2 Minutes With... Mitta Norath by Ryan Williams




So this year has been massive for you Mitta with your work with Staunch, Eat Your Heart Out and Fingers Crossed. You’ve become Newcastle’s go-to heavy music guy. Are you stoked with how it’s all going?

Yeah I’m fucking stoked all the time, every day. The other band that should have been in that list was “Those Things” from Sydney. They’re a rock n’ roll punk band, like The Bronx. Party rock. I did a 10-inch for them last year, and then a 7-inch this year.

Another band I’ve recorded recently that I’m really happy with is a band called “Under Grey Skies” that were around a year or two ago. They’ve just finished up some songs up recently and are about the release those. Really heavy, full on shit.

It’s been cool this year because I’ve had so many different projects. Like “Those Things” are like a Fender Deluxe Telecaster sound, while the stuff I was working on last week was 7-strings tuned to drop A.

Heavy music is my passion obviously. I’ll always play that and always love it, but it’s good having a few different things on your plate to keep things interesting.

Another good thing about it is when you learn something from a certain genre, it’s going to cross over into others. A lot of metal production these days has heaps of pop elements in it. So that kind of massive sound metal sound, a lot of it is derived from pop techniques. For example the dude that mixes My Chemical Romance is traditionally a pop mixer who moved over into that heavy stuff so now you’ve got this super clean, massive Fall Out Boy kind of sound. So bands like Bring Me The Horizon are going for this type of production now.

It’s cool in the respect that I get to do everything, like this year I got to engineer two country pop albums for solo female artists. Lauren Wheatley from Newcastle and Innocent Eve, a female duo from Queensland. I got to mic all these instruments that I hadn’t even seen before, let alone played. Just getting to do new stuff all the time and not getting bored, because being bored sucks. Doing the same album over and over again sucks too.

So how is Lauren Wheatley Doing?

She’s doing really well! She’s getting a lot of airtime on CMC these days, which I find crazy to be honest. Also some people like fucking country music for some reason. [Laughs]

Should I put that in?

If you want to [Laughs] Her's is more of a country pop crossover.

There’s a lot of that floating around these days.

Dude it’s huge now, and it’s the mainstream. You know like Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and Morgan Evans. These are all like country artists, who are now considered pop.

Dude I have a really funny story actually, about a week or two ago I filmed Marsha Heins in Sydney. She was doing one of her shows on her tour and I went and filmed it for her DVD or some shit. It was really cool, and I totally didn’t expect it though. I was like Marsha Heins, Australian Idol, 70s, and now man, I just listen to her stuff all the time! I was just on YouTube and I had one of her ballads on, and it’s about being faithful, and being in love with people, and I seriously almost cried. It’s gotten to me. It’s that old 70s stuff that makes you feel good.


What was influencing you when you were a young lad?

How far back?

You can go back as far as you like.

Like out of the womb?

If you want.

I don’t know if I did the standard thing that everyone did, but my dad bought me up on Michael Jackson, Queen and things like that. Kind of classic rock and roll as well as crossover pop rock stuff. So a lot of that stuff is still my favourite. I went through that heavy stage that everyone goes through, Frenzal Rhomb, Blink 182 (Enema of the State), which led into Slipknot, which led into Death Metal, and then got heavier and heavier until the point when, you know, I listen to noise and shit now. To me that’s as heavy as it gets. But that’s debatable obviously.

I think like everyone I’ve had the standard evolution of taste, where it just changes from one thing to another. Because of my job and because of the nature of my surroundings I believe I have a pretty eclectic taste. I like a lot of different, weird things.

I think you’ve got to have your head fairly in the sand to not like a lot of things. When I was about 18-19 I used to be one of those dudes who hated anything not metal. “You listen to something that’s not breakdowns? What’s wrong with you?” So I was just one of those fuckwits. Then I hit 20-21 and realised that the only person I’m hurting with this shit is myself. There’s so much out there to enjoy, why am I worrying about what other people think. So I guess I let go of the ego in that respect, and now I just enjoy whatever, whenever. Fuck I liked that Carly-Rae-Jepsen when it came out, and that’s fucking embarrassing.

You’re all grown up.

I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as a guilty pleasure. I think if you enjoy something you should be able to enjoy it.

How is Regresser going?

Regresser is going good. We’re on a bit of a break now because we’ve got an injury.

Well yeah, what’s going on with that?

Just dumb shit. Drunken tomfoolery. I just fractured a little bone in there, so it’s not a big deal. Everything should be back to normal in a week or two.

So yeah, we’ve had two releases this year, which makes it feel like we’ve been doing it for two or three years so far. We released an EP at the start of the year, and then we’ve released a single for fun. Now we’ve got a whole new release recorded which is ready to go, but we’re just one of those bands that re-does things again and again. When you hear a Regresser song, you’re really hearing the third recording of that. We’re sitting on this release for now until the right time. The dudes in the band are all eccentric and weird, which is what I like. They can be very strange in the decisions they make.

Right now we’re writing and trying for pre production for an album or a long EP or something like that.

How does all this work fit in with you in the producer’s role? How does that slot in with the creative process? Do you think you hold a certain power over the way the recordings come out?

With that band and most bands that I’m creatively involved in the writing process I’d say I’d end up taking a producer’s role most of the time. Because I’m a drummer I end up structuring a lot of things, and the other guys might bring in ideas and I’ll either contribute to that or help rearrange things. I’ll try and look at things not so much from inside the band’s perspective, but from outside the band’s perspective. So because the guys are more intensely involved in the writing of the music, I try and remain objective to what might be working and what might not be.



How do you feel about the music scene in Newcastle at the moment? Do you think this town a hub for heavy music?

I think Newcastle has always had a massive music community. The city has one of the highest bands per capita in the country, if not the world. It was number 1 for a bit in the early 2000’s, I’m not sure if it still is though. So for that reason I believe we have a very rich musical culture. We’re responsible for Silverchair and I don’t know who else.. Marsha Heins? [Laughs]

The Screaming Jets

Exactly. It’s all very work orientated. I’m a little bit jealous of the Sydney scene in that respect because of the diversity of ethnicities, incomes and backgrounds they’ve got down there. There is so much music down there. Having said that, because there are so many fish in that sea, people don’t seem to care as much. So you can be a fantastic band in Sydney and have nobody give a fuck, but be an average band in Newcastle and people really care. So that’s kind of cool.

I like how Newcastle is kind of niche-y. You’ve got to have a groove to get anywhere. I like that you can’t just form a regular-ass band that’s been done a hundred-thousand times and put it out and expect to get noticed, because people won’t care. I like how people are a bit selective and a bit elitist like that, because that breeds out the mediocrity. However at the same time, it does make it hard. You really need to be able to please a certain crowd to get noticed.

For example, noise music has it’s own culture in Newcastle because of bands like Safe Hands, Tired Minds & Coma Lies, there’s a bit of a noise scene. But if you’re in a gent band, it’s really hard these days in Newcastle to pull people. They’re all various forms of heavy music, but the scenes are all divided within. The problem is the guys that go to the metal shows, don’t go to the hardcore shows, and the guys that go to the hardcore shows never go to the noise shows. Instead of having this one big scene where everyone supports each other, it’s pretty divided out there. That hurts the scene. I think if everyone pulled together, did mixed bills and all that sort of shit, and not be bitchy, we’d be better for it.

There are a lot of young, aspiring bands out there, which I find to be really inspirational.

You get bands coming down from Singleton and the Hunter Valley to play down here.

Yeah! Staunch are from Muswellbrook and they’re killing it at the moment.

You’ve got Hombre Records on Hunter St as well, which seems like a good base for hardcore in town.

Now that you say that, it reminds me of a time about ten years ago where the scene was really massive in Newcastle. Mainly older dudes, the likes of The Dead Walk and Dropsaw. Now there are these waves of young people that are coming in like the dudes in Staunch who are eighteen-year-old kids. The scene is just full of young people now, which is what you need.

Having hardcore more in the mainstream because of bands like Parkway Drive, it’s made the idea of having a career in hardcore possible. It’s opened the music up to kids that wouldn’t normally be interested, which is awesome.

These DIY venues are really cool. I think it’s all come out of other venues shutting down left right and center. The Loft is gone. All that sort of shit. I think we’re really in a time of change too because of things like the Internet. You’ve got bands out there that are massive on the Internet that will only get fifty to one hundred payers. They’ve got twenty thousand hits on YouTube, but will only get fifty people through the door because everyone’s in their bedroom watching shit on Facebook. So being big in real life and on the Internet is two different things.

What should Newcastle Mirage readers go out and get right now local music wise?

It’s not super local but I’d definitely say check out Those Things, I have serious faith in that. I reckon it’s a wonderful CD. Endless Heights, Idols (Syd), Jurassic Penguin (Mel) & Totally Unicorn (Syd).  But if I had to choose just one... Hmm...



Do you have any advice for young kids coming out who want to write music and want to maybe open their own studio one day?

Just fucking practice. I know everyone says that, but what I mean is don’t go to Uni, don’t go to fucking JMC academy, don’t go to fucking the Con or whatever, just practice. Just buy your own shit, and sit at home and play with it.

Did you go to uni at all?

M: No. No SAE. No JMC. No fucking private college. No university. None of that shit. They charge so much money (which is cool, I know how much all that equipment costs) but you don’t need it. Just practice.

You think about all the famous producers out there, the Chris Lord-Alge’s the Rick Rubins, nobody’s going to ask what piece of paper they’ve got. They’re going to ask about what was the last CD they did. How does it sound. So that would be my biggest piece of advice.

To young bands, is to do it right and do it right from the start. Don’t go in with shitty attitudes, don’t go in expecting the world, and putting in no effort. Do it professionally. Spend money where you need to. Record a good CD. Have the right artwork. Get a good photo. Look professional, because people won’t take you seriously. Local bands...


Hang on I’ve got this.. Hold on… Umm.. There’s been so many releases lately.. Staunch have been doing really well. I think their music is fun, and they’re heaps good live. But if I had to put it on one..

This is becoming a loaded question.

It’s getting way too hard.

Your desert island Newcastle band. What is your desert island album by the way?

We’re off the Newcastle band thing now?

For the minute.

For my desert island album it would have to be a Dillenger CD. One of them. They’re my number one favorite, so it would be one of those.

But which one?

Fuck you. Probably the last one. One Of Us Is a Killer.

Newcastle Bands... Hmm... Safe Hands, Tired Minds, King Trio are doing well...

How is everything else at Tommirock going?

Good! I’d like to mention as well that I’d love to introduce some more engineers into the studio. Getting more people to come and hire out the studio space. I don’t care if you don’t want to record with me, I would just love for Tommirock to become a bigger part of the Newcastle music community. The space is useless when there’s not a band in there. It doesn’t sound any good when they’re nobody playing.

What’s next for the future?

More of the same. Bigger and better. I’ll probably be staying where I am for a while, but the client base is getting bigger all the time. As far as what I want to create, I want to engineer and produce really niche, artists and works. Likely always heavy music, but I want to take the left of center, weird, crazy stuff. I don’t want to make the same old shit.



If you're a Newcastle Based engineer and want some time in a studio space, get in contact with Mitta at to work out a deal! He's a lovely dude.

Poetry Slam! by Kian West


Saturday night, August 23rd will see the Royal Exchange (34 Bolton St.) redound with spoken word poetry as it hosts the Newcastle heat of the Australian Poetry Slam. The competition is open to anyone and will see twenty contestants engage in two minute monologues to an adoring crowd. Within the audience will be five randomly selected judges (traditionally by freddo frogs being flung into the throng). They will give each performer a score out of then. The victor and the runner up of the night wins cash prizes of two hundred and one hundred dollars and the ovation/jealousy of their peers, not to mention a chance to compete in the state finals in Sydney.slam_grey Slam poetry is not the same as those tired old poems we were made to analyse in high school English. You will not be asked to outline the string of metaphors or use of alliteration at the end of a performance. Instead, slam poetry is spoken from memory and relies just as much on the sound and rhythm of words as the meaning of those words. Edgy and current, slam poems often tackle a range of issues such as race, gender, politics, death and sex. But there is a lighter side as well, previous slam finalist Alex Martin stormed his way to the state finals in 2012 with his poem ‘Privacy Man Livedeth.’ In this piece Martin sent the audience into resounding laughter with lines like,


‘The good thing about being Privacy Man,

Is that I can read in peace, naked.

I can write in war naked.

I can be Privacy Woman, in my privacy, With my parts, oh, so very private …’


What makes slam poetry sharper than poems written in books is the stakes of competition and the pressure of the strict two minute time limit. The poem must appeal to the audience.

Slam poetry began in a little town in the United States called Chicago in 1989. Sick of going to poetry readings where poets mumbled their verses while nobody listened, Marc Smith began a poetry night where people were expected to perform their pieces and the best performer won a prize. Soon poets started to actually memorise their pieces to improve their performances and poetry slamming was born.

The movement migrated from Chicago to Australia with Miles Merrill, now Creative Director of Word Travels. Word Travels is a not-for-profit literary, literacy and arts organisation that runs poetry workshops for the public as well as school groups.  By far their largest undertaking is the Australian Poetry Slam. This national competition started in Sydney in 2004 and now has heats taking place in regional areas right across the country.

Last year the slam culminated with the Word Travels Festival in Sydney which included three days of street performances, workshops for competition finalists and the national slam final.

Performing at the final, Newcastle’s own Jesse John Brand won the entire competition with his poem ‘Joshua.’ As slam champion Brand has since toured internationally performing in China and Indonesia. He has also published his first poetry collection Cranes Falling in Unison in May. Brand is the second Novocastrian to take out the title. In 2009 Sarah Taylor went from retired librarian to poetry superstar with her off kilter rant about sex aids and the taboo of later life love making.

You can see Brand in performance when he hosts the Australian Poetry Slam’s Newcastle heat. Sign ups to perform start at 6:30pm, so get there early if you want to enter. The night will kick off at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5.

For more information go to:

or contact slam coordinator David Graham:

Ground Floor - Novocastrians Who Brunch by Kian West

Ahhhh Ground Floor coffee. If you see a lot of cyclists at a coffee place you know the coffee is going to be good! Ground floor never disappoints with coffee. I must admit I am a bit of a frequent at Ground floor their coffee and they haven't disappointed yet! Always smooth and nice and strong perfect perk me up, especially if it's with a little sweet something something on the side. Double trouble with two cappuccinos for Dutchy and myself. Our coffee rating 9/10.

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A STORM CLOUDS recap by Kian West



So you just launched “Storm Clouds” tell us a little about the night and how it went? I held the comic launch at Churchkey Espresso on Hunter St - which, by the time of publication, will be under a new name/managment - and promoted it very hard leading up to the night. I had some leftover prints of the comic art, so I threw them on the wall, made a 6-hour Spotify playlist, organised some refreshments (including special Storm Clouds iced coffees) and prepared a team of helpers to keep the night running smoothly. My friends Tim, Mitch, Swannie and Big Pog took care of everything all night - I couldn’t go three minutes without someone pouncing on me. The launch party was a ridiculous success and I really was unprepared for how well the comic was received. Things got a little Murphy’s Law in the days leading up to the event and by the time I had everything set up on the night I was so physically and mentally exhausted that I wouldn’t have been phased if only like five people showed up, but there would have easily been close to a hundred passing through on the night. We nearly sold out of copies as well - which is over double what I had expected to sell - which was both shocking and delightful news. I wanted to get more of my friends involved in the night, so I threw together a bit of a mini-exhibition with some friends the week before the party. Three artists from Newcastle, (Keo, Grizz and Dan Arnold from Alien Art) and three artists from Sydney (Carlo, Sindy Sinn and Mike Watt) each submitted their interpretation of one of the comic’s main characters. I only gave them like eight days to get the art to me, so they were all mates about it. I only made 40 packs. They were $3 to make giving people change easier if they bought it with the comic, and they sold out in like a half an hour. Another unexpected surprise! Each card had a QR code on the back which reveals a secret message about the comic if you scan them all in the right order! I could not believe how many people showed up and bought a comic. My old band just did a reunion show at the Cambridge and there were more dudes on the stage than there were on the dance floor, so I had lost all confidence in my pulling power. The fact that there are eighty-odd copies of my comic floating around being read by that many people right now is blowing my mind. God bless Newcastle. How has the comic itself been received? On the whole, pretty well. I put a lot of attention into the production and presentation of the book as well as the story and artwork, and getting them risograph printed on special stock left a lasting impression on people. Most people’s standard reaction to receiving the book was opening it, smelling it, and feeling the ink on the pages to take it all in. I’m yet to hear a response to the story from someone who isn’t friends with me and wouldn’t necessarily get all the Newcastle in-jokes, but I’ve had a lot of people tell me they have read the whole thing with my voice in their head, because I haven’t done a good job at disguising my natural mannerisms, haha. I had the same experience reading Nick Milligan’s book at the beginning of the year. So far everyone I’ve spoked to has enjoyed it and are keen to see what happens next! What do you mean by ‘Newcastle-in jokes’? There are too many to really cover here, but the majority of places/people/things in the comic are loose references to things from this city, to add an extra layer to the story for locals. The main character Chino is named after Chino’s, the Cambridge side-bar that was shut down in 2011. Everywhere in the city there are tags that read ‘R.I.P VOX’, a reference to the old record store in the west end, Vox Cyclops. Conroy’s, the bar in the comic, is named after a closed-down Newcastle cafe and the inside is modelled after The Lass. Jared’s band CHANCES is named as a nod to No Second Chances, a now-defunct Newcastle hardcore band, and their hit song bares some similarities to a horrible chauvinistic anthem my old band from Uni had back in the day. Also, a huge part of the plot (which I won’t spoil for you) is a big reference to how Renew Newcastle works. Marni Jackson made an appearance at the opening, and I think she got it, but was a little taken aback by all the violence ahahha Will there be more comics from Ben? I hope so. I was treating Storm Clouds as my debut of taking the cartooning thing seriously, so the general response is going to determine whether or not it’s something I am going to continue with. As I said before, most people who’ve read the ending are keen to follow up the cliffhanger and find out what happens next. Everyone conversation I’ve had about this has been different depending on who I’m talking to and what they’d like to see in a sequel. I’d really like to focus more on Jared on Charlie in a prequel story, but after the events of the first comic there are lot of directions I can take with Detective Rose and Chino. The main idea, at this point, is to tell a bunch of interconnected stories about Bontown and the whole conspiracy that was uncovered in Storm Clouds, and how everyone there seems to be so caught up in their day-to-day that they don’t realise how much sinister stuff is going on behind closed doors. What’s next for Ben? Before I can tell another story, I want to make sure as many people read Storm Clouds as possible. I am currently sold out of all of the first run (which, as I said before, was not how I had planned this to go) so I’m trying to chase up a second edition as we speak. At the moment I am a lecturer at Newcastle Uni which is keeping me afloat pretty well, but I still do regular freelance graphic design/illustration work pretty much full time. I have currently never been more busy, and any time I am away from my phone/emails I am super relaxed. At the moment I’m working on a comic with another dude which will be out next month, and doing a bunch of graphics for a new bar opening on King St which should be out around the same time. I’m beginning to think that if I can survive just on doing comics for myself (that other people want to read and share) I could end up only drawing things that other people tell me to occasionally - which is the dream, currently. For those that haven’t caught a copy yet, where can they get one? This is a question whose answer has changed only very recently. Storm Clouds is currently sold out all over Australia/the world, but I will be able to release a second edition of 100 copies in mid-April. These will have slightly different covers, and won’t be hand-numbered. They’ll be available from Fun Apparel online, Graphic Action on Hunter Street, and I’m also super excited to announce I’ve scored a partnership with indie comics publisher Birdcage Bottom Books for distribution in North America and the rest of the world, alongside some of my favourite artists. As I wasn’t expecting to sell 80 copies in one night, and then sell the remaining copies within 2 days in stores and online, I hadn’t planned a second run for the foreseeable future. Whilst selling out was great news, it took me off guard and I was really uncomfortable telling people they would be unable to read the comic, so I took action almost immediately! By a stroke of luck, my boy Xavier in Melbourne has had a cancellation and will be able to fit my second edition in, and another risograph printers in Sydney is interested in doing another run in case anything goes wrong. Finally, no one will be denied Storm Clouds. Until the second edition drops, I ended up with a few extra copies from the printers that were lacking covers. As I mentioned before, I got the covers done in Newcastle and the insides done in Victoria, but the covers were done first and Xavier ended up running out. As a result, I’m doing a very very limited run of five copies with a limited edition cover illustrated by my friend Carlo Delos Santos, which I’ll be selling myself online. BUT, if you subscribe to Newcastle Mirage this month, you’ll be in the draw to win one of these limited edition Storm Cloudses! Tell em all about it, Kian!




(offer only available to 6 or 12 month subscribers)

Word Hurl - November Newsletter by Kian West


Do you Like Poetry? Do you Like performance art?

Do you Like Booze?

Hopefully you answered Yes to at least one of these, in any case you should probably check out the Word-Hurl Newsletter we have attached at the bottom of this article and check out some of the highly creative pieces from some pretty amazing people.

Word Hurl Anti-Slam... doesn’t know

At Word Hurl Anti-Slam we don't have all the answers. Actually, we don't have any of the answers. I don't even think we have any questions either. Just a whole heap of no rules open mic spoken word and poetry.

This is the last Word Hurl Anti-Slam of the year! It's gonna be a famous romp of ignorance and stumped faces. So come, oh yes, please do.Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 4.40.28 pm

Thursday 5th of December 6pm signup 6:30 start

The Terrace Bar 529 Hunter St Newcastle





Nick Milligan - Enormity by Kian West


Before joining NASA’s space programme, Jack had dreams of a career as a professional musician. When a deep space mission goes awry, he crashes on an alien planet. Jack discovers that his new world is inhabited by a race of humans that have evolved in parallel to those on Earth. He picks up a guitar and performs the most wondrous rock songs of his home planet. Neil Young. Leonard Cohen. Bob Dylan. Superstardom beckons as audiences around the globe revere Jack and his apparent songwriting abilities. He basks in the boundless glow of a hedonistic dream world. But Jack soon learns that his lie will have sinister consequences.

Cover Photo

Lets set this up right, if you take a second to read reviews (I don't usually) Part One of Nick's book Enormity on Amazon had 15 reviews prior to the official release and every one of those gave his book at least a 4/5 rating. I'm no scientist, but that is a pretty incredible feat.

Officially launched on November 24th at Newcastle's Depot on Beaumont in their stunning VIP section on the third floor. Featuring a live reading and book signing from the one and only Nick Milligan. Nick is a fantastic human and Novocastrian that deserves the communities support in what is no mean feat writing a whole book, especially a book that is arguably quite good. If you don't already own a copy after grabbing one that was carefully signed at the official launch there are a few ways to rid yourself of this awful predicament. 1. go to Amazon and order yourself a paperback version or Ereader version and get that bad boy delivered. 2. Head in to Abicus on Darby St. and hand over a couple of dollars and collect a print copy today!

He even has famous people reading his book: "Raunchy and rowdy, poetic and perplexing, Milligan's Enormity is aptly named. Much like another favorite Aussie export, Nick Cave, Milligan doesn't shy away from the grotesque and the absurd as he shines his light on the terrible beauty of the human condition. This is compelling fiction that leaves you wanting more..." - Jace Everett, American songwriter, writer/performer of True Blood theme 'Bad Things'

Nick Milligan has been an amazing writing talent since entering the entertainment journalism scene back in 2002, quickly becoming one of Australia's favorite talents with articles in Rolling stone, Hotpress, Frankie, and Smash Hits. Nick then moved on to become the editor in chief for Reverb.

It is amazing to see such talent from a Novocastrian rise to the top of national and international literary circles and we here at Newcastle Mirage fully support his endeavors! We have also been lucky enough to score 3 signed copies of Enormity to give away to our subscribers, So subscribe before December 20 and go in the draw to win!!! (you might even see it in your mailbox before Christmas).


 Handsome as well as talented, this here is Nick Milligan, the man behind the words on the paper

(or screen).