Interview: Shining Bird

Shining Bird

A deep voice that makes the velvet vocals of James Earl Jones quiver in jealousy. Shimmering arrangements that stretch further than the Nullarbor. A video clip that features Steve Irwin-defying snake-wrangling. Who could compile such a completely incredible resume? You bet your arse that I’m talking about Shining Bird.

If all that wasn’t enough, The Bird have been kicking goals elsewhere. They’ve nabbed a FBi Radio Song of the Year nomination for their new track “Rivermouth” (vote here), played a killer show at The Union in Newtown over the weekend, and are going to be heading up two shows over the next two weeks: The Heritage Hotel in Bulli on Thursday, 26th November (w/ Tiny Ruins and Flowertruck, tix here) and Fairgrounds Festival in Berry on the 5th of December (w/ Father John Misty, Royal Headache, Unknown Mortal Orchestra + more, tix here).

Before all this goes down, I got the opportunity to pry open the skull of frontman Dane Taylor, Ray Liotta in Hannibal style, and ask about lengthy tunes, Footrot Flats,

R: Your new song “Rivermouth” is one of the shorter singles you guys have released, even though it comes in at four and a half minutes. Are you working on compressing your songs, or is that just a coincidence?

D: I think it’s just a coincidence on this occasion. Generally our songs take a long time to unfold. We don’t really ever know until the last mix, exactly how long the song will be.

R: What attracts you to writing those longer songs?

D: It just seems to work out that way. We like to cover a lot of different terrain during a song.

R: Longer songs seem to be having a renaissance, with Gang of Youths and Roland Tings being two of the standouts bands of 2015. Why do you think audiences are turning back to the longer, in depth songs, especially at a time where everything feels like it needs to be compact and short to keep people’s attention.

D: I feel like I must be pretty out of touch with what audiences are into at present. I would have thought attention spans were still at an all time low. That’s nice to hear; perhaps people are starting to crave those deeper experiences again.

R: The song sees a return to that classic lush Shining Bird sound. With the upcoming album, are there any surprises for fans of the usual Shining Bird sound? 

D: There will be quite a few surprises but it’s unmistakably a Shining Bird record.

R: “Rivermouth” packs in a lot of unconventional instruments, including that string section. Are there any other sounds and instruments you look forward to bringing into the Shining Bird fold?

D: We have definitely expanded the palette. Lots of orchestral instruments and didgeridoo

R: You guys also released an awesome t-shirt in conjunction with the single, with Dog from Footrot Flats on the cover. What’s your history with that comic?

D: We loved the comics as kids, and were inspired after a recent revisit of the film to do our own spin on that classic character. We gave ‘Dog’ wings as we knew he’d be a bird fan.

R: Did you have to get permission from Murray Ball?

D: All he wanted was a t-shirt!

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R: Triple J have been doing a thing called Aus Band T-Shirt Day, where they encourage people to wear Australian Band T-Shirts. What are your thoughts on that?

D: It’s a great way to promote and support Australian music! Such a good idea. ..Did we mention we have some new shirts for sale? [Interjection: You can buy ’em here if you so desire]

R: You’ll be finishing up the single launches for Rivermouth at Fairgrounds Festival. What do you reckon about a big festival coming to a regional town like Berry?

D: I think it can be really good for those small towns, just as long as the festival-goers clean up after themselves. Lets keep Australia beautiful! The more quality boutique festivals outta the big cities the better!

R: It’s looking like you’ll have quite a big stage to play on. Is that a relief from the days where you’d have all six of you jammed onstage?

D: Make that seven! We just welcomed the sax maestro Michael Slater to the bird, so yes – im sure we will be loving that bit of extra room on stage. Although Al (guitar) always seems to make the most of any sized stage, usually by climbing all over the PA or jumping into the crowd.

R: Finally, Fairgrounds has got such a crazy lineup. Is there anyone on there you’re particularly excited to see?

D: The lineup is quality! Really excited to see Father John Misty & Royal Headache just to name a few..

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Interview: Palms

PALMS Bad Apple landscape

Al Grigg is the nicest man in rock ‘n’ roll, and that’s a fact. When he’s not shredding in Palms or Straight Arrows, he’s got his head bouncing around at a show, managing to get around the entire room and give everyone a hug and the time of day. Remember when Wavves made that song called “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl”? Fuck that, they need to change the lyrics to reflect the real best bloke in rock music.

It’s always a pleasure to get to chat to Al, whether we’re talking shit about who would win in a fight between Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy, or which pub has the best burger in Sydney. This time ’round, we got to chatting about the new album Crazy Rack, which is just *mwah* absolutely fucking stunning. Read on for musings about fame, depression and The Replacements.

R: Swiggy Griggy!

A: Saarzy! Well, well, we meet again!

R: We’ve been mates for a while, but when we first started to know each other, and Palms had first started…

A: Our courting period!

R: Haha, exactly. When Palms first started, people would recognise you a lot as ‘Al from Red Riders’, and now it’s shifted to ‘Al from Palms’. Do you notice this at all?

A: I don’t really know, or notice the change. But I guess that’s the truth – there’s something else for people to notice me as now. I’m also quite often, and embarrassingly, known as ‘Al from Cream’ [A second hand store in Newtown; go there for autographs]

I was at Splendour with Shane [ParsonsDZ Deathrays/Angus Young’s Protege] and Dave [Williams/WolfmanManly Sea Eagles/Patron Saint of Footy Beards] and they had this funny thing going of who would get recognised first. Then there was this chick and a guy who said, “I know you from somewhere!”. I was like, “Palms?”, “Naaaah”. “Red Riders?” “Naaaaah”, “Straight Arrows?” “Naaaah”. And then they were like, “You’re the guy from CREAM!”. Haha, and yes, I am also the guy from the second hand clothes shop! I probably sold you an old pair of cut off denim-shorts.

R: Do you think that being noticed of how far Palms has travelled since the first album came out?

A: Yeah, I guess. Obviously….we’ve played a lot of shows, and…this is gonna sound really arrogant, but I think it’s kind of true. I think we’re just friendly guys, and we make friends easily. When we meet people, there’s no separation between us as a band and them as people. We’re just people.

That sounds like such a gross cliche (laughs) but you get what I mean. It goes from Al from Palms to Al very quickly. And then it goes to Swiggy Griggy!

R: Onto the record – you guys recorded it twice. When you finished it the first time, and it was decided that it wasn’t quite good enough, was that disheartening?

A: Yeah, it was really disheartening. When you’re writing a song, it’s in your head a bit. Even when you’re playing it live, it’s just an interpretation of how you feel. There’s nothing concrete about it, you have this potential for it: “When it gets recorded, it’ll be really big, and sound like this!”. And then you hear it back, and you see the reality of it, it can be really hard. I thought this was a really great song, but actually it sounds a bit shit. 

And that can be a mixture of the song being shit, the arrangement being shit, you just not playing it right, the mix is crap, or whatever. And sometimes its just your attitude; I think we weren’t ready to record the first time, and I was a bit nego on it anyway. I was just a bit down on it, it didn’t feel right.

I also don’t think I wanted to do it in fits. With Step-Brothers that’s how we did it. We did it with Owen [Penglis, Straight Arrows/Recording Sensei] on one four-track, and then on another four track, and then an eight track. It was cool, but it didn’t have coherency. 

R: What was it like going from recording in Owen’s kitchen, to a proper studio? Was it a throwback to the Red Riders days?

A: A little bit. But still very much a half-thing. We went into Linear Studios with our friend Nick [Franklin, Fabergettes/AUSTRALIA/Recording Guru], so it still had that feeling of being at your friends place. It was still very comfortable, as opposed to this gross, fish out of water thing. For me, that’s always been the studio battle, because I don’t understand anything about [studios], being surrounded by equipment I don’t understand and instruments I can’t play (laughs). I feel a bit inadequate.

R: What do you think the major changes between the first and second recordings of the album were?

A: I think it’s just a bit more confidence. And I mean that in a way that it just feels more varied, there’s more going on. There’s more mellow moments, more jangly moments, it’s not so much a straight-up garage thing. I’m more comfortable seeing this other side of the band. 

I’m more confident with the lyrics as well. The next single we put out is probably going to be “No More”. We’re going to put out an acoustic song. We’re not going to blow anyone’s minds, but we’re just going to let them know there’s a different side of Palms. WE JUST WANT TO LET THEM KNOW THERE’S MORE TO US, RYAN! I’ve got feelings! Emotions!

R: Speaking of moving on from garage, it felt that you were really embracing your love for 80’s pop and rock. There’s a couple songs on there where I think, ‘This sounds like Rick Springfield’.

A: (laughs) I hope we make as much money as Rick Springfield! I reckon that’s a bit of a Dion [Ford, shred lord] influence. When we were finishing Step-Brothers, that’s when he joined the band, a lot of the parts were already written, so he didn’t put as much of a stamp on it. With [Crazy Rack], there’s a bit more of his style. I think “Thoughts of You” is about as close as we’ll ever come to writing a Cheap Trick song. It’s got a cowbell, some Southern Boogie in the chorus…

All my favourite albums, like The Replacements…when you think of a classic Replacements song, you think of “I Will Dare”, or “Bastards of Young”, but there’s only ever two or three of those songs on an album, but then there’s a bunch of punk songs, or alt-country songs, or weird nightclub, jazzy things with piano. What we wanted to do was, if you like classic Palms, you’ll like this record, but there’s other shit to keep you interested.

R: Another thing is that you’ve always been very heart-on-your-sleeve with the music you’ve made. But the songs on Crazy Rack, there’s a lot of guitar, and catchy songs – were you ever afraid your message would get lost in there?

A: I think the message does get lost and no one pays attention to what I’m saying (laughs). I think that’s part of it though. First and foremost, I don’t want to write and sing songs that don’t have meaning to me; when I’m playing live, I want to have something, an emotion to draw on. I want to be sharing something of myself, lyrically, and that’s a hard thing to do. 

It can be a bit too much for people; not everyone wants to come and hear a guy tell you all his feelings. It’s like, dude, go see a psychologist, there are professionals for that! But there’s guitar solos, all that fun and exciting stuff is wrapped around it. So if you want the intensity, if you want to hear a guy put his heart on sleeve, and you enjoy that, the intensity’s there. If you just want to sing along, you can do that as well.

Crazy Rack is out now on Ivy League Records. It’s fucking incredible, five flaming guitar outta five, do yaself a favour and grab it here. If you need any more convincing, then read this. Make sure you catch Palms when they play At First Sight Festival next weekend (the 14th), with Blank Realm, Total Giovanni, Nicholas Allbrook, NO ZU, Los Tones and heaps more! Tix here.

Interview: The Ocean Party

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#tbw to when I briefly replaced Jordan in The Ocean Party. 

I’ve got a long history with Melbourne’s The Ocean Party, and their various side projects, but what it really boils down to is the fact that I’ve got a big ol’ rager for their music. Half their albums are decent introductions to this new boom of jangle pop we’ve been having of late in Aus, and the other half soar at the top as examples of what the rest of these strummers should hope to sound like one day.

The Ocean Party have got their fifth record, ‘Light Weight’, coming out this Friday on Spunk Records, and they’ll be swinging by The Vic in Marrickville for a cheeky free show that same night. Support comes from Mere Women, Cool Sounds and Dog Rock pioneers Weak Boys. Rest of the tour dates can be found here.

Before The OP Crew stop by Sydney, I sent a few q’s through to keyboardist Jordan (who I briefly replaced), and actually got some really solid a’s back:

1. You’ve been on Spunk for about four albums now – why are you so at home there?

We just have such an easy going relationship with Spunk. We send Aaron a record and he put’s it out. I don’t think we could work with a label that operates any different.

2. Do you think having everyone contribute songs to The Ocean Party is positive or detrimental?

I think its really positive. Objectivity is so hard to achieve on your own – as is an alternate subjectivity for that matter. Our inclusiveness means that we have a five-layer filter to run a song through. It can be tremendously reassuring to know that everyone is invested an idea- and alot easier to get things from the bedroom laptop into a more fleshed out form. The other aspect of our work style is that it encourages diversity from a base level. We all write differently, so even basic ideas are flavoured by each songwriter. I like to think this gives us more of a multi-focal narrative in our music as a whole.

3. Being so prolific and touring so much, are you afraid of creative exhaustion?

We’ve got a good cycle going now in terms of writing, playing, travelling and recording. Touring is a huge part of things for us, not only because we like playing around the country, but because it gives us alot of time to nut things out. When we were touring for Split we were already listening to demos for Soft Focus in the van, and when we head off this month we’ll be listening to our new demos. Alot of very valuable conversations and decisions come out of travelling together. So our schedule allows for regular shifts from creative to analytical rather than exhausting either.

4. When you went up to BIGSOUND recently, how did you view the conference as a whole? Is it good for Australian music to have that sort of annual event?

I’m sure if you are a buzz band BIGSOUND is great, we aren’t a buzz band and I would say we are all pretty happy about that. In saying that I think we all had fun at BIGSOUND and the one panel I went to was really good.

5. With half of you working in other bands and in pubs, how much of Melbourne’s music scene rubs off into your own band?

It’s immesurable really, not because it’s gargantuan, but more because its hard to trace your own influences. People outside the band might be able to see the ties better than us. We see alot of local music and know alot of the people involved, inevitably this must have an impact on us somehow. Even seeing something that you don’t like can be influential. You never really know not to do something until you see someone else do it.

6. You’ve always done a lot of regional touring – why do you do that, when it makes more sense financially and crowd wise to just do capital cities? Does it have anything at all to do with coming from Wagga?

Well, there isn’t a huge divide financially. On some previous tours our country gigs paid our way through. We’ve been going to some places regularly for some years now and see alot of familiar faces, which is a good reason to come back. For the Light Weight tour we’ll be seeing alot of smaller towns, which means we won’t have to drive huge stints and we’ll get to see new places. We are playing in Wagga on the way home, which will be nice too. Coming from Wagga I suppose we have a pretty good grasp on what to expect from a country town so maybe we have been more willing to go to them than other bands might be.

7. You do a lot touring in Aus, but haven’t done much outside the county, except for that small US tour last year. Is international touring something you’ve be more keen on in the future.

Sure. Liam is off touring with Totally Mild in Europe at the moment, so he’s scouting it out for us. We had a great time in the U.S.A. last October, so we’d love to go back. It’s costly with six people, so we’re at the mercy of our funds, but hopefully next year we’ll head overseas again.

8. You got to meet Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening/K Records) on that U.S. trip – who else would you like to stumble into on a tour?

Yeah, meeting Calvin was pretty out of the blue. We really haven’t run into many other celebs. Liam saw Rob Zombie and John 5 at the airport. We saw Leo Sayer eating a toastie in Mayfield (possibly not Leo Sayer). The other day we ran out of petrol in a little Victorian town called Cressy. We met a really unhelpful fat guy there who may have been a local celebrity. I don’t know who else we’d hope to meet.

9. You did that small Aussie tour with Nathan Roche a while back – do you miss Nathan Roche? I miss Nathan Roche.

We miss Nathan Roche every day. There is nothing that can fix that. He is liable to appear in any town at anytime though, so maybe he’ll be the celeb we stumble into?

10. Snowy once tried really hard to refer to The Ocean Party as the OP Crew. When can the Australian public expect the inevitable name change, and diversion into Aus hip hop territory?

Mark has already chartered into Aus Hip Hop Territory and irrevocably changed the game with his Crowman Mixtape: Murder of Crow (2014). The Ocean Party has its finger in alot of pies Ryan, don’t dig too deep. OP Crew is a cool name though. When we’re past our prime we might head over to christian rock and become The Devotion Party.

11. When that dole wave playlist got announced on Apple Music, did you shit the bed and think we’ve made it?

I, until now, was not aware of that. I’ll put on the rubber bedsheets tonight and have a look. We made a cool $11.00 from Spotify last year, so Apple Music can’t be so bad.

Interview: Deaf Wish

I saw Deaf Wish a few weeks back at this great little show in Melbourne. The Stevens, EXEK, New War, Totally Mild, and Sugar Fed Leopards all played as well, but Deaf Wish were fucking standouts. Absolutely brilliant. It was loud, unhinged and magnetic, filed somewhere between The Men and Pissed Jeans – intelligent, desperate and gnashing rock ‘n’ roll.

Deaf Wish have their new album ‘Pain’ coming out August 7th. I’m pretty keen for it, and you should be to. So read the interview, peer into the soul of your new favourite band, and then grab a cup for all your drool to spill into until ‘Pain’ gets released.

R: Having been around for so long, how have you perceived changes in Melbourne’s music scene, and to a wider degree, Australia’s?

DW: Heckling has almost disappeared. Ten years ago I would look around the room and see the big personalities and just make a mental sidenote in preparation. So when they arked up I was ready. Mick’s here- he fucked a tiling job in Werribee on Wednesday, got him covered. Damo’ll probably fire one off, he drove into a parked car last weeeknd. It was part of the pre-game, make sure you go onstage armed up. Nowadays they just clap and whistle. I look at the stage floor and think: “What strange hell is this??”

R: It’s really hard to pinpoint or pigeonhole  you guys, especially on earlier records. Has unpredictability been a constant for Deaf Wish?

DW: Bunch of freaks jammed in a room for no real reason except to see what happens. Did you ever have one of those children’s science kits that have a picture of 8 years in lab coats curiously looking into a test tube? You open them up and just mix everything together trying to make something explode and then it does and you’ve burnt your face off and eaten magnesium? That’s Deaf Wish.

R: You all contribute vocals and songs to Deaf Wish – has that caused tension or has it worked as a positive, making the band multi-limbed?

DW: Multi-limbed like a Voltron! Cats for arms and cats for legs. No tension at all. It’s just the way it’s always been for us. No one is the boss, we all have a go.

R: How has recently reconvening in Melbourne affected the band?

DW: It’s cold here. Winter is long and dark and can make you sad. We love Melbourne. We have trams and footy ovals and no fucking sun for 4 months.

R: The first two songs from ‘Pain’ are super short – what is it about a simple, brutal song that makes you write that way?

DW: Rationing ideas. If a song has 3-4 changes, hey man! That’s 3-4 songs. Break em up.

R: ‘Pain’ is the first album on Sub Pop – how does it feel to be another link in a long line of Aussie bands signed to the label?

DW: Feels good.

R: How has working with Sub Pop differed from self releases and Homeless?

DW: Homeless did a one-off re-issue of our first LP before our last tour, it was handy on the road.  The self-released stuff was to avoid asking for a release when the state of the group was so confusing. I did it.  I was bad at it. Lazy, distracted. I enjoyed driving to all the stores and chatting about music with all the shop owners but then forgot about the money or the emails. On the other hand, having owned our own releases is great on the road, where the sales keep us rolling around.

R: “Eyes Closed” seems like on of the most gritty songs you guys have recorded since “Mum Gets Punched in the Face”. It feels like you’re goading a reaction from the listener, which is rare for a band nowadays, would you agree?

DW: File next to “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “Get In The Ring”

 R: Apparently everything on the album was recorded in three takes or less – was that something you specifically set out to do? Why not take more time with the record?

DW: I actually hate that this gets mentioned so much. It’s not important. We basically will go into a session and work ourselves up to a wild-eyed state and try to stay like that for as long as possible. We will do 2-3 takes of a song and move on to the next one. Any more than that, we start to hammer it flat. So if all three takes suck, we’ll come back to it later. It’s important to us not to get stuck when we are ripping them out. Got to keep moving through it, stay in the noise tunnel. That’s what I was trying to say with that. We also love layering harmonies and messing around with overdubs.  We all love Big Star so we are always trying to slot in more vocal layers.  I dont think this process is unusual for a band like us. I’m sure it is quite common, actually.

R: I managed to catch you at a rare show in Melbourne a few weeks back – are there any plans to make it up to Sydney and around Australia?

DW: Yes, I reckon over Summer would be a nice time to visit the beach! See what we can get happening. I love Sydney- nice bread and sea breeze, Triple 8 Chi-town, Wentworth, Cristian Sullivan and Jetta on the wing.

‘Pain’ is out August 7th on Sub Pop Records. Pre-order here.

 

Interview: Darts

Earlier this year, Melbourne-via-Bendigo fivesome Darts released their debut record through Rice is Nice Records. An acidic, vitriolic commandment of biting rock, Darts threw down the gauntlet, swaying vocally between angelic, and grinding fury. It was a headbanger, through and through.

When they were in Sydney, Darts’ co-vocalists Angus Ayres and Ally Campbell-Smith had a chit-chat about their album, turning a lack of confidence into a thrashing source of therapy, and the trials of growing up in Bendigo:

 

R: This isn’t the first Darts record, you’ve had other stuff. But you got rid of it, there’s nothing on the Internet about it.

Angus: The old stuff, we’d been around for a while, so it was a really more of a compilation of songs that were from different eras of the band. Whereas this record, we see it as more cohesive, and representative of how we want to sound.

R: What makes this more particularly definitive?

Ally: This is a bit more of a basis. The last EP, like Angus said, it was a lot of different periods, so this is a bit more concrete.

R: Do you think it was weird that it took so long, from 2009-2014, to develop that basis?

Angus: We hadn’t really thought about it too much. In 2009, we got “unearthed”, and we didn’t really consider trying to push ourselves. Someone telling us that we were alright, that pushed us to have a crack at recording some decent songs. I guess that period has meant we’ve had a slow build to where we are now.

Ally: It was a long process, we recorded the album three separate times.

R: What wasn’t right about the first two times?

Angus: They sounded good, but the environment we were in was very comfortable. We were in this guy’s bedroom in the outer suburbs so we had all the time in the world.

We thought once you put something out there, it’s out there forever. We wanted to put something out we were 100% proud of.

R: After recording so much – where there any points you thought you wanted to give up? 

Angus: You get really tired, and you have no money, but collectively, there was never a question of not finishing this record. We spent so much time on it, we were all very driven to complete it.

R: You said before that someone ‘told you’ that you were good, which I guess led to some high profile slots like Groovin’ the Moo and supporting Wavves. How do you reckon that affected you?

Angus: I’d say we’re a pretty low confidence band. Even if we’re playing a small room, and someone comes up to us and says they thought we were good, we’re blown away. We’re dumbfounded by it.

R: Do you think that non-confidence feeds itself into the aesthetic of the band?

Angus: All those feelings of being overwhelmed, it can lead to feeling hopeless, and that bottoming out sadness. And then when you feel that exhausted, it can turn into aggression, and that comes out through the record.

R: You guys are originally from Bendigo, and I find that a lot of great bands in Oz come from regional areas, like The Ocean Party and High-tails. Why do you think bands from isolated areas develop into something more unique and special?

Angus: I think in regional areas particularly, sport and football is a big thing for kids at that age. When I was 16, the first song that really connected with me was Bob Dylan’s “Lovesick”, and that feeling of a big famous person going through what you’re feeling at the time…that’s amazing. People from those regional areas, when they have to move to a city, it’s a different kind of isolation. You don’t know anyone, and it makes for interesting songwriting.

R: Do you think it’s because there’s extra steps to actually play music?

Angus: [In Bendigo] there were maybe three or four “alternative rock” bands. Every week, it’d be the same bands, at the same venue, in front of the same three people. And I remember when one band went to play in Melbourne, we all thought, “Oh they’re going places!”. It was a cool thing for us to think about.

R: Looking back, how are you viewing, ‘Below Empty & Westward Bound’, this baby of yours?

Angus: It’s interesting, we were very proud of it, but outside of that, anything is a bonus. It’s really amazing that it’s had a [good] response. There were moments in the studio, where we had ideas and thought, ‘Is that a bit too crazy?’ But we did it anyway, and now we have confidence going forward, and we’ll trust our instincts a bit more.

R: What would an example of that be?

Ally: There’s a lot of dueling parts in the songs, like “Below Empty”, where there’s just one guitar, and then whistling. Like, who whistles on a track?

Angus: And there would be three minute tracks turning into five minute tracks. Those were moments where it’s like, is that too much, is that too long?

Ally: Anything over three minutes feels long to us!

‘Below Empty & Westward Bound’ is out now through Rice is Nice Records – grab it here.

Interview: NO ZU

NO ZU is an electronic project like no other electronic project. Formed by Nicoolas Oogjes in 2007, and spurred by the “Heat-Beat”, NO ZU is completely indefinable, a broad mixture of horns, beats and exotic vibrancy.

NO ZU are teaming up with Sal of the legendary 80’s group Liquid Liquid, and playing a very special show at Goodgod Small Club, this Friday, January 30th. I caught up with Nick and Sal ahead of the show to chat about influences, staying independent, and the “Heat-Beat”.

R: You have an electronic version of the project – why do you have multiple versions of the same music? 

N: Well, the boring answer is logistics. One of us might go on a holiday, and we can only do it with a couple people. The other answer is that I don’t see it as any completely set membership – it’s always comfortably evolving and mutating. Keeping it that way, changing all the time, and moving back to a big band, which we’re about to do in Sydney, that keeps it a great and exciting project.

R: There can be a lot of members in NO ZU. What’s the largest amount of members that you’ve had?

N: Well, this one with Sal involves nine members, and we’ve gone up to 11 before. So, we try to set a record each time.

R: In terms of bringing more members on, or less, which one do you prefer?

N: I don’t know, they’re like my children. (laughs) You’re ruining the band, you’re making me choose between them!

Not to sound really hippie sounding, but I do see NO ZU as a lifestyle, and that’s why I have that joke “Heat-Beat is lifestyle” –it’s tongue in cheek, but it’s really how everybody feels. There’s no set membership, or which version is better – it was the same when I started the project by myself in 2007. It’s exactly the same band, even when there’s 11 people.

R: You use “Heat-Beat” a lot – what does that mean?

S: [NO ZU] gets the heat going. There’s a lot of creative friction, which makes a fire, which creates heat.

R: One of the most impressive elements is the eclecticism of NO ZU’s sounds – where do you find the sources for these sounds?

N: I try not to intellectualize it at all. I never listen to a song and think, oh, we need to get that drop beat in there, or, let’s get a bass line like that. It’s more about mood, and how music and different art forms have resonated with me and the other guys.

S: Influences are best digested when they’re fully presented. In that, we can’t really tell where they’re coming from. When you can’t really tell where they’re coming from, that’s because you’ve totally digested it, as opposed to just appropriating it. You’re totally inserted in the music.

R: Melbourne is very much considered a home for producers, but NO ZU doesn’t really fit in this scene, and it’s hard to pigeonhole you as anything. Is that how you prefer it?

N: Of course. It’s never about joining a club, or look over and think that you’re part of some movement. I don’t see any excitement in being involved in that.

We were excited to be part of Cut Copy’s [Ocean’s Apart] Melbourne Music compilation. But the thing that’s brought us together on that is that everyone’s an outsider. We share a similar ethos – open-mindedness from different periods of time, groovy music from weird places, obscure music and popular music mixed together in an unpretentious way.

R: How would you describe you’re collaborators for the Sydney show, Liquid Liquid?

N: One thing that strikes me is the really good balance we have in the set now. NO ZU is well known for being maybe overly-bombastic, and crazy.

S: Let’s say excitable!

N: Yeah! We’ve learnt to pull back, and it’s definitely a more considered groove, and it’s a nice dynamic to have in this set we’re working on. For want of a better word, it offers an eclectic experience.

S: It shows a certain continuity…in different feelings, in different forms of groove music. Music that more addressed that body than the mind.

 

Catch NO ZU and Sal P playing this Friday 30th of Jan at GoodGod Small Club. Tix here.

Interview: Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders

Jack Ladder is renowned for his tall figure and legendary baritone, but there’s really no comparison for when you meet the guy. Standing next to him, at my own paltry Oompa-Loompa height, my voice was like a mouse being fed through the highest pitch of auto-tune. It was like being in the presence of God, a booming, patient voice walking a mild ginger through one of the most anticipated albums of the year.

‘Playmates’ is Jack Ladder’s fourth album, coming off two previously AMP-nominated (and unfairly overlooked) records. With the release date looming, and an album launch approaching, your old mate sat down with one of the biggest legends of Sydney’s underground to talk about Rainbow Road, shitty psych music and Nick Cave comparisons.

 

R: ‘Playmates’ is the first time Kim Moyes [The Presets] has produced Jack Ladder, what do you think he brought to the record?

J: He brought his A-game (laughs). Or at least, his aesthetic. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I knew I wasn’t capable of pulling it off on my own. And Kim had worked with Kirin [J. Callinan] on his record, and I played bass on that…I’d actually met Kim a long time ago, when we opened for The Presets on their tour for their second EP or something.

R: Fuck, that’s a while back, I must’ve been 10 or something.

J: (laughs) Yeah, that was a while back, I was pretty young then as well. But I hadn’t seen Kim in a while, then I did the thing with Kirin, and I really liked the way he was working with him. I could see how that could work with what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to make a rock record-sounding album.

R: What’s the reason for going in a more synth-direction?

J: I don’t think of it as a “synth” record. I don’t think about music as a synths vs. guitars thing. I mean, there were lots of synths on the last record. I think of it more in terms of colours and space. I felt for this record I wanted to have a lot more space, and to do that we needed much more solid, specific arrangements. So every sound on this record counts. Whereas the last record had heaps of colour and surging (moves hands in explosion motion, makes rumbling sound, starts to laugh) I don’t know how you’re meant to transcribe that.

R: Small explosion sound.

J: (More explosion sounds) Well, the last record was more colourful, and this thing is much more pure sounding, and that was kind of the intention, to have arranged parts and definitive melodies.

R: So, if you had to be specific, what colour do you think this album is?

J: Well the last album was a monotone, with a fluorescent hue, whereas this one’s more Rainbow Road, Mario Kart thing…

R: The Rainbow Road of Albums.

J: It’s that fun, and that dangerous. You can really go off the edge on Rainbow Road.

R: What do you think The Dreamlanders bring to the Jack Ladder sound?

J: It’s more the headspace. Those guys, we’ve been working together and learning from each other for so long, we have an intrinsic understanding of weird ideas and a different kind of aesthetic. When I say I don’t want to make rock music, I don’t want to make…whatever they call it…”dole-wave”…I wanna make the opposite of that, I want to make something that takes you out of reality, that transcends. A virtual fantasy world…

R: Like ‘Dark City’ or something?

J: (laughing) Yeah! I mean, I like rock ‘n’ roll music, and I like going to different places in my head with music. I like Miyazaki films, like Studio Ghibli stuff, because it takes me to a different place, and I want to do that with music. That’s part of the appeal. Whereas playing in a band that tries to throw how boring the world is, and accentuate crappy…I’m not interested in that. If you could pick anything, why would you pick the most boring, easy thing to do?

R: So, you want to transcend, is that where the name The Dreamlanders comes from?

J: It’s actually a John Waters thing, that’s what he called his actors.

R: After the success of Kirin’s album, did you ever fear that he would have to go off and do his own thing, and he wouldn’t be able to be a part of Jack Ladder anymore?

J: I always knew he’d do his own thing. That’s how he started playing with us, he was opening our shows. He was always himself…and I encouraged that with Donny as well, and Laurence was in PVT before he joined the band. So it’s not a big deal for me, I think with that kind of freedom, it doesn’t scare anyone away. Kirin loves playing with those guys, and there’s a sense of brotherly affection. It’s not a chore, I never want it to be like that. Those people’s headspaces and their backgrounds is what helps make the music what it is.

R: So how will it go bringing the songs to a stage?

J: It’ll be fine, everyone’s a great player, and we like to play with each other. We’re not replicating the record live, it’s about having a good time, and playing good music. Creating some sort of transcendental, spiritual connection with your audience…like the Donny Benet Show Band!

R: Speaking of, at the Donny Benet album launch, you sang your part in this loose-fitting suit and sunglasses. Is that the sort of thing that will happen at the launches?

J: Well, we’re playing small rooms, it’s pretty casual…But we’ll have headpieces…silk suits…a tiara for Kirin…Laurence can have an astronaut suit.

R: At what point did you want to create your own record label?

J: I guess I always wanted to do that. I put so much into my own records – I do all the design, work on the videos – that it feels weird to give it away to a label when you get so little in return. It’s like, I’ll create my life’s work, and just give it you, and you can give me my quarterly returns of what you haven’t recouped, because you put a few ads in the street press. It’s not very fair. If I put all the work in, I may as well put in a bit extra work, and bit extra money, and try and own as much of what I’ve done as possible.

R: With the album, there’s a lot of alienation and patterns, why do you want to create that sort of music?

J: I think what I do is very simple. At the core of it, I don’t want to do anything boring. It’s a need to communicate your ideas, which is pretty much why anyone does anything creative. You create the world around the idea…you create it with the things you surround yourself with. I’m inspired by lots of different things, lots of different types of music, and that’s given me so much in my life, so you try and give back.

I like clarity of an idea. I don’t like psychedelic music, to be honest, I think it’s full of shit. Even the really successful psychedelic music, or what people are labeling it…that’s just really great pop music. But I don’t like it when it’s blurry bad ideas, where no one has gone, “Maybe that’s not such a good idea”. There’s a lot of dirgy rock music, where someone thinks they’ve got…someone starts moaning and words start to form, like they’ve just learned to talk or something.

Smart people that can communicate their life with a sense of humour and fun…the dumbest ideas are often the best songs. A dumb idea isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Like Lou Reed wrote a lot of great songs based around not necessarily brilliant concepts…the way they tell the story, their nuance is funny, it’s a bit sad and that’s, to me, a good song.

R: So do you translate that into your own music?

J: Well, you learn the ideas. I don’t want to poo on the music industry, but people take the aesthetic of things, and this is how things go bad. There’s a bunch of intellectual, interesting writers who started punk, like Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell, and then people just rip off the aesthetic without doing any research or knowing where they’re coming from, and it just ends up in Kmart. If people could just learn to understand the concepts of what the originators were actually thinking about, then you could actually learn something, as opposed to copying what someone wears and the drugs someone takes.

R: Finally, a lot of people, unfortunately, compare you to Nick Cave. And you’re real name is Tim Rogers…

J: Yeah, You Am I. And my middle name’s Ken, so Kenny Rogers. So, born under a bad name, I guess.

R: And you also had Expatriate when you first began. How do move away from those comparisons, into something people can recognize as completely individual?

J: I think that’s a local thing. When I go to America, people go “Oh, he sounds like Nick Cave!”, there’s still that respect. In Australia, especially in the underground, people are kind of sick of his shtick. And unfairly! People here give kudos to a lot of rubbish things, and have started thinking Nick Cave’s too mainstream. But what he’s doing is still really relevant, and subversive in the world of rock music, as an elder statesman.

I have no problem being compared to Nick Cave, as long as people have the right attitude about it. You can be pretty easily dismissed. …Nick Cave’s written some great songs, and you can’t dismiss the guy.

But I was watching one of the videos from ‘Push the Sky Away’, and you should never look at the comments, but someone said, ‘This guy just wants to be Johnny Cash’. Imagine being in your mid-50’s and putting out 20 albums, and some arsehole says you just want to be Johnny Cash, (laughing) it’s like what the fuck do you have to do?

When I saw that, I thought that you can be the shit version of something, or you can want to create work that is as good as the people you look up to. Everyone I’ve liked has always been the shit version of…Bob Dylan was a plagiarist of Woody Guthrie, and Bruce Springsteen was the shit version of Bob Dylan…I don’t think about it too much, the only way that people will stop saying that is if I make a lot of records and good music.

 

‘Playmates’ is out this Friday, November 7th. Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders launch the record that night at Northcote Social Club with Laura Jean. The homecoming show comes the week after, at Newton Social Club, with Geoffrey O’Connor. 1,2,3, let’s get social!

Interview: Frightened Rabbit

I first fell in love with Frightened Rabbit in Year 10. That’s more or less the point in which I discovered that there was more to music than Green Day and 50 Cent. Frightened Rabbit were one of the first indie bands to really catch my attention, because they didn’t just go for the well-worn jangle bullshit. They wrote soulful stuff, and after a quick listen to ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’ or ‘The Loneliness & the Scream’, I was infatutated. So, I was stoked when I got to send over a couple questions to Grant Hutchinson, the drummer for Frightened Rabbit, and ask him about the band.
R: Last year, you claimed that Australian bookers didn’t like you, and then all of a sudden you played Groovin’ the Moo (great show by the way! I was second row for it!) And are coming back next year for Laneway. Did the outburst attract a lot more attention?
G: The outburst certainly worked! It wasn’t planned that way we were just a little frustrated that we’d played Australia so many times and from our fans on Twitter and FB there seemed to be a demand for us to play gigs there but nobody wanted to take the risk and book us. Thankfully someone at Groovin’ The Moo was kind enough to have us along and we all had a bloody great time!
R: You guys have quite the relationship with Laneway festival, having played in 2010, and in the debut Detroit version of the festival. What attracts you so much to playing with Laneway? Do you enjoy the boutique feel?
G: Laneway have consistently come up with seriously strong lineups over the years. What I like is they have stuck to what they like and not sold out and given in to booking more commercial bands simply to shift tickets. That’s not something you see a lot of with festivals. Especially not a festival that has grown from nothing into what Laneway now is. I love the smaller boutique festivals. I prefer to see bands in more intimate surroundings and usually these festivals have better food selection and nicer beers on offer which is always good!!
R: Coming from Scotland, was it an interesting process gaining traction as a band with your unique brand of music? And what advice would you give to bands that are trying to break from a relatively obscure place with a niche sound, such as yourselves?
G: Although our sound is unique I also think it’s quite universally inclusive. We’re not doing anything massively experimental and Scott always uses lyrical themes which I think are easily relatable to most people’s experiences. When we play shows there’s a togetherness that you don’t see everywhere and that helps when you’re trying to get people’s attention. One thing I would say to any band is don’t compromise who you are at all. Stick to what you believe even if the other option seems more attractive at the time. Also to get where we are today wasn’t always easy and if you aren’t willing to put in the hours of work that come with it then just stop now because as well as a little luck you need to put in a lot of hard graft too.
R: On the topic of niche sounds, I was curious about what the writing process was for the lyrics. What’s the usual inspirations, both in terms of style and the lyrics themselves?
G: The lyrics are all still written by Scott. Although the last record was more collaborative musically we left the lyrics alone as I think it’s important there is still that strain of familiarity running through all the songs. Also I’m shit a writing creatively so the songs would really suffer if I tried! With the previous albums Scott has focused very much on himself but with Pedestrian Verse the focus definitely shifted more outward and concentrated a lot more on the themes of other people’s lives.
R: And with recording, I’ve noticed that your songs tend to be very, very full with lot’s of music being involved in the process of even just one song. How does one keep track, or when coming up with the various parts for a song, or even figure out what’s going to work with what?
G: This record was far more a band effort and having all those different sources of creativity makes for a very interesting recording process. You can never really tell if something is going to work for sure or not until you try it. It’s not like we’re just guessing and hoping for the best but we spent a lot of time making sure each part on this record was necessary to the song rather than just adding more layers and parts for the fun of it. We made that mistake with the album before and I think it was really bogged down in sound.
R: Speaking of new material, because ‘Pedestrian Verse’ was released earlier this year, and you guys are pretty prolific, is there any chance of new music on the horizon?
G: Of course! We plan on writing the new record in 2014 and hope to release it 2015. Due to the writing process changing on the last record and adjusting to a new label this album took a little longer than we would have liked and we want to avoid that this time so we’ll be looking to release some new material at the end of the year and a full new LP not long after that.
R: After being on a bunch of labels, you signed to Atlantic in 2010, Being signed to a major label, and being associated with the indie music scene, do people or fans ever give you grief over that decision?
G: When we initially announced the move we had a few doubters voicing their opinions online but nothing too serious. I think most of our fans had faith in us to do what was true to the band and not to be moulded in to something we are not comfortable with. On top of that Atlantic were signing a band on their 4th record knowing full well that’s how we felt so it was never part of their agenda to change anything about the band either. The longer the album writing process dragged on the more worried we all got about the major label stories you hear about so often but the reason it took so long was that everyone just wanted to get it right. We didn’t want to give anyone the option of writing that being on a major had really fucked up the band and our career!!
R: Finally, as a band, how do you shy away from becoming stale with your music?
G: Time off is as important as being on tour when you’re as busy as we have been this year. We’ve spent so much time together and so much time concentrating on the band that when we’re not on the orad it’s important to do other things and concentrate on having a more normal lifestyle than touring gives you. It means when we hit the road again with the new record even the old songs will feel new to us as we won’t have played them for a little while. It’s always interesting to work with new people too as this can give you a new viewpoint on something that you thought you’d hit a brick wall with. This could be different musicians, engineers or producers and I will certainly try and do a bit more of that at the start of next year.
Frightened Rabbit are playing Laneway Festival, in February of next year, along with HAIM, Lorde, Savages and Kurt Vile. I’m going, and you should put down whatever you’re doing right now and buy tickets. Frightened Rabbit are also playing sideshows, 5th of February at The Palace in Melbourne, and 6th of February at the Metro in Sydney.

Interview: The Seabellies

A while ago, (and I do mean a while ago), I did an interview with indie rock crew The Seabellies, or more accurately, their frontman Trent Grenell. Unfortunately, I kind of got carried away with that whole HSC exam thing, and its taken me a fair while to get the interview up and running. However, it did provide quite a bit of insight into the recording of their new album ‘Fever Belle’, the hard work that goes into recording such a thing, and what it means to have stuck around for so long. Therefore, I present the full interview with Trent Grenell, frontman for Sydney indie rock darlings The Seabellies.

R: Hey man, how you doing? Whereabouts are you right now?

T: I’m in Bondi, just sorting out the promo stuff for the album.

R: Oh yeah, you must be pretty pumped about that?

T: Aww yeah, it’s been a long journey this album (laughs)

R: How long did it take to record?

T: Recording was well, it’s a bit of a weird one. Started recording in Sydney at the very start of last year. And then I had a bit of a freakout in my life, and I ran away from the record for quite a while. I had a bad break-up, so I ran away to Africa for a while. By the time I was feeling better, I had to go to Berlin with Berkfinger, the producer. He had a new studio, so we finished up the record then. It ended up being about seven months

R: How did you stick that out?

T: well, the studio time in the end was probably only about five weeks or something. Tracking was done in about two and a half weeks. But I wasn’t really ready to have another go at the vocals for a while, until about August that year.

It was really different experience to the first record, where everything was bookended in. This time around, the lyrics changed by the time we got around to doing vocals.

R: Did you want to have a more accurate reflection of what was actually going on in your life, as opposed to a year ago?

T: Yeah a little bit, there’s a couple tracks on there where the song lyrics are two-sided, not just a pure-loss thing. I wanted to show both sides of the coin. This time as well, it was the first time I’d written…not first person, but kind of out of body. Just imagining those kinds of scenarios, because I’d never experienced them. And then all of a sudden, they happened to me. So I was able to more accurately go back and capture what I’d been imagining all this time.

R: When I was listening to the record, it did seem very intimate and personal, so you’d say it was like that?

T: Yeah, all the songs are pretty personal. I still have this natural leaning towards making things a little surreal. But yeah, it is personal. Sometimes it might get a little flowery, but most of the songs are autobiographical.

R: There’s a dichotomy to the nature of the record, with these intimate songs, like ‘Its Alright’, and then you have these epic songs tying down the record, like ‘Paper Tiger’. Can you walk me through that?

T: Well, we’ve always been like that. We’ve always been a diverse band. Lots of different rhythms, lots of different melodies, lots of different shades. I grew up listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin, and on every album, they always covered a lot of ground.

So, yeah, we really wanted to have an album with dynamics. But in the writing process, it just sort of happened. It was never like, ‘OK, now we’re going to do that big song’, it was more like we’d knock one over and think to try something a little different.

(laughing) So, in the process we definitely tried a lot of stuff, some of it worked, some of it didn’t.

R: With the writing and recording, did you decide that you wanted to do something different all the time, and work your way up from there?

T: We locked ourselves in a room in Melbourne for five weeks, and we had a residency down there, at the start of 2011. We locked ourselves in a room and mapped out the bare bones.

But it always changes, I don’t think a single song we’ve ever written ends up like it started. We started working with Berkfinger, and everything changed from there. We also had this guy Tim Whitten producing as well.

R: How’d you meet up with Berkfinger?

T: I met Berkfinger after he finished up with Philadelphia Grand Jury. I met him at this marketplace in Berlin, and we just go chatting . I told him that we had this new bunch of songs we wanted to record, and he expressed interest, and we went from there. He rang us up and said, ‘How about a dual producer approach?’

He brought in Tim Whitten, who’s produced some of the best records.

Berkfinger wanted to sit in on us, and watch us play, and focus on our live performance, and Tim sat behind the control desk and made sure the sonics were great. That’s how we did it. Berkfinger tried all these crazy recording techniques and wired the studio, and Tim would just oversee it all. It really worked.

R: As the singer for The Seabellies, do you write all the lyrics, or is it a collaborative process?

T: I usually write most of them. My brother [Kyle Grenell] sometimes chips in, but usually the writing falls to me. With the exception of the last track of the record, which is a collaboration between Eddie [Garvin, the bassist] and myself, I did the lion’s share.

R: What about the music?

T: I think all the main ideas start from one person and then gradually filter through to the rest of the band. But its pretty much a group effort. Someone builds a piece, and then we build the rest of the song around that piece.

R: As a pretty big band [five members as of now], you’ve been going hard since 2006.

T: Yeah, we’ve done a lot of touring. With a little time off here and there, we’ve been touring straight for five years. We needed a bit of a rest to get re-inspired.

R: Sounds pretty rough, but do you enjoy the live aspect?

T: Yeah, we still love it. Just thinking about all the bands we’ve played with over the years, in the Sydney scene and Melbourne scene, and thinking about how there’s hardly anyone left. It feels like we’re the most stubborn band in the world.

R: Who do you think the best band you’ve ever played with has been?

T: I don’t know, probably The Pixies. We played V Festival early in our career, and it was the best lineup, had The Pixies and Groove Armada, it had everybody.

In terms of Australian bands, fuck I don’t know how I can answer that. I mean some bands we hung out with went on to do great things, and others just packed it in. Meanwhile, we’ve just been plugging away in the middle somewhere. We used to play with The Temper Trap quite a bit, and Tame Impala a few times. Those bands are just kicking so many goals at the moment.

R: So you’ve seen it go either way?

T: Yeah, well Sydney got really hard about four to five years ago. With all the venues closing, the scene definitely changed. The bands we used to play with all the time, like Parades, we used to get gigs with them all the time, and then everything just started falling away.

We understood though, we were really frustrated with the industry as well, the lack of funds and support. I don’t know what we were doing, but we managed to stick with it, and I’m glad we did because I really like this album.

R: There’s a lot of instrumentation on the record in the songs, like strings and that sort of stuff. How do you think that will go down when touring the record?

T: We’ve just started adding a few more songs into our live show on the last tour, and I’m sure we’ll implement that on the upcoming tour. We’ve figured out ways to cover some of it, but I think we’re going in with the attitude that the record is a different platform, and there are different sets of rules.

We wanna make the recorded version last forever, but the live show’s a different beast. We try to incorporate as much as we can, but its basically impossible for some of the songs. We do a lot of sampling and a lot of sequencing, but we’ll never be able to cover that spectrum of sound.

R: Alright, well finally, what does the future hold?

T: The immediate plan is to do a lot of touring for this record. We’ve got our biggest tour to date coming up, so that’s really ambitious. As for next year, we’ll be doing a lot of touring, and have our eyes on going back overseas.

R: Well that sounds amazing, good luck with the record and the touring!

‘Fever Belle’ is out now through Shock Records. The Seabellies are playing Good God, Saturday December 14.

Interview: Blitzen Trapper

sgfgI’m a massive fucking fan of Portland-based alt-country act Blitzen Trapper. Oh, and just to clarify, when I say ‘Alt-country’, I don’t mean Keith Urban talking about how much his mum sucks. I’m talking about bands like Deer Tick, Wilco, and Fruit Bats; bands that utilise a sort of country sound and style to go onto weirder, greater and definitely not racist things (suffice to say, this isn’t a country music blog). Anyway, Blitzen Trapper have just released their fantastic seventh record, logically entitled ‘VII’. You can read my review of it here. Anyway, the other day, I got to ring up Blitzen Trapper main man Eric Earley and listen to his drawl for a couple minutes. And goddamn was it a sexy drawl…

R: Hello…Hello is this Eric?

E: Uh, yeah, yeah it is, how you doing?

R: My name’s Ryan, it’s good to talk to you man, big fan of Blitzen Trapper.

E: Uh, yeah, yeah.

R: Are you in Portland right now? 

E: Uh, no, we’re in New York City right now.

R: What are you doing over in New York?

E: Well, were half-way through the first tour right now.

R: Congratulations, it’s a very fantastic album man…

E: Thanks very much, I appreciate that.

R: Now, this is the 7th record, which you’ve handily pointed out by calling it ‘VII’. Do you see any particular reason how the band have been able to stick around for so long and evolve a sound that seems quite niche, where there have been so many bands that have fallen off the face of the earth?

E: Uh, I don’t know man, I guess it’s the live music element, it’s all the touring, and playing live and stuff, and that’s…that’s sorta the important thing nowadays. I don’t know, I guess, I just keep writing songs… and I guess if I wasn’t writing as many songs, we wouldn’t be playing so much.

R: I read that you write the majority of the band’s music. How much would you say, approximately, you write? 

E: I write all of it.

R: All of it? Like, the lyrics, the instrument parts, all of it?

E: Yeah, all the chords, all of it…

R: Fuck, that’s awesome man.

E: (laughs)

R: Do you make a conscious effort to use a lot of instruments in Blitzen Trapper’s sound, to create a weirder vibe.

E: It depends on the song, I think. Y’know, some of the song’s are, like, simple, and other songs, I like to do a lot of different things. It just depends really.

R: Well, I feel that personally, just listening to ‘VII’, it’s got a lot more of a fun-loving Blitzen Trapper sound, more like ‘Wild Mountain Nation’ [Blitzen Trapper’s 2007 album] than ‘Furr’ [Blitzen Trapper’s breakout 2008 record]. Would that be correct?

E: Uh, yeah, maybe. I don’t know. We wanted it to be different to the last record [2011’s ‘American Goldwing’], there’s a lot more weird stuff kinda stuff. Yeah, it’s kinda more sounds from all over the place, as far as, different eras, different genres, stuff like that.

R: What would you say inspired this kind of more upbeat sound? In your guys lives, what was going on? Or did it just naturally occur like that?

E: Yeah, it was kind of just, y’know stuff I was into when we started writing…

R: What kind of stuff were you into?

E: Uhh, just a lot of groovy music, like hip-hop and country music basically…

R: I did hear a bit of hip-hop in the record…

E: Yeah, like old-school Wu-Tang, stuff like that. And I mean, there was a lot of the older folky stuff, y’know.

R: Cool man. Now, my personal favourite thing about Blitzen Trapper is the lyrics. What would be the process that goes into writing? I remember, the first song that I ever heard by you guys, which is still one of my favourite tracks, was ‘Black River Killer’ [from 2008’s ‘Furr’]. The thing that took me with that song was just the lyrics, and how dark they were. How do you get into the headspace?

E: I don’t know man, I think I just like telling a good story (laughs). I don’t know, I don’t really try. Most songs I write really fast, and the story just kinda comes, and I just sorta mould it I guess. Y’know, I mean, it’s like any story, a lot of it is based on real stuff for the most part, or real people or whatever. But I like to write stories, which I turn into songs.

R: Has it always been that way, just love to write stories as a kid? Did it seem as though being a musician was the natural progression of that?

E: Oh yeah, definetely. And my dad told a lot of crazy stories, so I grew up wanting to do the same thing.

R: With the lyrics, you write all of them?

E: Yeah, I wrote all of them.

R: The songs, they’re just very attractive, very old-school story-teller vibes. Have you always had that sort of atmosphere?

E: (Laughs) I don’t know, maybe.

R: Now, final question. The way I discovered you guys was through Sub Pop Records. However, I noticed that this latest album is coming out on Vagrant Records. Did the band and Sub Pop have a falling out?

E: No, we had a three record deal, and it came to the end of our contract, the deal was up, and, uh, we were just looking around for someone to put out the next record, and yeah, found them.

R: Yeah? And how come you went with Vagrant Records, as opposed to someone else? 

E:  They gave us a good offer, and they liked the stuff we put out previously. So…

R: Alright mad. Okay I lied, this is the final question: do you have any current plans to come to Australia to tour the record?

E: Hopefully yeah, I think we’ll be over there next year.

R: All right! Well, I’ll definetely be in the crowd for that.

E: (Laughs) Right on man, hahaha.

R: That’s all from me man, thanks for taking the time out to talk to me.

E: No worries. Take it easy.

‘VII’ is out now through Shock Records. Buy it here, it’s a fucking dope record.