Category Archives: Interviews

Interview: Jon Davison of Yes

yes band

HAVING been in existence since 1968, English prog-rockers Yes are true mainstays of the music world, with more than thirty studio and live albums under their belts. Founding vocalist Jon Anderson left the band in 2008, paving the way for newest recruit, Californian Jon Davison, to become a part of a group who had already released three records by the time he was born. The newly rejuvenated line-up of Davison, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Geoff Downes will tour Australia in November, playing their classic ’70s Fragile and Close To The Edge albums in full, as well as releasing a new LP entitled Heaven & Earth.

You’re the new boy in Yes, having joined in 2012. How did you come to be in the band?

It was kind of by simultaneous means, which was interesting. My friend Taylor Hawkins, the drummer for the Foo Fighters, with whom I grew up, was always – during the last few years prior to my joining – suggesting to Chris [Squire, founding bassist] that should he need a replacement, I might be a suitable option. So Chris was aware of me, and at the same time the Australian tour in 2012 was booked and the band didn’t want to back out of it, so they were willing to take me on immediately. The manager called me first, saying there wasn’t even going to be an audition and that I would have to jump right in, so the band could continue looking forward to the tour.

How much notice did you have before the tour?

I think we were off maybe a month later, or six weeks at most.

Were you aware of all of the band’s material before you joined?

Yes, I was. Having been in a Yes tribute band, I knew most of the main tracks, but they were doing a lot of emphasis at the time on Fly From Here, so I had to learn the big bulk of that album, and there were a few others; a couple from Drama I hadn’t performed before. So there was a bit of a learning curve, but I had a lot of the material in my mind.

Have you had to change much to fit in, or are you more or less free to be yourself?

That’s a good question. It’s really a balance, you know? You want to do complete justice to the music, but you don’t want anyone to feel that something is missing, so you really pay homage as accurately as you can. To do that, you have to really incorporate your own style into it as well; you can’t be a clone. You have to incorporate what is uniquely you, so it’s a fine balance between those two aspects.

How long have you been planning to tour Fragile and Close To The Edge?

It’s been in the works for probably about a year now, because we’ve doing three classic albums for a couple of years now. We were thinking ahead a couple of years ago, wondering what we should do next and it felt like Fragile needed to be fitted into the occasion or formula somehow, and we’re doing Close To The Edge again, but we really wanted to do those two albums together, back to back. In most respects they’re the greatest, ground-breaking albums for the band.

So it’s purely a nostalgic thing.

Yeah, it’s a nostalgic thing, and I think it means so much to the fans to have that nostalgic experience; at least what I’ve heard that they’ve shared. Also, it’s never been done before. It’s an new move for the band. They’re always looking to do something new and fresh, and I think this is the answer to that.

It sounds like there are some fairly complex arrangements in those two albums. Are they relatively easy to translate to the live setting?

I would say for the most part. Really, at the heart of a band, that’s what makes them successful; being good players who feed off each other and work together. In essence they are a live band, and they’ve always taken that as far as they can. Although they’ve had some ground-breaking studio albums, ultimately they are a live band. So, yeah, it has been quite straightforward. Having said that, Fragile has a lot of over-dubbing, so there will be some re-interpretation and we’ll be doing whatever we can to make it as accurate as possible.

Could Heaven & Earth be called a classic Yes album, in terms of how it sounds?

I don’t know if it will end up being called that [laughs]. It’s very different and fresh, and it’s moving the band in a bit of a different direction, and that’s natural for every new line-up. Even though the other four have been involved a lot longer than I have, every time a new member comes in it changes things up. So, it’s a unique album in that sense and has to be translated not with words, but with music.

How has the song-writing been shared?

Steve [Howe, guitar] and I did the majority of the song-writing, but the band all very much collaborated as a unit, and I think that’s the final product that’s reflected and when the music is fully realised and comes to life. It’s definitely a group effort. For the most part, [listener reaction] has been quite encouraging so far.

What was it like working with Roy Thomas Baker?

He’s a character, and I mean that in an affectionate way. He’s a lot of fun and he’s very old-school, and that’s what I love about him. I’m a huge fan of his work and ’70s material in general, so it’s been great to pick his mind and analyse him at work. I think he ultimately brought out the best in the band; an organic quality to the material. We have him to thank for that.

Does he get involved in everything or let you get on with it in the studio?

Creatively speaking, he just lets us get on with it, but he has his own creative element in the technical aspect and getting the right sound. He’s big on sounds and the engineering aspect of the project.

Why do you think Yes have survived and stuck together this long?

There have never been more than two consecutive albums with the same line-up in the history of Yes, and it’s because of this I think they always had a new ingredient that helped to propel them forward in a spontaneous way. It’s also that they’ve always tried to break new ground; they’re very open-minded. When I was contributing music they never wanted to throw anything out; they would always fully explore something and really vibe with it before they make a decision about it, and I respect that so much. I know that that’s always been the formula. There have been times in their history when the music hasn’t come easily, but their tenacity and hunger has kept them going.

Do you think prog-rock is in good shape globally?

I would say yes; it’s a healthy, thriving thing. I wouldn’t say that by any means it’s a mainstream type of music, but that’s a traditional thing. That’s what a lot of people love about it; it’s their music and it’s unique. The fans feel like it’s their niche, and that makes it special for them.

How are you dealing with the heavy schedule the band has right now?

It’s just more experience. While I feel that I’m doing a pretty good job, there’s so much more I want to accomplish as a vocalist. I feel that I still have a long way to go to perfect my craft. So, the more I’m playing the better.

YES TOUR DATES:

Wednesday November 12 – PERTH Crown Casino
Friday November 14 – GOLD COAST Jupiters Casino
Saturday November 15 – SYDNEY State Theatre
Tuesday November 18 – MELBOURNE Palais Theatre

HEAVEN & EARTH BY YES IS OUT JULY 22.

For The AU Review

Interview: Chris Jericho of Fozzy

fozzy band

AS a former professional wrestler, Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho is used to talking big, but this time he really means it when he says new album Do You Wanna Start A War is the best of his band’s 15-year career. The metallers’ sixth album is due for release on July 25th, and Jericho has high hopes.

Your album’s about to come out. How are you feeling?

It’s always a cool time for you guys or for fans, but when you’re in the band and recording it, you hear the songs over and over and over again. From the writing stage to demo stage to tracking stage to editing stage to re-tracking to listening to putting the track list together and everything, we’ve heard the record hundreds of times. We think it’s the best record we’ve ever done. Now, a lot of bands say that and this is the way you should feel, but it’s always, shall we say, intimidating to wait and see what does everybody else thinks, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now. It’s a cool time to be at, because you make records for yourself and we did the best record that we think feels best for us. Hopefully people agree.

Why was ‘Lights Go Out’ chosen as the first single?

It’s one of the best songs on the record, has a great hook and is a little bit different. It has a little bit of a dance vibe to it. If Fall Out Boy and Black Sabbath had a bastard child, it would sound like ‘Lights Go Out’. You could hear it at a strip club and you could hear it at a Slayer concert and anywhere in between. The reason why it fits perfectly for us is that it’s still dark, but it’s got a groove that’s sexy and sleek. It’s a really cool song that we thought was one of the stand-outs. We wanted to start this record – even though it’s an old-school record like [Def Leppard’s]Hysteria or Appetite For Destruction, where there’s five or six singles on it, we wanted to start off with something a bit different, so when people hear it they go ‘wow, I never expected that from Fozzy’ or ‘we never knew Fozzy sounded like that’. It’s a song that opens doors, because it’s going to appeal to long-term fans and it’s going to make a whole lot of new fans, and that’s kind of what it’s all about.

How has the new material been going down live?

We’ve been playing ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’ and ‘Lights Go Out’. ‘Lights’ is making tracks on radio and we’ve been opening our sets with ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’; a song that people have never heard before. That’s always an interesting concept, but we can see people slowly getting into it because it’s such a hooky, catchy song and by the second or third chorus they’re singing it and they know it. I’m really excited to hear what people think when they hear the song for real; not just on a grainy, scratchy YouTube clip or just from experiencing it in the moment live. People might like it even better than ‘Lights Go Out’.

In a recent interview you said Fozzy have been playing both big arenas and small club shows. Do you have a preference?

It’s always been the way for us. Our motto is “10 or 10,000”; we play the exact same show whether there’s ten people there or whether there’s 10,000 people there. Any band will tell you this; it doesn’t matter if it’s Avenged Sevenfold or the local pub band playing across the street from you right now. Sometimes crowds are loud and crazy and sometimes they’re not, and it doesn’t matter. You have to be able to go with the flow, work that crowd and get them into it as much as you possibly can. Some nights you play in front of bigger crowds and some nights it’s smaller crowds; it doesn’t matter. You should never punish the people who’ve showed up. They’ve paid their money no matter if there were thousands or dozens of others with them. You can’t phone in a show, because every show matters, and we’re in the big leagues now.

Are you keen to throw your hat into the ring for Soundwave next year?

We’d love to play Soundwave. We played Soundwave in 2013 and it was one of the best tours of our career. We had great crowds; we were one of destination go-to bands every day. It was funny, because I always pay attention to what the crowd is like before you played and what the crowd is like after you played. It was very interesting, because although we were on early, you could tell people were coming to check us out because the band before had not a lot of people, then we played and there was six, seven, eight thousand people. In Sydney, eight thousand people came to see us and then I’d go out 20 or 30 minutes later, and the next band was playing in front of dozens of people. That’s when I started to realise we’re a destination band; people would come to see Fozzy and then go on to the next band. When you get that sort of reputation and response, you know you’re making headway. We’d love to do Soundwave again; hopefully it works out. If it doesn’t, we’ll come back in another capacity, because Australia has always been a great country for us. We’ve been touring there since 2005, and you can just see how the band has been growing and evolving every single tour, to the point where we toured Australia twice last year. I’d say that’s a pretty rare thing, to be able to do that. I love Australia; it’s a great rock and roll country, it has great fans, beautiful girls, awesome food. What more could you want? Book me now man; I’ll come play at your house.

You’ve had a few line-up changes over the years, but what makes the relationship between you and Rich Ward work so well?

It’s just chemistry and understanding. We’re lifers, man. We understand what it takes to make it. In all fairness, there were three of us who started; me, Rich and Frank Fontsere. Being in a partnership with two other guys for fifteen years is a pretty cool thing. Obviously everybody wishes they could be U2 or ZZ Top or Rush and have the same line-up their entire career, but everybody’s line-up changes. There was a time in the early ’90s where Iron Maiden had only two original members as well; Steve Harris and Dave Murray. And to this day they only have two. For us, the core unit is Ward, Jericho and Fontsere and it’s just one of those things. It’s like being in a marriage. If you’re going to make it in a long-term relationship you have to compromise and weather the good and the bad, and it’s the same as being in a band. It’s just that instead of being with one guy, you’re with two or three or four, and you don’t get to have sex with them, so there’s not even any fun in that respect either.

Will you be pretty much be touring for the rest of the year?

Yeah, just getting ready to release the record, getting ready to release the video and playing a bunch of radio festivals here in the States. Then we’ll start hitting the road in earnest, starting with the States and then heading overseas early next year. We did 17 countries last time, and I expect to beat that easily with this record.

DO YOU WANNA START A WAR BY FOZZY IS OUT JULY 25.

For The AU Review

Interview: Robert Cray

robert cray

WHERE do you start with a musician as accomplished as Robert Cray? He’s been playing the blues since the seventies, has over twenty albums in his catalogue, has bagged five Grammy Awards and played with the biggest names in the business, from John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins and B.B. King. Oh, and he also appeared in Animal House with John Belushi AND is still releasing top-notch blues records. On top of all this, he’s only one of the nicest guys around. Have I missed anything? Probably.

Hi Robert, let’s talk about your new album, In My Soul, first of all. How do you feel when you have a new record being released?

Happiness. It’s great because it’s a new record that gives us an opportunity to add to our repertoire and more to play to the fans. It’s a lot of fun.

You made some changes to the line-up just before recording. Why did you feel that was necessary?

Change is good; it’s necessary sometimes. We had two changes for this record. The first of which was having Les Falconer join as drummer. I’ve watched Les from afar, but not too far away; he’s been in the Keb’ Mo’ band for years. It just so happened that three or four years ago Les asked me if I ever wanted to make a change to consider him, and I did so about 16 or 18 months ago, so that was the reason for that change. We changed keyboard players, and we have Dover Weinberg on board, who also used to be in the band in the late ’70s. We made the change because I remember Dover having a great sound and a great feel, and I thought it would be great to have him work on the new record before we went into the studio.

Will this version of the band be set in stone for the foreseeable future?

For the foreseeable future, yes. We have a good time and we have a new album to present with this band. But we also play a lot of the older songs and we have a really good time with those, thank you.

Was the soulful feel to the album a deliberate step or more of a natural progression?

It was just by osmosis, actually. We had Steve Jordan come in to do the production. Steve’s a great musician as well. He made a couple of suggestions before we came into the studio; one was the Otis Redding cover, ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’, and the other was a Mable John song, ‘Your Good Thing (Is About To End)’. He suggested those two songs, but I thought it was going to be that maybe we’d record them in case the band and myself didn’t have enough original material. Well, the band had original material which were rhythm and blues, and I had songs which were rhythm and blues as well, so we just wound up with soulful songs.

How did you react when he suggested covering ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’?

I dug it, because it’s a song by Otis that I’ve admired for years. I’ve never had the opportunity to play it, but lots of friends of mine have covered the tune and I always thought it was cool.

What else does Steve Jordan bring to the table?

Steve’s a great communicator and organiser. He gets everybody into the studio, makes them participate and feel like they’re part of the project. That’s really important and how he conducts all operations in the studio. For example, we have this one song that’s a bonus track called ‘Pillow’; it’s got this really ’70s funky feel to it. Before we tackled the song we went into the control room where Steve had a copy of Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly record. We played a couple of tracks and started reminiscing about all the ’70s music, then we took a lunch break and let the music digest itself, you know? We came back into the studio, the electric sitar came out, different drums came out, and he had set the mood for the song. He’s in there conducting us, he’s in there dancing or he’s playing along, you know?

One of my favourites is ‘What Would You Say’, which contains a bit of social commentary. Would you call it a political song?

It’s not political in the way other songs we’ve done before covered deeper subjects like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is commentary and trying to be a bit more positive about what’s going on today with homelessness, the cancer that’s everywhere today and the war in Syria. But not in a big way, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t call myself a political singer, but we do touch on it.

How was your experience of Bluesfest last year?

It was fantastic. We should come every year as far as I’m concerned [laughs]. It’s always a blast to be a part of it, but also to witness it. It’s a great event.

So you’re putting your name firmly in the hat for any future Bluesfests?

My name is in there every year. It’s just a matter of getting the opportunity to do it. There are so many acts who want to do it, and we have to wait our turn.

You’ve played with most of the blues greats in your time; which one made you the most starstruck?

That’s hard to say. I think all of them did, you know? I’m starstruck by all of them. But the thing is, all the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet have always been really nice and comforting, in the sense that they see how nervous you are and see that you’re awestruck and all that. But they reassure you and make you feel cool.

Could you pick one blues player who has had the biggest influence on you?

Probably Eric Clapton. I play that style of electric guitar, you know? John Lee Hooker is huge, Muddy Waters the same, but my style is more akin to Eric Clapton and the electric players he admires.

When you were in Animal House in 1977, was there any indication that it would be a cult classic movie?

As far as I knew, nobody knew what would happen with the film. We had just bit parts in it; we weren’t even credited as the musicians in the band. We just lip-synched to the music. We never saw a script, so we didn’t even know what the working title was. It was just a bunch of local guys doing a movie, then all of a sudden it’s what it is today. Now it’s history.

How much contact did you have with John Belushi?

He befriended a good friend of mine, Curtis Salgado. We lived in Eugene, Oregon at the time. Curtis was fronting a band called the Nighthawks from Eugene; it was where the movie was filmed and also where I lived at the time. On Monday nights we had a splinter group called the Crayhawks; a combination of the two bands. Belushi would come in and people would ask us if we knew Belushi was in the audience, and we’d go ‘who’s John Belushi?’ because we were always working on Saturday nights and never had seen the programme. But eventually we let him on the stage to do his Joe Cocker impersonation, and all the while the movie was being filmed in Eugene, Curtis was taking John Belushi back to his house and schooling him on blues. To cut a long story short, he got educated through Curtis and that whole thing begat The Blues Brothers. The prescription sunglasses Curtis wore became part of The Blues Brothers model and they dedicated the first record to Curtis Salgado.

What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?

Well, we just came back from a six-week tour of the UK and Europe. This coming week we’re about to start another six-week leg in the States, followed by another European leg in the fall. If things go right, maybe we’ll see you at Bluesfest next year. Like I said, my name is in the hat [laughs].

IN MY SOUL BY THE ROBERT CRAY BAND IS OUT NOW.

For the AU Review

Interview: Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts

andrew savage

BROOKLYN, New York-based indie-rock quartet Parquet Courts will return to Australia to play Splendour in the Grass, having been here as recently as January for St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. With a new album – entitled Sunbathing Animal – about to be released, their show promises to be heavy on new material, with the band’s trademark energy and witty lyricisms being certain to feature. I talked to singer-guitarist Andrew Savage to find out the band’s plans and why the ‘slacker’ label needs to be taken out of circulation.

Congratulations on the new album. How do you feel knowing it’s about to be released?

Man, it feels great. It didn’t feel real until I held it in my hands. I just got my own copy last week. It’s the coolest looking album I’ve ever been on, that’s for sure; I love the way it looks. It’s my first gatefold, and it’s been my lifelong dream to have a gatefold record, as they were always the coolest ones when you were a kid. So yeah man, I’m feeling good about it. Throughout the whole time of making it, we were aware that we had a new audience, you know? We were very cognisant that we had a fanbase, whereas with Light Up Gold, nobody really knew us and we didn’t have to worry about it. I would hesitate to call what we feel worry, but it’s more of an awareness that kind of resulted in more of a realised album.

Did the realisation you have a fanbase change your approach to songwriting?

Not explicitly, because it was one of those things we knew in the back of our heads and slowly started to realise, but I think it did make me aware of not wanting to give people the same thing they got on the album before, you know what I mean?

Do you think about how the songs will sound live when you write them?

The songs in Parquet Courts are really fully written live, or half-and-half at least. A lot of times we’ll come up with stuff in the studio, and that’s really fun, but a lot of the songs on Sunbathing Animal are a year and a half old, so we’ve been playing them for a long time.

How have they been going down live?

We’ve had songs like ‘She’s Rolling’ that have been in the set since before Light Up Gold was re-released on What’s Your Rupture? Those have become kind of set standards by now. We’ve gotten mostly positive feedback from all the new stuff live.

Sunbathing Animal has come quite quickly after Light Up Gold – do you feel like you’re under pressure to release new material quickly, or do you prefer to do it that way?

It’s not that quickly, because Light Up Gold came out in August 2012, so in August it’s two years old. Even still, when it came out, we had already recorded it about six months before that, so that’s pretty well-worn territory. Honestly, we have been dying for this to come out as we want to give people something new. I don’t feel a pressure though, as there’s nobody who will even give it to me. We don’t go into the studio unless we have at least enough stuff to start; we only record when we’re inspired to.

How was your experience at the Australian legs of Laneway Festival earlier in the year?

It was great – I loved Australia. I had already accrued a few friends down there, so we got to see some people we hadn’t seen in a while. I liked the festival, although we played some club shows too in Sydney and Melbourne, and I think that was probably the highlight for me.

What can fans expect from your show at Splendour?

I hope they give us at least an hour (laughs). It’ll definitely be mostly stuff off Sunbathing. That’s what we’ve been waiting to do for a long time. We’ve held back on doing all new stuff because we realise not everybody knows all that stuff yet, and it might be a bummer for somebody to have a band come and play a bunch of songs nobody knows. We’ll be in Japan the day before Splendour in the Grass, and then two days after we have to be in Chicago, so we’ll only be in the country for about 48 hours.

You so often have the ‘slacker’ label pinned on you. How do you feel about that?

I think that calling someone a slacker is kind of slacker, because it’s lazy. If anyone takes just a little bit of time to investigate who we are as a band, you’ll realise that it’s not applicable. At the same time, I understand half of rock and roll is lore, so if someone says these guys are slackers, then people believe it because that’s kind of an archetype that exists in rock and roll; the slacker guy, or the guy who’s a deadbeat and doesn’t have to work hard for it. It’s a fantasy, you know? People like that are pretty rare. People who get called slackers or slacker artists would surprise people with how non-fitting that term is to them. You can’t keep making art if you’re a slacker; part of being an artist is staying hungry and continuing to do what you do. It’s one of those things that once someone says it, people don’t question it, and it becomes part of the language. Once upon a time someone called us that, and most people just say ‘that’s good enough for me’.

Do you read or care about reviews of your albums or shows?

To me, a bad review is when someone doesn’t really think about what they’re doing. Even if a review is heavily critical and against what we’re doing, if it was done intelligently I would still consider it a good review. To me, the bad reviews are the ones where obviously the person hasn’t listened to the whole record or maybe even made a blind endorsement. To me, that’s a bad review. When you work so hard on something, you want to hear what people think about it. I could pretend to be one of those aloof guys that doesn’t read reviews and don’t care what people think. I’m interested in reading or hearing about how someone analyses what I’ve done; that’s mostly what it is.

Another thing you’re often called is a ‘buzz’ band. Does that have any meaning to you whatsoever?

I think that’s kind of silly. I don’t even know what that means. I guess it’s just a band that’s popular at the moment, which we kind of are. That’s not something I care about. We’re not trying to maintain ‘buzz’ status; it’s kind of a dispensable term. There’s always a new buzz band, but I’d kind of like to be one of the bands that moves past that and becomes just a regular band.

Parquet Courts hasn’t embraced social media as much as most bands tend to do. Is there a particular reason for that?

I don’t have any social media personally, and I’m the only one in the band likely to maintain it if we did. I don’t have Facebook, Twitter or any of that stuff. I’ve got Gmail; I talk to people on that, but it’s really that nobody in the band wants to maintain it. It’s not so much of a statement, and I have certain convictions in that world, but with Parquet Courts it’s a if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it kind of thing. None of us have ever done [social media] with a band, and I was playing music long before the advent of social media and I remember it being just fine for me. In other words, it hasn’t presented itself as a necessity to me. In some ways, it makes creativity harder and is kind of a big distraction. It’s kind of like white noise to me, and I’ve got enough white noise in my life to worry about; I don’t need more.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

We’ll be touring all summer. I’m not sure what’s going to go on in the fall, as my brother – the drummer – is finishing up school and has to take five different math classes. Sean and his wife are expecting a child in September, so naturally he’s going to take time off to be a dad. I can’t exactly say what the future holds after the summer, but definitely this summer we’ll be hitting it hard and going everywhere we can go.

SUNBATHING ANIMAL BY PARQUET COURTS IS OUT JUNE 2nd. PARQUET COURTS PLAY SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS.

Interview: Mark ‘E’ Everett of Eels

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SINCE their formation in 1995, the members of genre-spanning Eels have been an ever-changing musical entity that has produced eleven albums of songs filled with themes of loss, love and introspection. The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett is the band’s latest release, and as their enigmatic leader – more often known simply as E – puts it, it’s their most revealing to date. I spoke to E to discover what inspired this period of intense reflection.

Congratulations on the new album. How does it feel knowing it’s in the public’s hands?

Well, I guess it’s a relief. Putting out any kind of album is a hard, vulnerable process, and this one is kind of doubly so as it’s so personal. I don’t recommend doing it.

Yet you’ve been doing it quite a bit in the last few years.

Well, not necessarily; we don’t always work in the typical way. We didn’t make five records in the last five years like it appears or how they’ve come out. There was a four-year gap between the Blinking Lights album and the Hombre Lobo album, and during that period we made the next three records, which all came out in a year. So it’s more like we’ve made five albums in nine years.

How long did you have the songs before recording?

About half of them were done before the last album we put out, Wonderful, Glorious. The other half were done after, so it’s all pretty recent, or about half is pretty recent.

Who did you work with on the album?

It’s the exact same group of guys that made Wonderful, Glorious, but you’d never guess it because it’s so different sounding. It’s just the band, you know? Me and the four guys who’ve been touring the world for several years now. Plus, an orchestra and some outside musicians, but even the orchestral arrangements were done by the guys in the band.

How do you stop your song-writing veering across the line between personal and self-indulgent?

I’m aware of the line. I think someone could take a cursory look or listen to it and go ‘this guy is so self-indulgent’ or whatever, but it’s the opposite to me. Why it’s such a hard record to put out is because I’m kind of throwing my dignity under the bus to make a point and so people can hopefully learn from my mistakes. I think that’s a worthwhile thing to do, but it’s not a comfortable thing to do. I believe it’s a lot more selfless than selfish.

What mistakes would you like people to learn from?

I think it’s plainly spelt out in the record on songs like ‘Agatha Chang’. I was in a situation that was a good situation for me, but I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t appreciate it and I blew it.

So, it’s purely about relationships.

In this case it’s about a relationship, yeah.

Do you take control of every aspect of the creative process, or are you happy to let other band members step in?

This might appear to be a solo type of record, because of the title and the photo on the front, but it’s very much a band record. About half the songs were co-written with guys in the band, they did the orchestral arrangements and they play on everything, so there’s a lot of collaborating going on.

So, Eels is a democracy, not a dictatorship.

No, it’s a dictatorship for sure! The buck has to stop somewhere and the buck stops here, but I’m smart enough to be open to everyone’s ideas and suggestions.

Are you happy for someone in the band to tell you if an idea you have isn’t any good?

Yeah, because that’s what I like about collaborating. You can get a lot of stuff out of someone else that you can’t get out of yourself, and that’s probably the most fun part; coming up with something that you never would have come up with by yourself.

Why was 2007 the right time to release your autobiography, Things The Grandchildren Should Know?

I don’t know if it was the right time. It’s an odd time to write your life story when you’re 40. I used to experiment; no one asked me to do it. I wanted to see what it all added up to, and when I finished it I thought there might be something to offer the world here, and decided to put it out. It was such a nice feeling to do something as an experiment and have it be praised. I probably have more people come up to me in the street and say something about the book than the music at this point, you know?

Is it something you would do again?

Writing a book is very hard and lonely work and isn’t nearly as fun as making music. But if anyone who has read the book is interested in a sequel, the closest thing to it would this new album; the major update on what has happened since then.

The album has received almost universally good reviews so far. Do you read or care about reviews?

Well, it’s always nice if people get something out of it and appreciate your hard work, but I think the best thing to do is to brush it all off; it’s not something that really matters, I don’t think.

What are your touring plans?

Right now we’re about to go across America, then across Europe. We always intend to get [to Australia], but the last couple of times we haven’t because of scheduling conflicts. We’re trying to get there this year, and hopefully we will.

Do you see the release of a new album as solely a vehicle for touring?

I think of them as two different things. When you make a new album, the record company often wants you to go on tour. Touring has become the funnest part of my life; I look forward to it, and whether there was a record or not, I’d want to be doing it.

What will you be doing for the rest of the year after the tour?

That’s it; it’s a blank slate after the tour ends, but I don’t know when that’s going to end yet. I’m just pouring everything I’ve got into that, and there’s nothing in the works. I don’t know what will happen; maybe it’s time for a long nap.

THE CAUTIONARY TALES OF MARK OLIVER EVERETT BY EELS IS OUT NOW.

Interview: Craig Finn of The Hold Steady

craig finn

THERE’S A TRACK on the new Hold Steady album called ‘On With The Business’, and that’s exactly what singer-guitarist Craig Finn is getting. It’s been four years since Heaven Is Whenever saw the band’s music maturing and the then 38 year-old’s lyrics further enforcing his reputation as a rock and roll storyteller of the highest order. It’s easy to see why Finn’s lyrics are what they are, as he reels off names of writers you’ve never heard of.

The engaging and erudite Minneapolis-raised New York native is still telling stories with his literature-rich lyrics on new album Teeth Dreams, and since the departure of flamboyantly moustachioed keyboardist Franz Nicolay after 2008’s excellent Stay Positive, the band has taken on an extra guitarist. With a fatter, Thin Lizzy-esque dual guitar sound, The Hold Steady may have reached a new phase in their musical life cycle, but while Finn is happy to talk up his band’s new dynamic and approach to making music, he’s equally happy to chew the fat on a range of other subjects, from chasing girls as a youngster to Nirvana and the future of rock.

Congratulations on the new album. How does it feel to have it out there?

It feels really good, you know. This is the same as any album, but they take so long to get out; we recorded it in August and it was mixed in October. I’m just excited to be out here playing these songs for people. We went down and did SXSW and played seven times, but they were all these short showcases, and I’m excited to now be playing real shows to the real fans.

How did the new material go down at SXSW?

It went great and continues to go great. It’s always fun to have a new record out; you go and do a new song, and now that it’s out people jump up and sing the words, and you’re like “alright; these guys have got the record”. It feels really good.

Do you feel nervous playing songs live for the first time?

You get sort of nervous, but in some ways it’s also great because you have to pay attention a little more or be on autopilot a little less. In that sense it’s really nice; it’s kind of more of a challenge and you have to think about it, and that’s really cool. You’re maybe paying attention to different things than you are for the rest of the set, in a good way.

Why has it been four years since your last album?

We were going really hard, you know? We did five albums in seven years and toured extensively on each of them. Things were kind of fatiguing; the wheels were falling off the wagon, so to speak. I think everyone was a little tired, and creatively we weren’t in a very good place. We took a break and I made a solo record, which took some time, then we started trying to make this record. The one thing that’s different about this record is that [guitarist] Steve Selvidge joined for it. This is the first record we wrote and recorded with him, and now we have two guitar players. He had joined on the touring for the last record, but this is the first we had wrote and recorded with him. He lives in Memphis and the rest of us live in New York, so there was a bit of a geographic hurdle to get over when we started writing. It was a little formal at first, or a little forced, but we got over it eventually and wrote a ton of songs; maybe even over-writing. We had way more songs than we needed, but once our producer Nick Raskulinecz came in it happened quickly. He was like “you guys have plenty of songs for a record, let’s just go make this thing”.

What makes Steve Selvidge a good fit for The Hold Steady?

We had met him as a guitar player in an opening band years before; a band called The Bloodthirsty Lovers. Tad [Kubler, guitar] and Steve hit it off right away; they started playing guitar together and he seemed a good fit personality-wise, and then we found out that Tad and him were born on the exact same day. We thought if we were going to do a two-guitar line-up, then this was meant to be. It’s a push and pull thing between their guitars; the way they play back and forth and the way they play with each other. That’s come to define this album, and it’s a huge part of our sound now.

Do you enjoy recording or can it be a chore?

There are a lot of parts that don’t have a lot to do with me, you know? There’s a technical aspect to it, and then there are all the instruments that you aren’t playing. Depending on how you’re making the record, there can be a lot of downtime. I like making the records, but there are days which are pretty slow. I really like playing shows, so the record is a way to go out and introduce your songs to people and go out on tour again. I guess I like touring better than recording, although I love to see things fit together, and the creative moments are really fun.

What is it that appeals to you about writing about female characters in your lyrics?

For one I think so many stories we tell – whether it’s songs, books, movies or whatever – are about boy meets girl, so you need girls in there. Being of the opposite sex, there’s a mystery there for me, and I think in many books and movies the female is empowered with his mystery. Ultimately, being in a band whose audience is largely male, I need to find a way to make real women characters who you can really empathise with and that are very human. That becomes important for me.

Why do you think there are so few musicians doing the same thing?

In the big picture, I think for a lot of people lyrics are an afterthought. I’ve always been obsessed with characters in songs, and one of the things I’ve tried to do – rather than just introduce characters – is character development. Sometimes going back to these characters means I can flesh them out a bit more; that may be one of the ways that they might be a little more realised as humans.

In the song ‘On With The Business’ you mention “that American sadness”. Can you define what that is?

I got that from an interview that I read with David Foster Wallace. He’s a writer I’ve been obsessed with; I’ve read all his books and probably every interview he’s ever done. He talks about this particular American sadness, or the understanding that there’s a void inside us. There’s a realisation that no matter what we do, or what we try to fill it with – meaning drugs and alcohol or consumer goods, you know, stuff; there’s still sort of an emptiness. That song is about consumerism and about how these characters are doing whatever they can do to get ahead, and by that it means they just get more stuff. It’s the first time I’ve written about that kind of consumerism, and it made me think of the American sadness quote.

What plans do you have for touring, and can we expect an Australian trip at any point?

I’m hoping we can tour Australia either late 2014 or early 2015. We’ll be in the States for the [northern hemisphere] summer and hopefully get back to Europe in the fall; we have quite a bit of touring planned. I think we’ll probably come for your summer. Our winter, your summer would be ideal.

A couple of off-topic questions to finish up. There has been quite a resurgence in interest in Nirvana recently, surrounding the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. How much of an influence did Nirvana have in your life?

I was pretty entrenched in underground punk and hardcore music by the time Nirvana came into my life. I wasn’t an obsessive Nirvana fan; I certainly appreciated them, but I guess I was already kind of committed to that kind of thing. I have to admit that after Nirvana came out, it sort of became okay for certain girls to look at a guy like me; a more alternative guy or more weird guy. Kurt Cobain definitely helped my cause with a few girls.

Do you see them as being worthy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction so soon?

Absolutely. Even though I wasn’t obsessed with them at the time, the songs absolutely stand the test of time. He was a great, great singer and so many people held on to that and if you look at how many people he moved and the sea change they represented in the early ’90s, they are more than worthy.

The Arctic Monkeys recently claimed rock and roll has returned. How is it looking from your viewpoint?

It doesn’t seem to me to be at its most popular. I feel that younger people seem to like electronic music more, and hip hop is really big. I think the younger someone is, the less likely they are [to be] into rock and roll, but that said, I see die-hards every night we play. I don’t think it’s going anywhere and I don’t think it’s ever gone away. I think it’s always going to be here, but I don’t know if I believe if it’s ‘back’ or at a particularly strong point right now. I think probably in a couple of years a 22 year-old whiz kid will come out and capture the hearts and minds of young people, and that’s when rock and roll will have a resurgence on a commercial level. Right now I think it’s just holding steady; no pun intended.

TEETH DREAMS BY THE HOLD STEADY IS OUT NOW.

Interview: James Williamson of Iggy and the Stooges

james williamson

IN 1973 Iggy and the Stooges – Iggy Pop, James Williamson, and brothers Ron and Scott Asheton – released Raw Power; a seminal rock album that stunned audiences of the day and introduced the music world to the first spewings of punk. After the band fell apart in 1974, guitarist Williamson left music behind and had a successful career in the electronics and software industries, before rejoining the band in 2009. In 2010 the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and released their latest record Ready to Die last year. Williamson’s new project involves re-workings of songs from the Raw Power era; a collection which will be released as an album entitled Re-Licked.

Why did you decide to re-visit these songs?

You know, it was a series of things. I’ve always kind of wanted to hear those songs recorded properly. Back in the day we thought when we wrote them that they would be on a studio album, and we toured with them. Then we changed management, and unfortunately we didn’t get the option for another record from Columbia Records after Raw Power, so all that existed of those songs was the bootlegs for all these years. I started out wanting to find a female vocalist, as I thought ‘Open Up And Bleed’ would really be good for someone who sang kind of like Janis Joplin, and so I looked and looked and a friend of mine in Austin, Texas sent me a link to Carolyn Wonderland singing, and I just said ‘that’s my girl’. I got in touch with her, and she was totally cool; didn’t know me from anybody, but was totally cool to record it. That’s the first single [and is] coming out on Record Store Day on the 19th of April. I was pretty inspired to go on and continue doing them, and I’m so glad I did as all these singers have stepped up and done a fantastic job. Really, I think you’re going to be pretty amazed at some of these performances.

What other singers do you have on there and how did you come to work with them?

The next single is with a girl called Lisa Kekaula of The BellRays; she just completely rocks on ‘I Gotta Right’ and ‘Heavy Liquid’. That’ll come out around June-ish. I’ve got Ariel Pink on ‘She Creatures From The Hollywood Hills’, Jello Biafra on ‘Head On’, Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream is going to do ‘Scene Of The Crime’, Jim Reid from The Jesus and Mary Chain, Mark Lanegan, Alison Mosshart and on and on. There’s thirteen of them altogether; it’s a real showcase for singers, if you will, and a tribute to our song-writing.

Did you originally want Iggy to sing on the album?

Well, you know, initially I did. Initially he and I discussed it as a possible album instead of the last one that we did. We decided against it because of the obvious comparisons between the young Stooges and the old Stooges, and so it just didn’t seem like a good idea to get bogged down in all these comparisons. I feel like we made a good album with Ready To Die, but I still had it on my bucket list to do these songs properly, and so the obvious way for me to avoid the comparisons was to have a fresh look at them, re-arrange the songs and bring in other singers. Then it becomes a tribute to the song-writing, rather than an attempt to compete with your younger self.

What makes Raw Power so damn good?

I think it’s the song-writing; pure and simple. Those songs – and God knows, they’ve been mishandled in every way possible by many different people – still sound good, even if the mix is crap or whatever. It just doesn’t matter. The song-writing is the most essential ingredient, but also the playing was ground-breaking. That was my first album, so I didn’t know anything about the studio and had to defer to Iggy. Iggy’s not the most technical person in the world, and he’s a very creative guy and wants to push the envelope, but sometimes in the studio that’s not a good idea. With that record we made the engineer do a lot of things he probably shouldn’t have done, and there were some technical problems; the bass was like mush and the drum track was almost non-existent. Given what Bowie had to work with, he did a pretty good job, albeit a little bit arty. Anyway, he made me sound great, and I’ve got to be thankful for that [laughs]. For an album which is essentially guitar and vocals, it’s pretty good. Jack White has made an entire career out of it.

How did you feel when people said Iggy and the Stooges couldn’t play properly or weren’t real musicians?

Well, I think we proved them wrong. History will probably show that we were good musicians, and we were also very creative and willing to take chances, and not just try to to imitate what was popular at the time. God knows, when we made Raw Power, they were still tying yellow ribbons around the old oak tree, you know? That was the popular music at the time. We pushed the envelope, and although it didn’t do us any good career-wise until much much later, we were successful; it just took a really long time.

There seems to be so much of the Vietnam War in Raw Power. Was that a major influence on the recording?

Yes. No doubt about it. Certainly the riffs from ‘Search and Destroy’. The genesis of that was me in the rehearsal room screwing around with the guys, playing ‘machine gun’ on the guitar. They kind of liked that, and that’s how that song started. There was a little bit of influence on our playing, but there was a ton of influence on Iggy’s lyrics. He’s a very topical writer; if you look at any of his stuff, it’s stuff that’s in the newspaper at the time. That’s the way he writes.

Any chance of a trip to Australia any time soon?

I’ve been asked that question a lot and I’d absolutely love to do it. The thing is trying to organise thirteen singers to show up anywhere is daunting, never mind get them all to Australia. It’d be a challenge, but I’m up for it, and if we can find a promoter to step up and do that, I’d love to. I love Australia; I’ve been there a couple of times now. The Stooges aren’t touring this year, but when we do start touring again, Australia is certainly a viable venue for us.

Do you think you’ll ever retire from music, like you have done from your electronics career?

I’m sure I will, but before I do I’d like to work on a different type of music. Because I was out of music for so long I’ve got a lot of music still in me, and that’s part of what doing this new album is about. The stuff has a fresh new look and sound to it, and I feel good about that. How long more The Stooges go on; I don’t know. There’s not many of us left, for one thing. What I do on-stage is just stand there and play, and assuming I don’t get arthritis or something and can’t play – like Keith Richards or someone like that – I can do it for a long time. But Iggy; he’s 66. When we go back out again he’ll be 67, 68. How many guys are going to stage dive at that point? If anybody will, he will, but I’m just saying, you know?

JAMES WILLIAMSON AND CAROLYN WONDERLAND’s NEW LIMITED VINYL SINGLE ‘OPEN UP AND BLEED’/’GIMME SOME SKIN’ WILL BE AVAILABLE AT INDEPENDENT RECORD STORES WORLDWIDE ON RECORD STORE DAY, APRIL 19TH 2014.

Interview: Melanie Safka

melanie safka

NEW YORK-BORN Melanie Safka – better known simply as Melanie – is true singer-songwriter royalty. Having been thrust into the spotlight as a relatively unknown 22 year-old folk singer by an appearance at the now legendary Woodstock Music Festival in 1969, she has gone on to make a long career out of music and songwriting. An upcoming tour of Australia will allow fans the chance to hear classic songs ‘Brand New Key’, ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and ‘Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)’.

What can fans expect from your shows on your upcoming tour?

They can expect me to do some of my new ones and some of my old ones. They do not have to fear that I will do a jazz version of ‘Brand New Key’ or something. Some people get older and think it will be very clever to do jazz versions of their songs, but I won’t be doing that. It’ll be a good cross section of hits and things that were maybe not even released. Usually I’m really in touch and I’ll often decide at the very last minute what I’m going to do, but I don’t want to disappoint people so I’ll do songs that people know. Honestly, I’ve sometimes got real die-hard Melanie people who don’t want to hear ‘Brand New Key’ and want to hear the newer or more obscure things. There will be something for them too.

How much new material do you have?

I write all the time and I have a new album, which was quasi-released. I’ll be bringing some CDs with me to have at the shows; it’ll be like Melanie’s garage sale. The new album is called Ever Since You Never Heard Of Me. My son and I write together and he just produced a new single called ‘Make It Work For Me’. I’m thinking that we live in a world where people just download a song they like, so I decided to do it that way. But of course, for those people who want a concept album, we’ve been working on an orchestrated Melanie piece. My son is a real composer and has toured all over the world as a solo concert guitarist, and he’ll be with me as well as an Australian contingent. It should be a lot of fun.

Could your new material be called classic Melanie material, in terms of style?

I don’t know; I’ve never really identified myself. When you really think about it, my hits were all over the place; a pretty eclectic mix. One record was a gospel hit, with 46 gospel singers and the next was a little whimsical thing and the next was ‘Beautiful People’, or however chronologically it goes; I know they’re all in there somewhere. I’m always a little all over the map, so is there such a thing as a ‘classic’ Melanie song? They’re all me, I guess.

You’ll probably forever be associated with Woodstock and the hippy movement. What are your main memories of the festival?

I remember everything; I could take three days to talk about it. When I arrived I was totally not an experienced performer. I didn’t have any hit records, just one recording that was being played on underground radio, and if even one percent of that audience had ever heard it, it would have been amazing. I was terrified, and on top of that I was really an introvert – and still really am, but I’ve learned how to handle it. The terror mounted all day long. I went to the festival with my mother, as I was working on a film score in England where my husband was producing and we had been working together. I almost thought that maybe I shouldn’t do this Woodstock thing, but decided that I suppose I should go. I thought it was going to be like a little picnic in a field with arts and crafts, and families with picnic blankets; I had no clue. Communications then were so different; the hype hadn’t hit England and at the last minute my mother picked me up and we drove to Woodstock. We hit some traffic and I thought there was maybe an accident or something, and when I finally got to a phone booth and got someone on the phone, we realised the traffic had something to do with this festival thing; it wasn’t just weekend traffic or anything like that. Then I began to shake, and when we got to the rendezvous place someone told me to go to a helicopter, and I’d never been in a helicopter and asked them why we can’t just go in a car like everybody else. My mother and I went towards the helicopter and somebody stopped us and said ‘Who’s she?’ I replied ‘It’s my mom,’ and they told us she couldn’t come; it was bands and managers only. So I got into the helicopter alone, having said goodbye to my mother, and I get brought to this field where I didn’t even know what this ‘stuff’ was underneath me. I asked the pilot what it was, and he said ‘It’s people!’ I’d never seen anything like it; it was incredible. I was led to a tent where I didn’t have even as much as a backstage pass, so if I wandered too far from the backstage area, Hell’s Angels types would pick me up and bring me back out to the crowd. I would have to say ‘No, no, I’m an artist, I’m supposed to sing!’ and I would sing a line from ‘Beautiful People’ or something, and they took me back. By night time it began to rain and I thought everyone would surely go home, and the announcer made a statement saying that someone was passing out thousands of candles and some inspirational little note. Then someone came in and said ‘You’re on next’. I really, really thought I was going to die; I can’t even say how terrified I was. All day long I was waiting, and people had been telling me all day that I was on next before postponing it, and this time I was waiting for the postponement, but it didn’t come. I went on and had an out-of-body experience and rejoined myself somewhere during ‘Beautiful People’. The thing was, because it started to rain and the announcer was talking about the candles being passed out, I’m forever linked with the lighting of things at festivals even before the song ‘Candles In The Rain’. It was an amazing camaraderie that everyone wanted to continue, and then I wrote that song and bringing something that lit to a Melanie show became the thing to do.

At what point did you realise you’d been part of such an iconic cultural phenomenon?

Maybe when we started doing reunions I realised it was such a monumental thing. I mean, it was a festival and then I did every festival; I became like a festival queen. Every time there was a big festival, Melanie had to be there. I guess the [idea] of me at Woodstock was that I went onto the stage as an unknown and came off as a celebrity. I think that was part of the mystique; after all, there were lots of other people at Woodstock, but I’m so linked to it because of that.

What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?

I’ve written a musical based on the life of my husband and I. My husband passed away three years ago; he was my manager and producer for all my albums as well as being the father of our children. So it’s a whole new universe, and from the day he passed away I started thinking of this incredible story. He always wanted me to write my journal and memoirs as an autobiography, and I always said I don’t know what to write or that I didn’t have a lot of pictures as I was always so shy that I would run from the photo op. I just don’t think I’m a person who should have a book. On our last road trip he gave me a leather-bound journal and told me to just write. He said it doesn’t matter where you start; at the middle or about single events that happened in my life, or from singing at the United Nations general assembly or different situations and moments. When he passed, I looked at this empty journal and started to write. My first line was ‘Sometimes you don’t know it’s a story until it has an end’. Then I wrote our story, which is really a strange one. We were married for over forty years, working in a business that is relentless and at the same time we were totally opposite [types of] people. I was very young and he just swooped me up, you know? I looked at it from the perspective of forty-three years later against the backdrop of historic events like the war in Vietnam and it all came together as a musical, with some old songs and some new. We did it once, and I’m still looking to do it; it’s a really amazing show. Maybe we’ll get some theatre people in Australia involved.

MELANIE BRINGS HER ‘PEOPLE IN THE FRONT ROW’ TOUR TO AUSTRALIA FOR THE FOLLOWING DATES:

Adelaide Cabaret Festival, SA – Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide
Saturday, 7 June 2014, Sunday, 8 June 2014 and Monday, 9 June 2014
Tickets available from http://www.bass.net.au and 131 246

Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane, Qld – Thursday, 12 June 2014
Tickets available from http://www.brisbanepowerhouse.org and 07 3358 8600

Star Court Theatre, Lismore, NSW – Saturday, 14 June 2014
Tickets available from http://www.starcourttheatre.com.au and 02 6622 5005

The Clarendon, Katoomba, NSW – Wednesday, 18 June, 2014
Tickets available from http://www.clarendonguesthouse.com.au/whats_on.html and 02 4782 1322

Interview: Uberjak’d

uberjak'd

BEN Grzywacz – a.k.a. Uberjak’d – is fast becoming one of the hottest names on the Australian DJ scene. He’ll be joining a stellar line-up for the national Future Music Festival tour.

Hi Ben, how’s life, and what have you been up to recently?

Great! I’ve just been moving house, which as anyone who has moved knows sucks, but [I’ve] almost moved into the new joint and loving the extra space and new studio. I’m also just about to start Future Music and Goodlife Festival tours, which I am amped for.

What can fans expect from the shows?

Well I’m going to be testing out a lot of new tunes which I have been working on for my EPs for Dim Mak and Mixmash; I am humbled to be a part of the national tour this year. I remember as a young kid it was the first festival I ever attended, so to be on the national tour is something never in a million years I would have thought would be possible.

Will you get a chance to check out any other artists? Is there anyone further down the bill you’d recommend?

Well, I can’t wait for Prydz; for me, he was one of the guys that really inspired me to write music. He was always able to bring the melody and feeling with an upbeat energy. It’s also his first time playing in Australia, which is a pretty big deal!

What releases or remixes do you have in the pipeline right now?

Okay, so literally once I finish this interview, I’m getting started on a remix for Deorro. I can’t say much more than that though. I have a heap of originals coming with my Dim Mak EP featuring four tracks; ‘The Moment’ with Sarah Bodle is coming out very soon, I have an EP with Mixmash coming later in the year, as well as collabs with Will Sparks, Deorro, Zoolanda, Slice n Dice, J-trick Kronic and Chardy.

You recently had your first international gig in New Zealand. How was it?

Yeah it was an awesome experience! Really hope I can go over there again some time, New Zealand is a beautiful place.

How do you rate the club scene in Australia right now? Are there too many government restrictions?

Ugh, don’t even get me started on the lock outs; I have been going out to clubs almost every weekend for four years and I am still in one piece. It’s not the clubs that are the problem, it’s the streets. Apart from that, the club scene is great; Australia is getting a great reputation worldwide for its sound, so it’s a great time to be an Aussie (when isn’t it!)

I read that you’re heading to America soon. What is the plan for the trip?

I can’t wait for America, I’m going to be doing my first international tour, which is 14 dates over a month. As well as that, it’s WMC which I can’t wait for, I’ve heard it gets crazy over there in Miami around that time.

How do you respond to people saying DJs aren’t really playing live music?

I guess people that don’t understand it will say that, but DJing is an art. It’s like showing a million dollar piece of artwork to some bogan down at Centrelink (for those non-Aussies, that’s a welfare office and a redneck); they will probably not understand it and say it’s just a piece of card with some paint on it. But to the educated, it’s a masterpiece and they can appreciate the art and what the artists was trying to make them feel, I think DJing is a lot like this. In saying that, there are good and bad artists, just like DJs.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Spend more time in the studio! I never get as much time to do it as I want. Thanks for the chat and hopefully catch you next time I’m in your hood.

FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL DATES

Saturday 1 March – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane
Sunday 2 March – Arena Joondalup, Perth
Saturday 8 March – Royal Randwick Racecourse, Sydney
Sunday 9 March – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Monday 10 March – Adelaide Showgrounds, Adelaide

Interview: Paul Smith of Maxïmo Park

paul smith maximo

FORMED in 2001 in the north-east of England, Maxïmo Park are true mainstays of the alternative and indie-rock scenes. Their fifth and latest album, Too Much Information, has just been released, and was recorded and self-produced by the band in Newcastle and Sunderland with additional production duties from The Invisible’s Dave Okumu and Field Music’s David and Peter Brewis. The album is the follow up to 2012’s critically acclaimed The National Health. I spoke to singer Paul Smith, currently touring Europe with the band.

Hi Paul, how are you? How do you feel now that the new album is released?

Yeah, really good. I’m just on the tour bus; up bright and early. We’re in Amsterdam today after being in Brussels last night. [The album release] feels really good. I think if you believe in a bunch of songs and think other people are going to like them you should put them out, and if not don’t bother. Other people put records out just because it’s part of their job or something like that, but for us it has to be something that’s worth offering to the world. We’re feeling very good about the songs and it’s nice to go out and play them after completing them before Christmas. There’s a kind of honeymoon period where you think you’ve made the best record in the world (laughs), then everyone else gets to hear it and some people probably don’t think that. You put it out into the world and go out and try to spread the word about it.

How have the songs been going down so far?

Really well, it has to be said. Every time you put something out there is an element of nervousness as we wonder if anyone will like it. We like it, that’s a given; but what’s the response going to be? I think people have really enjoyed songs like ‘Brain Cells’ and ‘Leave This Island’ which we’ve offered to the world a little bit earlier than the rest. It’s almost like getting people used to the idea of the evolution of the band and putting out songs that prick up the ears of those who haven’t heard the band before, or perhaps have preconceptions of what the band is. Again, that could potentially put some people off; those who like a certain sound about your band, but we try to transcend any issues people might have with the songs and they’ve just taken them to their hearts and responded really well. The nervousness is over now.

You mentioned the evolution of the band. In what way has this album evolved your sound?

I think we’ve probably become more confident. After the last album and having a break we were never quite sure how it’d be when we got back together, and sure enough it was quite difficult to start writing again. Once we got back in the groove we wanted to keep going and write songs in a certain way, and move on and put more things like literary references into the songs. I think beforehand they had been more subconscious, but this time around there are mentions of Lydia Davis and Audre Lorde and in the album booklet I’ve put in a few recommended readings and things that inspired the songs. That’s one way the lyrics have moved on a bit; there’s more of a storytelling thing there and each verse is kind of episodic. In saying that, we’re not throwing the baby out with the bath water, yet there are moments on the album where there are no guitars, which is something that we wouldn’t have done before. We’ve been more bold on this record, and we decided that whatever the song needs we’ll do it and not be bothered about an album being really coherent or something like that. One of the earmarks of the record is that it’s pretty eclectic. If we needed no guitars we removed them, if we needed loud guitars we turned them up, if I needed to sing soft I did it, and so on and so forth. It’s an album of extremes, but it’s nice to still have the essence of Maxïmo Park in the end.

Tell me a little about some of the bonus tracks on the album. You have ‘Middlesbrough Man’, a slightly altered cover of ‘Edinburgh Man’ by The Fall. Why did you pick that?

There are a few songs that we all really love, and a few albums that we all really love. After that, we all have quite individual tastes. With the covers on the album, we decided to just do things we like. ‘Edinburgh Man’ was a song we used to play when driving down to London or somewhere to play gigs before we got signed. It’s a bit of a sing-along for The Fall; some of their tracks are quite out there, and when we were doing this cover I started singing “I want to be in Middlesbrough” instead. Syllable-wise it all fitted in, and we did two versions before deciding to go with the Middlesbrough one as I’m from the area. Somehow all the lyrics fitted; from going walking on bridges at dawn and the cobbled streets which reminded me of going to football matches at Ayresome Park when I was a lad. There’s even a folklore festival in my hometown, and [Fall singer] Mark E. Smith sings “keep me away from the festival”, which is obviously about the Edinburgh festival, but it reminds me of being a kid.

What do you think he’d make of your cover? Did you have to ask his permission?

We did have to ask permission and we regretted it, but he’d probably hate it! (laughs)

You also have some Nick Drake on there.

Yeah, Nick Drake was one the first people who got me more seriously into music. I was listening to stuff like The Smiths and grunge when I was 12 or 13 years old; that’s what was happening at the time. Then I heard Nick Drake for the first time and it got me really into folk music and made me want to pick up the guitar. My dad had a Spanish guitar and we would get it down and strum it and it wouldn’t sound very good, but listening to Nick Drake’s beautiful finger picking would encourage me to play more. Having said that, it’s me playing the guitar on the record and it’s more strum-y. I had played at a Nick Drake night with people like Robyn Hitchcock and Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside and played ‘Northern Sky’. The version you can hear on the album is my demo they used to play the guitar at the event as I was too scared. But yeah, I’m a massive fan of Nick Drake; his music strikes a chord with where I’m from and where I grew up.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? Touring?

Yeah, we’ve got loads of touring to do. Once you’ve got the songs you’ve got this puppy dog-esque enthusiasm for wanting to play the songs and for people to hear them. You want to mix it up and play old songs next to the new ones. People have responded in a very enthusiastic way. If we can get across to Australia, that would be great. We’re off to Japan soon as well; we’re playing there on the third of April. That’s one of the perks of being in a band, being able to see a little bit of the world, as well as being a rock star! (laughs)

TOO MUCH INFORMATION BY MAXIMO PARK IS OUT NOW.

Interview: Andy Gill of Gang of Four

gang of four

AS guitarist, songwriter and founding member of iconic post-punk quartet Gang of Four, Andy Gill’s body of work is as influential as it is recognisable. To mark thirty-five years since their debut record Entertainment!, Gang of Four will tour Australia, playing the album in full. I fought possibly the crackliest phone line in existence to speak with Andy about the longevity of Entertainment!‘s appeal and rumours of new Gang of Four material.

Hi Andy, what have you been up to recently?

For the last few months I’ve essentially been locked down in the studio getting the new record finished. It’s thirteen songs, as yet untitled, and it’s been a culmination of a couple of years work. I’m probably getting a bit obsessive about it as I haven’t really been seeing the light of day sometimes.

It’s a new Gang of Four album, as opposed to solo stuff, yes? When do you expect to have it finished?

Yes it is. It will definitely be finished soon; when exactly it will come out is subject to quite a lot of debate at the moment; between labels and stuff. We’re trying to figure out if we can have it out by about June.

On this tour you’ll be playing the Entertainment! album in full, but will you be playing any of the new songs as well?

We’ll be doing firstly Entertainment! , or most of it at least. There’s a song on there called ‘Contract’ which we never play. We’ll do one but not both of ‘5:45’ and ‘Guns Before Butter’. There will be new songs, but there will be also newer songs; songs not necessarily from the new record, but our last few. We’ll have one or two things from Shrinkwrapped and some others as well; things that always appeal to our audience.

Why is now the right time to play Entertainment! in full?

I think as it’s been thirty-five years it’s a record that people can see laid down the band’s methodology and as such it’s an important record.

Which of the songs was least familiar to you during rehearsal?

There are some songs on there which we always play, like ‘Anthrax’, ‘Damaged Goods’ and ‘Natural’s Not In It’, and we’ve streamlined some of them, but ‘Guns Before Butter’ and ‘5:45’ would be the most unfamiliar.

Do you think that a lot of the themes on the album are still relevant today?

Absolutely. Very much so. The thing about the lyrical angles is that current affairs were a big part of our theme. We didn’t particularly sing songs about particular events, although sometimes we mentioned them in passing, but more often observations about our lives and the type of people around us, and this advanced capitalist society which we occupy. The new material is similar.

What are your plans for the rest of the year after the tour?

The record will be out at some point, and we’re going to tour all over the world. After Australia, there will be China, Japan, all over Europe, South and North America; so there’ll be plenty going on. Now we’ve got [singer] John Gaoler involved we can do live gigs, and that’s a really strong aspect of what we’ll be doing.

GANG OF FOUR AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES:

Wednesday 19th March Corner Hotel, Melbourne
http://www.cornerhotel.com.au

Thursday 20th March Metro Theatre, Sydney
http://www.ticketek.com.au

Saturday 22nd March HiFi, Brisbane
http://www.oztix.com.au

Sunday 23rd March Capital, Perth
http://www.oztix.com.au

Interview: Matt Neumann of Scotdrakula

scotdrakula

MELBOURNE’S Scotdrakula are currently supporting the outstanding Mac Demarco on his Australian tour. I caught up with the band to find out what they’ve been doing this year, and if Christmas songs suck.

Hi Matt, how are things in the Scotdrakula camp? What have you been up to recently?

Things are hunky dory. Recently, we’ve been writing some new stuff and releasing our new single, ‘Break Me Up’. It came out a few weeks ago and since then, we’ve just been rehearsing and hanging out.

How did you meet and start making music together?

I met Evianne at The Empress where I was bartending and she was bar-flying. Dove and I met through our mutual friend Amanda and a bunch of beer.

Supporting Mac Demarco sounds pretty awesome. What can fans expect from your show?

I think it would be safe to expect roughly forty minutes of rock ‘n’ roll music interjected with some dancing, eye contact, quippy and somewhat obtuse onstage banter and smiling. Then we’ll leave all sweaty.

What’s the reaction to ‘Break Me Up’ been like so far?

Pretty good! I read someone describe the video we made for it as ‘genuinely unsettling’, which is massive compliment. It’s weirdly great to hear that something you made could unsettle someone. Wow…

You’re in the tour van or dressing room before a gig. What music is playing?

We’d just be tossing and catching switchblades and staring at the door.

You seem to have a reputation as a bit of a party band. What would be on your ideal rider?

The ideal rider would probably be just a few hundred dogs in a room to roll around with before and after we play.

Christmas songs: are they just a bit of fun or a festive pain in the arse?

It depends. Some are great, but every Christmas song written after my birth is a piece of shit. The worst Christmas song of all time is that Beach Boys song, ‘Santa’s Beard’. It sounds like they fucking made it up as they went. The best one is ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)’ by The Ramones.

What has been the band’s highlight of 2013?

We got to do some awesome stuff so far this year, but the standouts were probably playing Camp A Low Hum and getting to go play in Singapore. That was friggin’ neat.

SCOTDRAKULA PLAY THE ZOO BRISBANE 18th DEC.

Interview: Vinnie Fiorello of Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake. Vinnie Fiorello, second right.
Less Than Jake. Vinnie Fiorello, second right.

SKA-PUNK legends Less Than Jake will head to Australia in 2014 to play Soundwave Festival, bringing with them over twenty years of finely-honed gigging experience. Drummer and lyricist Vinnie Fiorello tells me why the Gainesville, Florida band’s hunger for making music and performing is stronger than ever.

Hi Vinnie, what’s been happening in the Less Than Jake camp of late?

We were just on the Fat Wreck Chords tour around the United States; that was a five-week tour with Anti-Flag and a few other bands. A few weeks back we released our ninth studio record called See The Light, and that was on Fat Wreck Chords. Generally speaking reviews have been good, and we had a great time writing and recording it, and there you go; you’re caught up, man.

Tell me a bit about See The Light. How does it sound compared to your previous material?

Well, I think it’s most definitely the sum of all its parts. We took our time in writing and crafting the songs, and it progressed naturally as we let it kind of percolate at its own pace. We wrote and recorded it at our bass player’s studio in Gainesville, and from that point we had friends of ours mix it, and frankly, because of those parts it sounds like Less Than Jake, or a very refined version of the band that people have come to know for the last twenty years. There’s parts of very gruff point rock, there’s some minor punk in there, there’s classic ska-punk, and there’s some third wave ska. It’s very much influenced by ourselves and only by ourselves. It’s a very weird and crazy thing to be able to say that, but it’s true.

How much do you enjoy the recording process? Some bands find it a chore.

Not to fuck around, but there’s been times in the studio when it’s been a chore, and times when it’s been way too dramatic or silly. This time around we did it in Gainesville, and it was a very relaxed atmosphere and fun. It was cool to do it where I could go home at night as well.

I saw an interview you did a couple of years ago in which you said the album format is dead. Why change your mind now?

For the last five years we’ve mainly been doing EPs, and firmly I think that the album format is limping along. In the case of our album, when we started writing songs, we wanted a collection of songs that were similar thematically, and not only musically but lyrically too. You can’t really get that with EPs, so we went back to the full-length format. When we started to write it it fell together naturally and it was cool.

Do you still think albums have a future?

I guess it depends on the genre. I mean, the album format for pop music is already dead. If you take Katy Perry; she can sell one million singles, but only 100,000 copies of her album, and while those numbers are nothing to sneeze at, they are definitely not what they were three, five, eight, ten years ago. It’s insane how much it’s down. Punk rock has never been about the single, it’s been much more about the album format, and I think that might be the last stand, so to speak, for the album format. I had a great time doing the EPs, and I think it’s good for fans to be able to get music every eight or nine months instead of waiting three years.

What have you got planned for Soundwave Festival?

I think we’re prepared to have a good time like we always are. We’re going to show up, we’re going to play some songs, take some requests, rile the crowd, and have fun playing. It’s twenty-one years in, man, and if you’re not having fun being in a band and playing live there’s a serious issue, so we’re going to do what we do best; have fun and make the crowd have fun with us.

An outdoor gig in Australian summer. How do you deal with the heat?

Dude, I’m from Florida, and Australian summer has nothing on Florida. So to answer your question, I’m going to feel exactly like I feel when I’m at home, so therefore it’s going to feel good. It’s funny that you should mention it, because every time we’ve been in Australia prior to this, it’s always been Australia summer, it’s always been a great time, and it always feels like Florida to me. When I’m there it always feels like home, so it’s a great place to be. The crowds always love music and are always there to have a good time. They’re always passionate about the music they’re paying to see, and that’s exciting for anyone in a band, and certainly exciting to me.

Is there ever any trepidation playing new material live?

There’s always nerves. We sort of had a trial by fire this tour just finished. We would come straight out and do a new song, and people would look at us like they had no idea what it was. Later, when the record came out, you could see the slow surge of people knowing the songs.

What are your plans for 2014?

We’re just back from tour four days ago, so we’re off for a few weeks. Starting next year, we have an eighteen-date tour in the U.K.. Then we have three days off, then we come over for Soundwave Festival, then we come home. I can’t say what tour it is, but we just confirmed a summer tour for the United States, so we’re just working for the rest of the year. I’m sure there’ll be Europe in there for late 2014, and there’ll be South America in there somewhere. We have a new record out, so we have to put our feet as many places as possible.

SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL DATES & VENUES – FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014

SATURDAY 22 FEBRUARY – BRISBANE, RNA SHOWGROUNDS
SUNDAY 23 FEBRUARY – SYDNEY, OLYMPIC PARK
FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY – MELBOURNE, FLEMINGTON RACECOURSE
SATURDAY 1 MARCH – ADELAIDE, BONYTHON PARK
MONDAY 3 MARCH – PERTH, CLAREMONT SHOWGROUNDS

TICKETS ON SALE NOW: http://soundwavefestival.com/

Interview: Jerry Only of the Misfits

Jerry Only

AS iconic and influential a band as you’re likely to find still touring today, horror-punk Godfathers the Misfits are known as much for their genre-swapping music as they are for their Halloween-themed image. With line-up changes, legal battles and reunion tours behind him, bassist/vocalist Jerry Only continues to fly the band’s flag as loudly and proudly as ever. I spoke to the energetic frontman from his tour bus near Pensacola, Florida.

Hi Jerry, how are you? What have you been up to recently?

We’ve been up to just about everything, to be honest, I guess. We have a whole bunch of new releases all in different categories, we’ve been working on our label, and doing a world tour right now. We’re just finishing up the last leg in the United States and then we’re down in New Zealand and Australia after the new year break.

Tell me about the current line-up of the Misfits. Who have you got in there?

The current line-up of the Misfits has been around for going on thirteen years now. We have Dez Cadena, who was originally Black Flag’s frontman, and he was guitarist when Henry Rollins came on board. In 2001, I brought him out as a special guest for our 25th anniversary, he’s been with me ever since, and we’ve been doing some really great stuff together. He adds a dimension to what we do that we didn’t have earlier. He’s very fluent and has the ability to do some very fancy chords and stuff like that; his dad used to run a jazz and blues label. Dez basically grew up around the studio, so he’s got a really great ear, so when we do a cover of Elvis’s ‘Blue Christmas’ he can add some guitar over the top of it that’s still very punk rock, but fits very well with what we’re doing. He’s also working on a thing called Flag right now, which is the original members of Black Flag minus Greg the guitar player, and that’s going extremely well for him. I tell him that he must be a professional musician now, as he’s got more than one gig going at a time! Then we got Eric Arce, or as we call him ‘The Chupacabra’. He joined up with us back in the day when we had some issues and he was in Murphy’s Law, who were on tour with us at the time. When the band kind of melted down in the middle of the tour he filled in for us, and in the early 2000s he kept filling in for Robo every time he had a problem with his Colombian passport, and he would fly in and do the job. He’s young, hungry, and really aggressive with his very strong double-kick drumming, so he gives us this extra element of surprise. Now, we’re right up to speed with the tools needed to pull off some really thrash-y stuff these days. And me, I’ve been doing this shit forever!

What can Australian fans expect from your shows?

We try to be consistent, you know? I mean, for those of you who’ve seen us before, we have some new material which we think is amazing. We’ll be bringing that all with us, and as far as the fans go, they can expect pretty much more of the same. I tell people that every day we get a little better, and one day we’re going to be the best, so it’s a work in progress. It’s not something I’m going to change; I’m not going to try to come up with some sort of new gimmick for you. Our material speaks for itself, and you’re getting what you expect when you come, and we hold no reservations there. It’s just a matter of if you like the Misfits, come on down, and if you don’t, stay the hell home.

I notice you’ve made a Christmas record…

Yeah! I haven’t got one in my hand yet. I’m getting my first one tomorrow, and I’m very excited. I grew up watching all kinds of Christmas shows; as a kid Christmas always started around Thanksgiving, and I’d be looking in the catalogues thinking about what I want for Christmas, and The Grinch would always be in there. We re-did the song for that; it took a little while to figure out the formula to make it really, really cool, but it came out great. Then we did a cover of Elvis’s ‘Blue Christmas’. Now, back in the day when Glenn was in the band we had done a quick spurt of ‘Blue Christmas’ in Max’s Kansas City one night. I always wanted to redo it, and I always thought it was a cool song, and that’s where Dez comes in and shines. If you listen to it, it’s a punk song, but it has all the little Elvis innuendos that really make it amazing. We also did a song called ‘Island of Misfit Toys’; now I don’t know what Christmas programmes you have down below, but we have what’s called Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which is kind of an animated cartoon with clay puppets, and they have what’s called the Island of Misfit Toys, where all the toys that have been fucked up, have got something wrong with them, or nobody wants them, or whatever the problem is, go to this island, and this song is based on that idea from that Christmas show. For me, it’s like being a kid in a candy shop again. I get the songs about all the stuff I liked as a kid, and use them, and I’m very happy with it. I was thinking of pumping gas, but this might have changed my mind!

You’re often credited with inventing the horror-punk genre. When you started out, did you have any idea that you were starting something like that?

Well, I’ll put it to you this way. I thought we did the same with speed-metal and hardcore as well. We’re a very diverse band, and our subject matter and our image is definitely a horror and science-fiction based image, but our musical extravaganza is all over the board. We go from songs like ‘American Nightmare’, which is a pure rockabilly Elvis Presley/Gene Vincent kind of a song, to something like ‘Earth A.D.’, which is pretty much the speed-metal bible when it comes down to it. We got songs like ‘Halloween’, we got ballads, we got thrash, we got metal, we got it all you know? A lot of time that leaves us in a position where we’re kind of in a class all of our own; it’s really hard to lock us down. A lot of people tag that horror-punk thing on us. Are we a horror-punk band? Of course. But do I think a horror-punk can sustain itself without having great songs? No I don’t. The longevity is in the music, not the look. We’re almost finishing up our fourth decade, we’re going into our 38th year, and my job is to try to keep the band together for fifty. In that time, I’ll build my catalogue to a point where I have stuff all over the place, so when people make movies in the future, they can come back to a Misfits catalogue and pick a really great song that fits any application. I’m not limiting myself to being a horror-punk band. Did we father it? Sure. But we also fathered the Metallicas and the Anthraxes of this world. We have a lot of influences, and it’s based on simplicity and tasteful vocal melodies. I think Glenn really struck a chord when we did something like ‘Earth A.D.’ and he’s really crooning through this stuff, you just realise that it’s a matter of doing tasteful stuff, and I like to think we have a little bit of taste.

What would you like to do in music that you haven’t yet done?

Right now it’s funny, because I kind of covered a lot of things with this Christmas record. Covering ‘Descending Angel’ again, which is a song I wrote for my dad about 1999 when he was sick, and he just passed and didn’t get to hear the song before it came out, is important. I’ve realised the importance of trying to get things done as quickly as you can and not put things off, but the B-side of that is ‘Science Fiction Double Feature’ which I’ve always wanted to cover. We’ve always wanted to do a fifties project; we’ve done that. The new album, I’m very happy with. Right now, I want to go back into the studio and do a lot of the Elvis tracks that I’ve always wanted to do. Also, with the Christmas record, we missed the shelf time for it to actually be bought, and we’d like to get a full-length album out of it for next year, and really go for the Christmas angle with some really cool artwork. We also have images of Marilyn Monroe wearing our T-shirts all over the country now; that’s something I always wanted to do. I mean, if you can align yourself with Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe and people like that, I don’t see how you can’t be recognised as a force, you know? And we’re doing it in a tasteful way too. People who see our skull on a T-shirt know exactly what it means, and those who don’t are still attracted to it. It’s like a moth to a flame; we’re just trying to make that flame as big as we can to get as many of those little moths in there as possible.

What are you most looking forward to about coming to Australia?

The only throwback about coming to Australia is the distance between cities, so for us to actually make it economical, we need to fly between shows, so we do kind of come bare-boned. In saying that, if there’s any band out there who can come and take it to the hoop for you guys, it’s us. We’d love to come down and do some of the big festivals in the future, where we can bring all our stage gear, lighting and set. At the same time, seeing the Misfits in our raw form is what it’s all about anyway. We haven’t been there in three years, so I think it’s going to be refreshing for those who have seen us, and for those who haven’t it’s going to be an experience. So, I hope that does you!

MISFITS AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES 2014:

Thursday, 16th January
The Zoo, Brisbane

Friday, 17th January
Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Saturday, 18th January
The Factory Theatre, Sydney

Sunday, 19th January
Amplifier, Perth

Interview: Paul Van Dyk

paul van dyk

If there ever was such a thing as a DJ royal family, German superstar Paul Van Dyk would probably be considered the king. Having sold over 4.5 million albums worldwide, consistently been voted the number one DJ of all time by industry magazines, and been in the business longer than most, he is a bona fide legend of the DJ-ing and electronic music world. An album of new material is in the works for early 2014, before he graces our shores to play Future Music Festival in March.

Hi Paul, what can fans expect from your show at Future Music Festival?

I have a new album in the pipeline, so there will be a lot of new music, but people always ask me to play some of my music that I’ve done in the past, so it’s going to be a very intense combination of both. The other thing is, of course, the way I perform and play my music is somewhat different because I use keyboards, computers, and custom-made mixers on-stage, and all sorts of different things that enable me to actually play very, very lively.

What can you tell us about your new album? What does it sound like?

Well, it’s electronic music and it consists of a lot of collaborations with people I really admire, as well as people that are up-and-coming and very talented. I can’t wait for it to be out and about. Some of the collaborations are in the early stages, so I can’t tell you yet!

How have you managed to stay at the top your game for such a long time?

Well I’m very passionate about it, and I’m not bending my back towards whatever is the latest trending sound whatsoever. That authenticity is what I believe people appreciate about it. The other thing as well is I’m not just pressing a button and raising my hand to the audience. I’m entertaining people in a much more intense way, by playing instruments and I believe that’s a very successful element of why I’m still around.

What’s more important to you, putting out albums or performing shows?

They come together; you can’t really take them apart. From the very beginning I have been a recording artist as much as a DJ or musician or performer or radio presenter. All these things always came naturally to me as one thing, so I can’t take these things apart at all.

How important has it for you to change and evolve throughout your career?

It’s always been a normal process for me. It’s not like I’m sitting down with a marketing team and saying I need to change this or that, or only wear green, or only wear red. To me, music and the art-form of electronic music comes in a very natural way. I’m always interested in something new, so my music and the way I perform always evolves. For me, electronic music always had something to do with breaking boundaries on the creative side, and on with people using new technologies as well. A lot of my production gear and stage set-up is always evolving as well, so it’s not something I strategically plan, but it’s more like an artistic progression.

How do you keep on top of all the new technology available to you?

Whenever there’s something new, I read about it and try it. In terms of production technology, there are so many possibilities these days, and I’ll find out about things and learn about them. What I do is never about resting on what I have achieved; it’s always about looking forward towards the next element that can enrich the performance or production. My set-up is like a mobile studio and everything is necessary, and I can actually construct a track completely live, going from channel to channel by first programming some drums, and adding a bass-line or some strings. That in itself is a very creative tool. I also have a custom-made controller that enables me to do all the levelling that is necessary completely organically, which is something that is very special. I also have a mixer, and there are only three of them in the world; it’s kind-of like very organic media mapping if I want to; if I feel like I need the top left corner button to do something, I can just quickly do it. That in itself makes it a very lively way to bring the music across, and that is what I enjoy about it.

Do you write a piece of music with a collaborator in mind, or finish the track and find a vocalist to suit?

It depends. If I’m actually working specifically with a vocalist from the beginning of the track, then of course it’s a planned thing. But it’s usually during the process that I develop or imagine a sound or feel of what the voice is like, and develop an idea that can bring that process to life.

What are you most looking forward to about coming to Australia?

The shows, of course. The audience in Australia is always very open and excited about new music. Whenever I come to Australia these are the memories I take back home. It’s very energetic, very powerful, and in a positive way, extremely crazy. I’m really looking forward to it.

PAUL VAN DYK PLAYS FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL MAR 1-10. http://www.futuremusicfestival.com.au/