SHOW ME YOUR RIFFS – Volume Two – Kellie Lloyd (screamfeeder, warm guns, solo)

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The first time I heard Screamfeeder was late 1996 / early 1997 during the school holidays. I was 13 years old at the time and living in Mackay but was about to move to Bundaberg. One morning (feels like it was potentially a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday) I was waiting in the car at Canelands Shopping Centre listening to Triple J. A song came onto the stereo that floored me and I’ll never forget how cool the opening line of “I’m going to build a radio with Static from the Stars” was. From here the song exploded into one of the most perfect rock songs I had ever heard. The song I’m of course referring to is “Static” from the amazing Screamfeeder. I remember going home that day and writing down the name of the band and song in my Diary. I added the band to a list I was compiling of bands / artists I must buy. It was not long after this that I saw the film clip for “Static” on RAGE. This was the first time I saw the band in a live context and it was a film clip that was made up of footage from when they played on Recovery. Here is the clip:’

I fell in love with this band and thought they were one of the coolest things I had ever seen. I was even more blown away when I found out that they were from Brisbane. That just blew my mind that a band this good came from Brisbane. At this point I was already into Powderfinger (who had only just released Double Allergic) Regurgitator (who had just released Tu-Plang) and the amazing Wollongong band Tumbleweed (who had just released Return To Earth). Screamfeeder had something else though and they were like fucking rock stars to me. When I finally moved to Brisbane in 2003 at the ripe old age of 20 bands like Screamfeeder, Regurgitator, Powderfinger and Not From There were bands that I still had up on very high pedestals. Like I said, these people were like Rock Stars to me and when I would see Tim Steward or Kellie Lloyd out in the Valley I would be absolutely star struck.  I was always too scared to talk to them because I admired them so much. The first time I did get to meet them was backstage at a Brisbane Sounds gig in 2009 and Tim, Kellie and Dean were three of the nicest people that I could have ever met. They also rocked the fuck out live and still remain one of the greatest live bands from Brisbane. So in 2011 when I got the chance to have Tim Steward produce the debut album for the band I play in (Galapogos) I was once again very star struck. Through this recording process I got the chance to become friends with Tim and for that I feel blessed as I value his music and wisdom. This was also the period in time where I also got to meet and know Kellie Lloyd a bit better.

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So when I sat down to plan this new interview series for Heavy and Weird the first person who I approached was Kellie Lloyd. To have her accept the invitation was unreal and I was excited for days and looked forward to getting the chance to sit down and have a chat with Kellie about her career and just about life and music in general.

The main thing I was interested in discussing was what motivated Kellie’s music and to discuss her history as an artist. Here is what Kellie has to say about that:

“I’ve always been interested in things that are darker. When I was growing up and even before I was a teenager I was interested in that darkness. A lot of young girls would make scrap books about what they wanted out of life. All my friends had scrapbooks and they would put photos in there of dresses and photos of what they wanted to wear at their weddings and all that kind of stuff.  I was a little bit different as I put pictures of punks, guitars, Sid Vicious, Siouxsie and the Banshees and other music related stuff. I wasn’t dreaming about getting married I was dreaming about playing in a rock n roll band.

When I entered my teen years I became aware that I was a loner and prone to depression and that I wasn’t like the other girls. I fit in and felt more comfortable with the boys because I shared their interests when it came to films and music. Musically I liked things that weren’t popular and you know, darker stuff from punk to goth and I wanted to be different and didn’t want to be like everyone else. When I started playing an instrument I wanted to play better than everyone else and I had a competitive edge.  At the same time though I didn’t want to be the person at the front of a band. I wanted to be the person who was responsible and was in charge but I didn’t want to be at the centre.

When it comes to my Lyrics, I read a lot as a child and teenager so as a result I would spend a lot more time on lyrics as they are very important to me. That is something that both Me and Tim prided ourselves on, writing really great lyrics. That is what I loved about Husker Du, they had two songwriters that competed but their music was explosive and joyful and alive but the lyrics were usually about the politics of personal stuff, it was about loss and that really resonated with me.

In terms of writing songs, to me it is never really a conscious process; to me every song feels like a miracle. I mean you can sit with your guitar and come up with little different things but when you put it all together it just feels like this little miracle is happening in front of you. I tend to make things hard for myself when it comes to the songwriting process because I get bored with the standard things so that is why I love to play around with different tunings and also take on the challenge of learning a new instrument. I did that with my last solo album (Magnetic North). Me and my housemate had just brought a Piano so I was learning to play it and through that process I discovered a new way to write songs, it was a challenge but also incredibly freeing.  Every song that I write though is still a surprise to me and like I’ve said a miracle. That is the joy of making music.

I also think that writers block and being blocked creatively is also part of the creative process.  I’ve certainly had periods like that and when I’ve moved out of them I’ve written some stuff that I’m really proud of. I took a year off once, from songwriting and being a musician and I just worked a 9 to 5 job which itself was still attached to the music industry, so I guess I really wasn’t too separated from the music lifestyle, anyway I just wasn’t writing anything. I didn’t participate in that lifestyle. It wasn’t until I went to a songwriting conference and saw a keynote speech from Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance) and this just changed me and reminded me of why I loved doing what I did. It was after this that I wrote my last solo album.

When I think about it, writing songs and playing music is all about self-expression and communicating what beats from your heart and brain and  as I get older I feel like I’m getting better at it and through those years of doing it, it has made me a better person to.”

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Being a part of such an important time in the history of Australian music and having bands like Regurgitator, Powderfinger , Custard and Not From There as her peers in the early 90’s I was curious to know what the scene was like back then compared to now:

When we started Screamfeeder, everything was fresh and new.  It was an exciting time in the music world. When we released our first album in 1991 we had labels interested in us and we were supporting international bands. There was a lot of interest in what we were doing and we got a lot of support from the industry but we also did a lot of stuff ourselves and were always touring outside of Brisbane.  Back then Triple J was a new national entity and it was finding itself and all the bands that were coming out at that time were all finding themselves as well so to have all of us finding ourselves collectively allowed for a bigger sense of community and also risk in the music we all made.

All of those things though were part of that time. As our band got older we started to move away and work nationally and we were away from Brisbane a lot. So when you are away from people’s eye line they tend to forget about you and only focus on what’s new and in front of them. It’s not like we stopped working as a band though, we worked quite hard and still released albums and did a lot of national and international touring.

It is a lot worse now though. It seems like in this modern climate, a band will release an album and tour it and it feels like they are hot for like five minutes and then people forget about them.  In this day and age, if you don’t watch your back or keep your audience engaged you’ll get moved over. It’s like a fucking conveyor belt and it feels different to how it was when I started. It didn’t feel like that back then. I don’t go out or participate in the scene like I did in my early days so I can’t comment to heavily on it but that is what I’ve observed in the past few years and it can be a horrible process for a band who have worked hard and achieved some success and then all of a sudden be yesterday’s news. I don’t think people understand just how heartbreaking that can be and not on an ego level either, just on a human level. It can be terrible.

I think it’s important to keep reminding yourself why you play music and to make sure you have fun doing it and play regardless of all that pressure.”

As our conversation expanded and we related about music and life I came to the question that I have been eager to ask Kellie for a number of years. My favourite song from Kellie’s discography is the first track off Screamfeeder’s album “Rocks On Your Soul” which is called “Stopless.”  This song always destroys me emotionally when I hear it and I am happy to admit that it has pushed me to the point of tears. I relate to so much of it, from the sway of the music and dream pop swoon of it all. It just floors me every time. My favourite passage of lyrics from that song that I relate to deeply is the following lines:

and all the energy I’d burned / on all those stupid boys that I thought / were worth my time and I would die for / I’d lose my head and when my heart felt / I’d add to my life’s list of disappointment / he sounded good on the phone / I’d walk at night on my own / I knew that it was worth it / and I’d never have to do it again

I’ve been having weird dreams again / I just wanna have the one where I win / all the times they’ve said this job’s for you / some dss guy wouldn’t have a clue / of what I will achieve in my life / it’s not some 9-5 thing or a house wife / not that any of those things are bad / it’s just never been a dream the I’ve had / I’ve got a dark ambition in me / I will be independent and free / and all the stupid things I’ve done / i’ll never have to do them again”

I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve sat and listened to this song and just got lost in those words and how they relate to my life from the confusion of my twenties to the brave uncertainty of my 30’s and the new decade ahead of me. Whenever I sell how amazing Screamfeeder are I always play this song and it has ended up on a bunch of mixtapes and cds over the years. I also think it sums up why I am such a big fan Kellie’s songwriting and the music she makes.  So I was interested to discuss this song with Kellie and to see what it means to her:

“I think it is my defining song and I don’t think I’ll ever write a song that will sum me up as well as that one did. A lot of the lyrics were taken from my personal diary, there is an awful lot of me in that song and when I play it live I get transported somewhere else. It says everything I want to say, and despite its darkness I still believe that it is a very hopeful song. There is definitely hope attached to it with the conclusion being that you have to make mistakes. It is about the road forward. I wrote that song in my late 20’s and some of it was left over from a period of time where I had been in love with someone but was then dumped. So there is a lot of left over residual shit from that that was channelled into that song because it fucking sucks to be the one who is dumped and that can really hurt.  A lot of people through the years have responded to that song. I remember getting a letter sent to me from a fellow who had heard that song on the radio and he had to pull over his car until the song finished because it connected so deeply with him. He explained in his letter how it reduced him to tears. That was really special to hear and I’m always glad to hear that something I’ve written has resonated with someone on a deep level.”

Kellie Lloyd is my hero and I was so glad to get the opportunity to spend time chatting with her. I left the conversation changed and even more inspired not just as an artist but as a human being. Regardless of whether you know who Kellie is or not I think the time is always right to discover music that she’s been a part of because it is timeless stuff. It stands up and connects with you regardless of what decade you’re in. I recommended getting all of it and immersing yourself in it. I’m looking forward to all the wonderful music Kellie will release in the future and I am always honoured to speak with her and spend time in her presence because I always learn something and walk away even more inspired.

Thank You Kellie Lloyd

Your Heart Is A Hunter from Kellie’s Solo album “Magnetic North”

Your Heart Is A Hunter (live version)

We are Made Of Stars from Kellie’s Solo album “Magnetic North”

By: Dan Newton

P.S. if you’re a modern Brisbane Musician who has not seen this amazing film clip or heard this amazing song then it is time for you to push play

Kellie Lloyd Discography:

Screamfeeder

Albums

  1. Flour (1992)
  2. Burn Out Your Name (1993)
  3. Fill Yourself With Music (1995)
  4. Kitten Licks (1996)
  5. Rocks On The Soul (2000)
  6. Take You Apart (2003)

EPs

  1. Felicitator (1994)
  2. Closing Alaska (1997)
  3. Home Age (1999)
  4. Dellusions Of Grandchildren (2005)

Singles

From Burn Out Your Name

  1. “Fingers and Toes” (1993)

From Fill Yourself With Music

  1. “Fill Yourself With Music” (1995)
  2. “Who’s Counting?/Sweet Little Oranges” (1995)

From Kitten Licks

  1. “Dart”      (1996)
  2. “Static”      (1996)
  3. “Gravity”      (1996)

Non-album singles

  1. “Triple Hook” (1998)
  2. “Hi Cs” (1998)

From Rocks on the Soul

  1. “Above The Dove” (2000)

From Take You Apart

  1. “Ice Patrol” (2003)
  2. “12345”      (2003)
  3. “I Don’t Know What To Do Any More” (2003)
  4. “Bunny”      (2004)

Solo

  1. “For Nothing and No One” (1995)
  2. “Your Heart Is A Hunter” (Nov 2011)
  3. “Magnetic North” (April 24th 2012)

Warm Guns

  1. Warm Guns self-titled album (2007)

Useful Links:

Website – http://screamfeeder.com/kellie/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/kellielloydmusic

Bandcamp – http://kellielloyd.bandcamp.com/

(all photos courtesy of Kellie’s Facebook Page)

 

 

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