Hype

June 5, 2016

We might be rolling into the dead of Winter (since we’re talking about Australia that might not exactly evoke massive swells of pity), but it’s as good a time as any (read: very, very dumb) to climb into our tour wagon and head out there to hawk our latest wares that no one asked for.

In this case, we’ve joined forces with our favourite Sydney band Wasters and released a split 7″ on vinyl for all those people who still care to listen to their music the same way their grandparents did.  The good news is that since we only pressed 50 copies total we stand at least even odds to sell out and then never do this again.  If my time in the music industry has taught me anything, it’s to keep one’s expectations incredibly low and to call it a victory as soon as possible before your fortune has a chance to reverse itself.

So now we’re headed out the on the road, with a local show in Port Macquarie on Wednesday followed a trip up to the slightly warmer climes on Brisbane on Friday to take the stage at The Bearded Lady, with Wasters, The Bear Hunt, and Mudshadows. An awesome line-up to be sure, but what made my heart glow was waking up to find that Mudshadows had done a up a cool DIY promo video for the night, which made me very, very ashamed. For all of my DIY ramblings and rah-rah cheering from the sidelines (or underlines, really), there are times when I take shows for granted and forget that this is, as it always has been, a shit-ton of fun and should not to be taken so lightly (as backwards as that sounds). Yup, you have to work & care to have such fun.

People don’t just magically appear at your show because you hope they do. They need a good reason, any reason, and if making a cool & funny video is what it takes then I need to be out there on the front lines with my handycam streaking in traffic to get my point across. Luckily for me, Mudshadows have done the heavy lifting for me this time, but consider it a lesson well-learned: don’t take the good stuff for granted. Even when it’s fun, it’s still work.

In other self-promoting news, we reached out to Ted’s Records when we read they were looking for bands who would be interested in doing an acoustic session to be filmed.  They responded by letting us know that they had completely forgot that they had done that, which is how all awesome independent projects should start: ambition mixed with equal parts amnesia.

We got to the top of a beautiful spot in Sydney and did three numbers, one of which didn’t turn out because of the wind, but we still got two other numbers that made the cut, so all in all it was the start of a good week of productivity (for us). The first was for “I Can’t Make It On My Own”…

Followed by a stripped back version of “Dick Move”

Sadly, “Sight For Sore Eyes” was the one that got mangled by mother nature, but that only makes sense because of course that’s the one we used for our side of the split 7. I like how fate kind of keeps our expectations in check.

Anyways, if you are in Brisbane on Friday you should come out, and if you’re anywhere else in the world you should have a poke around the Ted’s Records site and check out all the cool snaps and vids and write-ups that are very much a part of Sydney’s mal-nourished-yet-still-amazing underground music scene.

Believe the hype xoxo

Dick Moves: A Musical Collection

January 31, 2016

As some of you might know from my various FB posts, tweets, & Instagram shots, I host the local Open Mic Night here in sleepy Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia every Tuesday night at a lovely little (dive) bar. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the longer I am there the more I can feel it turning into my kind of place. Things have settled into a nice groove of sorts (pun intended), but of course, like any job, it is not without it’s own perks and particulars.

For starters, there was….the start.

I was riding my bike out to school one fine sunny morning, perhaps last April, maybe May, when I get a phone call from a person whom I had never received a call from before. It was the owner of the venue. My mind immediately went into a state of worry, and anxiety took over as I waited for the inevitable. You see, a few days prior I had actually been at the venue, and somehow on my ride home I must have crashed into something, because I woke up the next day with a fairly dinged bicycle and a shoulder injury that still isn’t quite right.

Mark, you blew it. You are in trouble for sure.

I assumed he was calling to tell me that I had crashed into a car in the street or something like that, and that I’d have to pay for damages and that I would be banned for a year or…you get the idea.  You can imagine my relief when he merely wanted to talk about Open Mic Night. That was all. No need for panic.

So, yada yada yada, he gets to the point which is this: “We’re looking for someone young, who’s talented, who’s got the personality, who’s going to help bring all the hot girls in on Tuesday nights, and I was thinking…”

Yes? Go On.

-“That you could help us find someone?”

Oh.

Long story short, I did help them find someone young, talented, & good looking, but he was kind of boring so they eventually asked me to take over and here we are.

Of course, I have a habit of overdoing things, and this is no exception. Instead of simply bringing a guitar and setting up the PA and making sure the night runs smoothly, I’ve started bringing in more gear like drums, a bass amp, & a guitar amp in the hope of fostering more of a musical community and generally just trying to make things a little better. After all, if someone is blowing chunks on guitar and destroying a song on stage, it can make things a little better if they’ve at least got a steady beat behind them.  Not a lot better, mind you, but better nonetheless.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of Dick Moves that appear from time to time…

1. Don’t ask to go up again: you’ve already played once. You’re not going to get any better. I’m sorry there are more people here now than there were before. Life is very unfair. You should know that by now.

2. Don’t hop on the drums and tune them up and change everything around. This is not a “gig”, you are not a superstar, and none of this shit matters. If you can’t make music on what is already there, you can’t make music period.

[As a rule of thumb, the more uptight and wanky someone is about their gear, the more likely they are to suck as a musician.]

3. Don’t try and bring your own drums in either. No one cares. It’s a beat. Play it.

4. Don’t murder well known songs. Seriously, this is not practice time. This is a chance to show the world a new song you’ve been working on, or show off an old favourite. Whatever, just don’t turn someone’s delight at hearing the first chords of “oh, this is a song I like” into “What the fuck is he doing?!?!”

5. This is not art, but it can be. If you don’t know how to walk that fine line, best not to try. [Trust us: you probably don’t know how to walk that fine line.]

6. Don’t sit in the front row and sing along to shit you don’t know. Best not to sing along at all, really, but some forms are acceptable.

7. Wonderwall: Just. Don’t. Do. It.

I bet there’s more than I’ve drunkenly scribbled down somewhere and lost, but all of this is really just a lead-up into posting a video that we did for the latest Royal Chant LP and forgot to post it for you all to see.

It’s called “Dick Move”, of course, and was created, filmed, and edited by my very good friend Matt Clements who is a film-maker living in NYC. I’ll spare you the details on how we managed to appear in the video without leaving Australia, but you can probably figure it out on your own (if you haven’t already).

[FYI: this video was banned from ABC Television here in Australia because “it contains excessive commercial branding.

As stated in the ABC Editorial Policies:

11.7 Product Placement must not be unduly frequent or prominent

12.2 Commercial references must not be unduly frequent or unduly prominent]

Seeing as how we’re a broke-ass indie band, all we can think is A) give us a break. No one cares, and B) what else we were supposed to use? Geez….

Anyway, if you like the video please show the director some love, because in a cruel twist in the ways of the world, the band always gets credit for a film clip, even though all they did was write the song and then stand around for a bit in front of the cameras. I’m not saying that writing a song is no big deal, but in terms of man-hours that go into a music clip, the people involved behind the camera are the only ones doing any actual work.

Here’s the album, if this is your kind of thing. It’s free, because of course.

That’s all from here. It’s Sunday AM. The cat is awake. I’m on my third cup of tea already. I’m going surfing.

xoxo

 

 

Sigh

December 16, 2015

This is a sad little blog these days. I came here to do a little bit of tidying up and it was the equivalent of coming home late to dinner to find out that it is your anniversary and dinner is cold. 7 years. That’s how long this pile of verbiage has been around, at least according to the stats or whatever guilt meter wordpress uses to keep track of things.

But that’s gonna change.

I’m changing.

I swear.

CD Review: Royal Chant – The war cry of failure

November 29, 2015

First review of The War Cry Of Failure just in xoxo

Tomatrax

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I’ve lost count of how many Sickboy/Royal Chant releases there have been, I could go back and count them but somehow saying I’ve lost count seems to have a bigger impact. Somehow after all this time the band are still able to put out some great DIY garage rock sounds that have that great rough and ready raw feel to them with no hint of slowing down in terms of energy or passion.

‘Dick move’ is a low growing garage rock tune with elements of early REM. Mr Spence uses his sharp tongue and wit and provide his satirical Australian social commentary in a very laid back manner. This is backed by the thick grungy soundtrack that slowly roars along!

‘I pretend you believe’ picks up the pace musically with a faster grungy growl blasting along. ‘I am a model’ is everything a garage rock song sound have, there is…

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A walk in the park

August 22, 2015

Last Thursday, as I was walking across the playground where I happen to teach on that particular day of the week, one of my more spirited percussion students came up to me and said (aka: screamed): “Mr. —-! Don’t forget: you PROMISED me that I could play drums today because I did so well on the glockenspiel last week.”

Her eyes burned with intent and expectation.

-We’ll see.

-But….you promised!

-Yes, but adults lie all the time. 

Perhaps I should have added, “Get used to it, kid”, but she’ll probably figure that out soon enough. Hopefully sooner than I did.

It was a good day, and a fun lesson to teach.

[NOTE: Of course I let them play drums that day.  I don’t know why I wanted to prepare them for disappointment, or why I wanted to simply confuse this poor kid so full of spark & spunk, but it was fun nonetheless. It happens. I am human, and all that that implies]

Shocked & Shaking

May 2, 2015

I don’t know if it happens to everyone, but do you ever get those phases of sheer music fatigue? It’s not as if you’ve fallen out of love with your favourite music, but it’s just those rare times when everything loved & familiar suddenly become too familiar? It may only last an hour or a few days, (although I do recall one friend who seemed struck by the apathy virus for a few months), but either way it both a sign and symptom of weakened spirits that only compounds the problem.  If music is your bedrock, best friend, & bible, how cruel is it to be unable to turn to it when you need it most.

Of course I am well aware that “there is a world of music out there at your fingertips”, and this is certainly not a post about how “there just isn’t any good music out there!”. That’s complete rubbish, as anyone involved with music in any way, shape, or form can attest. The problem is simply that sometimes you don’t have it right here and now. Sometimes we find music, sometimes it finds you, and sometimes those paths are circuitous and meandering since we all don’t have access to an amazing radio station or a best friend or an older sibling to guide us in this wide world of musical thorns and wilderness.

And really, this has been one long introduction when all I really meant to say is that I stumbled across a song that has shaken me to the core and made all of the above somewhat irrelevant. I don’t know how long I’ll feel this buzz, but it’s wonderful while it lasts, and it’s amazing that when your spirit gets shaken out of its slumber that the rediscovered rosy glow is cast over your entire world, INCLUDING YOUR RECORD COLLECTION THAT YOU WERE JUST MOANING ABOUT.  Like a music rebirth or sonic baptism, all is right with the world.  All it took was the right kick and you were away and running.

I was wasting time over at Grantland, which would seem somewhat odd since I don’t much like Sports and have little idea about what constitutes Pop Culture, but….they seem to write about it so well.  Writer Steven Hyden had a piece on Titus Andronicus which I initially didn’t click because I’m a jerk (and probably jealous in some irrational way even though I’d not heard much of the band aside from the name), but once I had read anything that looked like it might interest me, and then everything else, I eventually got hit over the head with this:

What does one say to that? I wanted to hug the band. I wanted hug Steve Hyden.  I wound up hugging the cat instead, and then just sat there in awe, reeling in the beauty and steeped in envy. A simple (but amazingly clever) song, a simple  (But cleverly amazing) video that brings the brilliant verbal barrage to the front, and a voice that punches and aches at the same time.  The second verse killed me to the point that I felt like a helpless fraud. I don’t want to dissect it much more than that, because it’s enough that it just is. 

It’s hard to say why this song made me so happy, not just because of the thing itself, but I suspect it’s because I find comfort in knowing that people are still writing songs like this and are unafraid to say it in such a straightforward manner.  Instead of couching ourselves in modesty and self-deprecation (whether real or not), it would be nice to simply say Yes: this is me and this is it.

On a final note, I felt like a complete tool for not knowing what the term “Dimed Out” meant, but thankfully by the end of the song they had explained it so easily and obviously that even I managed to get it. That’s rare.

Throwback Thursday: Top 10 songs from 2008

April 30, 2015

Wow…we are feeling old. Scroll down to the end and you’ll see why. Big love to TOMATRAX for hopping on board since day 1.

Tomatrax

It’s the final Thursday of the month and that means time for another Throwback Thursday where we look at the top 10 songs from a previous year. This year we look at the year when the Beijing Olympics were held, Obama became President of the USA, and Mr Tomato got married! Otherwise known as 2008!

Number 10: REM – Supernatural superserious

Number 9: Portishead – Machine Gun

Number 8: David Gilmour – Confortable Numb

Number 7: David Bridie – Succumb

Number 6: Halou – Evensong

Number 5: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Midnight Man

Number 4: Mezzanine Owls – Snow Globe

Number 3: Circle – Everytime

Number 2: Super Massive – Fists in my pocket

Number 1: Royal Chant / Sickboy – Coughing Fits

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Interview with that Royal Chant guy

April 3, 2015

This came out a few days ago. I tried to give as good as I got, but still, this one was rather brutal.

Tomatrax

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Royal Chant have released yet another sub par single. We weren’t really wanting to feature them but Mark Spence from the band kept begging so we gave in to the sobbing and did an interview out of pity!

Your latest single was one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard, are you deliberately trying to dish up rubbish or are you just naturally talentless?

We kind of assumed that no one was paying attention by this point, so we’re just throwing things together. It’s not our fault you actually bothered to listen to it.

The single pretty much sounds like everything else you’ve ever done, why didn’t you just release one of your previous songs under a new name?

How did you get your hands on our long-term business strategy? That was never supposed to be leaked to the wider public, but yeah, that’s basically what we’re going to start…

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I Forget, I Forgot…

February 27, 2015

Huh.

It hasn’t been unusually busy nor quiet so far this year, but somehow it slipped my mind that Royal Chant released a new single a week or so ago and I forgot to do my usual half-baked blitz of DIY promo & pseudo-hype. So, yeah, this happened:

We recorded the drums and the original guitar track at the only studio in Port Macquarie, which has now (recently & sadly) shuttered its doors. We finished the rest in James bedroom because that’s what bands do these days, due to the fact that nobody has any money and we’re not likely to make any at this game.  But, since we’re too stupid/stubborn/proud to quit, we released it like a proper band without being very proper about it at all.

If you’re not into Bandcamp you can get your hands on it over at SoundCloud if that’s how you like to roll with your jams

Or you can had over to Triple-J Unearthed and help us participate in the perpetual popularity contest that is Australian radio.  You can download it, and rate it, and I think there’s a place where you can let the station know whether you’ve named any children or pets after your fav band, as well as upload any pics of any tattoos that feature said band.

You’ve probably got the point by now — We want to see what you think and if it manages to find a place in your heart/iPod. We spend so much time with these songs that we really have no idea if we’ve hit, missed, or yawned. You can head over to Tomatrax and read his take on things if you’re keen and have some company time to kill.

We had an official “launch” for this track on Friday the 13th, which of course went about as well as expected, meaning that it kinda became a mess and not many people showed up and then we manged to forgot not only to play the aforementioned single we were launching, but to hand out the free copies afterwards as well. Par for the course.  I suppose I should not be so surprised or feel so wounded when booking agents don’t return our calls or emails.

Here’s what things look like on better days….

We’ve got a few more shows on this “tour”, hitting Adelaide (hello new friend, sorry we misjudged you for so long for no good reason), before heading over to Melbourne for shows with our besties Claws & Organs along with Them Bruins and other cool bands that make the city so damn appealing. They have a Cat Cafe. Enough said.

Before I go I’ll leave you with a final parting number; this is “Sea Chanty” that closed the show on Jan. 8th at our beloved Brighton Up Bar in Sydney. It’s worth making it until the end so you can see possibly the best cymbal smash in recent memory.

Holler back if it’s been a while.  It does get awful lonely out here.

-M

 

 

Land Sale

February 10, 2015

Pristine acres of mud
neatly sliced & cut
with promise and price-tags adorned.

A parade, a school band,
rambling speeches galore
with all the best clichés.

This new part of town:
a beautiful creation,
surgically envisioned.

Still, they eat & clap & eat
the sumptuous tasteless catering
accept a few brochures
and make nice with their new neighbors.

Later, they turn their heads
and in a stage whisper say
-it looks nice, but still rough.

Give it time.
Soon enough.

Taking its sweet time like the cracks
that appear for a brief glimpse,
not long before no single soul can recall
a state of affairs as anything but.

Give it time.
Soon enough.

A quiet street
for the wrong reasons
with rust and junk,
busted windows and faces,
and bored hungry dogs that know enough
to wait. It will come.

Give it time.
Soon enough.

A slight curve at the end of the street
she used to stand and wave
always in the sun, it seemed
her face as bright as the beams
that kissed her skin and laughing teeth.
Things change.

Give it time.
Soon enough.

Now she doesn’t wave,
but hangs her darkened eyes
and shivers despite being wrapped tight
in a cloak of the modern world’s making.

Give it time.
Soon enough.

It will come.

 

 


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