Do It Yourself and Maynard James Keenan

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These are some quotes from an article I read with one of my life coaches, Maynard James Keenan, about his thoughts on the future of the music industry. I know I know, just another blog talking about the “future of the music industry” – I hear your internal dialogues – and yes, it does just go over the same old ground but I think the most interesting point is the way Maynard himself is interacting with the digital world in order to fund his Puscifer project.

Read on to find out more:

There’s a disconnect between people not buying music and not understanding why [bands] go away,” Keenan says. “There are people who are like monkeys in a cage just hitting the coke button. They don’t really get that for [musicians and artists] to do these things, they have to fund them. They have to have something to pay the rent.”

For Keenan, it means scaling down the operation. He’s proud of Puscifer’s status as an independent project, free from “some artless, soulless, heartless funding person getting in the middle and fucking up the art.” The band records at Caduceus Cellars, and Keenan funds the manufacturing of CDs and merchandise. “[It’s that] survivalist, end-of-the-world mentality,” he says, “Pulling together your skill set so you don’t end up becoming food.”

His forecast regarding the music industry is bleak, but realistic:

“It’s going to have to default back to people who are willing to do more work for less money, basically. You have to kind of do it out of love, and doing it by living within your means and getting to an end of what you want to do, other than worrying about 401(k)s and insurance and all that crap that comes with being paid by someone else [so] you [can] coast.”

It makes sense that Keenan focuses on Puscifer. Tool records for Volcano, a subsidiary of Epic Records, owned by industry giant Sony. A Perfect Circle recorded for Virgin Records, bought out in 2007 by Capitol. The majors continue to consolidate as the market share decreases, making Keenan’s small, locally sourced business approach to Puscifer look as much like a necessity as a creative capital choice.

“The illusion is gone,” Keenan says. “There’s no longer blank checkbooks. I remember playing a show ages ago, where Helmet got offered a [record deal worth a] million dollars. Oh, my God! A million dollars. Of course, all that did was make every other band with ego throw its dicks on the table and say, ‘Well, I want a million five.’ ‘Well, I want two million; I’m more popular.’ There was never any rhyme or reason to what those numbers ended up translating to at the end of the day. If you go back and track what somebody actually paid for something, it’s not nearly as dialed-in as, say, a video-game corporation saying, ‘No, we’re going to sell exactly this many units of this game.’ It was never that calculated. The people running [the business] weren’t qualified to run it.”

For a band to survive takes more than T-shirts and CDs, Keenan says. Embracing digital distribution makes too much sense to ignore, he says, but the MP3 model comes with downsides for someone interested in creating a complete package.

“I don’t know, I feel like I’m kind of torn,” he says. “There’s two sides of my brain fighting with each other. There’s something about connecting with that physical piece of property, and also things you don’t know about. When you download the song, there’s nothing. Sometimes it comes with a booklet, sometimes it comes with an image, but usually it doesn’t. It’s just this disconnected thing that you can’t touch and feel and experience. [There are] other nuances to the songs. Some images and artwork that are totally connected and related to the song you’re hearing, and you make the connection by seeing that image, and it completes the joke or completes the thought; that’s a little disconnected.

“However, as an independent project — no funding, no record label, no underwriters, nothing — the whole digital route is a lot more sustainable. You’re not wasting a lot of paper or plastic products, except for the manufacturing of computers, which apparently go out of date every week. Thank you very much, Apple. But you’re able to get that music out there and have a direct connection to who you’re selling it to — and actually fund your project.”

Keenan splits the difference. Puscifer’s music is available via digital outlets like iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic, but just up the hill from the Caduceus Cellars Tasting Room in Jerome, you’ll find the Puscifer Store, a brick-and-mortar outlet devoted to Keenan’s physical esoterica: CDs and vinyl from Puscifer, DVD copies of the Bikini Bandits films, Puscifer whole-bean coffee, jewelry, framed show posters, T-shirts, and releases from like-minded collaborators such as “America’s Funnyman,” comedian Neil Hamburger.

“You have to turn to weird stuff,” Keenan says. “We just released a limited-edition giclée of an image [designer and photographer] Tim Cadiente and I put together, and we’re being criticized because it’s 250 bucks. But if you go online, Mickey Mouse giclées are 800 bucks. Am I Mickey Mouse?”

Keenan doesn’t claim to have the solution for the ailing music industry, but he thinks it generally will sort itself out. Innovative bands will figure out a way to reach fans, while those that won’t adapt to the new landscape — bands that refuse to take on the ever-increasing workload — simply will go away.

“We have our own thing figured out,” he says. “I think that’s how the pieces are going to settle into place. It’s going to default back to people who want to do this and are willing to do this. Once people find their own way and find their own audience, they might kind of peek their head up over the crowd long enough to see that there’s an entire movement happening, and we did it individually. It’s critical mass; it all disseminates in a way that you go, ‘Oh, this is the new thing now.’ People just did it naturally, and people just did it in their own ways, in their lines and their mediums and surroundings. They’ll all step back and realize they’ve all come to the same place.”

Source: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2013-01-24/music/maynard-james-keenan-is-nobody-s-tool/

I think there are some very important points raised here by the seasoned veteran and pioneer. The point that I think most bands and musicians should understand is in the last two paragraphs:

“Keenan doesn’t claim to have the solution for the ailing music industry, but he thinks it generally will sort itself out. Innovative bands will figure out a way to reach fans, while those that won’t adapt to the new landscape — bands that refuse to take on the ever-increasing workload — simply will go away.

“We have our own thing figured out,” he says. “I think that’s how the pieces are going to settle into place. It’s going to default back to people who want to do this and are willing to do this. Once people find their own way and find their own audience, they might kind of peek their head up over the crowd long enough to see that there’s an entire movement happening, and we did it individually. It’s critical mass; it all disseminates in a way that you go, ‘Oh, this is the new thing now.’ People just did it naturally, and people just did it in their own ways, in their lines and their mediums and surroundings. They’ll all step back and realize they’ve all come to the same place.”

That is my advice to anyone and everyone who claims to believe in the DIY work ethic. Sure, Maynard James Keenan has a steady income from his pursuits with Tool and A Perfect Circle. He also invests all of this money into his wine and now his Puscifer project. The main point that I will always come back to is “Innovative bands will figure out a way to reach fans, while those that won’t adapt to the new landscape — bands that refuse to take on the ever-increasing workload — simply will go away.”

To dull all of your internal dialogues just let me stomp out the standardised argument that everyone will throw in the comments section – “But Maynard is a rich rock star, he can afford to do that and say those things” – yes, thank you for pointing out the obvious and contributing nothing to the argument.

You see, that may indeed be the case but the actual opinion expressed is in no way any less meaningful to an independent band and let me plaster it again just so you can regain your focus on what I’m actually talking about:

“Innovative bands will figure out a way to reach fans, while those that won’t adapt to the new landscape — bands that refuse to take on the ever-increasing workload — simply will go away.”

It just sounds so beautiful when I read it again and again and really drives home earlier points I’ve discussed in other blogs about the redundant business model that the current music industry – both independent and mainstream levels – runs on (follow the following link to read more of my thoughts on the music industry – https://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/my-views-on-the-music-industry-part-one-the-music-industry-and-the-idea-of-success/).

This is the kind of way Galapogos approach what we do, with a degree of innovation. The other day I was being interviewed by the wonderful Bianca and one of the questions she asked me was about the challenges that Galapogos face as an independent band. When I really sat down to think about it, I couldn’t really find too many to complain about. The truth is we don’t have many challenges as an independent band. We don’t rely on our music as income so we all work day jobs that respect that we are artists. So we are able to get financial freedom through those day jobs and as a result have the ability to fund what we do. We have our own recording studio “Amber Sound” that was set up and established by our guitarist Luke. That was a ten-year investment from him so we don’t have any recording costs. We have an audience who respect us for what we do and who we do our best to serve, so we don’t face any restrictions on what we can and can’t do. They love that we do what we want, so we never have to compromise our art. We have the support of all the independent radio stations across Australia so we don’t have to worry about radio play or support. We have the respect of venues across Brisbane who know who we are and that we are professional and believe in making sure both the venue and audience are satisfied with the end result of our gigs. We have the internet which allows us to connect with the world and through this we have had our music travel into different countries and to many different ears. We have the respect of our musical peers. Our biggest challenge as a band is the mediocrity of the fevered egos that exist in the music industry and making sure that their evils don’t pollute our souls and bum us out. We are after all only human and being human means that we sometimes have moments of weakness where the fevered egos pollute our light. This is easily fixed and as we grow as people we find better ways of dealing with this. So in terms of challenges, we have very minor ones.

Reading what Maynard said just drilled home the importance of being innovative with your approach to not only your sound but how you conduct your business and Galapogos are not kidding when we say we are fully DIY. Being so fiercely DIY requires hard work and if you’re not prepared to do that hard work then you may be disappointed with the results you get for your band.

The other question that Bianca asked was about the amount of music we release and the way we have gone about it. When I answered this question, I outlined that our commitment to being prolific is not a new idea, in fact we see it more as an exercise in returning music to a place it originally was back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. We all loved the idea of in the 80’s punk rock underground that bands would just make cassette tapes and hand them out. Knowing that a lot of people just don’t have the capacity to consume via cassette tapes we looked at the technology around us and decided to use the same idea of the 80’spunk underground but instead of cassette tapes we are using our bandcamp page to release an EP each month. If you believe what the world at large is telling us and that people consume music a lot quicker these days and primarily through the internet than instead of ignoring the technology we decided to embrace it. Embracing it however does not mean letting the quality and intensity of our art suffer, it just means we have a space to store it for anyone and everyone to download it. We’ve actually found that by making our music free and by releasing an EP each month we’ve actually had more people wanting to pay us for it. This is both humbling but a nice exercise in understanding that yes people want stuff for free but if you as the artist control that and if you release music that is quality people will develop a connection to it and from here they will believe in you and feel a part of it and want to follow you for the long-term and in the end potentially want to pay for it. Like Fugazi though, when our music is released physically we also believe in making sure that you only pay between $5 to $10 or even less for it. By ignoring the redundant business models of the music industry we have been able to connect deeper with our audience and find ways to keep costs down for us and our fans. It’s all a tribute to Fugazi.

We are in the middle of recording our second full length album and have just finished recording three EP’s that will be released over the next three months. I think by March this year our discography will contain 1 full length album (available both physically and digitally) and 20 EP’s (all available digitally). Our second album will be released on vinyl only with some limited CD prints. In 2014 we’ll also be compiling our first anthology to curate and collect our first 3 years as a band which will be the first time a lot of the music on those digital EP’s will be available physically.

So in short, you can distract yourself with a business plan or just fucking get it on and do what you want but remembering that doing it yourself is not a boutique or easy thing, it still requires hard work and you really do it for the sake of your art, not a profit. Seeing what you do influence people is more powerful and rewarding than a swollen bank account. We’ll all die with satisfied minds and clean souls.

Peace Out

By Dan Newton xo

(p.s. I did repost some of my own quotes from my interview with Bianca, which you’ll be able to read very soon)

Interview / Article – a chat with Emma from Foxsmith

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It is no secret how much I love Foxsmith. If you read my initial review (https://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/review-foxes-demos/) of the band at the end of last year you would have read how much I fell for their music. As I described in my review, they are an incredibly kool thing and they make a beautiful sound that is like a mix of dream pop, slacker, rock n roll roar, angular slintesque rhythms and a whole lot of Kim Deal cool. It is music that is funded by heartache and a really good time. The music is that late Friday night movement from party queen to “what does it all mean” melancholy. It is soaked in cool and is pop music that is covered in all kinds of dreams and schemes designed to destroy all of your emotions and to make you swoon. Much like my other band crush The Halls, Foxsmith are a band who I define as making shiver pop.

Late in 2012 I got the chance to sit down with Emma Walton (bass / vocals) and talk about music and of course the Foxsmith story.

Foxsmith started with an initial Jam session between Emma, Charlie (guitar / vocals) and Laura (drummer). It wasn’t until late 2011 that the band got things rolling and started playing gigs and in 2012 the band (then under the name of Foxes) entered into RICS exposed competition. After receiving a fevered response through their live shows, the band decided to make it a more full-time thing. During this period of time the band welcomed in Kassie (keys / vocals) and in between playing shows has been recording a bunch of material for an EP that they hope to release in 2013.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to the Foxsmith knows just how much “ache” is at the centre of their music. Lyrically the songs themselves hint at the bummers and celebrations of love with a darkness swirling around the playful pop sounds. This was a key part of my discussion with Emma when I discussed the motivation behind the sound and emotions funding the songs:

Heartbreak and disappointment certainly are at the centre of it, whether it is relationships or career or just other life cycles. It is all over our music for sure. We share the singing and writing of the songs and a lot of my stuff is about reflecting back on times that have passed and just writing about those experiences. I find that it is more genuine to write about difficult things that have transpired in my life. Everyone can connect to that. We go about writing our songs from many different points of view and whether it is from a jam or a fully fleshed out idea, I think the one thing that ties it all together stylistically is that feeling or that ache. Sometimes it can be fun to just ride a riff or a cool groove and to layer it as a band but ultimately it has to come back to how that piece of music makes us feel. It has to mean something at the end of the day.

The music of Foxsmith has a way of transporting you away to a shiver like landscape and it reminds me of the joys and bummers of the early twenties lifestyle, where you are dealing with the confusion of growing up, the complication of sexuality and the concept of love. There is youthful and angsty confusion at the centre of the sound. When discussing my feelings about how her music has affected me, Emma again reflects on the importance of having that ache at the centre in order to make a song a worthy piece of communication:

As I discussed earlier, anytime there is uncertainty in life there is a song. For me, whenever I’m musing or reflecting back on those moments I feel the songs come and it is the prime moment of motivation to pick up my guitar and to write. You need to take that time out to think about life because it is so complex and bizarre and I love the process of being able to express those uncertainties and all that frustration, fear and heartache. Every inch of those emotions goes into the music. Stylistically Charlie may write a different kind of song but at the core of it, the emotions and motivations for writing it are the same. That is where our sound is birthed from and where our band may get that shiver you described. I mean there is no real word to describe what we do and we haven’t really sat down to think about giving it a title genre wise but some people have called us indie rock space jam pop which I essentially interpret as meaning we sound eclectic which is accurate because as a band, influence wise, we are. We just love playing music as a group of people. We don’t have a political agenda or anything like that. We are just here, playing music and first and foremost it is about the music that is what is most important. We don’t brand ourselves.

It was at this point that our conversation turned to the topic of the media and public perception of being in an “all-girl band.” As I explained to Emma, one aspect of music journalism 101 that I was passionately against was the lazy kind of reporting that happens by both journalist and punter when it comes to describing an all-girl band and how I feel that when anyone writes about any kind of female musician there is always a peppering of “yeah, they are pretty good at this considering they are girls” which is incredibly sexist considering that we don’t treat all male bands or musicians with the same kind of attitude. Emma was quite open about discussing the focus of both Foxsmith and how these kinds of issues affect her as a musician:

Our personalities aren’t about having the mindset of being an all-girl band. For us it is solely about the music. This is not a marketing tool, I just love playing music as do the rest of the band and this is an exercise in playing music you love with your friends as opposed to having some kind of political agenda. There are times when you explain to someone that you play in an all-girl rock band and people almost roll their eyes and from that very description assumes so much about who you are as a musician both stylistically and politically. Then they actually come along and see the band live and they are totally wowed by the experience. I’ve found that a lot of people in their assumptions think that by coming to see an all-girl band that hands down it is not going to be that great and of course there is a certain kind of judgement that people apply to it. We can back it up though and have smashed that assumption and judgement people have entered the room with. You of course get the backhanded compliments and it can be frustrating but ultimately we put the music first and focus on being amazing musicians and songwriters. Each of us of course have a different individual relationship with the idea and philosophy of feminism but we as a band have no political agenda stylistically. We all believe and strive for equality but ultimately that is something that I’m pretty confident most people push for whether they are a musician or not. Equality should be important to everyone.

I left my chat with Emma feeling changed and totally inspired. As I’ve explained in past blogs, Foxsmith are a very smart group of songwriters and a total godhead band. They adhere to the two simplest and most right on aspects of great pop music, emotion and sonic freakouts. Add a rhythm section who balances all the maths of the “post” genres with a funkadelic sense of fun and you have the perfect coin.

Foxsmith are a band who deserves your attention immediately. It is important that you see them live as soon as you can and to make sure you grab copies of all the music they have available online. I’m of the belief that this band will grow into one of the most important groups in Brisbane and will be a vital leader in the new decade of interesting pop music.

Foxsmith are playing a very special acoustic show opening for The Halls at The Zoo on Thursday the 7th February 2013. Also on the bill are Little Planes Land and Galapogos. Follow the following link to buy tickets for the night – http://zoo.oztix.com.au/default.aspx?Event=32004

Useful Links:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/foxsmithmusic

Triple J Unearthed – www.triplejunearthed.com/foxsmith

Website – http://foxsmithmusic.com

By: Dan Newton

The Redundancy of the Gimmick

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Gimmick. Noun. – A trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or business.

This is nothing new in the performing arts universe, and at some stage or another, almost all of the greats have had one. Gimmicks are not, however, a substitute for talent, originality or progress. I’ve been a fan of bands who have used gimmicks very successfully, such as Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Rammstein, et al, but at the end of the day, these groups relied not on makeup, mascots or explosions, but on solid music. Even in the 80s, Kiss took their makeup off.  These artists used their respective gimmicks as a vehicle through which to evoke an idea or mood at a particular time, as a means to an end, not an end unto themselves. David Bowie doesn’t need to be decked out in full Ziggy regalia to be able to put on a good show, nor does Alice Cooper need his guillotine to keep an audience enthralled. But there are bands that cling to their respective shticks the way a toddler does their security blanket, never venturing beyond the limitations of their chosen feint. As an audience member, I find this to get very old, very quickly.  It’s a bit like watching the same film over and over, and no matter how much you may like it the first few times around, eventually you’ll find yourself wanting to do something else.

I’ve asked myself why artists do this? How could they possibly enjoy writing album after album of material based on a single theme, or perform shows that run like clockwork, month after month? Do the artists get bored themselves? Are they actually artists at all, or merely performers, playing a role?

The more I thought about this, the more I realised that they seem to only be interested in getting the largest crowd of booze addled punters to their gigs as possible. Which is fine, if you aren’t looking for a band to take you on a cathartic journey, but if you are looking for a performance with a bit of depth, this gets increasingly frustrating. Particularly when you see acts of this ilk getting airplay and exposure, while others slog away tirelessly creating unique sonic landscapes, grabbing their smaller, more thoughtful audiences by the shoulders and not letting them go until the final chord decays, to no avail. A quote by actor William Hurt comes to mind. “The amount of financial and imaginative energy that’s put into mediocrity is just amazing which I find to be fundamentally offensive as a human being.” Another Bill has been quoted saying “When did mediocrity and banality become a good image (for your children)?” Simply put, it isn’t. Nor is it anything other than dressing mutton as glam for the sake of a few extra dollars. Or a few more fans likes on Facebook if you’re part of a smaller scene.

Performers with integrity venture beyond the guaranteed money making formulas. The Doors, for example, were documented eschewing their hits (Morrison allegedly hated performing Light My Fire night after night) in favour of straight poetry sets with a music backing. The casual fan disliked this, but those in it for the art would have surely had their mind blown.  Even more disturbing than the band that clings to a tired old gimmick is the band that started with a gimmick as the driving force behind their performances and songs, only to later try to branch out, so to speak. It is as if suddenly they realise that people have stopped paying attention, and decide to focus on the music (which they probably should have done in the first place). This, for me, is almost a gimmick unto itself, as if the band’s ‘maturing’ is something the listener should be into, as though it were a performance itself. In truth it is simply the death rattles of a creatively parched group of people, desperately attempting to get someone (anyone) to listen. One may argue that for a band to stand out, they require something to make them unique. Instead of spending hours a night sewing sequins onto your bands matching negligee, perhaps developing a unique sound would ensure a little more longevity? Besides, nobody wants to see sweaty guys in knickers, unless they are Twisted Sister (how great would an Australian Twisted Sister tour be?)

What is my point in this rambling tirade? There is a point, I assure you.

 When I look through my music collection (I’ve got iTunes open right now), all of the bands that have high play counts have constantly evolved their sound, never for a second resting on a single idea. Led Zeppelin were ostensibly just a hard rock band with a healthy grounding in the blues, but they were equal parts blues, rock & roll, folk, and something else entirely, each album progressing their sound to the unfortunate end. Anathema began as one of England’s premiere death/doom bands, and over the course of 20 years have developed into what can only be described as equal parts Pink Floyd, Nick Drake and Radiohead. These are simply quick examples of bands that never rested on a single gimmick, and they are the ones worth listening to. Bands that stand the test of time rely on solid writing and performing, not on a gimmick. Sure, a lot of luck is also involved, but for the sake of artistic integrity, lets drop the act and focus on the thing that is most important about a band.
THE MUSIC.

By Tyrone Blackman

Interview with Tasha D from Smoking Martha

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Smoking Martha

By Bec Wolfers

Tasha D from Brisbane band Smoking Martha is one of the most talented vocalists I’ve ever had the buzz of seeing perform live.  As someone particularly interested in powerful female musicians, Tasha was an exciting discovery for me. When I first came across Smoking Martha at a mutual gig, I had the sense of watching something big in the making. Here was a bona fide star, the kind that I could see taking not only local, but international, audiences by storm. (And the kind I can imagine would impress even the most critical of vocal reality shows floating around TV, and deservedly so).

Tasha immediately struck me as a vocal melange of Gwen Stefani, Janis Joplin and Robert Plant…with the stage presence of Cassandra from Wayne’s World. Her tight, polished band has chosen an apt name in ‘Smoking Martha’…their vintage-tinged rock’n’soul performance is a fire that smoulders, warping your senses with waves of heat…sparking, hissing, teasing, and occasionally igniting into a full-blown blaze.

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Tasha D

I sat down for a phone interview with Tasha, eager to get more insight into her amazing vocals, and hear Smoking Martha’s story.

Tasha’s passion for what she does is immediately palpable. For her, music is an important source of self-expression, and a necessary creative outlet. When I saw Tasha perform, I got the mental image of a shaken-up bottle of cola. If you hold back that kind of talent, she’s gonna pop! I have to admit, though, I was surprised to hear her tell me,

“I actually used to have a high, kind of mousey speaking voice as a kid. Even now, my own mother sometimes gets surprised with what I come out with when I sing. I learned to sing by ear, joining in with the records playing in my house growing up. My parents are big music fans, which I’m grateful for, because I got into a lot of bands through them (especially Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Metallica). My sister’s R&B collection was also a big influence for a while. Some of my biggest vocal influences are Melanie – who I first experienced that full on shiver of emotional connection to when I heard her song ‘Candles in the Rain’ – as well as Chrissie Amphlett, Gwen Stefani and Jewel.

“I like a huge variety of musical genres, ranging from pop to metal. I don’t like to discount anything, and I judge music only on whether it makes me feel something emotionally – because that’s what I feel music is all about. Technique-wise, I learned a lot through simply experimenting at home: learning songs and singing them over and over again until I could imitate what I heard.”

It’s not surprising to hear a variety of influences have helped to shape Tasha’s exceptional voice. I was around a corner, unable to actually see the stage, when I heard Smoking Martha for the first time. I found myself genuinely surprised to see that Tasha, a slender and attractive young female, was the source of the deep, raspy, soulful voice I’d been hearing against the band’s driving rock anthems. Tasha luckily wasn’t offended by this, and said,

“The shock factor is definitely one of the things I most enjoy about performing. Your reaction isn’t unique! A lot of people seem taken aback when they first hear me sing. That sound is something I’ve deliberately cultivated as a singer. And playing with people’s expectations seems to make us stand out as a band, which is always nice.”

Smoking Martha, as it exists now, has only been around for about 6 months. In that short space of time, the band has achieved some impressive accolades, including playing shows in Melbourne, and a support slot at The Hifi for 90s veterans Everclear! I asked Tasha how the band came together, what influences have shaped their sound, and what it was like to support a big international act.

“Smoking Martha’s journey definitely has had its ups and downs. I began performing vocally in high school, but it wasn’t serious, and I soon put all that on the backburner when I began my job in fashion. I didn’t perform or write any music for a long time, though I was an avid gig-goer. But then I met (lead guitarist) Mick, who has a long background in punk bands, and he encouraged me to get out there. He could see I was really struggling mentally with not having a creative outlet in my life. I wasn’t coping very well, even though I loved my day job. So Mick and I began writing some songs and performing together acoustically.

“We soon decided we wanted a full band sound, and enlisted more people to make that happen. We knew of Pabz (Smoking Martha’s drummer) through mutual friends – he’s fantastic at what he does, and luckily he liked our demos. We began jamming with him at the beginning of 2012, and also enlisted Aaron (rhythm guitarist) at that time. Then we found Chris (bassist), and felt we’d found a group that all gelled well together, musically, and as people.

“The guys are all incredibly talented, and bring a range of different influences to the table. Mick brings the punk and some metal energy – some of my and his favourites are AFI, Rise Against, Stone Sour and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. Chris is originally from Melbourne and is a bit of a chilled out hippie, very into 60s bands like The Who, and underground/garage bands from that era. He also has big love for Sonic Youth. Aaron is big on rock like Led Zeppelin, Billy Talent and Midnight Oil. He loves to support the local scene, and get out to shows. Pabz is more into ballsy, heavy rock, like Stone Sour and Maylene and the Songs of Disaster. And Led Zeppelin and Queens of the Stone Age are big influences overall for the whole band.

“We’ve been gigging regularly around Brisbane since mid-last year. The Everclear support came up pretty early in our career and was a huge surprise, but a massive boost for the band’s confidence. It was crazy performing for a packed-out crowd, and very exciting for me to meet (Everclear singer) Art Alexakis and Everclear. I genuinely like the band, and think Art is a great songwriter. We did our best to put on an energetic performance on the night, and got a lot of new fans from the exposure.”


“You’re Jekyll, you’re Mr Hyde
It all depends what side faces the moon
At the ebb of the tide”

I was interested to see how Tasha crafts her lyrics, as I really like the images present in Smoking Martha’s song ‘Ebb of the Tide’. Tasha is a lady after my own heart, as she says,

“I feel like there are enough love songs in the world, and although love is one of the best things in life, I really have no interest in writing love song after love song. I actually just wrote my first song about the happy side of love, which I think came out successfully. But apart from that, the only love songs I’ve written tend to probe at the darker side of love; the catastrophes and craziness. In ‘Ebb of the Tide’, I explored the idea of changing into someone else, whether it be through drug/alcohol use, or just the different sides of our personalities that can emerge and be at war. Sometimes people can change into something almost evil. Hence the line about Jekyll and Hyde.

“I get a lot of lyrical inspiration from reading books and watching films…I feel like I absorb a lot from the stories I consume, and either a phrase or a whole theme will come out afterwards. I’d definitely call myself a storyteller…I’ve always been really interested in sharing my stories, and swapping stories with people. That’s a big part of why I love writing music. And more than anything, I guess I write about passion. That seems to be the biggest theme throughout all of our songs.”

Smoking Martha will be recording their first EP around March/April this year, and taking some time off gigging to record. I prodded Tasha about what the band is hoping to achieve with their first release.

“At the moment, we’re trying to decide where to record it, as that’s an important decision. We’re also really interested in the idea of recording to analogue tape…which helps give that full, ‘real’, warm sound we’re looking for. A lot of studios don’t record to analogue anymore.

“Once the EP is done, we’ll have a launch gig for that and then tour with it on the east coast of Australia!”

My last question for Tasha was what she thinks of the Brisbane music scene, and what local bands have been inspirations to her.

“I love going and seeing live music as much as possible. I love the Brisbane scene…I feel like we don’t entirely fit in any of the current popular genres as a band, but I also like the fact that we’re doing our own thing.

“Some local bands we love are F1-11, Ironbird, Kill the Apprentice, Trust and Fall, and Zeus Baby. I think it’s incredibly important to support the local scene! There are lots of amazing bands overseas, but there are also so many gems in your own backyard.”

Smoking Martha is definitely a gem of this nature, and I look forward to seeing what Tasha and the boys achieve in 2013. And trust me, you’ve gotta see this band perform live…

Catch Smoking Martha’s smoking live show at an upcoming gig:
25th January,
Prince of Wales Hotel (Brisbane), with Dirty Liars, Here’s to Neverland & The Black Catapult
10th February,
The Tempo (Brisbane), with Dave’s Pawn Shop and Tusk
1st March, Prince of Wales Hotel (Brisbane)
15th March, Miami Shark Bar (Gold Coast)

Smoking Martha links
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/smokingmartha
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/smokingmartharock
Unearthed: http://www.triplejunearthed.com/SmokingMartha
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/smokingmartha
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/smokingmartha

FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC OR MISOGYNY? – The subculture of festivals and my experience at Big Day Out 2013.

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“I saw a girl sitting on someones shoulders, and when the camera would land on them they’d see they were on screen & shake their heads, and a bunch of hands from the crowd would reach up and yank her top down. This happened at least 3 times. Like, fuck, come on. The visuals director should not have kept going after that.” – Anthony Snook, male festival goer.

Festivals are meant to be the coming together of communities, the gathering of thousands of music lovers looking for a kind of gratification that only live music can satiate.

The weather is unpredictable and alcohol costs an arm and a leg, but when we stand in that split second of quietness before the first note of our favourite act pierces the air, we’ve never felt more alive.

No weather can dampen our spirits, be it scorching summer sunshine or the autumn rain. The cold shock, mud splattering against our legs as we trudge shin-deep through the fields of Belongil. The scrunch of our noses, as we realise that some sweaty beast in front of us has just helicoptered sweat across the crowd. No, not even the classic ‘drowned rat’ syndrome that comes with winter festivals can turn us away.

Year after year we keep coming back. Why? Because music is the beat to our hearts.

For many of us that first festival we attend ingrains itself in our lives, and goes on to become a cultural addiction that we just can’t shake – no matter how many generations pass. However, as time has progressed we have also seen the rise of a festival sub-culture which thrives on drunken misogyny and sexism.

People getting a little loose is bound to happen when emotions are high, however more and more we are seeing a shift in focus as festivals become increasingly sexualised. The odd ‘boob-flash’ here and there is nothing new, and there’s always that one person who we wish we could erase from our minds…

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Laughs aside though, what I experienced on the weekend at Big Day Out in Gold Coast was something much more disturbing and manipulative than a random flash. It was the deliberate pressuring of women to expose themselves on camera by not only the crowd, but also the BDO tech team. As if this wasn’t enough, even if women didn’t want to flash the crowd, many of them were almost exposed as random hands reached up and ripped at their tops.

During Vampire Weekend’s set the camera crews repeatedly zoomed in on fake-breasted women in the crowd, encouraging them to expose themselves. The words ‘Get em out!’ appear onscreen alongside each girl, and was met by waves of ‘pressure chants’ by all the dickheads in the crowd. As someone who just wanted to watch live music I tried to ignore it and just enjoy the band (which was already difficult, given Vampire Weekend’s somewhat bland live style). It was however, virtually impossible to do so with the majority of camera footage on the big screen pandering exclusively to covering the ‘pressure-flashes’ rather than the band. The final straw came when a young woman hesitantly consented, flashing her bra rather than her breasts, and was booed by men in the crowd. I gave up and left.

Bec Wolfers, front woman and bassist for the local Brisbane band ‘The Halls’, explained to me how disgusted she was with the way women were exploited – some whether they consented or not.

“I was supremely uncomfortable seeing women pressured to remove their tops in a public setting, not only by punters attending BDO, but by BDO itself. I’d really like to see less people in the crowd trying to pressure women to do these things. I go to big day out to have fun and appreciate music, not to expose myself or watch others pressured into doing that. It’s not like that particular occurrence is something that just “happened” because of the “atmosphere”. People yelling things out, people pulling other people’s tops down, and the things written on the big screen – those are all deliberate actions taken by people, who made choices to say and do those things. People can change their minds and choose to treat women with respect instead. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable ask in this day and age.”

The thing is, it’s really not unreasonable to ask. But sadly, this wasn’t the only example of sexualisation at BDO.There were also many other examples during the festival of women’s sexuality being deliberately marketed. There was a clothing stall dedicated to selling the ‘girl tshirts’ for men (which have become increasingly popular over the last year), filled with images of topless women sneering at the camera, being spanked as they bend over a bench, or generally looking like sexual door-mats – you know, the types of shirts that automatically put you on ‘wanker alert’ as soon as a guy wears one.

I was also horrified at how many men have now moved on from the ‘sexy lingerie girl’ shirts to those featuring full frontal nudity. A male friend and I had a competition to see how many of these shirts we could see, and I counted over 5 in a space of 10 metres. Once again, these weren’t just images of women posing in sexy positions – these were full nudity porn images of women’s bodies (all with fake silicone breasts and either no pubic hair or a barely-there strip).

Don’t tell me this isn’t about sexism – I mean, for crying out loud how many women would you see wearing a massive erect cock on their shirt?

I left the festival feeling majorly bummed out – not only due to the fact that the Chili Peppers show was a disaster in terms of audio, but also because the whole festival experience is becoming so unfriendly and uncomfortable for women.

I took to the Big Day Out facebook page to vent my frustrations with their sexualisation of women, suggesting that perhaps they should spend less time encouraging women to get naked and more time getting their audio equipment right, and doing what they’re supposed to be – providing a kick ass experience for men and women. I expected lots of other pissed off Chili Pepper fans to show their support, but I was surprised at how quickly my post grew compared to others on the site. But what surprised me the most was the following.

An official response from Big Day Out, not about the audio situation, but about their sexualisation of women.

“Big Day Out deplores the actions of the rogue contract technician who took over the running of the messaging on the main stage screen. The individual was employed by an external supplier. The content on this screen was not endorsed by Big Day Out. Big Day Out does not support the sexualisation of any of our audience, whether male or female.

“The individual has been identified and has been replaced. We expect respectful behaviour at our festivals and respectful discussions by our online community.” – BDO

(https://www.facebook.com/#!/bigdayout/posts/10152430038880468?comment_id=37979209&notif_t=feed_comment)

Whilst there is some skepticism of exactly how much things may change, I commend BDO on addressing the issue and taking positive action against the individual who took advantage of women in the crowd, because the above behaviour is just not on. It sends a message that the only way women can enjoy a festival without having to worry about being exposed on camera is to a) not sit on someone’s shoulders, therefore missing out on seeing the band or b) wear a neck-high t-shirt.

Everyone has a right to enjoy festivals. As a woman I have a right to feel safe and comfortable at an event. It is unfair to suggest (as did one facebook user) that if I don’t enjoy the ‘atmosphere’ of a festival which pressures women to expose themselves that I should “sit in a library and listen to a cd”.

“If your so keen on only the sound of the music (which is mostly about sex and drugs anyway) and not about the atmosphere that goes with live performance. Go sit in a library and listen to the albums.”

Totally missing the point.

(On a side note, I find it hilarious that anyone who has tried to insult me over this issue can’t spell the word ‘You’re’ correctly.)

In the hour or so it took to write this blog my facebook post had jumped from 30 to almost 50 supporters, which I feel further reiterates to me that as a community we have a lot of power to bring about positive social change. It just takes the conscious decision of each person to decide not to sit back and wait for someone else to do it, but to be that person. To be a decent human being. As Bec Wolfers writes:

“Just because you’re female doesn’t mean you’re not a musician or a music fan, who’s there to have fun. If you’re reading this, and were one of those disrespectful men pressuring women to take their tops off, try watching less porn and more videos of female musicians ripping it up. We deserve to be there and be safe as much as you do.”

(To leave you all on a brighter note, see the below link for some hilarious pictures of festival peeps)

http://www.happyplace.com/15610/the-worst-people-you-see-at-every-summer-music-festival

By Jas Swilks

 

A Show For No One

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On a few occasions I have been fortunate enough to play a show to no one. Well, not no one, but the soundie and the bar staff are there to get paid, they’re not there to see you.

I say ‘fortunate’ because I think this is something that every gigging musician should experience at some point in their career (if you can call it that).  In my experience it is far easier to walk onstage with 300 people in the audience than with 3, but it’s these unattended, seemingly soul destroying small shows that make the bigger ones so great – and sometimes so easy.

Last night my band Thirteen Seventy played at Rics with Galapogos. The audience consisted of my girlfriend, the other band, and the bar staff.  I’m not going to go into the reasons why it was poorly attended, save to say there were a lot of other great gigs on at the same time.  It’s Brisbane, it happens.

What shows like this give us the opportunity to do is to thrash out newer material, and to work on our stagecraft.  That great guitar part that just seemed to come out in a pumping, packed room one night?  It was first discovered in front of a few uninterested bodies in a mostly empty room. These shows force us to find something new, something extra to make people sit up and take notice.  These are things to take away and re-use.  These shows allow you to take risks, and have a bit of fun.  That new song that completely fell apart in the middle?  You can laugh it off and pick it up again.

Probably my most soul-crushing moment on stage was also at Rics a few years ago.  I was asked to play a last-minute solo set on a Sunday afternoon (back in the old Cheeseboard days) as someone had pulled out two days beforehand.  After a quick Facebook status update announcing my spot, I turned up with my acoustic guitar and proceeded to play an hour long set to the soundie and the bar guy.

It was the most terrifying show of my life.

Knowing that the only people in the room are completely fixed on you because there’s NOTHING else happening is very disarming.  From memory I played terribly, but I also used the opportunity to test out a lot of new songs I’d been working on before I took them back to my band at the time, The Soundcasters.  The songs were better for the run-through, and I was better for facing my nerves and getting on with it.  I’ve never been as terrified of playing to so few people again.

After I finished, when I was offered payment for playing, I said not to worry about it, as I hadn’t brought anyone along.  The barman said, no, you showed up and played, you get paid – it was a last-minute thing and it’s not your fault people are too lazy to come out.

I reluctantly took the cash.  He had a good point, but it took me a while to realise I was beating myself up over something I had no control over.  So I say play that show to no one.  Do something fucking amazing, because the three people that are there might become your new biggest fans, and at the very least you’ll gain their respect.

By Clint Morrow

Henry Rollins – May He Live for 100 Million Years

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No one in this world inspires me more than Henry Rollins. This is an absolute fact and if you plan to understand my motivations and lust for life then you better get on board. Anything that is good about anything I’ve done as a writer or musician has been sparked by the intensity of Henry’s philosophy. It is also worth mentioning that even though Rollins provides the light for my journey I do not partake in being a mimic of his outlook. The philosophies and different ideas that I’ve consumed through his spoken word and his musical output through out the years has indeed served as influence but it is an influence that inspires me to be better and to seek the path that is bathed in my own truth and my own identity. When I muse on what Henry Rollins means to me I think the one philosophy that I adhere too is the idea that “Knowledge without mileage is bullshit.”

My Journey into the Henry Rollins universe began when I was 18 years old. My awareness of his music – Black Flag and Rollins Band – was minimal. I had seen a lot of bands name drop him as an influence and I’d experienced and glimpsed his music through various interactions with underground radio and music video organisations. When I was 18 I made time to invest in his music and spoken word material. This was the turning point where I stopped wallowing in my own pain and used my pain as the motivation to get things done. To take life by the balls and to rip the motherfucking dragons head off and to live with compassion and to crawl into every single corner of the fears that plagued me and to tear that fucking feeling apart and use it as fuel to my flame. I was attracted to his intensity and to the anger. It was his rage that resonated with me and as a misunderstood 18-year-old nothing sounded better than rage. Henry’s rage though had a different spin on it as it wasn’t rooted in the simple “fuck yeah” heavy metal angst. It had a level of intellect beating at its core and it inspired you – the listener, the consumer and the observer – to indulge in some heavy introspection. It was not the guiding light or the happy ending resolve, it was a noise that came from a deep internal struggle. There was no resolve in the message only a plea to go deeper into yourself and learn how to interact with a world so consumed with cruelty. It was optimism with very heavy boots. Henry Rollins didn’t waste time opening up your heart to the world around you, he pulled your heart out and replaced it with a grenade blast (said Thurston) and turned you up, turned you on, plugged you in and gave you the intense compassion to mix and interact with a world so full of misinformation. Henry Rollins was about strength and vulnerability and never once did his art allow you the space to be comfortable and even though this may be confronting to the fevered egos, that lack of comfort allowed you to get connected with your pain and once you locked in you were able to hit the ground running and chase down life with a hunger that very few blank lazy optimists could find the time to source. It was about making sure you never had your time wasted and that despite your situation, you did your best to still seek and be. Henry Rollins provided a mirror to yourself and with this introspection came the desire to chase your muse and to gather truth.

The older I got, the more his message inspired me to be active in my moments of loneliness. To not be a victim of the isolation but to use it as the muse to get it on and experience life. It was about smearing the blood and the loss attached to heartbreak to paint the world new colours and to still seek and destroy but to also build and inspire ideas. To invest in equality and put a spotlight on the injustice that continues to evolve in these modern times. To avoid being predictable in your rage and instead of being obvious with your rebellion it was about making sure you kept learning and you outsmart those that came before you who stood in the way of the truth. Asking the question was not fucking good enough, you had to walk, talk and explore all areas of both inner and outer space to make sure that you witness all walks of life and history and through this knowledge you learn how to keep your mind free of control by the various metrics of mainstream culture and black spray paint that would only serve to censor any kind of real meaningful truth.

Henry Rollins taught me about the importance of Jazz and that in order to be a purveyor of great art you had to invest in discipline. Any asshole could mimic and buy into the myth of sex, drugs and rock n roll but in order to be a revolution like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane you had to practice and focus. Henry Rollins plugged me into many different amazing underground movements of music and how success in the art world isn’t about something as foolish and redundant as money in the bank and mainstream sustainability. Henry Rollins inspired me to read books and to do everything I could to self-educate and most of all Henry Rollins inspired me to write and that under any circumstance that you can find a way to put your thoughts onto paper.

In 2013 I will be turning 30 and a lot of my friends are turning 30 or are already well into their 30’s. To me there are two kinds of people, those that are a victim of age and those who choose to exist and do what they want despite their age. I made a commitment to art and music in my twenties. During that decade I had my time wasted by a lot of fevered egos. When I was faced with the prospect of turning 30 I saw that as a fucking gift. That I had survived and that I was willing to continue to survive. 2013 is the year that I made a deeper commitment to do what I want and live in my truth and to get shit done. I wanted to be a journalist, so instead of wasting time going to university I just went out and did it. I started writing, I started publishing and I started to source all kinds of human beings to interview. I wanted to start a record label so I kick stated Noise Nonsense Records. I wanted to continue to release multiple movements of Music with Galapogos along with making a new full length record. So that is what I’m doing. I want to organise local noise rock shows and to release them under my new “heavy and weird” venture, so that is what I’m doing. There is about a million other things that I want to do and I’m not going to be lazy in seeking it. I’m going to do it regardless of the obstacle because that is what Henry Rollins has taught me. To fucking just get it on, plug-in, turn it up and fucking do it, do it, do it, do it, DO IT!!!!!!!! You’d be surprised how the aging process disappears the more you invest in this philosophy.

So in 2013 as I enter my 30th year and as I still find myself full of pain, anger, loneliness and despair I choose to fucking get it on, get in the fucking van and to grab life and fucking replace my heart with a grenade blast and to keep chasing everything I want out of life but at the same time to still remain plugged in to compassion and do everything I can through all my work as a writer and musician to make sure that I live and seek truth. It wasn’t the angels or divine purpose that put me on this path, I fucking chose it and I choose to live it to the fullest and by living it I understand the discipline and responsibility and sacrifice attached to it.

When I was a teenager I was saying “fuck you,” when I was in my twenties I was saying “fuck you” and now that I’m entering my 30’s I’m still saying FUCK YOU!!!!! and right now it has never felt so vital to be intelligent with your delivery of both anger and compassion.

So thank you Henry Rollins for helping me be me. May you live for 100 million years.

By Dan Newton

Red Hot Chili Peppers – May They Make Music for a Million Years

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Perhaps I’m growing sentimental but after hearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers live simulcast on community radio station JJJ last night, I felt inspired to sit down and write about my very deep connection to the history of this band. Without pouring too much negativity into this moment, I just want to initially express how much joy exploded out of my speakers when they played compared to the other bands that were simulcast before them. Either I have old ears or I just prefer soul over science, but anyone with taste and a healthy investment in the history of music would have heard the massive difference between what a band like Vampire Weekend did compared to Red Hot Chili Peppers. You could argue a lot of reasons why and although the tennis match like conditions that occurs when you debate musical relevance will always birth, I think I’ll call game set and match and sum it up be saying that it is totally a resonance thing. One connects with my soul and has character and the other (lets call them Vampire Weekend) has great sounds and complicated time shifts and is rooted in vanilla. It’s the difference between experiencing a weak handshake and a firm meaningful handshake.

Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the most important bands in the world. They were important to the advance of underground punk rock culture and along with a lot of the 80’s underground elite (R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Dinosaur Jr, Jane’s Addiction etc) they were a big influence in helping shape the rise of the alternative nation of the 90’s. They are survivors and have continued to release new communications and re-invent themselves over the course of three plus decades. People can argue about their relevance now in 2013 and a lot of people will express disdain and fatigue with hearing current Red Hot Chili Peppers music, but once you dull down the noise of these fevered egos and connect to the truth of the matter, Red Hot Chili Peppers remain relevant no matter what decade or period of creative revolution they find themselves in. They are the epitome of creative evolution and re-invention and as they enter their fourth decade as a band, there is a new level excitement at what they will create next. Red Hot Chili Peppers are not a band who deal in sentimentality (unlike certain fans of the band who just crave the same sentimental version of the band over and over again) and to see a band this deep into their career be so invested in evolution is beautiful.

My connection to the band didn’t really begin until October 1996. Prior to this my only awareness of the band was via early morning Rage and Video Hits programs which played a lot of their music in the early 90’s. I was always attracted to that sound even at a young age, as a band they looked incredibly interesting and different. I was attracted to that and always had a desire to explore that. That chance came in October 1996 when I brought a copy of “One Hot Minute” on cassette tape. This was another one of those life changing moments in terms of my musical evolution. I was 12 going on 13 and at that point in time I was heavily invested in the sounds of Seattle, Metallica, Pantera and some local Heroes like Tumbleweed, Silverchair and Regurgitator. The music of Red Hot Chili Peppers shared a similar spirit with these bands but it was coming from another planet. I feel privileged that “One Hot Minute” was my entry point because it is one of their best albums. It is a psyche rock masterpiece full of dark despair and a lot of post rehab confusion. This dark energy and the absence of John Frusciante and the inclusion of Dave Navarro helped give the album a heavier sound. Front to back the weirdness, the heaviness, the groove and emotional impact of “One Hot Minute” was important in helping to shape my appreciation of music and what got me off.

“Blood Sugar Sex Magick” was the next album to enter my life via my brother. He had brought it on CD and through some intense negotiations I managed to swap it off him in the December of 1996. I had just been given my first CD player for Christmas so I was eager to have “Blood Sugar Sex Magick” as it had all of those great hits. It was a very different animal when compared to “One Hot Minute.” It was a lot more funk based and wasn’t as distortion heavy as “One Hot Minute” but it was still heavy on an emotional level. It was also quite a mammoth album and there was so much to consume. After repeated exposure, it started to sink in and the beauty of the album started to present itself. So many twists and turns and I will admit that on a sentimental level it is the perfect Red Hot Chili Peppers album. A life changing piece of art that only served to inspire my fascination for the band. I was particularly attracted to the words of Anthony Kiedis and the way John Frusciante’s guitar sounded. It was all so unique to my ears and extremely emotional. I felt as a young teenage boy, the perfect band to help cope with the bizarre emotional changes and sexual evolution was Red Hot Chili Peppers. This unfortunately wasn’t something I would realise until my twenties because not long after my love affair with Red Hot Chili Peppers began me and my family moved from Mackay to Bundaberg and a new world of alienation and pain entered my world (the terror of changing towns and schools at the age of 13 going on 14 is truly painful) and I diverted my musical evolution into the world of heavy metal. I’m not ashamed of this, but it is only with hindsight that I’ve worked out that Red Hot Chili Peppers still had the capacity to help me cope with the angst of alienation. Either way, I still maintained a connection to the band.

The band released “Californication” in 1999 and at this point I was a fully immersed in the history of heavy metal. Luckily though, through my brother Ben and my very good friend T.French I was able to vicariously enjoy the release of “Californication.” This album saw the return of John Frusciante and helped kick-start a new era of popularity and creative evolution for the band. I remember at that point in time, a lot of people didn’t seem to care too much about the band. The trend at that point in time was pop punk and nu-metal. That was fine, a lot of cool bands existed inside of those trends, but all of my fellow grade 11 colleagues seemed to ignore the band. T.French however was obsessed and I still remember his struggle to try to get the local record store to secure his copy. My brother Ben was also quite addicted to the band at this point in time (and still is) and he also had the same need to own “Californication.” Through both of them I was able to hear the next creative step for the band and although I was musing on heavier stuff, I fell in love with “Californication.” I used to sneak the album out of my Brothers room (who was fresh 18 at this point) and I’d listen to it non-stop. This was also a period of time when both T.French and my brother had both brought the VHS version of the bands “Funky Monks” documentary. So I watched this quite a bit and was thrown into a state of awe at how deep Red Hot Chili Peppers were in terms of their creative process. The real joy of musing on this period in time is the fact that 12 years later Me, Ben and T.French would finally be in a band together making music. Whenever I look at the way Galapogos makes music, I look back at that year and the way all three of us were investing in the art of Red Hot Chili Peppers and all secretly wanting to do that in a band situation. The process of patience will always ensure that you get to experience great rewards.

As high school came to an end and I entered the world I started to re-connect with a lot of the bands I loved in my early teens and 2001 was the year that I re-established my public love affair with Red Hot Chili Peppers. I had just got my first ever job and boycotted university culture in order to do a bit of living before jumping into more education. With all the money I earnt I just brought CD’s and music related “stuff and things.” I brought the entire Red Hot Chili Peppers discography and started to get into the early sounds of the band. It took me a while but after giving it the time it deserved I fell pretty hardcore for the bands pre-Frusciante material. The music contained on their self-titled release through to Uplift Mofo Party Plan is incredibly weird and incredibly punk. It has this Black Flag intensity with the nonsense of Butthole Surfers and a big dose of funkadelic grooves. It is my definition of Heavy and Weird (he just said the name of the blog GASP!!!!) and served as a real education in terms of understanding the journey of the band.

My favourite album from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers catalogue was released in 2002 and it is called “By The Way.” This album came out at a point in my life when I was going through some darkness. It is a darkness I’d prefer not to discuss but the shining light and movement of sound that helped bring love and light back into my world was communicated on “By The Way.” This is one of the most beautiful albums ever made and would certainly be in my top eleven albums of all time. The music is soaked in darkness but also painted with a lot of joy. It is the most emotional sounding Red Hot Chili Peppers album. It feels like the kind of album that The Beatles would have made if they were a funk band. It has that kind of revolution attached to it. I’ve had to buy a total of four copies of this CD over the years due to me wearing it out. This album saved me and helped bring me out of the dirty dark funk I was in and inspired me once again to choose love over fear.

This rescuing from darkness scenario happened once again when the band released the double album masterpiece “Stadium Arcadium” and their most recent album “I’m With You.” At both points in time I was navigating the darkness and these albums helped bring light and love to my existence. Their music was like a warm hug and an understanding ear. It helped make me realise that there was good air to breathe. A perfect example of that was when I got see them live in 2007. The audience wanted the hits, I just wanted the band to Jam and improvise. We got the latter with some songs mixed in. All the fevered egos booed them and left the concert but me and D.Zorzan stayed and had our minds blown by the love being communicated by the band.

So I guess that brings me to the conclusion and the question of “What have the Red Hot Chili Peppers taught me?”

Red Hot Chili Peppers have taught me a lot both as a human being and as a musician. As a musician they have taught me that to play in a great band you have to be in love with the people you play with and through this love you have to be able to read each other using the power of sexual energy. Through this sexual energy you are able to create and improvise without words and you can invest in the moment and make sound that is coming from the joint emotional experiences in that jam room. Sexual Energy is important when it comes to making music, because a good band will be able to read each other when they are playing without using verbal communications. It will be a total process of feel and moving as one collective conciousness and to have each beating heart at the centre of it. It’s the same energy that exists at the centre of a great sexual experience and that great release you get from playing is the point of orgasm. That is why Galapogos can improvise everything we do because we are five individuals that love each other deeply and respect each other. We don’t compete with each other and for us the ego is the song and the music we make and we as five individuals must all move as one to make sure that our purest and most deepest emotions are communicated through our playing. It is an incredibly spiritual process for us and this is something we learnt from Red Hot Chili Peppers. It has to be spiritual and about a love of each other. Through that love you are able to reach a sound that is unique and the accurate reflection of our souls. We’ll leave all the chest beating and musical gymnastics to the fevered egos, our message like Red Hot Chili Peppers is one of love but it is coming from the darkness of life and the journey you have to take in order to reach the light. I could go deeper about why they are so important to me and give you paragraphs about how they made take pride in loving a man, but I think my above point is the most vital reason as to why Red Hot Chili Peppers are such an important band for me and I suspect a great many people.

May they make music for another million years

Big Love to you all you true believers

By Dan Newton xo

Story of a broke (wo) man

 

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For those of us Music enthusiasts (nerds let’s face it) who, despite our best efforts are completely and utterly broke each week, never fear there are options to boot.

Free live music is hard to come by as booking a venue and organising artists costs a fair amount of money. Making sure people turn up to pay is even harder (trust me I’ve been there).

So if you’re like me and love live music when free live music comes into the limelight you’re not going to pass up the opportunity to see it, not now, not never.

Luckily in Brisbane there’s always a bar or two (or about five) who see the opportunity in putting on free live music. People are like magpies attracted to alfoil when it comes to loud music and the simple equation is the more people coming in, the more sales you’re going to get.

We all know Rics is a dime and a venue that offers free live music and a great atmosphere. It is such an awesome venue in general. Then there’s the Prince of Wales who occasionally do free music, depending which promoter is involved. These Punkfest nights are for those of us who love dirty punk and a the POW is the perfect venue for these events (I’ve been kicked out of that place more then I would like to admit alas not because of any punk behaviour, at the time I was underage.)

Then there’s Fat Louis (cheap happy hour), The Boundary hotel on a Thursday, Music cafe on a Wednesday, the Tempo, the Exchange and the list goes on and on and on. So really, If you’re as broke as me there is no excuse not to see live music and to help give your favourite local bands some exposure.

Finally in my bid to give a local band said exposure, just last night I was at the Boundary and I saw a band called Chun play with Junkyard diamonds and Dead Zephyr. They were awesome! Chun kind of stole the show (Junkyard I love you) but seriously they just oozed coolness. They were very, very grunge. Although the guys voice did sound very Kurt-Cobainish, which suited me and my Nirvana shirt just fine, I know grunge can and should be of its own entity and not how much you sound like Nirvana. Back to Chun! Despite not having a bassist (Dead Zephyr lack one two, people a good bassist can make a band stop neglecting them!) I was not expecting grunge considering the lead singer was wearing a Norwegian black metal shirt; they covered Johnny Cash and everything.

So I would love,love, love to link and share their music with you however I cannot find a single thing pertaining to Chun on facebook or the world wide web which once again supports my theory that live music is better. The internet is not as all knowing as I thought.

So people LOOK OUT for a two piece grunge band called Chun, they will amaze you.

In the mean time, a theory on the origins of Grunge

By Kat Gibson

‘In the name of Sexual Liberation’ – How pornography is being labelled the new ‘post-feminist’ choice

DISCLAIMER – Please be advised the following contains graphic sexual content.

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“In an era when women are expected to submit to any sexual practice just to prove that they are sexually liberated, there seems to be something rather apt about this latest corporate pornification of feminism. Perhaps you would like to buy a naughty little sexually self-empowering mirror? [For only 1000pounds)…which liberates your sexuality so that you can observe your own pleasure…Wearing a pointy nosed dog mask will set you back 350 pounds…If you fancy being ridden like a horse there is a harness or two, or if you want to be treated like a pig you might find a ‘hog tie’ appealing. Dog, cat, horse or pig? Post-feminism has opened up your choices.” – Bray, A. (2011, p118-119).

Pornography has long been seen as an ‘experience’ or ‘product’ designed for the male fantasy. In the past it was something which we as women often found alienating; however in the 21st century pornography has grown to become a billion dollar industry which more and more often is being consumed by women. With the emergence of books such as ’50 shades of grey’, and the saturation of sexually-marketed media that pervades our society on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, women have become increasingly accepting of pornography and further-more, active consumers.

New research (including that of Dr Gomathi Sitharthan at the University of Sydney’s Graduate Program in Sexual Health) has discovered that today, 30% of women (or 1 in 3) are active viewers of online pornography; which equates to around 9 million female users per month.

Similarly, pornography is increasingly becoming marketed as a ‘post-feminist’ choice. In the book ‘Big Porn Inc’ (2011), Abigail Bray discusses the pornification of post-feminism and the rise of sex-shops which are marketing pornification to women under the guise of ‘sexual liberation’. In particular is the store ‘Coco De Mer, which is run by a post-feminist business woman named Sam Roddick. Here you can buy expensive silver butt plugs, ‘Sado Chic’ masturbation mirrors, animal masks, human hair whips and many other ‘sexually liberating’ products.

“To avoid being sexually rejected for defending your rights, you can transform yourself thanks to the new ‘up yours!’ feminism of Coco de Mer.” (Bray, 2011).

Now, I must stop for a moment and say that I don’t necessarily have an issue with the idea of sex products entirely, and the concept of couples using products and toys to spice up their sex lives. They may not be my cup of tea, but what is sexually exciting for one person may not be so for another, and that is what makes us human. I do not however, in any way promote the sale or production of any products which encourage/market pedophilia or incite violence against women or men, which is unfortunately what many sex-shops are nowadays doing.

I find it interesting to see the way in which pornification however, is being marketed to women as ‘post-feminist’ liberation – almost as if we are reacting in fear of being seen as shrewd, boring and unadventurous. In the chapter ‘The Pornification of Post-Feminism: Why Roddick’s Sex Shops Are a Sell Out’, Bray discusses how we as a society have come to see a need for sexing up feminism, and how businesses cash-in on our insecurities. Roddick herself claims that her stores are helping women to break free of the negative aesthetic stereotypes of feminism.

“Feminism as a word is desexualised. If one claims to be a feminist, one is almost sacrificing her sexuality or sexiness, right? Because it’s not really permissable to be powerful, self-determined, challenging of society and be sexy”. (2011,p 119).

The fight to have our voice heard, and the fight to be seen as attractive and powerful… These are very real issues that many of us struggle with. I myself have experienced this inner fight, especially during my activism this year. I have been labelled a hypocrite simply for wearing clothes which do not cover my knee’s or come all the way to my neck, because I also speak out against sexualisation of girls and women. It’s as if people expect that because I am standing against the porn industry I have to dress like a nun. One particular young woman wrote (in response to my activism):

“Unless you dress as a f**king nun you have no right to speak on women’s rights”.

Apparently the fact that I wear clothes that are above the knee, and may expose some cleavage at times, means that I cannot have a voice. But why? Why is this stereotype so pervasive? And what does it mean for us as women, to be told that we are either one or the other – intelligent or sexy. But not both. Why can we not be sexy, influential, intelligent and a feminist, (or humanist – however you want to describe yourself) embracing our sexuality and our beauty without exploiting ourselves?

And why is it that women feel a need to ‘liberate’ themselves by adopting and normalising an identity which is not sexually unique at all, but yet is paraded as being so?

“ ‘The hard-working hedonist who can afford to spend her income on vibrators and Wine’ (Power, 2009, p21), and does a bit of home porn with her executive lovers for a laugh, invests in botox, fake breasts, and full body-hair removal, has become the aspirational ‘it’ girl of post-feminist consumer culture, this ‘reclaiming of women’s sexuality’ sounds more like another porn chic sell out.” (Bray, 2011, p120)

Yes, there may be a ‘market’ (aka the sex industry) for women and men to explore their sexuality…but when it is done so in a way which encourages abuse against women and their degradation, should it be encouraged under the guise of ‘sexual liberation’? Specifically, should we be excusing violent, sadistic pornography because we want to be seen as ‘progressive’?

This brings me to part 2 of this blog: The Rise of Sasha Grey: ‘The Dirtiest Girl in the World’ (As she was labelled in Rolling Stone Magazine, 2009).

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“I hate to say, but I think the future of American porn is violence. I see the signs of it already…the culture will become much more accepting of gang rape movies and abuse movies” – Joe Gallant, pornographer. (In Bray & Tankard-Reist, 2011, p174).

In 2006 a new pornographic actress appeared on the scene hailed as perhaps ‘the next Jenna Jameson’. Sasha Grey began her career in the adult film industry at the age of 18, and within a year had appeared in over 80 hardcore movies.

Grey is a self-confessed sado-masichist who says she enjoys inflicting and receiving pain, and views her involvement in the porn industry as a way of “self-exploration first hand, in a sex-positive” way (Interview with Tyra Banks, 2007). In her first ever porn scene (at the age of 18), Grey told her 50 year old co-star to punch her in the stomach.

“It was during a fellatio scene…I said, ‘Would you like to punch me in the stomach?’ He was shocked’…” – Grey (2007).

While Grey doesn’t see herself as a feminist, she has stated that her aim is to make pornography more exciting again (through s&m acts), whilst others have argued that she is pushing boundaries of women’s sexual liberation; something which I strongly disagree with.

Irrespective of whether Grey enjoys the sex-acts she performs, the reality is that in the majority of her films she is so terribly degraded and humiliated as a woman. Penetrated anally in almost every scene, sometimes double penetrated, used as a live masturbation toy for up to 15 men, filmed licking a toilet bowl and made to dress as a teenage babysitter whilst simultaneously giving oral sex to 3 men (Grey herself stated she did not like being typecast as a little teen, but this was unfortunately part of the business)… At no point in the latter mentioned film do the men treat her as anything more than a sex-toy, at no point is she given any sexual satisfaction herself.

Perhaps it is just me, but I don’t understand how a woman licking a toilet bowl, a woman who has won awards for the best ‘Group sex scenes’, a woman who abuses men and allows them to choke, slap and abuse her on film, can be seen as ‘progressive and sexually liberating’. Even if Grey may enjoy these sorts of acts in her own relationships off-screen, it is not her personal sexual tastes that I focus on whilst writing this article, but rather the fact that by performing them on-film she is encouraging and normalizing violence against women (and men) to the rest of the world. The more these images are viewed, and the more of these films are made, the more accepting viewers become of this violence.

In an interview on Tyra Banks in 2007, Grey was challenged by a former sex industry worker as to how she could explain the abusive footage in her films as being ‘sexually liberating’ for women. Former prostitute and porn actress ‘Tiana’ posed the question:

“Would you want to be alone in a room with the guy who watches you be sexually abused by a male in your films? Would you want to be alone with a guy that watchesthose videos and thinks, ‘That’s how that girl is, if I was with her I could punch her, I could spit on her, I could disrespect her… in any way that I could think of…and that’s okay’. Do you think that that’s sending a good message to anyone that’s out there?

For many of us it is difficult to understand how there is anything liberating about a woman being paid to dress as an underage girl whilst having 3 men stand over her, ejaculating all over her face, hair and mouth whilst she sits there like an inanimate sex toy. As I’ve previously stated, I recognise that as individuals we all have different sexual tastes, but again I ask the following:

a) Why must we as a culture normalise the degradation of women on film, spreading a lie to future generations that to be ‘sexy’, ‘adventurous’ and ‘powerful’ a woman must be treated as a sexual service station? And;

b) How can sexual violence (whether against man or woman) be excused as sexual liberation or being sexually adventurous?

Interestingly enough, despite all her praise for the industry Grey retired from films after just 3 years. Unsurprisingly, the porn industry takes a huge physical toll on female performers. After all, our bodies were not designed to be treated on a day-to-day basis the way that they are in films. Grey stated that her time as an adult film performer had expired, however Radical Hub suggests that, “Perhaps the incidents of STIs, the scratches, bruises, and hemorrhoids, caused by the acts she engages in…have taken their toll on Grey.”

How sad that a woman at the age of 21 has allowed her body to be so brutally prostituted (for that is exactly what she has done, consensual or not) that she is to experience such health issues.

Doesn’t sound very ‘sex-positive’ to me.

Even more disturbing however, is the fact that our world is allowing young women to be prostituted in the name of ‘art’ or ‘sexual liberation’. There is something profoundly wrong with a world that will offer young girls (seemingly) extraordinary amounts of money to have every orifice of their body used and abused.

“The physical condition people put their body through is getting very far away from the sexuality as we know it” – Sharon Mitchell, Founder of ‘Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation’

Even after her retirement, even if Grey’s views of sex change, her films will continue to promote violence against women forevermore. Many try to justify pornography as ‘fantasy’, however the truth is that what is seen in these films is quite often acted out in real life.

As one internet user wrote,

“[Grey] admits that she would not want to be abused the way she is in pornography by an intimate partner or in her personal life. That would be a mission impossible I think. Any future intimate partner is likely to have seen her porn films, and want her to do for him, what he saw her doing with the dudes on film. And you just know in order to get her to do that, he will say something like “if you really loved me, you would do it, after all you did it with some stranger dude…” – DaveSquirrel (2011, Radical Hub).

Sadly the correlation between pornography viewing, and violence acted out in real-life is very high. As ‘Dave Squirrel’ suggested, there is no reason why a man who views a woman taking part in a particular sexual act on-film, could not transfer this to his own sexual experiences. Research has indeed validated this, confirming that many male rapists and abusers are frequent viewers of pornography.

Below are some examples found online of research collected over the years regarding pornography use:

■Federal Bureau of Investigation – Research conducted involving 36 serial murderers revealed that 81% (29/36) reported pornography as one of their highest sexual interests, making pornography one of the most common profile characteristics of serial murderers.
■Dr. William Marshall (1983) – Found that 86% of rapists admitted regular use of pornography, with 57% admitting actual imitation of pornography scenes in commission of sex crimes.
■Victor Cline, Ph.D. (Utah Psychologist) – Identified a common pattern of progression with many pornography users (sex offenders):
1. addiction to hard core pornography;

2. escalation in the need for more shocking material;

3. desensitization toward initially shocking material; and

4. an increased tendency to “act out” sexual activities

■Zillmann, Dolf (1982) – Findings show that massive exposure (4 hours 40 minutes over six weeks) to standard pornography (people having consensual, nonviolent sex) resulted in:
1. a loss of compassion toward women as rape victims and toward women in general;

2. a loss of concern about the effects of pornography on others;

3. a need for more violent and bizarre forms of sex;

4. a desensitization to violent, non-coercive hard core pornography; and

5. a trivialization of rape.

■Michigan State Police ( Lt. Darrell H. Pope) – Studied and recorded the use of pornography in sex crimes. He researched 48,000 sex crimes spanning a 20 year period (1956-1979). (Research was done in 1977, replicated in 1981).
In 42% of the 48,000 sex crimes investigated, police indicated that pornography was involved — used just prior to, or during the act of sexual assault — as stated by the victim or the offender.

■Silbert and Pines (1984) – A detailed content analysis of 193 cases of rape and of 178 cases of juvenile sexual abuse revealed a clear relationship between violent pornography and sexual abuse. (http://antisex.info/en/stat2.htm)
Furthermore, the ‘sexual liberation’ of women through porn is now impacting far greater than just the men in our lives. Alarming new statistics are showing that children are being introduced to porn at increasingly younger ages, which is leading to a spike in the occurrences of child-on-child sexual abuse. Can we really be selfish enough to argue that the impact that pornography is having on children is justified due to ‘sexual liberation’? The fact is that in today’s world, despite the best efforts of parents children cannot escape pornography. And with the inevitable truth that 100% of boys in Australia will have seen pornography by the age of 15 (with first exposure around the age of 11), it is inevitable that their views of sex will be formed from the violent images they see in these films.

There has been discussion that perhaps pornography as a theory would not be so much of an issue if it were not so shallow and one-dimensional. Author, blogger and Feminist Jessica Valenti writes:

“The main problem I see with pornography is not pornography as a theory, but mainstream pornography as it is right now and the industry as it is. I find it really disturbing. And that’s not to say there isn’t woman-friendly and feminist porn out there, but I think a lot of the mainstream porn I see is so much based on humiliation and calling women whores. I find it really problematic, and I think a lot of it is a result of the purity myth and a result of not being more open about sexuality. If we were more open, if we had more discourse, and if we didn’t have this binary way of looking at women and sex, then I don’t think that that kind of pornography would be that popular, frankly.”
– The Purity Myth (Excerpt received from Marie Clare Website)

Whilst I agree with Valenti that perhaps pornography would be a whole different kettle of fish if it were to show real, loving, intimate depictions of sex with physically diverse women, I am hesitant to agree that there is woman-friendly pornography. I recall reading one of Valenti’s books many years ago where she mentioned that women who are interested in viewing porn should focus on older, less mainstream films – such as those with actresses that depict a real woman (complete with pubic hair etc). However, the sad reality is that even older pornography films have brought to light stories of abuse. Former 70s porn actress Linda Lovelace stated that during her years in the industry she was raped, forced into prostitution by her husband, watched day and night and made to perform sex acts with a gun to her head. Testifying before a court in 1986 Lovelace made the following statement:

“When you see the movie Deep Throat, you are watching me being raped. It is a crime that movie is still showing; there was a gun to my head the entire time.”

Whilst the idea of ‘nice, feminist porn’ is good in theory, I believe that for the most part it is just that. Research and porn movies clearly show violence towards women as the norm, and this is extremely concerning.

People have asked me why I care so much about these issues. I’ve been asked what my motivation is behind sharing this information. Isn’t it distressing? they ask. Of course it is. Sometimes I numb myself as I research, and yet other times I still find my jaw drops in shock. But the reason I share, is because a cultural change is vital. And if perhaps someone stumbles across my blog, or a friend has an opportunity to share what they have learned from my research with others, this can be seen as encouraging. Changing the mind-set of our current generation may seem impossible at times, but if we can help our younger generations to see women as they were created to be seen – intelligent, beautiful, creative, mystical individuals – then perhaps we will have more of an opportunity to see real social change.

Sources of further information:

http://www.safefamilies.org/sfStats.php

http://pornharms.com/mim/shifting-views-women-now-more-ok-with-porn-than-men/

(http://antisex.info/en/stat2.htm

http://radicalhub.com/2011/12/15/why-did-sasha-grey-exit-pornography/)

http://www.kspr.com/news/kspr-more-women-say-theyre-addicted-to-porn-20121129,0,4318579.story

http://www.marieclaire.com/world-reports/opinion/jessica-valenti-purity-myth

By Jas Swilks

Robot Sex: Or how I learnt to put prejudice aside

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It has become apparent to me and I suspect many others that the illusion that bands are made up of the usual guitarist, drummer, bassist and singer combo has gone out the window. It’s gone out the fifteen-story window and landed with a loud ‘splat’ next to the previous notion that musicians make their money through record sales. Nowadays anyone with pro tools, Ableton and a diverse set of samples can make something of themselves.

 

When I first learnt of this concept back in the (for me the not so) good ol’ days of high school when I was just an introverted punk (putting oxymoron’s aside) sitting in maths listening to Cool Kids by Screeching Weasel someone said ‘hey listen to my friends/cousins/birds music they are really original/thought provoking/have no time on their hands. I reached out with what I thought was an open mind and listened to about 16 seconds before remarking: ‘It sounds like robots having sex.’ For a while I was put off anything with so much as a electronic / industrial description. But since that ominous day in grade 12 math I have indeed opened my mind, broadened my musical preferences and befriend some of these so-called computer musicians. ‘Computer Musician’ I found out is the politically incorrect term; they prefer just to be called musicians.

 

Through my new found tolerance I have discovered that – while the vast majority fall short of creativity and musical harmony – some are indeed thought provokingly original, intelligent and creative. So without further ado here are four Australian ‘Computer’ musicians that you should check out:

Kučka

A bit abstract one not strictly computer music, but with definite electronic undertones.

Kučka – http://www.facebook.com/iamkucka

Outerwaves

Seriously cool dude.

Outerwaves – http://www.facebook.com/outerwaves/info

Elroy 4.0

Elroy 4.0 is what I can only explain as ‘happening right now’ he’s quickly rising in popularity so get on that band wagon.

Elroy 4.0 – http://www.facebook.com/elroy4.0

Abelisk

Very local, currently underground Abelisk is working on an EP Project Monarch check Abelisk out and get this dude some exposure.

Abelisk – http://www.facebook.com/Abeliskaudio

And for good measure here is Screeching Weasel singing about cool kids

By Kat Gibson

Cool Kids and Coloured Cups – A Review of Brisbane Society of Sound’s Launch Party

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Being asked to play Brisbane Society of Sound’s launch party was a real honour. My band The Halls has been looking forward to playing this event for a while, so it was a thrill to finally take to the stage of Oh Hello! the evening of Thursday the 10th January.

Shamefully, I must admit I had never been to Oh Hello! before! Immediately upon walking into the club for band load-in, I was impressed. The Brisbane Society Of Sound (BSOS) made a good decision in their choice of venue. Every aspect of Oh Hello!’s space is carefully placed to create an eclectic, playful and welcoming vibe, very conducive to entertainment. The venue name even has an exclamation point in it; if that doesn’t scream ‘fun’, I don’t know what does. The ceiling is covered in small paper lanterns, scrawly murals adorn the walls, and creative drinks (skittles and marshmallow cocktails!) are served in fun coloured cups reminiscent of childhood birthdays. The room is a great intimate-but-not-shoebox size, there are two large white projection screens behind the bar, and the well-positioned stage is spacious enough for a band to thrash around on. And the sound guy (Sasha) is actually friendly. What more could you ask for?

Lanterns

This was my first time meeting the BSOS team in real life,  as opposed to over the internet. Everyone I came into contact with was  friendly, well-organised and welcoming. Much credit must go to the  members responsible for spearheading the launch party, especially  Brittany Eddy (BSOS president), Aly Grace (Vice President) and Kimberley Hanson (Events  Coordinator). Upon observing the dynamics of BSOS throughout the night,  it was evident that they work well as a team. All dressed in matching  black BSOS shirts, with their area of expertise emblazoned on the back,  it’s obvious this is an inclusive collective made up of great young  Brisbane go-getters. It’s a well thought out initiative, comprised of  every aspect of entertainment: BSOS has someone to take care of  everything, whether they specialise in live sound, events coordination,  journalism, publicity or the arts. This collective has some really  exciting things planned for Brisbane in 2013, and will be injecting a  lot of life into this city’s scene. Check out Dan’s previous interview  with Brittany Eddie here. (link: https://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/brisbane-society-of-sound-helping-save-the-brisbane-music-scene/)

After headliner Jakarta Criers’  sound check, BSOS rounded up The Halls for a video interview with  journalism student Madison Nunn. Madison was really friendly, and you could  tell she cared about doing a quality interview. (Our random waffling  didn’t seem to put her off, which is always a good sign for a journo!  She also displayed the ability to go ‘off script’, asking us a random  funny question in response to one of our answers.) You can see our  interview with her below:

After our interview, we ran off  to quickly grab some yummy food in Chinatown. The location of Oh Hello!  is super central – situated on Anne St in the heart of Fortitude Valley, it’s an easy place to get to. It’s always handy when a venue is near a  variety of food and public transport options.

We headed back after chowing down, and immediately set up our gear onstage. It wasn’t  long until we launched into our set. Obviously it would be impossible  for me to review our own gig, but we had a lot of fun onstage. It was  great to see that the venue was half full already when we started  playing, and  nearly full by the end (this is a real testament to BSOS’s promotion of the event. Sometimes it takes a while for people to show  up to these things).

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I was a little worried at first, as our  drummer James had been away at Woodford for a month and we hadn’t gotten to practice much before the gig. It took a few songs for me to feel  comfortable with the onstage sound (whenever it’s hard for me to hear my vocals, it’s a struggle). However we all really had fun thrashing  around, and sound-wise, things soon sorted themselves out. The audience  was responsive, dancing around and happy to yell back at me when  addressed. Then before I knew it, it was over!
After the set, we  got a lot of positive comments from BSOS and the crowd, and our Facebook page ‘likes’ jumped up by about 20 the following day! So I think it’s  safe to say we went well. I was really happy to have a chat with Rory  from BSOS (the guy who ‘discovered’ us on Triple J’s Unearthed website  and told BSOS about us). He really enjoyed our EP, and plays bass in a  kool as band called Skin and Bones himself. It always makes me so happy  to talk to people who genuinely love our music. And if they’re a  musician themselves it’s the icing on the cake…nothing like a bit of  peer respect!

After an impressively quick changeover time, the  Gold Coast’s Oceanics took to the stage. I’ve seen these talented kats  play before, and they are still as amazing as ever. Their brand of indie surf rock is catchy, melodic and energetic. The words ‘big fun’ come to mind. In a genre where things can get derivative fast, Oceanics somehow manage to keep it all very original and fresh sounding, a feat that  demands respect. Their set’s sound itself was great and well-balanced –  every instrument was well placed in the mix, and vocals were nicely in  your face. The crowd was totally into it, jumping around and having a  joyful time. It’s clear that Oceanics are a top-notch band who kick ass  live!

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Finally (after a very entertaining tipsy speech from a  certain BSOS member, giggle), it was time for headlining band Jakarta  Criers’ set. Recent Unearthed feature artists on Triple J, it’s clear  this band is as tight and well-oiled as a German auto factory. The deep, resonant drums and smooth bass worked well to create a funky, slightly  blues influenced rock groove, while swirly guitars interacted to create a beautiful sonic landscape on top. During this set was when the crowd  really went nuts, and it was fun to see all the BSOS members letting  their hair down and moshing in the front and second rows. Did they  deserve to let loose? Hell yeah! This was their launch party, their hard work had paid off, and it was an unequivocal success. What a great  start to 2013 for these young future powerhouses.

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As much as I  enjoyed Jakarta Criers’ original songs, they did a really awesome cover  song that got probably the biggest crowd response. It was one of those  things people will be telling their friends about for weeks to come.  When you blend 5 songs into one, its gonna do that! Combining Chris  Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”, and other  nu-classics into one, it was a really entertaining mash up that reminded me of “4 Chords” by Aussie band The Axis of Awesome. Only, you know,  not comedy.
Jakarta Criers ended the night on a bangin high note, saving a rocktastic number for their finale that really got everyone  moving. Later, a DJ (name?) took over, and the evening faded into a sea  of happy bodies, dancing to the beats of the city and their dreams.

After this genuinely great launch, I’m really excited to see what BSOS have  coming next! I can also let you in on a fun new secret…I will be  assisting Kimberley as vice events coordinator of BSOS this year – and  I’ll also be working with BSOS to bring an event idea of mine to life!  So, 2013 looks to be an awesome year for Brisbane’s events scene. Get  involved, and stay tuned!

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Keep up to date with Brisbane Society Of Sound and all the aforementioned bands here:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BrisbaneSocietyOfSound
Website: http://www.brisbanesos.com

Jakarta Criers: http://jakartacriers.com.au/
Jakarta Criers Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Jakartacriers

Oceanics: http://albertmusic.com/musicians/oceanics
Oceanics Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Oceanics.music

The Halls: http://thehallsmusic.com,
The Halls Facebook: http://facebook.com/thehallsband

By Bec Wolfers

 

Heavy and Weird Album Of The Week – Volume Two – “We’re Here Because We’re Here” by Anathema

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This week the album was picked by Bec Wolfers, and is the eighth studio album and 2010 release from British band Anathema. The album was mixed by Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree.

Anathema have a fascinating trajectory as a band. Beginning their musical career as death/doom metal pioneers, the band has gradually evolved their sound to create the pure, spiritually resplendent post-rock joy of ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’. For a band that once toured with Cannibal Corpse, Anathema’s music shows an impressive amount of growth and emotional maturity. Every second on ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here” is a moment, quietly resonating or boisterously exploding with love. The lyrics vibrate with naked truth, recalling the importance of hope, and displaying a poetic wisdom soothing to the soul.

I only recently was introduced to this album by my brother, when he came up to visit me from Sydney. This was the first time we had really hung out, after the slightly unusual situation of not having had any contact with each other growing up. Thanks to reaching out over the internet, I’m lucky to say that I now have an actual relationship with a very special young man.

Anathema’s ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’ is a work of sonic art that I highly recommend listening to. Fittingly, it’s also a band that features a whole lot of family, including a brother and sister, as well as a (different) set of three brothers.

By Bec Wolfers

Cut Me Some Slack – ‘Nirvana’, Sir Paul, and the media

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At the tail end of last year, a rumour about ‘Nirvana’ reforming for a charity concert made significant headlines in music circles.  The main point of interest was, of course, that they would be joined onstage by Paul McCartney, who would take the late Kurt Cobain’s place.

Predictably the music media went into a frenzy.

I’m a huge Nirvana fan, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty excited at the prospect of these guys performing together again in ANY capacity (hell, it’s the reason I bought the last Foo Fighters album), but the stories, blog entries, and comments all seemed to focus on either why they were trashing Cobain’s legacy, or speculating about which Nirvana songs Macca was going to murder.  What everyone seemed to be glossing over, or completely missing, was the reality of the situation, which was pretty easy to figure out with a bit of quick Googling.

Paul McCartney was to close the Hurricane Relief concert, with a series of revolving guest musicians, three of whom happened to have been in Nirvana.  The song they ended up performing together was not a Nirvana or Beatles song, but a new track they had already recorded together for Dave Grohl’s Sound City documentary, ‘Cut Me Some Slack’.

The title of the song could not have been more appropriate for the anticipation under which it was performed at that show.  Seriously, who thinks that any of these people would be stupid enough to claim that they were ‘reforming Nirvana’?  It makes a great headline, but has no basis in reality.  McCartney makes a passing reference to being ‘in the middle of a Nirvana reunion’ during their initial jam session, but the last time these guys got together to play was on the most recent Foo Fighters album.  The song itself couldn’t be less ‘Nirvana’ if it tried.  It sounds like a cross between Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.  The only thing more ‘Nirvana’ about this ‘reunion’, as opposed to the other times these musicians have played together recently, is the fact that Grohl is on drums this time instead of guitar.

For those who want it straight from ‘Nirvana’ themselves:

At the end of the day, what right does anyone have to say that these people shouldn’t play together again?  They’re clearly all enjoying themselves and the chemistry is still there.  They’re making music with their friends, and it was for charity.  I enjoyed every second of this song; McCartney hasn’t rocked this hard since ‘Helter Skelter’.  If only all ‘reunions’ looked like they were as much fun to be a part of.  It’s not exactly The Eagles fighting all the way to the bank.

Wasn’t Kurt a huge Beatles fan?  I’d like to think he would have gotten some sort of perverse kick out of the whole situation.  It’s hardly something to be rolling in your grave over.

By Clint Morrow

Brisbane Society Of Sound – helping save the Brisbane Music Scene

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The Brisbane Society of Sound is exactly what our scene needs circa 2013. At a time when there is so many established and unestablished divisions with both bands, venues and punters having a collection of people dedicated to “scene equality” is vital to the health and well-being of Brisbane’s musical evolution.

Brittany Eddy is one of the members involved with Brisbane Society of Sound and has a lot big ideas in helping the Brisbane community connect with its music scene. When I asked Brittany how it all started and what the aim of the society is, she was quite honest in outlining how it was a process in accidents and open communication between people who love music:

“It was something that accidentally started when I ended up starting a forum at university where people talked about music. It was within this forum that I pitched the idea of starting a society solely dedicated to helping our local Brisbane scene. Basically our whole aim is to enhance the local music scene within Brisbane, a lot of people within the team are in local bands but we also have a lot of music fans who are studying things like journalism who are helping out with the interviews and reviews and people in the IT area who are helping with the running of the website. We are looking to help organise events, create an online presence for gig guides, reviews and to help showcase both signed and unsigned artists. We’re looking to have lots of different networking events that help connect bands and artists with different industry contacts and help bands with assistance in terms branding and advertising. Essentially we will be working with a lot of local music organisations to help bring awareness to music culture and to also connect bands with their local community. I really believe that it is important for local bands to really engage their community to help build that fanbase”

One of the phrase that struck me when I first started to investigate the organisation’s website was the idea of saving Brisbane’s music scene. To me this was a brave and progressive mission statement considering the mixed response amongst the Brisbane music community when you discuss and mention the health of its music scene. I was interested to ask Brittany what she felt had injured the scene over the past few years and her response was incredibly honest:

“A lot of venues have recently been shut down and there only seems to be a few boutique venues that are geared towards a specific sound and look. Instead of venues having lots of different events that focus on all genres of music you seem to see and have the same sound being presented. It’s not the full picture of what Brisbane has to offer and as a result a lot of bands have had to leave in order to get gigs and get noticed. A lot of the heavier bands always seem to be overlooked and it can be quite hard for them to get consistent gigs across all the venues in Brisbane. This is something I’d like to see change. I’d love to see a bigger range of genres represented across all Brisbane venues. That is something that we hope to bring awareness too and we hope to change with our work.”

It is this dedication to equality that makes the Brisbane Society of Sound such a unique movement. It is the first time that a group of people have made a commitment to genre equality and making sure all of the amazing bands making up the Brisbane music community are represented. This is how music scenes move from being a simple community to being revolution and Brittany is quite plugged into the history of music and the various scene culture that has occurred over the years both in Australia and across the world:

“I read a lot of biographies about the history of music. I love how something like the Seattle scene for example changed a whole decade and didn’t just impact the music world but the community as a whole. Even if you got back to the 50’s and 60’s or even as far back as the classic periods, the music of those eras and the scenes attached to them impacted society on a grand scale. That is the power of music and I think the most important thing for any band in any scene to do is to make sure they engage and get the attention of their local community both in and outside of the established scene.”

It is quite clear that Brittany Eddy has the kind of spirit and discipline to help lead the change that is desperately needed in the Brisbane music scene. The Brisbane Society of Sound is a vital movement plugged into both the grass-roots and higher level realms of the music industry. As both a musician and a punter I fully believe in the power of this kind of change and I’m incredibly inspired by the idea of scene equality and helping to put a spotlight on the full spectrum of talent that Brisbane has to offer. If you care about the Brisbane music community and its future, you need to get involved with The Brisbane Society of Sound.

Tonight sees the launch of their organisation at one of the best club nights in town, Cobra Kai. It all kicks off at 8pm and features The Halls, Oceanics and Jakarta Criers. There will be lots of giveaways and is your perfect chance to get along and start making a commitment to your scene.

By Dan Newton

Useful Links

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BrisbaneSocietyOfSound

Website: http://www.brisbanesos.com

The Drab Four – an in depth look at the genius of Type O Negative and an Ode to the Green Man Peter Steele

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Every person I know has that one “secret weapon” band in their collection. The kind of band that is so deeply personal to them yet at the same time is the band that they are so eager for the whole world to understand. In the early stages of such an obsession you can be quite protective of finding such a band and you indulge in a lack of sharing however when you connect with like-minded souls, the band at the centre of this obsession is always the first one you want to share. As your love for the “secret weapon” grows and as the musical world spews forth redundant hipster trend bands you become even more eager to dull down the hype and scream quite loudly about your “secret weapon” band and how they have been doing it for years and quite simply been doing it better. It is a natural process rooted in the part of the human condition that makes us want to both educate and compete. The end result of seeing someone get turned onto your “secret weapon” as a result of your recommendation is a sweet shine moment. It brings joy and satisfaction.

Ever since I was a teenager the “secret weapon” band I’ve always held onto has been Type O Negative. A band whose unique musical language has been a saviour to me since 1999 and a band who have influenced every inch of my creative evolution, from when I played in heavy metal bands, had a brief solo career and now with the work I do in Galapogos. Type O Negative is in my creative DNA and they are apart of a rare group of bands and artists that I admire who creatively are pure perfection.

How would I describe the sound of Type O Negative?

The simple answer is to imagine the sounds of The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath. Add to this the shoegazing swoons of My Bloody Valentine, dream pop of Cocteau Twins and the gothic jams of The Sisters Mercy. Bands like Joy Division, The Doors, The Cure, Echo and The Bunnymen and Black Flag also have a home inside the sound of Type O Negative. The way the band combine these influences within the framework of the heavy metal dialogue is incredibly unique. In fact it feels very restricting attaching genre to the band because they have their own sound. Sure the above mentioned artists influenced them but the band did not mimic they simply mused on the emotional power and songwriting dynamics of these artists to help weave their own sonic template. The music is dark and progressive with each Type O Negative release breaking the 70 minute mark. Whilst not a conceptual band, the mood of each release has certain themes tying them all together giving each album a certain emotional continuity. Lyrics that deal with the serious and the nonsense aspects of life. Unlike most bands who lean on progressive rock song lengths and album structures, Type O Negative don’t delve into mathematics or science aka complicated time signatures or musical wankery. The band instead lean on emotion and mood to fill the length and give the song room to grow without leaning on the science. The music is still pop music although it is so epic in length. Where other more proggy metal bands would colour a passage with guitar solos Type O Negative enter into repeated shoegaze drones that build and climax whilst dripping with emotion. I still file them as a pop band because they are still to my ears the Heavy Metal Beatles.

Type O Negative were not an easy band to get into and it took me a few months before it really hit me how amazing they were. I still remember the moment quite vividly and is one of those moments I’ll always put on a pedestal as a life changing scenario. As a fan of music, I live for those moments and in 1999 as a 15 going on 16-year-old teenager I was constantly on the hunt for new music to explode into my life. It was the June school holidays when I discovered the band. I was on holidays with my family in Brisbane at the time and as always I had some money to buy some CDs. I brought a bunch of really cool stuff that week but Type O Negative was a chance purchase. I was down to my last $10.00 and I saw the bands third album “Bloody Kisses” for sale at HMV (at the Aspley Hypermarket) for only $5.00. This was a risk purchase as I knew who they were but had no idea what kind of band they were. I just knew they were on Roadrunner Records (a famed metal label) and were a heavy metal band. I gave it a brief listen when I got home but nothing jumped out at me. I was glad I brought it but I was too invested in the other bands I had purchased. When I returned to Bundaberg I spent a bit of time with the album but I still wasn’t that attached to it. After a bunch of months had passed I dedicated a whole sunday afternoon to sitting down and doing nothing but listening to “Bloody Kisses” back to back. I wanted this album to sink in and I’m happy to say that this was the moment in which it did. I don’t know what was different that day, perhaps I was in the right emotional state to understand and have the music of Type O Negative resonate with me or maybe it was the first time I’d actually given the band the time they deserved to sink in. That was a moment in my life where I can remember feeling my whole world change. I could feel the music sinking in and reaching all of my emotions. The process of having the band finally resonate with me almost had this physical sensation attached to it. The moment that the album and Type O Negative finally hit me was during the track 10 which was the title track “Bloody Kisses (A Death In The Family).”

Have a listen for yourself:

There was something about this song that drew me in. The pace of it, the emotion and the intense nature of it just spoke to me. The song feels like it was about loss and I just connected to that straight away. The way the song never strays from the slow pace yet still adds subtle dynamics across the full 10 minutes and 56 seconds just flawed me. For a teenager this sounded like heaven and now as an adult I relate to the loss at the centre of this song even more. I credit this song and the moment it attached to my emotions as the point in time when Type O Negative became the most important band in my life.

I became heavily devoted to Type O Negative from this point and for my Birthday that year I got a brand new stereo and with money from my Nana I purchased a copy of the bands brand new album “World Coming Down” and then later in those school holidays the 1996 classic “October Rust” – to say that those holidays were full of revolution is an understatement.

“World Coming Down” was an album full of deep green sludge and muses a lot on the idea of the fact that we all die. The Journey of “World Coming Down” was full of twists and turns and the song that best explains the record to me is track eight which is called “Creepy Green Light.”

Have a listen for yourself:

The way this song creeps in and out of green sludge and pop music is flawless. It was moments like this that I was convinced that the band were the reincarnation of The Beatles only they chose the heavy metal vehicle this time round. Every other band I listened to at that point in time turned me on, but Type O Negative made the music that I’d had in my head for as long as I could remember.

“October Rust” – being the second album I brought those holidays – was the moment however when Type O Negative went from being my favourite band to a spooky obsession. I brought this album while I was staying with my good friend David Zorzan (who was also the first person I convinced what a great band they were). We didn’t listen to the album that much when we hung out that evening but we gave it a glimpse. The magic of “October Rust” infected me the evening after when I spent an evening alone at the family home. At 16 years old, to have the house to myself was always a joy and it always involved the stereo being played very loudly. The album of choice was my new purchase – “October Rust” – which I must have listened too 3 to 4 times back to back totally immersed in the spooky gothic shiver pop of it all. It was different to the other albums I’d ingested from the band. It was less heavy metal and more dream pop. So many great moments on this record.

The first highly emotional moment comes with track three “Love You To Death” which is still my favourite song from the band. A love song classic and the kind of swoon that I wish I could reach in music.

Have a listen:

The next moment on “October Rust” that blew my 16-year-old mind was the intense ode to loss “Red Water (Christmas Mourning)” – a song that sums up the feeling of watching another christmas roll round and noticing just how many people in your life are no longer there.

Have a listen:

The final two examples of the “October Rust” opus that I feel need to be shared are “Die With Me” and “Haunted” – these are songs that are in my creative DNA. When I first heard them I plotted a musical journey to try to create the kind of swoon and emotional heights that each of these songs showcase. A special mention to “Haunted” which I reckon is the kind of Shoegaze sound that more bands who claim to be shoegaze should adopt. It is a wonderful soundscape.

Have a listen:

Die With Me

Haunted

If you listen to one song I’ve posted within this blog I reckon it has to be “Haunted” – I can’t praise this song enough. It contains so much shiver.

From the year 2000 until 2007 the band released another two records – “Life is Killing Me” and “Dead Again” – which helped take the direction of the band to new heights of musical evolution. I also backtracked and got the bands first two releases – “Slow Deep and Hard” and “The Origin Of The Feces” – soon after. Although I won’t post my in-depth review of each of these albums I will post a song from each album to showcase even further how amazing the music of Type O Negative is.

“Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty of Infidelity” from Slow Deep and Hard – (the debut album from the band and although deeply rooted in the thrash / hardcore crossover sound the band still showcases the pop music they would go on to write)

“Paranoid” from The Origin Of The Feces – (the bands second album which is a mock live album they recorded in their own studio. The real gem of this album is the amazing cover of Black Sabbath’s paranoid which is a proper studio recording)

“Iydkmigthtky (Gimme That)” is from their 2003 album Life is Killing Me – (the outro of this song is a thing of beauty)

“Tripping A Blind Man” is from their 2007 album Dead Again – (the bands final album that sees them return to the heavy metal roots while still packing the songs full of pop skills, I love the changes contained within this song)

The story of Type O Negative however reaches a dull and heartbreaking crescendo when the lead singer, bass player and primary songwriter Peter Steele dies of heart failure on the 14th April 2010. This was a day of great sadness for me and I know how selfish it is for me as a fan to be as upset as I was – and still am – that Peter passed away because I never knew him personally. My sadness though was because he was an influential figure in my life both on a musical and personal level. I attribute my survival of high school and my 20’s to him, among others. His music changed my life and I felt deeply connected to it. The joy of experiencing new Type O Negative music was always a beautiful challenge and I really miss it.

This brings me to the conclusion – Type O Negative wrote meaningful and progressive pop music. They understood how to use humour and depth to communicate the pain of existence. They sonically crafted their own language and musical dynamics. They gave the world a beautiful history of noise that is dripping with all kinds of shiver. The band may not be a household name but that is a pointless argument for quality. A lot of my favourite musical institutions are not household names. Type O Negative are a band that you invest in if you believe in a long-term committed relationship. This is not a band for the casual, they require your full attention. If you pay the band that attention you will be rewarded beyond belief.

I love Type O Negative very deeply. If I die tomorrow and I needed someone to sum up the kind of music that “Dan Newton” listened too and strived to create I’d hope – and put forward – Type O Negative as the band, genre and sound of me.

Type O Negative, Please consider

Big Love

Dan Newton xo

Knowing when to call it a day: The sad case of Marvin Lee Aday

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Perhaps my strongest musical memory from childhood is of spending hours on end listening to Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell albums.  I spent hours with Bat 2 on my headphones, singing out of key at the top of my lungs and pissing my family off.  I wish I had a recording of what that sounded like, because I’m pretty sure that’s what Meat subjected the world to on his Guilty Pleasure Tour a couple of years ago.
 
I have loved Meat Loaf’s overblown operatic music all my life (thank you Jim Steinman), but had never been to see him live.  Once most of these guys hit their 60’s you figure it’s either time to fork out the cash, or maybe there won’t be a next time.  He’d already retired once before, so my girlfriend and I handed over the big bucks (yes, it was a lot) and got our tickets to see Meat Loaf live.
 
The first sign that something wasn’t quite right was of course the AFL Grand Final debacle. 

I was hoping that he’d just had a bad day and he’d pull it together for the tour.  Maybe the foldback was crap, right?  But there was something unsettling about the shaking hands and overuse of vibrato during the performance, like he was trying to force something that wasn’t there.
 
As time would tell, this was not a one-off bad show.  I can’t speak for the whole tour (though by the accounts I’ve read, my experience was fairly indicative) but the Brisbane performance was akin to the musical equivalent of watching a car accident unfold: it’s unbearably horrible to witness, but you just can’t turn away.
 
The first songs showed some glimmer of hope, where he tackled ‘Hot Patootie’ & Bat Out of Hell’ without too many problems (although he clearly struggled during the latter and had to make a point of telling us he still sang it in the same key as the recording), but from there it was all downhill, culminating in a cringe worthy ‘duet’ with rapper Lil Jon on a video screen in one of the new songs.  It was as if he couldn’t hear himself, or couldn’t actually tell that he was out of tune, but it was consistently like this for the entire show.  I was one of the few who stayed to the end in the hope he’d pull it together, but unfortunately it never happened.  I have never seen the Entertainment Centre empty during a show the way it did that night.

 
At about the midway point of the concert, when the audience began to stream to the exits, I had the realisation that if Meat hadn’t been there, the band would have been great to listen to.  Patti Russo is a brilliant singer in her own right and could have carried the entire concert on her own.  In fact, the only high points of the show were her lead vocal parts.
 
It ended up being the worst show I have ever seen, and left me unable to listen to any of his music for the next 18 months.  In fact I’m only listening to some of his music now to write this piece.  I went from being a huge fan to feeling cheated.  Tricked by a pale imitation of past glories.
 
Meat Loaf (particularly the Jim Steinman-penned albums) gave me my love of epic song writing, bombast, performance art, and humour in music.  Without this I would never have written something like ‘Breathe’.  It’s as much in debt to Steinman’s work as it is to Slint.
 
To my knowledge, Meat Loaf has stubbornly refused to admit that he’s past it, however the evidence is plain to hear for anyone who’s been to see him live recently.  Maybe there’s something to say for growing old gracefully, reinterpreting your old classics, doing the small acoustic shows and not shredding your vocal chords every night.  Maturing.  The obvious exemption is of course the Rolling Stones, but even they toyed with this idea when they did ‘Stripped’ in the 90’s.
 
I’d like to hope that one day Meat Loaf will come to this realisation and come back with a record that he can perform live, instead of opening himself up for ridicule.  I’d certainly go to see him at an intimate show, performing new songs and pared-back versions of his hits.  A musical direction to suit the limitations that have come with age.
 
Until then, we’ll always have Bat Out of Hell:

By Clint Morrow

Heavy and Weird Album Of The Week – Volume One – “October Rust” by Type O Negative

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Hello Everyone,

This is a weekly blog that the team at Heavy and Weird will be posting focussing on an important album that we all reckon you should invest in. It will be chosen by a member of the team and will include a full youtube link to the album itself.

This week the album was picked by Dan Newton and is the 1996 release from Type O Negative called “October Rust” – a vital pop record that everyone needs to hear.

Here it is in full – please listen without distraction

We hope you enjoy it and let us know what you think of it.

Big Love

The Heavy and Weird Team xo

 

Hourly Daily by You Am I – a reflection on Australia’s greatest band

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Over the last few years I have developed an unhealthy obsession with You Am I.  I’m embarrassed to say that until around 2009 my knowledge of their contribution to the musical landscape was restricted to ‘Berlin Chair’ (call me a late bloomer, or just ignorant).  However since then, their music has almost constantly played in the background of my life.  In fact, there was a period last year when I lived in East Brisbane, and I would catch the City Cat to work, when I listened to Hourly Daily every weekday for almost six months.  It put me in a good mood before a day of answering dull queries, or dealing with angry people for seven and a half hours, and it made all the bullshit melt away seven and a half hours later.  I’m still not sick of it.

I even gave a copy of Hourly Daily to my sister and told her to listen to it when she needed cheering up.  The lyrics are sad but the music is happy.  It satisfies both my love of downbeat lyricism and brilliant pop song writing.  Take ‘Tuesday’, a song from the point of view of someone with insomnia: “Tuesday comes and goes like any late night bus/I could do a lot more with my time/but you should hear what’s going on outside”.  Has there been a more shining example of melancholy wrapped in beautiful pop music since The Beatles?

When I think of ‘Pop’ I don’t think of the latest American Idol or X Factor winner.  To me, these are the McDonalds at the food court.  Most people in the area will gravitate to it, buy it, consume it for 3 minutes, then expel it 12 hours later.  Everyone needs a cheeseburger sometimes, but pop music to me is to be clung to and revered.  It has something for every mood, every emotion.  Hourly Daily does this for me.

In the last ten years You Am I have almost turned into this country’s Rolling Stones.  They’ve definitely got the ‘loose but tight’ vibe down, have little regard for current musical trends, and regardless of what you think of Tim Rogers, he has amazing stage presence, kind of a combination of Mick’s swinging front man & Keith’s elegantly wasted rock star cool.  Seeing them live recently certainly suggests that they’ll be going for a while longer yet, and on a good night they’re the best rock & roll band in Australia.

Over the years they’ve been a grunge band (they were never a grunge band)

An alternative rock band

A pop band

A punk band

and the great Stones/Faces influenced band they’ve been recently

I’m looking forward to hearing which musical incarnation of You Am I is on their next album.

While writing this piece I listened to Hourly Daily again.  I don’t quite know how this record does what it does, or what was going through Tim Rogers’ head when he wrote it, but this album can be my wake-up coffee in the morning, a faithful dog walking with me during the day, or my bar buddy at night; and that’s probably the best recommendation I can give.

By Clint Morrow

Different kinds of music listeners

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Are there different kinds of music listeners?

I had a recent chat with a non-musician friend of mine. We were talking about music, and started comparing two different songs. One song was a commercial, American rap song, and the other, an underground, Australian rap song. I suggested that the reason the underground song was ‘worse’, was because it used a strange juxtaposition of instruments (drums, flute and some sort of mandolin – it didn’t come off that successful), and it used very repetitive, uninteresting chords that didn’t “go anywhere”. The song never really reached an apex, it just stayed flat the whole way through. I suggested that the reason the more commercial song was ‘good’, was because it used a more pleasant-to-the-ear chord sequence, a rising structure that built up towards the end, and more recognizable instrumentation for the genre (synths, a funky bassline, etc).

My non-musician friend had different insights. He didn’t really think about the difference between the music at all (though I suspect that on some level he noticed it). Instead, he liked the more successful song because the lyrics were aspirational. Instead of telling a personal, involved story like the underground song, the lyrics were sort of encouraging, along the lines of  ‘my life is awesome, let’s party, throw your hands in the air’. He said the song made him ‘feel good’. Me, I liked the other song’s lyrics better, though. They were more original and personal, and made me ‘think’, whereas I felt the successful song’s lyrics came off pretty braggy, and sounded like a million other rap songs out there.

Therein lies our difference, though. My friend is clearly the sort of listener who considers the ‘surface’ lines of the music. He notices lyrics in a song’s chorus, and catchy melodies, moreso than anything else. I’m not bagging him out, by the way – this is just his approach to music. It made me stop and think, though, because I definitely notice music in a different way. I am pretty sure that I notice the progression of the instrumentation, more than anything, when I first hear a song. That’s why it sometimes takes me a few tries to listen to popular music and ‘get’ why it is popular. A lot of very ‘pop’ music out there at the moment sounds so uniform throughout the song (eg: Katy Perry’s songs). As I listen to the music, I often think “what’s so good about this? It just stays the same nearly the whole song through! Oh there’s the middle 8 – how predictable”. Then after a couple of listens, I will notice that the vocal melody line is insanely catchy, and understand why it’s popular. (Then it will mercilessly get stuck in my head…sigh). Sometimes I do notice the vocal melody over everything else, but only if it is very unique, or if the singer has a special voice.

It’s hard to find any one definitive ‘study’ of different kinds of music listeners/fans. I found a couple of interesting opinions I will outline here, though:

Chase March’s idea: There are 3 different levels of music listeners –

1. The casual listener (“doesn’t pay much attention to the music whatsoever. This listener often doesn’t know the name of the artists or the songs that they listen to. They don’t own much in the way of music. “).

2. The second type of listener (“likes the sound of the music and doesn’t really focus on the lyrics as much. If it has a good beat, they are into it. If it has a catchy chorus, it doesn’t really matter what the song is about, they like it.”)

3. The third type of listener (“really listens to and analyzes lyrics. This listener cares about the whole package. It isn’t just about the lyrics. The song needs to have a good beat too, and the delivery needs to be on point. This listener is often critical of everything they hear.”)

I’m not sure if I entirely agree with Chase’s assessment, because I’d consider my non-musician friend to be a ‘casual’ or ’2nd-type listener’, but he definitely notices lyrics moreso than the music. I would probably suggest Chase changing his model to have the ’2nd type listener’ notice lyrics moreso than the music. I’ve definitely found that, in my experience, ‘casual’ music listeners tend to notice the lyrics and melodies, and not really pay attention to the music/instrumentation. On some level I’m sure they are responding to the ‘feel’ or ‘emotional key’ of the music, but on the surface they mostly notice catchy melodies and chorus phrases. If I had to categorize myself, I guess I’d be a ‘third-type’ listener, though.

This guy’s idea (found on a rateyourmusic forum) – There are 3 types of music listeners, sitters, seekers and standers:

1. Sitters do not actively seek out new music, they ‘sit back’ and let music come to them – usually through radio, TV and media. Their only exposure to music is through what others present to them. They have a strong preference for chart-topping music.

2. Seekers actively seek out music and are always adding to their collection. They may be into more underground and less popular genres. They may get recommendations from their friends, but often seek out music on their own.

3. Standers can be hostile towards new music. They tend to stick with their own collection of music, and don’t want to add to it. They are often afficionados or fans of ‘classic’ genres. “Standers are big believers in a canon of music that is perfect and unchallengeable as the standard of excellence in the form.”

I find this guy’s insights interesting, but I don’t really think everyone can fit into these categories. I do know some people that fit in, but I think a lot of people would be a combination of the few. I know someone who is, I suppose, a ‘stander’ (absolutely loves metal and barely listens to anything else), but he’s always ‘seeking’ new bands and genres within metal to listen to. I guess if I had to choose one for myself, I’d be a ‘stander’.

There was one article I read ages ago that I thought was very interesting, but for the life of me I can’t remember where I read it. I’ve tried to google it, but to no avail. From what I remember, the article also suggested that there are 3 levels of music listeners. It was something like:

3rd level – Loves and pretty much lives for music. Can’t imagine life without music. Sees songs as the soundtrack to their life, and associates memories with music. Can have memories triggered by a certain song. Sees live music a lot. Gives music full attention when listening. (Definitely me!)

2nd level – Likes music, but sees it more as the background to their life. May have favourite songs and artists, but doesn’t take a huge interest in seeing live music. Can have music in the background but doesn’t always pay attention to it. (My non-musician friend would be this type)

1st level – Hates music and barely ever listens to it, unless they don’t have control over the situation. Many of these people are psychopaths or people who find it difficult to empathize with other people.

I found this article really thought-provoking at the time, particularly when I thought about what kinds of people would be in the 1st level. Have you ever met someone who really despises music?! I haven’t – the ‘worst’ music listeners I’ve met have been people who simply don’t listen to much music, unless it’s on their car radio. They aren’t constantly seeking music, and don’t play it at home. But if you ask them about music, they’ll still have a few artists or genres they prefer. To completely hate music, though – are there any people actually like that out there?

YEP, there are. Just check out this comment thread. Some people really don’t like it. There is also a medical condition called amusia that, to put it simply, makes listening to music quite unpleasant. It has to do with a disorder in mental processing of melodies/notes.

The article I read suggested that many psychopaths and mentally ill people would fit into the 1st-level category, mainly because they have trouble empathizing, and music has a lot to do with emotion. This can’t be entirely true, though. Case en pointe: Charles Manson. It’s well documented that he wrote a lot of music, so on some level, he must have liked it. Hitler also had a pretty large music collection, though debates still rage about his mental state. A popular theory is that he had something akin to Asperger’s. I personally know someone with Asperger’s, who is a very talented musician. Jeffrey Saltzman has an interesting blog post about psychopaths in the corporate workplace, that discusses the suggestion of psychopaths hearing ‘the words but not the music’ – ie, they intereact with music on a surface level, but don’t really ‘feel’ it. I don’t know – from trolling around some psychopathic and sociopathic message boards online, the general consensus (from the psychopaths and sociopaths themselves) seems to be that psychopaths do like some kinds of music. They are capable of feeling some emotions, such as anger, but not the emotion we call ‘empathy’. But they tend to stick with what they know, and have a particular affinity for ‘highbrow’ music such as classical music. It’s very interesting to think about what a person who truly dislikes all music would be like, though. What sort of hollow robot would they be?!

I’m clearly biased, as a musician and music-lover. But I see music and art as things that define us as ‘human’. It’s really strange to me that there are people who don’t feel that way. However, it takes all kinds to make a world…!

One of the best models I’ve found in my readings has been composer Aaron Copland’s theory of the ’3 planes of listening’. You can read an article on this here, along with an investigation of listener actions. But I will outline it for you below:

1. The sensuous plane – we hear the music without thinking or analysing it. On this level, we can still be influenced by music, but in a non-conscious way. Eg: by hearing upbeat music playing in a store, we will buy more than if we are listening to slow, sad music.

2. The expressive plane – we hear the ‘emotion’ of the music, or ‘feel’ it. This is where listeners give a ‘meaning’ to the music they are listening to. Unless I’m being analytical, I tend to listen to music on this plane.

3. The purely musical plane – this plane requires focused listening. On this plane, the listener notices all the musical aspects – the volume, tone, rhythm, tempo, melodies, harmonies and structure.

I like this model because it doesn’t incorporate any ‘hierachy’ or judgement about the personality of the music listener. It just talks about the level of engagement the listener is having with the music. Perhaps it’s possible to turn a ‘sensous’ listener into an ‘expressive’ or ‘purely musical’ listener, simply through adjusting their level of attention to the music.

I can understand someone disliking, say, a genre of music (there are a couple I’m generally not too fond of). But it’s very difficult for me to imagine hating the entirity of music there is in existence. Surely there is something for everyone out there? Learning and listening to music has been proven to improve cognitive functions such as problem solving, creativity and stress management. Music is successfully used as therapy in many spheres. Maybe the world would be a better place if more people had a creative outlet such as music, or art, to focus on.

This is just my opinion, though – maybe some people would say the same thing about science, math or philosophy!

Until next time,

xoxo Bec

Big world changes in the air

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Is anyone else getting the feeling that the world is changing in a big way?

Okay, I know, the world is always in a state of flux. Probably people at every stage of history have thought, “gee, things are really changing around here” at some point.  But I feel, especially this year, that people are especially noticing the changes we’re going through. We’re looking back over the past 20 years or so to reflect. Maybe it’s the significance of the year 2012 that’s got everyone a’thinkin, I don’t know.  But to put it simply, old systems are noticeably breaking down, and the world seems to be – slowly – moving towards simpler, more grassroots organizations. Just look at what’s happened/happening. Big retailers are crumbling thanks to online stores. The big-bucks music industry model has shattered, and smaller record labels and independent artists have cropped up everywhere.  The publishing industry has been fractured thanks to individuals blogging. Religion, something that has had a HUGE stronghold on society since…er…the beginning of civilization…seems to finally be losing its influence. I know in some places *cough, the Middle East, middle America* it remains very popular, but SO much of Western society has become secular. Schools have stopped including religion in the curriculum, less and less people belong to churches. And even religion itself is becoming more accepting of things it previously shunned, like homosexuality and alternative lifestyles. Us Westerners also seem finally to be accepting that doctors, with their pills, drugs and operations, aren’t the be-all and end-all in healthcare. Eastern and natural therapies are becoming more valued, and vegetarianism and veganism are now quite acceptable, if not the norm in some places. Politically, well…we had the ‘Occupy’ and ‘KONY’ movements, which spread worldwide. I’m still not sure if they achieved anything (and that KONY thing seems to have been proven a scam). Nevertheless, it was nice to see so many people mobilised and rallying for change. We’re embracing, more and more, the concept that we are our own “Gods”. We’re remembering the importance of love, connection, and the power of choice (ideas that seemed oh-so-New-Age about 20-30 years ago).

Dude, the world has changed. And it’s kinda awesome. Power to the people. The individual people, not the corporations.

I’ve no idea where we will end up. Maybe there is nowhere to ‘end up’ – after all, life is a process. Time isn’t as linear as history books would have us believe. I can’t predict with any measure of certainty where we’ll be a hundred years from now.

But yes, I’m finding very interesting the current trends in the Western world. Big businesses are crumbling, as I mentioned above. So’s the economy. We got a big hint this was the case with the latest GFC (Global Financial Crisis, for those of you who’ve been stuck on Mars for the past 5 years, in a cave, with your fingers in your ears).

Before all this, though, the music business was hit in a huge way. The advent of the Internet and a now-ancient company called Napster pretty much killed the influence of the ‘big five’ music companies. Now, due to declining record sales and corporate merging, it’s the ‘big three’. Maybe one day there’ll only be the ‘big one’…or (please?) the ‘big nothing’.

The music industry has been hijacked by smaller, more specialised labels, and saavy independent artists. Indie labels are accounting for more and more of the world’s music market sales shares. Sure, we still have pre-packaged pop goods pumped out from major labels, but there is now a very easy-to-explore world online where people can find alternatives to this stuff. Originality in music is held in higher and higher regard these days. I know none of this is probably news to you, reader (this whole music-business-collapsing stuff is old info now). But I think it’s really interesting to see where this fits in the scheme of things, and that the rest of the world is following this move. Essentially, it’s a shift from corporate hollowness back to creativity. And it’s all thanks to the Internet.

Yes, there have been a lot of jobs lost, a lot of people bankrupted, and a lot of changes, not all of them good. But in spite of all this, I truly feel energized and excited by this shift around the world. I think what really has happened on a large scale, is a splintering of large and seemingly inpenetrable power systems into much smaller power systems. The average person has a lot more leverage now. Sure, you still need talent, drive, and perhaps a certain amount of money to start yourself an empire. (Actually, scratch the last part. I can think of a bunch of people off the top of my head who LITERALLY started with nothing in the bank, and now own companies worth millions) It’s much easier to take control of your own destiny, network with people, and create your dreams in the world we live in now.

What does this mean for musicians? Lots of good stuff! No longer are we at the mercy of record company execs and fat A&R guys. (…to be fair, maybe a lot of A&R guys are skinny.  I’ve always pictured them overweight and smoking cigars though. Cigars lit with hundred dollar bills) We have so much more power these days. Yes, of course, hard work and talent are still really important. But, by golly, if you really want to, you can run your own career now. There are plenty of artists who started (or remain) entirely independent of outside record labels, and have built their career purely through live shows and Internet connections. And with record companies becoming smaller, more boutique and more niche, they have more time to focus on the music and look after their artists. The music industry is coming back to a focus on music itself, and is not the ruthless money-churning machine it was even 15 years ago. Yes, certain parts of the industry still conform to the old model, but on a grassroots level it is changing.

In my perhaps bold opinion, I think the Internet is a very interesting ‘physical’ representation of mass consciousness. (I put ‘physical’ in quotations because, though it certainly exists, you can’t really see or touch ‘the Internet’ itself, can you?…Contrary to what Jen from The IT Crowd thinks, it’s not a black box you can pick up and show to people). I’m sure that my idea sounds very fruity, but I think all of us are, on some level, aware that there is a connection between all of us humans – that we have, as well as our individual consciousnesses, a ‘mass consciousness’. How else do you explain crazy coincidences? (Come on, we’ve all had them. Your mum comes into your head, and the next minute she randomly rings you. You and your friend blurt out the same sentence at the same time. You dream something and then it happens the next day.  Our thoughts all connect). This isn’t as wishy washy as it sounds, anyway. Thoughts are real things. Everyone has them. Thoughts have energy waves, even brain scanning medical equipment can pick up on them. Like a cell phone sending a text, you can’t see your thought, but it definitely exists out there. With all our thoughts flying around together, they form a mass consciousness. A ‘net’ or a ‘web’, if you will.

I just think it’s really interesting that as humans have evolved, we’ve created this amazing ‘net/web’ of invisible information (the Internet). Pretty much every thought, every invention, every piece of art, and every idea of note from history has now been chronicled on the Internet. It’s something you can’t see or touch, but you can access/’visit’ it from pretty much anywhere, if you have a Smartphone or a computer tablet. Pretty darn incredible! Can you imagine someone from the 1800s flashing forward to this time and seeing the Internet? They’d think it was black magic or something. And what has this web of information done? It’s allowed us more power, more choices, more connection. I know some say the Internet is a bad thing, for encouraging social interaction through a screen rather than through ‘real’ life. However, I think it’s ultimately a good thing (as long as you balance it with real life interaction.) My uncle met his wife on the Internet, and they’ve been married over 10 years now! Where would he be without the Internet? Where would Mark Zuckerberg be? If you want to find love, success or empower yourself, I think the net has really helped open up your choices.

And despite the potential for isolation, I think ultimately, the Internet has made us become MORE connected. After all, with retailers going out of business every day thanks to online retailers, which are the physical retailers that will succeed? The ones with exceptional service. The ones that make the experience of coming in face-to-face unparalleled. With the millions of musicians using the Internet, which ones will keep their heads above the crowd? The ones that add value to their consumers, who keep connected online, who play amazing live shows and reward their fans with free stuff, original music and unique merchandise and experiences.

Oh yeah…these are exciting times we’re living in, guys…make the most of it!

By Bec Wolfers