Posts Tagged ‘Mark Spence’

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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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.

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

 

 

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.

 

 

Gentle Confusion

September 28, 2014

More curious and less certain these days,
quieter and easily led.
History?
Is there such a thing?
Gentle confusion that paces
like a cat at midnight
wanting nothing but movement
motion
acknowledgement.

It’s pleasant enough
let us invent some meaning.

So you have to get a press shot…

July 21, 2014

Well, we have good news and we have bad news:

If you are in a band, at some point you will have to have a press photo, whether you like it or not.  The good news is that it will all be over soon. [Maybe]. The bad news is that it still sucks and you’ll feel rather dirty & ashamed for a while. So…yeah. Take as long as you need to get comfortable with that.

Depending on your particular band, your style, your philosophy, your audience, and whatever other aesthetic guidelines you have placed on yourself (or have allowed to be placed on you), this may or may not be the start of a long & tumultuous personal debate that often spills over into using actual words to talk to other people about this very personal yet collective aspect of bandom. Essentially: how much am I willing to feel and act like a total knob in order to not look like one?

There are exceptions to this.  In fact, there are heaps of them. For starters, if you play a genre of music that is not afraid to take itself seriously, then congratulations: you can win this game without fretting over your vanity, your ethics, your principles, or any other inane aspect of your precious & fragile artistic ego. Metal bands? Ace! You win hands down.  You’re SUPPOSED to wear black and look straight into the camera with a scowl. Pop Princess? Winner-winner-chicken-dinner! Spending 2 1/2 hours in makeup and prancing around on a set making fish lips is exactly what you’ve been training your whole life for. Happy-go-lucky-acoustic-storyteller? Go on, wear those floral suspenders and have 3 puppies in your lap! Crack a smile! You’ve earned it!

In a band such as Royal Chant, getting a picture taken has, so far, ranked as one of the most impossible and unpleasant experiences we’ve yet had to face. Essentially, if we’re one of those “ego-less” bands (HA!), then how does one go about getting a photo taken, much less contemplating or talking about the idea?  It’s sort of supposed to be anathema to our very existence, but that still doesn’t change the fact that YOU STILL HAVE TO GET IT DONE.

So….we mostly just have shit photos. Seriously. And the best/worst part is: the shittiest ones seem to circulate the longest. If you don’t bother updating and sending out regular new photos with every press release, then the press/the media/some blogger is just going to google your band and find the first one that comes up, which, as luck would have it, happens to make you look like a bloody hayseed wearing ill-chosen, ill-fitting t-shirts.

Want to know what our conversation turns to when we’re in the van or hanging at the airport?

No? Well too bad, I’m going to tell you anyways.

On more than occasion we have wished that we were a heavy rock act or metal band, coz at least then any questions about fashion, countenance, and attitude would be immediately solved by the very nature of the genre, but noooooo….we have to try and become artistically “transparent”, which I guess means trying to look at the camera without looking at it, or maybe we’re supposed to look away without looking like we’re trying to pose for a Daniel Steele cover, or maybe WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL WE’RE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH OUR HANDS.  It fucking sucks.

I think deep down, we just want to look OK. Asking to look cool is way, way, way out of our league. What you really need is someone who can look at you, understand you, and then tell you to do exactly what is needed in order to best visually represent yourself and your music to the wider world.  So yeah, that means taking yourself seriously and acting consciously for at least a little while, but at least you have someone holding your hand through and essentially whispering, “It’s OK, this will all be over soon.” If you ever have that opportunity: take it.

Artists are often as guilty of undervaluing or underestimating other art forms just as much as the general public.  Lord knows I’ve been guilty of being visually ignorant, just as much as I’ve seen visual artists be completely clueless as to what is involved with writing or recording music.  It’s cool, it happens, but where musicians get into trouble is when we think that getting a decent press shot is just going to happen to happen by accident.  The word “just” should be banished from that conversation, because if you want a good press photo you actually have to dedicate yourself to that very purpose, which means you have to….[gulp]…care.  About what you look like. About how you will be perceived. Just. Bloody. Care.

Is it any wonder we’re stuck with normally shyte photos? At the very beginning of Royal Chant, we paid a photographer friend $60 and actually lucked out with some decent ones, but ever since then we’ve pretty consistently hit the toilet bowl when it comes to photos.  Bad lighting is often the culprit, but on a few occasions there’s been so much tension in the air that the photographer was afraid to say anything. Sometimes we get really really really close, but we either need just a little direction, (coz we’re not photogenic in any way), or else we quit right as we were getting into the groove.  We are our own worst enemy.

We did mange to wind up with a decent crop earlier this year when it was still just James & I all by our lonesome, thanks to the kind & patient hand of Kate Farquharson….

RC 1  RC 2  RC 3  RC 4

 

It wasn’t until we were faced with the prospect of taking new photos that I really began to appreciate the photos she took (or maybe I was just too smitten with the Designer Mutts photos she snapped in the same session)….

 

DM 1 DM 2 DM 3 DM 4 DM 5 DM 6

[As an aside: those Designer Mutts photos were easy as guts, because it’s a joke, and joking around in costumes is easy. Maybe we should just wear them all the time and be done with it.]

In any case, last week we had to get a new photo done, because now we have Ryan in the band and people get confused when the band photo doesn’t match what they see on stage.  So once again….we were in the same situation as we always were.  Three guys, awkwardly standing in front of a camera, with things unraveling fast.  Now this is what we have to live with until we start all over again.

RC 2014

It’ll do.

In case you haven’t heard, our new album is out now, so if you’re feeling like a modern consumer you can head over to iTunes and pick up a copy.  Technically it is a double EP consisting of Small Town Bruises / A Day At The Wauchope Races, but in this digital age the concept of a double EP is hard to convey so they wound up being separate beings.

You can also head over to our bandcamp site and get it that way, like all the young kids these days. Pay what you like, or else you can put in an order for a hardcopy which we will then lovingly send your way courtesy of Australia Post.

It’s starting to get a bit of airplay around Australia, so if you’re ambitious & drunk you can always ring up any random radio station and yell your request into the phone.  Then, after they say “Wait….what?!?!?”, you can politely explain that you’d like to hear our latest.  A few reviews are coming in as well, one good, one shit, plus I sat down with Mess + Noise for a fun interview where I was clearly out of my depth but did my best to fake my way through it.  You know, all the usual jazz….

That’s all from here. Holler back and let us know what’s going on in your world.

xoxo

God Save The Queen

June 9, 2014

Happy Birthday old girl.

Royal Chant
Small Town Bruises/A Day At The Wauchope Races double EP
July 7, 2104
courtesy of Dirty Mab Records

tour dates and other banal minutiae on their way….prepare for lift-off

See you soon xoxo

sincerely,

Your Loyal Subjects

Happy Valentine’s Day, 2014

February 20, 2014

[Of course I forgot to post this in time…]

There’s been a lot I have wanted to write about recently, which of course means that I’m going to write about myself instead. That’s the way it goes sometimes. Laziness is not becoming nor conducive to being a writer, great or small.

Anyways, it has just struck Valentine’s here in Australia and that seems like the perfect time to release something new from the Royal Chant catalog, just to prove to the world that it’s not all about hearts & cupids & sappy poetry.  It’s about garage bands &  tour vans & sappy poetry.

So here is “Shake, Shake”, our new single, complete with our own DIY film clip.

Of course it’s free.  We know everyone is broke these days, so it’s all good.  We’re all just trucking along and thankful for the moments of happiness that we experience, which are actually far more abundant than we’ve led ourselves to believe.  That doesn’t mean that we should be pushovers, and yeah, the world is still seriously screwed up in a lot of ways, but we can sing & shake and forget, and what seems like nonsense is really just an inability to explain.

Image