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Joe Agius of The Creases: “In the beginning it was definitely not serious at all”

the creases

LAST year, Brisbane’s Joe Agius and Jarrod Mahon decided to record a song and make a video one weekend as a bit of a laugh, doing it under the name of The Creases.

Little did they know that legendary UK label Rough Trade would soon have the band in their sights, and things were about to get a lot more serious.

“In the beginning it was definitely not serious at all,” Agius says. “They found the song and video on a random blog and e-mailed us. The Creases was kind of like a fun, joke band we had on the side, and then after we released the single for Rough Trade, we got more serious with it and realised that we could do it for real. It was suddenly an opportunity for us to tour and do all the things we wanted to do. It’s definitely different to a normal band, where you can chip away at it for a year and figure out exactly what kind of band you are and gig a lot, but we were thrown in the deep end pretty quickly. We had to make sure we were tight live, and had a good plan. We don’t mind the pressure; we actually work better under the pressure.”

The link-up with the label lead to a UK tour and now the young quartet have released their debut EP, entitled Gradient, but Agius is already looking forward.

“The EP has been a long time coming,” he says. “It’s a bit of a mix of stuff. There’s one song that’s more like the first single, and there’s a really shoegaze-y kind of track, and some more post-punk kind of stuff. It’s a pretty big mix, but still all sort of in the same category. Mostly pretty similar to ‘Static Lines’. We’re super-psyched for everyone to hear it. It’s taken ages for this EP to come out, so we just want to try and have a smaller gap between releases and move on to what will probably be an album. We’ll start demoing for our new album next month and then record it later in the year. We’ve probably got half an album right now, but we haven’t actually started writing properly.”

The sudden thrust into the spotlight has forced the band to adapt in other ways, with education and employment cast aside.

“I deferred before actually dropping out of uni,” Agius says. “I don’t think I’ll be going back, hopefully. Aimon [Clark, bass] has quit work then got employed again, but we’ve quit a fair few things for the band. It was hard in the beginning; my parents weren’t happy with me dropping out of uni to play in this band they hadn’t even heard yet, but I think they feel better about it now. I think once we started touring and they started seeing a good reaction and our music being played on the radio and stuff like that, they definitely felt a lot better about us dropping out of uni and work.”

The band began as a duo before going through a couple of changes and settling on the current line-up of Agius (vocals, guitar), Mahon (guitar, vocals), Clark (bass, vocals) and Gabe Webster (drums).

“When [our original drummer] dropped out, it was a pretty mutual thing,” Agius says. “She was doing law and was pretty far through a degree. At the time, she had to weigh up what she had to do. We were getting a bit too serious and she just didn’t have the time. Gabe is actually our third drummer; he played in Gung Ho in Brisbane. Gung Ho have kind of gone on hiatus; I don’t know what the go is with that band, but he joined the crew and it’s working really well. It’s good to have a confirmed line-up.”

With an appearance at Splendour in the bag, Agius is looking forward to a busy few months ahead for the band.

“Playing Splendour was the highest goal I ever set with music,” he says. “I would always go and tell my friends that next year we’d be on that triple j unearthed spot or whatever. It’s really scary, but super fun. We’ve got a few more tours with other bands, which will be announced, and we’re writing and demoing for an album. We’ll probably be doing some of our own shows as well.”

GRADIENT IS OUT NOW.

For Forte

King Buzzo: “I’ll take the blame, no problem”

king buzzo

BECOMING involved in music as a high school friend and band-mate of Kurt Cobain, before forming grunge/metal legends the Melvins, Buzz ‘King Buzzo’ Osbourne has accomplished most things in music.

However, after a 31-year career involving over 30 albums of studio and live material, the singer-guitarist is still breaking new ground by going acoustic for the first time on new album This Machine Kills Artists.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do, you know?” he says. “I’ve done a lot of albums in the past and a lot of other types of work in the past, but there’s no real reason other than that. I worked on it for a few months and I realised pretty quickly that I can do things fast, because I didn’t have anybody else working on the songs. So once I had them written, I was able to go in and record them, and I had a great time doing it. It was just another challenge and I was up for a challenge. I’ll take the blame, no problem [laughs].”

The 50 year-old is equally self-effacing, engaging and blunt, and was just as driven by what he wanted the new album to sound like as how he wanted to avoid it sounding like. A quote on his website reads “I have no interest in sounding like a crappy version of James Taylor or a half-assed version of Woody Guthrie”.

“I just listened to most of what that stuff sounds like and just made sure I didn’t do it,” he says. “I think it’s mission accomplished in that department. I didn’t want to do some National Skyline type of thing at all. Lots of rock and rollers try to do that; they think it’s more legitimate or something, I don’t know. It’s weird. I could certainly do all acoustic covers of Hank Williams songs if I wanted to, but that just doesn’t sound very interesting to me, you know? As much as I love Hank Williams, it’s not for me to do it. If I could figure out some other angle on it, maybe, but I’m not going to worry about that. I’m trying to be kind of a heavy metal version of Captain Beefheart. I’ve been calling it ‘molk’, which is metal-folk. How does that sound? M-O-L-K; I don’t know anyone else who is doing that. It’s an original concept. For all intents and purposes that’s the kind of area I’m working in. So nothing’s too direct, but I think if you listen to it, it can mean a lot to a lot of different people. I’m never that direct, never I’m not going to lead you by the hand down the garden path. It’s a walk people have to take on their own, you know?”

With more than 2000 shows under his belt, it would be safe to assume Osbourne should take performing in his stride, even if the new format throws up some original challenges.

“I don’t have a band to hide behind on this,” he says. “I just have to go out there and make it work. I’m all on my own; there’s no drums or anything except me and my acoustic. It’s very stripped-down, very minimalistic and that’s kind of how I want it. I’m eight shows into this tour and I did about 17 or 18 shows before this. I’ve done the better part of 30 shows, but I’m still learning, you know? I’m figuring it all out as it’s brand new to me. By the time I get to Australia I’ll have more than 50 shows under my belt, so I’ll be feeling pretty secure that I’ve seen it all by that point, but there really is nothing like playing live to get that experience and feeling that anything and everything could go right or wrong. There’s no substitute for that; none. Things can still go wrong; even songs that I’ve played for years. You just never know. That’s all part of playing live.”

Osbourne will bring his solo show to Australia for a ten-date tour in August, and while he’s not generally known for being a chatty performer, expect at least a bit of banter between songs.

“For now, I have been telling stupid stories and stuff like that,” he says. “It’s not normal singer-songwriter type stuff, it’s more irregular. I want to present this as serious, but still vulnerable to some degree. I got to have some kind of communication with [the audience], but maybe as time goes on I won’t say a word. With most of the Melvins shows I don’t say a word; I just let the music do the talking and don’t worry about it too much. Sometimes at Melvins shows I’ll talk about whatever the fancy takes me, but not a tremendous amount. I’m doing 70 minutes with not a lot of talking; maybe five minutes talking out of 70 minutes. Sixty-five minutes of music is a enough for people to have to deal with [laughs]. Out of those 70 minutes, I’ll be doing about 50 percent old Melvins material and 50 percent new material, which is what I do normally anyway. It’s not a wild stretch, you know?”

The permanently-busy Osbourne confirms that despite his acoustic gigs taking centre stage for now, a return to blasting loud rock music isn’t far away.

“[The Melvins] have a new album coming out in early October and we’re going to do some new shows in the US in mid-October, roughly. Nothing’s on the back burner at all; it’s very much in the foreground. I leave nothing to chance, you know? I’m very much about plans; all kinds of plans. I’ve worked my ass off to get to this point.”

Despite swapping his electric guitar for acoustic, Osbourne laughs off the suggestion he might be mellowing with age.

“Listen to the album and you tell me,” he laughs. “It’s something else I can do, and that’s all it is. I’m a songwriter and that’s what I do; I make music. I do it for a living, I work on it as a craft. It’s all just part of the same thing, thank God.”

When & Where:

Thursday 14 August Geelong | Barwon Club (18+)
Friday 15 August Melbourne | Ding Dong Lounge (18+)

THIS MACHINE KILLS ARTISTS BY KING BUZZO IS OUT NOW.

For Forte