Live review: Sleaford Mods + The Chats – The Triffid, Brisbane – 12/3/20

Sleaford Mods Brisbane 2020

Midweek apathy, a relentless downpour and the scourge of lingering pandemic panic weren’t nearly enough to dampen the spirits at Sleaford Mods’ debut Brisbane appearance on Thursday night (12th March).

The English duo, touring Australia for the first time since their 2007 inception, left nothing in the tank after what must be one of the most brutal, hard-hitting, entertaining and darkly funny performances of recent times in these parts.

Speaking of entertaining and funny, Eamon and Josh from Sunshine Coast slackers The Chats provide a solid support slot, even though they do almost nothing of worth other than hit ‘play’ on a playlist, crack a few tins and sit in front of quizzical audience grinning from ear to ear. The award for the most laidback DJ set of all time has just been given.

the chats sleaford mods brisbane

For Sleaford Mods’ Andrew Fearn and Jason Williamson, not much, it seems, is laidback, although they’re not above taking the piss out of themselves with as much venom as they attack the ruling classes, austerity politics and pop culture.

Opening with ‘The Committee’, ‘McFlurry’ and ‘Fizzy’, Fearn nods and bops behind his laptop that teeters on a battered, old stool, while Williamson vents spleen, sends spittle sprays for seemingly impossible distances, and contorts his body in tune with the tunes while flitting between ranting, rapping and preaching – all liberally sprinkled with a plethora of c-bombs and truth bombs in equal measure.

It’s the no-bullshit nature of the duo’s act, full spectrum of emotions witnessed onstage, badass beats pumped forth by Fearn’s laptop, and utterly acerbic and absorbing vocal and physical performances by Williamson that makes a Sleaford Mods gig a truly unique and necessary experience in 2020.

Through ‘Kebab Spider’, ‘TCR’, ‘Reef of Grief’ and ‘Jobseeker’, the pace doesn’t let up, and the diverse Triffid audience laps it up from beginning to end.

Williamson’s lyrics and mannerisms provide many of the highlights, and while Sleaford Mods may be too riddled with complexities and contradictions to be the heroes we need in 2020, anything that gets Brisbane dancing on a cold and rainy Thursday evening is worth the price of a ticket alone. Ten out of ten: should visit again.

For Scenestr

Live review: TOOL + Author & Punisher – Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane – 20/2/20

tool brisbane entertainment centre 2020 maynard james keenan
Image: Scenestr © Charlyn Cameron

The anticipation and tension in the air was palpable in and around the mosquito and hot chip haven that is the Brisbane Entertainment Centre as the mighty, genre-skipping rockers Tool made their first visit to the town in seven years in support of their highly anticipated fifth album, ‘Fear Inoculum’.

Support came in the form of a brutal and demanding performance by Author & Punisher, also known as San Diegan solo artist Tristan Shone, who delivered a punishing and absorbing set of pounding, industrial drones as the male-dominated, heavily lubricated audience poured into the sold-out, 13,500-capacity venue.

Reports from the quartet’s Sydney and Perth shows spoke of visual spectaculars, a strict camera ban, and a band musically at the peak of its powers, and this show didn’t disappoint on any of those fronts.

Behind blinds surrounding the edge of the stage, the foursome took their spots to an intense outpouring of emotion, kicking off with ‘Fear Inoculum’; the lead single from the album of the same name. It was a special moment for a Brisbane audience who had waited years to see their heroes once more, and it showed.

Singer Maynard James Keenan began as he meant to go on, on a raised platform behind and to the side of Danny Carey’s drum kit, surveying his domain with menace and anticipation, crouching for the most part with his mohawk and punk getup visible as a silhouette against the searing visuals. Bassist Justin Chancellor twisted and twitched as he delivered thundering notes to leave ears ringing for days, while Adam Jones was the epitome of cool as he reeled off the riffs.

“Hey Brisbane,” said Keenan. “Heard you’ve had a bit of flooding recently. Being so near the ocean and all. Yeah, whatever.”

The setlist remained similar to the band’s two Australian shows thus far, with ‘Ænema’, ‘Parabola’, ‘Schism’, ‘Pneuma’ and ‘7empest’ featuring as part of a relentless wall of sound that the audience lapped up every second of. Almost as entertaining as the show was the venue’s security team’s eagerness and enthusiasm to jump on anyone using their phone, even if not taking photos, and issue a sternly worded warning or eject them from the centre, as signage and PA announcements repeatedly warned of the perils of using video recording equipment at any stage of the occasion.

It didn’t matter, though, as, following surely one of the most intense aural assaults of recent times, hordes of sweaty, black-t-shirt- and cargo short-wearing fans left the Entertainment Centre, hopeful to not have to wait so damn long for next time.

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FEATURE: Kurt Vile


KURT Vile is no mug.

The Philadelphian singer, songwriter, producer, and purveyor of delectably laid-back indie-folk tunes has been a guest in our country a smattering of times, but he’s got his audience pretty well sussed.

“I think Australians, in general, really feel music,” he says. “It’s a record nerd, gut-level or emotional thing; maybe an obsessive thing, which is very similar to the way I am. But there’s also a ball-busting, bullshit artist type of thing they can tap into, and [they] can have a good laugh. I feel they are really serious about music but also they can just bullshit and bust balls; they’re both equal. You know how to fuck with somebody to show that you love them. I feel a lot of Australians have those kinds of humour and emotions, you know?”

The 36 year-old will tour Australia solo for the first time in February and March, leaving his band The Violators at home. Successful previous sojourns and a recent surge in popularity here mean the idea of playing venues and shows the size of Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Taronga Zoo and Golden Plains Festival doesn’t faze him.

“I’ve been to Australia enough – this will be the fourth time coming up – to feel like it won’t make a difference,” he says. “I’ll be zoning out; kind of in my comfort zone. I’m sort of comfortable over there because, I don’t know, I’m just used to it over there. With The Violators we try to mix it up with keyboards and stuff like that, but [this time] I’ll just be by myself and my acoustic. I’m sure I’ll bring a banjo. Maybe one day I’ll have more of band with more instruments than a four-piece. I like to just go out, zone out, and not try to recreate the record.”

After leaving The War on Drugs, which he founded with long-term friend Adam Granduciel, and releasing his debut record in 2008, Vile has released six solo records and a collection of EPs of top-drawer folk, rock and psychedelia, with each record marking a musical and thematic progression from the last.

“I’m usually most proud of my newest album,” he says. “But that wears off once I start working on a new record. I look back and am proud of them all, but I would say maybe most of all ‘Smoke Ring for My Halo’; all those songs have a similar melancholia in the lyrics – there was a good theme going on there. The next few records obviously had themes going on too, but there is an interesting melancholic tone to ‘Smoke Ring for My Halo’; I can go back and listen to that one. There’s something about it. I wouldn’t say I’m most proud of it, but it’s some kind of statement.”

Not keen to rest on his laurels, and despite 2015’s ‘b’lieve I’m goin down’ not having been played in Australia yet, the hard-working Vile has already started on its follow-up.

“I’ve been in and out of the studio throughout this touring cycle because I feel like the last two records, in particular, took so long out of the touring cycle,” he says. “I don’t want to just get lost in this dark, black cocoon world in the studio. So I’ve been going in and out of the studio between touring for that reason. I probably have about half of the songs for the next record in some form. I think [fans] will recognise the sound; it’s not like it’s a drastically different record, but there’s always evolution. I think there’s a steady American roots thing going on in my music, and I don’t mean that it’s going to come out like ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ or something too country, but it’ll be some kind of roots scenario. I’ve always been into country and have been getting more into it lately. I read Jerry Lee Lewis’s biography – ‘Hellfire’ by Nick Tosches and George Jones’ autobiography. Since then I’ve basically been out of control reading about nerdy music things; especially Nick Tosches. I guess I’ve been a bit obsessed since my record came out.”

With talk of music nerdiness and an obvious knowledge of music history and lineage, Vile could be assumed to be a hardcore musicologist and collector. The truth is more interesting, however.

“I prefer to not have too many obscure records,” he says. “I have old country, blues and soul records. The stuff I get into is usually popular at one time or another. These days, if I go to the record store the records I want only cost two dollars or something anyways; ‘Country’s Greatest Hits’ or something. I usually space out and don’t even know what comes out in a particular year, but my buddy Luke Roberts put out a record which was great. Heron Oblivion’s record was great. I’ve had my head in the clouds listening to a lot of old music.”

Despite constant touring and having critically-acclaimed albums on his resume, the amiable Vile keeps his feet on the ground. As recently as 2009 he was working in a brewery while recording his third album.

“The constants are my two little daughters and my wife,” he says. “We just moved to a bigger house. It’s not a mansion, although it feels like it because I’ve never had any room my whole life. We’re also keeping our little house so I can go back to my roots and record there. So my everyday life lately has been carting things between these two houses and driving around. I’m pretty comfortable driving around in general, listening to music and zoning out. I’ve also done some little side projects. I did some songs with Courtney Barnett when I was in Australia last time; I’m not sure when they’ll come out or anything. I recorded in Nashville with a bunch of legendary old dudes. I’ve been in the studio with the Violators and I’ve been getting my home studio together, so I’ve kind of got my hands on a lot of different things and it’s all coming along.”

With 2017 mere days away, February comes quickly for Kurt Vile fans.

“The Violators are playing New Year’s at the Fillmore in Philadelphia, and a couple more shows in New York and Boston,” he says. “We have one more tour around Florida late January, then that lines me up to go solo and see you guys.”

Kurt Vile plays Taronga Zoo on Friday 3rd March and QPAC on Thursday 9th March

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Jack Carty: “Esk is the best thing that I’ve done so far”

jack carty

FOR most musicians, a national tour means five or six dates taking in the obvious urban hotspots. Sydney folkie Jack Carty, however, is bringing his new tunes to a village near you on his upcoming 32-date tour.

“It’s really good to get out to regional shows,” he says. “There are audiences out there who are hungry for live music. It’s good to get outside the capitals and get to all the people who want to hear live music. I grew up in the country, and I remember when I was kid, if there was a band coming to town there would be a buzz, even if we didn’t know who they were. I love that about getting out to regional Australia. I’ve also played a lot of those places before, so it’s nice to go back and play for the people who’ve bought the records and became fans. It doesn’t really matter where I am; I just close my eyes and sing.”

The 27-year old is touring on the back of his new album Esk, which features a number of musical collaborators, including Josh Pyke on first single ‘The Joneses’.

“He and I toured together about two years ago,” Carty says. “We did a huge 27-date national tour together. Well, when I say he and I toured together, I really mean I supported him. We became friends and stayed in touch. When the time came to write and record this record, I gave him a call one day and asked if he’d be interested in working on it with me, and he just said yes. It really was that simple; he’s a super-down-to-earth guy. Then we ended up touring together again earlier this year, so I’ve spent a lot of time with him now, and he’s an amazing and nice guy. I then recorded ‘The Universe’ with Katie Noonan and the rest of it is a whole different bunch of collaborations. I worked on some songs with Casual Psychotic, who is the guy I made the EP with last year. The last album was quite personal and introspective, and I think that’s how I naturally write songs, so I wanted to collaborate more to see what would happen if I mixed in some outside influences.”

Having been quietly but assuredly building his fanbase with two albums and two EPs since 2010, Carty sees Esk as another stepping stone in his musical development.

“I think this is the best record I’ve ever made,” he says. “But I also think it’s not right to compare. Break Your Own Heart was a break-up album; it’s meant to be quiet and introspective and is the only record up to Esk that I feel completely proud of. Not that I think that it’s perfect, but it is what I meant it to be, if you know what I mean. But Esk is the best thing that I’ve done so far.”




For mX

Interview: Rick Astley

rick astley

HAVING sold more than 40 million records worldwide, English singer Rick Astley is back performing after retiring from music in 1993, making a comeback in 2007 and seeing his most famous song become the subject of the Internet ‘Rickrolling’ phenomenon. Most widely known for his 1987 smash ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, which went to number one in 25 countries, the 48 year-old is heading to Australia to play a run of shows throughout November and December.

With the amount of success you had at the start of your career, you must have went through some pretty crazy things.

I definitely had a good go at it for a little while, yeah. Compared to today’s stuff, my thing was pretty tame really. I think it’s the bands and the boy bands that get that kind of thing. Obviously there’s Justin Bieber today and various people like that. Mine was relatively quiet, to be honest. There was a bit of a fuss here and there, in certain countries more than others. I always remember that the Latin countries went a bit bonkers and Japan was pretty crazy fan-wise, but I had it pretty tame really. I was relatively recognisable back in the day, because I had a red quiff and all the rest of it, but I think certain people just stand out, you know what I mean? They get out of the car and it’s just like ‘bang’ – that person is a pop star. I kind of shuffled around behind people quite a bit [laughs]. I wasn’t in love with the whole fame and pop star thing really. I know I’ve said that in interviews before, but I was a bit bemused by it and it didn’t suit the way I am. I love being on a stage, I’m a bit of a bighead and I like performing and singing, but being famous didn’t add up to me because that world seems more about fame for fame’s sake, do you know what I mean? Obviously I did have mad moments – of course I did. Even back in the ’80s, there were people who were good at pushing that publicity button, but I did the total opposite to a certain degree. Some people craved it, but to me it seemed ridiculous.

After a long spell away from music, what made you decide to come back?

There were a number of things. We have a daughter, who is now 22, and when she was 14 or 15 I had had lots of offers to go here, there and everywhere. I never fancied it until I got an offer to go to Japan. My daughter was 14 or 15 and was really into art – she’s been studying art for quite a few years – and she really wanted to go to Japan, loved everything Japanese and one of her best friends was part-Japanese. We all went as a family and I went to do these three gigs, treating it as a paid holiday basically – I’ll do the gigs and just forget about it. I did the first gig and just walked off stage thinking ‘why haven’t you bloody done that before?’ I just really enjoyed it. I think because I went with that attitude, it really opened the door for me. If someone had said we were doing some thing where we’re getting a load of ’80s pop stars together at Wembley Arena or something, I probably would have gone ‘uh, no thanks’, even though I’ve done those things since. I got paid really well for doing it, which I’ve never been shy of saying to people as people are either fooling themselves or outright lying if they say they’re not partly swayed by money to do things, even within music-land. I think that in the Western way of doing things, that’s my value – someone will pay me to go and sing those songs or just sing in general, so I think I must be doing something right or still have something if someone is willing to pay me to do it. I genuinely didn’t do that one for the money – although it was a nice sweetener – but it just seemed like a mad thing to do for a week at the time, and that’s how I got started again.

Well, you’re going to be paid to come to Australia very soon.

To be honest, I get paid for the flying and the travelling, but the actual gigs are the best part. I do gigs with a couple of friends – we have a little rock band that’s kind of like our own mid-life crisis, and I still love music and play music. I think most [musicians] think we get paid for the hanging around and the travelling, but the gigs are the fun bit – most artists would say that.

Is it solely a nostalgic thing right now, or do you have plans to write new material at all?

I do tinker with new things, and at some point in my life I would like to make a record that actually got played on the radio – I would love to do that [laughs]. I still haven’t given up that dream, but it’s just about finding something I believe in and am comfortable doing. There’s lots of things I could have a go at, but half the time my heart’s not in it so it’s pointless. The other half the record companies get excited by the fact that I had a big record called ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ and a few others, so they think ‘oh, we must be able to sell something else’. But it doesn’t work like that; you still got to make a decent record, do you know what I mean? When I do gigs now on my own, I still play my hits and have no issue with that, and maybe when I come to Australia I could throw in a couple of new songs that nobody has ever heard before, but I’ve got to be careful with that. People aren’t coming to hear me sing new songs, you know? I went to see Kate Bush last night, and it was absolutely amazing. There’s a part of me that would have loved her to sing some of the old songs, and she did a few, but I didn’t miss the others because what she did was absolutely amazing. That, for me, is on a totally different level because you’re entering her world in that concert. She could have got up there and not played any of her old songs and still managed to make it fantastic, but whether you’re U2 or myself, there are songs that people want to hear you sing, and I know that. I can totally understand that and I’m happy to do it.

Rickrolling: is it just a bit of fun, a pain in the arse, or somewhere in the middle?

It’s not a pain in the arse in any way, because it doesn’t have anything to do with me. It could just as easily be Daverolling or Bobrolling or whatever. I’ve just treated it as something that’s fun, weird and bizarre; all the fantastic things that have been done on the Internet in connection with that song. I can really see the funny side of it and the genius of what people have done, to be honest. Some of the things that have been edited together have been great. The original Rickrolling thing is a little bit weird because after one or two times it’s bound to be a bit too much, but some of the other things are amazing. Someone edited Obama’s speeches so he was kind of talking through ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ – that was brilliant. Too much time on his hands, but brilliant. Someone else did the whole cast of Mad Men singing it – it must have taken forever and is hilarious. Another one of my favourites is from a friend in Boston, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where someone had climbed up on a great big gas tank and put the first seven notes of the song up there – not the lyrics – so you had to be able to read music to understand it. I just thought that was kind of funky and bizarre, but whatever. I’m glad; it breathes more life into that song and it’s kind of nice in that way.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

We go to Japan for a couple of gigs first – Tokyo and Osaka for a few days and we’re having a few days before that to get acclimatised to the time zone. The one thing people don’t look forward to about Australia is the jet lag; there’s nothing worse. Hopefully we’ll arrive in Australia having got over that. The last gig is on the second of December, then we’re going to stroll home with a few days in Singapore and then it’s Christmas. It’s a nice way to finish the year as you’re just coming into your good weather while we’re just coming into our crappy weather. We’ll be ready for it in a few weeks time.

Rick Astley Australian Tour Dates

Wednesday, November 19 – Whitlam Theatre, Revesby Workers Club, Sydney
Friday, November 21 – Tivoli, Brisbane
Saturday, November 22 – Twin Towns Ex Services Club, Tweed Heads
Monday, November 24 – Rooty Hill Rsl Club, Sydney
Tuesday, November 25 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Wednesday, November 26 – Canberra Theatre, Canberra
Friday, November 28 – Chelsea Heights Hotel, Melbourne
Saturday, November 29 – Palais Theatre, Melbourne
Sunday, November 30- Costa Hall, GPAC, Geelong
Tuesday, December 2 – Festival Theatre, Adelaide

For The AU Review

Jamie MacColl of Bombay Bicycle Club: “The crowds tend to be quite aggressive”

bombay bicycle club

WITH four album releases in five years, English quartet Bombay Bicycle Club know the importance of finessing and expanding their sound.

It’s been this approach that’s seen them move from being simply another indie guitar band to something altogether more multi-faceted, explains guitarist Jamie MacColl.

“I think if we did what most other bands do we would have toured our first album for two or three years, and we did the opposite of that,” he says. “Strategically, it was probably the worst thing we could do, but it came off nonetheless, and I still don’t quite know how. When we released the [first] album we were 18 or 19, and we just kept getting bored easily and wanted to try new things, so we ended up making three albums in two years. That was just representative of the fact we were young and trying to figure out what we wanted the band to sound like. I think it was only towards the end of the third album when we finally came across a sound that we were comfortable with, and the latest album has explored that further. I think it’s what the band together, really. If we just kept making early-’90s influenced indie-rock, I don’t think it would have gone on as we would have just got bored. There are so many bands who I grew up listening to – particularly indie bands – who had very successful first albums and were then unable to move on from that and got trapped by the sound of their first album. Luckily, we’ve managed to escape that”.

The band’s latest release, So Long, See You Tomorrow, features a wider range of instrumentation than before, which was inspired by frontman Jack Steadman’s travels through India. Just don’t label it ‘world music’, says MacColl.

“I think ‘world music’ is a ridiculous term in itself,” he says. “[It’s] just very lazy journalism; especially when applied to our latest album. There are a couple of prominent Bollywood songs on the record, but those are needles in the haystack in terms of the overall picture of the record. For journalists, the fact that some of the album was written in India and there’s a connection with the name, it suddenly becomes the thing that they write about. That’s wrongly come to define the album, which is a shame, but it’s certainly not world music by any means. I think – aside from the band – it’s a bit offensive to anyone who makes music that isn’t influenced by traditional western pop and classical music.”

Whatever label is pinned on it, the band will bring their new material for an Australian airing, with three shows chalked up for September.

“At this point we’ve got four albums that are all quite different to one another and we tend to try to do a bit from each of them,” MacColl says. “So, our show is interesting because it’s kind of an hour and a half of songs that don’t necessarily fit together, but I often find bands that play songs that sound the same for an hour and a half are quite boring. With us, there’s plenty to keep you interested. I think the thing that always seem to strike people who haven’t seen us before, is they expect it to be quite chilled out, both the crowd and ourselves, but that’s basically the opposite of what happens. We are a very energetic live rock band; far more than you’d expect from listening to the records. Particularly in the UK and Europe, we have gigs where the crowds tend to be quite aggressive, which I find a bit inexplicable, but it happens.”

With over 100 shows already under their belts this year, the band are set to be on top form for their Australian jaunt, but bigger things lie ahead for MacColl and the band.

“[The rest of the year] is a continuation of what we’re doing now. After Australia we’ve got another month long American tour, then a bit of South America, Europe and the UK, and a final gig of the year at Earl’s Court in London, which will be our biggest ever headline show.”


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Bill Bailey: “It becomes very much an Oz-centric show”

bill bailey

FEW comedic minds are as sharp as that of Englishman Bill Bailey, and he’s bringing it our way once again in a bid to help us contemplate the true nature of happiness.

His new show, Limboland, is sure to continue his habit of selling out major venues all over the country, with a 16-date tour on the cards for October.

“[The show] basically uses a term which is more to do with comedy found in the Catholic liturgy; this concept of limbo or a state of transition,” he says. “But it’s not strictly that, it’s Limboland, so it’s a place of the unknown or expected. I guess it came about because I saw a sign on a door coming out of an airport in Copenhagen saying ‘welcome to Denmark – the happiest country in the world’, and I was like ‘what, really?’ I became intrigued by what is happiness, what constitutes the happiness quotient in our lives and what really gives us happiness. It’s very often not the things you find in surveys, which are all about feeling secure, the bins being collected and the country being in a secure state. It’s more ephemeral; it’s more sort of transient. I guess that’s the starting point of the show; trying to explore that area between what we expect and what is real, what we think our lives are going to be like and what they are actually are like. It’s quite an interesting area to explore because it lead me to all kinds of memories from my childhood and growing up; key moments where you think it could have gone this way or that way. It’s quite a personal show and a kind of reflective look at what makes us happy and what’s the true nature of happiness.”

The 50 year-old Bailey is best known to Australian audiences for his stand up shows and his appearances on television, including QI and ABC’s award-winning hit, Black Books, in which he played the increasingly deranged Manny Bianco opposite fellow comic, Dylan Moran. But can he provide the secret to true happiness with Limboland?

“Sometimes it’s just having a decent cup of tea and watching the sun rise or something, you know what I mean?” he says. “There are odd moments when things just come together and you think ‘this is it’. When religions talk about moments of rapture, they’re not really about visions and all the rest of it, they’re just about the day-to-day or if you have a moment of clarity about something. But it’s also about feeling a state of change; almost like a transitional phase in your life when you reflect and think ‘I’ve done this, this and this, I’ve got a family, house and a nice life’. That’s really what the show is about; it’s a slight sense of mortality or uncertainty about the future, perhaps. It might be borne out of the things that we used to think were untouchable; the monoliths of our society like banks, politicians, royalty, the media, newspapers and all these things that are supposed to be completely unimpeachable, above the law and pristine. All these institutions have been gradually and systematically revealed to be utterly rotten to the core, so there’s nothing for us to cling to. We’re a bit on our own and we have to look out for ourselves a bit more.”

No Bill Bailey show is complete without a healthy portion of his ample musical ability, with Limboland set to feature a fabulously downbeat version of ‘Happy Birthday’, among other compositions.

“I was just reading a fascinating book about the history of protest songs,” he says. “So I thought it’d be good to revive that notion, and there’s an element of that in the show. The travelling I’ve done quite recently has all been through Europe, and it seemed odd that I neglected touring Europe for so many years. I’ve been to Australia and New Zealand many times, I’ve travelled to Asia and performed pretty much all over the world. So I did this big tour in Europe earlier this year, and it was fascinating to realise that there’s so much diversity and difference in language and culture, all quite jumbled together in quite a small area. I did this intense hit of Europe and went to about 15 countries in a month and it proved to be a rich source of [musical] material.”

Having spoken of his love for Australian border control and customs in the past, Bailey is looking forward to the trip this time around.

“I’ve always had fun getting into Australia,” he says. “Very often, over the years, I’ve travelled to Australia via South-East Asia. Having been in parts of Indonesia where the border patrols aren’t that strict, and then arriving in Australia, you realise it’s got proper border controls with sniffer dogs and God knows what. I’ve been picked out of a line-up by dogs before now, and it’s always embarrassing. The dogs have just stood there, barking and barking. Once, I think we were at a party and somebody had a spliff or something, and some of the smoke tends to just cling to you. I didn’t have anything on me and there was no wrongdoing involved, it was just the dog doing his job, so I had to ‘fess up and say what had happened. The thing was, I just didn’t want the dog to get in trouble, you know?”

A run of 16 shows begins in Perth on October 1st, before finishing nearly a month later in Newcastle, with shows in Brisbane on October 12th and 13th.

“I like to come and run in the show, and it’s good to spend a bit of time in a country and really bed it in,” Bailey says. “Often, when I come to places like Australia, there’ll be incidents in politics that will end up in the show as well, so as the show tours around, I pick up stories and things that will get thrown into the show and it becomes very much an Oz-centric show. That’s the way I like it; I like to have material that comes in and is specific to an area, and is gone before I leave.”

Besides his accomplishments as a comedian, actor, writer and musician, Bailey is a self-confessed super-fan of wildlife; a passion he hopes to indulge Down Under.

“I’m hoping to be filming [a wildlife show] at the end of this tour,” he says. “We’re just sort of negotiating at the moment about the feasibility of it. If I’m able, then I’m going to try to fit it in. I’ve been travelling to Australia for nearly 20 years now and have a fascination with the wildlife, so I think I want to have that outsider’s perspective of some of the more colourful aspects of the wildlife, get into detail and maybe expose a few myths about them. I’ve snorkelled around sharks, stingrays and octopuses and hung around snakes and all sorts of things in Borneo, so I’m not too phased by these kinds of things. I’m fascinated by them, so I guess I do sometimes forget that these things can nip you or whatever. Okay, maybe more than a nip; a nibble.”


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Jeremy Neale of Velociraptor: “It’s here now; the apology record”

velociraptor band

FOR five years, Brisbane many-piece Velociraptor have been living up to their self-elected position as Australia’s most dedicated party-starters.

Now, ‘earth’s mightiest band’ (their words) is releasing its debut album, and is ready to bring the party to a venue near you, says frontman and songwriter Jeremy Neale.

“It’s really exciting,” he says. “Although I’ve heard [the album] so many times that I’ve lost objectivity on it, so I don’t really know what it sounds like to a new listener. I think retrospectively I’m really happy with it, so I’m looking forward to seeing how people respond to it. In an ideal world it’d be satisfying to be releasing music at least every 12 months, if not quicker than that. For us it’s been two years now, which is quite a length of time, but it’s here now; the apology record.”

The band’s self-titled debut, which comes after EP releases in 2010 and 2012, is littered with pop-culture references and ’60s pop vibes, as on tracks like ‘Monster Mash’ and opener ‘Robocop’.

“Well, obviously one of the greatest songs of all time is called ‘Monster Mash’,” Neale laughs. “I just wanted to use that as a way to paint the scene. If you imagine someone dancing to ‘Monster Mash’, you immediately get the vibe of that party, but the song is a bit dark, and I like the juxtaposition of the happy imagery in the middle of a sad song. The Robocop thing was a cool context to put it in, but the real sentiments behind the song were about being in love with something who is everything to you, but to them you’re just the best option at the time. I don’t know how Robocop came into it, but I wanted to create that kind of imagery of essentially a gritty, neon city that features on the cover art of the album. When this album was first demoed, everything was quite minimalist in its approach; everything was just power chords and simple beats. The vision for the album was to do a dark, ‘Pet Sematary’ or ‘Bonzo Goes To Bitburg’ kind of record, but after we played around with [the songs] in the studio it become more of a variety record than how it might have sounded.”

With anything up to 15 members in the band at any time, you can never be sure of what you’re going to get at a Velociraptor gig.

“We keep it all quite fluid, as everybody does have responsibilities,” Neale says. “It’s kind of like ‘here are the dates, who’s in?’ There’s nine of us going to Perth this time, which is out of control. It’s obviously a lot of fun, and it’s a unique and rewarding experience once we’re there. Having now done the record and booked all our flights, except for Adelaide, theoretically all the hard stuff is done. Now, we just have to go and have a good time and deliver the product. We’ve been playing [first single] ‘Ramona’ live for probably a year, and we added ‘Robocop’ and a song called ‘Leaches’. When we added them both to the set ‘Robocop’ [went down] fine, but ‘Leaches’ just did not work for people on first listening. It’s a very interesting experience working out what people want to see live; they just want to be familiar with it, I guess. They looked at us like ‘what are these guys doing; a weird cover or something?’ Once the album is out in the world and people have had a chance to hear it and still want to hear it, we’ll be able to get behind everything on there. It’s all relatively accessible and it’ll be more ‘party’ and faster live. I have high hopes for how it’ll translate.”










For mX

Julia Stone: “Angus and I probably would have just drifted off”

angus julia stone

BANDS split up and get back together for a multitude of reasons; whether it be for money, ego or another stab at the limelight.

For brother/sister act Angus & Julia Stone, however, it was different. Both were happily coasting along independently with their respective solo careers, until a legendary US producer sparked the flame that got them working together again.

“Rick [Rubin] said that he heard our music at a party and wanted to meet us,” Julia explains. “He contacted us when we were both on tour doing our solo records and it was very out of the blue. It was just so weird; we were like ‘what’s going on?’ We had our own paths set going solo, and we were both really happy doing that, and then Rick contacted us and came to both of our solo shows separately in LA. We hung out with him separately. I met up with him a few times in LA; we would hang out and go for walks, go on motorbikes and talk. Angus did the same when he was in town. Rick said he wanted to make a record with the two of us together, and that was kind of like the beginning of Angus and me talking; we hadn’t really chatted much between our solo tours. It was out of the blue, but it was a good thing, and it was a blessing. I think Angus and I probably would have just drifted off and not made an effort to be in each others lives. We really now have become friends because of this process, and I don’t think I would ever not talk to him for more than a week now, but at that time I wouldn’t have seen him until Christmas 2015, you know?”

Meeting and working with the Def Jam label founder has brought a new lease of life to the Stone siblings’ song-writing, the result of which is a new, self-titled album; their first since 2010’s Down The Way.

“It feels very exciting,” Julia says. “I feel like we know the record so well now, and I just assume that everybody else knows it. We’ve been playing a whole bunch of shows and summer festivals through Europe, and we play so much stuff off the new record and I forget that nobody’s heard it. I just sort of assume that everybody’s been living with the mixes as long as we have, but I’m actually excited that people will get to hear it for real, and not just in my head. It’s probably just the nature of what’s new in your life, but I feel that the new songs have a lot more energy for us. I think as well the [new] songs are a little more beat-driven and it’s more of a dance-y feel to a show, which is unusual for us. It’s fun to dance around a bit more.”

Not only has the rekindling of their personal relationship brought about a new album, but an entire new approach to song-writing for the pair.

“I think that for Angus and I, song-writing was always a really personal thing and it was space away from each other. All of a sudden, we’re Angus and Julia Stone and we’re this brother and sister thing. We were really young when it started and we enjoyed it a lot, so we kept on going with it, but there was a part of us that wanted to claim our independence from each other. I think for both of us, when we were on tour doing a lot of press and travelling, the song-writing was a really good way to express things that were personal to us and independent from the other person. The idea of writing a song together never even crossed our minds; it wasn’t something that appealed. This time around, we had had time apart and we had written and recorded on our own, and we felt that the only reason to get back together was to try to be different in the way we worked and in our relationship. I think the time apart made it possible; we established that we were independent, so when we came into the studio and started singing together, there wasn’t as much control and we felt more free.”

The new album takes the duo’s trademark folk sound and injects some unmistakeable American flavours, although the pair have no particular goals in that part of the world, Stone says.

“We signed to Rick’s label and he’s based out of the US, but I don’t know,” she says. “The guys from the label over there are really lovely and excited about the album. For us, we sort of just go to wherever we’re summoned to play music, and we never really know what makes a song work on radio or whether people are going to connect. We just wake up and play our songs, and whatever unfolds from it unfolds from it. We haven’t ever been known for our planning or goals about places or things. I think Rick’s great though, and his label’s really good, so we have a lot of support to tour there. Although I don’t really have a phone filled with famous people. It’s Rick and then family [laughs].”

The duo have lined up a September national tour following on from their homecoming show at Splendour, with dates already selling out.

“I was just looking at a tour schedule today,” Stone says. “We have so many tours, so many shows! We go to LA in a few weeks to do press, then we go to Europe to do TV and press and stuff. Then we have an Australian tour for September/October, then an American tour for November, then a Europe tour for December. Then I don’t know what happens after that. [I’ll] probably have a little nap.”


For Beat

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs: “Aren’t I supposed to know how to sing?”


SINGER and multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus is refreshingly honest about her need for musical reinvention on Tune-Yards’ new album Nikki Nack.

Her 2011 album Whokill received almost universal critical acclaim, and saw the New England native off on a gruelling world tour. After a period of reflection, the 35 year-old realised it was time to go back to basics for album number three.

“I didn’t want to use any of the old tricks I used to,” she says. “I didn’t want to use my older methods of writing and the looping pedal. The looping pedal has very specific limitations, and although it did me well for a long time, I think I had come to the end of the road with that. So it felt like if I wasn’t going to use the ukulele like on the first album and I wasn’t going to use the looping pedal, I was back to square one or ground zero with a big question mark saying ‘how do you write an album?’ without doing it the ways I have done it before.”

Ditching the looping pedal might seem like a bold move for a musician who has relied on it so heavily, but Garbus went a step further by literally going back to school.

“I started off by taking voice and drum lessons,” she says. “It was difficult. I love being good at things, and I don’t like not being good at things, so it was very humbling to learn that I don’t know everything and realise that I can improve and learn new techniques. I took a lot of Haitian drum lessons, and it was great to admit that I had no idea what I was doing and nothing to direct me, as I had just not heard that music before. It was really challenging, but that was easier than taking voice lessons. I mean, aren’t I supposed to know how to sing? I sing for my living, so you’d think I’d know how to sing, but it turns out I have a lot of improving to do there as well.”

After experiencing the intensive Whokill tour, Garbus admits it’s difficult to not get burnt out.

“I’m 35 years old,” she says. “My body can only endure so much partying and late nights. In other words, we hardly do that at all. To me, keeping my health up and having a regular routine is important. I have certain books that I read and I have yoga and I eat well; pretty simple things. This is me trying to pretend I have a healthy, stable life, even though we’re taking that stable life all across the world. It’s pretty fun.”

Tune-yards’ upcoming appearance at Splendour in the Grass will give the band a chance to test out its new skills on an Australian audience.

“We’ll be so excited to be in Australia,” Garbus says. “So we’ll have lots of energy I hope (laughs). I’m drumming a lot more this time around, and we have another drummer who plays a very unique setup. We’ve got two very amazing back-up singers. Nate Brenner is on bass as always, also with more synthesisers. Expect a lot of fully danceable music.”


For mX

Cale Fisher of The Floating Bridges: “Our music has a very positive vibe”

floating bridges

SUNSHINE COAST roots quintet The Floating Bridges are aiming to bring their tropical vibe to as many sets of ears as possible with a new single and upcoming tour, says bass player and vocalist, Cale Fisher.

“Our music has a very positive vibe in our lyrics,” he says. “It’s about day-to-day living stuff; how you treat other people, what you do when you go out and setting examples for others. That vibe comes across in the music and people latch onto it. It’s a really positive, uplifting sort of vibe.”

After coming together following high school, the band got into roots music and found their sound. A line-up change earlier this year saw Fisher move from rhythm guitar to bass, and the acquisition of Johnny Curran – brother of Jeff Curran of Dallas Frasca – to play additional guitar. It’s this line-up which wrote the as-yet unreleased single.

“He came and had a jam with us and it’s going really well,” Fisher says. “He had some neat little licks and just kind of fitted in. We’re just putting the final touches to [the single]; it’s called ‘Dreamcatcher’. We’ve got a heap of songs written, and it’s basically just a matter of narrowing them down at the moment. We’ve always had a bit of a rule that if a song is written we don’t disregard anything. Even if it sort of gets shelved for a little while before we come up with something new to make it better, we’ve always had this rule not to write anything off. We go from there and work on it all as a group. We’re group writers and everyone has their input into the band.”

The band hails from Yandina, in an area which Fisher says has helped shaped the band’s sound.

“We believe that where we live is one of the most beautiful places in Australia from what we’ve seen,” he says. “So we’re pretty lucky like that. There is a really strong roots music scene up here, especially over the last three years, and definitely a lot of our influences that we draw locally come from other bands here and Brisbane bands that are similar to us. We’ve never had any issues or blues at our gigs. People just enjoy the vibe.”

Refreshingly in touch with social and racial issues, Fisher says a part of the band’s approach is to raise awareness of cultural respect and fairness.

“We’re really passionate about Indigenous culture in Australia,” he says. “We’ve got a very big connection to our local elders in our area; the Gubbi Gubbi people. We’re very well connected with those guys, and we think it’s really good as a young person these days to be culturally aware of what’s going on and what’s happened in the past. We don’t want to cause any arguments or anything like that, but we just want people to be aware of what’s happened here before and everything, so when you make your decision on cultural awareness [issues], you’re well educated, you know? A lot of people make uneducated comments about different things, but we believe it’s really important to know where you’re from and to know what happens.”

With a new single and EP in the works, the rest of the year is set to be a busy one for the group.

“We’ll get a heap of shows under our belts around the country first,” Fisher says. “Then we’ll be looking to release the single, probably some time in the next three or four months. We’ve got our single release, then an EP release later in year and we want to lock in as many festival dates as we can. Basically, we want to enjoy the journey.”

For Beat and The Brag

Interview: Jon Davison of Yes

yes band

HAVING been in existence since 1968, English prog-rockers Yes are true mainstays of the music world, with more than thirty studio and live albums under their belts. Founding vocalist Jon Anderson left the band in 2008, paving the way for newest recruit, Californian Jon Davison, to become a part of a group who had already released three records by the time he was born. The newly rejuvenated line-up of Davison, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Geoff Downes will tour Australia in November, playing their classic ’70s Fragile and Close To The Edge albums in full, as well as releasing a new LP entitled Heaven & Earth.

You’re the new boy in Yes, having joined in 2012. How did you come to be in the band?

It was kind of by simultaneous means, which was interesting. My friend Taylor Hawkins, the drummer for the Foo Fighters, with whom I grew up, was always – during the last few years prior to my joining – suggesting to Chris [Squire, founding bassist] that should he need a replacement, I might be a suitable option. So Chris was aware of me, and at the same time the Australian tour in 2012 was booked and the band didn’t want to back out of it, so they were willing to take me on immediately. The manager called me first, saying there wasn’t even going to be an audition and that I would have to jump right in, so the band could continue looking forward to the tour.

How much notice did you have before the tour?

I think we were off maybe a month later, or six weeks at most.

Were you aware of all of the band’s material before you joined?

Yes, I was. Having been in a Yes tribute band, I knew most of the main tracks, but they were doing a lot of emphasis at the time on Fly From Here, so I had to learn the big bulk of that album, and there were a few others; a couple from Drama I hadn’t performed before. So there was a bit of a learning curve, but I had a lot of the material in my mind.

Have you had to change much to fit in, or are you more or less free to be yourself?

That’s a good question. It’s really a balance, you know? You want to do complete justice to the music, but you don’t want anyone to feel that something is missing, so you really pay homage as accurately as you can. To do that, you have to really incorporate your own style into it as well; you can’t be a clone. You have to incorporate what is uniquely you, so it’s a fine balance between those two aspects.

How long have you been planning to tour Fragile and Close To The Edge?

It’s been in the works for probably about a year now, because we’ve doing three classic albums for a couple of years now. We were thinking ahead a couple of years ago, wondering what we should do next and it felt like Fragile needed to be fitted into the occasion or formula somehow, and we’re doing Close To The Edge again, but we really wanted to do those two albums together, back to back. In most respects they’re the greatest, ground-breaking albums for the band.

So it’s purely a nostalgic thing.

Yeah, it’s a nostalgic thing, and I think it means so much to the fans to have that nostalgic experience; at least what I’ve heard that they’ve shared. Also, it’s never been done before. It’s an new move for the band. They’re always looking to do something new and fresh, and I think this is the answer to that.

It sounds like there are some fairly complex arrangements in those two albums. Are they relatively easy to translate to the live setting?

I would say for the most part. Really, at the heart of a band, that’s what makes them successful; being good players who feed off each other and work together. In essence they are a live band, and they’ve always taken that as far as they can. Although they’ve had some ground-breaking studio albums, ultimately they are a live band. So, yeah, it has been quite straightforward. Having said that, Fragile has a lot of over-dubbing, so there will be some re-interpretation and we’ll be doing whatever we can to make it as accurate as possible.

Could Heaven & Earth be called a classic Yes album, in terms of how it sounds?

I don’t know if it will end up being called that [laughs]. It’s very different and fresh, and it’s moving the band in a bit of a different direction, and that’s natural for every new line-up. Even though the other four have been involved a lot longer than I have, every time a new member comes in it changes things up. So, it’s a unique album in that sense and has to be translated not with words, but with music.

How has the song-writing been shared?

Steve [Howe, guitar] and I did the majority of the song-writing, but the band all very much collaborated as a unit, and I think that’s the final product that’s reflected and when the music is fully realised and comes to life. It’s definitely a group effort. For the most part, [listener reaction] has been quite encouraging so far.

What was it like working with Roy Thomas Baker?

He’s a character, and I mean that in an affectionate way. He’s a lot of fun and he’s very old-school, and that’s what I love about him. I’m a huge fan of his work and ’70s material in general, so it’s been great to pick his mind and analyse him at work. I think he ultimately brought out the best in the band; an organic quality to the material. We have him to thank for that.

Does he get involved in everything or let you get on with it in the studio?

Creatively speaking, he just lets us get on with it, but he has his own creative element in the technical aspect and getting the right sound. He’s big on sounds and the engineering aspect of the project.

Why do you think Yes have survived and stuck together this long?

There have never been more than two consecutive albums with the same line-up in the history of Yes, and it’s because of this I think they always had a new ingredient that helped to propel them forward in a spontaneous way. It’s also that they’ve always tried to break new ground; they’re very open-minded. When I was contributing music they never wanted to throw anything out; they would always fully explore something and really vibe with it before they make a decision about it, and I respect that so much. I know that that’s always been the formula. There have been times in their history when the music hasn’t come easily, but their tenacity and hunger has kept them going.

Do you think prog-rock is in good shape globally?

I would say yes; it’s a healthy, thriving thing. I wouldn’t say that by any means it’s a mainstream type of music, but that’s a traditional thing. That’s what a lot of people love about it; it’s their music and it’s unique. The fans feel like it’s their niche, and that makes it special for them.

How are you dealing with the heavy schedule the band has right now?

It’s just more experience. While I feel that I’m doing a pretty good job, there’s so much more I want to accomplish as a vocalist. I feel that I still have a long way to go to perfect my craft. So, the more I’m playing the better.


Wednesday November 12 – PERTH Crown Casino
Friday November 14 – GOLD COAST Jupiters Casino
Saturday November 15 – SYDNEY State Theatre
Tuesday November 18 – MELBOURNE Palais Theatre


For The AU Review

The White Album Tour: Prefab Four

white album

IF YOU’RE GOING TO CHOOSE a single album to base your 21-musician show around, it had better be a good one.

Four of Australia’s top rock singers; Chris Cheney of The Living End, Tim Rogers of You Am I, Phil Jamieson of Grinspoon and ARIA Award-winning singer-songwriter Josh Pyke have chosen to do exactly that. Thankfully for everyone concerned, they have chosen wisely.

Their upcoming White Album Concert tour will see the four musicians backed by a 17-piece orchestra to run through the 1968 classic Beatles album on a national tour, including such numbers as ‘Back in the USSR’, ‘Dear Prudence’, ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ in a repeat of the widely successful 2009 tour that brought a slice of the swinging sixties into the modern day. High demand for the show at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre on 13th July has led to the addition of a matinee show on the same day.

Speaking to, Jamieson and Rogers explained that it was an easy decision to reconvene and get into a Fab Four frame of mind once more.

“The timing worked,” Jamieson said. “We weren’t in a cycle trying to sell our own rubbish so we could do these amazing concerts again. It was a blast for the audience and you could not disguise the absolute joy we all had up on stage.”

Despite having commitments with You Am I and his solo work, Rogers was also quick to jump at the opportunity.

“We were completely surprised by the reaction to it,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve been in anything that’s been so complimented. Anything I’m involved in there always seems to be a certain percentage of dissenting voices questioning as to whether I’m a complete hack or not! The four of us are quite different personality-wise and quite complimentary. Doing anything that’s other people’s material is not my automatic go-to thing. I prefer writing what I perform. But it’s like stepping into a character, it’s almost like sweet relief at times. You can go and be a performer. There’s less Rogers angst, more Lennon angst.”

In terms of musical releases, 1968 was a teeny bit special. Maybe it was the influence of the Summer of Love the year before, the rise of the counter-culture movement in America and elsewhere or the sudden widespread availability of a range of mind-altering new drugs, but one twelve-month period saw the release of some of the most influential and era-defining music of possibly any other year in musical history, and to say the charts of the day hosted an embarrassment of riches is an understatement. Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison, The Band’s Music from Big Pink, The Rolling Stones’ Beggar’s Banquet and Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks featured alongside albums by The Doors, The Byrds, Big Brother and the Holding Company and Aretha Franklin.

At the top of the pile, though, has to be the White Album, so called for its blank, nameless cover. Written at a time when the Beatles had long since quit touring and the distance between main song-writers John Lennon and Paul McCartney was growing ever wider, exacerbated by musical differences, ego and supposedly meddling spouses, the album still sounds fresh today. It also contains one of George Harrison’s finest compositions in ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’; a song only taken seriously by Lennon and McCartney after Harrison enlisted the help of Eric Clapton to play lead guitar on the track. Josh Pyke explained in an interview with the AU Review why the song and album will always be considered a classic.

“It’s just a genuine phenomenon,” he said. “There is never going to be another band like the Beatles. And even if there are bands that are technically as popular or sell as many records, I think it’s fair to say they will never have the lasting impact upon culture as the Beatles have; because the Beatles came at a time when nothing was like what they were creating and they kept on pushing the limits of records, and they peaked and kind of disappeared under tragic circumstances when they were still massive; there was no slow decline.”

“With the White Album, you’ve got your raw, Hamburg rock’n’roll,” Cheney told Time Out Melbourne. “Then you’ve got stuff like ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Rocky Raccoon’. It was pretty fractured at that point, so they were all in different studios doing their own stuff. I think every band needs that friction or it’s going to result in bland music. I know from personal experience, the hardest times with The Living End have produced the best results, because you’re fighting for something, and you’re pushing each other towards a greater result.”

The show will see the double album’s thirty songs played in full and in order, starting with ‘Back in the USSR’ and finishing with ‘Good Night’, and will include guitars, strings, horns, two drummers and musical direction by former Air Supply guitarist Rex Goh.


For Scene Magazine/Scenestr

Will Farquarson of Bastille: “Australian women are very attractive”

bastille band

THE synth-pop juggernaut that is English quartet Bastille returns to tour Australia after selling out venues here last year, and bassist Will Farquarson wastes no time explaining why the band is looking forward to it.

“The women,” he says. “Australian women are very attractive. Actually, you have all the same chocolate and chips and stuff as us; that’s really homely. When you’re travelling it’s really nice to be somewhere that has things from home, like a Twix or something. I know it’s ridiculous. And you have the Queen on your money, which is nice. Architecturally it’s more like America, but the people are closer to English people, so it’s kind of like being at home but in a cool American way. Everyone is so friendly as well, and the fact it’ll hopefully be sunny most of the time is going to be good. We’re just coming for the heat.”

The cheeky Farquarson, speaking from the band’s tour bus somewhere in Central Europe, goes on to dryly explain how the group’s live show has evolved.

“We’ve got more lights and a bigger screen now,” he says. “We’ll jump about more, maybe. We’ve got a couple of new songs. One is called ‘Blade’ and is a bit rock-y; I play guitar on it, and we did ‘Weapon’ with a rapper called Angel Haze. Our fans can be quite surprised when we come on stage with a rapper, although sadly he can’t come to all our shows, so we won’t be doing that at all of them. I can’t rap; I’d have a go but I don’t think anyone wants to hear it.”

Bastille have only existed since 2010 and have released only one album, but that didn’t stop them selling out venues in Sydney and Melbourne in August.

“We’ve been lucky with live stuff generally,” Farquarson says. “It’s surprising that happened somewhere so far away, and given we’d not been there at all beforehand. It’s amazing anyway when you sell a show out, but especially when it’s at the other side of the world. It’s better than nobody coming, which would be rubbish. We’ve [recorded] quite a bit of the new album. To break things up on tour we’ve been recording while we’re away. We’ve got maybe ten or so songs as demos ready to go. In the [northern hemisphere] summer we’ll be going into the studio to get the album done and then maybe early next year it’ll be coming out. We’re not worrying too much about it; I think we’ll be okay.”

The band’s debut, Bad Blood, was re-released as an extended version entitled All This Bad Blood, which means extended periods of touring.

“We wanted to do a double album,” Farquarson says. “It’s everything we’ve done live, mix-tape things and some of the B-sides from the past couple of years. Just because something is a B-side doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t like them, and we still wanted people to hear them. We thought it would be nice to put all the things that didn’t make it onto the main album together. We’re going to be doing a load of festivals – God knows how many – over the summer, which will be wicked fun. Then we’ll be trying to record this album, then it’s back to the grindstone after that. The main objective is to get the album done this year; that’s one thing we all really need to focus on. If we can do that we’ll be laughing. Maybe we’ll have time for a holiday at Christmas, I don’t know.”


Bastille tour dates:

Friday 13 June – Brisbane Convention Exhibition Centre
Saturday 14 June – Sydney Hordern Pavilion
Sunday 15 June – Melbourne Festival Hall
Wednesday 18 June – Perth Challenge

Will Farquarson of Bastille: “Everyone at NASA seemed to be a fan”

bastille rio

ENGLISH synth-pop sensations Bastille may be in the middle of a sell-out US tour before hitting Australian shores next month, but bass player Will Farquarson has bigger things on his mind. Outer space, for one.

“We went to NASA the other day and met the director,” he says. “We expressed an interest on the Internet and then they got in touch and invited us. He said ‘Oh hi, I became the director of NASA when I stopped flying spaceships’. It’s a surreal thing, the fact that writing some songs and playing a bit of guitar gets you to hang out at NASA. Also, we got taken to the actual place where they’re building the Orion spacecraft, which is the next generation of spacecraft. It wasn’t even like a tourist-y trip; it was the actual laboratory where they’re building the spaceship, and it was all a bit weird. But a lot of things in our lives are quite surreal, to be honest. The strangest thing was that everyone at NASA seemed to be a fan, and it’s a sad thing as they were imploring to be ambassadors of NASA as they need the younger generation to engage and show an interest. When NASA people said ‘Oh my God, you’re in Bastille,’ I was like ‘Dude, you’re literally a rocket scientist’.”

Cosmic concerns aside, Farquarson and his three band-mates are looking forward to a run of Australian shows in June, having sold out venues in Sydney and Melbourne as recently as August.

“We’re always amazed when we sell out shows in our own country,” he says. “So to do it in places where we haven’t spent as much time is just amazing. It’s mind-boggling that we haven’t done much promotion there, and yet there’s this appetite for our music, but it’s very gratifying and we look forward to coming. Our live show is more band-oriented and more heavy, with a harder edge to it than the record. The record was made as a studio project and then when you tour it for a year and a half or two years it takes on a new dimension; it has a bit more guts.”

Over a quarter of a million copies of debut album Bad Blood have been sold in the UK alone; a statistic that Farquarson isn’t keen on analysing too intensely.

“A lot of people in the industry are always looking for the formula,” he says. “I think that it’s just that Dan’s [Smith, vocalist] song-writing is strong. I think sometimes people don’t realise that our stuff just connects with the public, and we were lucky that we were quite a word-of-mouth sort of thing; we never really got much hype or press in the UK. I think we just grew quite a solid, loyal fanbase over the course of the two years prior to releasing the record. [The album] went triple platinum, which is a crazy, crazy number of records to sell.”

As if that isn’t enough, the record was re-released as an extended version in November.

“It can be quite cynical after an album is out to just chuck a couple of bonus tracks on,” Farquarson says. “But there’s quite a lot we’ve done in the last year and a half that didn’t make it onto the original album. There were a lot of B-sides that were recorded that we loved just as much as the ones that were on the album, we did two mix tapes and there were was some material that we did live. So, we wanted everything that we’ve done with a whole bonus section on the second disk, and it was nice to put all the bits and bobs into the one package.”

The band recently covered Miley Cyrus’s ‘We Can’t Stop’ for a UK radio session, with almost disastrous consequences.

“We did an Eminem riff at the beginning,” Farquarson says. “Apparently he’d written a verse on his record dissing her, but then it turned out that was all a hoax. We kind of inadvertently got involved in a beef that wasn’t even real, and nobody wants to be involved in a fake beef. I think generally she gets a bit of a rough deal. I don’t like her music particularly, but she gets flak for doing things that other people do and don’t get flak for. Rihanna and Madonna and other pop stars have done things just as risqué and trashy, and yet she has become a bit of a pariah, I think.”

With an end to touring almost in sight, Farquarson already has one eye on the next Bastille album.

“We’ve got 16 or 17 tracks demoed for our second album already,” he says. “We’re going into the studio in September to record; hopefully by then we’ll have twenty or maybe more. I think it’s always better to have more material and whittle it down. Our producer has gone on tour with us, so we’ve been doing things on our days off and during soundchecks. One of the weirdest things about being in a band is that when you have so many commitments and do so much travelling, making music is sort of a secondary thing to flying around the world, touring and promo stuff. It’s been nice to spend some time being creative again.”


Friday, June 13 – Convention Centre, Brisbane
Saturday, June 14 – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Sunday, June 15 – Festival Hall, Melbourne
Wednesday, June 18 – Challenge Stadium, Perth