Coming soon: Support Our Troops, a new series of live music reviews

January 16, 2018

Music Journalism is in a weird place these days.

For starters, many would be forgiven for immediately responding with, “Music Journalism? Why hello Old Boy, I thought you were dead”, or, more likely: “Music what?!?”

It’s OK. It’s been a rough 10-20 years (by some estimations), but feel free to place the “death of music journalism” tombstone wherever you like in your own personal or global timeline. There’s probably a dearth of great music journalism out there now [editor’s note: yes, there is heaps of good music journalism out there], but I can’t be bothered to google it right now  because there’s nothing I particularly want to read about at the moment. Sometimes all you want to do is listen to the music, other times you want to know everything else about it.

Although there are a myriad of reasons that have collided to produce the modern state of the music industry (the internet, Pokemon Go!, Nickleback, etc etc), what no one really talks about is that there’s no money in the game these days In it’s glory days (eh…), at the top of it all sat the record labels, selling their overpriced wares to a public largely held  hostage. Labels essentially functioned like banks who specialized in making high-interest speculative loans in the music industry, with “artists” functioning like tech stocks. So many to choose from, all with so much potential, yet most ultimately doomed to failure and perhaps even suffer the further ignominy of having their ideas co-opted by inferior products.

So…labels would place as many bets as they could, and hopefully a few would pay off big time. These big labels and their rare big winners wound up essentially funding the entire industry, because what no one tells you when you’ve got rock & roll dreams is that boring things like advertising dollars and bottom lines actually matter. You can run a cool ‘zine for a few months, maybe even years, on nothing more than passion and raiding your parents inkjet supplies, but eventually that shit gets old.  Not only that, many of your favourite underground bands who managed to sign on major labels were able to add some coveted artistic cred to the label roster and allowed to run at a loss, but only because theyhad a Britney Spears to make sure the cheques cleared. I would hate Fleetwood Mac with a passion if I wasn’t so apathetic, but even I have to tip my hat to the number of careers their platinum-selling albums helped fuel.

As far as my own experience, I started noticing the change a few years ago, when publications that we would normally be grateful to get a gig mention or album blurb from starting calling us to see if we wanted to buy advertising space. Us? Um….we’re broke. At no point in our lives have we had spare dollars to throw around for that sort of thing, and trust us when we say that it is not cheap. They’re pitching these packages to us and surely they must know that there’s not a chance in hell we can say yes to anything, yet here we are.

What happened?

The money dried up.

With advertising revenues way down, it wound up having a trickle down effect on the music and music journalism. For better or worse, much of what you read is a form of “pay-to-play”, meaning that if you want coverage you’re gonna have to pay for it. Now, we are not opposed to this necessarily, but we did notice that live reviews and album reviews were focusing more and more on those acts that really don’t need it. At all. Why were they getting it? Because just like the ever-increasing income gap, there were fewer and fewer acts that could actually afford to grease the wheels, either through purchasing advertising space or else through direct purchase of coverage.

And that right there is what we simply cannot abide. No one needs to read a live review of a Jimmy Barnes show. Everyone knows what they’re getting with at another show with Barnsey, so can we please donate some verbiage to the acts who actually need it? Honest, unscripted press devoted to the unknowns of Australia’s live music scene has taken a hit in recent years, so we’re going to try and do our part to pick up the slack.

So that’s where this new series/endeavor comes in. “Support Our Troops” (an idea I stole from Atlanta’s Stomp & Stammer), will be my own live reviews of bands we tour with, because let’s face it: if I’m not actually playing I’m not likely to be there. I actually started writing a few of these in the middle of last year, but of course I gave up because that’s what I learned from my suburban-white-bread upbringing. When the going gets tough, fuck it.

So….if all goes as planned, I should have my first installment up tomorrow, covering a show which, truth be told, doesn’t need any more coverage.  But, since I’m going to at least try and follow a few basic ground rules, I’ll give it a go. I may also get it together enough to dust off some of my few false starts from last year, so don’t be surprised if you wind up reading a live review for a gig that happened 6-12 months ago.

That’s all from here, more verbs to come soon enough xoxo

 

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Pride & Poverty

January 13, 2018

[apologies to my long-suffering blog. I feel like a neglectful parent. So much to write, and yet…]

I guess it doesn’t matter much anyways, as the next post was always going to be this post, which was always going to be about our new record. Over the months there were many things I thought I might write about, but in retrospect I see how much this record consumed my life and yeah, of course nothing got done. So here we are, once again.

Pride & Poverty

YOU ARE HERE

What started as 12 songs has now become 7, because things happen and plans change and ideas that once seemed brilliant suddenly appear as horribly ill-conceived howlers. In the end we are left with a disposable monument that declares: these are some things we thought and this is the best we could express them.

More verbiage is not going to sway anyone’s mind in this day and age (if it ever could), so we decided to take as much control of our music as possible. Rather than lament what is not happening at the hands of other people, we decided to do whatever was within our powers to affect, create, or shape our little universe. Instead of hassling & hustling for meager radio plays that no one hears, or moaning about other bands “getting” what we think we deserve, we channeled our energy into things we could control and into all the various accoutrements surrounding the songs and the record. The artwork comes from the hand of our talented bassist Adam Murray. The layout was kept in-house, thanks to our guitarist (on shore leave) James Carthew. And instead of paying money-we-don’t-have for PR and expensive film clips, we did them all ourselves.

RC 11 B & W

DIY PINUPS

And that’s it. Here is our new record, laid out in 7 clips from the DIY heart of Australia’s underground. We hope you enjoy.

..:: ROYAL CHANT – PRIDE & POVERTY ::..

1. Power Pose
AN ODE TO ACTIVE WEAR

2. Shooting Sparrows

3. Back To Front
SHRED TIL YA DEAD

4. I Get A Kick Out Of Being Kicked Around By You

5. Cargo Cults

6. Yada Yada Yada

7. Slowly, To The End

And with that, we ask ourselves: what next?

Of course we don’t have much of an idea, but it will likely be more of the same, in due time.

For now, we’re at that point in our trajectory where we’re too old, too proud, & too lazy to keep asking our fans to participate or initiate a never-ending obstacle course of promotion on our behalf. Not only is it annoying to all involved, it’s also downright embarrassing, (and a bit sad). All we want to do is make music, and we assume that the listener would rather just, you know: listen to music, instead of texting and sharing and tweeting into the void.

In the spirit of simplification, and as a reflection of the new landscape of the modern digital music biz, we thought it worth mentioning that the easiest way to support us or any other band you love is by following us on Spotify.

That’s it.

We’re heading out to play some shows around Australia, (because of course), so come out and have a shake with us if we make it to your neck of the woods.

Holler back if it’s been a while, and I promise to write more soon.

xoxo

 

Inventing Colloquialisms

September 6, 2017

So….Royal Chant have a new single out, because of course we do. It’s called “Shooting Sparrows”. One student hanging around at school asked me what the title “Shooting Sparrows” meant, to which I promptly replied, “I don’t know”, which is, of course, the only answer one should give when asked about the meaning of anything.

We all have our pet peeves (some more than others), but as a songwriter, telling someone the “meaning” of a song rather defeats the point of writing it in the first place.
Don’t. Do. It.

Singer/Songwriters are probably the most guilty of doing this, as they often perform in small, intimate settings, often in venues devoted to acoustic music or in “songwriters in the round”-type settings, where basically you have to get up there and talk about your songs or share some funny story or explain the irony or witticism behind the title, or whatever: it’s just a shit show.

The 90s probably made things even worse, with everybody getting “unplugged” and the Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins, Alanis Morissette, and Jewel not only setting their diaries to song but going out of their way to explain what everything means in a helpful pre-song presentation, just in case you got confused and decided to use your imagination.

The term “Shooting Sparrows” doesn’t mean anything that I know of. I think I was trying to lean on some Southern flavour in a “To Kill A Mockingbird” kind of way, but I’m not even sure if they HAVE sparrows in the South. The original line was from another song I wrote over 10 years ago that went:

I’d sooner shoot at sparrows than be kept away from you

That song wasn’t all that good. Maybe this new one isn’t much better. I have no idea, but I invented a phrase that has no meaning but sounds like it might, and that will do for now.

Of course you can hear this meaningless colloquialism of my own invention everywhere and in every way that people are still doing the music thing these days. Downloads, streams….anything but an actual record.

That’s how we do it in Vegas xoxo

All The Joy In The World

June 5, 2017

Falling down the hill
with a smile on your face
and all the joy in the world
in a brown paper bag.

Spare your pity, and some change
all the universe is solved.

CD Review: Royal Chant – I get a kick out of being kicked out of you

May 4, 2017

New review courtesy of our friends over at Tomatrax xoxo

Tomatrax

The Chanters from Port Macquarie are back and will soon be bringing out full length album number three. This is the second single from the forthcoming record and it suggests the fought and raw sounds will continue.

‘I get a kick out of being kicked around by you’ is a rough and raw garage rock just as we’d expect from the Chant. Once again the band captures the gravelly alt-rock / old school grunge atmosphere held together by catchy guitar riffs. However, compared to previous works, this is a somewhat calmer affair. This allowed the track to shows off the band’s ironic and dark sense of humour.

Royal Chant have continued their not so royal charge, paired with the first single, the easy to sing along to ‘Yada Yada yada” the next album looks to be another blast of rock.

Check out Royal Chant’s website to find out more!

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I Get A Kick Out Of Being Kicked Around By You

April 19, 2017

Nobody pays, nobody minds
Everyone’s game every once in a while
You radium girls, that’s quite a smile
Nobody came, and nobody tried

I gave you my heart and you gave me the boot
I get a kick out of being kicked around by you
I get a kick out of being kicked around by you

What would you trade to taste it all?
We got a day to waste and a bottle of panadol
What would you pay for some piece of mind?
Nobody came, and nobody smiles

I gave you my heart and you gave me the boot
I get a kick out of being kicked around by you
I get a kick out of being kicked around by you

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Good morning,

I should be out surfing, being the holidays and all and given how much I complain, but it seems a bit on the cold side, so I’m going to wait just one more minute, just one more cup of tea. I’m gonna go, I swear.

While I’m in this holding pattern, now is as good a time as any to let you know we’ve got another new single out, and it’s short and sweet and doing about as well as most Royal Chant singles seem to do (read: not well enough).

Our bassist, Adam Murray, came up with a film clip for it using old Super-8 footage from his parents and violá: we have another small piece of noise to add to the monstrosity this is, has always been, and always will be the “music industry”.

 

As usual, you can grab it for free from Bandcamp

Or maybe SoundCloud is your thing….

Or, if you wanted to be a super trooper you could hop on over to our Triple-J Unearthed page and get it that way. If we thought it would work we could try and bribe you into leaving a review or rate it to help us keep up with the young whipper snappers (let’s face it: Royal Chant ain’t exactly a collection of Spring chickens anymore, if we ever were in the first place), because HOLY HELL HAVE YOU SEEN HOW MANY PLAYS AND LIKES AND REVIEWS AND SHARES THESE YOUNG BANDS HAVE?!?!?! I’m so happy for them I stand in awe, then shame, then quietly sneak out while everyone politely looks away.

https://www.triplejunearthed.com/embed/5860751

And that, as we say in the business (claps hands), is how it’s done.

We’ve got some more dates to keep us busy until the end of May, and then it’s time to rest, collect our marbles, and get the record ready so we can do it all again.

.:: Royal Chant Tour Dates ::..

Saturday, April 22 – Meatstock Melbourne
Saturday, April 22, Retreat Hotel, Melbourne
Sunday, April 23 – Meatstock Melbourne

Friday, May 5 – Vic On The Park (Sydney) w/Fingermae
Saturday, May 6 – Meatstock Sydney

Sunday, May 7 – Meatstock Sydney

Saturday, May 20 – Ric’s (Brisbane)

Friday, May 26 – Town Hall Hotel (Sydney) w/Wasters
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

That’s all the news from here. Remember: nobody pays, nobody minds

xoxo

-M

OMG! Are you on Facebook? coz we’re on Facebook, and we should, like, totally be friends.

the Yada Yada Yada….

January 18, 2017

So yes of course it’s been ages since I wrote and yes of course I feel guilty and yada yada yada…

And yes of course that is the name of the new Royal Chant single. Yada Yada Yada.

Although it’s not part of my normal vernacular it used to come up from time to time in my stage banter.  Some of the lyrics I poached from a previous song that never got finished, and the chorus, is, of course: Yada Yada Yada.

We’ll see what Australia thinks of it, but if previous performances are any indication it’s probably safe to assume…we have no idea. Probably not much.  You can get your hands on it through all the usual.  Some folks really like bandcamp….

While others prefer to get their kicks through SoundCloud…

There’s always our Triple-J Unearthed page where you can have your say by leaving a rating or review, but we’re not Spring chickens anymore and the youngsters have really changed the game. If I sound jealous, don’t worry: I am.

And yeah, that’s how we roll. We’ve got a stack of tour dates kicking off on Australia/Invasion Day, and then we’ll see if we’re still in one piece at the end of it all.

And lastly, just so I don’t lose sight of my roots…

See you out there xoxo

..:: Royal Chant – Yada Yada Yada National Tour Dates ::..

Thursday, Jan 26 – El Grotto, Scarborough WA
Friday, Jan 27 – The Fly Trap, Fremantle WA

Saturday, Jan 28 – Babushka, Perth WA

Saturday, Feb 11 – The Factory Theatre, Marrickville NSW (Elliot Smith Tribute show)

Saturday, Feb 11 – The Town Hall Hotel, Newtown NSW (midnight show)

Wednesday, Feb 22 – Lass O’ Gowrie, Newcastle NSW

Saturday, Feb 25 – Meatstock NZ, Auckland

Sunday, Feb 26 – Meatstock NZ, Aukland

Friday, March 17 – The Pier, Port Macquarie

Saturday, April 22 – Meatstock Melbourne

Sunday, April 23 – Meatstock Melbourne

Saturday, May 6 – Meatstock Sydney
Sunday, May 7 – Meatstock Sydney

With all the time in the world

November 14, 2016

With all the time in the world, and love
and an endless sea to gaze upon
when I was a temporary gentleman.

 

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