SINGLE REVIEW: “Let Yourself Be Free” by Dark Fair

Image

Upon hearing Dark Fair’s latest single, Brisbanites familiar with their local music scene over the last seven or eight years might hear some similarities to songstress Kate Bradley, who quietly disappeared a few years ago after releasing an excellent album, ‘The Deeper The Sand‘.  If you’re in that boat, your ears aren’t deceiving you; Bradley now goes by the name Ramona Moore, and along with ex-Goodbye Horses & Young Eleanor drummer Ellie Dunn they’ve spent the last two years crafting jagged pop songs as the Melbourne based two-piece Dark Fair.

The immediacy of ‘Let Yourself Be Free‘s opening guitar riff, coupled with stop/start drumming, and bouncing bass courtesy of guest musician Adalita Srsen (yes, that Adalita), are miles away from Kate Bradley & The Goodbye Horses’ introspective indie.  ‘Let Yourself Be Free’ is sonically closer to bands like Franz Ferdinand and Editors than anything I had imagined would emerge from these two musicians.  It’s not a bad thing, though, this approach suits their sparse guitar & drums attack perfectly.  The bridge contains a mountain of handclaps, which would get even the most jaded of hipster crowds moving and shaking.  This is definitely music to dance to.

Image
Dark Hair / Fair Hair – Ramona Moore & Ellie Dunn

As if getting lost in a great pop song wasn’t enough, the B-side ‘Year Of Never Knowing‘ turns out to be the real gem here.  Its slower tempo and spindly guitar lines convey feelings that make ‘Let Yourself Be Free’ sound almost throwaway, rather than just carefree, in comparison.  ‘Year Of Never Knowing’ never loses the ability to keep your foot tapping along, but will have you thinking about its spidery lyrical twists and turns hours later.

Get a copy of this now.  Dark Fair are your new favourite band.
http://thedarkfair.bandcamp.com/album/let-yourself-be-free

Rating: 8 out of 10

By Clint Morrow

TRIBUTE: Lou Reed

patti-smith-lou-reed

The passing of Lou Reed is a very sad loss for the music world and for me personally. I have no personal connection to Lou Reed beyond his music and for the last twelve years of my life I have been obsessed with it. When people talk about true originals in the art world Lou Reed is one of the first people I think of. His level of artistry was unmatched and throughout his career he did things his way and never compromised his vision for anyone. That was the reward of being a fan of his music and his art because it never stayed the same and regardless of resonance it was always different and of the cutting edge variety.

I was first introduced to Lou Reed by my good friend Brett Wyatt when he gave me a copy of a best of back in 2001. I was 17 going on 18 and looking for all kinds of new musical extremes beyond the heavy metal and alternative nation sounds I’d indulged in since the age of 11. The first song that really hit me was “Satellite of Love” and to this day it remains to be one of his greatest songs ever.

It wasn’t until 2004 that I become ultimately obsessed with Lou Reed and his original creative vehicle The Velvet Underground. At this point in my life I was listening to a lot of Sonic Youth and using their influence to discover all kinds of other radical rock n roll sounds. Through my initial understanding of Lou Reed through that best of and my new found love of Sonic Youth I went out and purchased every single The Velvet Underground album.

The music contained on “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” “White Light / White Heat, ”The Velvet Underground” and “Loaded” is truly original and stands as some of the most influential rock n roll ever created. To my ears the way I think of music history, at least in the rock n roll and pop worlds, is that you had eleven big pioneers and they were The Beatles, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Neil Young,  Ornette Coleman, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Patti Smith, The Stooges, Black Sabbath and The Velvet Underground. Each of these bands offered a pioneering spirit that helped shape certain dynamics of the rock n roll language.

The Velvet Underground was the ultimate mix of art and punk rock. If there was no The Velvet Underground there would be no Sonic Youth and countless other sophisticated guitar rock bands and I’m convinced that the true success of The Velvet Underground’s music is the way it opened up the universe for other musicians to be brave and in turn inspire the entire punk rock movement to erupt ten years later. Their influence doesn’t’ just stop there, the music they made allowed some of the more established artists of the time, mainly David Bowie, to re-think how they made music and I’m convinced that a lot of what Bowie went on to do in this era is a direct result of their influence. He almost became their spokesmen at a time when everyone hated them.

This is a point that needs to be understood when it comes to The Velvet Underground, everyone hated them, wrote them off and totally misunderstood them. Hindsight and the benefit of time has allowed for generations of music fans to remedy that initial dislike and I don’t think any modern young human has the capacity to understand just how hated they were by all corners of the music and art making world. This is what made them so special to me when I discovered their music back in 2004, the fact that the music itself was so damaged yet so beautiful. It had the capacity to be some of the harshest noise but also some of the sweetest pop music ever.  Each album has a charm and emotional quality and like The Beatles discography it is a perfect movement of music that has implanted itself in so many different artists and the way they construct music.

I was particularly attracted to Lou Reed’s voice, words and the way he wrote songs. Being a rather unskilled guitar player and singer myself at that point in my life (still am) I took a great deal of influence from the way Lou constructed his music, especially in The Velvet Underground. It taught me to favour simplicity and emotion and art over flashy wankerisms. The whole point of musical communication, as I understood it from hours of listening to Lou Reed, was to make it unique to your own emotional intelligence and to do your own thing, reflect your own soul through your songs. So many people tried to imitate – especially in the last decade – what Lou and the rest of The Velvet Underground established. This always confused me because the main message I took from being a fan of Lou Reed is to do your own thing and to never compromise your art. That ethos I have carried with me ever since I fell deeply in love with The Velvet Underground back in 2004 and I hope that the work I do with Galapogos at least reflects that.  I know a lot of who Galapogos is and how we conduct ourselves is in debt to the spirit of what an artist like Lou Reed strived for, total creative freedom and the pursuit of art over commerce.

I’d like to at this point share some words that fellow heavy and weird writer Clint Morrow wrote about Lou Reed:

“Lou Reed, both as a solo artist – a true artist – and with the Velvet Underground, showed me that music was not just a simple melody, verse-chorus-verse song structure, and one-dimensional lyrics. That wasn’t my first impression though. The first time I heard The Velvet Underground as a teenager I didn’t get it. I thought they were garbage. I thought it was poorly played, poorly constructed, and most of all the guy couldn’t sing to save himself. It was a best-of of some description. I forced myself to keep listening because everyone who was anyone said they were supposed to be amazing. I was halfway through the record before it clicked. This song changed my life and the way I listened to music from then on. Thank you, Lou.

There are a lot of songs that I could favour in this situation but my favourite Lou Reed related song will always be “Pale Blue Eyes” from 1969’s self-titled album “The Velvet Underground” – it is the greatest love song ever written and a perfect representation of why Lou Reed was such a great artist:

I could go on to write a million different things to describe why Lou Reed is such an important artist. I think his final public memory for people will always be his collaboration with Metallica which was called “LULU” and despite what other people say I stand by it as being an incredible piece of work and in the true spirit of what made Lou Reed so great. The beauty of “LULU” is how terrible and beautiful it can be. It is a damaged piece of work that was covered in all kinds of risks for each artist. It was hated, misunderstood and written off. People preferred to ignore it as opposed to embrace it and understand what was trying to be communicated and why Lou Reed chose Metallica to help communicate it. Like he did decades before, Lou Reed pissed off and confused a lot of people who like their musical experience to be a safe one, it challenged people and that reason alone illustrates an almost full circle moment for an artist who started off being misunderstood and hated. I think it was a mighty fine swansong after decades of being so forward thinking.

Thank you Lou Reed for all you gave us, you changed my life and how I chose to communicate as an artist.

I’ll see you on the other side Lou somewhere down the line I’m sure or maybe sometime soon – who knows.

Big Love

Dan Newton xo

PEARL JAM – My Favourite Song – I Got ID

IGOTID

My favourite Pearl Jam song of all time is called “I Got ID” which was a track that was written and recorded in 1995 as a stand-alone single / EP titled “Merkinball” which contained the equally amazing “Long Road” as the B-side. This two track single was released in-between “Vitalogy” and “No Code” and was a companion piece to the album that Pearl Jam had made with Neil Young which was called “Mirror Ball” and with hindsight it is potentially Neil Young himself that has allowed for this song to resonate with me so deeply. The strange aspect of this recording is that the bulk of Pearl Jam isn’t even on the track itself. As per the track credits the song is played by Ed Vedder (guitar and vocals), Brendan O’Brien (bass), Neil Young (guitar) and Pearl Jam’s drummer circa late 1994 to 1998 Jack Irons (drums). So realistically the only members of Pearl Jam (circa 1995) present on this track are Ed Vedder and Jack Irons, but I’m not going to let logistics get in the way of resonance.

What makes “I Got ID” such a fantastic piece of music is its delicate rage and the way the song erupts from a quiet disappointed whisper to an angry yet beautiful roar that transitions into a chorus dripping with all kinds of yearning and desire for the simplest of human needs, to be loved and to be understood. Then there is of course the soul destroying lead break from Neil Young that colours so much of the song and gives the rage of it all a wise sigh that helps elevate the track to a level of communication that only Neil Young knows how to do. If Ed Vedder is singing about the God Shaped Hole in his soul then Neil Young’s lead work on “I Got ID” tears open the fabric of the universe and lets the rush of the heavens pour down into your headphones as you try and find a way to turn the fucking thing up louder. I could spend decades speaking about the lead guitar Neil Young plays on this song because it is so important to how the song unfolds and it is the spiritual key to unlocking the pure emotional power of “I Got ID” and on a grander scale the next ten years of Pearl Jam’s career.

Lyrically, there is one line in particular during the course of “I Got ID” that hits me deep and it is as follows:

“If just once I could feel love, oh, stare back at me”

This one line, in all its simplicity sums up what Ed Vedder was and continues to search for in this life and from 1995 to 2013 it is a line that has served as my own emotional plea to the world regarding what drives me to do what I do. To sing and write a line like this you have to have had experienced a level of abandonment in your life. Those who know the Ed Vedder story will understand what that abandonment was for him and where his early emotional scars came from but throughout my life I’ve found that when I shine this line into my own life I have discovered that my own abandonment issues are deeply rooted in always feeling incredibly disconnected and misunderstood by the world. I have felt and continue to feel this deep sense of abandonment from the world around me and that somehow I am not allowed to actively participate in your species. I knew and felt that back in 1995 and I still feel it in 2013, the main difference is that I’ve learned to channel that hurt into creative expression but a lot of what I’m searching for can be hung on the above mentioned line from “I Got ID” and for the most part is a big reason why it is my favourite Pearl Jam song of all time.

What “I Got ID” also represents is the turning point for Pearl Jam and the bridge to what the band started to explore a lot deeper on “No Code,” “Yield” and “Binaural” in the following years. A lot of the imposters only focus on what Pearl Jam did on “Ten,” “VS” and “Vitalogy” and whilst these albums showcase a strong creative start point they do not illustrate the full picture of what Pearl Jam went on to achieve creatively on the albums post “Vitalogy” and with “I Got ID” they managed to balance the rage of early aspects of their sound with the more mature sounds of what was to come.

I often describe the career of Pearl Jam as having two very important eras – before Neil Young and after Neil Young, because after the band were mentored and made music and toured with Neil they all of a sudden found a way to cope and survive the success. They adopted a deeper purpose and much like Neil they have continued to thrive creatively regardless of what pop culture is demanding, never looking back, and always looking forward.

As a song, “I Got ID” sees the birth of Ed Vedder as one of the main creative drivers within Pearl Jam and after surviving the hell of hype machine pop culture explosion it was refreshing to see one of the Seattle icons break through the drama and write such a mature hit of angst as opposed to following the redundant path of self-destruction, addiction and total burnout. There was a lot changing within Pearl Jam at this point in time and although Ed was a big part of the lyrical and melodic structure of the first three albums, his songwriting didn’t really start to take over the band until this era and “I Got ID” was the first time I understood just how powerful not just his lyrics and voice were but his songwriting  and the way he crafted such intense but simple rock songs that felt like they served no genre beyond Ed’s own need to express himself emotionally.

Perhaps I’m way too deep inside the Pearl Jam history but if this song doesn’t make you a believer then I guess you’ll never really understand.

So turn in, tune out and let Ed and Neil usher you into some deep spiritual places with “I Got ID” – play it fucking loud!!!!!

 

By: Dan Newton

Interview with GUNK

I recently interviewed Caroline and Alex from local Brisbane band GUNK, (Laura was dogsitting) who talked to me about their EP launch Sugarsoap. These guys are super-fun and inspirational. And you really should come to their launch this Friday the 18th of October at 6pm. 

Launch: https://www.facebook.com/events/409873142447484/

Image

It’s Sugar Scope right?
Both: It’s Sugarsoap.

Sugar Soap? Oh that was a bad one.  Sugarsoap, what’s that about?
Alex: Well we can talk about it.

Yeah we should talk about that.
Alex: You know what sugarsoap it right?

No I don’t know what you’re talking about. Explain?
Alex: It’s that cleaning product.

Caroline: That really intense stuff.

Alex: Yeah it’s like for washing walls.

Caroline: Like for floors and stuff, it’s quite abrasive.

Alex: I’m not sure why it’s called sugarsoap. It’s smells kind of sweet.

Caroline: Yeah I add it to my tea…

Alex: Anyway, yeah. (To Caroline) You should say it.

Caroline: Well we actually have a song of the same name, So now we can say, ‘oh this is the tittle track of our latest album Sugarsoap’. That was the main reason. *laughs* We were sort of thinking about the… I want to say dichotomy.

Alex: It’s so big

Caroline: META, talking about the idea of soap as like a cleansing agent, and then sugar y’know sweet. So there’s a bit of binary opposition in the wording itself, but we were thinking sugarsoap is that like trying to clean someone or something up to make them cleaner more acceptable to society…but you can’t do that with gunk, cause we have…

Alex: That’s not who we are

Caroline: Yeah man, like don’t oppress me man. *laughs* But yeah, basically we wanted to have a play on that idea, especially with like imagery and about women. Kind of like waxing and tanning, different beauty ideals in society.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on sugarsoap.
Caroline: Haha yeah it’s a very convoluted way of explaining…

No, no it’s great. I did listen to ‘Freshly Baked’ (GUNK’s first single) I assume you weren’t talking about potatoes?
Caroline: Nah muffins, cookies, brownies

Okay normal question: Where did you guys record this? How did it go, how much did it cost, etc?
Caroline: We recorded it at the Brisbane Conservatorium of Music.

Alex: *laughs* Yeah but with a friend, um…

Caroline: It cost us some beer probably, I don’t know.

Alex: Yeah, when I see how much money is left in the Gunk account. We might not be able to pay him.

Caroline: A case of light beer.

Did you get it done? Really quickly, was that the approach? Just get it done in a day?
Caroline: Yeah we smashed it out, got it done in like three hours.

Shit really?
Alex: Yeah we have a really kind of slap dash attitude to practice and recording.

Caroline: Slash that slap dash, punk rock. Yeah, I mean don’t take this the wrong way anyone, but I think you can kind of get a away with a lot more when you’re in a punk band. Just crank up the distortion.

Yeah because it’s like, ‘We’re punk’.
Caroline: We noticed on our last album especially, it was quite … clean and that is more our earlier sound. Like we did have kind of slower cleaner songs, and we’ve been evolving and playing more, just getting progressively more disaffected with this sort of thing. Just louder, more rock. We hope that comes across in this album.

Follow up question: Cassette tapes?
Alex: What about them?

Well, Alex it’s 2013.
Alex: Yeah people keep saying that

I think it’s great but I would like an explanation.
Alex: Well they’re coming back in fashion, as vinyl is.

They’re like the poor man’s vinyl aren’t they?
Alex: They are the poor bands vinyl to produce.  But then, yeah, a lot of people don’t have cassette players anymore like record players, but we will have a free download.

Caroline: …With the cassette.

Alex: Yeah, with the cassette. You got to buy this like piece of junk first.

Caroline: I don’t think it’s a piece of junk, because I like that feel. CD’s have stuck around for so long that their kind of everywhere. Like it’s just this flimsy little, just another cd, but a tape it like, chunk and it’s cool and it’s still a bit novel.

Alex: Yeah exactly.

Did you have to hand do all the tapes?  It sounds a bit tedious, how did you get this done?
Alex: Yeah.

Caroline: DIY.

Alex: Yep… poor man’s vinyl definitely.

Caroline: They’re made with love.

Alex: Yeah exactly.

Let’s talk about your new ep… Tell us what to expect on your new ep.
Caroline: It’s an epic journey through the psych of the modern woman, as she struggles to find her place in her…  Nah fuck it. It’s different to what we’ve done before I think.

Alex: Yeah, I mean it’s more us, the sound.

Caroline: Yeah I feel sometimes it’s hard to capture the live sound of a band, Um, on a recording, but I think it’s done really well.

Alex: I think we were more comfortable, maybe because it’s like the second time we were recording, third time. Because we have been playing for ages, we were more comfortable with recording as a band. And the person we were recoding with. He was a friend.

Caroline: We felt we were more comfortable speaking up and saying, ‘no, we don’t like what you’re doing’. Just being in the studio, we’ve done it before.  It still freaks me out like I don’t like it, but yeah…

Alex: I think we got the sound that we were looking for more than like last time.

Caroline: We were able to see each other when we were recording as well which I think is really important. Getting the vibe right.

That’s good, So the launch is the 18th of October?  You guys are playing with these bands, tell me about them Scrabble, Bent and the Furrs, I don’t think I’ve heard of them tell me about them…are they just some tag along?
Alex: Well Scrabble has been going for a while, but they’re a really huge band, like 7 or 8 people and they keep changing the line-up. But I think, and this could be just a theory but Bec from Clag, it’s her project. They’ve been together a while. They’re kind of like experimental punk. And then Bent and the Furrs are like relatively new, and like kind of in the last three weeks they’ve played their first show.

Okay awesome, you guys are good at recruiting. I’ve noticed at all your shows there’s always someone who I haven’t really heard of before, that’s really cool.
Alex: We always try and get like a really varied line up so we can get like a lot of different people come in.

Caroline: Yeah, social mixer.

Alex: *laughs* Yeah.

Caroline: Yep, Gunk launch/social mixer.

Alex: Then they’ve all got female musicians in those bands, we kind of wanted that.

Alright last question who would you choose as an horary member of GUNK…in any moment of time?
Caroline: Tony Abbot. Love Tone.

Any last comments?
Both: Come to our launch.

Caroline: We haven’t played a gig in ages…we have all this pent up sexual energy.

 

https://gunk1.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Gunkband?fref=ts

 

 By Kat Gibson

ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Lightning Bolt’ by Pearl Jam

Dan’s in-depth look at Lightning Bolt will be coming soon.  In the meantime, here’s a straight to the point run down from Clint:

Image

I have a theory that all bands who last more than 20 years eventually turn into The Rolling Stones.  That’s not to say they fight amongst themselves and fall out of coconut trees, but that they end up producing music that sounds like a classic rock version of themselves, no matter how edgy they were when they started out.  Pearl Jam are now in this category.  It doesn’t help impressions when Eddie Vedder’s new haircut makes him look like Bruce Springsteen either.  This is not a criticism, I love all of these bands, it’s purely an observation.  If you can name me a band who’s 10th album sounds as new and edgy, or as groundbreaking as their first, go ahead in the comments below.

Right, now that’s out of the way, what does this album sound like?  It’s mostly great, the best thing they’ve released in ages.  And this is part of the problem.  This is what I say every time one of these bands releases a new record.  It’s great to hear something new from them, but I’ll probably listen to it half a dozen times and then go back to VS, or in the Stones’ case, Exile on Main St, or in Bruce’s case, Born To Run, or in Iggy’s case, Raw Power, or in Foo Fighters’ case…you get the picture.

One early review of this record on another site raised some of these points and asked why Pearl Jam were still together if this was the best they could offer?  Why keep releasing a variation of the same record over and over?  The answer is because they’re not done yet.  They haven’t finished making music together.  And as a band that’s actively tried to shed its audience for the last 17 years, if no one buys it they probably still won’t be finished.  If you’re one of the people who’s stuck around since the beginning then this is for you.  If you were over them by 1993, this won’t change your mind.  Pearl Jam make music for themselves.  If you like hearing their artistic endeavours, then this is the best thing they’ve released since *insert your favourite album here*, and that alone is worth picking it up.

Personally, I love it.

Rating – 8 old bastards still making better music than you out of 10

By Clint Morrow

PEARL JAM – No Code – A Reflection

Pearl_Jam_No_Code-[Front]-[www_FreeCovers_net]

Whilst I find it extremely difficult to nominate my favourite Pearl Jam album the one record that I keep coming back to is the bands fourth record “No Code” which was released on the 27th August 1996. What makes this record such an exquisite movement of music is the way in which it allowed Pearl Jam to break free and really establish certain dynamics creatively that would help them survive for the next seventeen years of their career. For the humans who weren’t there when this album was released I suspect that they won’t have a handle on just how much division this album caused upon its release. It was indeed a very challenging record for any Pearl Jam fan but in 1996 at the height of my angst I felt extremely challenged by this record. A number of things, courtesy of hindsight, have helped me understand this album more but it wasn’t until I was 18 years old in 2001 that I truly started to see the power of “No Code” as a record.

In 1996 no other band mattered more to me than Pearl Jam and since I first discovered them in 1994 until that present moment, no other form of music made me feel the way they did. A lot of the power of Pearl Jam’s music at that point in my life came from the rush of all that distortion and heaviness. The mid-tempo songs and the ballads provided a good balance dynamically on the band’s first three records but it was the rage and the rock n roll that really resonated with me. Without much musical knowledge at that point in my life, I thought it was just a more refined version of heavy metal. I’d heard the words “punk rock” thrown around in regards to Pearl Jam back then but I still really didn’t understand what that was. The best part of the band’s sound I thought was the intense emotions communicated by Ed Vedder; it was really dark and matched a lot of how I was feeling at the time. At that point in my life I felt incredibly alienated from humans my own age, so the loud intensity of Pearl Jam was destined to connect with me.

In 1996 when the band announced that they were releasing a new album I automatically felt that we’d get a more intense version of “Vitalogy” which was at that point my favourite Pearl Jam album. It’s probably hard to imagine for humans now but back in 1996 the only way that you could hear a bands new single was if the Radio played it. The internet was not a common household thing and the only way to find out about new music was via the radio and of course a range of different print media. The first glimpse of “No Code” came via Triple J who at the time worshipped at the altar of Pearl Jam. All of those Seattle bands dominated Triple J back in 1996 so naturally they were going to have the exclusive. I can’t exactly remember when it was debuted but I have a distinct memory of hearing the first single “Who You Are” on Triple J with my Brother. We of course recorded the thing to a cassette tape as it was happening and thank fuck we did because to be honest the song itself really confused me. This was indeed a very different Pearl Jam that was coming out of my stereo speakers and I was not sure if I did or didn’t like it.

It of course feels silly now in hindsight for me to say that because of how much I now love that song, but I was 12 going on 13 and did not have the capacity to cope with the new level of maturity Pearl Jam were displaying. This maturity in sound both intrigued me and alienated me at the same time, I knew that I liked it but I was also not expecting it considering the bands previous albums. I had such young ears back then and was still not totally plugged in to the politics of creative evolution and a bands need for change musically in order to feel fulfilled as artists. I had so much to learn about the punk rock spirit at that point in my life.

Another massive part of the “No Code” era is the way in which the band completely overhauled and took control of their image. This is not to say that they were controlled by the corporate machine early on, but after all the fame and the hype the band started to adopt a bit more of a faceless approach taking the focus off them as individuals and instead putting the spotlight on what was important to them, the music. This deconstruction of the bands image had started with the release of their second album “VS” with the bands commitment to not releasing video clips and other related stances being a big part of the change. In terms of the reason why the band went down this path has a lot to do with them regaining some control over how the corporate music machine wanted the band to operate.

Slowly but surely the band started to shake off a section of their audience that they deemed inappropriate to what they were about as five individuals. Regardless of who was driving this deconstruction, it was quite clear that a big part of it was driven by Ed Vedder in an attempt to distance himself from celebrity culture so that he could be taken seriously as an artist. There was a lot of criticism leveled at Pearl Jam in the early days with a lot of the more pure punk rock souls labeling them as “corporate rock stars” and really calling into question the bands credibility.

pearl_jam

 A lot of this kind of stuff was lost on me at the time because I didn’t really understand the whole social hierarchy that existed between mainstream and underground artists. For me it was pretty simple back then, if your album was available in a record store, your song was on the radio, your film clip was on TV and your band was in a magazine then I thought you were a rockstar making a living from playing music.  To me, the measure of a bands popularity or “mainstream appeal” stemmed on how many people at school like them and how many didn’t. Even though Pearl Jam were incredibly popular where I went to school it still didn’t resonate as something “mainstream” more a reflection of what youth culture was attracted to at this point in time.

All that aside, what the band was attempting to do with “No Code” – becoming a faceless band – really started to work and I noticed a lot of the cooler humans at school begin to distance themselves from Pearl Jam and for the first time in my life I started to encounter that terrible imposter stain of “I only like their first three albums” syndrome that usually kicks in for most bands once they make a radical change creatively. I repeat again, the people who say this kind of thing are a bunch of imposters but you know that’s a debate for another time.

Moving back into my relationship with “No Code” as an album, although I had a heavy amount of indifference towards the first single from the album I learned to love it and the fresh new rhythm provided by the bands new drummer Jack Irons really gave a new direction and pulse to the sound of Pearl Jam as a whole. This was also a point in time where Pearl Jam had started to hang out and begin a very fruitful relationship with Neil Young.

It wasn’t until I was 18 years old that I discovered how important the influence of Neil Young was on “No Code” and although I was aware of who he was I didn’t investigate his music until I was, as I have mentioned, 18 years old. Pearl Jam themselves had just cut a record with Neil prior to “No Code” called “Mirror Ball” and also acted as his backing band for one of his tours. This experience clearly changed and matured the band to a point where they were able to keep the rage and angst but shed the juvenile nature of these emotions and adopt a more grown up approach to expressing the ache caught deep inside of each member.

Neil+Young++Pearl+Jam

The first thing you notice on “No Code” is just how emotional a record it is but instead of the previous focus on full on attack / rage, “No Code” sees the band deliver more intense performances via the more subdued and quieter tracks. The opening track of the album “Sometimes” is a perfect example of this and stands to be one of the most important opening tracks in the history of Pearl Jam’s career, both past, present and future. The power of a song like “Sometimes” is its ability to say so much in such a short space of time and to also do it with an epic amount of space and heavy mood.

There is a beautiful plea from Vedder lyrically about the pressures of success and how in the post-Cobain landscape a lot of people started to question what was really achieved by the rise and fall of the alternative nation. There is a funeral march to “Sometimes” and an incredible amount of shiver and fragility in the vocal delivery especially when the song rises ever so slightly in the middle. The bittersweet emotion is a lot louder than anything previously released by the band and after spending the best part of five to six years fighting for some kind of control within the corporate rock machine, Vedder echoes the feelings of the band by just sounding burnt out and defeated. This defeat can be aimed at the Ticketmaster fight, the fight to be taken seriously as artists, the fight for control of their own creative destiny and the control to be understood.

The loneliness vibe of a song like “Sometimes” is scattered all throughout “No Code” and it is the kind of loneliness that comes from finally having your art swallowed up by millions of people and still feeling incredibly lonely and misunderstood. As a listener this pain displayed by Vedder is to our benefit and connects directly to us as we apply it to our own lives, but if the song “Sometimes” taught me anything it was just how defeated Vedder and the rest of Pearl Jam were and how this disconnection and deconstruction of their sound was vital for their survival as human beings and as a band. There is an exquisite beauty to the way Pearl Jam almost used “No Code” as the sonic representation of just how much private emotional turmoil each member was facing and instead of avoiding the turmoil they let it be reflected through the music. This is one of the most emotionally open records released by a rock n roll band and it is this openness and vulnerability that allowed those fans who loved Pearl Jam to fall deeper in love with their sound and the humans involved with making it.

This loneliness is further explored later in the album on the brilliant sixth track of the album “Off He Goes” which a wonderful country song dirge about the politics of long term friendships.  Once again this song carries with it an intensity that speaks louder than the distorted moments and sees Vedder take on the “storyteller” dynamic lyrically which allows for a fresh perspective on his internal emotional world. It is an easy tale to relate to and although I related to the overall sound of it when I first heard it back in 1996 it wasn’t until I was deep into my twenties that I truly understood the depth of this song’s lyrics.

What “Off He Goes” speaks about is the yearning for your best friend, not the person who you involve yourself with romantically, but your best friend and how through the cruel rhythm of time and “growing up” you find that you spend more time apart than you do together. Going deeper into that there is also a lot of regret radiating through “Off He Goes” which strikes deep into the heart of us all when we know that we’ve been a terrible friend. A song like “Off He Goes” will always be relevant to me because the ever changing cycle of life has the ability to push you closer and further away from human beings you want to spend decades with, not just a few hours. 

To focus on the quieter moments of the album however is to ignore the new sense of fury that was scattered all through the more rocking numbers. Two songs in particular that share a common thread on “No Code” are the brilliant second track “Hail, Hail” and the wonderful seventh track “Habit” which are two songs that further explore the more garage proto-punk sound that the band delved into on “Vitalogy” and of course both songs deliver quite the cathartic release.

By far the most interesting moments of “No Code” occur on three of the more mid-range songs that balance the rock n roll fury with some new rhythmic dynamics to allow for the mood and emotion of the tracks to build at a steady pace with the final payoff being a range of different musical crescendos not yet reached by Pearl Jam as a band, this was some new musical territory that the band would further explore in the next 17 years of their career. The tracks I’m referring to is the Fourth track “In My Tree” the Eighth track “Red Mosquito” and the tenth track “Present Tense”  all of which showcase some brave new sonic territory which gave Pearl Jam some new directions to chase as a band creatively. These three songs document Pearl Jam’s commitment to evolving the rock n roll language and on a totally shallow level these songs are just exquisite examples of the power that Pearl Jam can summons when they communicate musically as a band.

What “In My Tree,” “Red Mosquito” and “Present Tense” offer is a balance in terms of dynamics whilst also stretching the creative template of Pearl Jam’s rock sound. As I mentioned above, Pearl Jam are a rock band but unlike your standard balls to the walls rock n roll approach there is an artistry to the way they communicate and craft their music. What Pearl Jam do as a band is make art for the sake of art not rock music for the sake of rock music and trust me there is a big difference. Rock may be the genre vehicle that the band uses in order to communicate their emotions but the songs they write are treated as pieces of art as opposed to simple distorted attack. It is about total escapism and “In My Tree,” “Red Mosquito” and “Present Tense” are exquisite pieces of art delicately crafted and executed with a level of beauty and raw emotion that very few bands in the rock world come close to matching.

The commitment to making art over just flat out rock music also extends to the visual presentation of “No Code” which is quite a treat and experience for fans of the band that also helped push the “faceless” band ethos to a deeper level. I would define what Pearl Jam did with the album packaging of “No Code” as quite unique and it is rather hard to document with words just want makes it so unique and I guess with the hindsight of time people probably won’t really understand. In 1996 however, Pearl Jam were one of the first bands with a mainstream audience to really move away from the standard Jewel case and using instead the old vinyl presentation for the CD format. The band had debuted this approach on their previous album “Vitalogy” but on “No Code” it was taken to a whole new level. To those humans that were alive during the golden era of vinyl I’m sure what Pearl Jam offered with the packaging of “No Code” was probably not as fresh but for a new generation of music fans who grew up with primarily the CD and Cassette Tape it was revolutionary.

Nocode_-_triangle

The cover itself is made up of a whole heap of Polaroid photos that when opened up looks like the above photo. Further to the cover the album also included a set of Polaroid photos inside that had various song lyrics on the back. Each album had a different set of Polaroid photos inside it. My brother purchased “No Code” before me and he brought the CD version, about a month or so later whilst on holiday in Sydney I purchased the cassette tape version which simply contained a single Polaroid photo as the cover and little booklet with the relevant photos and album details. Every cassette tape version of the album had a different Polaroid photo as the album cover; it was an incredibly unique move by an alternative rock band at that point in time. It certainly pushed boundaries and put a focus back on the importance of the physical product being something tangible and artistic so that it matches the music. It was very reminiscent to how bands of the 60’s and 70’s packaged their albums and believe me, it added to the experience of owning “No Code” and how you interacted with the album.

In this current climate of digital downloads an album like “No Code” would be a rarity but I can’t illustrate enough how the artwork of a physical album and the packaging could change the way you related to the record. It won’t always automatically change the sound or appeal of the music but it helps with the mood and how it connects to you. Good album artwork and packaging can build a level of mystery and is a portal into what the band may be attempting to communicate with their music. It’s an incredibly important part of releasing an album proper and I reckon Pearl Jam have always made a continued effort to present their albums with interesting and intriguing artwork. Sometimes it is collaborative but a lot of the times it is driven by Ed Vedder and Jeff Ament. All in all, this band take the full experience of releasing an album very seriously and having been a hardcore fan of the band for the past nineteen years of my life I can safely say that part of the thrill of a new Pearl Jam record is how the band will present the artwork.

tumblr_lpklwaFYhO1qitv9yo1_500

There are also a collection of songs on “No Code” that help the overall flow of the above mentioned tracks and in the process add to the emotional depth that this record has. A lot of imposter humans would refer to such tracks as “filler” but in the case of Pearl Jam this is a false way to refer to these songs because they are the glue that helps bring the more progressive moments of the album together in order to make one cohesive piece of communication. This is not exclusive to just Pearl Jam, any band that I love is renowned for their ability to write the “glue” songs in order to help piece the full scope of a record together. These songs may not hit you instantly and may zoom past as you ache to hear the more progressive / interesting moments of an album but over time as an album makes more sense some of these “glue” songs can become more exciting and relevant to you.

The first example of a “glue” song on “No Code” is the fifth track “Smile” which comes after the freedom bliss of “In My Tree” and plays out just before the country dirge of the sixth track “Off He Goes.” As a song “Smile” is perfect in terms of helping the continuity of the first side of “No Code” and it flat out rocks as a song.  A blues jam at heart with harsh harmonica stabs to help with the dissonance and communication of longing that drips from the song. The intense refrain of “I Miss You Already” is a joyful explosion framed by some heavy hurt and when it hits you there is nothing else you can do but join in on the sing along nature of the song. There is also some other worldly guitar playing from Mike McCready during the course of “Smile” that really lift the song up and in the process takes it to another planet completely. As is the case with most songs on “No Code” the emotional terrain covered in the lyrics focus on the downer of distance and how missing friends and family can be a crippling blow to your mental health.

The second example of a “glue” song occurs in between the eight and tenth track and is the punk rock rush of “Lukin” which is Ed Vedder at his punk rock best. The song “Lukin” goes for barely a minute but in that minute the band pack more angst and rage inside of the song that it really begins to outshine their previous more angry material found on earlier albums. As a punk song it is perfect, as a Pearl Jam song it is a great example of their ability to communicate fury and rage along with a light hint of comedy (check out the lyrics and the history of Matt Lukin to understand the comedy angle) and as the ninth track on “No Code” the rush of “Lukin” provides the perfect bridge to one of the more interesting and most reflective moments on the album, the tenth track “Present Tense” which really remains the centerpiece of this record even though it is packed so deep in on the second side of the album.

The final collection of “glue” songs happen after the tenth track “Present  Tense” and are the eleventh track “Mankind” and the twelfth track “I’m Open” both of which offer some extreme alternatives to what had occurred on the first ten tracks of the album. The main point of difference is that “Mankind” has guitarist Stone Gossard taking over as lead vocalist and what is interesting about this is that he adds a bit of light relief to the intensity communicated by Vedder on the previous tracks.

When “Mankind” kicks in you are almost awaken from the deep escapism of “Present Tense,” a song which puts a massive focus on the whole life and death question. That first riff of “Mankind” wakes you up from this and helps you to put your feet back on the ground for a moment. Where Vedder sings about the wonder of what is beyond us Gossard tends to focus on some more real world “right here, right now” type lyrics. It is a refreshing change of gears but things continue down the path of Vedder escapism once “I’m Open” begins to shiver out of your stereo.

There is a beautiful level of artistic indulgence that happens on “I’m Open” and while most fans probably bypass this track I think it is one of the most important tracks on “No Code” and a stunning piece of emotional communication. The basis of “I’m Open” is a spoken word poem by Ed Vedder that muses on the desire for escape and the need for a brand new self. Although Vedder is leaning on fiction to communicate his desire for escape it is quite clear that the character reflects Vedder’s own desire and need to escape to a new life away from the craziness and the hype of fame. When I listen to “I’m Open” I often wonder if Vedder wants to escape to the past where things felt more innocent or whether it is a need to escape so far into the future that he somehow becomes anonymous.

Regardless of Vedder’s desires, the plea and ache of “I’m Open” is about his desire to remain open to the joy of the world and the people that inhabit it whilst also wanting to remain anonymous. It is a beautiful ride and an important song in the Pearl Jam catalogue that rarely gets sourced, referenced or played. It helps bring context to the “No Code” journey and just what it is that that Pearl Jam are trying to communicate as a band with this particular album. After studying “I’m Open” I am convinced that a big part of “No Code” is about the band, Vedder in particular, trying to find some kind of redemption from all of the pressure and intensity that came along when Seattle became the most talked about music scene in the world. It feels like what Vedder is wanting most is a chance to fit in now that the craziness has passed but at the same time it feels like he remains conflicted as to what fitting into a post-hype world feels like, you can tell he and the band are chasing longevity but what does that mean when so many people are prepared to tune out now that world has moved on to the next cultural explosion. It’s very confronting stuff indeed and it was a question that faced not only the band but the fans as well.

If the journey of “No Code” is about finding some kind of redemption and or longevity after the craziness of fame and hype has disappeared then the final track on the album – “Around The Bend” – is the perfect full stop and point of resolve. There is a heavy dose of calm with the albums thirteenth and final track and like the sixth track “Off He Goes” the appeal of “Around The Bend” is in its country dirge and the way it uses a more subdued language to frame the pain.  The main difference though is that “Around The Bend” has a small peppering of hope scattered throughout the song. This is indeed a love song but it can be applied to a love of so much more than some physical human being.

The imagery of “Around The Bend” rests on the notion that for all the drama and all the chaos that change is always just around that bend and that holding on for that change is always worth it. As a song “Around The Bend” is the final lesson in the “No Code” journey and for all the confusion and rage and pain and longing that presents itself on the album, “Around The Bend” offers the freedom of the sweet hits of sunshine when the night begins to disappear and the morning is starting to birth itself. It is an incredibly beautiful piece of music to end the album with and really signals both an ending and a new beginning.

imagesCAZLF61E

All of these wonderful elements that I have spoken about over the course of this article took me a great many years to realise and understand. When I first heard that album as a 12 going on 13 year old I favoured the distorted moments because that was where my emotional intelligence was situated. I wanted the fury and the rage and although there wasn’t as much attack on “No Code” as I was previously used to with Pearl Jam, the few songs that offered this made it an album worth listening to. I was never deterred from the band or the album however, I may have been confused but I understood from the various interviews I read back in 1996 that “No Code” was about maturity and escaping the sounds established on the bands earlier albums, it was about becoming the faceless band that they – well at least Ed Vedder – desired.

When I re-visited the album five years later in 2001, I was 17 going on 18 and I carried with me a new level of emotional intelligence and understanding of music. I was also in the throes of becoming a hardcore fan of artists like Neil Young and R.E.M. who were big influences on both Pearl Jam and the entire alternative nation that I discovered back in 1994. It was through the wisdom of my good friend Brett Wyatt who I met in 2001 at my day job working in the Queensland Ambulance Service Administration Office back in Bundaberg that I started to re-visit the glory of “No Code” as an album. I remember clearly Brett praising the artistry of “No Code” and claiming it was his favourite album comparing it heavily to the music Neil Young made. My brother was also reaching a similar position and he also influenced me to once again delve deeper into the album to try and understand it a bit better.

It was that moment in 2001 when Pearl Jam became the focus of all my attention once more that I started to unlock certain parts of the sound that had escaped me earlier in my teenage years. The real joy this time round however came from listening to “No Code,” “Yield” and their most recently released album (at that point) “Binaural” and  combining this with the sentimentality of “Ten,” “VS” and “Vitalogy.” All of a sudden I started to worship the mature sound developed by the band from “No Code” to “Binaural” and it became more important to me than the first three records. You see, some bands learn how to survive and through that survival they manage to develop a longevity that is an incredibly rewarding experience for the fans.  

Although popular culture was turning further away from the healing power of Pearl Jam in 2001 I fell deeper in love with the band and from 2001 until 2013 I have maintained the belief that “No Code” is the bands greatest artistic achievement thus far. They have of course gone on to write better music but there is something important about “No Code” that allowed for that progression to happen for Pearl Jam and their career will forever be in debt to “No Code” and it’s place in their history as a band. There are a lot of different and amazing elements that help make “No Code” a brilliant album but I think the real appeal of it for me now is the way it helped set free the band and allowed them to last as long as they have.

 I touched on this earlier but a lot of the imposters tend to only ever talk about “Ten,” “VS,” and “Vitalogy” when it comes to the history of music made by Pearl Jam. Whilst these three records provide a flawless introduction to Pearl Jam it wasn’t until “No Code” that the band really came into their own and crafted out their own unique language. Some would argue they did this on the three albums prior to “No Code” but after spending 19 years of my life dedicated to this band I firmly believe that it is the work the band did from “No Code” onwards  that truly holds the revolution in terms of sound, image and their overall communication as artists.

When I talk about the artistry of Pearl Jam and what it is I want people to respect about them I’m always going to lean on “No Code” as the finest example of just how vital their sound and legacy is. It may be the album that “imposters” list as the album where the band “lost it” or “sold out” but you see the band did nothing of the sorts. It was the fans and the trend that “lost it” and “sold out” trading in the Seattle experience for the next trendy hit of culture. It wouldn’t have mattered what kind of album Pearl Jam made back in 1996, natural attrition tells us that most bands or artists associated with a pop culture explosion usually only have a good five years in the spotlight before they are replaced. That is not to say these bands themselves don’t continue on, there relevance depends on the real appreciators of music – humans who respect music – not the imposters to help aid the longevity. The other most important factor in a band surviving more than five years is their commitment to making art as opposed to just strict commerce.

Pearl Jam has always be a band dedicated to making forward thinking art music through the vehicle of Rock Music. To have lasted as long as they have is a tribute to the re-building of their band that happened with “No Code” and whether you agree or disagree with me you have to at least respect the creative risk taken by the band at such an important turning point of their career. I honestly believe that the reason we still have Pearl Jam in 2013 is because of the brave forward thinking music the band made with “No Code” in 1996 and with their new album “Lightning Bolt” I feel like the band is about to turn another corner creatively to help give the next twenty years of their career some real legs.

For now though, my advice is to turn this album up fucking loud and just enjoy the great rock record that “No Code” is and make sure you take the time to discover the whole history of Pearl Jam – you won’t be disappointed.

tumblr_lveeybcKjf1qc70qmo1_500

By: Dan Newton

Interview with Suze DeMarchi of Baby Animals

Image

This Is Not The End was a hugely pleasant surprise to hear after such a long break between records.  A lot of bands that reform end up releasing new material that can’t compete with their heyday, but This I Not The End proves that Baby Animals are not only relevant, they’re rocking harder and writing better songs than any of their contemporaries, or the current crop of latest young things in the charts.  Recently, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to chat to Baby Animals’ frontwoman, and one of the best voices in Rock, Suze DeMarchi:

H&W: Firstly, congratulations on making one of the best albums I’ve heard this year.
Suze DeMarchi: Thank you!  That’s very kind of you to say.

I really enjoyed it, it’s easily the most consistently great record Baby Animals have released.  Did you know you had a special batch of songs going in?
We just kept writing until we felt like we had a cohesive record.  There were a few other songs that I thought, when we went into pre-production, I thought for sure would make it on the album, but they didn’t really…  We wanted just to make a record that flowed really well.  You’re not really thinking about that when you’re going through the motions, you’re just thinking about making each song as good as you can make it, and that’s kind of what we did, so it’s nice to hear that people think that because, you know, the response generally has been pretty good.  I’m just always surprised when people like something that you’ve done, because you know, I like it, but you don’t expect everyone else to like it, so it’s good.

The songwriting partnership of you and Dave Leslie is really at the core of This Is Not The End.  How did the two of you hook up with Dario (Bortolin) and Mick (Skelton)?
Well you know, Dario’s been around forever, and Mick’s been around for a while as well, but Dave had played with Mick, and we were looking for people, and Dave said ‘Oh my gosh, Mick’s great’. And Mick, we met with him and of course I heard him play and I thought he was a really great player.  But personally, the man, he’s a very good person to have in a band because he’s very even, he’s always up for stuff, never whinges, he’s not a moaner.  And really keen, you know, apart from being a great drummer.  So he brings this really kind of nice…I don’t know…it’s like a spark.  It’s nice to have that sort of energy around.  And then Dario, we all knew Dario from years ago, and we actually were playing with another guy, and he had to go and do some other gig that he was already booked in for, so we used Dario to fill in.  And once we played with him it just seemed to really work well, and he was really was interested in doing the album with us, so that’s how that happened

There was a great photo I saw of you on Facebook ‘sharing’ a glass of wine with a punter in the front row-
Yeah, feeding the birds.

Image

Yes!  So is that a regular thing at Baby Animals gigs or was that just one of those spur of the moment-
You know, that was a one time thing that happened a couple of years ago…and it, I don’t know, it was just one of those moments on stage, it just kind of seemed like the right thing to do to this person that was in the front.  *laughs* I don’t know what happened.  And then it just turned into a kind of a thing that kept happening.  If something went wrong on stage I’d always sort of step in and say “oh, it’s time to feed the birds” if someone has to change a string, or you know, whatever, if something was going wrong.  And people let me do it!  I don’t know why they let me do it but they do!  And I’m always surprised that they do, and I just think it’s a really fun, silly, kind of, you know, a little thing to do with people.  It’s always amazed me that they let me do it.  Someone spat it back in my face once, that was interesting.

Nasty
They’re not allowed to do that.  I tell them before, if you spit it back in my face I’ll pour the bottle all over you.  We tried to decide if we should do it with different things next tour, like yoghurt or something…like porridge. *laughs*

That sounds awful!
Yeah, horrible, I know!  But so anyway, that’s how it started and it’s turned into a bit of a thing now.

Given the success of your recent album tour, was the decision to record a live DVD and share that energy with a wider audience the next logical step?
Yeah!  And also, we’d never done one, you know?  We’d done videos and stuff, but we’d never…  And playing live is our thing, it’s really what we love to do the most, and we’ve never done a proper live DVD, and we just thought we have to do one on this tour, and we wanted to do it at The Metro in Sydney because it’s such a great room.  Good room to film in, we’ve always had good fun playing there.  So we kind of asked people, because we’ve been engaging with people online a lot since we came back, and we got such a great response from it, and people are funding it.  They are the reason why we can do all this stuff.  They’re funding it, they get their name on the credits.  So they pre-order it, and because we’re independent now, that allows us to do stuff like this.  It’s just so cool, and we’ll hopefully do a lot more of that kind of stuff.

Well you’ve kind of lead into my next question actually.  How have you found working with an independent label as opposed to dealing with bigger record companies in the 90’s?
I think the main difference is that is really is more your business, rather than leaving your career in the hands of somebody else that can change in an instant.  You don’t know who you’re going to get in a company if you’re doing something with a bigger label.  Your A&R guys change all the time, people don’t necessarily have the same vision.  You know what?  It’s hard, but it’s a lot more rewarding in some ways because you get out of it what you put into it.  And you just have that direct sort of connection with people.  You just control it more.  So I think as a business, if you’re looking at it as an industry, the music industry’s going through a strange time.  There’s a lot of change.  You have to work out other ways to make it work for you ’cause you don’t want to stop doing it.  This is something that you’re born to do.  I’m not happy unless…you know I stopped for a long time when I had kids, and I really missed it.  I do honestly feel that this was my calling, I was meant to do this sort of thing.  I love it, I’m really lucky to have a job that I’m into.  I like going to rehearsal and I like going on tour.  I think the younger generation, now, they don’t really know any other way unless they go on the Voice or something like that to be seen.

That’s really the only way I know of doing it, you do it all yourself.  Those labels just aren’t picking up little bands like they used to.
No I know, I think they’re all terrified of losing the revenues that they have, but record companies have for far too long been taking too much percentage from the bands, and they couldn’t survive.  Plus giving them massive advances to make the records.  And musicians don’t know, they think that ‘oh great, we’re getting all this money to go and make these records’ and then you have to pay it back.  So you never make any money off the album sales unless you’re selling millions of records.  You end up working for the label.  There should be a school or something, you know a pre-requisite, before you get into the music industry you’ve gotta know some of the business, you’ve gotta actually spend some time taking control of that stuff because you will just get walked all over.  We’ve all been through that stuff, because you trust people to be good at their job and you do your job, but that’s not the way it is anymore.  You have to keep an eye on that stuff.

It seems that being in a band isn’t about making music anymore, it’s about managing a business.
There’s no place for music in the record industry, I’ve always thought that.  It’s come full circle though, I think the internet’s opened up doors for people.  People need to stop complaining about Spotify and streaming services, when actually your album is your marketing tool.  That’s what brings people to you.  It should be about performing.  And you’ve just got to think of other ways to make money from it so you can keep doing it.  I don’t think you should be in music if you want to be really rich, that’s for sure.

We agree on that *laughs*
Yeah, exactly!

The re-release of Baby Animals & Shaved And Dangerous in 2008 omitted ‘Big Time Friends’ from the first album...
I think what happened was..  I don’t think it was on the American version.  When Liberation bought the rights it took them a long time to get it from the defunct label, Imago, and just trying to track down Terry Ellis who ran it, because he still owned those masters, so that was a bit of a nightmare for them.  And god bless Dean McLauchlan from Liberation, he didn’t give up for…it must have been three years he was trying to get the rights to do a licensing deal to re-release.  So it’s thanks to him that those records came back out.  And that’s why, I think it’s because that wasn’t on the American version.

I noticed when I saw you in Brisbane, you’re playing what looks like a 52 Telecaster Reissue.
Yeah, that’s the only guitar I play, really.

Image

I’m really jealous, ’cause I’ve wanted one for ages!
It’s a beautiful guitar.  That guitar was given to me by the Fender people in L.A.  It was one of the guitars used by Joaquin Phoenix in Walk The Line.  So that’s a cool little bit of trivia.  It’s a great guitar because it’s light, really nice and light to wear onstage.

That’s surprising, because a lot of Tele’s are really heavy.
I have an old G&L that I got 20 years ago that I never play because it’s so heavy.  I don’t have many guitars, I’m not a gear head like Dave is, I’m just ‘Oh just give me that one, that’ll do’.  Two pedals.  I usually just play through Fender amps.  I like the Fender/Tele combo, and that’s it.

What sort of effects are you running?  You said you were using two pedals?
Really, I just use a distortion pedal, like a Tubescreamer or something, and a chorus, that occasionally I’ll use, or an echo pedal, depending on what Dave throws my way. *laughs* But I always just have a booster.  All I need is clean and dirty.  If we started doing some of the older songs from the first album, or the second album that need more chorus or something, then I throw another pedal in.  For me, the simpler the better.  Even having a tuner on stage bugs me.

Is there a particular song you’re enjoying playing live at the moment?
I’m loving playing a lot of the new stuff, it’s always exciting when you haven’t played stuff a lot over and over again.  You’re still kind of getting used to it and you hear different things in it the more you play it, and you get different crowd responses each time depending on how the band’s playing it.  I love playing ‘Under Your Skin’ live.  It’s very different than the album version, it’s just so much heavier.  What we like to do at the end of the set is, the new album’s got a really nice build to it so we throw in songs like ‘Hot Air Balloon’, ‘Got It Bad’ and ‘Email’ and then ‘Under Your Skin’ or something like that.  It just keeps building, it feels like it’s going to blow up at the end.  We really need to get pyro at the end to make it explode! *laughs* I love playing ‘Warm Bodies’ as well live, it just brings it all down, it’s just a nice sort of simple, sweet, gooey, woozy sort of song.

It’s a great song, that one.
Thank you.  Yeah, I like that one.

This last couple of questions are from my next door neighbour Jackie, who has been a massive Baby Animals fan since the early 90’s:  Have you found it difficult to juggle touring and parenting?  Do you have any advice for raising teenagers?
Oh my god!  Yeah it’s very hard juggling it.  My daughter’s 17.  If she could give some advice that would be great because I don’t know what the F I’m doing!  It’s like a minefield out there being the parent of a teenager.  The biggest thing I guess is remembering that they’re not you, they’re different people, so they have their own ideas about stuff.   They think they know everything, teenagers, but you know I still feel like a teenager half the time anyway.  I just have to remind myself that she’s somebody else, she’s not actually me, so she’s not going to have the same road that I had.  I left home at 17, I was in a band at 17, and she’s still in high school, she’s got big plans to be an actor and she wants to study and go to college in New York.  I just couldn’t wait to get out of home when I was her age.  She’s got it so easy here, you know, and I’m a pretty cool mum, I’m not that strict.  I am in some ways, but you know, we listen to music together and we talk about a lot of stuff that I guess some parents wouldn’t bring up with their kids.  So she wouldn’t leave, why would she want to leave?  She doesn’t have to do anything!  My parents were very different than me.  But juggling parenting and having a full-time job, and I’m a single mum too, so I’m still trying to figure that one out.  I think you’ve got to be easy on yourself and not try and do everything, and then get down on yourself when you do have to go away and spend time away, because kids will be fine.  It’s worse for my boy, who’s 11.  He needs me more than my daughter does I think, at some level.  Anyway, that’s my mumming advice.

The last question I’ve got for you is: Are there any up and coming bands that you’re into at the moment that you’d recommend?
I get turned on to a lot of new stuff through my daughter, Jake Bugg, um…she also turns me onto a lot of really bad stuff, but…  I’m just trying to think of what bands there are that I really quite like…um…One Direction, I think they’re great *laughs*

Oh dear, don’t get me started!
I like Regina Spektor, I like a lot of the girls that are coming out, there’s a lot of really interesting young girls doing some great stuff, that New Zealand girl Lorde, she’s interesting.  We actually listen to a lot of film Soundtracks, we’re just obsessed with them.  Lord of the Rings, City of Bones…

The more orchestral stuff?
Yeah, yeah, that’s great.  Well, I dunno, she listens to rap as well…  You know, I like a little bit of it…

Tell her rap was cool in the 90’s.
Yeah, exactly!  We invented that, it was our generation!  There’s some great new stuff, Imagine Dragons, and Haim, my daughter put me on to them.  They’re sort of weirdly daggy, but cool.  Kind of like a cross between Wilson Phillips and The Eagles or something like that.  Very odd, but cool.  I think I might start a blog with her and do song of the week and we can dissect a song every week.  I can give her one of mine and she has to dissect it and she can give me one of hers and we can pull it apart.  Tell you why we like it or why we don’t, why it’s good or why it’s not.

That sounds like a good idea, I’d read that.
Yeah, good, I might do it!

Baby Animals kick off their Feed The Birds tour on October 12.  Check them out at one of the following dates around the country:

Saturday, 12 October
Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle

Friday, 18 October
The Zoo, Brisbane

Saturday, 19 October
The Zoo, Brisbane

Thursday, 24 October
Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide

Saturday, 26 October
ANU Bar, Canberra

Wednesday, 30 October
The Wool Exchange, Geelong

Thursday, 31 October
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Saturday, 2 November
Astor Theatre, Perth

Saturday, 9 November
Metro Theatre, Sydney

 Image

By Clint Morrow