Category Archives: Features

Olly Knight of Turin Brakes: “This is the ultimate Turin Brakes album”

turin brakes

TWELVE YEARS after their debut, Turin Brakes’ new album We Were Here sees the band going full circle. Singer-guitarist Olly Knights explains.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever made a record that takes into context the records we’ve already made,” he says. “Normally we just go for future-facing progression at all costs. Progression is great, but if you keep just trying to be different eventually you lose something, whether it be your audience or the thing that made you special. We wondered what would happen if we made a record now that had the same kind of sonic and emotive ideas as our first album. We thought that might be more interesting, and in a way this is the ultimate Turin Brakes album. We’ve put ourselves in the fans’ shoes for a second, and tried to make the record they would want. The reaction in the UK has been exactly what we hoped for; a lot of old fans feeling like we’ve made the record they always wanted us to make, and it has that same mid-seventies feel as The Optimist.”

The folk-rock duo, consisting of Knights and Gale Paridjanian, went as far as using reel-to-reel tapes in search of sounds of old.

“It was how we made our first record,” he says. “Then computers got better and faster after that, so we left the reel-to-reels behind. Computers can be both good and bad for music. On this record we felt we wanted to get away from the cut and paste nature of a computer; you can spend too much time tweaking things to death whereas with tape you can’t. It’s very healthy to simply have to get it right and move on. For some bands who have grown up with computers it wouldn’t make sense, but the whole point with Turin Brakes is that we can just get into a room and play a song, and we wanted to make a record that made use of that.”

Australian fans of the band shouldn’t have to wait too long for the chance to see them in the flesh.

“There’s talk now of hopefully getting down there in Australian winter, 2014,” he says. “We had such a great experience earlier in the year when we came over. It felt like there were still a lot of Turin Brakes fans in Australia, so it was really wonderful for us.”


Tord Øverland-Knudsen of The Wombats: “At our first practice we all had massive hangovers”

The Wombats

NEW year’s eve for Wombats bassist Tord Øverland-Knudsen normally means snow and family times in his native Norway.

The band’s upcoming appearance at Falls Festival will change all that.

“On a personal level it’s going to be strange,” he said. “I’ve never been away from Norway for New Year’s Eve; I’ve always been back with my family. I’m always home for a white Christmas and a really cold winter, so it’s going to be really weird to not have snow around I think. We’re really looking forward to the shows – Australia is our favourite part of the world to play in, and playing a big gig on New Year’s Eve is going to be pretty special. We’ve done a few pretty hot shows in America and Dubai and different places, so hopefully we can cope.”

The Liverpool-based trio have kept themselves relatively out of the spotlight in recent months, with work on a new album already under way.

“We’ve been in Liverpool working on new songs,” Øverland-Knudsen said. “We’ve been making the demos and trying to finish the third album. We’ve been to LA to record one song properly, and we’ve done a few gigs here and there in between. We went to Brazil, which was a nice experience; we did some headline shows in fairly small venues in both São Paulo and Rio. It was the first time we’ve been there and it was amazing; the gigs were packed and people knew our songs, which was kind of crazy. Hopefully we’ll finish the writing this year and record half of it before Christmas, and the other half in January, with the idea of a release around March or April, but you never know with these things. It depends on when producers are available and stuff like that as well.”

It has been a long road from when the band first got together in 2003 for them to arrive at the synth-led sound they are now known for.

“We met in university,” Øverland-Knudsen said. “At our first practice we all had massive hangovers, and in the beginning we were just really crap, but I’d like to think we’re not crap any more. Murph’s song-writing is still recognisable in the early stuff, but it was more like Pixies or Weezer; except more garage-y and immature, and his voice was softer and more high-pitched in the early days. After we released our first album we didn’t stop touring for about two and a half years, and we only wrote one song in that space of time. I think we almost forgot how to write a song, and I think you have to keep doing it for a while before you can make anything good. We had to get refreshed, take a month without doing anything with The Wombats, then get down to writing again.”

We wanted to do something different, and there was only so much we could do as a three-piece, and that’s when we brought the synths in. We had a couple of synths in a practice room and brought a couple more in because we didn’t know much about them before we started experimenting with them. After we wrote more and more songs, they became an integral part of most other songs, and it’s really great that we got to learn how to handle them. We’ll still be using them on the third record. I think that as soon as you experiment with something it’s really hard to go back – especially in the studio. I really love experimenting and using technology, but maybe at some point we’ll get really bored of that and just do a guitar album again, just the three of us.”

The band’s upcoming appearances at Falls, a New Year’s Day set at Field Day, and a gig at Southbound Festival on January 4th will allow Australian fans to sample new material.

“We’re really looking forward to coming back and doing some big gigs,” Øverland-Knudsen says. “We haven’t done that many shows recently, and it’s really exciting to be able to play some of the new songs. It’s going to be nerve-wracking as well; it always is with new songs, but it will be great to play them live in a place that we know appreciates our live shows. We’re really looking forward to it.”


Cody Chesnutt: “The second album was about redemption, without question”

cody chesnutt

WITH A STYLE and approach often likened to Prince, Cody Chesnutt’s music is anything but boring.

“Prince writes the music the way he feels it, and I subscribe to that as well,” he says. “Creatively, there are certain similarities – the diversity and uninhibited expression. The initial writing process is always the same – me and an acoustic instrument, be it a piano or guitar. My aim is to always get the song first; get a very clear vision of what the song is and what I think it should say, then open it up to other musicians and see how the colour in the painting, so to speak. I remember how Aretha Franklin was taken to Muscle Shoals and found all these great musicians, and I began to think I could do the same thing, so I went down there and found my band. There was so much talent. I met my drummer and he knew the keyboard player, the guitar player, and a huge pool of people in the scene, and it came together in a very organic way. I’m thankful for what they all brought to the record.”

Chesnutt speaks candidly about the ten year period between his 2002 debut Headphone Masterpiece and follow-up Landing On A Hundred, including adultery and becoming a father.

“The second album was about redemption, without question,” he says. “But not just for myself. I wanted other people to have their own experience of redemption and I wanted that album to aid people in their own redemptive process and for it to be a part of a healing process. I wanted to understand my role as a father and a family man, and a lot of different things. I took time to grow as a person, and I wanted that growth to be creative too. It was really about making sure I was ready to expose myself again, and making sure I had something to say; something that I could commit myself to.”

An upcoming Australian tour is the start of a busy few months for the Atlanta native.

“I’m beginning to wrap my head around some new songs,” he says. “I have material that I feel strongly about, so I’ll definitely have another album soon. A lot of people have just discovered my last record, so I’ll be touring it as much as possible for the next few months, then I might do some soundtrack work for movies or things like that. What I tell people is to come is to come to my shows with an open mind and an open heart. That’s really all I can ask for.”


Laura Silverman of Cirque du Soleil’s The Immortal: “It’s Cirque du Soleil meets rock-pop concert”

Michael Jackson

MAINTAINING the musical legacy of Michael Jackson is no small feat, but Cirque du Soleil’s new show is up to the task, says stage manager Laura Silverman.

“It’s extremely important to us,” she says. “It’s interesting because most people in the world, even if they aren’t huge Michael Jackson fans, know at least a couple of his songs, and when you watch our show and hear the songs you know and maybe a few more you didn’t know were his, you realise how vast his musical catalogue is. There are also moments when you just hear his voice, and you realise when you take away the sequin gloves, the moonwalk, and all the headlines and everything, he still was such a talented musician. His talent can give you chills; he changed the entertainment industry forever, and everyone involved in the show is grateful for the chance to carry on his legacy. We want the audience to enjoy Michael’s music from the early days of the Jackson 5, to his later hits from just before he died.”

The Michael Jackson: The Immortal show brings together the best of Jackson’s music and all the elements that Cirque du Soleil is known for.

“It’s Cirque du Soleil meets rock-pop concert,” she says. “Fans will see all the acrobatic elements they know Cirque for, and of course Michael Jackson’s music. There are a lot of his dance moves in the show, his iconography, his costumes, his messages, and his voice. We were given unprecedented access to all his original master tracks, and what you’re hearing is Michael’s voice from the original tracks played with a live band, so you feel like you’re at one of his concerts. When you put those two entities together you come up with something pretty wild.”

“Michael was always a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil,” she continues. “He saw one of the very first shows in Santa Monica California in the eighties, and then in 2007 he visited our headquarters in Montreal and just fell in love with it. He got lost in the costume department and met a bunch of the artists. They planned to one day work together, but unfortunately the opportunity didn’t come up, and then his estate approached Cirque du Soleil and decided this was the best way to create a show to celebrate him. We wanted to create a show that would pay tribute to his legacy, and who he was as an artist, and also that he himself would have loved and would have wanted to be a part of.”

Putting together a touring show of this size hasn’t been without headaches for the organisers.

“This show was designed specifically for arenas, and to feel much more like a concert than any other show,” she says. “The other shows that we’ve put on have been designed with the traditional big top in mind, so this throws up a whole new set of challenges. What we’ve found is when you’re touring at the pace that this show has been, you can have ‘big’, but you might not be able to have ‘that big’ as we’re going in and out of trucks twice or three times a week, and you have maybe only half a day to set everything up. So there are technical and logistical liberties that needed to be made to make the show as big as we wanted, but also be something that could travel as much as we need to. In the end we found a happy medium to get everything we wanted. There are 124 touring members, including 49 artists and all the support staff, from management, wardrobe, technicians and so on, and we hire about 150 locals in each city. The creative process for the show was about a year and half, which compared to other Cirque shows is quite short. This show was put together in about a year, then the artists spent just over four months learning their parts, so it’s still a fairly long process to get it up and running.”

The famously guarded Jackson family have given the show their blessing, adding that all-important element of authenticity.

“They were very supportive from the start,” she says. “Michael’s mother, kids, and brothers came out to the world premiere in Montreal in 2011. They came to the premiere in Vegas as well, and his brothers came to Montreal during the rehearsal process to meet with the artists and creators. They’ve always been supportive of it, and told us that Michael would have loved this show, which is what we hoped for.”


George Sheppard of Sheppard: “We’re like normal siblings in that we have tiffs now and then”


BEING IN A BAND with two of your sisters may seem like a nightmare to some, but it’s all in a day’s work for George Sheppard.

“It’s not too hard, to be honest,” he says. “When we first decided to start a band together I was a bit hesitant, and we’re like normal siblings in that we have tiffs now and then, but it’s all over quickly and it’s like it didn’t happen. I find it easier in that sense, because if you’re in a band with your friends an argument can leave a bad taste in your mouth or bad energy in the air, but with them it’s over with in two seconds and it’s back to normal. The only people I ever have arguments with are my sisters, so it’s pretty easy.”

“Amy started the band,” he says. “She began singing from a very early age, and it wasn’t until I was about seventeen when she asked me to sing harmonies for songs she had written. Then I started helping her write the songs, and we came up with a few cool little numbers. Soon after Jay came on board; he’s an accomplished songwriter and guitarist I met in Sydney, and he added a lot to our song-writing. We realised we needed to play live, so we auditioned Michael for the guitar, and my younger sister Emma decided to learn bass, and in January we added our drummer Dean. We started playing eighteen months ago, and the current line-up has been together since January.”

The Brisbane indie-poppers’ single ‘Let Me Down Easy’ is the band’s most well-known song, and has been getting considerable radio play of late.

“It was released last August when we put out our EP,” he says, “but it’s only been in the last five or six weeks that it’s been picked up on commercial radio, so it’s all happening for us now. It’s pretty much a break-up song, but it’s different to most break-up songs because it’s funky and happy, which is strange for such depressing subject matter. The reaction to the song has blown our expectations out of the water; we’ve had all different ages of people interested in our music. We’ve had videos sent to us of three year-olds singing along to ‘Let Me Down Easy’, and we’ve had seventy year-olds e-mailing us telling us that they love our music. We love to know that people are enjoying what we’re doing; we get mostly positive reaction through our Facebook and Twitter. There are heaps of bands who don’t really care if people like their music or not, but it’s really nice for us to know that our tunes are being enjoyed, and that we’re a positive part of people’s lives.”

In an unexpected turn of events, it was a radio station on the West Coast of America that gave the band their break.

“There’s a huge market over there,” he says. “We had a guy who runs a radio show pick up our song, and we scored a spot on his playlist in Portland. He picked up ‘Let Me Down Easy’, and it was the first commercial radio station in the world to play us, which was a massive deal. We got to number one on their most requested track list, among some huge names like Fun and The Lumineers. We did some shows over there supporting Atlas Genius, and we sold out a 1600 capacity venue, which was a moment I’ll never forget. We’ve done so many awesome gigs; South Africa was probably the most memorable as it was the first big festival stage we had ever played on. Our manager Michael Chugg pretty much threw us in the deep end, as it was in the middle of the wilderness, like something out of the Lion King; just this giant dust bowl.

The band will be playing a show at Brisbane’s Eatons Hill Hotel in June, but it won’t be a conventional Sheppard gig.

“This will be a funny one, as we’re doing a semi-acoustic show,” he says. “We’re going to have all the instruments, although we’ll have to tone down the drum kit a bit; Dean will have to be on brushes or something. It’s going to be very different from every other show we’ve played, that’s for sure, but we try to do that with every show we do; make it a little bit different or add something new every time, so people coming back can expect something different. It’s a big venue with a great reputation for live music, and we’ll take it as a challenge. A lot of our songs translate well acoustically so it’s going to be a groovy, chilled-out afternoon.”

As well as playing a number of hotels and bars, the young band have recently been on a tour of Australia’s high schools, which has seen some new rules being introduced.

“Man, the kids are amazing,” he says. “I expected to have some smart-alec kids here and there booing us or whatever, but they get right into it. Now I totally understand, because I would have loved a band to come to our school, and it’s an excuse for them to get out of class. We also get to do a workshop with them afterwards, and they can ask us questions about the industry, and watch us set up and sound check, so it’s a real learning experience. We can’t play ‘I’m Not A Whore’, and we find alternatives for a couple of swear words, but for the most part it’s really relaxed. The obvious rules are no swearing and always being courteous, although we’re not allowed to hug the students front-on. We do signings after the show and a lot of the students want a hug, but we’re only allowed to do side hugs. We thought it was funny, but rules are rules!”

While high school shows are earning the band legions of new fans, George has an eye on bigger stages.

“If I had a choice I would have Coldplay’s career,” he says. “I saw their live show, and it’s just such an unbelievable spectacle. To be able to put on something of that magnitude would be a dream come true for us, and that’s the level I’d like to see the band get to eventually. Personally I’ve always been a huge fan of big, atmospheric rock music like Kings Of Leon. I’m also into a lot of jazz, blues, and soul. Amy is more into Fleetwood Mac and The Rolling Stones – more old-school rock. Jay has a more singer-songwriter background, so he’s into Elliott Smith and those kind of artists, as well as Death Cab For Cutie. After this tour we’re planning to go back to the US at some point, as there are a few stations picking up our songs over there. We’ve also got a festival in Bangkok, which is going to be pretty cool, so we’re going to be very busy.”


For Scenestr:

Kim Wilde: “I seem to remember a thrash metal version of ‘Kids In America'”

kim wilde

EIGHTIES pop siren Kim Wilde is back in business and promises to send audiences into nostalgia overdrive in an upcoming run of shows with Nik Kershaw.

“Nik and I are good mates and there will be a lot of good energy flying around,” she says. “He’s going to start by singing a handful of his most famous songs, and then I’m going to come on with my band and rock through all the songs people remember me for, and a few surprises. It’ll be very rocky, and a night of reminiscences; a lot of people get a lot of memories coming back when they hear these songs again, so it’ll be a very special night. I like to chat a lot with the audience between songs too, but the main focus is on having a real rock ‘n’ roll night.”

The choice to tour with a fellow eighties heart-throb was an easy one for the rejuvenated Wilde.

“We’ve been on the same record label before, back in the days of MCA,” she says. “He’s always been a bit of a reluctant pop star; it never sat easily on his shoulders. It’s only in recent years that he’s been able to come out and sing his songs again, in a kind of retro set-up, but I think he’s surprised himself with how much he’s enjoyed it. He recorded a new album in recent years and he’s still looking ahead as well as playing his old stuff. He’s sung on a couple of albums I’ve recorded in recent years, so he’s become a good friend and feels like part of our extended family.”

This will be Wilde’s first headline tour since 1994; something that the singer wasn’t initially comfortable with.

“It’s something I’ve got used to gradually,” she says. “I left the music business to get married and have kids, and when I came back to music it was to do eighties retro tours in the UK initially. I was happy to find myself in a list of people and not to have a fuss made over me; somewhere in between A,B,C,D, and Heaven 17. I still didn’t see myself as headline material at that point, but as the last few years have gone by I’ve got myself an amazing band and we’ve got a really good setup and a great reputation for our live performance. My early career in the eighties was all promotion and videos, and now it’s all about cutting it live, and that’s totally transformed me. So, headlining now feels much more like something I can take on; I feel like I can really make it work.”

Many of Wilde’s tracks are iconic enough to earn attention from a wide range of bands wanting to ‘re-imagine’ them.

“There are always good and bad covers,” she says. “I seem to remember a thrash metal version of ‘Kids In America’, which I think captured the spirit of the song, but there have been a lot of bland remixes too. There has been some good work done with ‘Cambodia’, and it’s always great when someone is inspired enough to have a go at reinterpreting your music, but some have been better than others – that’s the way of life. I’m looking forward to writing new tracks – we’re just putting to bed a twelve-track Christmas album which will be out this year, and I’ll be starting to write some pop and rock tunes for an album next year.”


MC Slice of Kobra Kai: “We’re really proud of this album”

kobra kai

THE RELEASE of Sydney dubstep/dance collective Kobra Kai’s second album comes at a great time for the band, explains MC Slice.

Insession is our second album to date,” he says. “We’re really proud of this album; we feel very comfortable with how we’ve evolved our sound over the years. Kobra Kai has been together as a band for almost eight years now, and it even existed previously as different incarnations, so it’s been a long journey and we’re a really solid unit. Down the years we’ve had a few band member changes, and we’re in a place where we feel really comfortable and we’ve always known who we are and what our music is, but this album really feels like our sound is really solid and an accurate reflection of us and how we’ve developed as artists. We’re all in our early thirties, and we’ve all been doing music as our principal passion for around fifteen years, so Insession really reflects where we’re at right now.”

Honing their live show has always been Kobra Kai’s main focus, with recording taking a back seat.

“We’re firstly and foremost a live band,” he says. “Basically, our ethos is to replicate in a live situation the music we hear at raves and clubs; predominantly club-based dance music. Someone will have an idea for a song or a skeletal structure of a track, and together we try to put all our ideas or themes into that. Then we rehearse it, it might change over time, and eventually it might become something, or maybe not. Sometimes it’s clear there will be a diamond at the end of this piece of rough, so to speak.”

Insession is only our second album,” he says. “We’ve put out singles before and an EP or two. It took pretty much five years to get the first album done, and we needed to kind-of purge all of that and get it out the way so we could sink our teeth into the second album; it was almost like a release of new music as a finished product. So, this album is really special to us. It’s a bit darker than the last one, and we’ve produced and mixed all the tracks on the album ourselves, so they really are all ours. Hutch and Rehan have become really adept producers, and they are the two real musicians in the band in a classical sense; they play the instruments. Our first album was executive produced by an artist in London, and it was never quite satisfying to us, and it didn’t feel like our own; so we’ve done this one all ourselves.”

Using drums and guitars in a dance show adds another dimension to the band’s live performance.

“Hutch and Rehan come from a traditional instrument-based background,” he says. “They appreciate the club sound, we appreciate the musicianship, and so we come together and take inspiration from DJs in clubs and work out ways to add things to it in a live environment. I’m a DJ at heart, but when we’re on stage the live aspect is all about the energy we capture from the crowd. It’s so engaged, personal, and energetic, and the live aspect is really important in that, and in who we are as band full-stop.”

Slice is looking forward to a busy few months ahead, with the band set to hit the road in support of the album.

“We’ve got an Australian tour coming up for Insession,” he says. “We’re playing Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, The Blue Mountains, Newcastle, Brisbane, Byron, and Melbourne. Then we’ll be taking it to New Zealand. Hands down the best gig we’ve played is Subsonic; it’s all about the music and a great vibe. We’ve played Big Day Out, Future Music, and Parklife, which are always a pleasure to play as they’re generally really well manned and the sound is tip-top. As a performer, having a great set-up makes a real difference. We’re also going to be busy writing new material, which is a constant process for us, and we have a music video coming out really soon for our track ‘New Swings’. So all in all, really busy!”


Andreas Bergh of Deathstars: “We look up to bands like Iggy & the Stooges and MC5”

DEATHSTARS singer-guitarist Andreas Bergh – a.k.a Whiplasher – is looking forward to touring Australia for more than one reason.

“We are really looking forward to the Australian weather,” he says. “It has been the longest winter here! Also, we haven’t played club gigs in probably three years; we’ve mainly been doing festivals and arenas, and just to hang out with the guys in the band and play the songs will be nice.”

Having a distinctive look and being labelled as ‘death glam’ hasn’t stopped Deathstars branching out.

“We have always been a pretty straightforward rock band, even though the music is big-sounding and heavy,” he says. “We look up to bands like Iggy and the Stooges and MC5 and people like that, so it’s more like that vibe these days, but there’s also a flamboyant side to us. There’s a contradiction in Deathstars; we have one foot in the black metal scene in the graveyards of Sweden, and then we have a glam side, as we grew up with bands like Kiss. It’s most important for us in the band to not be able to say what Deathstars really is; we like to leave a question mark behind it.”

The band recently celebrated ten years together and completed a European tour with metal titans Rammstein.

“Watching Rammstein was incredible,” he says. “I think it was the biggest indoor production last year, and it was over 700,000 audience members in total. When we started out it was like an experiment; it was just finding something new that was interesting for us with the influences we had. Today, we’ve grown a lot, and it’s much more relaxed. We could be pretty stressed, but now we don’t really think about it. It’s a more peaceful band to be in now, although it’s still a circus all the time. And we have new members now, so when we make our new album after the Australian shows it’ll be as just a four piece, without Cat on guitar. We are starting to record it as soon as we get back home. We’re quite slow with releasing albums.”

Deathstars last toured here in 2009, and Bergh hopes to have a similar experience this time around.

“It was a hazy, but great time,” he says. “Our music is very Scandinavian, very European, and you can see that that scene exists and people appreciate that kind of vibe in Australia; it’s really not that far between us.”


Kings Konekted: “A lot of things dictated who stood where and by whose side”

kings koneketed

Brisbane hip-hop collective Kings Konekted are about to launch their new EP The Campaign, and it’s set to be a real landmark release for the group. DJ/producer Stricknine and MC Culprit explain how much it means.

“It feels great to have it finished,” says Stricknine. “It was all done at Class A Records and it was an absolute pleasure working with producer Trem.”

“We always love recording,” explains Culprit. “We would do it every day if we could. When writing we usually start with a beat first, and we can ponder on that for days or weeks, and from there we’ll either decide if it needs a theme or a message, and Dontez might write some verses to it. Generally the writing process starts with the beat, and the beat dictates where the writing of the track is going to go for us. It might all three of us or just two of us working at any one time. Dontez really controls the boards; the computers and the programming. I don’t do any of the computer work, but once we load the beat in we work out the layout of the song, and whoever is going to rap first does their part. The choruses tend to get done at the end, after we get our verses out over the beat and have a listen. If there’s something that’s going back and forth then the process changes a bit where we might switch things around to make sure we get it out effectively.”

Serbian/Australian Culprit and Indigenous Australian/Italian Dontez forged their friendship and musical bond from a young age, growing up in the crime-infested streets of the western suburbs of Brisbane, before joining forces with elder statesmen Strickine, Prowla, and Trem to make The Campaign.

“There was a lot of segregation in what we call the 4300 postcode area,” says Culprit. “It’s a working class area and unfortunately there’s a bit of crime. You could call it a low socio-economic environment if you wish, and a lot of things in the lifestyle – things like graffiti, things like music, things like sport – dictated who stood where and by whose side. And unfortunately fights are pretty common out there. But most cities across the world – wherever you go – have riff-raff; it just happens to be a bit more common in that area, and we bring it all to the table. It’s not a negative view or a positive view; we’re not saying it’s good that there’s fighting or it’s bad that there’s fighting, we just want it to be known. It’s our life, our story, and what we’ve seen, so we want to portray that. But it’s each to their own. We don’t think you have to come from that sort of background to be a hip-hop artist.

The Campaign is the group’s first release since 2009’s Trails To The Underlair, but fans won’t have to wait as long for the next, with a full-length album planned for late 2013.

“It’s going to be called Corrupted Citizens,” says Culprit. “We wanted to put out the EP as a taster to give something to the fans and to thank them for waiting so long as we’ve been working on this since 2009. But that’s not to say the quality on the EP isn’t as good as what the album will be.”

When asked about what the local hip-hop scene and what could improve it, Stricknine is quick off the mark.

“More Kings Konekted!” he says. “Nah, the scene in Brisbane has its moments. There’s plenty of stuff out there that would make me want to go and see it. But there’s a lot of stuff out there that’s labelled as hip-hop that isn’t. We try to make music that can be recognised as hip-hop the world over, so someone in New York can listen to it and know what it is, not just someone from Australia. Some hip-hop artists are together for only a couple of years and put out an album, and it shows in their music, whereas we started in 2007 or 2008 and the guys were together for about ten years before that.”


Pat Lundy of Funeral For A Friend: “We’re just going to show up, plug in and jam”

pat lundy

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND may be a post-hardcore institution, but drummer Pat Lundy will be keeping his feet on the ground for the band’s upcoming Australian tour.

“We’re just going to show up, plug in, and jam, it’s all we know how to do,” he says. “We’re not into any crazy production or anything like that; even at home we tour in a van and we do that because we choose to. Hotels are overrated, man. Bus touring, the smell of ammonia, piss, engines, and vomit; I kinda like that vibe. We just plug in and play, and get really sweaty in a bunch of kids’ faces.”

The band’s Australian tour will consist of ten shows in eleven days, and Lundy is excited by the prospect of the busy schedule.

“It’s the new dynamic of the band and it’s pretty normal,” he says. “I’ve just got home today from five shows in five days, so we’re into packing as many gigs as we can and playing to as many people as we can in whatever country we’re in. We wanna keep it busy man, and keep it punk rock! It’ll be a much more intense, more intimate vibe, played in places the band have never been to. I’ve only done Soundwave before, so getting to play the Gold Coast, Canberra, and places that we’ve never been will the best part of the tour I imagine. Now I’m home for five days, then I’m off for a secret Converse show in Berlin, then flying home for shows in the UK, then it’s the Silverstein tour, then our own headliners in Europe, then shows in Australia, then after that more shows in the UK and Europe. So, the whole year is a touring year for us.”

Lundy joined the band in 2012 after the departure of long-standing sticksman Ryan Richards.

“I joined a year ago this month,” he says. “I toured with the band a number of times with my old band. We supported them on four different tours and I knew their management really well. We were with the same management company, and we were always at the same parties and shit like that. They asked me not to join, but to audition, and I did that in March 2012.”

The band has just released their sixth album Conduit, and he reaction so far has been generally very positive.

“It’s a bit funny, when you work on something from inside it’s hard to tell,” he says. “I mean it’s hard to conceive that we have fans to be honest, and trying to guess how people are going to see our record is an alien concept. Even for the guys who have been in it from the start – we’re talking about Matt and Chris, obviously – for them I think it’s even harder to fathom how people are going to take it, but I can tell you for free at this stage that they don’t care. They’re just doing selfish music to make us happy, and the fact that people are vibing it is a really good buzz. We’re the happiest we’ve ever been as a band, and I can say that safely as we’re such a good line-up. It’s really nice and a rare thing when everyone engages musically; writing and playing is really exciting and it’s not work, it’s all fun, like when we were little and were in bands, kind-of like that vibe. It was slightly different for me, as the record had been recorded before, so I re-recorded the drums. I went in and took about three days to re-record my parts, and the producer is a really good friend of the band, so it all turned out really well, and at the end of it everybody was really buzzing.”

Despite having a wealth of material to choose from, the band won’t just be rolling out the hits on their upcoming tour.

“I think there are over 120 songs or maybe more, so to get that all into and hour and a half set means you don’t get the best demographic that you want to get off all your records, so we’ll play four or five songs off Conduit, and still leave room for all the classics and range of shit between; a great mix.”


Steve Diggle of Buzzcocks: “I nailed my colours to the mast and went out into the seas and experienced it all”

steve diggle

SEMINAL PUNK VETERANS Buzzcocks may have been around for nearly forty years, but guitarist Steve Diggle won’t be tiring of playing live any time soon.

“You would think we might get tired of playing those songs,” he says, “but the nature of Buzzcocks songs is that they’re so catchy and well crafted in their own weird way, and they’re always such a pleasure to play. It just feels like you are playing a classic all the time. What I’ve learned over the years, is that a live show is about communicating with the audience; it’s about the atmosphere and the vibe. It doesn’t matter whether I play a bum note or the wrong chord; we can all be in this together, and in that way you never get bored of playing them. We can put a different life into a song each night because of the nature of the audience, as we’re feeding off the crowd every night, and I think that’s where the magic is, human beings connecting, you know? But fortunately they’re all pretty good songs as well.”

Coming to Australia to play the Hoodoo Gurus’ Dig It Up festival and headline their own shows is a double bonus for the band.

“They asked us to play there,” he says. “I think they’ve been big Buzzcocks fans over the years, and it’s nice to be asked to do it. I think it’s a good combination for us to do that. Obviously they’re fans, and we have mutual respect for each other, and I think it’ll be a great day. I’ve never met them, so it’ll be great to meet and connect. A lot of bands don’t get to meet, so being on the same bill is a great chance to do that.”

Whatever the size of the gig, Diggle is clear about what to expect from a Buzzcocks show.

“A selection of great classic songs, and a lot of excitement on the stage – that’s the nature of Buzzcocks music. Seeing it live is even better than the record, really. The bigger crowds bring that big sense of occasion, which is a great thing, but then the smaller crowds are more focussed intensely on the music. So it’s great to see a band in a small place as well; you can really get the essence of what they are. You can get more of a sense of a band and what they are about. But they all work, they all have their different merits. When I’m on-stage nowadays, it’s not what I’m playing, it’s about relating to the crowd. I’m more concerned about what the crowd are doing and feeling, and that’s always interesting.”

Buzzcocks are one of the few original punk bands to still be together since their formation in Manchester in 1976.

“When you’re living with each other all the time, on the road together, in the hotel together, it’s in some ways like being married to four people, and it’s bad enough being married to one sometimes! This is why a lot of bands split up. We split up for a while in the ’80s; we had a lot of success, we were on tour all the time, and all of those things take their toll. But when we got back together again we learned a lot from the break-up; to keep things in focus and in check, and now 35 years down the line we know how to deal with all that, and it helps us survive. By the time I was 30 I realised it’s really exciting to be in a band, because you do go through this period of “what’s it all mean?” or “how am I dealing with all this?” We started when I was 20, and a lot of success came to us quickly, but then I realised that rock ‘n’ roll is in my blood and I embraced it. Like Turner, I nailed my colours to the mast and went out into the seas and experienced it all. Some people start taking it all personally and cracking up, you know? We got over those things quite early on, and that helped us survive. It’s been a great journey.”

At first success came quickly for the band, but the thought of still doing it all these years later didn’t once cross their minds.

“At the time everything was just for the moment,” he says. “We thought it was great if we had a gig that week, and maybe one the week after – we never thought further that that. Like James Joyce’s Ulysses, we were Mr. Bloom for a day, but the day went on and on for about the last 37 years!”

Planning the trip Down Under is easy for the experienced and well-travelled band.

“I just bring two guitars and that’s it,” he says. “We always hire the back line. In the early days when we went to America, we took the whole of the back line with us, and racks of guitars on the planes; flying cases of equipment everywhere. Now we just turn up and plug in. The great thing about Buzzcocks is that we don’t need rows of effects pedals, it’s just a couple of guys with guitars, and that’s enough to make it work. We were in Bratislava a couple of days ago; we just flew in there, plugged in with no sound check, and away we went. It was fantastic – it was our first time there. We did some Buzzcocks songs on piano, and people loved it; it was a different look at our songs.”

“We’ve played China, Rio, but we’ve never played Russia yet. It’s always nice to go to new countries. Coming back to Australia is a little like coming home to us, in a sense, because we’re always well received; it’s like a great understanding we have. We know what to expect a little bit, and Australia knows what to expect a little bit, so let’s all get down to it.”

While a Buzzcocks show may be rooted in music from the band’s long career, Diggle is also very much looking to the future.

“I’m working on my solo record,” he says. “Pete lives in Estonia now, so it’s hard not being in the same country. It’s easy for me to do a solo record as I’m in London and the studio’s just down the road. I was rehearsing with my solo band just yesterday, so I just keep going with everything, you know? We will get a new Buzzcocks record at some point. In the mean time we’ve got about 150 songs which are great to play live. We’ve got a lot of die-hard fans who’ve been with us all the way, which is great, and there a lot of new kids that pick up on our stuff – our fans span three generations now. Our live experience has always been the best.”


Puppeteer Stephane Georis: “I use these objects to laugh about love”

stephane georis

STEPHANE GEORIS is a master at animating everyday objects for laughs and learning.

Using cauliflowers, cucumbers, and coffee pots in a family-friendly show, Belgian puppeteer Georis – as Professor Adam – explores the origins of the universe with hilarious results, albeit with an important underlying message.

“Adam is a teacher of science,” he says. “He’s a very bad scientist, and he invites other scientists from all over the world along. I play ten characters from different countries, who play with science objects to make an experience that proves the future doesn’t exist yet, the past is already over, and only the present exists; so we have to enjoy life here and now.”

An experienced street performer, Georis’ started out with the simple idea of using everyday objects to bring science to life. “I’ve been a clown and juggler in the past, and with clown art I discovered how to play with objects and give them life,” he says. “I want to bring objects alive, and give them a voice so they can tell a story. I try to be as simple as possible, as the best performance for me is a simple one. My shows are all visual; the most important things in the show are pictures, and I travel with only one suitcase as I like to make shows easy to travel with.”

As well as examining the universe, Professor Adam uses food items to take a closer look at the human body.

“The first experiment involves a cauliflower, which I use as a brain on which I do an operation to find out what’s inside,” he says.

“There’s another experiment in which I play with bread, and it gets a great reaction. Everywhere I go, I have a list of foods to buy at the supermarket: one cake, three loaves of bread, one carrot and so on.”

While there is a strong educational message, the main focus of the show is on humour, positivity, and hilarity.

“It’s not at all serious.” he says.

“There is a bottom line – a message – but we do it in a funny way. I use these objects to laugh about love, how time passes us by, and how we’re all getting old. The important thing is for us to laugh at these things and enjoy them.”


Jon Ouin of Stornoway: “We’ve played Stornoway twice”


OXFORD indie folk band Stornoway are set to release their coastal-influenced second album, and keyboardist Jon Ouin is excited by the prospect.

“We’re very happy to have it finished,” he says. “It’s been a while since the first one, so we’re happy it’s finally done. We produced the record ourselves, and production is part and parcel of our writing process in a way. It’s quite a seamless thing.”

While some bands find being in the studio a difficult process, Stornoway had a different experience.

“It’s something we enjoy,” he says. “We never find it boring; it quite excites us. The songs are usually written beforehand, but the process of arranging and producing them blend into each other. We feel like we’ve got enough ideas between us to carry us through the process.”

The album features plenty of references to the sea, the countryside and escaping the city.

“It’s something that Brian (Briggs, lyricist) has always been very interested in,” he says. “In a previous life he was an ecologist, which makes its way into the music a fair bit. He uses it is a backdrop to reflect what’s going on inside I suppose.”

The band’s four members are multi-instrumentalists, but the song always dictates what instruments are needed.

“We try to think about each song individually,” Ouin explains. “We don’t gratuitously add instruments for the sake of it. It’s always about following the original sketch of the demo and trying to maintain the feeling we get from the original song. Although we do enjoy playing around with different sounds, as I suppose we can get bored quite easily.”

In a surreal turn of events, the band recently found themselves playing on the remote island after which they are named.

“We’ve played Stornoway twice,” he says. “The first time, we felt a desire to bribe the residents with whisky, and in the end we won that room of people over. We went back the following year for a festival. It might be quite weird living in a place and a band turns up bearing your name, but we loved it.”

Australian fans of the band might not have too long to wait to see them in the flesh.

“We’re talking about touring Australia,” he says. “Last time we played Laneway Festival which was one the best tours we’ve done. We’d love to do it again soon.”


Dan Hawkins of The Darkness: “The only giant tits on stage this time will be the band”


REFORMED, refreshed, and rehabilitated, English glam-rockers The Darkness are heading to these shores for a run of shows with legendary rocker Joan Jett.

Coming off the back of album number three and an extensive tour supporting Lady Gaga, guitarist Dan Hawkins is looking ahead to the shows Down Under.

“Expect really loud sounds played through Marshall amplifiers, running about on stage, guitar solos, and great songs; a rock ‘n’ roll party basically,” he says. “If you’re up for having a couple of beers and taking your mind off work, then come along.”

Having left their rock ‘n’ roll excesses behind, the band have found a new lease of life which has seen their shows take on another dimension.

“I think we’re a lot more energetic than we were before,” he says. “We used to hide behind a massive light show and giant inflatable breasts and stuff like that. We never used to move from our spots as we were just getting over our hangovers. That’s all been well documented over the last couple of years, but we pretty much hit the ground running at a show these days. We’re in the zone now where we don’t give a flying fuck, so anything can happen at a Darkness show.”

Sharing a bill with the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is something Hawkins is looking forward to.

“Touring with Joan Jett is going to be amazing,” he says. “We’ve not met her before, and she just adds so much glamour to the show; it’s going to be quite the event. It just reads like a great gig.”

The band’s new and improved lifestyle has had plenty of other creative benefits.

“We’ve been writing on the road, which has never happened before, mainly due to massive hangovers all the time,” he says. “It’s not going to be a long wait before the next album comes out. We can’t keep our fans waiting, and obviously we lost a lot of fans when we split up. We’ve written quite a few songs already and we’re really excited about it.”

The new lifestyle also means many aspects of the band’s earlier shows have been left behind, including the infamous giant breasts.

“I thought about turning them into a really inappropriate water feature,” he says. “But the only giant tits on stage this time will be the band.”