Live review: Stonefield + The Delta Riggs – The Zoo, Brisbane – April 2012

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It’s refreshing that in a week where the ‘biggest’ musical event to happen in Brisbane was One Fucking Direction selling out the Convention Centre and forcing a collective creaming of jeans amongst their adolescent marketing victims (sorry, fans), people who like proper music played by proper musicians could cruise along to the Zoo in the Valley and hear some of the best young rock bands in Australia right now. Thank Christ for Stonefield.

Before this review turns into a rant against boy bands and all things manufactured, let me just say I have nothing against them; it’s their fans that need beaten with several pieces of heavy farming equipment. Twenty dollars would maybe get you two hotdogs and a coke at the Convention Centre while you listen to five prancing teens sing about their manginas, or nearly five hours of committed, pure-as-the-driven-snow rock ‘n’ roll at the Zoo; music played by the people who wrote it, and with enough conviction and attitude to scare One Direction’s balls into dropping.

One bunch of guys who have absolutely no problem locating their balls is support act The Delta Riggs; the Melbourne five-piece packing enough gloriously groovy Southern-rock cool into their set to make you think every piece of music since 1974 never happened. Decked out in cowboy hats, retro ‘70s shirts, and hair galore, they incorporate epic guitar, organ, and even some bluesy harmonica into a fantastic set. Taunting the “silly bunch of cunts up the back” for being too-cool-for-school and not joining in the fun, front man Elliott Hammond oozes Jagger-esque attitude and even manages to include “lend me some sugar, I am your neighbour!” from Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’ into the middle of a song. The highlight of their set however, was Hammond brilliantly dedicating their song ‘Mary’ to Levon Helm, The Band’s legendary singing drummer, who died this week.

Speaking of singing drummers, Stonefield’s Amy Findlay has one hell of a set of pipes, and her band has more balls than One Direction’s entire fan base and the Delta Riggs put together. I have to admit, I was surprised and impressed by the power of the four hard-rocking sisters from rural Victoria, as they pounded, slapped, and strummed the living shit out of their instruments in an amazing seventy-five minute set.

As they are a young band yet to release their debut long player, you can pretty much be certain of which songs will feature in a Stonefield set. ‘Move Out Of My Shadow,’ ‘Drowning,’ and ‘Addicted Love’ are all blasted into the audience with one hundred percent commitment, with guitarist Hannah effortlessly peeling off the riffs like she has been doing it for decades, while baby-of-the-family and bassist Holly lifts her tiny frame onto the monitors, twirls her waist-length hair and gives it everything. It’s frightening to think that at fourteen years old she has already played the Glastonbury festival in England and toured all over Australia and the world.

It’s when Hannah switches her Gibson SP for a Les Paul and the crushing opening riff of ‘Black Water Rising’ thunders from the stage that the second half of the set cranks the proceedings up a notch. With the energy level not letting up, and Amy putting so much into her vocals that you think her vocal cords can’t possibly hold out, they launch into new single ‘Bad Reality;’ another blast of blistering, pounding rock riffage that should be a set staple for years to come.

Steppenwolf classic ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ gets a run-out – a song that perfectly encapsulates Stonefield’s spirit and allows keyboardist Sarah to flaunt her skills – before the support drummer comes on and Hannah takes the stage front and centre for ‘Drowning.’ Closer and Triple J favourite ‘Through The Clover’ gets an epic airing before the girls leave the stage to massive cheers and whistles from the Zoo audience.

Two minutes later, after much foot-stomping and calls for more, they are back, launching into Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ with almost as much swagger and energy as Page and co. did in their heyday. Amy’s voice seems tailor-made for the song, and she doesn’t let up with the vocal acrobatics until the dying seconds, when she and her sisters leave the stage for good, to the sounds of ringing appreciation from all sections of the audience.

All in all, it was an epic night of old-school rock ‘n’ roll, by young bands having the time of their lives, doing what they love, and playing music in a style that belies their tender years. It’s all too easy to rant about manufactured pop and the shit state of the music industry, but after seeing these guys in action I take heart. The next half-century of Australian rock is in good hands.

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

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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

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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

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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.

Record review: The Delta Riggs – Rah Rah Radio (2013, Single)

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Sydney DJ/producer Flume was recently quoted as saying “I feel like the sound palate with a rock band is just so done, it’s so boring to me. It never sounds fresh, I just hardly give it a chance, because guitars and acoustic drums can only go so far.” How timely it is then, to hear a new single that loudly and proudly extends a righteous middle finger in the general direction of the ridiculous notion that rock music is ‘done’.

It’s with tedious regularity that that particular idea is expressed, but haters need to accept that rock music ain’t ever going away, no sir; it ain’t gonna die, as Brian Johnson put it so succinctly. That’s not to say electronic music can’t flourish and be enjoyed by all too, and Flume’s debut album is a fine piece of work; but the punters who were present at his mind-numbingly boring set at Laneway Festival in Brisbane could vastly improve their lives by taking in a performance by Melbourne’s The Delta Riggs; five guys who are aware of the importance of putting on a SHOW, given the record-buying public is now a fraction of what it once was. Anyway, back to this single business…

‘Rah Rah Radio’ is the first single from the ‘Riggs upcoming – as yet untitled – debut album. Having been knocking around the traps for almost five years, and with three EPs already under their belts, it is a bit of a landmark for the band, and is perfectly filthy rock ‘n’ roll in true Delta Riggs style. Featuring all the most appropriate elements of any quality rock song, ‘Rah Rah Radio’ barrels along a frantic pace from the off, has an appropriately grammatically-incorrect sing-a-long chorus of “You shoulda go back to where you came from”, and is generally two-and-a-half minutes of kick-arse rock ‘n’ roll, as it should be.

Rock ‘n’ roll is far from ‘done’; it’s more alive than it ever was, and this single goes a long way in backing up that statement. Bring on the album, Delta Riggs.