Posts Tagged ‘Live’

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



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?”


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.




Something, nothing, firworks…

July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July.  For most of you, that will mean nothing, and in fact, for me sitting here in my Ugg boots in Australia, it means very little except in a holiday-by-proxy sense.  Still, it’s nice for me to remember fireworks and endless Summer nights back in Utah, with fireflies and worried Mums, with Dads slightly tipsy on cheap US lite beer and me endlessly running & running & running until the next day when we woke up and did it all again, only this time there were no more fireworks (unless you were smart and saved a few. We weren’t. We didn’t).

We’ve had a busy few weeks, and there is one more long stretch about to kick into gear, but for now I thought I’d share something we did last month which has just been released.  Here is us playing a new song, “I’m So Sorry”, in the garage of the AU Review.  They’ve been pretty good to us over the years, and they asked us in to perform something so we said yes and that was that.  If you dig it please share it around or whatever, or let the folks at AU Review know that there are people listening.  For the most part, we have no earthly idea.

We’re headed into the studio on Monday to start laying down tracks for our next Royal Chant EP (titled Small Town Bruises in case you’d like to store that away and casually drop it in conversation), and we’re planning on recording that one to open the album. We shall see.

Not much to this one, for better or worse, but below is a link of a solo recording of that same song, in case  you’d like something to hum along to at work.

Ta for now, hope you have a good 4th of July, regardless of whether you get to play with fireworks or not. I’m sure for most of you it will be yet another Thursday at work.  If you’re looking to spice things up, here’s an idea: bring fireworks.


Going Big. Going Home.

December 29, 2012

Things were rather dreary for a while.  The band was depressed, I was depressed, etc etc.  When so much of what you perceive to be your existence or success depends on the opinion of someone else, then yeah, you’re basically setting yourself up for misery, and that is exactly what we fell into.  No matter how much I try to be isolated and independent, at some point, sooner or later, getting our music out to the world does, in large part, require some assistance in any number of forms: radio, TV/video, mags, street press, blogs, word-of-mouth, buzz, whatever.  Of course, you can solve most of those problems by being so unbelievably, undeniably good that people will be forced by the absolute power of your art to spread the word for you, but as of yet, we have yet to create that.  As it stands, we create whatever it is we create and toil away at getting the word out in whatever fashion we can.  Sometimes things are good, sometimes they’re bad, and sometimes there is nothing at all.  That’s when it gets dark.

So we were all collectively bummed out for much of the past year, wondering what we were doing and where we were going.  Getting even a sliver of success can do that to you.  It’s not that we all developed raging drug habits and started dating B-list Aussie actresses.  Nothing quite as interesting as that.  Rather, we got used to people paying attention and assumed that they would continue to do so.  After all, if people thought that one of our throwaway songs was good….

….then surely they would like our other, newer, better stuff, right? And after all, aren’t we getting to be a much better live act?

Well, no and yes, and really, in the end none of that matters.  It’s not a science project.  Buzz is buzz and that is that.  You cannot buy it (not for long anyways), and you can’t fake it.  It can only happen when it’s the real deal and it is ON.  When you’ve got it, it gets under your skin and that same electricity you create onstage is with you 24/7….at least, until it wears off.  And then it hurts.  A lot.

So we’re swimming in this state of withdrawal, heavily addicted and starting to fray at the seams, but not quite coming apart.  We kept writing songs and playing shows but kept chasing something bigger and better, all the while suffering from sever highs and lows and confusion and doubt.  All of a sudden I couldn’t tell what was good or not, and my instincts, which had kinda sorta served me well enough in the past flew out the window.  I don’t have any hard data, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t finish a song for 10 months or so, getting lost in false starts and meandering blah that really didn’t go beyond a few opening arcane couplets and some weak chord progressions.  It wasn’t pretty.

So…we decided to go to America.  We’d been wanting to do it for ages and although no one said anything I’m pretty sure we were all thinking that we might want to have a last blast of fun before things completely fell apart.  Surprisingly, we actually managed to get our shit together enough to buy plane tickets, book a run of shows, and step on the plane.  We all left at different times, but we met in New York City and whatever was meant to happen…it happened.

We played in traffic:IMG_5544

We went bowling:133025_10151249789458126_1234063652_o 244183_10151249786943126_551534578_o

We played some music every once in a while:IMG_5180

Along with a bunch of other headaches and pains that go along with being a band on the road.  We went into a recording studio and recorded our latest single (more on that in the new year), all the while using trains, planes, and automobiles to get from point A (NYC), to point Z (Atlanta), where we all said goodbye and went our separate ways, each person (or group of people, since we actually had more Aussie friends/roadies/groupies with us than actual band members) off to finish their time in America as they saw fit.

As for me, I went to visit my parents & fiancé in Florida.  We drove to New Orleans and along the way stopped to snap this:

And now I’m sitting here in the dregs of Summer, a bit bummed out and staring at a nearly empty glass of beer resting on a cheap-yet-arty fleur de lis coaster that we picked up in the Crescent City.

The net result? A lot of memories, some new friends, some new fans, and most importantly: buzz.

Not from other people, but from within, the kind that turns us back into teenagers who have written their first song and are pretty well convinced that we’re the greatest band ever.  Soppy?  Yeah, probably, but I don’t much care.

And that’s what we got up to and that kind of gave us a new lease on life.  For the first time ever, I could see Australia in a different light regarding its status in the larger world of music.  After all, when one gets amongst it in the beast that is the USA it does make a large island with a small population seem somewhat….provincial?  It is what it is, both good and bad (and oftentimes great), but it is not the center of our existence, and that has made all the difference.

I probably could have saved us all a lot of time and trouble and just called this post “How Sparky got his groove back” and added  the “Humpty Dance” for a backing soundtrack, but nah, you know me.  Why use one word when 1,000 will do?

We made you a souvenir.  Here is us banging away at the Bar East Ale House on September 22, 2012.  It’s not great, but if you’ve ever wondering what Royal Chant is like live this ain’t too shabby.  Consider it the most povo Festivus present we could scrape together, and apologies if you wanted something good, like socks.

Catch you soon in the New Year.  Stay safe, but make it a smashing one.

Love, peace, hugs, & kittens.


Wish you were here…

December 10, 2011

Seriously.  I wish you had been there.  Yes you.  Royal Chant just played what was, at the time, our last show of the year, and although the room was comfortably full we wish it had been uncomfortably packed.  As in sweating and heaving in one giant mass packed.  Since we didn’t have that, and since you weren’t there, I thought I might share some of the highlights* of the night.

*(by highlights I mean whatever we managed actually get on tape).

We kicked off the evening with something new.  Brand new.  This was the public debut of “Junk Theory”, a song that I’m finding increasingly difficult to finish off.  As it was, we only played one verse and a bit of the chorus, which was probably more than enough.  Highly observant folks will note that it’s Matt on guitar, and me on drums, which was a nice way of breaking up the doldrums of our usual roles.  A member of one of the opening bands came up after the show to helpfully tell me that he liked this song but I’m not as good on drums as Matt.  Also, since I’m in charge here, I’d like to point out that James started off his bass riff with the time turned around.  Once that happens it’s almost impossible to turn it back around, so I gave him a dirty look and swapped the time for him.  I think we charged him a beer for his infraction.  It happens.  Anyway, here it is….

I’m not sure when we played this next crop of songs, but it was somewhere in the middle.  They are “Oh, The Shame” followed by “Irish Eyes” and “Hesitation Kills”.  We’re going into the studio again next month, and hopefully when we leave we will have one, if not two or three of these songs ready to take over the airwaves of your local 15 watt community radio station.

Love my reliable gear.

And lastly, here is “A Series Of Sighs”.  This isn’t a new one, having come out on Raise Your Glass & Collapse, but there’s something special about this version.  I can’t say what it is exactly, but it strikes me as one of our better performances.  Maybe it’s watching James jump (right around the 2:15 mark).  Maybe it’s something else.  What do you think?  Help me out here, I’ve not got much to work with.

And that’s a wrap.  We played more songs than that of course, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.  And yes, I did subtitle every song in our set as “North American sex life”.  I said it once and kept running with it because it works with nearly every song in our catalog.  “Bored Awake”, “A Series Of Sighs”, “Oh, The Shame” You get the idea.  I’m a riot.

So here I am on a crap Summer day.  There hasn’t been a wave in weeks, and today is not looking any better.  There’s a very popular music Festival on in town, but I can’t be bothered going coz I’m far too cynical and jaded to enjoy much of anything at the moment.

What we thought was our last gig of the year has turned out to be our second-to-last, as we will be playing at the Beach House right here in sunny (in theory) Port Macquarie  for their Boxing Day Bash.  I have yet to understand what Boxing Day is, where it comes from and why we need an extra day off of work after having both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to ourselves, but from what I can tell here in Regional NSW it involves most of the townsfolk getting really, really drunk.  That’s where we step in, taking the stage to play in front of a wild, unruly audience who would prefer to hear AC/DC and will not stop letting you know that very fact.  Should be a riot.  Literally.

I know we have posted this photo before, but since we’re broke and don’t have an advertising budget we had to make up a crappy poster.

Boxing Day Bash

Oh boy!

That is all from here.  There is a very real chance that I won’t do anything special here for the holidays, so if that is the case I’d like to take the time now to thank you very much for reading, listening, and staying in touch over the past 2 1/2 years of this blog.  This is a very, very, very small corner in the online universe, but it is mine/ours/yours and it means a lot to me.  Thank you all very much.  Happy Holidays to you and yours.  Stay safe and stay in touch.