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Wednesday, 26 October 2011 13:01


Film in Preview

Nick Cave called him “Australia's most unique, gifted, uncompromising guitarist”. Yet when Rowland S. Howard, of '80s post-punk band The Birthday Party, died of liver cancer - the world didn't pause to reflect.

Why society didn't take notice truly is a question to ponder, and one that directors Lynn-Maree Milburn and Richard Lowenstein have explored exhaustively in their latest film. ‘Autoluminescent’ feels as though the audience is talking with a close friend, embarking on a journey infused with emotion, taking a calculated subjective approach to Rowland's life that echoes an attachment felt by its directors.
"We grew up with him. Boys Next Door played Lynn's school when she was 17 and I started seeing them when there were about three people in the audience. We’re personally involved in Rowland’s journey."

While Lynn and Richard's attachment to Rowland is very apparent, the film's approach feels very honest, avoiding the glorification of him as a musical 'hero'. "A 'guitar hero' brings up strange connotations ... ‘Autoluminescent’ is a celebration of a fatally flawed life, but it’s a very extraordinary life. Even though it ended very tragically, Rowland packed an extraordinary amount in of quite unique experiences, unique behaviours."

‘Autoluminescent’ is in many ways characterised by the note of incredible, aching sadness on which it ends. Rowland may have died of liver cancer, but Richard and Lynn agree that it was the burgeoning heroin scene in 1970s St Kilda that left a devastating impact on his life. "Back when the heroin scene started in Melbourne, everyone knew there was a risk of overdosing and becoming an addict. But there was very little known about diseases like Hepatitis C which you could catch. At the end of the day it was the Hep C that caused all his problems."

Just like Rowland's life, the making of ‘Autoluminescent’ didn't always go to plan. As well has sorting through countless hours of VHS footage, Richard explains that new, unseen footage of Rowland was still turning up days before the film's final cut. "Early versions of the film did have a lot more of other people telling the Rowland story. Three weeks before we finished, the main Rowland interview (from 1988) appeared and we had to reinvent the film ... because who better to tell the Rowland story than Rowland himself?"

‘Autoluminescent’ will be released in cinemas on October 27.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011 12:49

Naughty By Nature

Game Changer

Rappers may not have a reputation for longevity, but two decades on and Naughty By Nature are still here.

From battling with record labels to internal scuffles, it hasn't always been easy. But according to Treach, their endurance comes down to respect. â€œThe era just before us, our forefathers, they were like 'This music won't be here in the next five, ten years’. Just for showin' our respect for hip hop we were like 'we're gonna make Naughty stand the test of time'.”

The trio's 20th anniversary year isn't passing quietly. Naughty fans are already worked up about their upcoming release, ‘Anthem Inc’. It's a look back at an expansive music career, featuring show-stoppers like 'O.P.P.' and 'Everything's Gonna Be Alright' that have come to define that distinctive Naughty sound. Yet it also peeks into the future, featuring a new single that Treach has long been searching for. “‘Perfect Party' is a return to that feel-good music. It's like water. It's like going to the faucet, pouring it in a glass and drinking it. It's really that simple… once we heard that track, I was like 'I need that right there'.”

1999 was the last time Naughty By Nature recorded an artist album, and it's only because of their fans that ‘Anthem Inc’ has arrived. Heading back to the studio wasn't Naughty's idea, nor was a record label backing them at the time. But Treach's philosophy comes back to a simple formula — what the fans want, they get. “Our hardcore fanbase were like 'Man, the music game is really missing Naughty By Nature', so we basically listened to our fans and was like 'You know what, if they want another album, let's put all our differences from the past aside and get our grown man on… and give them what they want.’”

It seems Naughty By Nature are celebrating their 20th year by putting hip hop back on course. ‘Anthem Inc’ isn't just a return to rap, it's a step towards bringing it back to the people. â€œWhat everyone's been saying is missing in music, whether they're a fan or not... I listen to their gripes and I say 'You know what? While we're workin' on this album, all these points we have to make sure we cover… and bring that type of music back into the game.’ If there's something wrong with the game you're in, it's up to you to change it.”

Naughty By Nature play the Hamilton Hotel October 29. ‘Anthem Inc’ is released November 25.

Wednesday, 05 October 2011 12:03


Poetry Slam Competition

A man that lives and breathes the spoken word, Ghostboy is returning to Brisbane to give this year’s Australian Poetry Slam his own ethereal touch.

If you’ve been to a ‘slam’ before, then you know that poetry isn’t something overemotional 17-year-olds write for girls in their maths class. Microphone fiends like Ghostboy have taken performance poetry to new heights, showing the rest of us how comparatively small our own vocabularies are.

The Australian Poetry Slam, now in its sixth year, may have gained near-unstoppable momentum, but Ghostboy laments that before its inception, poetry had such little support that he had to trick people into coming to his performances. “The following was pretty small. We used to run these little poetry slams under trees outdoors with DJs… basically trying to trick people into coming to an event and then sneaking poetry in while they weren’t looking.”

Ironically, Ghostboy’s devious ways would lead to a longterm love affair with music, fusing poetry and song together with his band, Ghostboy With Golden Virtues. The difference is now doesn’t feel he has to trick us into coming along. “It’s something I love doing, not so much something I felt I had to do. I’ve always loved poetry, but I’ve also always loved rock n roll, and the idea of fronting something. I’m a shocking singer, but listening to Nick Cave and a lot of those guys I realised there’s a lot of different ways to sing. I love the idea of writing narratives and having stories backed my music.”

Ghostboy With Golden Virtues will be unleashing two feature sets at this year’s Australian Poetry Slam Queensland State Finals, giving a slight reprieve for the 16 finalists who will be battling it out for $500 and a place at the Nationals in Sydney.

“It’s always a huge event, held in a tent outside the State Library. The judges are randomly chosen from the audience, they may have never seen that poet before, they might not even like poetry. That’s kind of the beauty of it, it’s quite arbitrary.”

While Ghostboy agrees the Slam presents a great opportunity for burgeoning poetic geniuses, he warns against taking the competition too seriously. “Winning a slam ultimately is kind of meaningless. The whole show’s an entertainment device. That’s the whole point. It’s about the audience being entertained, it’s not really about the poets.”

Ghostboy With Golden Virtues will play the Australian Poetry Slam State Finals at the State Library of Queensland on Friday October 7.

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