Category Archives: Interviews

Interview: Ilias

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Hi Ilias, tell me a little about where you grew up, your first memories of hearing music, and what music you listened to growing up?

I grew up in many places: Brazil, Algeria, France, and Indonesia before moving to Australia a few years back. I think my first memories of music are of my mum listening to and loving the Bee Gees very early. I remember being into guitars quite early too. Movies played a big part of my life as a six year-old; I used to watch The Blues Brothers over and over and I remember wondering why John Lee Hooker was in the movie but not on the soundtrack! What kind of six year-old worry about that? Tim Burton’s Batman soundtrack by Prince – I wore that tape out, and I was also obsessed with Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad & The Ugly and was hooked on Ennio Morricone’s score for this movie when I was seven or eight. I was probably way too young to be watching that movie!

On your debut album, Somewhere In Time, you wrote, played, and recorded everything yourself, taking several years to do so. Tell me about your writing and recording process; is it something you enjoy or something that can prove difficult?

Writing music is a fairly natural process; I love music and see sounds as colours when I hear it. Music is a refuge, it comes to me at night in dreams sometimes, and it’s always in me. Lyrics are a completely different and fairly excruciating process. Making words fit a melody while still having impact and meaning is the biggest challenge. I read that Burt Bacharach used to obsess for weeks over one syllable fitting one particular note, so I am glad life’s also tough for true geniuses like him. He’s so smooth, I love Burt! I also seem to have a habit of taking ten years to complete certain songs, like ‘Loving You’ or ‘Regret’ from last year’s EP. I wrote those lyrics in 2003 but then I rewrote the melody last year. The demos were sung with a French accent back then!

All recording for this album was done alone. I used various approaches, but I mostly tried to adopt a hypnotic/trance-like state of mind when it came to what was captured. The stuff you hear in old soul/R&B, blues & jazz records, the mysterious aspects of improvisation, how fresh it sounds decades later – that’s what inspires me. It’s something that is seriously lacking in modern music. My songs were composed, but all the guitar solos, bass, piano parts, weird noises, and some of the vocals were improvised on the record. You can really hear that improvisational, jazz/blues inspired approach on ‘If I See You’ and ‘September Memory’.

Which artists have had an influence on your music?

My biggest influences as a singer are Smokey Robinson and Dionne Warwick; their voices are pure magic. I also love ’60s vocal groups like The Ronettes, The Temptations, The Miracles, and The Delfonics. Growing up, my favourite artist was Prince; I dug his guitar playing, his productions, general craziness, and bad attitude. The idea to produce everything and play all the instruments myself for my album is pure Prince madness. Prince and I are not on speaking terms anymore however, I am just hoping he picks up the phone and asks me to produce his next album. Do it, Prince!

From a compositional point of view, I really love & study the music of Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson and Brazilian greats like Tom Jobim, Joao Gilberto, and Caetano Veloso. I am fascinated by the musical connections linking these specific artists. You can hear that influence on ‘Never Utter The Word Never’, ‘Sometimes I Wonder’, and mostly on my acoustic 2012 EP Somewhere Down The Road. As a young guitarist, I was a huge fan of John Frusciante, Johnny Marr, Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler, and Radiohead, but my heart will always belong to underappreciated soul/R&B/jazz cats and Motown guitarists like Robert White, Marv Tarplin, and Wah Wah Watson. My favourite jazz guitar player will always be Wes Montgomery. His playing was pure, effortless, unsurpassed genius – another smooth cat!

How does it feel to have your album finished and in the public domain after all that time?

It’s a strange feeling, and it will always be. These songs are so personal and I guess only I know the true meaning and inspirations behind them. It’s a thrill however, when people give me their interpretation of a song, and how much it means to them. I love that.

What has the reaction to your album been like so far?

The album has received praise from a few journalists, mostly overseas and here at home to some extent. It’s been mostly lauded for the originality and uniqueness of it’s sound and compositions, as well as instrumental and vocal prowess. I wish more people could hear it, but being independent & alone, it’s a tough task in today’s overcrowded music market. The album has quite a few complex musical layers and is very different to what’s being put out there today; I think it takes some time to grow on you. People have a fairly short attention span today so it’s a challenge. Still, it seems that most people who take the time to listen to it, end up really falling in love with it, to the point of addiction! I hope it gets discovered by more people in the future. It’s an album that needs to be listened really loud or in the dark, with eyes closed and a good pair of headphones. And also a box of Kleenex!

What is the most prized guitar you own? And which would you like to own the most?

I have a big Gibson acoustic that I got from Texas last year that I love, and a twelve-string Rickenbacker from Brighton, England, but my Gretsch White Falcon is probably my most prized axe. I remember watching ‘Going Inside’ by John Frusciante and Vincent Gallo on MTV back in the day, seeing that wonderful guitar and telling my uncle, one day she’ll be mine! The Gretsch guitar is all over the album and the artwork. It’s a great sounding and inspiring instrument. It can go from jazzy, smooth, and delicate to a rocky growl and rip your ears off. I really love how crystal clear it sounds on ‘Regret’. I still dream of owning a Gibson L5-CES; also known as the king of jazz guitars, but with a starting price of $US10 000, I better become quite famous before I can afford that one. I’m willing to accept all donations!

If you could share a stage with one artist, living or dead, who would it be?

Well, I’ve already shared a stage with Neil Finn of Crowded House twice and he was pretty high on the list. I’ve also been on stage with Prince on French TV when I was 18, but that was just dancing. I am thinking of a beautiful voice; Aaliyah, God rest her soul. If I could also hook up with Minneapolis funk masters The Time, that would be one hell of a jam session. I would just be shaking my money maker all night! In my dream band I’d have James Jamerson (Motown) on bass, and Hal Blaine (Phil Spector, The Beach Boys) on drums. On guitars would be Teenie Hodges (Al Green) and Spanky Alford (D’Angelo/The Roots), and on piano I’d have Lisa Coleman (Prince & The Revolution) with Lisa Germano on keys/violin/vocals. I will also steal Maxwell’s amazing backup singer Latina Webb, and you have the grooviest band ever assembled. It would totally work!

How do you rate the current scene in Australia for musicians like you? What could be done to improve it, if anything?

I am probably the worst person to ask this question. I don’t belong in any scene here. I guess I am just happy doing my own thing musically and being a reclusive freak. Personally, I am not a fan of the macho posturing in some of music out there nowadays. Perhaps it would also be great if new acts spent a few more years honing their skills and discovering and learning about great music before stepping into the spotlight so quickly. There is great energy in some of the music out there today, but I sometimes can’t help but feel that it lacks a bit of musical sophistication and a feminine touch.

What are your plans for the future? Any gigs or recordings in the pipeline?

In the distant future, I would love to step more into a strictly producer role, or even write for a great woman’s voice like Feist. In fact, I am on the way to New York now, where I will produce the next Mary J Blige record (in my dreams!) Movie soundtracks are something I am also interested in working on. In the immediate future, I would like to play select music industry showcases and festivals, both here and overseas. I am looking for a label or management, so I can focus fully on creation and recording. Any special gigs, events, future plans will be announced on my Facebook ( and Bandcamp ( Peace.

Interview: Bill Oddie

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Whether you know him best for his work on The Goodies or as one of the most well-known wildlife presenters of recent years, one thing is clear about Bill Oddie: he has had as varied a career as they come. Beginning in the mid-sixties, the multi-talented Englishman has dabbled in acting, comedy, music, presenting, ornithology, and conservationism, and at the age of 71, his sense of humour, energy, and passion for wildlife are as strong as ever. He also likes to go off on tangents from time to time.

You’re coming to Australia next month for a run of shows. Tell me, what will the show consist of?

The simple answer is that I don’t really know at the moment! That’s not because I’m completely busking it and haven’t thought about it, but in a sense things are much easier these days because you can gather together clips and things, whereas before you were stuck with a couple of pieces of film or a few slides. I’m doing research at the moment to see what’s actually available, because if you try to get things off the BBC you have to go under the cover of darkness and steal it. They don’t want you having things like that without paying them vast amounts of money. There will be a certain amount of Goodies-related stuff because I didn’t come on the last couple of tours with Tim and Graham. They’ve come back twice I think – sorry about that by the way! Nobody wants them forcing themselves upon your nation (laughs). I’ve got to find out what they covered then. I think it was about five or six years ago when I came over with them and we did shows at several places, starting off at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and then we ended up doing about fifteen gigs I think, covering mainly – and I hate to call it this – nostalgia; covering how various things occurred and requests and stuff like that. But this is going to be my angle, and the great thing about that is that I can say whatever the bloody hell I like and they’ll never know! (laughs)

Will you be solely telling stories, or doing some music too?

I won’t be directly singing with anybody as such unless I burst into something vaguely self-accompanied. One of my biggest failures in life is not actually getting round to playing something that I felt like exposing the public to, but I can probably plonk through the few chords I might need for a couple of things. So, there might be a bit of music, and there may be questions about that, which is fine. I’m amazed how much appreciation and affection we still get from the audience – I was in Sheffield a couple of days ago to talk about some pretty heavy conservation stuff and I was getting asked questions about having John Paul Jones on bass for a demo I did and things like that. I hope Australian audiences will be curious about how we arrived at where we did when we started doing The Goodies stuff. There’s a big Australian connection there as a matter of fact, as most of my band at that time were from Australia or New Zealand. We were like an early-days Flight of the Conchords!

You’ve been so involved in music throughout your career; do you still follow new music these days?

Oh, God yes! I would consider myself a massive fan. I’ve been accused over the years of wanting to be a pop star, and without being unduly uppity, we were pop stars in a way. We had five or six top-twenty records, and were on Top of The Pops every week. If you’ve been reading about the scandalous times in the BBC dressing rooms and Top of The Pops in the seventies – I’m here. I might be able to shed some light on that, or maybe not!

Well in that case, shed some light!

I don’t know (laughs). I can tell you what it was like, and I can tell you about the atmosphere without getting myself jailed or something. One was aware of a certain atmosphere. Let’s face it; it was a bunch of rock bands together at the BBC, and the recordings at that time had a concert feel to them. It was the age of freedom and groupies and so on and so forth, and I personally wouldn’t have regarded most of it as scandalous, but obviously some of it was. But obviously, some things we knew and some things we didn’t.

So you’re saying there’s substance to the stories, shall we say?

It depends (pauses). I don’t mind if when we do the shows in Australia I get asked serious questions; in a way I even prefer it. We can go on forever about the day we did a sketch with a giant kitten, but if part of what the audience wants comes from other curiosities I’m fine with that. I’m happy with people asking about the seventies and if it was really like the stories, and if it’s all true. If there’s a serious side to that I’m perfectly happy to talk about it, so I’d like people to feel that my shows aren’t just about dragging up the old times. Sometimes I like to throw questions right back at the audience and see what people think, in terms of politics, music, the environment, and whatever else. Am I making it sound too serious? (laughs) That also applies to talking about mental health problems I’ve had in the last ten years; I’ve been on something of a journey it has to be said, although if anyone’s looking for salvation you won’t find it; there’s no easy cure. We tend to get the same celebrity depressives in the UK, and I haven’t made that list yet, which I’m a bit cross about! (laughs) Yes, we know about Stephen Fry and so on, but come on!

Your struggles with bi-polar disorder and depression are quite well documented. How are you these days?

I’m fine at the moment; have been for about three years now. Fingers crossed I’ve got through it. I wish I could actually genuinely say it was with a lot of help from various medical institutions, but I can’t say that. One of the big problems is they really don’t know what they’re doing, in the nicest possible sense. It isn’t a simple matter of just take these pills and you’ll be alright, you know? But it might be, and they never say that because that puts half a dozen shrinks out of a job. (laughs) A bit of cynicism is creeping in here! Anyway I’m very happy to answer questions about anything; I’ve never understood people who go into an interview and set rules – I don’t want to talk about this, I don’t want to talk about that and so on. That’s ridiculous; if somebody asks something you don’t want to answer, then don’t answer it.

You’ve had such a diverse career. Is there anything, career-wise, that you haven’t yet done but would like to?

Well, there are millions of things! I suppose as you get older you have to accept all sorts of limitations and likelihoods, apart from getting old and dropping dead, which tends to put a bit of a dampener on some ambitions. I’ve changed my mind frequently about this, but sometimes I think I would like to get back to the sort of position I was in when I was making natural history programmes a couple of years ago, although I don’t think it’s possible as they’re not making that kind of programme now. I don’t know what they’re doing up there in BBC-land, that nasty place! (laughs) So really, apart from wanting to stay around, stay compos mentis, and frankly enjoy my own family – my daughters and grandchildren. Despite every possible encouragement, almost all of them have managed to go into some branch of show business, and I love it. Get to know them, get to know their mates, and you’ll be very, very pleasantly surprised nine times out of ten. Then, a couple of times you’ll be absolutely horrified! (laughs)

Let’s talk conservation now. Do you think we – as in people – are generally improving the way we treat animals or getting worse?

It’s hard to answer this, because I think roughly speaking one could say that we know a great deal more about what the dangers are, what the threats are, how the loss of habitats is so important and that kind of thing. We know much, much more than we did when I was a kid, for example; we know what the problems are in many cases, and what the solutions are, but that doesn’t mean that people are necessarily going to do anything about it. Awareness amongst the public is unquestionably higher, backed up with far more knowledge than we used to have. However, the same overriding concerns like money and greed; in other words politicians and occasional heads of countries – that hasn’t improved and the unfortunate fact is that they’re in charge, and it’s hard to make them see sense. In Britain it’s every fucking day with our stupid government, if I can be frank. We’ve got an absolute moron as an environmental secretary at the moment, Owen Patterson, and the Prime Minister is nearly as bad. It’s like dealing with a bunch of over-privileged landowners, and the battles are there non-stop. Times have changed so much that If someone asks me what should they do to help the environment, I tell them genuinely to be a politician, if they have a mind and a stomach for it, because we got to get some people in there with the right morality.

Final question, Bill. What are your plans for the rest of 2013?

Recover! (laughs) I don’t know actually, as my whole schedule has changed. When I was doing The Goodies that’s all we did. Because I was doing the music as well, I was probably more involved than anybody, so there wasn’t any spare time. Then, for ten or fifteen years I was doing wildlife programmes, which I gather were never shown in Australia; and those took up all my time. At the moment I’m just concentrating on putting my show together and I hope the people of Australia will think it’s rather good and want a few more. I want them to know that it’s not going to be all comedy, or not all serious; believe me, if you see my attempts at swimming with seals in Cornwall, you’ll see it’s not serious. And we’re going to have a good mix of things, but it won’t be totally schizophrenic; just a little bi-polar! (laughs)


Interview: Tim Hecker

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Montreal’s Tim Hecker will bring his brand of ambient electronica to Brisbane this week for a free show as part of the Mono series.

What can Australian fans expect from a Tim Hecker performance in 2013?

Well it’s been a few years since I was last visiting, so there’s a lot of new music that has been made in that time and I’m part way through working on a new album, so I think there’ll be some new stuff in there that people might not recognise. I’m never sure where things are going to go really, so best to just leave it open in terms of expectations.

How much do you stick to the recording when performing live, and how much is improvised?

It’s a real mix for me, like I have elements of all the pieces that I can use, but they are never like the albums as such. It’s two different things in a way – what makes sense in one, doesn’t always in the other. Everything effects the live experiences I think – PA, room etc – so all that feeds into what I make when performing.

Do you consider your live performance a partial assault on your audience’s senses or a chance for them to get lost in the music, so to speak?

I’d say both and neither. I definitely employ volume as a tool to overload listeners at times. That means sometimes making things more pleasant, but it also means as much if not more about sometimes making things uncomfortable or awkward for listeners. I’m not really sure what my live efforts are going after at times, I kind of throw things out and see how they bounce off the walls, and go forward from there.

Is your writing process complicated, or a fairly simple affair?

Sometimes it’s simple, easily coming in short moments of clarity or improvisation on the spot. Other times it’s very labour intensive to push the sound into certain directions where it starts to take on a life of its own. That means transformation upon transformation of some motif or line that gets hammered and distorted and bent inside out.

You have been active since 1996. How or where do you find motivation and fresh ideas for new material?

Often it seems like I’ve been thrashing at some of the same ideas for at least ten years, each release a further addition to the catalogue of failures to properly realise those ideas or loose visions. But there seems to be an arc of transformation over that period though that might suggest my interests have changed somewhat. I would say making music is both a real pleasure but also something that I need to do to maintain my sanity.

This will be your first appearance in Australia since the Open Frame Festival in 2007. What are you most looking forward to about coming to Australia?

Actually, I’ve been down once between this and Open Frame in 2010. I’ve been looking forward to seeing a lot of friends there – that’s one of the upsides to festivals, it brings us together somewhere different. I’m also looking forward to spending some time at the beach – I have a short residency just south of Byron I will be doing while here… so that will be a pleasure no doubt.


Interview: Owl Eyes

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One-to-watch Owl Eyes a.k.a Brooke Addamo released her new single ‘Crystalised’ earlier this month and is gearing up for a set of intimate shows around the country in May. I had a candid chat to Brooke ahead of her tour.

Hi Brooke! You first came to our attention on Australian Idol in 2008, so I just want to clear something up. Why is Kyle Sandilands such an arse?

Ha, I don’t think I could possibly answer this question, I guess everybody has to be known for something?

Ok, no more mention of him, I promise. Your new single ‘Crystalised’ has a fresh and different sound. How would you describe your new style?

I wrote this song thinking about the live aspect and that’s something I have never done. I wanted something to get people dancing and I wanted something really fun to play. It’s a bridging song between EP and album.

My new stuff is a little more synth and electronic inspired, but not generally as punchy as ‘Crystalised’.

Next month you are setting out on an east-coast tour promoting ‘Crystalised.’ What can your fans expect from an Owl Eyes show?

They can expect new music; I want to in a way involve them in the recording process of my album I want to play new and unfinished material to get a reaction and I will take that back with me to the studio.

Over the past couple of years you’ve had heaps of support from Triple J, got a gazillion fans on Facebook, and played gigs all around Australia. How do you find time to relax?

It’s pretty full-on at the moment mainly because I’m trying to get my album finished and I want to produce something that I am proud of.

So I don’t have much time to relax, although I did take the Easter weekend off to get away and stay in Daylesford, Victoria, which was lovely.

Your cover of ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ is one of my favourite Like A Versions. What made you decide to cover that song, and have you had any feedback from Foster The People?

I am a big fan of the band and I really relate to the song as an artist.

It’s such a catchy pop tune with dark underlying themes in the lyrics. I really respect that. I did get some feedback when they were in the country The Doctor on Triple J interviewed Mark and showed him my cover. I think he said something about me having a great vibe, I can’t really remember, I was pretty much in shock.

What can you tell us about how your debut album is shaping up?

It has electronic elements mainly because of what I am inspired by at the moment and I am also really focused on lyric and theme writing at this point.

I’m working with a few different producers and artists trying a few different things and just generally experimenting.

If you could play live with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I think I would love to play along side Stevie Nicks in her younger years. She is a huge inspiration to me.

Finally, if Owl Eyes was an animal (other than an owl!), what animal would you be and why?

A cat, mainly because they are so quirky and make me laugh so much.

Interview: Velociraptor

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The Eight Miles High mini-fest is flaring up a second time around at Alhambra Lounge on Friday 8 June, indulging in all things psychedelic, ’60s, surf, shoegaze and garage pop. I caught up with Julian from Brisbane’s biggest musical orgy Velociraptor ahead of their spot on the bill.

The velociraptors were the coolest dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, but ultimately got the shit kicked out of them by the T-Rex. Who would win in a fight between Velociraptor and T-Rex the band, and what would be your finishing move?

I’m pretty sure the raptors let the T-Rex win because raptors are horrible gamblers and owed a bucket load of cash from a bet gone wrong. Out of us and T-Rex (the band) however, we would win. We have more members, more super powers and three of us can breathe underwater, which I can imagine would really come in handy. After a collective bashing, we’d finish them off with a ‘Knights of the Round Table’ from Final Fantasy 7. Ultimate finishing move.

You guys are playing the Eight Miles High festival of psychedelic music in the next couple of weeks. What level of wasted should I get before arriving, and what can I expect to see at your show?

We go from a twelve piece to a twenty-four piece, and sometimes onward depending on how blurred your vision is, so the more wasted the more amazing the spectacle. Expect shenanigans, techdeck tricks, a white leopard, little green men, an ant kingdom and truck load of guitars. We literally have a truck dropping off out instruments before the show.

Most of the time Velociraptor consists of twelve dudes playing brutal garage pop, but how do you agree on what tunes to listen to before a show, or on the tour bus? I’m imagining the band splitting into two camps – one insisting on the Hives while the other screams for the Kinks?

It’s literally like being in hell. Take the two camps, and then split them again – it’s more like 6 camps between the 12 of us. Each member has their one taste, and yes we all scream for the Hives, and we all scream for the Kinks, but in the end we realise we didn’t bring any of their albums because we only had room for ourselves and gear. Luckily our super powers can take form of a sing-a-long and Kumbaya drowns out everyone’s screams until we’re thousands of kilometres away from home.

What can you tell us about your next EP? When do we get to experience its delights?

All I can say is that we’re casting a spell on every copy, so expect some fuckin’ magic.

Your bio describes Veliociraptor as ’12 Ultimate Party Dogs’. But have you ever had a moment of thinking “fuck this, I’m quitting to become a train driver and/or an acupuncturist”?

We are 12 Ultimate Party Dogs, but we already have the shitty day jobs that you speak of. Some of us are sales reps and some of us are accountants. Some of us are loans processors, glassies, and some of us are tradies. The list goes on. The true thought in our heads is “fuck this, I’m quitting my job and Velociraptor, and becoming a train driver”, because that would be way cooler than what we do.

One time my bass E string broke and hit my thigh. I couldn’t walk for about two weeks. What’s the worst or funniest injury you’ve had in the line of duty?

Several of us have been face punched at several different locations – we can’t go more than a year without one of us being struck down. Our instruments are usually injured far more than we are. I’d hate to see how much cash has been splashed on drum skins, tambourines, guitars and costumes – we’ve bought masks and the like before and thought “this will be rad” and they’re broken within 10 minutes of the show because we’ve head butted everything in the room. Costumes are clearly for bitch bands.

You must get some pretty crazy fans at your shows. Tell me about the craziest thing a fan has ever done to get your attention.

When we played Byron I think a majority of our fans wanted to fight us. They enjoyed the show, but they thought that by fighting us they could truly become fans. After we whooped all of their arses we gave them lemonades and we all laughed. They were crazy, but in the end they realised that fighting isn’t the solution.

If Velociraptor could share a stage with any act living or dead, who would it be and why?

The cast of Happy Days…but playing their characters from Happy Days. We’d play Arnold’s diner and really get down. There’s an episode when Fonzie’s cousin comes to visit, and he’s actually really nerdy and nobody can believe that he’s even related to Fonzie. After some hilarious mishaps the gang finally realise he’s not that bad and accept him into their arms. He’s not in any more episodes, so I really hope he could make it to that

Interview: Pete Kilroy of Hey Geronimo

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Hi Pete. Hey Geronimo are being labelled a ‘supergroup’. Firstly, can you tell me a little about how you guys came to be making music together?

Ahh yes. We were taking the piss a bit with the supergroup tag, but it’s fun to think that way. The band came together when Blame Ringo was booked to play a Beatles tribute night, but half the band was engaged. Myself and Ross still wanted to do it, so we enlisted Andrew, Greg and Tony to fill in. It was so fun that at the end of the set we looked at each other and said – let’s make this a permanent thing!

You’ve just released your debut EP – I‘ve been enjoying the summer-y, upbeat vibes. What has the response to the EP been like so far?

We spent a lot of time honing the writing and recording of the songs so we were very confident when it was finally finished. No corners were cut, and I think the feedback has reflected this too. The aim was to make sure it was all really strong, super, upbeat and fun – and that’s how it turned out, so we’re happy!

You’ll be setting off on the ‘Special Best Tour’ in September and October, taking in shows from the Sunshine Coast to Adelaide. What is the level of excitement like in the camp, and what can fans expect from a Hey Geronimo show?

We’re super pumped because we love touring. It’s great to give people an excuse to let their hair down and have a good time. We want peeps to learn the songs, have a few beers, dance, sing along, and ultimately get a bit loose. We’ll be doing the same!

I recently read a review of your EP that described you as “the new Little Red”. Is that an accurate description, because I’m getting more of a Beach Boys/Vampire Weekend feel?

Personally I haven’t really heard any Little Red so I can’t comment on that. We’ve been getting lots of “Beach Boys” though, and that’s cool. In fact, we’d never really thought of that, but now it’s affecting our writing. Now when we reach a crossroads writing we’re erring towards the mega harmonies and the whole Brian Wilson vibe. Not a bad hero to emulate at all.

Hey Geronimo is one of many Brisbane indie bands doing well at the moment. Do you think the quality of music coming out of Brisbane has improved in the last few years? Or is it simply that more people are taking notice?

I had this conversation with somebody interstate just a few days ago. They were gushing at the Brisbane music scene. I’m not sold on the hype to be honest. I think bands here have to work a bit harder due to how the scene is playing out here (ie limited venues etc) so that might be something, but regardless, people analyse it all too much. Maybe those interstate are just surprised that a Queensland redneck can hold a tune at all? Not sure.

You’re playing at BIGSOUND in Brissy, which is going to be EPIC. What bands on the bill are you looking forward to seeing?

We’re huge Ball Park and Hungry Kids fans, so they’ll be first on the list to see. Personally I’m keen to see a bit of Loon Lake, because I think we share a bit of the same vibe, and Courtney Barnett too. She’s great. It’s always a great couple of nights and this year really does seem to be bigger and better than ever.

What are your plans for after the tour, do you have any more recordings in the pipeline? Can you plan that far ahead as a band, or is it a matter of seeing what happens, or what opportunities arise?

We’re starting the recording of our debut album early next month. No rest for the wicked. The tunes are there so we’re going to record them, then release them. Bands over-think these things too much sometimes. Should have something ready to go in the early part of next year. Hopefully a million shows between now and then too!

If Hey Geronimo could share a stage with any act, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Hard to speak for the other guys, but I think myself and Andrew would want to jam with Ben Folds Five. Such a hard rocking, fun band. Good chance we’ll be throwing underwear at the man come Harvest time.

And lastly, a AAA Backstage tradition: if Hey Geronimo was an animal, what would it be and why?

Probably a giant squid. Creating havoc on the high-seas could be a fun way to spend the weekend.

Interview: Rin McArdle of Rin & The Reckless

rin mcardle

Rin McArdle has made a name for herself as one of Adelaide’s most exciting up and coming singer/songwriters. It comes as no surprise that after joinging forces with The Reckless, Rin and her exciting band have been successfully catapulted into the Adelaide music scene, already playing both support and headlining shows in many of Australia’s well known venues.

Hi Rin! First off, for those who haven’t heard you yet, tell us a little about your sound and how you got started writing songs.

The sound is quite pop in some ways but at the same time the music is very emotionally driven and the content is quite a bit heavier than what you’d find in most commercial and pop songs. I’ve always been really into music, I started playing drums when I was 7 and actually always thought I would end up being a drummer. When I was 18 I started playing and writing songs on guitar not really thinking anything of it, then about a year later I played my first open mic night and things just progressed from there.

You‘ve just released your debut EP, congratulations! How did it feel to get it finished, and what has the reaction been like so far?

It was really exciting! I’d done some previous recording before this ep but only as a solo artist, being able to spend time in the studio with my band was amazing. It was such a good feeling hearing the songs back the way that I’d always imagined and wanted them to sound. The reaction has been incredible so far, we’ve had a lot positive feedback not only from friends and fans but also from people we really respect in the music industry which has meant a lot. Along with the positive feedback we’ve also had some really good constructive criticism that we’ve been able to take on board and utilize to help us keep progressing in terms of our sound and also in terms of my song writing.

You also just did your first national tour with Brisbane boys The Strums. Can you tell me how that came about, and what the tour was like? What was the most reckless thing you got up to?

We actually randomly got chosen as one of the local supports for The Strums the first time they came and played in Adelaide. They ended up really liking our music and at the end of the night the singer of The Strums and I were talking and he told me he was going to take my band on national tour with him. I thought he was just drunk and full of shit but it actually ended up happening and it was one of the best experiences of my life. The first night we played I got so excited and drank so much that I missed most of The Strums set because I was vomiting in the bathroom, that basically set bar for the rest of the tour. The boys in my band weren’t really too reckless they just did really weird shit when they were drunk like sticking post it notes on cars that just said things like “think before you act”. We all definitely drank too much, by the second to last show of the tour in Byron Bay I was vomiting blood, that’s when I knew I’d maybe gone a bit too hard.

You’ve been described as ‘a tough Missy Higgins with the soul of Johnny Cash’, which sounds about right to me. If you had to choose, would you rather be rich and win a heap of ARIAs, or be broke and play a prison gig that goes down in history?

Definitely rich and heaps of ARIAs. Nahhh, prison for sure.

Your hometown Adelaide has produced some amazing bands in its time. How do you rate the current music scene there, and are there any new bands you think deserve a shout-out?

I’ve always personally found the music scene here quite hardcore dominated and in the past have found it hard to find local acts that work really well with our sound as a band, that being said though there are some great acts kicking around here that I have a lot of respect for. Dangerous! are a cool act from Adelaide that have done quite well here and internationally, I also really rate Hightime, God God Dammit Dammit, Baker’s Digest and Dr. Piffle & The Burlap Band. All those guys go off at their live shows.

What’s next for Rin and The Reckless? Any shows or recordings in the pipeline?

Yeah definitely, I’m about to head off to Brisbane to play a string of solo shows at the beginning of September and then I’ll be going back up there in October with the band. While I’m in Brisbane I’m playing a really cool show on the 8th of September at The End with Jack Carty and Thelma Plum which I’m super excited about. We’re just about to record some new material that we’ve been working on and once we’ve done that we’ll get a producer on board to help us get a couple of songs ready for release early next year, I’m really excited about that too!

If you could share a stage with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Amy Winehouse, because I love her.

And finally, an AAA tradition, if you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

Bubbles, the chimp that belonged to Michael Jackson. So many reasons.

Interview: The Snowdroppers


Your music has been described as 1920s depression-era, Southern gospel rockabilly blues. Would you say that’s an accurate description? How did you get started with this style of music?

That could possibly ring true for our very early beginnings (I mean like the first few months), and we ran with it on various press releases for a while either as a kind of joke or just laziness. We’ve been described as turn of the century; 1920s; 1930s all through to 1960s; but I think that mainly comes as a shortcut from people seeing the clothes or press shots. Don’t underestimate the power of a flat cap and a pair of suspenders! We’re not really dedicated enough to a particular style to earn such an exacting description. How did it start? We actually got started just as a one off quick thing for a couple of shows a friend was putting on in the burlesque scene. Some of us were friends from uni and some of us had been in a few burlesque shows together before. People seemed to dig it and we were having fun so we decided to keep it going until those two things stopped, or we were too rich and drug addled to care.

You’re doing shows with hairy boys the Beards. How do you overcome the feeling of inadequacy when confronted with such awesome facial growth?! How have the shows been so far?

To be honest I recently had the first major trim in years, but from the time we first met them til now, I had a more impressive beard than at least two of them, so I never had any feelings of inadequacy whatsoever. Not about my beard.

The shows have been fun so far, Brisbane especially was a fantastic show. The Beards are lovely guys in a very strange vocation. I find the technicalities of a comedy band really interesting. Like, I’ve really noticed their musicianship is outstanding, which is important for the sake of the joke. It has to be seamless, because any hiccups would ruin the – what do they call it in movies? The suspension of disbelief. We’re really looking forward to the WA shows because Gay Paris are coming along. Last time we went to WA we had Slim (their bass player) filling in for London and he acquired a lady stalker in Fremantle. Very much looking forward to witnessing that reunion. I think he’s a terrified, little skinny man.

Your new single ‘White Dress’ has been getting a great reaction, and deservedly so. Is it a good indication of what to expect on the new album? Planning to throw any curveballs on there?

There’s no dubstep breakdowns on there if that’s what you’re asking! I’ll leave that to Muse. Or even Grinspoon, judging from their new single. Muse really painted themselves into a corner I think. Each album and each single had to be more and more epic and over the top than the last, and when everything’s all epic all the time, it means nothing’s epic, so it’s just white noise and you end up having to either do an acoustic album or in this case, a bullshit dubstep thing. There’s songs on our new album (Moving out of Eden) that we initially asked ourselves “is this too much of a departure?” but I think hearing the album as a whole it’s pretty cohesive. It’s fairly stripped back instrumentally, just guitar, bass, drums, banjo and harmonica. A few vocal harmonies and guitar doubling but we kept it pretty simple. We didn’t have the time or money to do otherwise.

Heaps of new bands are brandishing banjos these days! How do you account for the recent increase in banjo love? Is it something that goes in and out of fashion, or was it always there?

Well it’s always been there for certain types of music, like bluegrass and country for sure, but for bands on the rockier end of the spectrum I think it’s still pretty rare. Maybe if there’s a recent increase it’s because of Mumford & Sons. It’s got no sustain so you have to either do finger picking type stuff like our old mates Graveyard Train do, or just strum the shit out of it, which is the approach our lead banjo player Mr Johnny Wishbone takes. Any banjo companies out there want to give him an endorsement? They’re expensive, hard to tune and they break frequently. Even when working, they’re still irritating. It’s like the Gilbert Gottfried of musical instruments.

We caught your show at BIGSOUND, and really enjoyed it. How was your experience of the festival? Did you get a chance to catch many of the other bands?

Yeah we saw a few songs of a few bands, not a whole heap unfortunately. I thought Violent Soho sounded great live, I didn’t really get them til then, hearing them at a proper volume. I saw a kiwi band Cairo Knife Fight play a one song set, they were great too. Apart from that our flight was cancelled, so we arrived late and missed a lot. We just followed the free drinks around.

Some of your shows must go OFF. What is the craziest thing a fan has done while you’ve been playing?

We played this smallish room at Sydney Uni one time that had a catwalk extension from the front of the stage, and this girl got up who was absolutely hammered and grabbed the microphone off Johnny and just started screaming into it, then lay down on the catwalk and started trying to take her clothes off. It was awkward for everybody. One of her friends came up to her, initially we thought to get her off the stage, but just came up to help undo her dress. Another time we played the after party gig at Queenscliff music festival, this middle aged woman kept coming up to the front of the stage and pulling the plugs out of the mikes mid song because she wanted us to stop swearing. At a late night festival afterparty gig where everyone was drunk as could be. What a cunt.

I heard you say recently that you’re more of a live band than a studio band, and that seems to ring true. Do you welcome the day when albums are no more, or do you still consider them the cornerstone of what music is about, in terms of stating a band’s MO?

I think we felt that way around the time of the first album; we were still finding our feet in terms of songwriting and being confident in the studio, so we left a lot of decisions to the producer/engineer. It’s easy to say “I don’t like how this is sounding” but it’s a lot harder to say “This is why I don’t like how this is sounding, and this is what I think we should change to make it better”. That just slowly comes from learning more. When we recorded Moving Out of Eden, I can’t speak for the other guys but personally I felt very much at home and I felt like I knew exactly what needed to be done. Rich (the producer/engineer/mixer) was great at taking our suggestions and making them work, he didn’t have the usual “that won’t work so we won’t even try it” mentality a lot of engineers have. Do I think albums are important? Definitely, but I think for a long time I’ve been more of a “singles” guy, it might be my attention span. I love a good, punchy, 3 minute song.

And lastly, if the Snowdroppers were an animal, what animal would you be and why?

Some sort of badger-like creature. I don’t know why, it’s just how I picture it in my head.

Interview: The Preatures

the preatures

In town to play Valley Fiesta, Sydney goth/rock/soul quintet The Preatures dropped by to discuss their outstanding new EP Shaking Hands, touring, and why airports should stay open all night.

Hi guys, how long are you in town for?

Jack: We’re here for fifteen hours.

Isabella: It’s actually really cruisey this time because usually we’re getting up early as flights are cheaper early in the morning. I think last time we were up here we ended up at the airport at 3am or something, and it wasn’t open.

Luke: And we ran amok.

Jack: It was like that film 28 Days Later, there was nobody there.

Isabella: We went in anyway, and we were really hungry and thirsty so we stole a whole bunch of juices and food, we are so rock and roll.

Jack: Brisbane airport – stay open all night if you want to avoid theft.

You’re in the middle of a tour right now, how has it been going so far?

Gideon: it’s been great. This is our fourth show in, and it’s been a long time coming for the EP to come out, so to finally have it out is probably our main priority, and it’s just been fantastic playing it to people, and having people sing along. Even though it’s been out for such a short amount of time, there are songs on there that people sing along to, and they might have only heard them for the last week. It’s great.

Jack: We were just walking down Brunswick Street and we got down to where the stage is, and there’s someone on the balcony with a poster with our name on it. It’s really cool.

What has the reaction been like to the EP so far?

Isabella: It’s been great, although I make a conscious effort not to read reviews.

I reviewed your EP.

Isabella: You did? Did you like it?

Loved it.

Luke: That review impressed my girlfriend’s parents.

Jack: You’re really elevating Paul’s journalism to a new level now.

I wanted to ask you about ‘Take A Card’; specifically about the lyrics. Can you tell me what it’s about exactly?

Isabella: When we wrote it, we were just rehearsing and it was very quick and easy to write. We were a little frustrated at that time because we had been around for a year and a bit, and we didn’t really know where we fit in to the Sydney scene. We were a bit too indie for the rock ‘n’ rollers, we were a bit too rock ‘n’ roll for the indies, and we didn’t fit in anywhere. We were feeling a bit frustrated and hated all the music that was on the radio.

Jack: I think you constantly need something to be unhappy about.

Isabella: You get in a certain mindset where you feel that all the music on the radio is really bland, and pop music in general is bland. Before we had written ‘Take A Card’ we had always written darker, country rock kinda stuff, so were just taking the piss I guess. I wrote these lyrics about having your song on the radio, and how frustrating it is.

Gideon: Waiting your turn.

Isabella: Yeah, waiting your turn. It’s very tongue-in-cheek, and we already knew we wanted to go over to L.A. and record, and that bit that goes “can you call when you get to L.A.” was just something we threw in that was really off-hand, and when it came to the chorus, we said to ourselves okay, this song is about pop music, so what’s the most poppy thing that we could do in the chorus? So the “baby, be mine” part came really easily, then Luke came up with the “call on the beat” part, and it was all very easy.

So it’s quite ironic then, that triple J grabbed onto it and played it a heap of times.

Isabella: It’s still a bit funny because there are all these people in the audience who sing along, and I always wonder if they could possibly understand what the song is about, you know?

Maybe now they will.

Isabella: But that’s not the point of a good pop song. The point isn’t to understand, it’s just to like it and enjoy it.

So what made you decide to go to L.A.? Why there?

Gideon: Because we were given the option to, basically.

Luke: A couple of really good studios in Sydney were closing down and we were a bit discouraged about what was available to us, and our producer suggested L.A., where the dollar is cheap and we can get good rates on the studio.

Isabella: He said it as a joke, and we were like, that sounds really good!

Gideon: Once we had researched it, it made sense.

How long were you over there for?

Isabella: Just under two weeks, twelve days.

Jack: We were staying right in the middle of Holywood, just off Franklin Avenue.

Was it as hideous as everyone says?

Tom: It was fantastic.

Jack: We absolutely loved being in L.A.

Isabella: Really loved it.

Luke: Although everything shuts at 2am.

Tom: Yeah, it’s a hard town to go out in.

Gideon: Well, there are places to go, you just gotta know where they are.

Isabella: I think people just have house parties there.

Tom: There was one place, it didn’t have a name. It was just a shop on Hollywood Boulevard that is a cooperative clothing shop during the daytime and at the end of the day turns into a nightclub. They have $3 beers and there’s crazy shit all over the walls, it was really weird. The whole place is lit with black lights, it’s very strange.

Isabella: The boys all went out every night but I didn’t. When we were in the studio it was like a vortex, and then we’d finish up at eleven or midnight every night, and have to be back there at 10am, so I normally went home to sleep, and didn’t see much of the night life.

Did you find recording an easy thing to do?

Isabella: No! (laughs)

Jack: That was really a big learning curve for us. I think every band experiences it differently, when they go into a studio for the first time properly, and you’re with a producer whose job is it to make sure you don’t go off the rails and fuck it all up. We had always done everything on our own merit, so having somebody with as much input as a producer, you’re coming up against somebody all the time, which can be really difficult if you’re not willing to have an argument about it, or if you don’t know how to argue your point.

Did you find that having arguments was the best way to work things out?

Isabella: We didn’t really have arguments that much. We just kept our mouth shut.

Jack: We learned afterwards that if you feel strongly about anything you do, then you have to speak up about it, and can’t be afraid to take somebody on, because it’s about what you believe.

Isabella: But we were still figuring out what sort of be band we were, and we’ve definitely got a better idea of it now. Since we recorded the EP, and now that it’s been released it’s amazing because, creatively, we’re very much past it. When you first record something, you just want it so badly to be released, and then you have to completely reject it and move on in order to be able to be creative and write new songs. You have to reject it completely to give yourself a clean slate, so I think we went through that period of being really fed up with the EP in a way, and now that it’s been released we can sit back and enjoy the fact that it’s actually a fine piece of work.

Gideon: For a while we were really frustrated because for a long time, all we were playing was the EP and we couldn’t talk about it because things were still being sorted out in the background around us, so we were playing these songs that we were getting tired of playing, and people didn’t know them. But now our set has been reinvigorated and we’ve been able to introduce new songs for our own sanity.

How many new songs do you have?

Isabella: A good album’s worth. We’re still working away. The new EP is very American. It has a very American sensibility about it, but for us there’s a theme happening on the EP that we won’t want to use as much of in the future. It’ll be more about how we take that sound and make it current and new, and more us.

So, do you have any plans for any future releases? An album perhaps?

Isabella: We’ll be recording in January, so that’s exciting.

In Australia this time?

Gideon: Yes, in Australia. We have a space we work out of in Sydney.

Isabella: It’s going to be almost the flip side of the L.A. EP, as we’ll be doing most of it on our own. We recorded the EP in September of last year.

Gideon: We had every intention for that to be out in March of this year.

Jack: But ‘Take A Card’ completely threw that plan. We put it up on Unearthed, and I think they played it on Valentine’s Day or something. We were just not ready for people to respond to it like they did, because we thought we would have at least another month before the EP would come out, and then at least another twelve months before Triple J would play it, and then Izzy went mental making sure all our social media was current, as nothing had been updated for a while.

Isabella: And they still play it once every three days, which is pretty amazing.

I wanted to ask you about BIGSOUND, as that’s where we first saw you, and you pretty much stole the show. How was your experience of BIGSOUND?

Gideon: It was great, although Izzy was sick.

Isabella: I ended up with laryngitis, and the first show was ok, but the second night wasn’t so good. I spent three weeks recovering after that. I just had to stay at our hotel and not sing or not talk to anyone, and that was really devastating as all I wanted to do was hang out with everyone, and go and see all my friends who were playing. But these guys had a great time.

Which other bands did you see?

Gideon: I went and saw Straight Arrows.

Luke: We saw Straight Arrows, The Cairos, Saskwatch, Elizabeth Rose, Jeremy Neale, King Cannons.

Tom: And we saw Strangers, which was a good experience.

Isabella: We were really nervous that nobody was going to come to our gig. I was really nervous about that gig, and I don’t really get nervous about gigs.

Luke: The Delta Riggs are such a great live band, and I was nervous about going on after them. But they are a totally different band to us.

Isabella: You get a really good vibe in some gigs, and that was one of them. Some gigs you play the sound is bad and people tell you it was the best sounding gig they’ve heard, but that gig had a really good vibe. And we vibed off the crowd and that’s what I loved about that gig.

So at what point did you guys realise you can make a career out of The Preatures?

Isabella: I don’t think we’ve realised that yet.

Gideon: No we haven’t. To be honest, people ask us this all time, they ask us how do we make money from this.

Jack: I think there’s an expectation that if you’re famous, you must be loaded and that’s just not true.

Gideon: I think you just have to keep telling yourself that you can do it, and just get yourself into that mind space. I’ve dropped out of uni, and if we weren’t doing this we’d all have to go work in cafés because I don’t have any qualifications, so you’re putting all your eggs in one basket, and it’s pretty much gotta work.

Luke: And it’s everybody’s eggs in just one basket. It’s quite an omelette.

Gideon: People who work in the industry will tell you there are ways to make money and there other things you can do. I think we’d all love to be able to wake up every morning and be able to feed our families and be able to work at writing songs. We’re not asking to have big houses and cars, just a Corolla and a townhouse would be nice!

Isabella: ‘Take A Card’ was great for us because it gave us confidence and before that we were a bit scattered. If you listen to the EP, it’s cohesive but there’s diversity on there. People comment about us all the time, saying we’re not just one thing or one genre, and that can be seen as a bad thing or a good thing, and we struggle with it and celebrate it equally. The whole band’s story will be about finding about how those different elements come together to find something good.

Tom: Like Captain Planet! (assumes Super Hero pose) Drums! Bass! Guitar!

Are you looking forward to playing tonight?

Isabella: Yes we are. It’s only our second festival after Sheer Madness.

Jack: That doesn’t count.

Gideon: Yeah it does, we played there with bands like Monsieur Camembert, and Husky before they were Husky. Anyway we’re quite new to the whole festival thing, and we’re playing Peats Ridge and Gorgeous Festival at the end of the year. But the rest of the year is about just playing gigs. We’ll be touring with Deep Sea Arcade and trying to get as many new songs into the set as possible, and we’ve got the San Cisco tour as well.

Isabella: And after Peats Ridge it’s writing time. Straight back into the studio.

Have you been chucking any covers into your sets recently?

Gideon: We’ve actually got a gig booked that has the requirement of one song from the sixties and one from the nineties so we’re going to have to do it for sure.

And what have you got on the shortlist for that?

Tom: It’s a really tough thing to pick covers, because you want to do something that you have room to move in, but you don’t want to go too far with it.

Jack: Sometimes you can reach well into the cheesy side of things and do it really well. Like ‘Forever Young’; it’s so uber-cheesy.

Tom: But even still, you don’t want to deviate too far from the original.

And you don’t want to choose something too obscure either.

Isabella: Exactly. The point of a great cover is to pick something everybody knows. It’s a guilty pleasure and it makes people go “oh my god, I love this song!”

Jack: Like The Cairos doing ‘Time After Time’ on the tour we did with them. They did their own thing with it; it was endearingly lame! And they’re the kind of band that can do that, because they’re awesome. It sounded great.

Tom: It was the highlight of every show they did.

Well, thank you, and good luck with the gig tonight.

Gideon: thanks guys, it’s going to be awesome.