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2016 Sea N Sound Festival @ The Wharf Tavern Review

I attended the Sea N Sound Festival for Scenestr and reviewed three artists on Saturday, 11 June 2016.

The Sunshine Coast has arguably been an untapped market for live music festivals. But that was all put to rest for the inaugural Sea N Sound Festival (11 June).

Sahara Beck came on at 5pm to a warm crowd who weren’t yet ready to dance. By the time she had launched into ‘Brother Sister’, head nodding was occurring and the 20-year old exuded a confidence far beyond her years.

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Sahara Beck – image © Sophie Wakefield

Her earthy roars were much appreciated by the crowd, as was her unexpected rendition of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name Of’, which an enthusiastic crowd sung along to (you know which part).

The best way to describe the singer, who was accompanied by a fella called Enzo on bass as well as an impressive percussionist, would be jaunty rockabilly. She asked the crowd if they could up the ‘dance-o-meter’ for an upbeat version of Elvis’ ‘That’s Alright Mama’ and they willingly complied.

Sahara
Sahara Beck – image © Sophie Wakefield

She ended her set with a mellow, acoustic number that was also well received. As an up and coming artist, Sahara was impressive.

13442694_10154397982286162_4357695466356297763_oSahara Beck and yours truly

After a brief break, Ash Grunwald rocked on stage, receiving cat calls from the crowd about his hair (he’d lopped it all off) in a good-natured way, engaging with the audience.

By now, the crowd were fully into it. Ash launched into ‘Open Country’, a single from last year that sounded – and felt – amazing. The reverberations were incredible and he asked the crowd if they were ready to ‘‘revelate – whatever the f#ck that means”. They were and he launched into a cover version of ‘John The Revelator’.

Ash Grunwald
Ash Grunwald – image © Sophie Wakefield

Following this song with a song that had a resemblance to Canned Heat’s ‘On The Road Again’; it personified his rootsy-soul-rock approach that he has carved out for himself. Finally, a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ went over very well with the now, very-lively crowd and left the stage to rapturous applause.

Pete Murray took to the stage next and immediately launched into his brand of laidback surfer’s rock that pretty much sums up the Sunshine Coast lifestyle. He played all of his hits: ‘Bail Me Out’, ‘So Beautiful’ and ‘Better Days’, which were lapped up by the audience. He also introduced a new song named ‘Burning Flame’ that was so-so.

Pete Wedding
Pete Murray with a couple who got engaged during the show – image © Sophie Wakefield

Pete’s set on the night will be remembered for the wedding proposal that he spotted happening before his eyes in the seething mass of music lovers beneath him. A bloke named Ryan asked his partner Amber if she would tie the knot, which she thankfully said yes to, receiving a roar of approval from the punters. Pete then invited them up on stage providing everyone with a warm and fuzzy feeling and dedicated a song to the happy couple.

Pete Murray.2
Pete Murray – image © Sophie Wakefield

Pete introduced his newest band member on the Korg digital piano, who was doing a fine job, as were his energetic drummer and two guitarists. While some of his material can be a little ‘samey’, this crowd was loving every minute of it and he dedicated his last song ‘Always A Winner’ to them. After shouts of an encore, he came back for one more song and, of course, a satisfied and loud crowd.

(http://scenestr.com.au/music/2016-sea-n-sound-festival-the-wharf-tavern-review)
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Getting Bang For Your Buck

For a band that’s only been a unit for just over a year, Buck Dean And The Green Lips are already securing some enviable gigs.

With their second EP just released, and having just performed at the Big Pineapple Music Festival, it looks like the lads are going to remain busy this year.

The Sunshine Coast band comprises Nick Daniels on rhythm guitar, his brother Brent on drums, Trent Bray on bass, and Derek Murray on lead guitar (who is taking over from Tom Balle who’s about to head overseas).

All local guys, Nick has found the Sunshine Coast to be accommodating – mostly – of the band. “We don’t play into the politics of the Coast.” he says. “Hearing you can’t play certain venues within two weeks of each other, things like that. We say yes to every gig. That’s what we’ve been doing and it is what’s working for us.

“A lot of venues are shying away from bands because of the noise. Everywhere has the decibel level limit, which is hard to control when you’ve got an acoustic drum kit belting out 100dbs all by itself! There seems to be a bit of hype with music on the Sunshine Coast. Band-wise, it’s definitely on the improve.”

The guys recorded their self-titled first EP at Sleepwalk Studio in Coolum in 2015. It featured house-party jams such as ‘Yesterday’s Spliff’ and ‘Let Me Know’. While the band hasn’t altered their rock aesthetics for the new EP ‘Bang Bang’, there has been a difference in the recording process. “We’ve been trying to get a bit more complex,” Nick says.

“After you listen to it a thousand times, you get an idea of what you want to do different the next time. I think this EP has more mature songwriting, better songs and a better sound.”

The EP came together under the watchful eye of Elliot Heinrich, studio owner and producer of Triple J favourite Ayla. “He came along to a few of our shows in the early days and we’d heard about Heliport Studios in Buderim and the sounds you can get out of there,” Nick says.

“We approached him and asked if he’d record us. Some of the songs were on the first or second take. It was a good way to record compared to last time. We probably weren’t happy enough with our first EP as we were still learning then, so this new one we might send off to Richard Kingsmill and see what he’s got to say!”

The band have featured on Triple J’s ‘Unearthed’, but despite obvious respect for the station, Nick is wary of not wanting to put his band in a box. “Some bands seem to get picked up by Triple J, but then can’t really play or do anything unless Triple J give them the ok. It seems like they have a bit of a monopoly on the Australian music scene at the moment. So as stoked as I’d be to get on there, I wouldn’t be loyal to them or anything.

“I listen to [Triple J] every day. You don’t hear a lot of rock & roll on there anymore, that’s for sure. It seems to have been going in another direction in the last few years. Electronic music is a huge thing, that’s what people want to hear, so that’s what they’re playing, but I think they should try and do a bit more for bands having a crack.”

However, the guys are having a blast and enjoying the journey with all of its twists and turns. “Just the other night we played at a mate’s party in Imbil near Gympie. We’ve been there fishing a few times before and only ever seen three people at the pub. So we played out there and all the locals invited us back to their house and the next thing you know, the sun is up and we’re all sitting on tractors and shit, all sorts of shenanigans. We’re just young guys having fun, playing high-energy rock.”

(originally published Scenestr http://scenestr.com.au/music/getting-bang-for-your-buck-and-the-green-lips )

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Chancellor Park Politics in the Pub with Anthony Albanese

For my CMN249 assignment (“TV and Video”) with the effervescent Rosanna Natoli as our tutor, I, along with my mate Cam Brooks shot footage and interviewed Anthony Albanese, Scott Anderson and Bill Gissane from Labor.

 

13254936_10154347184226162_6736968631469055911_oMyself and Anthony Albanese.

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Radio Birdman Flying Again

Radio Birdman Flying Again

Radio Birdman Flying Again© Anne Tek

The music industry loves to categorise bands. For Radio Birdman – who formed in the ‘70s – the label ‘punk’ has been both a curse and a blessing.

“We never identified ourselves as punk as a musical genre,” guitarist Deniz Tek says. “In the UK, we found it to be more a fashion than music. If you listen to The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Vibrators, there’s not a lot of common ground. We didn’t see where we fitted in, other than having a hard attitude and playing loud and fast.”

Deniz and vocalist Rob Younger formed the group in 1974 and found the musical landscape was theirs for the taking. Sort of. “The industry was straight laced,” Deniz says. “When we first started in Australia there wasn’t much going on. It was like a post-hippy malaise but nothing really compelling or exciting. So to us, it was like a blank page to write on. The only thing was, we couldn’t write on that page [via] any of the normal channels.”

Still, in every anti-establishment cloud there is a silver lining. “I have to admit that once they put a label on us, things became easier. Once punk became something you could read about in The Daily Mirror it was like, ‘oh ok, now you can play at our club’.”

In case you’re curious about the name, it’s taken from a misheard line in a Stooges song. “When you listen to ‘1970’, he sings it different every time. I loved that lyric the way I heard it and ‘radio burning’ works too, but it doesn’t mean anything.”

Punk was thriving in the UK in the late ‘70s. But when Radio Birdman landed there, scorn was heaped on them by the local press, but for different reasons. “The press was against the band, but from an anti-Australian music [perspective]. NME wrote that ‘they need to pack their Qantas kit bags and go back to kangaroo land’. It was very chauvinist. A lot of Australian bands got that when they went over there.

“The punters were cool. Once they realised we weren’t punk, we got more of a rock and roll crowd. We sold out shows. It wasn’t like we went over there and no one showed up like the press made out.”

Back on home turf, the lads were still having trouble getting airplay. “We were invited to go on ‘Countdown’. It was ridiculous. It was a matter of, if you go on ‘Countdown’ you do it their way or you don’t do it all. Finally, at two in the morning we packed up and went home. We just couldn’t agree on anything.”

Their first album, ‘Radios Appear’, was released in 1977. After much touring, they sold their music with a DIY attitude. “When we started, we were rejected by the system, so we formed our own parallel universe and sold our records out the back of our van. Nobody was doing that. There wasn’t any independent music or labels. By ‘80-‘81 there was a whole bunch of it.”

After disbanding in 1978 (reforming in 1996 and 1997 for Big Day Out appearances, then playing sporadically until 2008 including being inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame circa 2007) they were compelled to reform in 2014 after literally boxes of material was found, culminating in the release of a box set. “We thought it was lost. Boxes of tapes full of demos from the floor to the ceiling.”

These days, there is no common thread to the punters coming to see the band. “Sometimes we have three generations of the same family. The demographic is changing a bit. There’s more females now. Fifteen, twenty years ago it was all young males. It was that attraction to that raw energy.”

Finally, any advice for Radio Birdman virgins? “Bring high-quality hearing protection.”

(originally published http://scenestr.com.au/music/radio-birdman-flying-again)
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Wallace takes off wig for Fisher

 

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Andrew Wallace, the LNP candidate for Fisher, in his Maroochydore office. Photo by Lloyd Copper.

CANDIDATE SNAPSHOT

Party: LNP

Electorate: Fisher

First Stood in this Electorate: 2016

Tucked away on an increasingly hip strip in the heart of Maroochydore’s Ocean Street is the office of Andrew Wallace. The street was aching for a revamp although it’s the last thing on this barrister’s mind at the moment: he’s just thrown his hat into the ring to run for the LNP in Fisher.

His interest in politics was borne out of a childhood watching his parents carve a living out of their small businesses. Their hard-work ethos rubbed off on a young Wallace, who began work as an apprentice carpenter in his late teens, then upgraded to a builder, before completing his degree at QUT in Brisbane to practice law. His career as a barrister focussed on construction litigation, giving the former chippie a more integral role in how the construction industry works.

“I joined the LNP 18 years ago so it’s been a long passion of mine,” Wallace says in his measured manner of speaking. “I’ve been involved incommunity service since I was 14. I believe if you’re given certain gifts that it’s incumbent upon you to use those gifts for the betterment not just of yourself, but for those around you.”

Those philanthropic attributes are not at odds with the difficult mission ahead of him. Wallace is hoping to replace Mal Brough in the troubled seat of Fisher, now infamous for the sexual harassment and misuse of funds of another barrister-cum-politician, Peter Slipper.

Keen to avoid a repeat of a Slipper-type slip-up in office, he is clear that it is effective representation for residents in the Fisher electorate, an area that covers key towns in the Sunshine Coast, that he is focussing his energy on.

“My past life would demonstrate that I’m not someone that will put my tail between my legs and go home if I don’t get things my way,” he says. “I’ve worked very hard to get where I am today and life would have been probably a whole lot simpler if I’d stayed swinging a hammer but I thought that I had something more to contribute.”

He unsuccessfully ran against Brough for preselection in 2012. Brough, who is no stranger to controversy himself, has had his time in the Sunshine Coast sun and now Wallace has been endorsed by the LNP

It’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance but Wallace seems to have perfected it, posting to-the-point Facebook memes and outspoken convictions – “you may not agree with what I have to say, but you’ll be left in no uncertain terms as to what my view is” –  that will garner him as many supporters as detractors. Such is politics.

“I’m not going into politics because it’s the most money I’ll ever earn,” he says. “If that was my rationale, I’d stay doing what I’m doing. I don’t believe I will be a standard run-of-the-mill politician. If I could be the most un-politician like politician, I think that would be a good outcome.”

A renowned solicitor since 1978, John Kruger briefed Wallace on construction law and struck up a friendship when he shared the same building in 2001. He echoes the fact that Wallace is a principled man, one of faith and good character.

“To be a very good politician you need to not be doing it for the money, you need to want to make a difference,” Kruger says. “I think he’s more to the centre than to the left or the right. He’s not a renegade but I could see that because he’s such a person of his conscience with his family that in extreme circumstances, he would make a stand.”

Indeed, Wallace is progressive on hot button issues like same-sex marriage and Islam, putting him at odds with others in the LNP clan. On the former, he advocates for equality on the proviso that individual churches are allowed the right to veto it. As for the other cause célèbre, despiteintense controversy, a mosque will be built just two blocks away from Wallace’s office. But he rejects a clampdown by the government to impinge on religious beliefs. He is, however, firm that any hardliners should be dealt with according to Australian law.

Listing determination, loyalty and courage as his defining traits, Wallace doesn’t shy away from taking a swing at other parties’ policies either. Thecompulsory preferential voting motion hastily added onto another bill and passed by the Anna Palaszczuk state government in April is an example. Wallace called it a “travesty of justice”. But in the main, it’s jobs that Wallace is honing in on to appeal to voters.

With four daughters he is, like any father, concerned about their future. “I don’t think anyone has a secure job,” Wallace says. “Not even working for the government is secure anymore. For my girls and for every young person, I want a well-paid job that gives them personal satisfaction. If you don’t enjoy what you do, 50 years is a long time to be miserable.”

Deploring the red tape that jobseekers in the Fisher area have to navigate, and feeling frustrated at people having to commute to Brisbane because they are unable to find employment locally, Wallace is a strong advocate for small business. “Labor believe the best way of decreasing the unemployment rate is to employ more public servants,” he says. “I don’t believe that’s the case. I believe that private industry is the greatest employer and we need to create the right political environment and encourage people to start up their own small business.”

You might be able to take the builder out of the barrister, but you can’t take the builder out of the would-be politician. Wallace is passionate about the re-introduction of the ABCC bill and promises that it will be something he will be pushing hard for in his first 100 days if elected.

“I would like to be a part of a government that reintroduces the Australian building and construction commission,” he says. “Union lawlessness has increased the cost of building sites on union sites by 30%. If you pay taxes, you are involved in the building and construction industry.”

 

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(originally published http://www.unipollwatch.org.au/candidates/andrew-wallace.html)

 

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Chopper’s New Nation: Anzakistan

 

Chopper’s New Nation: Anzakistan

Before Eric Bana immortalised him in the classic Aussie film ‘Chopper’, Mark Read was infamous for his criminal antics: armed robbery, arson, and – when he was bored – torturing criminal members of the underworld with bolt cutters, hence his nickname.

The real Chopper died from liver cancer in late 2013, leaving a void for Heath Franklin to fill. The movies’ dark humour appealed to Heath, but it was also fairly brutal so Heath had the idea of toning the gruesomeness down and turning the comedy up. Although Heath has been performing for enthusiastic crowds for some time as Chopper, he only met the real deal once in a self-described ‘awkward’ photo session for a magazine.

 

You have claimed that your new republic aims to throw the shit bits of Australia and New Zealand out to create the world’s newest superpower. Expand.
It’s about getting the best bits out of both countries. We need to lure the idiots off-shore then sink their boat. If you’re trying to take power and win approval of the population, you don’t want to throw around words like ‘cull’ or ‘breeding programme’ but they’re in the back of my mind. The bottom line is don’t be a fuckwit. That’s pretty much where it peters out, and if anyone does anything, run it by me and I’ll think of the appropriate punishment.

You have a ‘yes we can’ approach with your political ambitions. What’s the basis in this?
I’m trying to borrow from all of the greats, you know. If you look closely, some of the world’s most violent dictators get a gentle nod as well because despite their massive body count, people like Mao and Stalin got some stuff done, didn’t they?

What do you think of the current mob in parliament?
I was just saying the other day since Tony’s gone, no one cares about politics anymore. It used to be every second day ‘ohh whinge this, they’re doing that, blah blah’, but he was contributing his fair share of weirdness by eating onions and stuff, now good old boring Malcolm is in, you don’t even hear about it and you can concentrate on stuff that matters like sport and the weather.

You do have a list of people who can ‘get fucked’, so would you care to explain who they are and how they should go about getting fucked?
The list is constantly evolving. It’s an organic process. Basically, just get out of my way, I just don’t want to hear about you anymore. Ever wake up in the morning and think ‘who the fuck is Selena Gomez?’ and realise you just want them to disappear? Like you can exist, I just don’t need to know about you ever again. How many fucking Kardashians and Jenners are there? Some of these celebrities are like a bonfire made of human souls and the more you look at them, the bigger they get, so if we all turn our backs to them, we’ll be right.

Are there any other celebrities that really piss you off?
Anyone who’s been a judge on one of those singing shows where they look for new pop stars. It’s like, ‘A: we’ve got enough pop stars, and B: if you’re so good at it, why don’t you write a good song? ‘You fucking idiot, Delta Goodrem. The thing I hate about those shows is that I don’t like pop music so I don’t want to see how it’s made. If you have a mate who is a vegetarian, you don’t take him on tour of an abattoir do you? I don’t want to hear all the screaming and the blood, I just want to bloody ignore it.

Would you say that you’re an angry person or just passionate?
I’m an angry person. But I like to think I’m pointing my anger in the right direction you know what I mean? I like a bit of road rage therapy, take all the frustration of the day out on some total fucking random who happened to cut you off accidentally, so I think I’ve saved thousands of dollars in psychologist bills by swerving at fucking idiots in traffic.

Do you have an opinion on Aussie drivers in general?
People in Queensland and Canberra are bad drivers, people in Sydney are good drivers but they’re total fucking psychopaths, which makes it unpleasant, and I don’t think people in Melbourne ever drive anywhere because they’ve all got their little fancy trams. You know when you’re stuck behind a driver and they’ve got that look on their face like their bloody magic mushrooms have just kicked in? Like confusion and panic? That makes me nervous.

What sort of people come to your show?
People with a face. That’s pretty much my cut off point. Only because I haven’t been presented with anyone without a face. People who get uptight about swearing should probably fuck off a little bit. If a cluster of different sounding syllables can ruin your day maybe you should fuck right off. Anyone can come. Bring your kids. I mean, leave them in the car, windows rolled down with an iPad or a box of matches.

Is Australia too politically correct?
The thing that I don’t like is that people get outraged and upset about everything as if getting righteous and indignant is going to solve everything. It’s like, all you’ve done is had a big cry to your friends on Facebook, all you’ve done is make your friends who already agree with you agree with you even more, so you don’t even want to fix the problem, you just want a pat on the back for being a bleeding heart fuckwit. Do you want to fix this problem or just sit around crying about it? If you want to sit around crying about it, that’s fine, you can do it somewhere else but if you want to fix it, then getting 50 likes from your little hippy mates won’t help.

What are your thoughts on the current fashions in Australia?
When you see someone dressed in a suit in 40 degree heat you think, ‘you’re a fucking idiot’. Like if I went for a job interview and I went in dripping with sweat in a three-piece suit, the boss would think I’m a fucking idiot with no understanding of the basic climate so why would I put you in charge of anything? If I come in in shorts they’ll think ‘he won’t fuck around in the morning getting ready and he’ll be on time and also I can send him outside without him fainting or asphyxiating because he’s a useful fucking short wearing motherfucker that I can get along with.’

Your thoughts on Bunnings are well documented, so what are your thoughts on the Masters stores which recently announced they will be sold off or shut down?
I didn’t even know they existed to be honest. It was one of those things I read about in the newspaper and I thought, ‘oh yeah, I’ll probably drive past one of them’, but I never did. Maybe the reason it isn’t going well for them is that they neglected to open any stores anywhere as I’ve never seen any. Maybe look at your business model. If you have a store that isn’t making any money, then maybe open it.

Masters was owned by Woolworths. What are your thoughts on Woolies?
I don’t like them. I won’t play it safe, it’s not like they’re going to come to me and say ‘look Chopper, we were gonna put you in a very lucrative campaign but you fucked it up by being outspoken’. They’ve got one day a year where they give back to the farmers and I think, ‘well why don’t you spend the other 364 days in the year not fucking farmers in the arse’, you know what I mean?

Any supermarkets you do like?
I love Aldi. Any shopping list that can help you out with milk, bread, a motorbike helmet, cheese, spare front seats for a Barina – they’ve just got all your bases covered.

What’s your love life like?
It’s pretty slow. Everyone asks ‘do you get a lot of groupies?’ But no. I don’t think anyone in comedy gets a lot of groupies. You kind of just get weird sort of comedy nerd people. You know people who don’t cut their toenails and still live with their parents so I don’t want to steal their innocence.

Do you have a type?
Again, just a face. A heartbeat, if there’s not a heartbeat, I’ll try to resuscitate it. When you look like I do, you can’t be too bloody fussy. I’m not one of these idiots who is clearly a 4/10 waiting for a supermodel to come along. My plan is to find someone as ugly as I am and then settle down in a dark house without too many reflective surfaces.

Someone asked you to review Jetstar on your Facebook page. Thoughts?
I’m starting to realise that the problem with Jetstar isn’t the airline, it’s the passengers. There’s some fuckwit that tries to bring four cases of beer on in his carryon luggage and it’s like; ‘how did you ever get it into your head that that would be acceptable?’ Then there’s the passenger that can’t find their seat and they reckon that ‘A’ is the aisle seat and it’s like ‘no, we didn’t change the alphabet all of a sudden you fucking idiot’. Or you’re going through security and someone says ‘oh I can’t bring a machete on to the airplane?’So I think they just attract a certain kind of idiot.

What can we expect from the tour?
You can expect a seat in a room with me doing a show at the front of it. You can expect to laugh. You can probably expect to be asked to leave the theatre once it’s over. I just want people to laugh for as long as they can and then fuck off home again.

(http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/chopper-s-new-nation-anzakistan)
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The Living End Shift Gears

The Living End Shift Gears

Staying relevant in the music industry after 20 years is no mean feat.

Since their first album 18 years ago, every record The Living End have released has charted in the ARIA Top 10. Judging by the hard work and story behind their new album, ‘Shift’, it looks like they will strike gold again. “I’m stoked,” lead singer and guitarist Chris Cheney says. “Stoked because we were adamant that we’d make this record a good one. It’s the strongest batch of songs I think we’ve ever had.”

The new album drops today (13 May) and the band was torn about which single to release first. They went with ‘Keep On Running’, but it wasn’t an easy decision. “It’s probably the most polarising song we’ve ever released. It was not written for The Living End really. Everyone agreed that [‘…Running’] was a great song but we didn’t know whether we could make it work. Nothing brings out emotion like a string section. I’m such a fan of big, orchestral arrangements. Without the string section the song is not the same.

“It was really different but it shows a whole other side to the band. It doesn’t reflect the rest of the album whatsoever. There are people who probably think we’ve lost our minds, but I can assure you the rest of the album is absolutely banging.”

As for the other tune that competed for lead single? “‘Monkey’ isn’t reinventing the wheel, we just thought it was a great four on the floor rock tune. I think it’s really dangerous for a rock & roll band unless your AC/DC, to be that band that everyone knows what they’re going to get.”

There was also an emphasis on personal songwriting for ‘Shift’. “There was a lot of experimenting and soul searching lyric-wise to get stuff that was really abrasive and brutally honest; it makes the whole record have so much more meat to it,” Chris says.

“With certain lyrics, I don’t know if I want to say it because it’s too close to the bone… There’s no point dumbing something down. People want to be shocked these days. The best music is the stuff that shakes you out of mundane normality. We’ve always had songs that have been about outside observations and social contexts. It’s always been about ‘we’. This album is about ‘I’.

“I went through a stage where I felt really beaten down and it’s almost like I’m saying to my kids ‘there’s going to be tough times’, but what’s the option? Just check out? You can’t do that. So I’m saying ‘all will be OK my friend’, kind of talking to my children but I know that I’m talking to myself.”

In 2005, Chris was a member of the Australian rock supergroup The Wrights, who covered an Aussie classic ‘Evie’ by the late, troubled singer Stevie Wright of The Easybeats. “It’s a struggle. There’s been times where I’ve been hanging by a thread and could easily fall into bad habits,” Chris concedes.

“Stevie was a genius, but he had a long and well known drug problem but it’s so easy for it to happen in this business. It’s the only job you clock on and they give you a case of beer! It’s absurd. But it’s kind of the reason we got into it in the first place.

“It’s like a party scene and I’ve always been aware that it is part of it. But if you only focus on that, you’re going to have a swift career, so I’ve always felt very ambitious and hungry to prove the next thing, whether it’s the next guitar lick, song or show but that’s inbuilt in me. I feel like I’ve got a point to prove and it’s probably all in my head. So that drives me not to fuck it all up.

“I want to be one of those artists who people go ‘what a band’ and ‘what a catalogue’. I don’t feel like we ever play a bad show and if we do we get pretty down on ourselves and we’re not one of these bands who don’t give a shit. We really play a blinder every night.”

Chris’ respect for classic rock is obvious. His affection for the rockabilly group Stray Cats, who hit the peaks in the early ‘80s, is what got the band going in the first place. “We supported the Stray Cats at the Forum in Melbourne and they really wanted to have us. And our manager was like, ‘yeah but you’re kind of bigger than them now’, which was absurd for us because when we first started out we couldn’t draw ten people.

“We thought playing the Corner Hotel [in Melbourne] was like headlining the Rod Laver Arena or something! We played as their special guest. It was a great career moment. We didn’t care that we’d sold more records, it was about respect and playing before them and saluting them and it was the reason we became a band which is the truth. If it wasn’t for that band, we wouldn’t be The Living End.”

The respect Chris has for rock heritage is matched by his humility. “I’ll be completely honest. We would like to maintain our success and we would like to be a band that people like and if it all ended tomorrow I would be gutted. Because I feel like we’ve had this amazing career and I still feel like we’ve got more to do.

“But at the same time you have to follow your own instincts and make the kind of record you want to make. We kind of did that on this record and we put some parameters on the way we recorded by not cleaning things up and doing to many takes and just leaving an edge there. Because we’re notorious for wanting everything to sound really great and to play our arses off and make everything so blisteringly tight that it starts to lose that human touch.

“So we are lucky that we’ve carved out a career and I’m very thankful for that. You can’t worry about what you should do and what they’re going to like because then they’re on to something else anyway.”

‘Shift’ is available today, 13 May.

Tour Dates

Fri 10 Jun – The Tivoli Theatre (Brisbane)
Sat 11 Jun – Enmore Theatre (Sydney)
Thu 16 Jun – The Astor (Perth)
Thu 23 Jun – Forum Theatre (Melbourne)
Fri 24 Jun – Forum Theatre (Melbourne)
Sat 25 Jun – The Gov (Adelaide)
Sun 26 Jun – The Gov (Adelaide)

Originally published in Scenestr magazine: http://scenestr.com.au/music/the-living-end-shift-gears
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Velvet @QPAC

Velvet @ QPAC Review

Velvet @ QPAC Review

When people diss disco music, it’s easy to forget one crucial element that made it so powerful in it’s heyday – it had to be LOUD.

‘Velvet’ presented the music in its natural habitat and coupled with the stunning outfits, conceived by James Browne, the crowd were in for one hell of a show. The tone was set with the DJ (Joe Accaria, also the Music Director) spinning Chic’s ‘Open Up’. Wearing a Daft Punk-style visor, he also provided tribal like drumming on his drum machine to accompany the breathtaking 80-minute tour de force of disco classics.

The dazzling light show Matthew Marshall had put together heard gasps from the audience. It’s clear that Joe has a genuine love for Chic as three of their songs made an appearance. He cleverly morphed their timeless ‘Le Freak’ with ‘Chic Cheer’ for the incredible gymnastics Mirko Kockenberger displayed.

Velvet
First balancing upside down on a suitcase, he soon received roars of approval as he wiggled out of his trousers down to his briefs. He then balanced on a foam roller sandwiched between three suitcases and with one hand, slipped himself back into his pants.

Rechelle Mansour and Chaska Halliday, clad in gold, took to the stage and sung backup throughout the show. They utilised hula hoops as they sung ‘Boogie Wonderland’ and it was at this point Craig Reid entered the stage, providing one of the show’s most memorable moments. Looking like a novice from the audience wanting to try out hula hoop for himself, his pedestrian clothes and clumsy moves were so convincing. After a couple of twirls, he mastered it.

Not being the most svelte of lads, it was the next move he made that wowed an already high spirited crowd. ‘Shake Your Groove Thing’ was the most appropriate song to accompany Craig – he ditched the office clothes and stripped to a pink jumpsuit. Gyrating with seven, flashing hoops around his waist, this was truly awe-inspiring.

The show had no dialogue but the premise, it seemed, was its main star Brendan Maclean was a naïve guy (think Ryan Phillipe in ‘54’) stumbling across a boogie wonderland he wasn’t quite comfortable in and his journey into becoming himself.

lloydmarciahines (2)Myself and Marcia Hines. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! (pic: Instagram)

It was then Marcia Hines Hines graced the stage, firstly singing the mellow ‘Never Knew Love Like This Before’, then turning up for the camp for a medley of ‘It’s Raining Men’ and her own 1977 smash ‘You’. In a snug, gold glittery dress, it was clear Marcia suited the role of the penultimate disco diva perfectly.

Using a pulley to catapult themselves into the air, Emma Goh and a leather clad Stephen Williams contorted themselves around each other with stunning co-ordination to the relentless soundtrack.

Marcia and Brendan warbled ‘No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)’ which had the 300-strong audience grooving. But it was the haunting acoustic version of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ sung by Brendan that sent chills down the spine and completely changed the song’s vibe. Allowing him to fully showcase his stunning vocals, it provided a brief respite from the beat. Looking forlorn, and comforted by Rechelle, he was soon brought out of his funk into the funk for Donna Summers’ ‘Last Dance’ which Marcia sung with gusto. Assuming that would be the finale, the cast came out to the strains of ‘Disco Inferno’ and showcased Lucas Newlands amazing choreography as they line-danced to a standing ovation.

‘Velvet’ performs Queensland Performing Arts Centre from until 8 May.

(originally published in Scenestr http://scenestr.com.au/news/arts/velvet-qpac-review)

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The Gympie Music Muster Turns 35

The Gympie Music Muster Turns 35

2015 Gympie Music Muster2015 Gympie Music MusterImage © Flickr

There’s an old joke that says if you play a country music record backwards, you get back your dog, your truck and your wife.

While that sort of mournful theme does still exist in some country tunes, it’s the Gympie Music Muster (GMM) who are having the last laugh as they celebrate their 35th birthday this year with the likes of Kasey Chambers John Williamson, Troy Cassar-Daley, Beccy Cole and The McClymonts.

The event was set up by the Webb brothers who opened the gates to their cattle property for the very first Gympie Muster in 1982 to host a celebration after winning a Golden Guitar that year at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.For GMM programme director Jeff Chandler, he first experienced the Muster in 1987 and has been going ever since, despite the challenges of an ever evolving industry. “The Muster hasn’t been immune to the challenges of music festivals, but it’s survived and thrived,” Jeff says. “Thirty five years is a great achievement.”

Jeff Chandler
Jeff Chandler

Mates with legendary Australian music identity Michael Chugg, Jeff keeps a keen eye on changes affecting the industry and the pitfalls of aiming too high. “I think a lot of the problem with festivals is that they’ve become very reliant on their line-up. They’re driving all their ticket sales on who the line-up is rather than the experience.

“We’ve brought it back to being largely Australian artists. What drives our revenue is the experience. We’re supported by the fact we can put tickets on sale before the line-up is announced.”

A number of other country music festivals have sprung up over the years to compete with the Muster. “They’re a different model to the Muster because they’re predominantly American acts and it injects excitement into the market here. They do have camping facilities but not like us. There’s quite a few events. The difficulty is trying to come up with a programme that is different to the next event.

GMM.2
GMM 2015 – image © Flickr

“I was very encouraged going to the CMC Rocks event because it was attended by a lot of young people. The way most of them were dressed, well they could have been at any other youth event and that’s very encouraging because that’s what we need.

“Our average age is mid 40s, but we would like to be able to lower that age a bit. We have a lot of grey nomads who bring the camper vans and they make a pilgrimage of it. We do have young people because we have young artists.”

Despite more country music festivals cropping up, the resistance to country music is one that Jeff highlights as an ongoing problem. “We don’t have the media support. Country music is tougher in Australia. We just don’t have the airplay. Even artists like Keith Urban didn’t break with his music in Australia, it was largely after he married Nicole Kidman that he became noticed, not because of his music.

“The next time another door was knocked down was with Kasey Chambers with ‘Not Pretty Enough’, but since then we haven’t had a country artist who’s dominated the pop charts.”

GMM.3
GMM 2015 – image © Flickr

However, for the true country fan, the Muster offers a wide variety of events. “It is a real destination. You have to be prepared. It’s deep into the forest. It’s off a dirt track which opens up into this unbelievable festival site with a tent city.”

Diversity is something that Jeff is always looking for and this year has comedian Rodney Carrington to provide some belly laughs. “This guy Rodney is a country comedian,” says Jeff. “He’s from the South and the jokes will hit home to a lot of our audience.
“As for the music, I try to mix it up. I think country is very broad these days, we have a blues stage, bluegrass, rockabilly, folk, alternative folk. There really is something for everyone so you can park yourself in one of those venues and then mix it up a bit later.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about country. The artists that appear at the Muster are people [punters] never thought they’d see at the Muster. A lot of our artists do appear at other festivals.”

The event has seen some big names like John Farnham in ’93 and Kenny Rogers four years ago. Last year saw big name Sheppard perform, but for Jeff it was memorable not just for their music. “There was high anticipation for those guys and literally as they went on stage it poured down!” Jeff laughs. “But to their credit they played through. That’s what you live with when you do an open-air event.”

GMM.4
Sheppard at GMM 2015 – image © Flickr

Another memory that stands out for Jeff is when Lee Kernaghan lit up the stage – literally – in the mid ’90s. “He was on the main stage and it was when pyrotechnics were new to country music. His roadie set up the pyrotechnics on his guitar but he’d placed it on back to front so Lee was immersed in flames! All you saw was this ball of flames, but it was only sparks,” Jeff laughs.

As well as the big names on stage this year Jeff is excited about Canadian performers Gord Bamford and Charlie A’court. He’s also quick to sing the praises of local lad Daniel Champagne. “In my books he’s a singing Tommy Emmanuel virtuoso,” Jeff says. “Tommy was my first client. This young fella is going down that path.”

The GMM is not only about showcasing upcoming and established country performers, the event has also raised in excess of $15 million for numerous charities during its history, with this year’s proceeds going to Mates4Mates, an organisation that supports returned soldiers. Coupled with the costs of organising the festival, it soon becomes obvious the festival is borne out of love, not money. “The biggest challenge for the Muster is to sell as many tickets in advance as possible.”Because of the scale of the site, it doesn’t easily sell out. We haven’t managed to ever get to that point, but our site would hold a lot of people. We literally take everything out there, generators, water, toilets, it’s a massive undertaking. If we didn’t have those costs we’d make a decent profit every year. It’s about making the event sustainable.”

The Gympie Music Muster is held at the Amamoor Creek State Forest Park 25-28 August.

(originally published in Scenestr magazine http://scenestr.com.au/music/the-gympie-music-muster-turns-35)

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Paradise Valley @ Barbara Review

 

Paradise Valley @ Barbara Review

When conjuring up images of iconic discos from the ‘70s, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Studio 54 was where it was at.

And, sure it was an amazing club. But it also encompassed a class division that early disco was totally against. The Paradise Garage, was all about inclusivity however. Operating out of New York, and presided over by the late, legendary Larry Levan, the venue was known for breaking disco records that hadn’t crossed over to the mainstream. It also pioneered new genres until its closure in 1987.

Brisbane may be 15,000 kilometres from New York, but that doesn’t mean that local DJs Jimmy Ellis, James Wright, Versace Tour Guide and Alex Intas aren’t massively in awe of this pleasure palace. Last month the DJs hosted Paradise Valley (27 March) at Barbara in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Starting out softly with some slow jams from the legendary Prelude label, it wasn’t long before people started getting on to the postage-sized dancefloor to strut their funky stuff.

Paradise Valley Records

As the night wore on and the good times flowed, more people lost themselves to classic jams of yesteryear. Classic disco cuts like Sister Sledge’s ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’ and Carrie Lucas’ ‘Dance With You’ and First Choice’s ‘Doctor Love’ rubbed shoulders with slick electro grooves from the likes of Sharon Redd, D-Train, Change; even Madonna got a play with ‘Into The Groove’.

Carrie_Lucas_In_Danceland_coversistersledge
The music was full of strings, percussive breaks and soulful vocals that had dancers hollering their approval. Some folks did the whole staring at their phone thing, but for those of us (yep I was getting down) in the know, the real magic was to be found on the dancefloor.
(originally published http://scenestr.com.au/music/paradise-valley-barbara-review)