What’s your earliest memory of performing and who inspired you to start?
Our earliest memory of performing (music that is) was a ways down the Princes Highway in Tempe, at an open mic night at a pub called the Harp. The room was barely tall enough to stand in and it was pure Australian mid-summer, air thick and hot and shivering still. There was a pecking order of Usuals at this open mic night, so even though we arrived first, we waited many hours before we played. When we were finally called up our tongues were so dry they might as well have been glued to the roof of our mouths, our hands shook, the blood rushed broiling to our cheeks and launching into the first song we promptly began singing the wrong verses: back to front, upside down, hung up and hung over. But we survived, we were exhilarated, even by this dismal success.
Do you prefer the studio or the stage? Which and why?
Recording and playing are two different and truly distinct enterprises. The qualities that make for a successful practitioner of one do not necessarily translate to the other. Recording is about dreaming-up what is possible beyond the constraints of the corporeal, evolving the core blueprint of a song into something quite impossible in reality, honing it and refining this impossibility in a (futile) pursuit of perfect exactitude. Playing live is almost the exact opposite of this process of perfection: it is raw and messy and incredibly constrained by the “corporeal”. Recording has its eye on posterity, playing on the stage is momentary.
You’ve supported some pretty notables bands, what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen on stage?
The craziest thing we’ve seen happened off stage: one night, many long moons ago, we were playing the front bar of a relatively dilapidated venue. This was railroad territory: there was a carriage mechanics shed (the graffiti sprayed tin roof kind) two hundred metres up the road and during the day the sound of welding and hammering drifted into the main bar. We reiterate: this was railroad territory. The bar was not serviced by the traditional svelte pert bar-girl, but (like a 1950’s throwback) one hardened bloke-treetrunk of a man, with the kind of weary faded blue tattoos applied in jail cells. During this low-light low-point performance, one especially enthusiastic audience member, during the peak of a crescendo, decided to express herself by light a whole wadding handful of sparklers. We can only assume the intended effect was sparklers – but more. The actual effect was a sudden large-scale sparking which caused the stricken audience membero drop her combustible pile, while it emitted crackling belches of black smoke and fire. At this point the bloke-cum-tree-trunk burst through the crowd with a jug of beer (the particulars here, ale, lager, stout remain a subject debate among the band) and doused the handful of sparklers.
‘Fess up. What records have you stolen from your parent’s record collection and why?
The only music we can recall filching from our parents “record collections” (in the old days were such things were physical and capable of being filched) is: Queen (Live At Wembley Stadium). Bach – Orchestral Transcriptions. Spokes Mashinyane.
How does it feel to hear your songs being played on radio?
Both surreal and ordinary. In this internet age, when every computer, every palm sized inch of machinery is a miniature radio – hearing our songs on the radio is nice only if you remember to remind yourself: “its the radio!” – otherwise the experience is very much like hearing your music on your ipod, playing through your car speakers.
You’ve played all around parts of the east coast of Australia a few times; do you hold any sentimental feeling toward a particular venue?
The venue with the most sentimental / nostalgic resonance for us is probably the (now defunct) Hopetoun. For those unaware it was a pretty tiny venue in Surry Hills, that had a generous mix of up-and-coming and established bands. It was great when we were starting out to play on a Monday night to fifteen friends on the same stage we’d see properly legitimate bands playing on a weekend.
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 ?
Our own festival would be held in an abandoned movie theatre (why aren’t there more shows in movie theatres?). We would setup it up just like the movies: replete with popcorn, ticket office, folks in uniforms (etc). No attractions besides the music show itself and BYO – to discourage male/female peacocks from attendance. If you could collaborate with anyone living or dead who would it be? We’ve always had this idea, somewhat bizarre given our relatively divergent genres, that the Chemical Brothers would make for an amazing collaboration on an album. They are just such incredibly detailed and exacting producers and arrangers.
What band has excited you the most from the last 12 months?
Tune Yards + M Ward
Touring and recording can be stressful exercises and cause much tension, which member would win in band fisticuffs?
Rowan Dix, A.K.A DJ Joyride has been playing bass for us these past few months. Guy is close to seven foot and probably a hundred and thirty kilos. No contest.
Self-promotion is all-important in music, what’s happening next for the band?
Our “Gallons EP” has been released: //itunes.apple.com/au/album/gallons-ep/id524394181
We’re currently touring off the back of it. Shows remaining are the Oxford Arts Factory on Thursday, June 7 and the Bridge Club in Brisbane on Friday, June 8.
And we’ll be releasing our album in the coming months, with some more extensive touring dates there.