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Wednesday, 16 September 2009 13:54

Sam Simmons Interview

Comedy in Preview

Sam Simmons - one of the hottest young comics in the world - is an absurdist Peter Pan who gets by “doing weird shit”, and he is headed our way after knocking their socks off at the Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s biggest comedy festival.

“I was just over in Edinburgh and was widely embraced but I think in this country, it's Hughesy or nothing - but I can understand it because he is a funny bastard. I suppose I am the only one who does (this type of comedy) in Australia. I guess that's a good thing. I am, at least in this country, a bit of an innovator when it comes to doing the absurd whereas over in the UK it's quite commonplace to do this sort of stuff. “

And it wasn't just the average punter who got his Dada-esque musings, with his show proving to be a real hit with some of the big wheels in town.

“I was lucky enough - and I am not just dropping freaking names here - but I had the BBC in quite a bit, and we were talking about the development of a series which is outrageously fucking exciting. It's up to me to come up with something great - they might just think it is shit house, but I think they really like the bravery of an Australian absurdist, they haven't seen anything like it before.”

This possible UK hook-up comes on the back of Simmons' rising Australian profile, which saw its beginnings on Melbourne community radio and finds it's latest incarnation on the ABC 2's 'Urban Monkey'- leading to some pretty funny reactions from the average man in the street.“

People come up to me and say ‘be funnier - you're weird mate!’ But generally, everyone has been awesome. I have never really had savage heckling.”“

I had a horrible moment in Canberra earlier this year in front of about a thousand people. And fair enough as well. It was their Friday/Saturday night out and they wanted to hear about stuff that they were into, about the footy or whatever and I am up there talking about seagulls and shit. Fair enough they've worked hard their whole week and it comes to Friday night and they've got a dickhead on stage talking about swans. So they just turned on me. You've got to be able to sell it at some point - but fuck it's just hard sometimes.”

So how do Brisbane audiences rate then?“

I am not just saying it but I really love Brissie shows! I always expect a real roughneck, bogan element, but it never really happens. It's actually cool Bris-tannia going on up there, they are a bit more forward. In comparison to Sydney yeah - I just get yobs to my shows in Sydney.”

But even Sydney's rough trade can't come close to the comedy's version of Dante's inferno - the most notorious venue of the Edinburgh Fringe.

“There is an infamous night up there called 'Late and Live' and it is a bear pit. People just go there to heckle, it's packed, it's 500 people - they are drunk Scots mainly, and they just want cock jokes. It's a real trial by fire - I came within three minutes from a point where they were stomping the ground, cheering, and I was like 'alright I've got your trust - let's go, let's go for some weird shit' and they just - it was violent. The infamous story of this place - somebody pissed in a jumper and threw it at the comic, they threw just like a wet jumper on some poor bastards face. Just violently horrible.”

Luckily such moments are few and far between, with the Adelaide-born-and-bred comedian sounding pretty relaxed about his vision of the world - separate from the back room, back slapping of the industry.

“I don’t have many firends in the comedy world and I didn't watch a lot of stand up (growing up), and I still don't. I have worked a lot with animals and they work their way into the stuff as well, because they make you relax and not stress and think about things in a different way.”

Catch Sam Simmons at the Carnival's Edge September 24, 26 and 27 and on ABC 2 Monday nights with his new show 'Urban Monkey'.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009 14:28

Stone Bros. Interview

Film in Preview

Does a sharp, well-written road comedy about a bunch of Aboriginal fellas trying to find themselves sound good? Just don't mention the smoke.

Wednesday, 05 August 2009 14:46

BIFF

Film in Preview

We are currently knee-deep in the finest week of film - and filmmakers we Queenslanders can expect all year with the Brisbane International Film Festival in full swing. Haven't gotten off the couch and checked out what's on offer? Well, you have no excuses left now as we give you the best of what's left of this year's BIFF.

Wednesday, 01 July 2009 14:39

The Last Ride (Glendyn Ivans) : Interview

Film In Preview

The Stamford Plaza in Brisbane looks like every other posh hotel; clean and full of expensive furniture - a world away from the South Australian Outback; rugged, brown and beautiful - the setting for Hugo Weaving's newest film The Last Ride. But it's precisely where we catch up with Mr Weaving and the film's director, Glendyn Ivans, to talk about their first work together.

“As soon as I left Adelaide and was about thirty kays out, I was like - ‘It's going to be here’,” starts off the bearded Ivans about his choice of locations. “Everything I was used to dealing with was different. So it (the location) felt like a fresh palette.”

The locations were chosen well to match the story - that of a father, Kev, fleeing the consequences of his own actions, with son Chook, who he feels the need to bond with and harden up while he still can.

“The thing about this script is it is basically about the relationship between father and son - which is at the heart of the film and specifically about Kev; he is a very troubled man,” explains Ivans.

Describing the character of Kev as a troubled man is an understatement; a ratbag would be closer to the mark - a role which Weaving prepared for by watching interviews of similarly 'troubled men' that Ivans had given him.

“Without going too far into it, it was through my connections with outlaw motorcycle gangs that I met a lot of these people,” says Ivans of the preparations for the film. “There was one guy that really stood out - he said that he was going to prison for a few months; and he said that it was just a sleep, just a couple of books, and that was the guy that really gave us a lot to use for Kev.”

Such shifting moods are most apparent in Kev’s relationship with his son Chook; played by first timer Tom Russell.

“He feels like he has to harden Chook up; like he is acting in a way that he thinks a father should act towards his son,” says Weaving. “And Tom was great on the film,” interjects Ivans. “He was just a regular kid - he would get tired and hungry but he was also okay with that.”

Finishing off each other's sentences? I guess a couple of months on the road in the middle of nowhere will do that to the best of us.

‘The Last Ride’ is in Cinemas July 2 through Madman Entertainment.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009 09:53

Wolfmother Interview

Mother Of All Rock

No band divides music opinion more in this country than Wolfmother. But love them or hate them, they’re once again being thrown onto your musical radar with a new album, ‘Cosmic Egg’, that showcases a brand new line-up.

“The new line-up is going well, it's going really well. We have done about 30 shows and I think we are getting into full swing,” begins lead singer, and lead wolf, Andrew Stockdale.

“We just kind of met through chance. I met Dave (Atkins) at the Little Larder Café (in New Farm). He was like ‘hey, if you need a drummer give us a call’. Just pure chance and we started doing a few songs and I like his style; he has got a lot of - he is a passionate drummer, he plays with a lot of feeling. He brought a lot of energy to the songs.”

The rest of the band fell into place through good fortune, with new keyboardist Ian Peres a friend of Dave and rhythm guitarist Aidan Nemeth - an associate of Stockdale's from Sydney - all coming together in that great hodge podge way. Pure Brisbane.

“It’s good getting home, just like walking out of the gig last night (at the Tivoli); we were driving home and just the air, there is just an atmosphere the smell of the air - the eucalyptus. It's familiar; Brisbane might not have all the other things that other city's have (but) it's a good place to live.”

And how did the crowd react to the new material off 'Cosmic Egg'?

“It really fills out the set; whereas on the first record we have sort of filled those holes and we have discovered new things as well. Now the shows are really powerful. Some songs feel weird playing with the new band, but others I feel really close to so to me they are great.”

And this is what lies at the core of what Stockdale does - he might play some incredible gigs around the world, including Led Zeppelin's induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and an upcoming support for AC/DC - but at his core he’s still an immensely passionate muso who doesn't mind taking the piss out of himself, and his ‘Guitar Hero’ skills.

“I can't remember my score for playing 'Woman', but people have really enjoyed beating me.”

I reckon they would.

Wolfmother's new album, ‘Cosmic Egg’, is out now through Universal Music.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009 10:19

Bluejuice Interview

Juiced Up!

Bluejuice are the messy house party you want over at your place every weekend. Sure, they'll fight, spit, drink your booze and hit on your partner, but goddamn you'll have a good time when Jake Stone and Stav Yiannoukas come-a-knocking.

“We were just like we are, just going to face fuck you - literally that's all it was about,” kicks off Stav about their early on-stage presence. “That was our mission, with no regard for quality of songs - just relentless. Whereas now, it feels like it builds to a point then we’ll fall away, and then build to a point and then stop for a bit.”

And while for the band this maybe true, on the basis of their last show at The Zoo (a full dick in mouth extravaganza - complete with crowd surfing collisions into the walls of the venue - if ever there was one) it’s hard to tell the difference in their live set. But the guys are nothing if not persistent.

“For the first four or five years of the band (the physical experience) was all it was about because we didn't know about anything else,” Stav says. Adds Jake - the more verbose of the two - “It's like last night, it was great, but we came off completely shattered - we completely monstered it but I think we need to find some middle ground.

“(It) just depends on the gig; after some I just don't want to talk to people. More often than not now we have really good shows - we are trying to relax a little bit more now but for me doing shows is cathartic enough and we create that party atmosphere with the crowd so well now that I don't have to do anything after the show.”

This evolving approach to their live set is indicative of the way the band is growing up and trying to find new ground on its new album, 'Head Like A Hawk', while still not distancing themselves from their shits-and-giggles party boys rep. But what else would you expect from a band who wore its rank amateur status as musicians on their sleeves when they kicked off the band a couple of years back?

“Except for Jerry the keyboard player and James who is a jazz and session drummer, other than those two guys in the band, basically (we) became a whole bunch of people who were doing this for fun even though my sister is a professional musician and we have always been around a lot of professional musicians. It wasn't really about that, it was more about getting up and enjoying ourselves. And as a result other people enjoy themselves - it's infectious.”

Damn straight it's infectious. It's hard enough following Stav and Jake in an interview let alone a live gig; at times the conversation breaks down into quick arguments over whether they fought more during this album or their first, then quickly bucks back into gear, only for Jake to wander off mid-sentence riffing about how the last six months have been the toughest of his life. If you like the roller coaster then strap yourself into the Bluejuice express, but just remember you can't get off between stations.

“We also want to get to the point were there is the crowd reaction, the vibe but having that other side (to the performance) as well. With this record there are melodic songs that are very technical and we really have to get those parts and the melody. My mission is to get them to like us, or not like us.”

So hopefully you get it by know. Sure they can come across as a pair of leg-humping dogs on stage, but no doubt the boys are smart as shit. They get how to deliver 'it' on stage. How to deliver lyrically on songs like 'Broken Leg' as well as their rep for putting out the maddest film clips. Underestimate them at your peril. So how do they sum up the new album then?

“This is really a break-up album for people who like to dance.” Bring it on.

Bluejuice's newbie 'Head Like A Hawk' is out September 19 through Dew Process. Catch the guys when they play the Fresh Festival, on the Gold Coast, October 17 and the Hi-Fi October 23.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009 09:55

My Friend The Chocolate Cake: Interview

Chocking All Over The World

My Friend the Chocolate Cake have been around forever - just don't equate longevity with diminishing passion.

“I have times off here and there and people in the band go off and do other stuff - we have got a bit of a formula going which works quite well, and everyone still really enjoys it so we are going to keep doing it for a while yet - it's a great band to be in.”

And that 'other stuff' Bridie mentions includes the other founding member Helen Mountford taking off on a trip around Australia with her family at the moment - which surely must cut rehearsal times pretty close for their upcoming Speigeltent shows?

“We will have a couple of rehearsals beforehand, but of course (band member) Helen is up in the Gulf of Carpenteria - so she will come down from there, but the rest of us will have a few rehearsals down here (in Melbourne) and you know dust of any loose edges and remember some of the arrangements - it'll be good.”

Travel is in the band’s blood, with the idea for an acoustic alternative to Bridie's then band - ‘80s atmosphere wizards Not Drowning, Waving occurring during a song writing sojourn to New Zealand, and My Friend The Chocolate Cake playing Speigeltent shows in no less than five cities, including its inaugural year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

“It's a room we are very familiar with - it's like a second home to us. When David Bates first started it in the 90s we went over there and played the first season and it worked really well for us and we got a good review on the opening night so we played two weeks of gigs there and some shows in Aberdeen and Glasgow. It was a hoot. So it's funny, the Speigeltent always reminds us of Scotland, even when we are playing in Brisbane.

“It's a room that suits the band really well - because it's good for the quieter songs and it's good for the more up tempo stuff.”

This familiarity with the venue is indicative of the professionalism of the band, which is approaching its 21st birthday.

“We've got a really solid fan base - and everyone in the band gets along really well and we haven't pushed it too hard.”

Such modesty really cuts to the core of what the band is about, talking to Bridie you wouldn't know the band has released five albums and scored two ARIAS along the way - but at the same time you also get the impression that it is his working dynamic with Mountford which drives the band.

“She is a phenomenal musician and a terrific person to be around - I find it interesting… and Helen is a good arranger as well, and sometimes has a different take on things than I would. It's a very important dynamic for the band... having different perspectives on what directions the songs should go or what the balance the records should be - it's good to have.”

It's indicative of the length of their working relationship (Mountford joined Not Drowning Waving late in the piece) that they both have such an innate understanding of what works best, and must have lead to some late night discussions of what to put in, and what to leave out of the band’s retrospective collection 'Parades'.

“You can never get the balance right. I think we are trying to get a similar balance on our records between the songs and the instrumentals - the pop songs and the more moody pieces. But I am sure if we made another record now maybe we would have chosen different songs it was a bit of a toss of a coin, in choosing which songs to put on - trying to put on things that the fans really like and songs that the band really likes.”

Given their track record, you can only suspect the two might be closer than Bridie gives himself credit for.

My Friend The Chocolate Cake play the QUT Speigeltent, Queens Park, Brisbane city September 21-23 as part of the Brisbane Festival, go to www.brisbanefestival.com.au to book tickets, and check out what else is on under the big top.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009 09:37

Sarah Blasko : Interview

She Will Have Her Way

Sarah Blasko's stunning voice has been knocking us back in our seats with its abject beauty and fragility for a couple of years; but even she gets a little nervous when thinking about the impending release of her latest album, 'As Day Follows Night'.

“I am pretty excited actually - I am just really proud of it, so happy for it to come out,” says the softly-spoken performer. “It is a bit scary though I guess.”

It’s a mark of how much of herself she puts into her work that each new record she makes is met with self-trepidation; even after the success of her first two albums - 'The Overture And The Underscore' and 'What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have' - virtually guaranteeing a gushing response from critics and fans who identify so closely with her naked honesty.

“I just think this record is - it’s hard to explain, but I think it more adequately represents what I like, just because it doesn't have all the electric guitars and keyboards, and I think because it is a lot simpler record in a lot of ways to me. I feel like I have stripped away a few things and made it about the songs which makes me feel like it’s very fresh and new and exciting for me.”

At the core of this stripped-back process is Swedish producer Björn Yttling (of Peter, Björn and John fame); who Blasko travelled to Stockholm to work with based on a friend’s recommendation that she needed to broaden her horizons, and what she calls a “gut feeling”. Björn’s main thumb print on this album was the back to basics approach he took with the recording process.

“I think I feel this time that Björn was encouraging me to keep it simple and to have a bit of confidence in the songs and in my voice; for those things to be the centre of it. I don't think I have ever worked with someone before who put so much emphasis on the voice and on the songs in that way, which when you think about it, it is obvious that that's where the centre of things lie - because that's where a song starts. He encouraged me to feel like that was enough … I just let go a bit more this time.”

Which can only mean we are set for one bell-ringer of an emotive outing from Blasko on ‘As Day Follows Night’, which is out through Brisbane's own Dew Process. A limited edition version of the album also contains a second disc of covers.

“When you do work on someone else's song you do think about, ‘okay what does it mean to write a song and why is this song so effective or not effective’ … and I think that's kind of good but sometimes I think I have done too many covers because sometimes you know me more for my covers - so sometimes I think 'no I shouldn't do another cover’. Now I have done a cover of ‘Xanadu’, I am open for all kinds of questions.”

She shouldn't be too concerned though - generally her interpretations, phrasing and understated brilliance on previous covers like Cold Chisel's 'Flame Trees'; Crowded House's 'Don't Dream It's Over' and The Go-Betweens’ 'Bye Bye Pride' have been simply breathtaking. As is her work on a lesser known Go-Betweens’ track, 'Hold Your Horses'.

“To me that time when they wrote that song felt like that band was at their most elemental and there's that really strong kind of fresh sound that you hear on those recordings; so I thought it would be nice to do something from early on in their careers.

“Just lyrically and melodically (it) was just very simple and very strong and I just wanted to do a very different version of something.”

You can't help but think that as long as Sarah keeps following her instincts, we are in for some golden years ahead.

'As Day Follows Night' is out now on Dew Process. Sarah Blasko will perform at Splendour in the Grass, which happens at Belongil Fields in Byron Bay July 25-26 and at the Tivoli October 10.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:26

King Tide (Paul Snatch) : Interview

Tidal Surge
Life on the road is a funny thing, grabbing food, rest and media opportunities whenever, wherever you can. Even so, it’s still a surprise to catch King Tide vocalist Paul Snatch huddling between poker machines looking for a quiet spot just after recording another dope set; this time for Triple J.

“We got a fabulous response though - we aren't used to this kind of treatment,” laughs the likeable front man of the gig. “We are happily surprised, that's not to say it's not something we have been working towards.”

What they and every other band in the country has been working towards - recognition, a wider audience and more freedom to explore their craft - is fast becoming a reality for the live favourites after recently signing a deal with UK label Urban Sedated. “They put one of our tracks off the last album onto a record - ‘Global Reggae Compilation Volume 1’ and they are going to put out the new album as well which is good.”

The album he is referring to, 'Roots Pop Reggae' - out now through Vitamin Records - is shoring up the fan base they have won over by their live show. “We love playing live, that is the meat and veg of what we do and we just get up there and it just escalates; fun breeds fun. It’s like two mirrors looking at each other causing an infinity of joy.”

This “infinity of joy” that Paul is referring to is really at the core of what King Tide are about, with their joyful recognition of a changing world represented by 'Roots Pop Reggae'. “It's a pop reggae album so there is a lot of sunshine in it and that's the King Tide message with this album, that we should be embracing our better sides.”

Though the band are all about spreading the love, as with any touring band - the love has to be spread in some pretty crazy places at times. “I can't remember where it was but we did this show that was underground and there was this noxious smell that just made me want to dry retch, but it turned out okay, I just had to leave straight after the show.”

King Tide play Joe's Waterhole, Eumundi, June 19, The Zoo, Saturday June 20 and The Beach Hotel Byron Bay, Sunday June 21. 'Roots Pop Reggae' is out now through Vitamin Records.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009 15:55

Kooii

Family Trees

The West End music scene sure is incestuous and that's not a bad thing. Like all musical melting pots, individuals are more likely than not to have their thumbs in several pies - just take world music act Kooii for example.

“I personally go back a fair way with those fellas [Kingfisha], we are pretty inter-related band-wise, I play with a couple of those guys in another band called Ruby Blue and one of the members of Kingfisha is in Kooii as well. The lead singer of Kingfisha actually started Kooii with me. So I guess it's a bit like a web or a tree or something …that’s one way of putting it.”

The connections don't stop there either, with drummer Dom Hede and saxophonist Darcy McNaulty sharing their time between Kooii and local jazz exponents Kafka. “Yeah Dom and Darcy actually live down in Melbourne now so it kind of makes it a bit harder for Kooii gigs to happen… but the guys are up here now.”
It's this tyranny of distance that explains, in part at least, the long wait for the bands next release.

“We started recording our next album in April last year at the back of a small instrument shop in Castlemaine down in Melbourne, we got about six tracks down … and I guess having some of the guys down there makes it harder to get together… but then again sometimes I just think we should just start again on it as well.”

While there are quite a few members of Kooii, just like the Hydra of Greek mythology, there is only one true eternal head. “I create most of the seeds for the songs that we create and the band all sort of work on it from there.”

The songs that Kooii create are indicative of the West End scene. A scene which incorporates many different elements of world music - hip hop, jazz, afro beat, dub, and reggae. They just put their own, organic, Kooii bent on things. “Yeah, it’s definitely a scene which is based around West End, we played the West End Carnivale recently which was great … we hadn't played since Island Vibe, so people were really into us and there was a really great interaction between us and the crowd.”

And that, in a nutshell, is what Kooii are all about.

Catch Kooii when they support Kingfisha at The Zoo, June 6.

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