very much the specialists in this type of music.”

With killer tracks about keyboard fascists, clergy, celebrities, junkies, pollies, crap friends and… birds attacking, the album wrangled a number 14 debut on the ARIA charts. “Who’d of thunk [sic] it? We’re up there with Katy Perry and Pitbull and other people I don’t really know about. The fact that people went out there and bought it when you can, you know, essentially get it for free on the internet, is really nice.”

It’s been a long 18 years for the band who formed in Sydney in 1993, with moments of controversy, radicalism and nudity bookmarking the way. Although they’ve released over 100 songs, Jay says he’d  be guessing if asked how many Frenzal Rhomb songs actually exist, recorded and otherwise. â€œThat would be in the thousands. We have a very high cull rate when it comes to tracking records. For every one song that you hear there’s usually another seven or eight that exist.”

It’s been five years in between albums, but Frenzal Rhomb are back on the road, touring up a storm as usual. They’ll be playing their fifth Big Day Out early next year, and Jay’s looking forward to fun party times with his pals. â€œThere’s always been laughs and jokes surrounding the group. We don’t really get to see each other that often ‘cause outside of the band we all live in different states: Gordy lives in Melbourne, Tom’s in Adelaide, and Lindsay lives in space. So when we do get to see each other it’s fun!”


Wednesday, 24 November 2010 13:00

Bertie Page Clinic

In A G-string

It’s the cross pollination of poodle rock, cheesy yacht rock, punk, glam and burlesque. And what does it sound like? “It sounds like Meatloaf nailing Debbie Harry.”

Well, that’s one of the descriptors Bertie Page and John Meyer used when they came in to the Scene office last week to chat about their debut album, ‘Rock & Roll In A G-String’.

“It’s all about energy and fun,” John says. “We’re a serious band but it’s just about indulging yourself.”
Bertie adds: “It’s a mixture of burlesque and classic rock. I take some of my visual inspiration from Meatloaf and his outfits. He’s not very feminine. But he’s nice and soft.”

Killer guitar hooks and humorous lyrics are the standout features of the group’s nine-track debut.  “The title ‘Rock & Roll In A G-String’, I guess it succinctly sums up what it is,” Bertie says. “It’s about humour. It’s about lyrics and constructing really great words.”
Phil Wilson (Blowhard, Chucknee, Deep Blue Orchestra) has used his technical finesse to engineer this release with simple production concepts, allowing for both the lyrics and Bertie’s personality to shine through.

Furthermore, they’ve been scooped up by local garage punk label Turkeyneck Records. Not even the two children in the ‘My Family’ car sticker range could be happier than how Bertie and John feel about the label’s current success.   “We’re seeing the times change really rapidly at the moment where the big labels are kind of going down in a pretty serious way and we’re seeing all these smaller labels thrive,” Bertie says. "They have their niche market, they have the love and respect of the people who will go buy a product from them.”

Playing a string of shows interstate over the next month, the official launch is happening in Brisbane in early December. Eyes have also been cast forward to early next year when Bertie will take her three-man posse (John, James Lees and Clint Morrow) on another round of touring and possible trip to Europe.

“Provincial France loves to rock and roll,” Bertie says. “Yeah they do,” John continues. “We played a show to about 200 bikers, punks and rock and roll freaks in the middle of nowhere, in like a town hall from the early 1900s.” Bertie laughs and remembers: “there were heaps of Rose Tattoo fans in the countryside of France”.

Bertie Page Clinic play the Wickham Hotel Friday December 3. ‘Rock & Roll In A G-String’ is available now.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010 16:14

Kyu Interview

Foreign Tongue

In Hindi the word Kyu means ‘why’; achieving the correct pronunciation is much, much harder than you think.

The two young girls from Sydney who have been collaborating under this same name, Kyu, thought long and hard about how to best title their vocal/ synth-driven project.

 â€œFreya speaks Hindi and that’s a word she really likes,” Alyx says. “The pronunciation is so different to how it is spelt. When Freya says it it’s really nice, it’s got nasalisation at the end of it.

It’s a really beautiful word and we wanted something that had no connotations as a word, and was very percussive and punchy.”

Writing and performing together for just over a year, Alyx and Freya’s songs are built on the foundations of classical and world music. With an onstage set-up consisting of two keyboards, samplers, two glockenspiels and a whole lot of percussion instruments, there’s no chance of trying to squeeze Kyu into any one genre.  

“I don’t particularly think it’s experimental, or particularly tribal, I just think we do what we do and people have been trying to catagorise it. I think essentially it’s pop music, we just haven’t had the same influences as other pop musicians.”

Their debut self-titled album, released earlier this year, established Kyu’s unique approach to creating soundscapes, coloured with ambiance and harmonised vocal textures.

“From the very beginning we weren’t going to use lyrics. We were just going to make sounds or sing without lyrics. But here and there we’d grab some lines from out of our diaries and put them in. It has turned out to be a fairly lyrical project.

“I know the words are probably cheesy or corny or whatever. But they’re stemmed in such a real place; personal, vulnerable and real. We didn’t meditate on them at all because we didn’t think they’d be a feature and that’s given them a nice authenticity.”

Before venturing off to record their second album in Europe next year, Kyu are set to play a string of festivals in Oz this summer.

“Last year was the creative period, all up until December when we recorded the album. This year’s been all about playing and touring. I’m looking forward to returning to the canvas mid next year.”

Kyu perform at the 2high Festival at the Brisbane Powerhouse November 12-13.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010 10:21

Washington Interview

Juicing The Lemon

There are three things driving the clever and quirky indie pop songs that Megan Washington writes; fantasy, memory and therapy.

“Songwriting for me is a blend of these three things,” she says. “I don’t really think that much when I’m writing, it’s almost like a semi-conscious thing.”

Calling them sonic polaroid’s, her tunes are certainly turning heads. She describes them as twisty, complicated, key changing sons of bitches that are mostly about love.

“I get inspired by feelings, motions, and by people. But also lots of different things. Often it can just be a conversation or some parting shot that someone takes as they leave a conversation with you, and it just kinda sticks in your brain, you end up writing it into a song.”

Receiving six ARIA nominations last year, as well as winning the ‘Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition’ for her song, ‘How To Tame Lions’, things are unravelling fast for the ex-Brisbane jazz student.

So fast, in fact, she finds herself wanting to keep busy by hiding behind some frightfully domestic, food-related tasks.   

“I still haven’t processed that (ARIA nominations). I’m not going to process it until probably the middle of next year. It’s scary and big. I can’t do scary and big. I can do tomato salad and roast onion. I just need to juice the lemon and grind the pepper. That’s what I’m good at.”

After a string of EPs, Washington released her debut album ‘I Believe You Liar’ in July this year. When asked about the reasoning behind releasing an album as opposed to another EP, Washington says it’s best to “seize the day, there’s no time like the present”, and has plans to start working on her second.

“I’d like to make a second record at some stage. That will involve having the time to write those songs and then record them. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. Right now that seems like a really ambitious sort of undertaking. Everything’s gotten pretty busy of late, but I’d like to make a second record sooner than later. I don’t want to wait around for five years, I want to make one now!”

Swept up in lots of other projects, the past year has seen Washington make guest appearances on Spicks And Specks and RocKwiz, collaborate with Tim Finn and write a song for a play with Paul Kelly. According to Kelly, the music just poured out of Washington, all he had to do was bring the jug and make the tea.

“He made me a cup of English Breakfast, milky tea. It was delicious. He’s a very good cook actually. You wouldn’t think it, would you? We hung out just after Christmas and he had all this Christmas ham left over, he made me amazing ham sandwiches.”

But past collaborations have sometimes landed young Washington in a bit of trouble. In fact, she queried me on this before we even got our first question underway.

“You haven’t been speaking to Mat McHugh from the Beautiful Girls have you? We were doing press around the same time, and in all of his interviews he would ask them if they were going to be interviewing me, and then give them some weird question to ask me that was really pertinent to my life, that no one else could possibly know. It was really awful.”

Instead we filled our interview with all sorts of colourful and relevant things such as her latest trip to the supermarket; “We have goat’s log! How exciting. You know that goat’s cheese that comes in like a log … soft in the middle. You know that one?”

And also about her fond memories of Brisbane; “I do miss Brisbane. I miss elements like the weather and my friends. I miss that sort of sticky, hot Paddington summer. I also miss the scene, everyone’s really supportive and awesome.”

While she doesn’t write the jazz songs she used to back here, several years spent studying composition at Queensland’s Conservatorium Of Music have prepared Washington for aspects of the musical career she’s now living.

“It certainly taught me to improvise and be flexible. I think that when you’re playing pop music or indie pop, whatever genre it is they say I’m in, I think spontaneity and preparedness for change is something that I certainly have with me from my training in jazz.”


Wednesday, 29 September 2010 14:46

Emilie Simon Interview 29.09.10

Oh So Chic

There’s no voice better than that of Emilie Simon’s to sum up the popularity of French music in Australia.

Thanks to the intrepid success of the ‘So Frenchy So Chic’ compilations, fans are no longer restricted to audio recordings. With featured artists now being flown over for live performances, Brisbane will soon get the chance to bask in the deliciously pop-savvy melodies of Emilie Simon and Melanie Pain.

“The French language is beautiful,” Emilie says. “French music has got its own personality. I think that French singers and producers have their own voice inside and it’s a kind of thing that interests people.”

Thirty-four songs are featured on the 2010 ‘So Frenchy So Chic’ double album. Acting as the unofficial soundtrack to the Alliance Franciase French Film Festival, it showcases artists including Charlotte Gainsbourg, Babylon Circus and Roman Polanski’s actress wife Emmanuelle Seignier.

Also celebrating its fifth-year running, Emilie is no stranger to the ‘So Frenchy’ mix, and this time brings us her new track ‘Rocket To The Moon’.

“That’s a song I wrote with a friend of mine. We wrote it the first day we met. He’s a brilliant songwriter who was coming to New York for a few days. I was writing the music and I had this little ditty in my head; ‘baby baby what you gonna do-oo’. We started talking and I told him to have a look at the song, I asked him if he wanted to come back and help me finish writing it.”

Living in New York for the past two years and inspired by her new surroundings, Emilie has spent the time crafting her third album, ‘The Big Machine’.

A collection of rich and sensual tracks, the release has been described as her most accessible and personal to date, and features musicians Kelly Pratt and Jeremy Gara from Arcade Fire.

“It was very obvious that I needed to express a lot of things through my melody and voice. My voice took a lot of space. I decided to not write directly on the computer. I can say more through my music than what I can when I’m speaking to people.”

While the next year will be spent touring and promoting the album, Emilie admits she doesn’t mind the travel.

“I spend a lot of time on tour. Most of the time I’m really happy and enjoy my life.”

Emilie Simon performs along with Melanie Pain at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Friday October 1 for ‘So Frenchy So Chic’.

Wednesday, 08 September 2010 10:36

Parkway Drive Interview

No Street Signs

Winston McCall’s vocals may be as crisp and metalcore as they come, but he makes an effort to turn things down a notch or two on the phone.

Still riding the euphoric high generated from both the US Warped tour and a stint in Europe, Parkway Drive are back in Oz for some well deserved R&R before embarking on their ‘Deep Blue’ Australasian tour.

“Thanks to anyone who ever gave a crap about this band, because what we’re doing at the moment is pretty insane. It’s never really anything we set out to do. Being in this band is just a constant surprise, and I think it will be until the day it stops.”

It’s been eight years since Parkway Drive first formed in Byron Bay. Running away from a street full of angry neighbours and diving headfirst into a crowd of loyal fans, Parkway Drive have made history with their signature neck-snapping, melodic guitar, metalcore sound.

“We wanted to try and create a type of music that was familiar to us from being in the hardcore scene, but challenged us technically. We wanted our friends to move around and go crazy to every single part of the song.

“And that was essentially it; we wanted to play live, play at the local youth centre, watch our friends run around and stage dive. That’s all we really wanted. Now it tends to be that but on a worldwide scale.”

Recently releasing their third full-length studio album, ‘Deep Blue’, it took just four short hours for it to reach the second position on the iTunes album charts in Australia. Soon after, ‘Deep Blue’ hit number 39 on the US Billboard 200, with critics calling it Parkway Drive’s rawest and heaviest record to date.

“To clarify the idea of being raw, we didn’t necessarily mean raw as in sounds like a gravel pit or heavy as in people throwing sledgehammers at you, we just wanted to sound like humans playing, as opposed to the more automated sounds that seem to be dominating hardcore music these days.

“There are so many production tricks you can do with computers. We wanted to record in a way where you could hear the instruments, you can hear the way they were played. The heaviness came in not so much with a pounding bass, but with the lyrics, and the general feel of it.”

While their musical successes have taken Parkway Drive worldwide, local fans will be pleased to know that the title of their latest album was inspired by the beaches back home.

“Myself and our guitarist found ourselves in a boat one day several kilometers offshore, where you could only just see land. It was a really calm day, and the water was crystal blue, perfectly clear but at the same time just so, so dark, to the point where it had absorbed all of the light around it.

“It was one of the most amazing yet terrifying things in my life. For someone who has spent almost their entire life in the water … this was strange.”

The ‘Deep Blue’ Australasian tour will take Parkway Drive to 12 different locations across Australia and New Zealand. Playing at larger venues than ever before, Winston says the latest songs will have them bouncing off the walls as they play to new crowds.

“I enjoy playing all of the songs off this album equally to be honest, and we actually haven’t had a chance to perform them all yet. I think the idea of this album was to write every single track different, standing up in a different way.”

While he’s unsure whether they’ll spend any time over the next few weeks actually hitting up their old practice house in Parkway Drive, Byron Bay, Winston is fairly certain the street sign will still be missing.

“That’s gone … whenever it gets put back up it stays for about three days. It’s gone further, people have even stolen the numbers off the letterbox. So there’s no chance the sign is going to ever make it.”


Thursday, 12 August 2010 16:06

Chamberland Interview 12.08.2010

Trilogy EP Series

Chamberland’s second EP ‘Empty Sun’ presents a fictional story of the citizen, building on last year’s release ‘Take Your Place’.

Wednesday, 04 August 2010 16:21

The Grates Interview

Pop That Cherry

A weekend spent at Splendour In The Grass has brought back some age-old nostaglia for the now Brooklyn-based Patience Hodgson.

“I get this feeling that we should be playing a show, but we’re not. Especially Splendour, it’s our classic gig, we’ve played Splendour quite a few times, and I’ve gone almost every year since the beginning.”

Back in town for a three-week stint, The Grates are gearing up to kick off events at the Ekka this Friday night, showing local audiences everything they’ve been up to over the past few months.

“We’ve got some brand new stuff and hopefully it will all go down a treat.”

This year's Ekka Concert Series offers several nights of indie pop and rock, including bands such as The Beautiful Girls, Amy Meredith and Yves Klein Blue.

“We’ll be playing with our old keyboard player, Dan Condon, who used to play with us a few years ago. We’ve got to teach him all our new material. I think he’s a bit nervous.”

While audiences can look forward to a new set, Patience says the band looks forward to really cementing the new material and pulling off a stellar performance.

“You can practice a song all you like, but until you’ve played it live a couple of times it doesn’t sink in. You’ve got to pop that song’s cherry and then you’ll never forget it.”

Twelve months ago, Patience, John Patterson and Alana Skyrin, bounced their way to Brooklyn, touring and releasing their second album ‘Teeth Lost, Hearts Won’.

But it was earlier this year that The Grates really honed in on their songwriting, preparing for the release that will come later in the year.

“We basically wrote an album together in Brisbane in 2009, but then we moved over to Brooklyn in the second half of the year, and at that time we just couldn’t commit to recording it.

“I cannot wait to do the next album, I’m so excited. I love the material. I haven’t been this excited about recording since we did the first EP.”

Setting up a mini-Brisbane hub within Brooklyn, The Grates and fellow local rock group Violent Soho have been spending time hanging out and working together on several recordings.

“They’ve been our best buddies, we’ve actually been living in the same neighbourhood. We had our band room and their band room was just down the road from us.”

The Grates will kick off the Ekka 2010 Concert Series on Friday August 6 at the RNA Showgrounds.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010 14:49

Stonemason Interview

East Coast Tour

StoneMason have devised their ‘Stand Straight, Straight Face’ tour to make you do everything but this. Bassist Thomas Stevens reveals what a new drummer and a couple of months of maturing can do to a band’s sound.

“We’re writing with a new drummer, so that changes things, but our sound has changed a lot since we released the EP. The music is sounding different, and together we’re getting really good at writing music. It’s all evolving and maturing.”

The Gold Coast punk-rock four-piece emerged in 2009 after being introduced as Triple J’s Unearthed artist. With all members still under the age of 20, the current line-up consists of Phoebe Parkinson (vocals/ keys), John Beynon (guitar), Ant Vallone (drums) and Stevens.

The tour’s namesake, ‘Stand Straight, Straight Face’, is the second single from their debut EP, ‘Noise + Haste’, and audiences all over Australia’s east coast will be treated to over 18 and all-ages shows throughout July and August.

Having previously performed alongside acts including Underoath, Trigger Theory, Skyway and Haste The Day, StoneMason are also gearing up for some low-key, acoustic sets.

“We got invited to play an acoustic show at the Gold Coast Arts Centre, and also a special acoustic in-store performance for Melbourne at Fist2Face. We also wanted to make special efforts to include as many all-ages shows as possible. It’s very hard to find a venue without having to go through hours of council approval and public liability, which really sucks.

“But on the Gold Coast we’ve lined up a gig in this shed, a great all-ages venue, and we’re also playing at our old high school’s fair the week before the tour launches.”

It was at this school that StoneMason’s original members first met. Thomas says they all grew up listening to Blink-182, so the band is inspired by this first and foremost. However, over time they’ve played around with synth sounds and introduced different elements of the pop punk and indie rock genres into their sound.

“I think we have a few different influences combined that other bands might not necessarily have. We haven’t figured out a way to completely utilise that uniqueness, but I know it is there and it’s really cool and exciting to know that it’ll grow.”

StoneMason play the Arts Centre Gold Coast Thursday July 29, and the Hard Rock Café Friday August 6.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010 14:57

Ben Winkelman Trio Interview

Contemporary Jazz

Typical jazz boasts a culture of people coming and going, with flexible line-ups and performers with flashy virtuoso skills. But the Ben Winkelman Trio has well and truly defied this age-old jazz tradition, having maintained a regular band for almost half a decade.

“A regular band is not an integral part of jazz culture, and in some ways it does feel like I’ve been trying to fit a square into a circle,” says the group’s founder, Ben Winkelman.

“The trio has remained steady and worked really well these past few years. I like to think of it as if we are all contributing and shining in our own different ways. But this tour is our last run around Australia with this line up. Sam Anning, the bassist, is moving to New York in August.”

When the Trio’s third studio album, ‘Odysseys’, was released in May, Ben realised there was going to be a mad dash if they were to plan and arrange a tour before Sam flew off to New York.

Wollongong, Sydney, Belgium, Glen Innes, Lismore, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne will now all get to hear the Trio’s latest original compositions; modern reinterpretations of stride and early jazz, which include both Brazilian and Afro-Cuban rhythms.

“What’s different about it is that if you hear an entire set of the pieces that we play, you’ll notice the stylistic influences that the music draws upon are quite varied. I guess I like to get a lot of contrast into a set, so we make use of Cuban, Brazilian rhythms, both fast and slow pieces, it turns out quite diverse.”

The song writing process this time around has also taken a unique turn. Ben says that between them they’ve developed a theme over the past few years; to write tunes that fit around odd-time claves.

“The drummer, Ben Vanderwal, introduced me to this idea of playing over old-time claves. So normally the pieces would have been set in four four or six eight time. But he introduced the idea of playing claves that have been altered to five four, seven four and nine four time”.

Stylistically influenced by the Harlem pianists of the 20s and 30s, Ben says often his piano is playing an “oompa drop with a left-time bass.”

“I went through a phase for a few years where I was very fascinated by stride jazz, and then tried to re-interpret it for a contemporary jazz setting.”

Ben Winkelman Trio play the Arts Centre Gold Coast on Thursday July 29 and The Judith Wright Centre on July 30.

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