Ah, those happy buskers Bonjah have been pretty bloody busy since leaving Bourke Street Mall behind: they’ve sent a new LP Go Go Chaos out into the world and been gallivanting around the countryside in a near-sold out five state tour, the highlight of which was a sold out hometown gig at the Corner Hotel. Music rag Rolling Stone (wow, remember, like, paper??) reckons they are this year’s band to watch and now that they’re on their way back home again we thought it was high time they submitted themselves to the Tone Deaf Get To Know You grilling. Here goes.

Who are you and what do you do in your act?

Regan Lethbridge and I am the guitarist in Bonjah.

‘Fess up. What records have you stolen from your parent’s record collection and why?

I remember I pinched Kick by INXS out of my stepdad’s car for a little bit. I really liked that record when I was growing up. I used to always raid my Dads CDs and listen to anything from U2, Elton John to Queen, The Eagles, Tom Petty… Basically anything he was into I dug. I wouldn’t dare try and steal anything though, I would have been shot.

What’s on heavy rotation on your iPod right now?

I really like Tinpan Orange’s new single “Barcelona”. The Rubens have a great song out also, I think its called “Lay Me Down”. I love Cloud Control, Gotye, Coldplay. So many awesome artists and it seems there is a constant stream of quality music being released which is awesome. It’s great for an independent band to see!

‘Home taping is killing the music business was the catch-cry of the record industry in the 1970s, but it managed to survive until now. What do you think is the difference between mates taping copies of friend’s records back in the 80s and 90s and file sharing now?

Everything is just so accessible now, it kinda feels like it doesn’t have as much value or something when it’s on the net as you don’t have a physical product in your hands. That’s the vibe I get anyway. The music industry is walking a very fine line but I’m an optimist and truly believe they will keep adapting.

Good music will always get through somehow. You simply can’t fight millions of people who download artists each year. I guess you can try to educate them that for an independent band to write, produce and record an album costs a lot of money; the positive is your music can be all over the world on a lot of iPods through file sharing. You may struggle to put gas in the van to get to the next gig or pay for ads to promote your record but your music and profile grows. It’s a catch 22. I think it’s best not to get caught up in it too much and focus on the good stuff.

You must answer this question honestly or we steal your rider. What was the first gig you went to.?Where was it and what was the venue?

Michael Jackson at Erricson Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand. It was 1996, I was 12 and remember it so clearly. I was completely blown away by his voice and I will always remember his dancing and how loud the crowd were. Now that he’s passed I’m so stoked I got to see him as I grew up with his music. I was the cool kid at school for a solid week for going to that show!

What’s your favourite site to download music from and do you ever pay for it? Can we find any of your releases there?

I have never once in my life downloaded music off the internet for free. I use iTunes a little, although I’m old school and still like buying the physical CD. Yep we are on iTunes. I wouldn’t know regarding illegal downloading sites but I’ve heard from friends and family we have been uploaded on a few sites.

What artist made you want to pick up an instrument and/or sing?

A few actually. I remember watching a Pink Floyd live DVD with Dad when I was younger and being blown away with how Dave Gilmour played guitar. I love John Frusciante, Jimmy Page and Hendrix. Anyone who played and you could really feel and understand what they were doing. John Lennon and Michael Jackson too as artists. There are too many!

Have you ever been arrested?

No. Would have been way cooler if I had said yes.

Do you have any particular ritual before you go on stage, or even a lucky charm you take with you?

We always have a good 20 minutes together as a band backstage, its usually pretty quiet and we just try stay as relaxed as possible. I usually clap my hands a lot to get the blood flowing and try get in the zone so I can deliver a good performance. As a group we have a huddle and just remind each other to get out there and enjoy ourselves and communicate with the eyes a lot. Plenty of smiles always helps too.

What’s been your most outrageous rider request?

Mmmmm, we get fruit and sandwhiches which is nice. We are not a full on band that ask for 5 slabs and 3 bottles of whisky or anything but we get looked after which is awesome. We drank way too much at a festival in Perth and promised ourselves we wouldn’t do it again. We also ask that the blue M & Ms be taking out of the bowl or we don’t perform.

Because it’s more fun to do things together, which living Australian artist would you most like to collaborate with? Tell us why?

I would love to work with Glenn Richards from Augie March. I admire him as a songwriter and love his vocals. One of the best gigs I have seen is him solo when we played the Planting Festival in Woodford. It was dead quiet and it just took me to another world.

He is a master of his craft and I respect him highly as a person. After the gig I remember being a little nervous talking with him but he was just a real lovely and genuine person.

Right, let’s get really intimate. Tell us what releases you have that we can listen to with the lights down low, or even better, where we can see you play in person next.

We put out our second record in July this year. It’s called Go Go Chaos. It’s on iTunes and in stores through Shock Records. Our debut record Until Dawn is available too. We’re playing the Prince next week – we can’t wait, our Melbourne shows are always great. Then we set off for a summer of a few festivals, Life’s a Beach in WA, Pyramid Rock on Phillip Island, Corrinbank in Canberra and a run of headline shows in Byron, Brissy, Sunny Coast and Freo in WA. Then we record our new single and drop it at the end of summer!

Bonjah play the Prince Bandroom Friday Dec 2nd supported by Kim Churchill and the Pierce Brothers. Tickets selling fast. Get on board!  or… try your hand at winning some here

Photo credit: Jeremy Williams