Tag Archives: pop music

Interview: Kevin Baird of Two Door Cinema Club

kevin baird

AUSTRALIA and Two Door Cinema Club are no strangers.

The Northern Irish indie-pop trio have graced our shores a number of times for both headline and festival shows, but their upcoming appearance at Splendour in the Grass will be their biggest test Down Under yet. With a new label and material behind them, expect them to rise to the challenge, says bass player Kevin Baird.

Hi Kevin. What’s the plan to get yourself into a Splendour-headlining frame of mind?

I think we’re going to be super-excited to play. We haven’t really been playing much this year; it’ll only be our second or third show we’ll have played in all of 2014 at that point, so we’ll be really up for it. I think it’ll probably the biggest headline festival slot we’ve ever played, so it’s pretty exciting and we’re just going to go for it. I don’t think we’re going to be too nervous or anything; we’re just going to enjoy it.

How did you feel when you heard you were headlining?

I think if it had been last year or the year before we might have felt a bit of pressure, but the overwhelming feeling now when we get asked to headline things, is like ‘finally’. We sort of feel that we’re ready to do it, and it’s where we want to play on the bill. We’ve played enough and we’ve done enough big slots to know that we can headline a festival, so it’s really nice to know that you’ve got to that point. We always looked at other bands who were in that position when we’d be playing at midday or whatever and hoping we get to that point. So, the overriding feeling is happiness.

Will you do anything differently from a normal TDCC show?

I don’t think we’re too protective of ourselves in that way; even if we’re headlining a festival, we’re not under the illusion that everyone there is a massive Two Door Cinema Club fan. I think a lot of bands make that mistake. We’re obviously aware which songs translate better to someone who’s not a massive fan, and it’s all about pace and speed and not really giving people a chance to relax. We’re not going to be spending 30 seconds between songs talking rubbish, or standing in silence tuning our guitars. It’s all about momentum when you’re in a big outdoor arena; I think at a festival you just got to get on with what you’re trying to do.

Will you be playing any new material at Splendour?

We’re sort of toying with the idea at the moment. We’ve been writing a lot of new stuff while we’ve not been playing shows this year. We haven’t quite decided if we’re ready for an unveiling or not, but if we were to do it, I think Splendour would be a very nice place to do it.

How much have you written?

I think we’ve lost count, but we’re working in double figures in terms of ideas at least. The first album was very different, because there was no pressure. We just arrived with the album, recorded it and it was done. With the second, we sort of wrote 15 or 16 songs and 11 of them ended up on the record. I think this time around we’re trying to be a bit more conscious of having more choice, so we’re just writing as much as we can, hoping to have about twenty or thirty songs to pick from.

Are you looking take your sound in any new directions with the new material?

We were writing the last record in 2011 and a lot has happened and changed about what we are listening to, our perspective of things and our lives in general. It’s more natural to sort of write what we feel like writing, and that just naturally comes out differently. We actually find it much more unnatural to just rip ourselves off, if you know what I mean. Any time we’ve tried to do that it’s come out as a terrible song, so we end up doing whatever feels right at the time. Luckily for us people have liked it so far, and hopefully they’ll like it when we release another record.

After your second album, you left the Kitsuné label and signed with Parlophone. Was there any particular strategy behind that?

We left Kitsuné at the end of our record contract, and we felt like we wanted a change. Parlophone were one of the labels interested in signing us. Kitsuné have always been incredibly amazing and have been a really positive force in our music, image and everything. But at the end of the day we sort of became a bit frustrated – and it’s a horrible thing to say – about money, and although Kitsuné put everything in and we couldn’t ever have asked for more, we’re quite ambitious. We have quite large fanbases in places like Singapore and Malaysia, and we feel like we need to be releasing albums there, so that was one of the things that made us want to go with a big company; to make sure the records come out in these places. The previous two albums; they had to import them from Japan or Australia. Parlophone are amazing; they’re the small family relationship of an indie label, but with a major machine behind it.

If you could have a cameo role in any TV show, past or present, what would it be?

The Sopranos. It’s just the best TV show ever. I’d like to be one of the animals that Tony Soprano loves, but I don’t think that would be possible. So I’ll be some sort of animal keeper, so Tony Soprano will like me.

Which celebrity or musician would you be happy to sit next to on a long-haul flight?

Not the other guys in the band! Someone who’s not very talkative, because I don’t like to talk. Someone who is really boring.

Finish this sentence: fuck the expense, send me a case of…

Umm… Cooper’s Pale Ale. Love it.

TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB PLAY SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS JULY 26.

For Splendour in the Grass

Record review: Ball Park Music – Puddinghead (2014, LP)

Ball Park Music Puddinghead

In some ways it seems that Brisbane indie-pop five-piece Ball Park Music have had a meteoric rise since their 2011 debut Happiness And Surrounding Suburbs. In reality the hard yards put in on tour up and down the country and a song-writing craft of a quality well above the average Australian pop bands plying their trade right now have put the band in the position they’re now in. This third album sees them moving increasingly away from the punchy, upbeat mood of their debut, as singer Sam Cromack’s lyrics explore darker topics, especially on ‘Everything Is Shit Except My Friendship With You’ and ‘Struggle Street’; the addition of organ and choral touches on the latter providing a particularly Gothic feel. Dark is contrasted with light at several other points, although hopefully Cromack is being sarcastic with his claim on third track ‘A Good Life Is The Best Revenge’, because we all know that’s not true. There are new sounds too; the first half of ‘Cocaine Lion’ could almost be called shoegaze, before breaking out into a resplendent pulse of ’90s alt-rock, while ‘Teenager Pie’ is a lazy, lounge-y track that ambles along at a hazy pace despite another set of dark lyrics. There’s an undeniable tail-off towards the end, with ‘Polly Screw My Head Back On’ and Girls From High School’ being a fairly dull finish, but Ball Park Music should probably dust off their formal gear and ready their acceptance speeches; this album is going to win awards. (Stop Start)

Ingrid Helene Håvik of Highasakite: “To be singing in Norwegian is pretty special”

highasakite

NORWEGIAN indie-pop five piece Highasakite haven’t had the pleasure of visiting our shores just yet, but singer and songwriter Ingrid Helene Håvik is already busy forming an image of Australia in her head.

“I know you have dingos there,” she says. “And those big animals that jump; I don’t remember what they’re called. And I’ve heard the food there is amazing. Actually, it’s so far away that I don’t know anything about it. I think we are coming to Australia at some point – and I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this – but the plan is to go maybe around September or October some time, and then in maybe February 2015. We’re just starting to plan it now, so it’s not a solid plan yet.”

The Bon Iver-approved band’s new album Silent Treatment will be released on April 11th, and is an ethereal and expansive affair, with all songs written by Håvik.

“We’re really excited,” she says. “We hope a lot of people are going to hear about it and we love playing it for people. The album is already out in Norway, so we have played everything and we’re touring with the material in the States right now. I’d probably call our style indie-pop music, or even just pop music to be brief. [My lyrics] are based on all sorts of things; from dreams I’ve had [which] I write down and use later, and many different things from different places. I can only write at home when I’m really isolated, not on tour.”

The Oslo-based band’s origins can be traced to the Trondheim Jazz Conservatory, where Håvik and drummer Trond Bersu began to write and record together – in English.

“I sing in English because it’s more natural to me,” Håvik says. “I’ve listened to music that is in English my whole life, and I’ve never really listened to any Norwegian lyrics before. English is the music language for me. It’s more natural for most people in Norway to sing in English; to sing in Norwegian is more of a curiosity in Norway. To be singing in Norwegian is pretty special.”

An already hectic touring schedule was recently made busier with an appearance at SXSW, and being added as support to growing global stars London Grammar.

“[SXSW] was really a lot of fun and super busy,” Håvik says. “People came to our shows and that’s all we were really hoping for. We played four shows and had to cancel one; our crowd sizes were never embarrassing, so it was all good fun. We saw a Norwegian guitar trio band too, but that was all I managed to see. Supporting London Grammar on tour has been going really well and it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve had full houses and everything. In the beginning we were really nervous when we started playing the new songs, but we’ve played a lot of shows already with this new material, so we feel pretty good. After the London Grammar tour we’ll be going home to Norway. We’ll be doing some shows in Europe and some summer festivals, and we’re going to the States again in May. Then we’re going to Japan.”

Silent Treatment by Highasakite is out April 11th.

Interview: Jedward

JEDWARD

Irish pop twins Jedward are a seriously excitable pair of lads. They have so much energy that every one of these sentences should probably end with an exclamation mark, and their upbeat lust for life and desire to talk and talk and talk some more is simply infectious. I spoke to John (as Edward was “in the other room eating cereal”) about their upcoming Australian shows and the trick to fielding questions about their famous hairstyles. Warning: some of these answers have very little to do with the original questions.

You’ll be coming to Australia for three headline shows at the end of November. What can Australian fans expect from your shows?

It’s really exciting because these will be our very first shows ever in Australia. We’ve been to all the European countries doing concerts; I think we’ve done about four hundred concerts in total over the last three years or whatever, so we’re really excited. We’ll have over thirty songs; we’ll be doing pop songs, dance songs, pop-rock songs, we’ll play guitar on stage, we’ll do covers that people don’t even know, and some that people will know. Our songs are really really catchy anyway, so even by the end of the song people will be singing along and having a great time. We’re so excited about coming all the way from Ireland! It’s such a long trip; twenty-three hours to get Down Under to do concerts for our fans.

What covers will you be doing?

We haven’t decided yet. We’ve done ‘Little Things’ by Justin Timberlake, and some Ed Sheeran. We need to pick some slow songs, and then some kind of more ‘pop’. We only decide about a week before or whatever, so we haven’t really decided yet, but they’re going to be songs that everyone knows so we can get a proper vibe going. We kind of just bang through songs; we don’t drag the songs out for ages. You know when you go to a concert and they do, like, a six-minute version? We kind of just do it quickly, then it’s next song, next song, next song. We also have ten outfit changes, and that’s a lot of outfit changes. Most bands only have, like, three maximum, so it’s really really good. We just can’t wait to rock it when we come to Australia!

You’ll be playing some pretty big venues. Will your show be a big production with special effects and things like that?

Oh yeah, we’re going to have lots of stuff; lights, choreography, screens and crowd interaction. Nothing’s scripted or anything; I mean, we know our songs and what to do on-stage and everything, but talking to the crowd when everyone’s excited and we’re excited as well, is a really good vibe. We rock out to the max, so if anyone wants to have a good time, come to our show. Even in Ireland, when we’ve had thirty-seven shows over Christmas, doing two shows a day, we always have energy. We’re really fit, we’ve ran a marathon, and we’re ready to do the shows!

Did you actually run a marathon?

Yeah! We ran a marathon. We ran twenty-seven miles and we used to run five or six times a week, so we’re ready to go and do it. We ran it in three hours forty three minutes, but we were kind of just strolling it; we didn’t train for it. I play guitar on stage, and all our fans love when I play guitar on stage; they sing along with all their hands in the air. It’s a really really good vibe. I played guitar on the Internet, and I think it got a couple of million views on YouTube, so I decided to play guitar in all our shows. Our concerts aren’t all the same sound; we’ve got slow songs, dance, and pop stuff in there. It’s all different. We need to give people time to rest as we have loads of energy and we like to go crazy.

Where do you get all this energy? I feel like you could probably talk all day if I let you.

We’ve always been like that. We’ve always been runners and sports fans, and we always eat healthily. All this energy means we’re focussed and driven. You know sprinting when it’s like on your marks, set, BANG? We’re like that all the time; straight out there, but I think it’s the way we talk that makes people think that as well. We use a lot of actions words like ‘crazy’, ‘cool’ and ‘okay’; we use these words, like, a million times. That makes people think we have lots of energy, but we’re just like everyone else. For example, sometimes at airports, we’ll be talking to, like, a hundred girls all at once, when normally if you talk to girls it’ll be just you and the girl. Or if we do a C.D. signing and meet, like, a thousand people and have a thousand different conversations people might think we’re crazy.

Do you have any plans for new music?

We’ve done three albums. Our first album was just cover songs, our second album was more dance-y, and our last album was more of a live, pop-rock vibe. We wrote our next album all by ourselves, and we want it to have a more mainstream sound, not appealing to just one audience, and with a more solid, strong sound. We’re really excited about coming to Australia and doing TV shows and playing our new songs, and because we wrote them ourselves, we feel them one hundred percent. When we’re writing songs we really think outside the box; they’re all different and we never feel like “oh here we go again”. None of the songs have “I love you” or “love you” or anything like that in the titles; they’re really, like, solid and strong.

What else besides music would you like to get involved in?

I think the last four years have been such a learning experience, kind of like college. We want to do everything to a higher level and standard. We’re always going to have our hair and clothes and stay true to ourselves and stuff like that, but we just want to do everything on a bigger scale.

Don’t you ever get sick of people asking about your hair?

It’s okay; we don’t mind it. It’s like right in their face, it’s right there, so I think when people are lost for words ask “so how do you do your hair?” In twenty years time we still want to be performing concerts and doing ‘Under Pressure’ and ‘Lipstick’, so I think we have to accept and be appreciative of our fans and whatever they ask. It’s like Britney Spears; she still sings ‘…Baby One More Time’, like, fifteen years later because it’s for the fans.

If you could record a song with any singer alive today, who would you choose?

I’d like to do a song with John Williams. He’s a composer and did the soundtrack to Jurassic Park and loads of other great soundtracks. I’d like to write a song with him; he writes such ‘massive’ songs. He’s, like, eighty-four, so maybe before he dies we can do a song or something like that. I’d also like to do a song with Pharrell, Justin Timberlake or Timbaland; you know their sort of really cool, simple, uncomplicated melodies? I’d love that.

Do you ever have to tone down your accents or slow down when speaking to people around the world?

Yes! We were just in Singapore and everyone spoke English, but we really had to slow down a bit so they could understand what we were saying. I feel like in the future we’ll be going to a lot of different countries where they don’t even speak English, so we’ll have to talk really slowly and precisely. In Germany we had one of those translator things in our ears, and we had to talk really slowly.

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

I’m looking forward to actually being in Australia, and I want to go to New Zealand as well. We’d like to go to the reef; you have the barrier reef there, yeah? We’d like to do some scuba diving and meet a koala bear and a kangaroo and do everyday Australian things like surfing. We’re really excited.

JEDWARD PLAY THE REGAL THEATRE PERTH NOVEMBER 23, PALAIS THEATRE MELBOURNE NOVEMBER 30, AND ENMORE THEATRE SYDNEY DECEMBER 1.