INTERVIEW: Bluejuice

By Lucy Smith

It’s the morning after a ruthless Wednesday night out. You’re standing in the wind on the verge of frostbite, waiting for some form of public transport in order to attend that compulsory two-hour lecture. Sound familiar?

Well, never fear! Bluejuice have vowed to “ease the plight of freezing students” by touring university campuses of Australia! Their “Winter Of Our Discotheque” Tour coincides with the release of the band’s fourth single ‘Recession’ off their album Company. Having taken a break from touring for several months, Bluejuice will be performing at the University of Wollongong Unibar on Saturday August 11th. Accompanied by Deep Sea Arcade and the Preachers, it is set to be a fantastic night of copious d-floor shredding.

Radar had a chat with frontman Jake Stone about all things tour-related, remixes and mould-ridden costumes.

So Jake, you’re currently getting ready for the tour – what influenced the decision to tour university campuses?
Well we basically thought we just wanted to go and do a type of tour that we haven’t done recently, and this is that type of tour. We haven’t gone to universities specifically in the last little while, we know there’s a lot of people there who are likely to want to see the band, and so we can pretty much guarantee that if we go it’ll pay off in the sense that we’ll get crowds. It’s us, Deep Sea Arcade – who are fantastic live – and The Preachers, who are just starting out; they’re a good Triple J band. So I know that’ll work and people will want to see it.

And we haven’t played in about two months, which is a long time for this band not really to play, so it just seems like the right time to do it. I mean, we came off the back of doing a lot of festival shows and we’ve been doing those for a while, and they’re all package tours…but this is our own tour where we pay for everything. So we want to make sure that it pays off doing it at all, because we’ve done shows in the last twelve months while the recession has hit and we’ve noticed that, because we’re not a huge huge band, it’s definitely more of a challenge over the last year to get crowds. People don’t really want to spend as much money or come out necessarily in the same way they did two years ago when everyone was just like, “Yeah! There’s gonna be a festival…Let’s just spend all our money on everything!”

And also the type of audience that the band has, they’re definitely going to be at uni, they’re definitely going to be Triple J listeners, and they’re definitely going to be probably congregating around the areas that we’re playing. So it makes sense, just seemed like a logical thing to do.

You’re obviously very energetic performers, whenever I’ve been to one of your shows it’s been wild – what satisfaction do you get when you look out over the crowd and you see people enjoying it just as much as you are?
Oh, it’s great. I mean, you’ve got to qualify whether or not you’re enjoying it at the time – but if you are and they are…it’s incredibly satisfying because it’s an absurd idea to even be getting up at all in a way. With a performance…I guess it’s a collective kind of moment of loss of inhibitions or impulsivity, which is what it feels like you’re encouraging – and that’s a good thing because people need to cut loose a bit. And also I think people need to get to a blind point with their own personality and feel confident to just express everything that they’re thinking of, so that in the rest of the week when they’re expected to be normal people…they can feel more at ease with themselves generally. Like going out and getting hammered, it really feels often like those kinds of moments – there’s a real rush doing those big shows like Splendour in the Grass…there’s definitely a moment of ‘holy crap, this is so massive and so amazing’. If that feeling is there and it’s real and you can hold onto it, it adds to everyone else’s feeling – and those things start to sort of play off themselves in a kind of self sustaining cycle of energy.  Which sounds pretty easy to say, but it’s true – I’m not easy at all, I’m a cynical guy – and that is literally what happens. It’s amazing, you feel like you’re part of this big perpetual motion machine that can’t be stopped and has no conscience, but just wants to party and have a crazy time, and you are glad to be apart of that.

The tour coincides with the release of the ‘Winter of Our Discotheque’ remix of Recession – can people attending the gigs expect more of an electronic/dance vibe to your music of that calibre?
Yeah definitely…we do like to play tunes for the audience that they recognize…and also just to keep ourselves entertained we want to change arrangements that we have, because otherwise you’re just playing the same thing for the songs live and it gets a bit dull.

So in this case we’ve taken elements of the remix and put them into our electronics that we use on stage to get play back, we can have all the extra synths running at the same time that you hear in the song – we wouldn’t actually be able to play all of that stuff because there’s like a gazillion layers of stuff going on – but we put stuff on our pads and our sequencer so that it sounds like the tune, we can put the kick drum maybe on track and have it running. So when you hear the song live it’s like our remix of the remix basically – that’s the idea.

The remix itself has been pretty well received, have you considered releasing more remixes of tracks off Company?
Yeah, we’ve got two fuckin’ SICK ones! There’s one by this guy Miracle – he’s living in Melbourne – and he’s a really amazing MC, I think he’s going to be a proper star in the next year I’d say. He’s just very very technically good and sounds really great on the track…and he did a remix of Act Yr Age that’s really good, it’s really hip-hop…a completely different groove to what the original does basically.

We’ve never had good remixes before, like we’ve gotten remixes done and we haven’t just hated them but they’ve been uniformly uninspired unfortunately. No one’s quite managed to get the song right, and often they felt they were a tack on part of the process we hadn’t managed properly…In this case we knew that we wanted to do a remix this time, our manager was more on it than the last record because he’s been with the band for longer and knows more about the band now, and it’s just been a lot easier to organize…more of a confluent flow to a good quality product, which happened here I think. All I know is that I was pleased when I heard the tune back and thought, “this doesn’t suck, this is good – I could dance to this!”

What are you most looking forward to for the upcoming the tour?
I’m actually most looking forward to playing with Deep Sea Arcade…we’ve toured with that band before and I just like them as people, I dig their music a lot, they’re really great live and on record, and they’ve produced themselves in an interesting and relevant way…I fully expect them to blow us off the stage in terms of quality of sound every night. But it’s gonna be good. It’s gonna be a good deal because you’re going to see two bands who are wanting to do something decent and one band who are in the prime of their youth, because Deep Sea Arcade are really coming into their own right now. It’s going to be a special show in a lot of ways I think.

Now you’ve been on stage in yellow jumpsuits and yeti jackets, can we expect any eccentric costuming at the Unibar?
You know what, this is the tour where I just want to wear clothes. <GASP> Look, don’t be disappointed, it’ll be all right – we’ll do stuff to the clothes. Altered clothes can work really well, sometimes it just suits the surroundings a little more.

That’s more than fair, and you wouldn’t want to expose Stav’s hairy chest in bright lycra again.
Exactly! Plus it’s hot in those things and they get really wet and disgusting, and you can’t clean them for the next show. You end up with this mouldy thing and you’re just like, “Oh God, do we really have to wear this? I’m getting a lung infection from this.” And sometimes you think, “Fuck, we started out as a band and nobody expected us to be wearing multi-headed Sun God outfits or anything.” People still came initially when we were wearing T-shirts, so why can’t we just do that again? The reason why the costumes started was because Jerry and other members of the band did not know how to dress themselves, they just don’t know how to wear clothes at all. I’m not suggesting I do, but…there was a point where Jerry was trying to wear Crocs on stage and I was like, “Are you kidding me? You’re in a band, you’re being looked at you know!”

Well regardless of what you’re wearing, your performance at Wollongong Unibar is set to be an excellent night and we can’t wait for your return.
Yeah, always excited and happy to come to Wollongong!


INTERVIEW: Ash Grunwald

By Lucy Smith

What happens when you combine a Skrillex drop with raw blues? Ash Grunwald is discovering just that on his latest Australian tour following the release of his new album ‘Trouble’s Door’. Collaborating with Fingers Malone, Grunwald has perfected his acoustic blues style, which has been influenced by “driving dancefloor rhythms, buoyed by hip-hop beats and slammed by the dubstep crunch.”

Growing up in country Victoria, Grunwald nurtured his talents of singing and playing guitar before moving to Melbourne to make a name for himself and commence touring. His first release ‘Introducing’ (2002) established his roots in acoustic blues, however the influence of non-stop touring and festivals saw Grunwald experiment with a dance style with the agenda of “trying to make a really big sounding one man band.” Despite modifying his set with a band for several years, Grunwald has kept the nucleus around his solo show, saying “there’s a particular thing about playing solo that you can’t do with a band, you’re just way more connected to the audience.”

Grunwald has had many significant achievements over his ten-year musical career. From supporting Jack Johnson and James Brown, to an array of awards including the MBAS Blues Performer of the Year and APRA’s Song of the Year.  His consistency and hard work has lead to his “greatest achievement” – the creation of new album ‘Trouble’s Door’. Grunwald describes his work as “honest and bold” and “a bit more of a social commentary”. The production of beats by Fingers Malone sees the album dabble in the integration of new styles of electronic music with a rock-feel, whilst still maintaining the traditional unique blend of roots and blues. After a decade of performing Grunwald is “stoked to be doing something new, it’s like I’m just starting…and I want to just keep learning.”

After a very successful few weeks of touring, Ash is excited about the hybrid between being “on one hand a blues guy, and on another hand almost a DJ”. Combining the old set up using the kick drum and slide guitar, as well as DJ’ing beats from the albums into the show, Grunwald is thrilled with how it has been so well received – “I dreamt it up a couple of years ago and I’m just so stoked that I’m now doing it…I have a range of fans from all ages so I did wonder how it would go, but I’m so happy it went really well.”

The performance at The Patch on Thursday 21st of June will be a Triple J ‘Live at the Wireless’ event, with Grunwald promising a “more diverse show over all”. Keen to return to Wollongong Ash expects the night to go off; complete with “bass-heavy, bad-ass sounds” and acoustic dubstep jams, this is a performance you cannot afford to miss.

INTERVIEW: Go Away, Everyone

Go Away, Everyone will be opening the next Radar gig at Good Jelly on July 7 (click here for more details). We caught up with frontman Seb Wattam for a quick chat and introduction to the newcomers.

Radar: Introduce us to the members of Go Away, Everyone.
Seb: Ben Abraham (Vocals and Guitar), Sebastian Wattam (Vocals, Guitar and Keys), Lachlan Ibbet (Bass), Alex Carling (Drums) and a new member who will be announced at the next show, known only as Agent Z…

Radar: How would you describe Go Away Everyone?
Seb: In terms of genre, probably some kind of alternative rock. At the moment I’d describe us as a band that is trying desperately not to write songs named after Family Guy quotes or in reference to Death Note.

R: Tell us about the history of the band. How did the band come about?
S: We actually formed because Ben came home one afternoon and said ‘do you want to enter battle of the bands?’ and I said ‘sure, let’s make a band then’. I live with Lach who got on board, and Alex was a mate of ours who was currently not with another band. After we had written a few songs together, we all decided that if we enjoyed battle of the bands and we were received well, then we would stay as a band. It happened pretty quickly.

R: What would you say inspires you as a band? What are some of your interests as a group?
S: I know I can speak for everyone when I say that in some way or another, Karl Stefanovic seeps into everything that we do as a band, a modern hero of ours. When we started writing, we had each member say the first band that they enjoyed playing/the sound of. Those four were Tool, Manchester Orchestra, Say Anything and Enter Shikari. We all have different backgrounds and it all meshes together in writing.

R: How do you approach the writing process?
S: A few of us have played in different bands before Go Away, Everyone. Ben and I had been in a band through high school so we had written together before. For Go Away, Everyone we are trying something new. Generally I come to the group with lyrics and a rough idea of a song, and we shape it as a group until we are all happy and everyone has had an input.

R: Any plans for a proper EP or release?
S: There sure is! At the moment our focus is to write, rehearse and perform as frequently as possible to build a repertoire and some confidence as a group. From the songs we write we will choose the best ones to appear on an EP, which we will launch by the end of the year. We already have the concept for the record and we have an artist on board to work with us on the album design. We’re really excited.

R: How do you find the Wollongong music scene at present? How do you think it has changed?
S: I didn’t really know it too much before I moved down here in 2009, but I have spent all of uni being exposed to these great bands with real character and charisma on stage. The calibre of bands is really impressive and they should be given every opportunity to be heard.

R: Who are your favourite local bands?
S: One of the first bands I saw in Wollongong was the Plasmon Resonance Band, I loved every second of the shows I saw and I wish they were around more. The likes of The Pennys, The Omissions, Jack Reilly, Obscura Hail, Vulpes Vulpes and Tommy M and the Mastersounds are all so good

R: What can we expect from Go Away Everyone in the near future?
S: Aside from an EP launch by the end of the year, we are playing the Radar party on 7 July, and Yours & Owls in August which will be awesome. We are a pretty young band so our focus is on writing for the next few months and trying out material for people. Come and get to know us, tell us what you think. It’ll be nice.

Go Away Everyone join Tommy M & The Mastersounds, Round The Corner, A Cat Named Kesey and Beaten Bodies at the Radar Presents gig on July 7. Click here for more info.

INTERVIEW: Never See Tomorrow

Wollongong metalcore mainstays Never See Tomorrow have just released their debut album, ‘NST,’ after a long period of writing, recording and mixing. Together since 2006, they are one of the last few remaining bands from Illawarra hardcore’s hey-day in the mid-to-late 2000s, and have proved their mettle with big support slots alongside the likes of Parkway Drive, Confession, Thy Art Is Murder, The Amity Affliction and more. With the album out, and the band set to play the Hot Damn Wollongong Roadtrip next weekend, we caught up with the boys to get the low-down.

The album has just been released, what’s the general reaction been so far?
It has been 100% positive! Which we are blown away with, we didn’t expect it to be as well received as it was. We are hearing some real good feedback from the fans.

Are you happy with it?
We are very happy with it, we put so much time into it and all feel satisfied with the outcome.

NST has been around for a while, why did you wait so long to get your first album down?
We had most this album written about three years ago but due to members leaving and various changes in our personal lives you could say we were “distracted” when it came to knuckling down and recording.

Tell us a bit about the album. Where did you record?
We recorded the guitars and bass in Koz’s living room and took them to Electric Sun Studios to be “re-amped” ( A process where we run our recordings through electric suns set up) This saved us a lot of time and money! All vocals were done at Electric Sun with producer Dave Petrovic. He is a genius when it comes to recording, as you can hear in our album.

What was the recording process like?
Fun for the most part, staying up late, drinking buds at kozs house and recording all the parts. The studio was a mini holiday for us and a good excuse to have a few more beers!

How would you describe the album?
We can only describe it as the exact type of music we want to hear and by the reaction, what a lot of people have been waiting for.

As far back as March 2011, you’ve been talking about the album. Why has it taken so long to finally come together?
Basically, we took our time with it and did all the artwork etc on our own, this all took time. So that with the mix of us being generally lazy left us leading people on with the release date, which we apologise for!

You guys are playing the Hot Damn roadtrip in Wollongong next weekend. Looking forward to it?
Yeah we are! The last one was very successful and we hope to keep up the pace!

You’ve played Hot Damn in Sydney before, and you’re on the bill for their long weekend party too. How does playing the club compare to a “regular” gig?
It suits us well because we all love a beer, but unfortunately the sound is usually sub-par and this gets to us a bit as we are pretty picky with that stuff.

As said above, NST has been around for a while, and continued where a bunch of other prominent heavy local acts – Kohere, Another Days Remains etc. – disbanded. Why do you think you’ve stayed together, when a lot of similar bands haven’t?
I guess we carried more passion and our new album is a pure sign of that.

What do you think about hardcore or heavy music in Wollongong now? There’s very few bands around now, compared to a few years ago.
The scene dropped off for a bit, it started to get too repetitive but lately there has been a resurgence. We aren’t particular fans of the “scene” as it seems to come and go, we just wish the gong had better AA venues!

Any locals you’ve been particularly impressed with lately?
We saw Totally Unicorn the other day and it’s safe to say we were impressed.

On Facebook last month, you hinted something about a new music video. What’s the latest there?
We are mid way through filming it. We have an original idea that involves us acting a little bit. We dont take ourselves seriously and its going to show in this video.

Your cover of Vanessa Carlton’s ‘1000 Miles’ was a huge hit, do you have any plans to do any other covers in the future?
We are starting the next run of shows with a cover of Promises by NERO but other than that we haven’t put any thought into it, we don’t want to be seen as cover band as we are so proud of the album.

With the album release, what’s the plan for you guys? Touring plans on the horizon?
We plan to do as many good shows as possible and hopefully get on as supports to as many international artists as possible

Never See Tomorrow play the Hot Damn roadtrip with Where The Enemy Sleeps, Wake The Giants and Aftermath on July 16 (next Saturday) at Hostage X. Say RADAR at the door for cheap entry!

INTERVIEW: Beaten Bodies

Beaten Bodies have been together for just over six months, but are already causing a bit of a stir in the local music community. Joining Tommy M & The Mastersounds and Rocking Horse & The Baby Dolls in channelling a groovy, funky, soulful sound reminiscent of days gone by – as well as having a mammoth eight bodies on stage at any one time – the collective have only performed sparingly and rarely since forming; but impressed judges enough at their recent UOW band comp heat to advance straight to the final. They’re are playing our Radar x Good Jelly gig on July 7, so we caught up with bassist Liam to get the skinny on Beaten Bodies.

Radar: Introduce us to Beaten Bodies. Who are the members and what do they play?
Marli Truran-Lakaev – Vox
Novak Manojlovic – Keys
John McCoy – Drums
Liam Copland – Bass
David Reglar – Tenor Sax
Matt Tarrant – Trumpet
Geordie Crawford – Alto Sax
Nick Chater – Trombone

R: How would you describe Beaten Bodies?
A mix of all the old groove stuff: soul, funk, Motown – with a contemporary sound.

R: Tell us about the history of the band. How did the band come about?
It started as a throwaway comment. My brother was turning 21, and everyone was doing something for the party except me. I told the parents I’d work out the music, maybe an iTunes playlist. I’m not very computer savvy and it became apparent that the whole thing’d be easier if I got some people together for a jam. That was in November last year.

R: What would you say inspires you as a band? What are some of your interests as a group?
Creating something that we wanna listen to ourselves is the obvious. Big funk/soul bands are the inspiration—lotsa horns, lotsa bodies on stage, everyone working at a vibe that is both improvised and aware of its purpose. We’re all inspired by different things, but as a collective, the big ones would be Winehouse, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, The RH Factor, maybe The Bamboos.

R: How do you approach the writing process?
We all just get in there, yell, stick our hands up, wrestle, and laugh a lot. The writing process is extremely productive for us. We’ve got members burning with great ideas. Crazy inspired people with ideas oozing outta every orifice. That being said, the challenge for us is knowing when we’re doing too much, convoluting a song that needs to breath. But yeah, to answer the question, the writing process is collaborative, the songs evolving each and every time we get together, even when we’re not playing them.

R: Any plans for a proper EP or release?
At the time of this interview, we’re pretty close to finishing our debut E.P. All that’s left to record are the vocals and the mixing and mastering stages. There are four tracks, all a bit different. In an attempt to reflect a few different shades of what we’ve been up to, our goal was to go for a sound specific to each song. It should be out in September, at the latest.

R: How do you find the Wollongong music scene at present? How do you think it has changed?
The scene is good, inspiring. Wollongong is going through such a prolific stage at the moment, every second person plays in a band. With so many people in bands, there are so many people going to gigs, and the scene has only flourished because of this. This explosion of bands have urged people to stay in Wollongong for their entertainment, this is a change.

R: Who are your favourite local bands?
Off the top of my head: This Mess, Totally Unicorn, and Kool and The Gang.

R: What can we expect from Beaten Bodies in the near future?
We’re playing the Radar gig at Good Jelly on the 7th of July and the UoW band comp final on the 23rd of August. But the release of the E.P is definitely the big one.

Beaten Bodies join Tommy M & The Mastersounds, Round The Corner, A Cat Named Kesey and Go Away Everyone at the Radar Presents gig on July 7. Click here for more info.

INTERVIEW: Henry Rollins

His days in Black Flag and the Rollins Band long behind him, Henry Rollins has been taking his unique insights, stories and observations on the road for almost 30 years now. Staging mammoth ‘spoken word’ (though, don’t call it that in front of him) tours across every continent in the world, Rollins has developed a cult following that of course links back to his days as frontman of the legendary Black Flag, but also that draws from a whole different demographic. Rollins’ performances are painfully funny, totally honest and bitingly witty. He will be touring Australia this April and May, with a show at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre on May 8. Henry was kind enough to answer some questions from Radar.

How do you describe what it is that you’re doing now? For me, it’s not quite comedy, and it’s not quite spoken word; it’s somewhere between the two.
All it has ever been for me is a talking show, that’s it. Sometimes there is humor in there, sometimes not. When I first heard the term “spoken word” I cringed.

What first motivated you to start doing these sorts of performances?
I started in 1983. I liked being alone onstage and able to do what I wanted. Being in a band was good, too but this was a good outlet for me.

How do you compare your touring lifestyle now, to that of your days in Black Flag, or the Rollins Band? Are there some parallels, or is it a totally different style?
 Things are more efficient now. I am not having to stay up all night with no place to sleep. Venues are better, sound onstage is better. The intent and discipline are the same, the surroundings and access have improved.

The sheer amount of things you do, or contribute to, is pretty immense; radio shows, writing for LA Weekly and Vanity Fair, acting, as well as these long spoken word tours. Do you like your life to be so busy, so frenetic?

Yes,  it keeps things real for me. I am not interested in doing nothing. It just doesn’t do it for me. I say yes to a lot of things and it keeps me on my toes.

Between the long tours, and all the other aspects of your life, is there anything you try to do to keep from burning out?
No. I just do the work. I go to the gym a lot to keep stress down but past that, I just keep it happening. One day, no one will want me onstage but until then, I will keep touring and working on things. It’s all pretty interesting.

I saw you on your Australian tour back in 2010, and I remember you saying that you don’t like to stay at home for too long, that travelling is simply part of your life. Maybe a tough question, but do you do these long spoken word tours because you like travelling, or do you travel because you like doing the spoken word tours? Which is the main motivating factor? Or is it a combination of both?
I like being onstage and being with the audience. Travel comes with, so it works out. When I am not on tour, I am traveling on my own. Being at the house is cool now and then, you can listen to a record you want to hear or something but that gets boring and too safe for me and I start feeling soft and that I am not trying hard enough.

The towns you perform in, do you try to get out and explore them while you’re there? Or is it more a situation of “drive to the venue, do the show, pack up, drive to the next venue”?
Depends on the schedule. Sometimes, there’s time to look around, sometimes there is not. Frequently, the pre-show hours are taken up with press, gym and writing obligations.

Does this kind of lifestyle get lonely at times? Always travelling, rarely being “home”?
A little but I am not the type that gets very lonely. I have been living this way for many years and I am all about the work, not the hang out so much.

You also speak often about your experiences travelling in countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Saudi Arabia; what country have you been most surprised by, or fallen in love with?
None of it surprises me all that much, I just let things happen as best I can without getting too far in front of a place and put too much into what it is supposed to be. I really like being in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos. Southeast Asia is a great destination for me.

From following your Twitter, it seems like you’ve been spending a lot of time on the road with Dinosaur Jr. Do you get the urge to get back into music, or get nostalgic for the band touring lifestyle, in those situations?
Not at all. I like being alone onstage. It’s good for how I am now. I don’t want unity or to be in a group mentality at this point. I like the manual setting of being onstage alone. It’s very hard and very honest. It’s tough to be out there on my own, which is one of the reasons I like it. Also, I like being around less people on the bus post show and pre-show. I was never about the camaraderie.

When you perform, how pre-prepared is your routine? Do you have a set script that you follow each night? How much does your performance change from show to show?
I go to the stage very prepared. I don’t want to waste an audience’s time. The set changes a lot as new things happen in the world and I come up with things to talk about. I don’t write any of it out, I just work through the ideas I want to talk about and take them to the stage. I will do these ideas over and over and they get shape and speed. The US shows are different as there are more inside political references.

What can we expect from this particular tour of Australia?
I’ll be onstage, talking about where I have been, what I thought about it, what’s happening here or there, etc. It’s the same thing I always do but with different destinations, stories.

Henry Rollins performs at the IPAC on May 8th.


Sydney psych-pop outfit No Art are playing the second Radar Illawarra gig at Yours & Owls this Sunday (see info here), and will be launching their new EP ‘Exotica.’ Vivian from the band took the time to answer a couple of quick introductory questions, to give you a bit of info about the trio before the show.

How did the band start? How long has No Art been together?
The band started in 2009 – initially it was just Trish and I, jamming in her attic bedroom, but we found that guitar and bass was pretty limiting! Ha. So we decided to add a third person into the mix. Luckily we met our drummer Charles, and as soon as the three of us started working together it all fell into place.

What are some of your main influences?
Between the three of us we have quite different tastes in music. I guess to be broad we’re partial to a bit of no wave, shoegaze, John Frusciante (up to you to guess which one of us likes him!)…anything from Can to ESG to Nancy Sinatra. I wouldn’t say we consciously try to incorporate anyone’s sound into No Art’s mix; when we write we do it moreso on feel than trying to emulate any one specific act or genre.

How would you describe your music?
That’s a hard one! I think the best way for you to get an idea though is to have a listen for yourself:

Tell us a bit about the EP. How long have you been working on it, and where & when did you record?
Well ‘Exotica’ has been a long time coming – it had kind of been ready to go for a year or so previously, but we had to sit on it, for various reasons. I think that it worked out for the best though, as in the interim we were able to tour more, and in that the songs were able to breathe and evolve in a live setting.
We tracked the drums in a studio in Western Sydney, and the rest we laid down in patches in our rehearsal studio/space – because of this we were able to take our time with it, which was a nice luxury.

What can we expect from the EP?
A lot of people have called it a journey of sorts, which I think is fair. We consciously tried to capture feelings of ritual and ceremony, as well as those untamed, unpredictable aspects of nature and environment, that primitiveness. There are passages of more classic song arrangements, as well as some moodier instrumental moments, so it’s a bit of a mixed bag that way.

What can we expect from your live show?
Well for this EP tour we’ve created a projection incorporating found footage that we’ve pieced together, that will play as we do (our video for ‘Epica’ is a pretty good preview). Beyond that I guess we get pretty loud!

No Art play Yours & Owls on Sunday, with My Little Underground and Elliphant. Doors at 6.30pm, $5 entry. Click here for the Facebook event.

TOUR NEWS: Henry Rollins, The Beautiful Girls, Gossling, Kobra Kai

Lots of local tour action announced recently!

Legendary frontman of Black Flag, Henry Rollins, has announced a new, extensive Australian tour for May 2012. He’ll be bringing his spoken word skills to town, playing the IPAC on May 8th as part of his ‘The Long March’ tour. Radar checked Mr Rollins out last time he was in Wollongong, and it was pretty amazing; for almost two full hours, Rollins stood on stage – without break, without even a sip of water – as he recounted stories from his days in Black Flag, his extensive world travels to some of the most dangerous places on Earth, through to tales of his time on ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and embarassingly personal yarns about his love life. Without a doubt one of the most interesting and hilarious spoken word artists you’ll ever see, and a musical legend to boot, we can’t recommend this highly enough.

The Beautiful Girls are hitting the road again in December, with an extensive national tour making a stop at Waves Nightclub just before New Year’s Eve. The roots/surf act are set to play the Towradgi venue on October 30, with Kid Mac in support. Tickets are $30, through Moshtix.

Melbourne singer-songwriter Gossling will play Yours and Owls on December 16. It will be a headline show for Gossling (aka Helen Croome) in the middle of tour supporting Whitlams’ frontman Tim Freedman. She has been gaining national attention through her collaboration with rapper 360 on ‘Boys Like You,’ which has been scoring heavy Triple J airplay. Click here to see Radar’s interview with Gossling from earlier this year, or click here for the Facebook event profile and more info.

Sydney band Kobra Kai have announced a show at The Patch on December 9. The band have played on a swag of festivals recently including Parklife, Big Day Out, Creamfields, Stereosonic and Future Music Festival, so they’ve got some serious playing chops. They’ve gotten praise from Mark Ronson and Skrillex, with their mix of dubstep, Drum and Bass, Hip hop and electronica drawing comparisons to Pendulum, Shapeshifter and Skream. Their track ‘Your Problem’ is one of the most downloaded songs in the country right now, so make sure to check them out when they hit town.

INTERVIEW: Art vs Science

Controversy; Jim Finn from Art vs Science reckons regional shows are more fun than their big city counterparts.

“Definitely! In the cities, crowds are bigger, but they get bands coming through all the time,” the vocalist/keyboardist says down the line from Toowoomba; it’s the second night of the Art vs Science ‘Feels Like Home’ regional tour, and the three-piece have just finished soundcheck, before a sold-out show in regional Queensland.

“Out in small towns, its a rarer opportunity for them to see a live band, so they are more appreciative for bands to come to them. They seem more excited, and really get into it; more than city crowds, I think!”

While music fans in Sydney, Melbourne and alike may protest this assertion, it’s pertinent to note that Finn is probably one of the best-placed Aussie musicians to make such claims. Since forming in 2008 as little more than a side-project, the electro-rock trio – completed by Dan Mac and Dan W – have rarely spent more than a month or two at a time off the road. Indeed, they’ve returned from a big US tour just days before the ‘Feels Like Home’ jaunt, and have already played a few shows as part of the JD Set tour, paying tribute to iconic Aussie act Icehouse.

“That was brilliant,” Finn gushes. Art vs Science were joined by a host of big-name Aussie guest singers, which Finn explains; “it was great to play with Kate Miller-Heidke and Patience [Hodgson, from The Grates] and Tim from Dappled Cities, they’re all incredible performers in their own way. And to play with Iva Davies from Icehouse was amazing; I think there’s footage of him with us, I’m just looking at my keyboard with this massive grin across my face!”

Midway through this tour, AvS will jump on a plane and play a short run of shows with Gossip in Malaysia, before finishing up their Aussie assault… then jumping on another plane for another stint in America.

“Touring is something you get used to; even something you miss doing,” Finn tells Radar.

“On the road, you miss your girlfriend and your friends and family… and then you’re home and you miss touring and you want to get out on the road again! You see the world, see amazing things and meet amazing people.”

For now, however, the band are focused squarely on their Aussie “homecoming” tour, as Jim puts it. After a big capital city tour earlier in the year to launch their debut album, ‘The Experiment,’ the band have been looking forward to getting out on the road less travelled, and bringing their hyperactive brand of dance rock to as many fans, in as many towns, as possible.

“It’s just great to be back touring Australia. We’re getting out to places we don’t normally go; I mean, I’ve never been to Toowoomba before, but the show tonight is sold out! I’m just keen to see a lot of smiling faces on this tour,” Jim says.

Eyebrows were raised when Perth-based blues-rock act Abbe May was announced as the tour’s main support act, but the band themselves specifically picked May to join them on the road. Big, crunching, stomping blues riffs mingling with sugar-high electro? Surely that’s an odd combo, right?

“I like to think that we’re sort of similar,” Finn says of the rationale behind the decision.

“Abbe May has those big dirty grooves, which is sort of similar to our music; big loud noises, big grooves… except that we’re more dance and she’s more bluesy, obviously!”

“Plus, we all think she’s awesome; so if we like her music, and people like our music, then people should like her music. That’s the triangle of music!” he laughs.

Art vs Science plays Waves Nightclub, Towradgi on Sunday October 2nd.
Tickets are on sale now, via Moshtix.

INTERVIEW: Troldhaugen

‘Jethro Tull on steroids’ – Troldhaugen awaken the trolls

For a band that only began in 2008 and played their first gig early last year, local folk-metal experimenters Troldhaugen have come a long way. Here is a band that despite only having released their debut self-titled EP in October last year, have already made international sales and even distributed a limited edition cassette tape overseas. This is no small achievement, but, as Radar discovers talking to Meldengar, guitarist/programmer/likely multi-instrumentalist for the band, nothing about Troldhaugen is less than pretty freaking epic.

Overcoming a potentially fatal computer crash which wiped all progress on their initial album, Troldhaugen have developed a distinctive name for themselves over the past few years, their sound and style evolving into something best described as eclectic. Meldengar tells us, “Our original style was very European folk music influenced, even down to the lyrics and folk tales. While we still hold this music very dear, we were battling with the idea ‘Can a band from Australia authentically write and perform this music?’. Our new music has developed into our own style and takes the folk music that influences us and combines it with strong progressive roots.”

Listening to Troldhaugen’s material, it is easy to hear that all members of the band are extremely talented – and adventurous – musicians, making use of standard metal instrumentation in addition to more obscure, ancient instruments such as the Jew’s Harp, that are rarely heard on modern commercial recordings. Meldengar cites this diversity as a starting point for interesting and collaborative inventions within the band.

“Being that everyone’s instrument is so varied and each member has a high level of technical proficiency, we all bring ideas for our own instrument or something to challenge another player” he says. Diverse and experimental tastes also help. “The whole band draws from different influences, we are all very influenced by progressive and experimental music and that is making its way into our music. Being that we are all influenced by both the Finntroll’s and the Zappa’s, it’s only natural for us that the best transition from a mandolin or jew’s harp breakdown to a symphonic black metal section is through a choral or spoken word section!”

Zowie! So what does the band sound like presently? According to Meldengar, words like “troll-ridden,” “fetid,” “grimy” and “twisted jazz progressions” might give you some idea. “Our new pieces are definitely more technical,” he explains; “fun, attention grabbing, catchy and [evoke] images of trolls and swamps.”

Geez, with so many trolls abounding and all those grimy jazz progressions twisting around, one might be propelled to ask, how do audiences respond to Troldhaugen’s music? “Very positively,” Meldengar says, “especially considering the extreme lack of commercial appeal our music has. Every show we play we have people coming up to us and saying they didn’t even know this sort of thing existed. We are so secluded in our style that we tend to fit on most bills, and I think the audience likes that we are more ‘Fuck yea! Rock and Troll!’ rather than the ‘Metal is serious business’ attitude that a lot of other bands have.”

Indeed. It does seem that this kind of attitude is difficult to come by in mainstream metal culture, and perhaps it is this very attitude that has helped Troldhaugen’s debut release become such a success along with the thousands of hits the band has received on various social media platforms.

At the core of it all, however, we are necessarily drawn back to an exciting exploration of musical genres, styles and techniques that is what makes the foundation of this band so strong. As Meldengar explains, Troldhaugen are pushing generic boundaries, winding together many different elements normally restricted to particular generic expressions of music; “A technicality found in jazz fusion or technical death metal, an energy normally associated with hardcore punk or thrash metal, a genuine groove you can get up and move to and a vibe that is invitingly brutal and grim.” Such a combination is surely hard to come by, and the way Troldhaugen pulls it off, with a wicked sense of humour to match, is really what makes them something to look out for.

Troldhaugen are currently working on material for a new album and an accompanying tour.

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