Out of the depths of the estuarine tidal swamps, the fetid groundwater of snake-infested cane fields, and down with the driving tropical rain of their home country come North Queensland’s finest young psychos, The Broken Needles. The Townsville-based band’s debut album, Terra Nullius, was released in early 2012, prompting Rolling Stone magazine to affectionately hail it, “A wet-season postcard from Psychoville, N.Q.”. A refreshing antidote to the polite and Americanised indie rock that has dominated Australia’s music scene for the better part of a decade, The Broken Needles are a wholesome taste of the seedy underbelly of Townsville’s secretly blossoming rock & roll scene.
What’s your earliest memory of performing and who inspired you to start?
CAHILL [bassist]: My earliest memory of performance I can remember was in 1999, I performed at a winery opening around the valleys of Margaret River in Western Australia. I was playing the clarinet at the time and I remember being really nervous until I saw my music teacher Mr Morrison get up on stage to open the night, he played with his band and swapped between guitar and saxophone for their entire set, and he could really play, I always credited my interest in music to him, still to this very day.
MICK [lead singer]: I was a latecomer to the whole music thing, so my first show was about 2008. I remember it was hot as hell and the show going down pretty well until I got arrested for telling a cop that shutting the show down for noise reasons was a joke and he was a clown. I spent a sleepless night in the lock-up and then had to show up at work at six the next morning. Not my favourite 24-hour period by any stretch, but it gives you a good idea of the shitfight it is being in a band outside a capital city in this country. That was our first show as a band, and it’s been all downhill since then…
You must answer this question honestly or we steal your rider. What and where was the first gig you went to?
CAHILL: I went to see my friend’s band play at a youth festival at the Townsville showgrounds. They went by the name Post Affection and played emo/hardcore covers. They had some great stage moves.
MICK: I think it was Woodford Folk Festival around 1999. My sister took me. I can’t remember much about it except John Butler was there and he was really angry about the environment, or weed being banned, or some other first-world white-boy hippie shit.
‘Fess up. What records have you stolen from your parent’s record collection and why?
CAHILL: Paul Kelly’s Songs From The South, The Rollingstone’s Tattoo You and The Cure Staring at The Sea. I was particularly fond of these albums, but my folks listened to a lot of great music, so really I just stole whatever I could get away with.
MICK: I used to nick my old man’s Van Morrison records when I was a young fella. I still do at every chance I get.
What’s on heavy rotation on your iPod right now?
CAHILL: George Harrison All Things Must Pass.
MICK: I just discovered iTunes last week, so I’m up to date with all the technology now. Our record is getting released on there so I thought I’d check it out ahead of time to see what it was all about. These Immortal Souls, The Triffids, Neil Young and The Middle East’s last record are the only things on there at the moment. But I plan on expanding my digital music horizons soon.
How do you find new music?
CAHILL: I honestly find a lot of new music to be painful, it seems like there’s so much repetition and plagiarism these days. It’s getting harder and harder to have an original sound, but it’s important to keep up to date and keep moving forward. Although I have heard some excellent albums and there will always be gems that shine through, I find that so many great albums get listened to, loved and then tossed aside in a matter of weeks for something new, as there is such a vast sea of music to explore. It takes a lot to impress people these days, or at least I think so anyway.
MICK: I’ve been a bit slack lately. Word of mouth is where I get most of it. I’m too lazy to spend hours looking for new music, I’ll let someone else do it and then pretend I found it in the first place.
Do you have any particular ritual before you go on stage, or even a lucky charm you take with you?
CAHILL: I don’t have any rituals as such, but I believe in the power of the placebo effect with good luck charms, I carry a tacky “four leaf” clover around in my wallet, and I always wear a key around my neck that came from Calypso Brown’s personal key collection. In saying that, a few drinks beforehand will generally sort you out.
MICK: Make sure everything works and then have another beer.
If you could curate your own festival, where would it be, who would be on the bill, how many people would you let in and what features would it have?
MICK: Not a fan of festivals, hypothetical or otherwise. I’d charge a ridiculous ticket fee and watch all the suckers drop a week’s salary just to watch some washed-up re-united 90s band headline who were never any good in the first place.
When you’re Rolling Stones Big, what are you going to request on your rider: don’t be shy. We want specifics!
CAHILL: Plenty of electrolytes and monkey paraphernalia… I made mistake of showing our front man Michael this yoga position I can do, now he has this weird obsession that I’m some form of half-monkey, half-man creature, whatever our rider would be, it’d be served by people walking around on their hands, that’s for damn sure.
MICK: Cold beer and something to chew on.
Because it’s more fun to do things together, which living Australian artist would you most like to collaborate with? Tell us why?
MICK: Warren Ellis. Because everyone should want to collaborate with Warren Ellis.
What is your band’s music the best soundtrack for?
CAHILL: Driving through the desert, drunk as a skunk
MICK: Disposing of a corpse in a mangroved estuary or having beers on a beach with no work tomorrow.
Where we can see you play next, what releases do you have available and where can we get them?
MICK: Terra Nullius is being released internationally on iTunes, April 20th, following the local release earlier in the year. If you like something you can hold onto while you listen to it, you can buy the physical record straight from our website or our bandcamp.
We just wrapped up a national tour in February, which was quite a hike down from up here. We’ll be down your way again at the start of 2013 or hopefully earlier.
Stay tuned to our website or follow us on Facebook to keep abreast of the proceedings.