Feature interview: Boy and Bear are Bouncing Back

Boy and Bear Paul McBride Scenestr interview

Four years spent coming to terms with a debilitating illness hasn’t dampened Boy and Bear frontman Dave Hoskings’ lust for life as the band return home for a national tour.

After a much-publicised struggle with chronic dysbiosis – a microbial imbalance in the gut – Hoskings is enjoying playing and touring as much as ever, despite the journey towards fourth album ‘Suck on Light’ being a tough one.

“Life’s really good,” he says. “[The album] felt like a long time coming and when I listen to it, I’m still happy with it. I think we were able to produce something that we’re really proud of it, and it’s nice to be on this end of the cycle with the record, and we’re thinking about touring and travel. It feels good to be back.”

Hoskings’ accompanying diagnosis of anxiety and depression was also overcome as the multi-ARIA-award-winning band got back to business.

“At the back end of the last record I had kind of fallen to pieces,” Hoskings says. “I had to work out what the hell was going on and that took a bit of time. I’ve been a pretty open book about the whole thing and I’ve come a really long way. I’ve still got some challenges and I’ve still got a way to go, but that’s still moving in the right direction and I just have to stay patient and keep seeing the really effective doctors that I’m seeing. The main thing is that I’m much more comfortable and my functionality is much better. I’m up and I’m working and I’m surfing a bit, so that’s really good.”

The Sydney five-piece will play The Drop festival in Noosa, Newcastle, Manly, Coolangatta, Torquay and Busselton, and a slew of regional and metropolitan shows starting 29 February and ending in May with the completion of their 65-date world tour.

“Touring is going really great,” Hoskings says, “We love playing in Australia, but the world is a really big place and we want to embrace the scope of that – being able to travel, play in festivals and try to compete in these markets is really fun. North America has been great. We haven’t been back to Europe for a little while, but sales have been really strong for this tour, which is kind of heartening, I guess. We’ve been out of the game for a while and you never know whether people might have moved on, but it feels like our core fanbase is really solid. It still feels really odd, in a nice way, that people on the other side of the world who speak a different language are still embracing what we do. We get to travel over there, play and sell out some gigs, which is amazing.”

A love for touring regional areas was established early in the indie-rockers’ eleven-year career.

“Our early years were much more ‘adrenaline’, more excitement and much more partying,” Hoskings says. “Now, we want to pace ourselves a bit. We still love getting up on stage and playing, but the difficult part is all the travel and the lack of sleep and things like that. Each one of us has our own routine and we generally know what we’re getting ourselves into. We do a bit of prep and we feel pretty good about it. If you don’t do the regional shows, you’ve only really got five or six gigs in Australia, in terms of capital cities. But right from the start, we had a discussion with our management and it was definitely something we wanted to do. It’s not always easy touring regional Australia. It has its challenges, but it’s been a really rewarding thing making that decision early, so there are crowds and audiences that are used to us coming. That’s been really good for us, and it feels like people are just welcoming and enjoying the fact we’ve made the effort to get out of the major cities, although we’re hitting Brisbane at the Fortitude Music Hall. That should be really cool; I’ve heard so many great things about the venue.”

‘Suck on Light’ was recorded in Nashville and features themes of overcoming hardships and emerging from the other side with a smile.

“We decided we wanted to work with Collin Depuis and he was based in Nashville,” Hoskings says. “So, it was either we head there or we get him to come to us. Nashville is probably just got the edge on a lot of studios around Australia. There are plenty of great players if you need them and really good musical resources – it’s just a really effective place to record. We would definitely succumb to the fact that we’ve got one foot firmly planted in pop music and, I think, with good pop music, when you dig underneath it, there more complicated things going on. I think that some songs take time and certain things can take a while. But you also don’t want to lose that musical instinct and energy that can come. The whole recording took us about six weeks, so not an extremely long time, but not banging it out either. It can be a bit of a time warp in the studio from 10am to 7pm and you don’t know where the day went. We did try to get out of the studio once a week – even to just chuck a Frisbee around or get on the bikes.”

With a new lease on life and his health conditions under control, Hoskings has been productive.

“I’ve been kind of noodling around with stuff,” he says. “I had some demos, so I set up a file on my computer which just said ‘album five’. I took a photo and sent it to the boys just as a little motivation, I guess. I’ll try to build a body of work over a period of time and I’m already thinking about the fifth record.”

For Scenestr

Record review: Rolling Blackouts – Talk Tight (2015, EP)

rolling blackouts talk tight

Most of us, at one time or another, have wanted to take off across some dusty plain with nothing but a faithful old heeler on the passenger seat, one sunburned arm hanging out the driver’s window and maybe a couple of cartons of brews in the back. Melbourne quintet Rolling Blackouts might have made just the EP for such a trip: Talk Tight is a five-track effort of guitar pop with so many links to the McLennan-Forster songbook of 1988 that it could almost be mistaken for a period piece. A compliment so heady shouldn’t be handed out willy-nilly, of course, but in this case it’s deserved; the young band’s jangly guitar sound is some seriously top-drawer Australiana. It’s pretty laidback going in the most part, though, so it’s a ride we’re all welcome to come along on. Opener ‘Wither With You’ gets the motor started and wheels rolling with a plenty of guitar hooks, before lead single ‘Wide Eyes’ cleans out the cobwebs of its fuzzy opening with an all-guns-blazing alt-country climax. ‘Heard You’re Moving’ is a straightforward and charming guitar-pop number that cleverly takes a minute before the vocals kick in, while ‘Clean Slate’ gets all garage-jam massive before breaking back down to where it started, before ‘Tender is the Neck’ closes the deal with a tenderness that is both unexpected and welcome. If you like your indie-rock freewheeling and chock full of charm, these boys have you covered.

For The Brag

Record review: Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool (2015, LP)

wolf alice my love is cool

It’s easy to tire of the endless run of identikit NME-endorsed monotone and monochrome oh-so-English toffboy quartets masquerading as the new Clash-via-Libertines for the 21st century. Palma Violets, the Vaccines, Peace et. al are bands whose style-over-substance approach and try-hard ramshackle do little to deter the feeling that each of their parents have probably never driven anything smaller than a Range Rover with a horsebox, and that Pete Doherty is somehow still revered despite having been irrelevant for over a decade.

London’s Wolf Alice skirt around the edges of being such a band, sometimes dipping their toe into the clichéd indie-rock no man’s land that has been the final stop before the knacker’s yard for many a rock-lite pretender, but thankfully their debut album has just enough guts and range to prevent it from being more than just another shade of beige in the guitar-rock rainbow. If they didn’t have singer-guitarist Ellie Rowsell – a Justine Frischmann for the selfie-stick generation – Wolf Alice would barely be worth mentioning; the 22 year-old frontwoman carries her trio of anonymous male bandmates with aplomb throughout My Love Is Cool.

The band’s earliest work was rooted in folk, and it shows as Rowsell engages her inner Sandy Denny on ‘Turn To Dust’ and ‘Swallowtail’ sees one of the lesser three do his best Nick Drake impression. The delicate noir of ‘Silk’ sets up single and belting rock banger ‘Giant Peach’ perfectly; it’s here the controlled vocal talents of the diminutive Rowsell are most impressive, and on ‘Fluffy’ she shows screamo isn’t beyond her. Filler ‘You’re A Germ’ will embarrass as the band mature, as will the forgettable ‘Freazy’, but it’s exactly how Wolf Alice find and settle on their sound on album two which will make or break the band.


Sian Plummer of Circa Waves: “We’re a bit sketchy on the details – can you fill me in?”

circa waves

THERE are bands who have had meteoric rises, and then are English indie-rock quartet Circa Waves, who are set to play Splendour In The Grass and four sideshows.

When they wrote, recorded and uploaded their single ‘Young Chasers’ to Soundcloud in a single day, they didn’t expect much to happen. That very night it was picked up and played on the biggest radio station in the UK, and the young band haven’t looked back since.

“It was definitely a freak occurrence,” says drummer Sian Plummer. “That’s not the norm for us by any means. I think it was just knowing the right person at the right time at Radio 1 that helped it get played that evening. It really helped that Radio 1 was so keen to help champion young, new music, and they were quite eager to give us a push. But [getting it played on] the first day was quite an achievement [laughs].”

Sudden national exposure led to a flurry of song-writing and touring for the band, before a deal was inked with Dew Process.

“We all met at a festival in Liverpool called Sound City,” Plummer says. “We were all there, and we were all bored with our respective bands and whatever. So we decided we’ll start a band with the aim of playing Sound City next year, and instead of doing that we ended up getting signed and touring the world. To celebrate we just went out and had massive steak dinners in this really posh restaurant. We basically gorged ourselves on quality meat.”

They’ve existed for barely a year, in which they’ve toured incessantly, so it’s understandable that not all the members of the band have had a chance to reflect and plan for the gigs ahead. When asked how much he knows about Splendour In The Grass, Plummer laughs.

“We’re a bit sketchy on the details – can you fill me in?” he says. “Australia: the idea that people are listening to our music on the other side of the world is an unreal scenario to think about. I don’t even know what’s happening over there. I can’t quite process the idea that people are hearing our music and are sort of down with it, so we’re looking forward to coming over and seeing first-hand. It’s really exciting. To be honest, we’re just pretty stoked to be going to Australia, so we haven’t thought far enough ahead to be considering festivals and club shows. I guess I’m excited to see what an Australian club show is like; how you guys react and whether it goes off. Festivals are amazing as well; there’s this whole other side of playing to a crowd in a tent that is just a unique feeling, so we’re looking forward to both.”

The band have just released their debut, self-titled EP in time for an airing at Splendour and a run of shows supporting Metronomy.

“We’re just about there right now,” Plummer says. “We’ve got enough material for at least a 45-minute set now. We’re sort of still perfecting our set and have been over the past six months, so I think we’ve got a good set-list together now and we can fill that time. Then obviously Kieran [Shudall, guitar/vocals] does loads of stand-up comedy between each song, so that takes about ten minutes between each song in the set [laughs].”

Despite being praised by British music press and hailed as a “buzz” band and ones-to-watch, Circa Waves are keen on winning fans the old-fashioned way, Plummer insists.

“We did the NME tour, and that was a strange one,” he says. “It didn’t sell as well as it could have done, but they’ve been really supportive and we really appreciate having anyone like that championing us and getting our name out there. In terms of getting us out there, it’s invaluable. Being played on Radio 1 is the best place to get heard. But from our point of view, it’s all about the live shows; going to people’s towns and playing is the important thing. That’s the way we’ve always got out there and got known. If people haven’t seen us play and don’t know what we’re about live, they’re not going to know what it is we’re about. We’re keen to spread that message.”

While their touring schedule appears unending, a band that does things as quickly as Circa Waves isn’t going to wait years to put out an album.

“We’ve just finished recording our album a couple of weeks ago,” Plummer says. “We went into a studio for about five weeks and laid down quite a lot of tracks. Bit by bit we’re going to start mixing them in and showcasing them live. We’ve amassed quite a bit of material in the last six months. Ideally we’re looking at an early next year release, and before then play live in as many places as we can. It’s a pretty raw sounding album in many ways. It’s not an overly-produced record; we’ve tried to keep post-production to a minimum, and it’s got quite a live feel to it in places as well, as some of the takes were done completely live. It’s about capturing and conveying a lot of the energy of us live. I think we’ve managed to get something that sounds pretty cool as well. We get a lot of comparisons to the Strokes and that’s a great comparison to have, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. We’re influenced by the Strokes, but I don’t think we sound like the Strokes, and what we’ve tried to do on this record is to convey who Circa Waves are and how we sound, and I think that’s massively important. We’re looking forward to getting it out there and showing everybody what we’re about.”

When & Where:

Friday 25th July Forum Theatre, Melbourne (supporting Metronomy)
Saturday 26th July Splendour In The Grass, Byron Parklands


For Forte

Record review: Wolf Alice – Creature Songs (2014, EP)

wolf alice creature songs

Questions young bands have to ask themselves number 1186: do we save up all our good songs for a debut album, risking losing momentum and fans, or strike when the iron is hot, put out an EP and potentially lessen the quality of said long-player? English indie-rock quartet Wolf Alice are a band leaning heavily towards the latter approach, this being their second EP of top quality indie-rock in the space of less than twelve months. As their moniker suggests, Wolf Alice’s music is half rough and half gentle, with elements of grunge, rock and shoegaze at the pointy end and subtle indie at the other. This four track effort starts off strongly with the colossal ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’; a mesh of heavily fuzzed guitars and big vocals, before kicking it up another gear with ‘Storms’, a song which isn’t unlike something fellow English rockers Band of Skulls might write. In frontwoman Ellie Rowsell, indie-rock kids might have a new Goddess to worship; her commitment and command of every song being particularly impressive. Third track ‘Heavenly Creatures’ comes as a surprise after two alt-rock numbers; Rowsell’s whispered vocals and ringing harmonies over a simple guitar and bass line provide a cosy cushion for your ears to sink into, and closer ‘We’re Not The Same’ begins in misery before exploding with angst and feedback. It remains to be seen whether Wolf Alice can move past being labelled a ‘hype’ band to something more substantial, but if they keep tunes of this standard coming, the world of rock is theirs for the taking. (Dirty Hit)

Record review: Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal (2014, LP)

parquet courts sunbathing animal

It’s tempting to pin the ‘slacker’ label on New York indie-rock quartet Parquet Courts, given that their most well-known song to date, 2012’s ‘Stoned and Starving’, tells the simple tale of singer Andrew Savage wandering the streets fiending for “Swedish fish, roasted peanuts or liquorice”. To do so, however, would be a disservice, as there is much more to the band. Featured on their second album Light Up Gold, that song introduced the everyday laugh-out-loud ramblings of a young city musician describing his surroundings, and was enough to bag the band slots at both Laneway Festival and Splendour In The Grass this year. One of the great – and simultaneously infuriating – things about Parquet Courts is that it’s not always clear when they’re being serious and when they’re taking the piss. Undoubtedly a fine and witty wordsmith, frontman and lyricist Andrew Savage comes across as part Ivy League stiff, part frantic punk-rock poet; but his energy and commitment make him a believable street storyteller on Sunbathing Animal. Unlike the instantly explosive Light Up Gold, the album begins in more measured fashion with ‘Bodies Made Of’, before setting off at pace with ‘Black & White’ and breaking the momentum down to a slow crawl on ‘Dear Ramona’. Among the remaining full-tilt rockers are ‘Instant Disassembly’, which could easily be the soundtrack to a comedy Western, and ‘Raw Milk’, which adds a hint of blues to finish up. While they’re now opting for a more cautious approach to urban punk than the head-on take of previous work, it’s this progression which keeps Parquet Courts’ particular brand of indie-rock more exciting than most.

Record review: The Love Junkies – Flight Test (2014, EP)

the love junkies flight test

Perth trio The Love Junkies have been busy blowing eardrums up and down the country for the past couple of years with their sweat-drenched, everything-up-to-eleven live shows. Their 2013 debut album Maybelene was an impressively pulsating mix of grunge riffs, alt-rock face-melting and bluesy jams, and this five-track home-recorded EP continues in a similar vein – to a point. You’d be forgiven for thinking the band had gone soft with a mellow space-rock 90-second intro and the poppy opening minute of single ‘Chemical Motivation’, before the point in the song long-time fans have come to expect and love; when singer-guitarist Mitch McDonald lets rip with a throaty scream that would peel wallpaper and probably knock out a donkey at ten paces. ‘Storm Troopers’, penned by bassist Robbie Rumble, is an introspective shoegaze-y affair that never fully kicks into gear and ‘Gloria To My Dysphoria’ is a somewhat solemn, slow-burning psychedelic epic. Closer ‘Blowing On The Devil’s Strumpet’ gets closest to the vein-busting screamo found on Maybelene, and just when you think McDonald’s voice can’t hold out, he goes for another couple of verses. This is another fine release from one of Australia’s best and most promising young rock bands.

Alex Cameron of Bad//Dreems: “We’re about to sign with a record label”

bad dreems

ADELAIDE indie-rockers Bad//Dreems are set to have a pretty big year.

“We’re about to sign with a record label,” says guitarist Alex Cameron. “I can’t say who it is, but we’ll announce the signing probably in the next couple of weeks, and the next release is a seven-inch called ‘Dumb Ideas’, which comes out at the start of April. That’s the first step towards an album that we’ll probably record later this year and release towards the end of the year or next year. There might be an EP in between.”

The quartet’s debut EP Badlands earned rave reviews and helped the band find their sound. This time, they’ve enlisted help from an experienced source.

“We’ve always got heaps of songs,” Cameron says. “We had fifteen demos for this seven-inch that we whittled down to get these two. One of the ways to do that is to demo a lot of songs and pick the best. The last EP was a collection of songs that spanned from when we started in 2012 through to just before we recorded it in January 2013. You can probably see an evolution in the songs; the first song we wrote was ‘Chills’ and the last was ‘Hoping For’, and I think that ‘Hoping For’ was the song that we think crystallised our vision into something that was around the mark of what we were going for. The difference may be that we’ve recorded with a new producer; Mark Opitz. He’s a pretty famous Australian producer; he worked with a lot of Australian bands of the ’80s. He originally worked with Vanda and Young doing a couple of AC/DC albums, then the first album he did himself was The Angels’ second album, which sold about 300,000 copies, and he worked with The Models, Hoodoo Guru and INXS. We thought it was a left-field idea to record with him, and we didn’t even know if he was still recording, but we got in contact and he really liked our stuff. I wouldn’t say the bands he recorded in the ’80s are particular inspirations of ours, but it was more of the way he captured what were good live guitar bands, and also the fact that he’s a very song-based producer and good at helping to bring out a band’s sound. Also, he’s good at sifting through songs and turning them into the best pop songs possible. He was given a lot of credit for the massive albums bands like INXS had, as he was able to pick out songs that had potential and take them to the next level. We were happy with the EP recording, but this time we were able to capture more of the live energy of the band. First and foremost our songs are based around playing them live; we don’t want to record with overdubs and there aren’t extra instruments in there padding out the sound. The EP didn’t quite have the same energy, but this time we’ve got that a lot better. I think the drum track for the single was the first take. We set up all our stuff in the room, gave it a run through and [Opitz] was like ‘Okay, that’s the drums done’.”

Triple J have been big supporters of the band, but radio airplay isn’t a make-or-break factor says Cameron.

“Triple J support didn’t happen overnight for us,” he says. “’Hoping For’ was the fifth single we put out. Having said that, Triple J have been supportive of all our things from the start; whether it was on Unearthed or Home & Hosed. There are two approaches that we wanted to avoid. One of those was caring too much about whether Triple J was going to play our songs or not, and pinning all our hopes on that. Triple J support is great, but if you pin all your hopes on it and it doesn’t happen you can be left high and dry, when there are plenty of other avenues to get your music out there. The second approach that some bands take is to be anti-Triple J and don’t want to put their stuff on Unearthed or associated with it. We just make the best songs we can and if Triple J support it so be it, but we’ve got other irons in the fire, and keep pushing ourselves to keep playing live and doing different things. The other thing I’d say is that the band started off not trying to ape any particular genre or make a new sound, but just trying to make really good songs. There are certain touchstones and elements that we reference, but our goal is to write songs that can be appreciated by everyone from the man on the street, to the music critic, to the hipster if you will, to the guitar shop guy. Some of my song-writing idols, from Dylan, Springsteen, Paul Westerberg, Kurt Cobain and Robert Smith; they wrote songs that are appreciated by everyone. That’s our goal as songwriters, and while we’re a long way off achieving that level, if you aim for that other things will follow. We just worry about the song-writing and the rest will take care of itself.”

Upcoming slots at Bleach* Festival and supporting The Scientists will give Queensland fans a chance to catch the band in their natural setting.

“Half the set consists of new songs now,” Cameron says. “We play most of the EP and plenty of new material. The shows are rock ‘n’ roll shows; we don’t go in for smoke machines or giant fans up there. We just really enjoy playing live, especially at the moment. It’s interesting when we play now because people actually know the words to the songs, which is pretty moving and inspiring. Bleach* Festival will be awesome; we’re big fans of Violent Soho. Supporting The Scientists will be one of the highlights of our career so far; we could pretty much pull up stumps and be satisfied. They’re idols of ours, and that might one of the few times I’ll be nervous playing in front of them, not that they’ll even be watching probably. I’m sure their fans will be pretty discerning too, so we’ll certainly want to be on our game.”


Record review: The Jezabels – The Brink (2014, LP)

Sydney quartet The Jezabels have become such an integral part of the Australian indie-rock landscape that it’s easy to forget that their debut album is just a little over two years old. While much of their time has been spent overseas since that well-received debut, The Jezabels are back with a bang and treating their Australian fans to an album release over two weeks before the rest of the world, and that can only be good news for us.

Intense, brooding and full of their trademark grandeur, The Brink picks up where Prisoner left off, albeit with slightly darker undertones and a few new sounds. Soaring anthems are what The Jezabels do best, and ‘Look of Love’, ‘The End’, ‘No Country’ and the title track are the best examples, while ‘Angles of Fire’ adds a touch of Kraftwerk-esque synths and ‘Psychotherapy’ is the token slow-burner.

Hayley Mary’s voice is the unquestionable highlight and places her near the top of the pile of Australian female vocalists plying their trade right now, and when everything else seemingly falls into place so easily, it makes for another strong showing from one of the country’s best exports.

Interview: Paul French of Mining Boom

mining boom 1

This Labour Day weekend is not only a three-day affair, but Goodgod Small Club is celebrating turning three with a birthday bash filled with more musical talent than you can shake a stick at. On the bill with the likes of The Murlocs and Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys is Perth indie-rock quartet Mining Boom. Frontman Paul French tells me what to expect from the gig.

Ok, so I was trying to look up stuff on Mining Boom, and your Tumblr basically consists of videos of people fighting and a picture of a man punching a giraffe. What’s the deal with that?

Rest assured, the Tumblr was made with the best of intentions. Early on we realised that we never had anything to update it with, so it just descended into all kinds of shit talking and pop cultural debris. None of us own a camera, or do anything other than playing music, so we never have any kind of band hi-jinks to document. In saying that, there is something about the concept of a physically imposing person, that we as a band fully endorse.

Your music has variously been described as “garage pop”, “stoner rock” and “suburban Australian misery”. How would you describe it?

Lately we’ve had a few people brand us with the ‘stoner’ tag. I would definitely say we are more of a meth-oriented band; in fact you might even say we are the Cypress Hill of meth. Nah, I’ve always had difficulty trying to put a banner term on what we do. The thing about genres is that they are generic. To me it’s just common sense kind of stuff, it sounds like the place it is from, it has synths because it is 2013 etc.

You’ve just played the BIGSOUND festival for the first time, and got pretty great reviews. How was the show for you? What other bands stood out for you?

We didn’t really get a chance to see many bands, between playing our set and trying to find a place to stash our equipment, we kind of had our hands full. Robert Forster was good and I heard Bad//Dreems played well. I saw Thelma Plum hanging around at the bar before we played and she looked good, I probably should have said something.

Shortly you’ll be playing the Goodgod’s third birthday party. What can Mining Boom fans expect from the show?

Pyrotechnics, choreography, classic band banter.

In ‘Craigie’, there’s the line “One day I will bash that c*nt,” and “One day I will go to the gym.” Is it written about one person in particular, and are you more of a weights or a cardio band?

People always misquote that line, it’s actually ‘one day I will go legit’. It must be my thick West Australian accent or something. I’d say we would be 75% cardio 25% weights, on account of our drummer, Brendan. He is quite the physical specimen. I’ve seen him rip up phone books and impregnate men.

Recorded music from Mining Boom: we want some. What is on the horizon in terms of your debut record?

Yeah we are still working on our album, it should be all done by the end of the year. It’s going to be called ‘TAFE’ and will be available on Spunk Records early next year.

What would be included in your ultimate tour rider?

Protein shakes for Brendan (jack3d, horny goat weed etc.) Camembert. Coon. Quince paste. Emu Export. Tony Abbott’s daughters.

What are your plans for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

Finish the album.

TICKETS FOR GOODGOD BIRTHDAY NIGHTS ARE AVAILABLE HERE: http://www.dashtickets.com.au/?/tour/26

Live review: Peace + Millions + The Creases – The Zoo, Brisbane – 19/9/13


I recently interviewed Peace frontman Harrison Koisser and he told me how much the band was looking forward to coming to Australia for the first time. “I’ve heard the lifestyle is different but the ideas are the same. It sounds like something we can get along with. I want to feel it,” he said. Tonight, in Brisbane’s best venue, the young English quartet will get a taste of that feeling, which probably involves a lot of heavy sweating in their leather jackets while blasting out a series of more-than-decent indie-rock tunes.

As I make my way from the traffic lights outside The Royal George towards the welcoming stairwell at The Zoo’s entrance, gladly escaping the god-awful blare coming from the Kaliber Lounge, the four lads of Peace are ambling along just in front of me, all shabby Converse and stick-thin legs, looking nonplussed and generally pretty cool with life, and like me they grab a spot to watch the support acts. Local indie-shoegazers The Creases are first up tonight, and they play a set full of heavily-distorted guitars, plenty of fuzz all round, shared vocals between members, and a bit of jangly pop thrown in for good measure. With support slots coming up soon for some bigger bands, these guys are worth keeping an eye on.

Next up is Millions, who have a different but equally good vibe, and a higher level of musicianship. The audience responds well as the band work through some new and unfamiliar songs throughout the set, and despite there not being much crowd interaction – as with all the performances tonight – the band, and particularly guitarist Ted Tillbrook’s impressive riffs, keep the top quality tunes coming; a highlight being ‘Stone Roller’ from last year’s Cruel EP.

Peace have recently toured with Mystery Jets, The Vaccines, and Palma Violets, so it’s tempting to lump them all together by describing their existence as some sort of resurgence in English indie guitar bands, but in truth, they play a style of music that has been around the block several times. Their sound is almost like a Brit-pop revival with more than a hint of psychedelia, and probably quite apt for this place and time, given that a large percentage of the Australian music-loving community is pissing their pants about Blur making their way Down Under very shortly. In saying that, they are a talented bunch of guys who aren’t into rehashing riffs, sounds, or styles from any previous era, and can put on enough of a show to make you forget about all the blog buzz and hype surrounding their debut album. Such attention has probably done them a disservice, as they’re a kick-ass live band first, bunch of pretty indie-boy pin-ups second. The quartet launch straight into their up-tempo set, only pausing to say hello before fifth track ‘Float Forever’, which Koisser introduces as “a slow one”, and the big choruses of ‘Toxic’ have heads nodding venue-wide, after he begins the track with just his solo guitar and voice. ‘California Daze’ is still probably their best song and would sound amazing at an outdoor summer festival, as it does in a small venue, and despite the ‘next big thing’ tag a large section of the music media has tried to force on the band, tonight’s gig is definitely a triumph of substance over style.

Interview: Gary Jarman of The Cribs

gary jarman

Having recently celebrated ten years in the business of making top-notch punk-tinged indie-rock and with a new record full of songs spanning the band’s career, Gary Jarman, the refreshingly down to earth bassist for The Cribs, is looking forward to coming to these shores for a run of shows next month.

What can fans expect from a Cribs show in 2013?

Usually when I’m asked this question it’s a pretty tough one to answer, because we’ve always hoped that, idealistically, it’ll be somewhat unpredictable like it always used to be when we first started out. We always thrive off the idea that we never really plan stuff too much, and we’re never a particularly slick prospect, as that was the thing that used to drive us and keep things interesting. With these tenth anniversary shows we’re trying to mix in a bunch of the older stuff for people who didn’t see it the first time round, as we never toured the first album in Australia. The shows will be smaller, and I think that’s the right way to do it, and will hopefully be the best representation of where the group is coming from and from where we first started out.

If someone told you ten years ago that you’d be touring Australia for your tenth anniversary, how would you have reacted?

It would have been a real thrill, you know? But that never goes away; we’re still the same band that we were when we started out. We still have the same motivation and we have the same feelings about things. I think that comes with being in a band with your brothers; we’re still kind of amazed to be able to travel that far away from where you’re from and have people be interested in it. We never lost that sense of disbelief that a project you started with your kid brothers will be something that people will not only care about, but care about for a decade, and then to travel pretty much as far away from Wakefield – where we’re from – as possible, and have people come and be excited to see you play. That’s something we’ve never taken for granted, and being in a band with your brothers has been key to that. If I’d been in a band with other people I might have become jaded over the years, although it’s never been plain sailing for us – far from it. But the fact it’s a family thing makes us such a close and tight unit, and it makes us so honoured that it’s resonated in some way with people, no matter what level.

Some bands with several family members end up hating each other over time, but it obviously works well for The Cribs?

I think so, because the key thing is that we trust each other, and we grew up with the same stuff, and when we formed the band it was out of necessity as my brothers were the only people who had the same tastes as me, because we grew up with the same music. So it was basically a really convenient and ideal scenario for us. Over the years, we’ve managed to retain that, even though we all live in different places thousands of miles apart, and that’s been really good for us as we can all bring different things to the table from our different experiences. Rather than being alienated, it helps us.

Obviously Johnny Marr is no longer in the band, so what challenges does that bring when playing live?

Well, as far as live goes, we never expected to be a four-piece when we started the band, and we never expected there to be a fourth person there, as we didn’t have a fourth brother! Johnny coming along was like a really surreal and exciting thing for us, so we had to adapt to being a four-piece rather than re-adapting to being a three-piece, so it was really natural to go back to being a three-piece. But we do have another person playing guitar with us, who is like a live member, so we can add extra things to records and still pull them off live.

What do you miss most about having Johnny in the band, besides his guitar playing?

The camaraderie. While it lasted, it was a good way of dissipating the intensity in the family dynamic. Everything becomes really extreme in that sense; when the shows are good they’re really good, but when they’re a bit off they can be destructive. So having another person there makes it easier to reduce that intensity. There’s a different dynamic with your brothers or with your family than what you’ll have with anybody else, and you can often forget that unless there’s someone else in the room. It’s easy to forget how full-on it can be and how differently you speak to people you’ve grown up with. It was nice to have someone, not necessarily to mediate, but to see things a bit more rationally, instead of the emotionally-charged way we would always do things.

You won the Outstanding Achievement Award from the NME, and just released what’s essentially a Best-Of album. How do you feel about reaching milestones like these when you’re still so young?

Winning the award was such an amazing thing for us. When you can step away from things and look at them from a distance, it’s really a crazy kind of scenario. To get a lifetime achievement award like that, and to have a greatest hits record – if you started a band aiming for things like that, it’d be an egotistical and cut-throat thing. We never set our sights on that sort of stuff; we came from more of a punk-rock background, but it’s nice to be able to sit back and look at all the ups and downs of the last ten years and lay them all to rest and move on, in some ways. We’ve been playing a lot of these songs for ten years now, and that’s a kind of insane proposition, so this is a nice way to wrap it all up and move on to the next chapter I guess.

You’re known for having a DIY and independent approach to things. Is that something that will change as the band gets older?

If anything, it’s got a lot more pronounced. Initially, it wasn’t something strange to us, as we had no choice. But when the band started doing well, we didn’t feel the need to deviate from that, and we enjoyed doing a lot of things that way, and we took satisfaction from it. For example, we used to love playing on the main stage at the Reading Festival, and we’d be the only band who had a van; there was something perverse and appealing about that. But, from a different point of view, we’ve never been signed to a major label in the UK, so there was never a great deal of money flying around. We’re actually a really efficient band, you know? We do things on a level that avoids all that rock-star shit, and even when we’ve had top-ten records it’s been business as usual, and that’s possibly why we’re still here after ten years. We get a lot of satisfaction from adversity; we’ve always been so independent and nothing’s changed. Nobody makes money from record sales any more, and it doesn’t bother us at all; we’re used to existing on a shoestring anyway. We’ve never been dependent on anything and although it sounds like a bit of a cute statement, the only people I’ve ever depended on is my two brothers. If we get offered a show and we want to do it, we find a way to make it happen one way or another. It’s an idealism thing. I hate the idea of being dependent on things that other bands depend on to make things happen.

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

We had such an awesome time last time. We came out there in January, and it was one of the most fun tours we’ve ever had, so it’s not that I’m looking forward to one single thing, just the knowledge that we had such a really awesome time last time is enough to be really exciting for us.