Category Archives: Features

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.”

‘THE CAMPAIGN’ IS OUT APRIL 19th FROM WWW.CLASSARECORDS.COM

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.”

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND PLAY THE REV ON MAY 8th

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.”

BUZZCOCKS PLAY THE ZOO ON SATURDAY 20th APRIL.

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.”

PROFESSOR ADAM APPEARS AT THE BRISBANE COMEDY FESTIVAL, BRISBANE POWERHOUSE, ON MARCH 16th. WWW.BRISBANEPOWERHOUSE.ORG

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

stornoway

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.”

TALES FROM TERRA FIRMA IS RELEASED MARCH 11TH ON CD AND DOWNLOAD.

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

DARKNESS_General-PressShot_Credit_Scarlet-Page

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.”

THE DARKNESS PLAY BRISBANE RIVERSTAGE ON THURSDAY APRIL 4TH.