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Sarah Christine, By Brooke Tunbridge by Brooke Tunbridge

It’s so inspiring to hear when someone puts so much love, effort and time into their creative projects, and still manages to find time for work, study and life in general. Sarah Christine, like many other incredible people I’ve interviewed, does just this. We were talking for a while about her music and the amount of gigs she performs (which is a lot), then briefly about her work as a singing teacher at Anna’s Singing School in Redhead. I thought to myself, ‘I won’t even ask her about studying, she sounds way too busy to be doing that as well.’ To my surprise, study slips into the conversation as Sarah mentions she’s in her second year studying Primary Teaching.

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Suburban Haze, with Ryan Williams by Ryan Williams

Often when I'm writing one of these things, I'll jump to thesaurus.com and swap out some of my dumber words for smarter ones. Grungies for underwear, biscuit for bikkie, etc. This conversation turned to the subject of memes multiple times throughout, and every time I have to put in the word meme. It turns out there is no synonym for the word meme. Nothing else says it like meme. Are you sick of it yet? Meme. Harambe. Meme. I'm sorry Dad.

 

Suburban Haze are deeper than a meme. In fact, they've been around for ages. I met up with the meme-lords Paul Graham and Joe Andersons to talk music and memes. Memes.

 

I missed the Harambe meme.

Paul: I don't know how you did. I feel like it's done now, though. 

So they killed that gorilla.

P: And then they killed the meme. It feels like he's really died twice.

Anyway, Suburban Haze has been around for a while. I went really deep on Facebook last night – all the way back to 2013. There's a photo of Paul playing a gig in a dress. 

P: Yeah – that wasn't the start though. I was playing in my other band Tired Minds at that stage and wanted to do something a bit different. I had around 10 demos that I'd recorded with Joe and put a band around it. That was a different thing. 

So has it always been you two guys?

Joe: Not always – I've only been playing in this band since that last release. I've recorded them in the past, and my old band has done split releases with them.

P: Joe has been the fifth or sixth member for the whole time. 

So there's been a few different people through the band?

P: The constants have been Alex, Dyl and myself. We were originally called... Don't put this in. I don't want anybody looking it up... The Reflections. It was originally more of a punk-y type of thing. We lost and kicked out a few members [laughs] as well as changing the name. That was around 2012. From there we did The Lost EP

That first one on the Bandcamp page?

P: Yeah. Around a year later we did the first album – New Coliseum. After that I decided to sing and play guitar for this new album.

I haven't listened to the earlier releases as much, but this newest one seems like it's... heavy, mixed with some more Morrisey-esque moments. I don't want to put that on you, though, if it wasn't what you were going for.

P: I don't really know how it all came about. The first EP I was really worried about singing low – I thought I sounded like Creed. 

You do go very low now.

P: I really associated those low notes with Creed. I was so against it. I sang very high notes intensely.

I think it's a default thing for singers in bands sometimes.

P: I remember I was listening to Alt-J's last album – all the weird things he was doing with his voice. I didn't really want to yell anymore, so I started experimenting. The latest album is what came out.

There isn't a whole lot of the heavier style vocals on there – I know you got someone in to feature on one of the songs, but you don't do it. You don't want to sing like that anymore?

P: It's coming back now a little bit, to be honest. For a while I didn't want to yell at all.

It's evolving.

P: Yes. 

And now you've got these guys in the band. How long has this lineup been together?

J: Nearly two years now.

P: It's probably working the best of any we've had.

J: We're all very opinionated about our memes. That's where we really shine.

What are some synonyms for the word meme?

J: Intelligent images [laughs].  

P: We booked in a four-hour rehearsal once, played for around 20 minutes – all of a sudden I had finished an hour long YouTube video [laughs]. 

But you've really been working on some new music as well?

P: Since the album came out in April we've been holding back these ones. 

You've been doing a few local shows, but it's not an every-weekend type thing. It's a special occasion when you play.

P: With our drummer living in Melbourne it's a bit hard to get out as much, but we're not dead. We've got a tour coming in November; we're playing in Melbourne twice. A total of eight dates so far.

Newcastle?

P: The Lass on the 2nd of November. Then off to Taree.

J: Is that really booked? [laughs]

P: Yep. Then Coffs, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide.

So it's a bit more of a heavy fit you're leaning towards now? What are the support bands?

P: Not really heavy, it's a pretty mixed bag. 

Where does it fit?

P: I feel like we're slowly moving away from the heavier stuff. I love playing at the Lass.

J: The problem of coming up in hardcore and listening to hardcore for so long... All our friends play or book hardcore bands. I don't know many chillwave bands.

P: I think it's a natural thing for dudes that were in heavy bands to move toward a more relaxed style. 

You guys are maturing.

P: Ahh... Yes.

J: Pretty much a dad band now.

They're very long songs.

P: I don't think they're written to be, it just kind of happened. I think it's because we play a bit slow. I feel like it's going to change now with this newer stuff in the pipeline. 

Slow and short?

P: We'll see.

When are these new songs coming? 

P: We'll have two originals coming out just before the tour kicks off, as well as a cover we're putting out next month as well.

Anything else to add?

P: Please send us your favorite meme.

Check out Suburban Haze at their website (suburbanhaze.com) or on Facebook (facebook.com/SuburbanHaze), where you can share your homemade Harambe memes with them.

 

 

So Much Music, August: With Chris Dunny Dunn by Newcastle Discovered

I'm slowly expanding the local music section of this outlet, but I still need YOU to bring me the releases. I know you’re out there, so stop just selling to the mates that show up at your shows and bring your new release in to sell to the public and let my old jaded ears have a listen as well. You might even end up with some words like these guys!

 

Let’s start with The Australian Beefweek Show. I first heard of these guys 16 years ago when I spent an ill-fated six months in Soldiers Point with the woman I was going to marry... But that's another story. We were going to start a new ‘punk’ record label, ‘Manual Evacuation’, and having not even heard these guys, we wanted them! Cat # ‘slip it in one’. Today, as I listen to these guys on disc after visiting the bottle-o and coke dealer, I know I was right! Tonight we party, tomorrow we suffer!

 

These guys play a brand of pub rock for the 21st century. It’s all about the sing-alongs and punk rock influence. If the Smith Street Band thought they had a monopoly on new Aussie rock, then their old uncles are making a racket to rival their JJJ cool.

 

And now onto Vanishing Shapes. These guys would make any dark Sunday morning livable again. The recording captures all the rich textures of their instruments and the ears scream for a vinyl pressing of this amazing bunch of musicians, who are basically just jamming and evolving.

 

From classical influence to jazz to old English folk, they mix sounds and styles with a seamless ease. I don't know if they know of Sydney band CODA, but if there was a scene that was made up of musical intellectuals, then these guys would be the hot new kids on the block. I look forward to their next recorded adventures.

 

RAAVE TAPES are the whirlwind phenomenon of Newcastle now. A band that's going out there, seizing what is NOW and making the anticipation of their next gig something to look forward to. Now to the music…

 

Again on a disc, no vinyl. These guys, like label mates Vacations, are writing incredible indie-style pop. I detect a slight Klaxons influence with their late-noughties new rave sound, but they don't dwell on it and move into other sounds with ease. These guys are worth checking out live and their future will be very interesting to watch.

Dan Southward by Ryan Williams

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Dan073_rough_webLet me ask you a question, reader. Do you like Bob Dylan’s voice? Compared to, say, Barry White’s? Peter O’Toole’s? Tom Waits’? Morgan Freeman’s? Would you sit down and be a friend to him? Just to hear him speak?

 

I’m asking you this because, as an artist, Bob Dylan is surely one of the most famous soloists of our times: an artist who would typically turn up at a show armed only with an acoustic guitar and that sawdust voice. So what’s more important about Dylan – what he was saying, or how he said it?

 

Local folk musician Dan Southward is all about what he is saying, as I quickly found out during our discussion at Moor Newcastle East. I can’t help but feel like there are good things on the horizon for Dan’s understated talents, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same once you find out more about him.

So what have you been up to?Dan039web Not a lot man, working.

How is working at The Lass? Good, good. I get to see so many bands come through.

I can't think of any other places to play for that variety of music. I've spoken to a lot of the artists coming through, and they all don't necessarily want to play where the best sound gear is – it's more important to play where the audience is, where the people are.

Definitely. The difference is in [The Lass’s gig organiser] Milli's work I think. She's so good.

I had a coffee with [local musician] Adam Miller recently. I was pretty downhearted about the whole situation, playing for nothing, getting nowhere. He looked at me and said it's taken him over 10 years to get signed. Success isn't what you get or how many people want to listen to you, or any of those things; success is when you're happy and set with your craft. When you're happy with what you're producing, and it's the best you can possibly do, that's when you've become successful. Connecting your head to what you put out.

I sat back and soaked that in for a few moments and thought how I'm nowhere near any of that. A lot of artists these days are all focusing on the return. Going off how many plays they get, whether they were the feature album of the week, how many people are at their gigs or whatever. Those things do indicate some scale of success, but I feel the stop work once they've 'made it'. Running with the trend until people stop coming to their shows.

It's more business. Exactly. Any of the great artists that I listen to never stop working. They're never working on just a project, they're always scribbling, writing down bits and pieces. They might go through and completely write 15 songs, just to get to one that they're happy with the direction of.

It's not uncommon for painters to have studios full of work. Some half-done, some not. That's one of the traps I fell into when I was younger; I thought once you started a song you had to finish it. It's not always the case. If all getting halfway through a draft does is inspire you to finish another song, or start a brand new idea, then it's served its purpose. I think a lot of songs are manipulated by the fact that the writer thinks they need to finish it in the one sitting. It's hard to have that control, the foresight to say that something isn't working right now, but it may one day. It's a never-ending battle.

I personally write the best when I'm sad, only because I don't feel like doing anything else. I end up spending a lot of my time sitting in my room.

Different mindset. Definitely. I find there's more conviction there. Whereas if things are going well, you're out having dinner, doing other stuff – living. I sometimes feel like I'm not pursuing anything because I'm enjoying myself. I feel like I'm elsewhere if I'm doing well. I'd rather socialise, go and see other bands and stuff like that. It's really when I'm in a lower spot, when I'm lonely and I've got time on my hands, that's when I write the best.

I feel like that's what other people connect to as well. I find there's two sides of conviction – you can have the lyrical side, as well as the melodic side. The tone in which you sing or play can really draw out feelings. That shiver when you go and see a big band and you've got a personal connection to their music. They play in the same voice the whole set, but that one song completely rocks you. That's where the conviction comes into it for me.

When I'm writing lyrically, I don't try and write anything too directly. If people aren't in that exact same situation, they can enjoy the music, but it won't hit them as hard. If you can create music in a vague way, however, that conveys a general message; losing someone, whether physical, in death, or in a relationship – it's that much more powerful to the listener.

I get so many people saying to me that they'd wish I would write happy songs, that I only write sad songs. But for me, I can only write what I feel strongly about when I'm melancholy, from a position of reflection.

It saddens me that the acoustic guitar and vocals isn't enough anymore though. Folk music, not necessarily these massive bands with five banjos and whatever. A genuine solo artist with space to move around in is as far as it goes for conviction for me. One mic, one guitar, telling stories, love songs, travelling songs and all these people sitting around drinking wine... That's the true artistry. My father introduced me to his taste in music, CSNY, The Band, it's all so raw.

And that's what you're chasing - the way you treat the music.  Yeah definitely. Taking inspiration from something so small, and turning it into a work. I'm finding inspiration pretty consistently. As far as guitar goes, a lot of things sound like something that's been done before. There isn't a lot of room to move. So all the creativity is built on that, and that's difficult. Normally, the melodies and the words will come in around an idea on a guitar, for me anyway. To run in and belt out a vocal line and discover the guitar around that is tricky.

Would you say it's more about the melody or the lyrics? What comes first? For me personally, it's about melody. The notes that you sing and the notes that you play.

Does it come from a theme like heartbreak or loss? It's split down the middle. I'd either do a story song, where the melody doesn't necessarily change too much, four or five verses, and it walks you through something. It gives you a message. The other type is [one where] there's a melody that I play around with. Most of the time for me it's about love. It always seems to come out. A personal relationship, friends relationship, whatever.

I've been working with this new process recently that Justin Vernon would do. He would walk in to a studio with any instrument and just start something and start adding layers. He wouldn't know what it was going to sound like. They put everything together and whatever it sounds like, he'll sing over the top of. If you read the lyrics to any of his songs, none of them make any sense at all. His way is all about creating an atmosphere. It's so easy to identify his voice and sound because of the emotion he's putting into those instruments.

I've tried to write moving music, just on an acoustic guitar like that. It works, sometimes, depending on the audience and the venue. From what I see, people just aren't interested in that type of music anymore. The trend has shifted again.

So how are your gigs going? I'm finding a lot of the time it's the older generation that's the most interested in what I'm doing. I'll play in front of a whole crowd at The Lass, everyone is talking. But if I'm doing a dinner, covers, in the corner somewhere, I'll get cards and money thrown at me. They want me to come and play at their 50th. I'm wishing younger people would value it in the same way. There are guys running around town now that are amazing, so much better than me. You look at them and you have to ask – why are we all still here, playing to nobody? I feel like I've worked on something, and I'd like to share it with people.

What is on for the future? Currently Milli is putting together a tour for me, which is good. That'll probably happen around October. Looking to put a few of us local acoustic guys on the bill, [like] Nick Connors. Trying to get Jason Lowe, who I have to say is by far the best local musician going. He plays the most beautiful slide guitar you will hear. He sounds a lot like Ben Howard. The first time I ever saw him I was on the same bill at The Lass; we went down early and had a few drinks before. It was the first time in a long time that I've actually thought about pulling the pin on something. He had 40 people glued to him. He said he had five minutes left to play, and I was freaking out. I came up to him straight after and introduced myself. He played it down. Then I had to get up there. I was rocked.

So how did you get started? I knew you from around school, but you were playing drums back then. I started out as any kid does I guess, getting lessons on piano at the age of five. Mum was a piano teacher, so myself and my two brothers were roped into learning it, which I'm really grateful for. From there I grew up in the youth church, and I remember sitting there each week watching the drums. I remember I wasn't really there for God, because I was only six or seven at the time [laughs]. So I started getting drum lessons from there.

My grandfather was heavily involved in the Jazz scene back then. He was in Harry Tabernackle's big band. I can still go to The Dungeon or The Underground and Paul Isaacs or any other big jazz players will come through and ask about Mum. From there, Ben, my brother, was playing sax, Christian was playing bass, I was playing drums, Mum was playing piano and my grandfather would play everything – clarinet, flute, all kinds of things. I learnt how to sit in with a band from a very young age. I think that’s one of the most musical things I have to offer.

I do see you around filling in for different groups. Well, church was amazing for that. Every Sunday you'd be playing with a group of different people. Quite often they were train wrecks, and you've got to try to pull yourself out of that for the sake of the congregation. From there you meet other musicians around – they're playing in their own things. It's good because you meet them in church, but then you've got outside life too. I've kept a lot of friendships from there, but I got to a stage with the church... I had to move. There's a real narrow-mindedness that comes with it. Not with faith, but with religion. I struggled with that. I still have a great respect for what it is, but I moved out.

So around this time I was heading to TAFE, and then uni at the conservatorium, studying music and music business.

So where are you looking at going? I still feel like I'm underprepared. I feel like I should have 12 new songs with my new sound in it before I can get really started. My voice has changed a lot in the last few years. I've gone from singing these little folky love songs to a much bigger-sounding voice. My voice has dropped – I can actually grab people's attention with it. There's one song that I use as a curveball just to get people's attention: John the Revelator. It's an old, old biblical song. You play that, and anyone who wasn't listening to you before is now. It's all in your voice – it's not the guitar at all. It's that conviction, that declaring.

You can manipulate gigs however you want. You need to be able to read the crowd. You need to tailor the sound and lights to where you're playing, who you're playing to. You can throw out tester songs. If someone really good was on before you, you can pretty much walk right in and drive a truck straight through the gap that they've left. You can play something completely raw and emotive, and people will pay attention, because the silence was already there. Otherwise you have to hit them and grab their attention from them. It's a skill in itself.

I'm nowhere near where I want to be right now. Obviously victory loves preparation, so the more time I spend here doing what I want to do, the further I can get along that path.

For a taste of what Dan’s music is all about, follow his Facebook page (facebook.com/DanSouthward) or, better yet, get down to The Winter Warmer for one of our gigs. Your ears will thank you for it – promise.

 

TUNES...NOVEMBER... DJ RPM by Kian West

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DJRPM01Regular favourite at The Argyle House, King Street Hotel, The Prince of Wales Hotel and Zebu Bar. You can catch DJ RPM, known as Ryan Meredith to his mum, spinning cool jams like these reviews on the regular.  

Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP – Sugar Man

Reminiscent of their first collaboration on ‘We No Speak Americano’ this new track delivers some funky house vibes, definitely a good choice for those sunny Spring Sundays with a few cold ones.

TJR & Dances With White Girls – Ass Hypnotized

Classic TJR adds his familiar flavor on this new tune with DWWG. It’s bouncy, fun, club ready and you’re sure to like it if Melbourne Sound is your thing. For added awesomeness, check out the video clip (NSFW).

Chet Fake x WKND – Lover

An unofficial release, this mashup of Chet Fakers’ cover from Triple J is just plain awesome and a must for any opening DJ. It’s available from WKND’s Soundcloud if you want to stay one step ahead of the game.

Jack U – Take You There feat. Kiesza

This has been a standard in my club sets over the last month, typical Jack U style from Diplo + Skrillex. Twerk vibes are definitely high on this one, not one for House or Deep House fans, but if you like to get ratchet….go for it.

Pantheon – Hold Me (Colour Castle Remix)

Let’s face it, Deep House is blowing up at the moment and there is some serious quality coming out that many won’t hear about. Get into this tune by Pantheon with a quality remix delivered by Colour Castle. It’s got the familiar deep vocal pitch and a groovy bassline….a perfect pre-drinks track before hitting the clubs.

 

2 Minutes With... Mitta Norath by Ryan Williams

I MET MITTA ON AN UNSEASONABLY STEAMY OCTOBER AFTERNOON, AT A CERTAIN CAFE ON BEAUMONT ST WITH GOOD COFFEE. I WAS LATE. IF YOU'RE READING THIS, I'M SORRY I WAS LATE MITTA. ANYWAY, MR. NORATH IS AN ACCOMPLISHED DRUMMER, RECORD PRODUCER, AND NOW THE VERY PROUD OWNER OF A BROKEN HAND. "TOMFOOLERY" HE SAYS, AS HE REJECTS MY MOTION FOR A HI-FIVE.

MOVING ON QUICKLY, I PULL OUT MY CHAIR AND SIT DOWN.

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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.

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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.

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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...

AFTER A FEW MINUTES OF THINKING TIME, I OFFER TO COME BACK TO THE QUESTION. MITTA AGREES.

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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...

AT THIS POINT IN THE INTERVIEW MITTA STOPS AND RACKS HIS BRAIN AGAIN TO THINK OF HIS FAVOURITE NEWCASTLE BAND AT THE MOMENT.

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.

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

60 seconds with...Voodoo Express by Kian West

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  THEIR BIOGRAPHY STATES THAT VOODOO EXPRESS ARE A POWERHOUSE BLUES/ROCK ACT WITH SOME OF NEWCASTLE’S FINEST MUSICIANS. WE HEARD THEY ARE PLAYING AT MOJO BURNING IN OCTOBER SO WE JUST HAD TO HAVE A CHAT WITH THEM.

VOODOO EXPRESS (With Dean)

By Kian West

VOODOO-EXPRESS

 

 

 

So Voodoo Express, for those that don’t know anything about the band, tell us a little something about yourselves?

The band came together by chance and coincidences. It is it's own being and we have happily hung on for an incredible ride. We were originally a blues band but again the band evolved and now we have a much more intense and original rock hard edge. We do a combination of powerful cover songs, our way, and our own original tunes. Andrew Davis on guitars, Jed Browne on bass, Dean Reynolds on vocals and Cliff Grigg on drums.

 

 

 

How long have you been together?

The band formed on Jan 9 2011 with Andrew, the late Tony Coughlan on bass and Kerry Miller on drums. Tony passed away that very same year, before we even played a live gig. It shook us all but we knew he'd want us to go on so we had a couple of great fill in bass players until Jed happened to ask if he could come for a jam with us. His style and personality fitted us perfectly. We asked if he'd join and luckily he accepted. Kerry became quite ill and hospitalised in 2013 and was out of action for quite some time. He regretfully yet gracefully retired from the band almost one year ago. We almost folded at this point. We had a few well-known drummers filling in with us over the next few months. Cliff Grigg (V Spy V Spy) heard that we needed a full time replacement. He came to see us play, we had Rosie Rosevear (Screaming Jets) on drums that night so we were "going off". Cliff liked what heard and asked to rehearse with us. Wow, it was love at first listen. The band became a new powerful unit immediately. Cliff joined in March of this year.

 

We hear you are playing at Mojo Burning, can you tell us anything else about this gig? We are extremely excited to be playing in this coming together of so many great bands. We have been massive fans of TDS since first seeing them years ago. We are good mates with the lads and it will be a party of sorts, finally, for the first time, we are sharing the stage together.

 

 

Who are your biggest influences as a band?

We all have a wide diverse selection of influences. Everything and anything with groove, talent and heart. Led Zeppelin, Police, Joe Bonamassa, Bob Marley, Rage Against The Machine, Tom Waits, Eric Clapton, The Cult and all those great Australian pub rock bands from the 70s and 80s, Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, V Spy V Spy etc.

 

Is there anywhere else Novocastrians can catch Voodoo Express in October? We have one gig at Pedens in Cessnock 5th Oct and two at our spiritual home, the Wickham Park Hotel. First on Sat 11 Oct and second we play Firebanned Benefit Concert with Backfire and DV8 on Oct 26.

 

 

Anything else our readers should know?

We are currently pre recording our first full length original album and working, arses off to bring an even more power packed show and loving every minute of it.