David Griffiths spoke to Aussie popstar Amali Ward about her new album ‘Back In Time’ on The Wednesday Motley Crew. If you missed being able to hear it, you can give it a listen here.
David Griffiths spoke to Aussie popstar Amali Ward about her new album ‘Back In Time’ on The Wednesday Motley Crew. If you missed being able to hear it, you can give it a listen here.
Interview by Simballz Stormtrooper
Simballz Stormtrooper: Making films is a very big leap from beginnings as actresses! What has been your main motive for making your own films?
Sylvia Soska: It was never a plan of ours; we walked ass-backwards into writing and directing. We actually fought it for a long time. We’d been acting unsuccessfully since we were little girls; in high school we took acting and directing classes. We got a scholarship for our directing work, but didn’t get best actress, and were so disappointed. We realized the roles we were getting weren’t anything we were excited or proud of, so we decide to use our extensive martial arts training to try our hand at stunt work which led us to a film school that had an excellent out-sourced ‘action for actors’ portion and then nothing else that even resembled a school. It was a huge disappointment in a stream of disappointments. Thank God GRINDHOUSE was in the theatres at the time. Being Rodriguez fan girls that lived for his films and ‘Ten Minute Film Schools’, the film became real film school which inspired us to make our own fake trailer called DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. Like Rodriguez, we wanted to be involved in every aspect of process, doing the directing, acting, producing, writing, stunt work, and multiple other jobs to make the short happen. It was outside of the school, so we added everything that was considered too inappropriate for projects and added the oddly forgotten necrophilia and bestiality. We presented it at graduation to half the audience walking out and half the audience cheering so loudly you could barely make out all the intentionally crude dialogue. People started asking us about the feature length and we maxed out our credit cards and called in very favour to make it happen. We haven’t stop since, it was like coming home – all of our weirdness finally had a purpose and a place.
Jen Soska: I am proudly a failed actress. I found as an actor, you try so hard just to be working. Most of the time you’re chasing after a role you really couldn’t care less about, but you chase it just to be working in hopes that one day you’ll get you’ll be able to pick and choose your roles. If you really think about it, that day doesn’t ever come. You may be comfortable enough financially or with work coming in to turn stuff down, but you still have limited control over who you’re playing. Being identical twins, we were offered some pretty bland, ignorant, and stereo typical “Dead Penthouse” roles. I have no problem with violence or sexual content, as I’m sure you can guess, but they were always so poorly written and gratuitous. We wanted to take control of our own careers and we sure as hell have. There’s nothing quite as fulfilling or satisfying as directing and writing. You get to create this world and fill it with these unique, complex, and original characters and then watch them come to life. There’s nothing in the world like it. It felt like we were finally doing that one thing we were meant to do. We’ve never looked back. I’d recommend doing the same to any actor that’s struggling out there and wants to showcase what they’re able to do. Write, direct, and star in your own film. It’s a game changer.
SS: AM is a leap and also a different film from your debut DHIAT. Tell us a bit more about the styles and why this particular story of body modification you favoured?
S: We knew our limitations with DEAD HOOKER, so we took a style of filmmaking that people with little funds used creativity to overcome those limitations, grind house. The film was a love letter to grind house filmmaking and the crazy films we grew up watching – films like WEEKEND AT BERNIES, DESPERADO, FOUR ROOMS, DIRTY WORK, FASTER PUSSYCAT KILL KILL, BLUES BROTHERS. They were just fun films to watch and we wanted a film that was wild and fun. It was also where we were at that time in our lives: naive, opinionated, and loud. We wanted a film that forced a reaction; we wanted to have everything in there to make people watch it from the title to stunts to the stereotypes that filled the cast. AMERICAN MARY is homage to Asian and European cinema – films like AUDITION, DEAD RINGERS, SUSPIRIA, I SAW THE DEVIL, and REPULSION. We weren’t seeing a lot of art in films coming out of the western world and we wanted to counter what you would expect to see from a horror genre film. Characters, looks, story were huge. It was fantastical but still based in reality. It was also very where we were at the time: wiser, angry, and we had a lot to say about the world, about how we treat each other based on appearances. No group is as misunderstood and demonized as the body modification culture; I wanted an opportunity to dispel those delusions.
J: The two films couldn’t be more different. There are so many beautiful sub genres within horror which is one of the numerous reasons we love it so much. DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK was a love letter to grindhouse filmmaking. We had a very modest budget as in pretty much no budget and grindhouse really lends itself to DIY style and the Robert Rodriguez way of filmmaking. Every filmmaker should see EL MARIACHI and read Rodriguez’s REBEL WITHOUT A CREW. We didn’t want to get labelled as filmmakers that can only do one kind of thing. We have very vast interests and we wanted our second film to have a much more serious and personal tone. AMERICAN MARY is very much an analogy of our own struggles in the film industry and I feel the story is very relate-able, to uncomfortable levels, with a lot of people who feel like outcasts and especially women who are out there struggling to make their way. DEAD HOOKER was to tell the world that we’re here and to pay attention, AMERICAN MARY was us showing the world what we can do. And we’re only getting started.
SS: The music chosen for your films has a powerful presence. What are some of your favourite musicians/composers?
S: We’ve been very blessed with some amazing talent on our soundtracks. All the bands on DEAD HOOKER were indie bands, INCURA, FAKE SHARK-REAL ZOMBIE!, THE STALLS, THE BELLE GAME, THE TITAN GO-KINGS, and THE AWKWARD STAGE. They gave the sequences a real edge to them; I find music is such a part of the story telling process. We were lucky enough to have FAKE SHARK-REAL ZOMBIE!, in particular the lead singer Kevvy Mental come on board to not only soundtrack with the band’s tracks but create original pieces for the film. We have some very rad indie talent again on the soundtrack, Peter Allen sound tracked and composed much of what you hear in the film including the beautiful Ave Maria renditions, JACKALOPE, MAZINAW, LUISA PEPE, SICK LOGIC, STEPHEN WRIGHT, ELISE ESTRADA, LIZ RODRIGUES, JANYSE JAUD, ROSETTE SHARMA, and DANIEL STEELE. We listen to certain soundtracks while writing the script, so we know what kind of sound we want in there for the film.
J: When you use a song the right way in a film, you can never hear that song again and not see that scene or film playing in your head. That’s always the aim. I love independent artists. Kevvy Mental of Fake Shark Real Zombie sound tracked both DHIAT and AMERICAN MARY. Many of the songs in Mary are originals he wrote just for the film. I love the tracks LOSER and WANT YOUR BODY. He is so amazingly talented and I feel so blessed to have his music in our films. You will hear his songs in our movies as long as we’re making them.
SS: AM deals a lot with the underground sub cultures within our society. Are you fond of any other subcultures or consider yourselves apart of any particular outside communities?
S: I’ve always had a fondness for outsiders because Jen and I have always felt like outsiders. Being identical twins, we have been treated oddly as a sideshow act. It bothers me when I see people being treated poorly because of their differences. Jen and I worked with special needs children and adults teaching those martial arts where we trained. There was a point that the staff there decided that they wanted to eliminate the program because they ‘scared the normal students’. It infuriated us. We were asked to leave when we stood up for the students. A lot of people didn’t. ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I refuse to live my life as part of the problem and I’m always going to defend people, film is a great way to open a discussion about things like this. I hope it did with MARY and the body mod community.
J: I wish I was actually a part of the body mod community. I don’t have much done at the moment aside from pierced ears and a pierced navel. I would love to have my back done up in a flesh corset one day. Or maybe several times. I think it’s a beautiful look. I love outsiders and under dogs. I love to stand up for people who are singled out, picked on, and under attack. I find that the LGBT community is constantly and disgustingly under attack. I don’t understand why people are so against two people loving each other, despite their gender. People are really obsessed with labels and they’re most obsessed with normal and abnormal, right and wrong. It’s like people need to have a bad guy to make them feel better about themselves. It’s disgusting how people can treat each other. Most people probably think LGBT rights is a non-issue in this day and age, but when kids are terrified to come out because of their parents not accepting them or being beaten up in school it’s something that really has to change. I hope we see that change in our lifetime and we’ll always be outspoken about that.
SS: AM gives birth to a fresh new female villain slash heroine character for us to sink our teeth into. Is Mary mason based on anyone you know or did you have someone or a circumstance in mind when you made her?
S: It’s not me.
J: It’s Sylv, Totally. Mary is Sylv. She didn’t realize it while we were writing it and I thought that was her conscious choice. You write what you know, you know? Women have a capacity for evil. We know. We’re women; we know what it’s like to feel that red hot rage. Have you ever upset a woman, had her say okay, and she just came back at you months later with an onslaught of calculated overkill? We all have it in us, men and women. We were tired of seeing weak, sobbing females who’d run to a man to solve her problems for her and then spend the whole time crying anyways. We wanted Mary to be the new evolution of the final girl. You had Jamie Lee Curtis who was great, but she wasn’t strong. She ultimately stood up to her own evil adversary, but it was in fear and desperation. You had the evolution of the final girl first with Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in ALIEN. She was strong, powerful, and fearless. That pattern continued on with Buffy and numerous others. Mary is the new evolution in the way that she is a strong final girl, but she is her own villain. With her self sacrifices, her pursuit of perfection and achieving her own American Dream. She’s the heroine and the villainess. She’s likeable despite not having any redeeming qualities. She’s very unique. A layered, complex, dark, and tormented character, unlike any woman you’ve seen before. Too often female characters get dulled down into stereo types. AMERICAN MARY is like the horror version of LEGALLY BLOND.
The struggles we’ve been through have hardened us up and this being an analogy for our own ventures in the film industry, lots of it came from personal experiences and that “I’m not going to take your shit anymore” attitude that you need to have to survive while swimming with sharks.
SS: So you spend a lot of time promoting women in horror. Who is your favourite female in horror and why?
S: My mom. Jen and I had a curiosity and passion for horror from a young age. She didn’t have to support it, she didn’t have to talk to us about it, but she did. She would watch horror films with us, she would let us read her Stephen King novels – the only rule was if we didn’t understand something, we would talk to her about it. There was never an age limitation on education with our mom. She really taught me that it was cool to be different and like what you wanted to like. I can’t think horror without thinking about the relationship it gave me with my mom.
J: Alice Guy. She started it all. I didn’t even know who she was when we started. I learned about her during Women In Horror month. She was the first director of fiction film. She was part of hundreds of films, many of which being horror. In 1894 Alice Guy was hired by Leon Gaumont to work for a still-photography company as a secretary. The company soon went out of business but Gaumont bought the defunct operations inventory and began his own company that soon became a major force in the fledgling motion picture industry in France. Alice Guy decided to join the new Gaumont Film Company, a decision that led to a pioneering career in filmmaking spanning more than twenty-five years and involving her directing, producing, writing and/or overseeing more than 700 films. She was a truly amazing woman. And so few people; even know who she is.
SS: You two girls had a lot of trouble with the release of DHIAT. What’s your take on the banning of other films such as Astron 6′s Father’s day and the Human Centipede 2?
S: Monster Pictures is remarkable with the way they stand behind their filmmakers and defend the artistic merit of films that go under attack like this. It’s ridiculous to ban FATHER’S DAY or HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2. There is a reason for the content, it’s part of the story that the filmmaking is trying to tell and it’s a shame that it gets diluted because censors feel a few frames trimmed here and there would benefit the viewing public. If you don’t want to watch a movie with father rape and murder, don’t watch FATHER’S DAY – you’ll be missing a great Astron 6 film, but that’s your choice. If you don’t want to watch people get attached mouth to ass as a human centipede, don’t watch HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 or the original – you’ll be missing one of the most unique and pop culture impacting horror premises in years, but that’s your choice. We are adults and we have a right to choose what we want to see or do not want to see. I find romantic comedies very damaging to the psyche of young women, but they keep getting made. Horror is a scapegoat for society’s qualms with real life violence and it doesn’t make sense. Art reflects reality and we shouldn’t pretend the terrible aspects of this world don’t exist. That’s ignorant.
J: Total and utter bullshit. I don’t understand why we cannot decide what to and not to watch for ourselves. Art imitates life. It’s make believe, something I was able to understand as a child. I think that the HUMAN CENTIPEDE films caused a lot of controversy and anyone who’s released or supported those films will always be targeted by the censorship boards. If you go into HUMAN CENTIPEDE and are surprised by the content, it’s impossible. Everyone knew what happened in the film by word of mouth that spread like wild fire and from the trailers. If it’s not your thing, don’t watch it. It’s even worse in the case of Astron 6. They are independent artists. The film isn’t going to become magically unavailable if it’s banned. You are simply making it impossible for the filmmakers to make any money off of it. Most censored films get put online and get downloaded like crazy. They are taking away the ability for the filmmakers to keep making their films and maybe that’s what their intentions are, but it’s absolutely disgusting and underhanded. I watched FATHER’S DAY recently and the film was unfairly targeted. There is nothing in that film that constitutes a banning. Is it because of a shot of a penis? DHIAT had a shot of one, too, and that didn’t ban our film or make our rating harsher. I don’t even know what guidelines censors go by. It really is like they just make it up as they go along.
SS: Being a big horror buff, I love how you have opted out of using any CGI with the gore FX for AM. I have both read and heard it mentioned of the tireless efforts and impossible deadlines and dedication that goes into the special effects. I see you both as holding much respect for these artists work, both insane horror buffs, and have a special place for the masters of SPFX. What is your favourite special effects artist at the moment?
S: Some of the best moments in the history of the horror genre come from great prosthetic artists. Dick Smith’s work, his work ethic, changed the world of prosthetics and makeup effects. The man is a legend. Films like EXORCIST, THE THING, JACOB’S LADDER, TOKYO GORE POLICE, SUICIDE CLUB, THE EVIL DEAD – are rad and timeless because of the talents of the prosthetics and effects teams. Masters FX is hands down my favourite team on the planet. What they created for MARY was exactly what I dreamed working with them would be like. They are tireless professionals with amazing attitudes. Working their asses off in order to make memorable character designs and body horror. I have a lot of respect for artists like that – they are what made us fall in love with horror in the first place. You’ll see us collaborating with Masters FX a lot in the future, we want to re-examine the way we use effects in films and how they are a tool for unique story-telling.
J: That’s an easy one. MastersFX. We love MastersFX. They were the geniuses that we had on AMERICAN MARY and I fell in love with them in a big way when I saw SIX FEET UNDER. Their bodies were so life like and had this beautiful real quality to them. When we set out to make AM, they were at the top of our wish list. I never thought we’d be so lucky as to work with them on MARY. We’ve been working with them ever since. They are truly phenomenal and my words here don’t even begin to do justice to what outstanding artists they are. I firmly believe a real effect will always look more real than something CGI. If it matched, I’d be the first one to admit it, but I don’t feel that CGI is quite at that point yet.
SS So for anyone out there who wishes to view more from you two, what do you have in the vaults for us to feast on? And what can we expect from the Twisted Twins in the future?
S: We have a bunch of stuff that’s coming up. We’re focusing on bringing our original take on the forgotten monster sub-genre film, BOB, to life this year. The tagline is: ‘There’s a monster in all of us, sometimes it gets out.’ Also, thanks to the support from the horror community with the last two films we’ve been given some incredible opportunities for collaborations with some of our favourite artists. We’re not planning on slowing down anytime soon.
J: We’re really just getting started. We’ll be bringing our films to a new life by having our films, the director’s cuts, never before released, through First Comics. Our films will be released as graphic novels and it’s really a dream come true for us. First Comics really is the company that puts the fans first, always. It’s both a pleasure and honor to be working with them. We have several scripts on the go right now and are writing more and more every day. We have a TV series we’ve been working on for years, several films, and lots more that’s a bit too soon for me to reveal too much about. You can follow us on twitter to get all the latest updates. And we’re on tumblr, youtube, and facebook, too!
SS:Once again thank you so much from the bottom of my lovely twisted fan girl heart. Wishing you all the best with your future projects and cannot wait for their releases.
J: Thank YOU so much!!
iNTERVIEW BY SIMBALLZ STORMTROOPER
Buzz: Lets talk about the start of the Antionettes. Was it 2012?
Kat: 2011. July 2011
Jo: Sean and I were going to start another band, with a girlfriend of ours called the Disgraces.
Kat: John and I hooked up at a day by the green, we were just hanging out, Jo and I hadn’t seen each other in ages we and we started talking, she said what have you been doing and I told her that I’d been playing drums and I knew she played bass. And we from that started rehearsing.
Jo: And the other girl pulled out, so we needed a new name. Because with the Disgraces we were going to dress up Disgracefully. So we needed a new name and we thought of a name that would give us a reason to dress up.
Kat: One of our friends Dirty Kurty unfortunately died and there was a benefit. It was Andy J Crawler’s idea to put on a benefit gig for DIRTY Kurty, and unfortunately he passé way before the gig. Andy was coming up with the poster and we needed a name. We were going to call ourselves the Bang Bangs. Then we went through a period where we had all these names. Bangalicious, Bangas and Mash.
Jo: We thought of an old fashion figure, an famous person and a women’s name for the band. And Kat channelled from the future and she thought the Antoinettes. I think its goo because she looks like Marie Antoinette.
Kat: Andy called saying what are we going to put on the poster and we thought of names and talked about Joan of Arc, and I said “what about the Antoinettes”?
Jo: And it looked really good on the poster with the double t. The French ending.
Kat: Sean then came along after that.
Sean: There was another person before me on guitar.
Kat: Yeah we had another guy but he left because he was living far away and couldn’t make it so we stayed a three piece. We were rehearsing twice a week for six or seven months.
B: So who was doing vocals?
Jo: I was originally. I had songs written with Sean from another band, then we wrote some more together with Kat, so it’s a combination of old and new.
Kat: Jo was doing vocals at the start, and I wrote a few songs that I did vocals on. So its about 50 -50 each. We really like harmony’s, so there plenty of that, and we sing different parts each.
B: The costumes are a take to Mary Antoinette I take?
Jo: Marie Antoinette was the queen of fashion so there was a lot e could do there. And she had the big hair and the corsets so there’s a lot we could do there. And they bore a bonnet and wigs. They used o say that she was premistues, but I don’t think she was.
Kat: Yeah she got a bad rap from a lot of people. It was just before the French Revolution. She married Louie the sixteenth when she was young, ad because they were so young she was isolated. And the monarchy was very wealthy and they were very hidden from what was going on with the poverty and the separation of wealth from the borqaigy and so she became the scapegoat for the elite who wanted the monarchy out and they made her as very uncaring, which wasn’t true, according to some historians she was a people person and had compassion for people but because she was isolated she didn’t know what was really going on.
JO: And that’s where the saying “let them eat cake” comes from.
Kat: But there’s actually no evidence she said that. A writer from the 17th century wrote that in an essay, so they pinched that and associated that with her in it. She was guillotined which was said, but we wrote a song called Maybe Marie, and its about her last days in the tower and how her husband was going to save her.
Sean: How old was she when she died?
Kat: 34 Round 1794. Because we were the Antoinettes, and I have a background in theatre for about ten years so I like dressing up. And because we were the Antoinettes we combined a bunch of things like burlesque and 17th century fashion and some punk.
Jo: Yeah and change it with the gig and the support band.
Sean: Kind of like rock meets 17th century fashion
Jo: We played at a Fete and we were bright and colourful, so we just change it.
B: Where the costumes kind of clash statement. Like the flashy costumes with a punk sound?
Kat I think that’s just musically what’s coming out. People where like “what kind of sound are you making” and I was like I don’t know, but I think it’s like 60s garage rock.
Jo: And the dresses’ are a stamen of the music as well.
Kat: The music came out like that, Sean is very Psychedelic, plays a lot of distortion and add ins.
Sean: Has a bit of a Pixies sounds to it.
Kat: Yeah we didn’t deliberately go out to make a sound, it’s the sound of the group and all our ideas combined.
Jo: People don’t know what to expect when they see us. Sometimes we would talk in French accents, other times in in Aussie accents, like “G’day, we’re the Antoinette’s”. We don’t know what to expect.
B: Have you guys been in bands before?
Jo: Sean used to be in the Love Addicts.
Sean: I played with the Severals, my brother Kim had a band and I played with him, and that’s how I joined the Love Addicts.
Jo: He played bass, now he plays guitar with us. But he’s a great bass player.
Kat: Sean’s been on the band circuit for ages., manly bass
Sean: Yeah, for the last two – three years I’ve focused on guitar more. But I still play bass.
Kat: Jo was in a band called Cadillac for a while.
Jo: Yeah, and I stated a band called Spiral Staircase a few years back with Sean’s housemate.
Kat: I did I lot of tether, and I did a Janus Joplin cover band where I was Janus.
Sean: I also played with Cedric’s Overdoes, who chained themselves to Molly Meldrum’s house because they put out a record, and Molly Meldrum said it was rubbish, so they chained themselves to his house.
B: Sean, what was it like when you joined the band?
Sean: I already knew a lot of Jo’s stuff, and Kat asked me to write some new songs. Then Jo and Kat meet up and that’s how we stated.
Kat: Sean fitted in very well.
M: You mentioned a demo, was there any intention of releasing it.
Jo: That was just a recording, there was no intention of releasing it. Just a homemade one
Kat: We did it here in my house, just to allow people to know what we sound like .
Jo: We did that at the start, and we’ve come a long way since them , and we’ve done so much work since then we don’t want to put that out. Me and Kat have developed our vocals a lot since then.
Kat: Yeah its takes a lot to work well together. But we did four tracks last year, they were our demos, but looking forward to recording in 2013.
Jo: We have about an hours’ worth of material, so we have a lot of stuff.
B: What else for 2013?
Kat: Hopefully some recording done and then some radio airplay, I’d like to submit an application to some festivals.
Sean: We’d like to make a video because we’re all really good with video technology. Multi media.
JO: Yeah well the problem is we’re all really good but we can’t films ourselves. Then we give it to other people who do these really dodgy videos .
Kat: I have an idea where we have one of our friends to substitute where we have our friends dress up like us. So say Jo is filming we’ll have them dress up as Jo in the background.
M: Last question to end on, what’s your favourite album by the Fall?
Jo: Live at the Witch Trials.
B: I was listening to that this morning. Great album.
Kat: I hadn’t heard of them until last year. Mark E Smith has an interesting history. And when you said your favourite there’s about 29. What’s your favourite.
B: The Marshall Suite.
Kat: When was that?
M: Round 99. Final thoughts anyone?
Kat: Not really, just thanks for the questions
St Kilda’s primer two minute punk rock group 12FU have come along way in a short amount of time. With their Ramones style rock they have been doing gret business, whether it be the punk nights at Lyrebird, or Paul’s solo acoustic gigs. Paul and i pulled up a chair in his back yard to talk punk rock, St Kilda fest, and the art of covers.
Buzz: 12FU have been around for one year one month, how did it start?
Paul Conroy: Just over a year I did a few jams with our drummer Jimmy, who had been in bands like Death Sentence in the 90s. I was doing these Ramones like songs and I knew he could do the drums for that style. We were practising in my home studio. We wanted to do a Ramones/Heartbreakers/New York style punk, like a real 70s style punk, but we couldn’t get anyone to sing or play guitar for the life of us. I was happy to play guitar but didn’t want to sing, so I had to learn how to sing and play guitar at the same time. I asked around and no one wanted to do it. The only bass player I could find was Ben, who worked at the chemist when I was on methadone. Melbourne’s full of musician’s but none was interested in doing a 70s New York punk style band. So that’s how it started.
B: Was it hard playing guitar and singing at the same time?
PC: It was for me because I don’t have that natural rhythm, and I still don’t. if I play guitar and sing I play pretty sloppily. It’s a lot of work for my brain. I can do one or the other by itself well, I’m not the greatest singer, but its been good, and Vic Meehan has pushed me into doing acoustic gigs, which has got me off my arse and made me have to become a perform. In one year I’ve got a band together, learned to sing and play guitar at the same time and done solo shows, so its been a real performance boast for me.
B: That’s pretty cool you’ve come all this way in one year.
PC: Yeah its amazed me. When you start a band and you think where will you be in a years time and its been really good, I’ve had really good support. Running the punk night at Lyrebird, and playing with international bands, we played with the Sub Humans and Defects from Belfast. So for one year in 12FU have done really well.
B: How did the punk nights at Lyrebird start?
PC: Lyrebird is a great small, interment venue, it was like all the punk gigs I went to when I was a teenager, it was always in the corner of some pub. There’s no stage, I love that intimacy. But I went to Lyrebird and found it frustrating because the bands playing where lame excuses for alternative bands. Like bands who once upon a time where an alternative to something, and now its like they’ve given up and are now playing music their parents played to them, its awful. So I went to Campbell can we put on monthly punk gig because all the puk bands are playing the other side of town and have never played here, just one night and then showcase these bands and people will enjoy it. But its weird I don’t think the Lyrebird regulars come to those nights, we have our own audience. A lot of the St Kilda audience are old and a bit tired in their tastes, there defiantly not punk rock. They might have funny t shirts and have funny hair, but there lame. They sit back with their lean cuisine and watch SBS and yell at the TV, I don’t think there’s much punk rock, and 12FU have been trying to get that back to St Kilda. At the end of the day I don’t care if it fails and no one comes to a gig, but its growing and been great so far. But I still don’t give a shit, I’m the only person laughing at the joke. At the end of the day I’m still having fun. The other day I did an acoustic gig, and only a few people came. They included my girlfriend, Crystal Thomas and Kim Salmon and a few other friends, but was still fun as shit. Kim’s been in punk bands since the 70s, and its like “here we still are”. And I love that. Im sure Kim’s played in front of small audiences, and its been great to play punk rock in St. Kilda, because punk rocks been a great part of my life and I’ve lived in St Kilda all my life. I’ll never be disappointed by lack of enthusiasm because at the end of the day I was doing it all for myself?
B: As a life long St. Kilda resident how has the climate of the rock scene changed?
PC: I used to see the Cosmic Psychos and the Hard Ons at the Palace on a Saturday night in front of 3000 people in the 80s. Those days are gone, and they were around for a long time. The Prince is having bands again, people make do with what they have. Its great seeing live bands, but you can put a lot of energy into a acoustic gig. I do punk songs acoustically and its more fun in a way cause its kind of like a sing a long. When you have live bands sometimes the sound can be so horrible you have to leave the room. The reason why there’s so many acoustic places is because the counsel won’t allow them to have amplified music. Its soul crushing, but you roll with it, there’s still venues that have loud music. I’m going to see the Mercy Kills at the Vinyard tonight and its free, and I can walk home from there. I used to walk to the Ballroom and it was $5. So things have gotten better in a way. There’s more now, but its not the centre for entertainment as it once was, people used to come from the suburbs to St Kilda, now they go to Fitzroy, which has a great vibe over there. But St Kilda still has a pulse and a heartbeat.
B: Its change in my mind, so in a good way and others in a bad way. The one that gets me is the Basement in the ESPY, when I was 17 that was always the place to be on a Friday. I went there a year ago and they had a Thin Lizzy cover band on.
PC: Its weird, the funny thing is, Gavin Perty, the person booking the ESPY, used to book the POW when it was awesome. So its like “what happened Gavin” (laughs). It’s a different audience, it’s a backpacker audience, they would appreciate I Thin Lizzy song more than a local band doing there weird songs. You can’t expect them to sing along to a local band. The customers are different now, in the past it was yobs from the suberbs coming down on the Saturday night and then they’d go back to the suberbs. And to tell the truth that wasn’t that grouse either, when the Cosmic Psychos started playing in St Kilda, they’d bring in all these barn yard bogans, and I thought “oh this is it”, it’s the end of the world, it was liked the apocalypse, it was the last thing you wanted, all these bogans in their utes thinking there punk rock. At the end of the day, people love the Cosmic Psychos and their a much loved band and many people think their one of our biggest assist in the genre, but at the time I thought it was fucked, I thought it was the end of everything. And people think that about St Kilda, but its never the end, its just a period, people think oh this is shit, but they’ll look back on it with effection.
B: Well something that I wish didn’t have a pulse is the St. Kilda Festival. Did you go?
PC: Yeah I was and it was bloody awful. I went to watch a band, that was ok. I walked around, I wanted to see the Holy Men at the Prince, but I couldn’t get in because there was a line of straight people, and I cound’t handel it. They’ve had some good festival, the Angles were really good, but I didn’t know any bands that were playing, maybe I’m just getting old.
B: I went when I was a kid and they would never have been a Nova sign in the backdrop of one of the bands playing.
PC: And it my fucking rates that pay for it.
B: Didn’t 12FU apply to play?
PC: Yeah we did and we lost our $33. People kept saying don’t “do it you’ll lose you money”, and they were right. It was Collin from Cold Harbour, he said “they won’t put you on and they’ll take your money”. But for me it feels like how gamblers feel, how they think “maybe we’ll win”, I guess they feel that because they keep losing. But Cold Harbour started A Day by the Green as an alternative, we played at the Blows club on the Saturday before as an alternative to the festival. It was great, played with Liquar Snacth, Burn in Hell. The thing about punk rock, because music in St Kilda is going through rough times, you gang together with everyone, and I thought it was punk rock, but it seems to be for all local musos, the tougher the times, the more you band together to make it work. There’s so many people supporting live music, I’m playing all the time, and there’s people saying “there’s no more music in St Kilda” and yet sometimes I play four times a week, the harder it is the more you try I guess. And you really appreciate it. Yet if it was in Fitzroy I probably wouldn’t appreciate it, I’d be like “give me more money”. The more you struggle for something you appreciate it more. So many veneus have said they are not putting on punk gigs, even acoustic gigs, so its not all bad. Some people want it to be the 80s again. Do you want to paint you to paint your wall baise again. The last thing we need it 80s porn again. (laughs)
B: What, do much hair?
PC: Yeah, it’s a natural way to remember the past in a positive light, you look back at the good stuff and reject the negative. Its just a survival technech, peope look back at the 80s and say “ the 80s they were great”, I’m like fuck off. If the 80s were good for you there must be something wrong with you. And the 90s where worse, for me if one time suited you, you didn’t mind the Michael Jackon years, and all that pub rock saturated in Australia.
B: You mentioned the home studio, who’s been in there?
PC: I’ve been recording Liquar Snatch lately, I had the Patron Saints in there. I’ve also been recording 12FU stuff. I’m doing Vic Meham next week. Its more a particse room for demos, but the Patron Saints recorded an album there. Its good for me because I can piece together songs. I’m going to do a lot more with local bands. A lot more people have home studios so they can do it themselves which is great. Liquar Snatch havne;t recorded in the ten years the’ve been together, so I want to change that. They really need to record even if its just demos.
B: I saw them for the time at the punk night at the Bird.
PC: Australia’s primer all girl lesbian and as there known. Those girls…im a guy, I don’t think in that guy girl way, they push for girl bands to have gigs, they want to see more girls on stage and they push for that, and they push for more girl bands to play and for equality. If there’s anyone pushing a girlm movement its them.
B: Terry’s kind of become part of the band getting up on stage singing covers. How did that come about?
PC: When we started off we could destroy a cover, and Terry would usually sing, and at the punk night we would pick a different song each month, and sometimes do it again at other gigs. Last month was Patti Smiths “Rock n Roll Nigger”, L7s “Shit List”, “For You” by Anti No Where League, and…um….Terry, which other cover have you done
Terry (from inside the house): The Breders song, thet Ramones song “Here Today Gone Tomorrow”.
Paul: We just do covers, which is fun, people connect to covers. They might perseave you one way or the other, but if you do a cover they like its like “oh now I get you”. Like the Bitter Sweet Kicks, when I first saw them, half way through I thought “Yeah ypur good, but your just another one of thise Melbourne bluesy swampy bands, blah blah blah”. Then they did “Born to Lose” an after that it was like “you guys are cool” and next time I gave them a better listen. Its just that empathy, some people are a bit iffy on them, but I love them. Some bands only do originals, but I’m like its fun, not a songwritting contest. I do heaps when I play acusitc. It fun for me anyway, I think a lot of the cover we’ve done people haven’t heard of them and that connects them to interesting stuff, likie band slike Sloppy Seconds, people should know them, the Queers and other its like go out and listen to them. I often to NOFX’s “Linoleum” which I think Is the definitive punk song of the last 20 years. One guy in America sung it and the next day was dead, which I find funny, “one moment your in Linoleum, the next your dead”. And people don’t know the song, and I think its worth it so people know it. Its still pumping the punk rock message.
B: I might have made this up, but did you sing a song at pur launch gig about Terry being a Nazi?
PC: That was a cover, Janie is a Nazi by Sloppy Seconds.
B: Oh, was going to say in my experience I wait till the relationship ends before I start the Nazi name calling.
PC: Nah Nah, I needed a name with two syllables. People love that when you sing about them, even if you’re calling them a Nazi. There like “oh, that’s me”. If you mention someone’s name their eyes like up and that’s a great feeling.
B: Which other bands were you in?
PC: When I was 17 I was in a band called End Result, six members, and together for a year. We put out some stuff on cassette, then we put a compilation of the Melbourne scene at the time, round 83/84, called Eat Your Head, we did it on our label. Andrew McGee from Greville Records put up the money. I did a Saturday night punk show on PBS for many years, I got a lot of tapes so I put it on a a compilation. A lt of bands would jump into a studio, and vinyl was expensive, so a lot of bands would never get released unless they had help. I Spit on your Gravy, Viscous Circle, Bodies, which became Bored! Were on it. It was a good photo finish of what was happening. I put some bands in a studio, others did what they did. After that I went to Europe and gave our heaps of copies to bands and radio stations as a way of selling Melbourne punk rock, one person at a time. It was a good way to get around, a good way to meet people and get contacts. I also released Venom P Stingers album when I got back. Other bands I’ve been in include Good and Evil, God Guns and Guts. I had a hiatus in the 90s, I played guitar here and there but nothing substantial since 12FU.
B: What’s out next?
PC: Record, make some shirts. We’ve had a good year, so we’ll see where the second year takes us, the main thing is the bring back punk rock in St Kilda. It’s a real thrill for me to see bands from the other side of town come and play in St Kilda. I’m so bored with the bands that are playing in St Kilda most of the time, it’s like pub rock, it bores me to tears, so more gigs and playing other bands as well.
B: Last question, tell us your favourite Fall album?
PC: Live at the Witch Trials. Rowland Howard got me onto that one.
(Terry walks outside)
B: Terry, like to add anything?
Ann Witherall has just released her first novel Fly. Set in the Melbourne punk scene in the 80s, its follows the adventures of Agro, a teenager who after being alienated in her home town of Adelaide, decides to leave her family behind and make a fresh start in Melbourne. Once arriving in Melbourne, Agro finally meets her own kind, and feels accepted by the punks for who she is. However, life on the dole, living in squats, as well as dealing with dodgy cops, drug dealers and bikies, life for Agro and her friends is anything but easy. Fly is a semi-autobiographical tale set in the real back drop of iconic Melbourne venues such as the Prince of Wales and the Crystal Ballroom, and features cameo appearances by legendary underground acts such as X, Viscous Circle, I Spit on your Gravy, Depression, Bastard Squad, and even Public Image Limited. Much like the scene at the time, Fly is a real DIY project, with Ann publishing the book herself and having her own editing team. Ann was kind enough to give up her time to talk all things Fly.
Munster: How long did it take to write Fly and what process went into writing it?
Ann Witherall: It took 8 and a half years from beginning to publishing. The main
reason it took so long was that FLY was initially the first half of
one very long novel. Also I had small kids
in the beginning so could only work during kindy hours. The process
started with reading through my diaries and looking at old photos then
hand writing what came to mind. From there I typed it up on computer,
editing it and then editing it again, about 50 more times, before it
was finished. When my son started school I went back and got a Diploma
in Professional Editing and Writing. That made a big difference to my
writing and how I approached certain things, but still keeping with my
original ideas and telling my story my way.
M:What made you write about the Melbourne squatting/punk scene in the 80s?
AW: That time in my life made for a great story, the setting and the
characters in real life were the best to be creative with in a mix of
fact and fiction.
M:The book is self-published, at the launch I think I’m right in saying (sorry if im wrong) you didn’t want to go through publishes and say “why the book should be considered to be published blah blah blah” and all that stuff that goes with getting a book deal. How was it publishing it yourself?
AW: Publishers are concerned almost entirely with profits and I felt
FLY would do better on something like amazon where it could reach
small groups all over the world. Create-space were easy and free to
work with but the best part is that I have complete control and I
really enjoy that.
M: You also mentioned you had a group of friends helping with the editing phase. How did it work and what did you make of their recommendations?
AW: The help I spoke of came from the great work-shopping group we had
at TAFE. Our particular group was a terrific mix of people and ideas.
All very dedicated to our own and each others work. One from that
group became an editor then edited FLY, that was 3 years before I gave
up on publishers and did it myself, so all the mistakes are mine not
M: You described Fly as semi-autobiographical, how much of it was true?
AW: The mix of fact and fiction varies. A lot of the characters are a
mixture of at least 2-3 people and are usually either more good or
evil depending on what I wanted to do. Most of the stories are true
except I didn’t runaway and the first squat was a house my Dad rented.
M: As someone who wasn’t alive for that era, its comes across as a pretty raw, yet honest portrayal of what life would have been like at the time. Living in a squat with the prospect of having to pack up and leave any moment and also life on the dole for course wasn’t exactly glamorous, but with that it did have a strong scene where everyone looked out for each other. Looking back what do you make of it all? Was it an enjoyable period?
AW: Looking back it’s easy to be romantic. I wish for the sense of
freedom I had back then but at the same time love my current security.
They were great times because of the people and how we all felt a
strong comradeship. It was one of the best times of my life, aside
from the constant discomfort.
M:Why did you decide to have the book take place in the real backdrop of the Melbourne punk/hardcore scene of the 80s?
AW: Because I thought it was really interesting, it’s different, real
and something most people have no experience with.
M: Two characters in the book I’d like to know if they were inspired by real individuals. First was Tony Grimm, and second was Ska. And if Ska was real did someone die his fur pink?
AW: Tony Grimm is based on someone real (I won’t tell you who) and some
fiction. Ska on the other hand is one of the few 100% true characters.
He was cool, and yeah that pink dye thing happened. I can laugh with
the real Tony Grimm now, but at the time I was shitting myself. He’s a
bigger character in the next novel.
M: The main character Agro loves the Clash, and in particular Paul Simonon. Is that based on your own experience?
AW: Yes, and I’m not embarrassed to say so. The Clash rule and Paul
Simminons was a total spunk!
M: Also, the bit where Johnny Rotten smiles at Agro, based on true events?
AW: Yeah, except for the characters and the end bit of the chapter,
that whole scene at the Ballroom is based on what was written in my
M: One of my favourite scenes was when Agro is at the Ballroom at an I Spit on Your Gravy gig, and she see’s Fred having sex on stage with a chicken. What was your reaction when you saw ISOYG at the time?
AW: I Spit on Your Gravy were classic! I feel very lucky to have been
able to have seen them then, especially the chicken sex bit. I was
blown away when I first saw them as I’d never seen anything like it
M: What has been the response from people who were around in that time?
AW: So far all the feed back has been really good, but I haven’t heard
from many people who bought a copy at the launch so I’m not sure what
to think. To be honest I’m a bit worried that a lot of people will
either be angry that they think they’re in it, or angry coz they think
M: Any plans for any more writing projects?
AW: Now I have to get to work on drafting the second half of FLY which
will be called SAVE (I think). It’s the next 2 years with Agro trying
to save enough money to go overseas while living in squats and having
a bum of a boyfriend. To start me off I’ll be creating a blog where
I’ll be asking for input from other people. That’s the plan anyway, it
might not work out.
M: To end on (question I usually ask all interviewees) what is your favourite album by the Fall?
AW: I refuse to answer that one, on the grounds that I might incriminate
Fly is out now at Missing Link, Polyester Records, Polyester Books, Brunswick Bound and other shops. Visit http://www.annwitherall.com for full list of shops and for more on Fly and Ann.
Fly also available at AMAZON.COM
Since 2009, four piece indie group San Cisco have gone from success to success. Their achievements have ranged from placing highly on the Triple J Hottest 100 the last two years, to successfully touring overseas. I got to have a chat with bass player Nick Gardner about their upcoming Beach tour around Australia, skydiving and what’s next for San Cisco.
Hey Nick. How are you?
I’m good thanks. How are you?
I’m good. How have your fans reacted to your upcoming Australian tour?
Well so far. I mean they’ve bought tickets (laughs). That’s a pretty good sign.
What changed your mind about including Tasmania and Canberra in the tour?
Ticket sales are going well and we intended to go to those cities. But there’s a money issue, when ticket started selling well, everything fell together and we decided to extend [the tour] because we could.
Congratulations on being one of four Australian acts included in the Lollapalooza line-up. Where were you when you heard the news?
Somewhere in America I think. I can’t exactly remember, there was a lot of sketchy announcements that it was possibly going to happen and no one knew exactly what was happening. Then when it was confirmed I think we were in New York at the time.
Did the band do anything to celebrate?
Not really. I think we had a gig that night, so it wasn’t really much of a chance to.
San Cisco has been working the festival circuits for a while now. Which festival has been the biggest highlight?
I always remember back to the last Groovin’ the Moo tour. The whole tour was such a good vibe, everyone was so happy; it was a good time of the year. That’s one of my favourite festivals so far.
I’ve recently heard the band went skydiving. How was that experience?
Awesome, it was so great! It was such a good thing; I highly recommend it!
Whereabouts were you skydiving?
Jurien Bay, three hours north of Fremantle.
Were any of the band members afraid of the height?
Not really. It’s kind of a strange, strange thing being that high up. So surreal, but you don’t really get that scared.
After all the success with tours, festivals, and being part of the Triple J Hottest 100 the past two years, what is next for San Cisco?
Just a lot of touring, you know… recording. A generic answer to your question; but there’s plenty more touring left in the year scheduled in and hopefully some more recording in the future.
Any plans for a new album soon?
Not in the particularly near future, but definitely soon.
Nope, not the famous wrestling family who ran WCCW, the kick arse rock band from Texas. 15 years and four albums, the Von Ehrics are embarking on their first Oz tour later this month. All rock purist’s will want to see this band live in action. Singer Robert Jason Vandygriff
Buzz: How is the preparation coming along for the upcoming Oz tour?
TJV: Preparations are coming to a close. Pretty much all done except the packing. Our friend, Areatha, at Mother Hen Touring in Sydney really helped a lot. We wouldn’t have been able put this together without her.
B: What are your expectations of the tour?
RJV: We expect to go out every night and leave our souls on the stage. We’ve toured a lot in the US so we expect to be tired, hungover and unshaven – all that comes with touring. This is a different thing though. When you go overseas to some one else’s country you have an obligation to play a set worthy of them allowing you into their home. Plus there are a lot of great Australian bands. So we have to live up to that. Not to mention we have an obligation to represent Texas to the best of our ability. We want to show you guys what we are doing over here. All in all we expect to make a lot of friends, gain a lot of new fans and have a great time.
B: At what stage is your fifth album at?
RJV: It’s at a very early stage. I have a few tunes. I still need to get them to the guys and see what they do with them. Hopefully we will be in the studio around the end of the year or so and looking at a spring/summer 2014 release.
B: You’re described at Texas Country Punk Rock n Roll. Explain this unique sound?
RJV: Growing up in Texas it is impossible to escape country and gospel music. But you get older, your balls drop and you find Motörhead, Bad Religion, Helmet, Rancid, you know, more aggressive stuff. It doesn’t mean you stop listening to Steve Earle. What we wanted to do is incorporate all of these styles of music that we dug. Billy Joe Shaver songs are still good played at break-neck pace. We just wanted to create something that was true to who we are and where we are from. Authentic.
B: How many shows do you average playing a year in the states? Which areas do you cover?
RJV: Some years are busier than others. If we put a record out then we play a lot more for the year or two after and cover the entire country. Back in the day we would do upwards of 200 shows a year. These days we do fewer shows. We just make them count.
B: How do you rate the current Texas scene?
RVJ: 10 out of 10. It’s great. It’s unique, diverse and very well established. A band can sustain themselves and rarely have to leave the state. There is, of course, a well documented and historic country scene. It’s very much its own thing and nothing like Nashville where they just put fiddle in pop songs. There is a huge singer/songwriter scene. We have great punk bands. Metal has always had a strong presence. Tejano bands probably make more money than anyone else. Both Blues and Rockabilly have a long history in Texas and still maintain a strong following. Everything is represented here. We are very lucky.
B: You’re also planning a greatest hits record for your first 15 years. How have you rated the first 15 years so far?
RJV: Some years are better than others. Financially it’s been a total fucking disaster. I mean, you have some good years, but that isn’t why we started this. Critically it has been very successful. I don’t think we have ever had a bad review for a record or show. We created something that a lot of people have never heard or thought of. We did a lot more than we ever thought we would. In that regard I’m very proud of our career.
B: I’m a massive wrestling nerd so was happy to see the name is inspired by the Von Erich family. Who was your favourite? (Mine was David, but I was always more interested in the Midnight/Rock n Roll Express)
RJV: Gotta go with the Modern Day Warrior – Kerry.
B: What’s next?
RJV: When we get back from Australia we head into the studio. We started a project that is kind of straight forward Americana/Texas Country called RJV and Hell County Revival. It’s the first time in 13 years that I am in a band that isn’t called the Von Ehrics so I am excited about that. The Von Ehrics are on a couple of festivals and have a couple of short US tours. After that I hope to hear that we are being booked for another Australia tour.
The Von Ehrics play Cherry 22 March, and Ruby’s Lounge 23 March. For info visit vonehrics.com
Mark Steiner is returning to Australia for his third visit, including a gig at the Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine on February 27. He is also Working on a new album out later in the year.New York born but Oslo based, Steiner is a well traveled well accomplished musician. Before coming to Australia he took time to answer some questions via email.
Buzz: How is preparation for the upcoming Oz tour coming along?
Mark Steiner: Huh? What? Preparation? Right! I’ve got just over a week before I travel across half the globe from Oslo to Melbourne. Should I start packing? Well, believe me. My life is so busy anyway, so I’m looking forward to catching that flight so that I can write a set list!
B: What fond memories do you hold of your last two Oz tours?
MS: There are so many… Where to begin? Drinking tequila with Spencer P. Jones before having him join me on guitar alongside Cam Butler at The Northcote Social Club. Sunlight. Recording at Atlantis Studios with some of the crème-de-la-crème of Australia’s musos. More sunlight. Singing duets with Loene Carmen. Being very aware of the hole in the ozone layer. Pure Pop. My mates. More sunlight. Playing support for Rowland S. Howard at The Toff in Town in 2008, then seeing him perform that final, chilling, incredible gig at The Prince of Wales a year later…
B: At what stage is your upcoming album at?
MS: I’ve been working with Argentinian producer Henry Hugo for almost a year now. We’ve tracked 15 songs with my Scandinavian rhythm section in my studio in Oslo. I’m currently working on recording overdubs, both my own and also with several contributing artists from around the world. The album is going to be called “Saudade,” which is a beautiful, unique Portuguese term which describes a human emotion we can all understand, that strange joyful feeling of melancholy one finds in loss and sorrow.
B: You live in Oslo, but are an ex New Yorker, and also someone who travels a lot, where do you consider home to be?
MS: Oslo, New York, Berlin, Melbourne, Paris, Prague, Copenhagen, Glasgow… Home is where the heart is.
B: How is the current music scene in Oslo?
MS: Considering the fact that there are more live music events in Oslo than in Copenhagen and Stockholm combined, I’d say that it’s quite vibrant. Great venues, some good bands. I personally miss the days when great bands like Madrugada, Ricochets and My Midnight Creeps helped evolve the current scene, but so it goes. Oslo itself has become quite a draw for international acts. Probably because Norway’s strong oil-based economy allows for reasonable guarantees. Just don’t get me started on cost of living, which is through the roof.
B: What was it like starting off making music videos, and what was it like working with Motorhead and Dick Dale?
MS: My life as a New York filmmaker seems like a lifetime ago! Although I directed and shot some music videos, I worked as an editor for both videos you mentioned, so I never got to meet Dick Dale in person. However, as I spent an entire week looking at Lemmy’s mug for the video for “Burner,” I felt entitled to approach him one evening when I saw him at the bar at (the now defunct) Coney Island High. I told him who I was, and we started chatting and drinking shots. Next thing I know, the bar is empty, except for the bartender, me and Lemmy. We stumbled out the door, and I haven’t seen him since!
B: What was it like playing CBGB’s with Piker Ryan’s Folly?
MS: Sheesh. From what I can remember, being Piker onstage was a messy business, always drinking bourbon whiskey before, during, and after gigs. I never got the girls – they were too scared of my stage behaviour. We toured the entire East Village several times over, and even made it as far as Brooklyn on a few occasions. CB’s was home, in fact, for many years. I first discovered the Sunday hardcore matinees at 16, and from there I was hooked. It was a filthy, cozy hole-in-the-wall where the sound was immaculate (as long as the sound engineer liked you!) I miss that shithole. In fact, there is a live album of PRF recordings called “Bowery Blues” available for free download on bandcamp.com
B: Do you prefer playing with a band or solo?
MS: Without a doubt, performing with a band is preferable, but sometimes a man’s just gotta do what a man’s gotta do…
B: Who have been your favourite musos to play with over the years??
MS :My favourites? In “no” particular order: Tex Napalm & Dimi Dero (now on tour in Oz;), Thomas Borge (my Danish wingman), Rosie Westbrook, Pavel Cingl (Czech muso), Spencer P Jones, Henry Hugo, Sofy Perez (Parisian chanteuse of Tulla Larsen), Cam Butler, Julitha Ryan, Chris Hughes (Berlin-based Aussie ex-pat), Susan Mitchell (New York violinist and partner-in-crime), and the list goes on and on…
B: What’s next after the tour?
MS:Recovery. Therapy. Asking my girlfriend to pinch me and tell me that I wasn’t dreaming! Then it’s back to working on the new album, as well as preparing for some more European tour dates with Mick Harvey. Hah! Business as usual!
Catch Mark Steiner at the Bridge Hotel February 27. marksteiner.bandcamp.com/
Dimi and Tex are touring Australia together for the first time to plug their latest album together, Party Animals. It’s a strictly Victoria only affair, with gigs including The Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine, Lyrebird Lounge and Cherry. Before they hit Oz, Dimi and Tex answered a few questions via email.
Buzz What process went into making Party Animals?
Tex: Honestly, there is really never a plan or anything behind that. Usually Dimi visits me once or twice a year, we hang out hungover during daytime and record at night with a lot of wine and cigarettes – totally unprepared and unbiased, the songs being made up on the spot, and if take no.2 doesn’t cut it we just go for the next song. We’ll always find something that triggers our interest, be it a beat he plays or a sound i use and just go from there – our dynamics make it surprisingly easy to develop the rest. No stylistic boundaries, just play and see what we come up with. So we lay down basic tracks together and i spend the following months coming up with all the fancy overdubbing and lyric work, so we are sending tracks back and forth, suggesting, remixing, re-editing. After our first tours in 2007 and 2008 and the recordings we did during Dimi’s visits to my place that had already led to 2009s ‘Sticky Singers’ album, we just simply continued doing it like that in following years. ‘Partly Animals’ is the result of the first session we started at my own complete studio (before we were using a rehearsal room and my kitchen).
Buzz How’s preparation for the Oz tour coming along?
Tex: So far all the formal work is done and we’re now in shock and awe still not having had the opportunity to rehearse the songs with our bass player. But I am very much looking forward to hear Brian Hooper’s special treatments for the songs – and after all, the fast and last minute work has always been a key to our work, so i’d be more scared if all was safe now.
Dimi : As we’re speaking, we’re still waiting for the album in its vinyl version on Beast Rcds, the most Australian French label. We expect we can bring some in our luggages. And I’m not ready at all yet for the gig I’m gonna play with Burn In Hell the 27th of february at Pure Pop beside the tour with Tex and Brian. We’re covering “Henry’s Dreams” and a few more songs I have to learn !
Buzz How come it’s Melbourne/Castlemaine only?
Tex: Mainly a matter of logistics and finances, I’m afraid. Really wish we could do more, but since it’s our first release in OZ, it’s an experiment.
Dimi : Basically, I was only planning to come as a tourist this time. I’ve already toured Australia three times with my band Dimi Dero INC and never really got the chance to see the country much except bars, clubs and friends’couches and highways. But when Tex decided he’d come along we thought we should plan a couple of gigs with a local bass player (as we usually do everywhere we tour), so I asked Brian Hooper, but it wasn’t really like organizing a real tour. It became more serious when Spooky Rds decided to release the album but it was a bit short to see “bigger” for this time so basically, we’re bombing Melbourne !
Buzz: You’re playing everywhere from Cherry in Melbourne’s CBD, to the Bridge in Castlemaine. Why did you pick such diverse venues?
Dimi : as I just said, being there for being there, the more gigs we’ve got, the better and I’m pretty excited to play some venues I already know and see Tex discovering them as well as discovering new ones myself.
Buzz One gig you’re playing is the Rowland S Howard tribute night. What did Rowly’s music mean to you?
Tex: I loved his work with the Birthday Party and Crime & TCS, but I mostly remember picking up the ‘I’m Never Gonna Die Again’ LP in 1992…my drummer at that time was in hospital, sick with tinnitus, and i taped it for him and forced him to listen to it in the hospital bed while being on blood transfusion, ‘yeah man, this is what we should be doing!’…well. I always loved the noise of his guitar and the simplicity of his riff-playing – which to me makes him one of the rare breed of good guitarists that always play less than they could. He’d stick to a small harmonic figure that’d haunt you at nights. And of course there is a kind of sad and sensitive appeal to his lyrics that never fails to deliver a humorous side as well. Really wish I’d had the chance to meet the guy.
Dimi : More or less the same than for Tex (except for my drummer who’s never sick) but to me the most important shock with Rowland ‘s work was his first solo album. That’s the one who decided me to release a tribute album so I created the label Stagger Rds. Rowland liked it apparently. We only met once after the compilation came out and it was quite an emotional moment for me, obvioulsy !
Tex: Additionally, the tribute record on Stagger was the reason Dimi and me got together. I saw the announcement back in 2006 on myspace and got in touch as I was eager to contribute a song for that with my band at that time. And that’s how me and Dimi started talking.
Dimi : doing this tribute I got in touch with so many people such as the Drones, Loene Carmen, etc.. and also non-musicians new mates in OZ, I can say releasing this record really changed my life. That’s also how I first toured Australia, through these new connections I made.
Buzz: How do you rate the current indie scene in Europe?
Tex: Better not get me started…I’ve had a job in the distribution biz in the past years, so I know there’s quiet a good lot of really interesting and cool bands that have little to no success at all, whereas the media praises a lot of stuff as Indie that to me already is mainstream establishment. Then again, if you had asked me this 20 years ago, I’d have probably given the exact same answer. At present day, the 80s revival has mainly caught up on the bad stuff, and there seems to be more demand for the US imported hipster bullshit than for heart, guts and blood. On the other hand, the real niche music such as garage rock, drone and experimental stuff has really caught on in recent years. I’m not whining, I know where to search, but I’m sorry for the lack of seeing these bands on tour here.
Dimi : Unfortunately, I can only agree…
Buzz: Melbourne has had a bit of trouble with higher liquor licensing fees, and other restrictions which has forced venues to shut down or suffer as a result. Is there a government in Europe that is doing something to help live music venues that we could copy?
Tex: It is the same all over here, so you are with the state of the art, unfortunately. Germany is coming last in this development, but catching up. Smoking ban was the start of making people’s private decisions to a government issue, and the rat’s tail of course is less people in bars, trouble with neighbours because of people smoking in front of the clubs etc etc. Then our (non-elected) european government started that db limit stuff, which even – if you take these laws strictly – would make a job as a drummer or violinist illegal in terms of noise pollution. As each ‘solved’ problem determines the next one, I think we are on the way to a better and cleaner society. The part of Germany where I live has to force stricter laws (removal of smoking areas in bars) this coming may as the last of the german federacy, so if they find that working, we can all look forward to alcohol ban in 5-10 years. After all, the government needs you as a functioning, healthy, tax-paying, and otherwise low-key subject. all else will cost them too much money and care. so put up more laws, get the health mafia on board and just put fees and penalties in the way of reason. Education and tolerance are unaffordable.
Dimi : same everywhere.
Buzz: What’s coming up after the tour?
Tex: Straight after the tour I’ll be on the road in germany with the fuzz’n'goth-a-billy classics The Raymen, so there’s no time for rehab and detox. Also, as Dimi and me have a lot of stuff recorded already for a follow-up (or a trilogy, i fear) , I’ll be starting to work on mixes and overdubs as well as recording this summer with my other band, The Silver Spades, since I really want to get that on the road by the end of 2013. The work is never over, but what else would we do?
Dimi : I’ll find back my three other projects I’ve got in Paris : Tulla Larsen, a project with Bea Demi Mondaine and Black Luna. They’re all girl bands, after three weeks with Tex and Brian, I think it will be extremely enjoyable. And I’ll be waiting for my friends of Burn In Hell who are coming back for the 3rd to tour Europe from may to august and I’ll do as many gigs as I can with them.
Party Animals out now via Spooky Records
Dimi Dero and Tex Napalm play the Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine Thursday 21 February, with Mike Noga & the Gents.
For all othe tour dates visit https://www.facebook.com/texnapalmdimidero.melbournegigs
Aurora Jane is in the middle of her Lazy Monday Summer Tour, with Tim Bennett and Marley Berry-Pearce, includes a show at The Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine February 1. With her upcoming fourth album out this year, and a string of shows to come, Aurora Jane will certainly be busy. An old fashioned journeyman who has traveled far and wide to audiences all over the world, Aurora Jane is someone to take notice of in 2013.
Buzz: How are things going with the tour?
Aurora Jane: Good to back from overseas, we’ve been in Canada for a long time and where back now playing as a trio, with Tim Bennett on bass and Marley Berry-Pearce on the drums. So good to be back home playing some shows.
B: What stage is the new album at this stage?
AJ: Its at the tracking stage now. We recorded it last year. We did some horns when we were in Cuba last year for track called “To Much of a Good Thing is Never Enough”, trying to go for the long title award. We’ve been playing all over Europe and North America, its great to be back on the road in Australia, playing places like Castlemaine and Byron Bay, which we haven’t played in a while.
B: What’s it like being back in Australia touring again?
AJ: Its been great getting around and visiting old hang outs and getting out on the road on an adventure.
B: Has it all changed?
AJ: I think the only thing that has changed is me. We got back from our overseas tour and we toured from April to December last year which is not the way we usually do it. Its been great being apart of the muso community again, were you meet heaps of great people and the venues are really supportive.
B: What’s life on the road like?
AJ: At its best its’ beautiful. Your always meeting wonderful people, and things like photography and the food are great in all areas. It does have its challenges , like trying to maintain a regular lifestyle, but the positives outweigh the negatives, and it’s a wonderful lifestyle to lead, I feel very privileged.
B: How is Marley settling into the fold?
AJ: Very well. He’s a young go getter who’s done very well as far.
B: Can you explain your project Mojo Junction?
AJ: Its been a internet project ten years in the making. Its basically footage and film that is all people related . It’s a more exciting aspect of film, and it give people, in particular musos a platform to get there stuff out there. Its great for musos who live the touring life. We’re not interested in advertising ads on the videos, it’s a way for people who are always traveling to get in touch with others and to see what is happening in different places.
B: Which countries where your favorite to visit?
AJ: Going to the edge of the world ton Alaska was awesome. Also great was India. They have a growing rock scene there, they have about 15 – 20 venues there.
B: What’s next?
AJ: Focus on the new album. Would like to go back to Canada but will make sure the album is top priority. If I don’t go it will be the first time in five years that I haven’t gone to Canada so I can experience my first Melbourne winter in a while and reflect on things.
Aurora Jane plays at the Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine Feb 1.
For all tour dates visit www.aurorajane.com.