Interview: Ash Grunwald

Published in:

Drum Media (WA) | 24.05.12 | Issue # 289

Inpress (VIC) | 06.06.12 | Issue # 1227

Drum Media (NSW) | 19.06.12 | Issue # 1115

Time Off (QLD) | 13.06.12 | Issue # 1581

Click To Enlarge


WAMi Covershoot

Published in:

Drum Media (WA) | 24.05.12 | Issue # 289


With the WAMi Festival and 2012 WAMi Awards Ceremony just around the corner, five of Perth’s best musicians got their game on at Fat Shan’s whilst inspiring some healthy debate with Daniel Cribb on the WA music industry, WAM and their WAMingtons, and what they’ve been up to the past year.

It’s been a hectic, exciting, productive and emotional year for the WA music industry – all genres included. From new local acts gaining triple j high rotation, bands breaking up, others forming and a whole heap in-between, it’s nice to have a night, and set of delicious cake-accompanied awards, that captures the best moments of that chaos while rewarding the guys and gals who put so much time and effort into their chosen trade, sometimes without the recognition they deserve. Whilst not everyone can take home first place in their category, just getting a nomination is enough for most. Rounding up Mike Litton of Cow Parade Cow, Jake Snell of The Ghost Hotel, Novac Bull of Boom! Bap! Pow!, Tom Mathieson aka Mathas and Nick Gardner of San Cisco, Drum set up a photo shoot to capture some of the anticipation, tension and excitement surrounding those involved this year.

Rocking up first was frontman Mike Litton, nice and early, with enough time to flick through Fat Shan’s vinyl collection and reflect on the still relative newborn that is Cow Parade Cow. Since coming to realization only really towards the end of last year, they’ve already recorded and released two albums out of Litton’s bedroom, won the rights to impress at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival and are playing the WAMi festival opening party. “August last year was our first gig. We weren’t actually ready to play. I was asked to do it, and I said yes and didn’t have a band, so I got it together for that,” Litton explains. Studying architecture, he admits the award night might be a quiet one for him with his final folio due that week – unless of course their drummer, who also plays in Runner, John Lekias takes out Drummer/Percussionist Of The Year. “Runner’s nominated for [Breakthrough Act]. It’d be nice if they won, but they’re in the San Cisco pool,” he laughs, “which I think is pretty unbeatable at the moment.”

In a similar fashion, Hip Hop Act Of The Year nominee Mathas had also taken the bedroom recording approach – until the production of his latest single White Sugar, nominated for Most Popular Single/EP. “White Sugar is probably the first one where I actually went into the studio and recorded it properly, and still had it mastered by a friend, co-directed the film clip and edited it. I spent a lot of work on White Sugar at the time. Probably more so than any song ever…and now I’m sick to death of the song,” Mathieson jokes. The past year has also seen him begin work on an album titled Nicotine Junkie and his live set directed into somewhat of a new arena. “I’ve been playing a lot of live shows and doing a lot more rock-based supports, as an MC, which is kind of interesting. I feel my music kind of suits those people more than it does the hip hop crowd.”

His band might be up for Country Music Act Of The Year, but doubling as a booking agent for some of Perth’s more popular venues (Amplifier Capitol, The Rocket Room) has also contributed to The Ghost Hotel’s drummer Jake Snell being nominated for the Management Award and Golden WAMi. Also managing Split Seconds, he’s got a broad view of what’s going on in numerous genres, particularly the more alternate sonic fields. “Perth is pretty strong in terms of different genres, like heavy genres. Having someone like Karnivool, who is one of the premier acts of heavy music in Australia, coming out of Perth is fairly indicative of that,” Snell begins, before commenting on a trend he’s noticed. “I think the categories for the best up and comers and the best new acts are always a pretty good gauge of bands to look out for. In general, they’re there for a reason and it’s pretty valid. They’re always strong acts and deserve their spot there. It’s a good barometer, and if you go back through previous years it acts as a pretty good indicator of what’s going to happen the following year.”

There was a reason that San Cisco was nominated for Favourite Newcomer in ’11, and while they didn’t take home the award, they’ve proved they’re worth their weight in gold over the past year with two successful EPs, sold-out tours and their track Awkward placing at number seven in the triple j Hottest 100. This year the band’s up for six band nominations – Most Popular Group, Pop Act Of The Year, Breakthrough Act, Most Popular Single/EP, Most Popular Music Video, Most Popular Album/EP – as well as individual Cisco kids in drummer Scarlett Stevens nominated for Drummer/Percussionist Of The Year and a very modest Nick Gardner scoring a nomination for Bassist Of The Year.

“I was really surprised, because I’m not really that good at it,” Gardner laughs. “It was out of the blue. I didn’t even know – someone just told me. It was actually Vaughn Davies from Split Seconds, because he’s up for it as well.” San Cisco is up against Split Seconds in two categories this year, but the competitions couldn’t be any friendlier. “We look up to them a lot – they’re amazing. I really do expect them to get a few,” he tells. With San Cisco’s Awkward EP and its title track up for awards, Gardner admits the track almost didn’t make the cut. “We had half a day left [in the studio after] we finished our last planned song. We thought ‘We probably shouldn’t waste it, so we’ll just play something’ and that’s what turned out to be Awkward.”

Boom! Bap! Pow! has had their fair share of singles and EPs over the years and are finally making the leap onto the album format. With a nomination for Funk Act Of The Year, vocalist Novac Bull says their soon-to-be-released record promises to take them to the next level. While the album just misses out on this year’s awards, there’s every chance it’ll pop up next year. Boom! Bap! Pow! are never far away from the award action. “Last year I was nominated for Best Female Vocalist. I got pipped at the post by Abbe May,” she laughs. “But one WAMi nomination is pretty sweet. We’re all happy with that.”

Taking a mid-shoot break, the five of them have a quick beer and chat about how west coast music shapes up to its east coast counterpart. “We’re an incubator here I think. Which can be little dangerous – safe and warm. But it’s a really thriving strong community,” Bull argues. “From what I can tell, people are a lot more supportive of rival bands,” Litton adds. “I’ve played some gigs in Melbourne and friends from over there sort of say it’s very [competitive]. If you’ve got a band whose on a similar level to you, it’s more of a competition rather than playing shows with people and becoming friends,” he continues. “And in the hip-hop world as well, the electronic music world, places like Melbourne and Sydney tend to be a little cut throat. There are a lot more promoters and a lot more shows going on, so there seems to be a lot of clashes with [shows],” Mathas contributes. “There’s no super rivalry with the awards because everyone really likes everyone else’s band. It’s like ‘Wow, I’d like to win, but if they win it’d be really great’,” Snell explains, before the subject of the iconic winning WAMington trophies come up.

“They are delicious! Ours lasted about a month. It was massive and we portioned it up and put a bit in our freezers,” Bull recalls. “I think that’s the reason no one wants to be a multi-winner as well; because you can’t handle that much cake,” Snell laughs. “The year Tame Impala won, I think everyone I knew ended up with some of theirs,” Litton adds. “A very musical conversation here,” Gardner jokingly laughs.

If the quality of their cake says anything about them, WAM is doing wonders for WA artists. “WAM are the ones that actually give everyone a leg up, as such,” Bull emphasizes. “WA is pretty sweet. We’re very lucky and anyone who says that we’re not needs to get their head read…Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane – I’ve been to all of them and they don’t have anything compared to what we have.”

Daniel Cribb

Show Review: Wavves

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 24.05.12 | Issue # 289





18 May, 2012


Considering the hype surrounding California surf punkers Wavves, it was surprising to see an empty room when locals Sonpsilo Circus kicked the night off. But as punters slowly sifted into the venue from the beer garden, towards the end of the openers and throughout Sures set, it was clear they were simply sinking beers in preparation for the inevitable festivities the headliners would evoke.

Wavves sprouting 30 minutes prior to their set to assemble their own instruments was a welcome change from bands that only appear once their roadies have done all the hard work. Once resurfacing frontman Nathan Williams seemed surprisingly well composed for a man who has built his reputation on regularly being as wasted as possible, and from the first lyrics that came out of his mouth, it was clear that his talent as a vocalist goes uncaptured on the band’s recordings. With three security guards on stage, perhaps to compensate for the lack of a barrier and ensure that no pedals were stolen like the last time they played Perth, they smashed through a lively set kicked off by King Of The Beach – which may have suited better to close the set, but got things in action quickly. Instead of chanting for a well-deserved encore, most of the crowd quickly shuffled towards the exit, leaving Wavves winding up cables before heading to Bunbury and doing it all again the next day at GTM.

Written by Daniel Cribb

Show Review: City & Colour

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 24.05.12 | Issue # 289




20 May, 2012

The sea of people flooding the grassy banks of the spacious Fremantle Arts Centre – well before support Bahamas took to the stage – was a tribute to the success Dallas Green’s City & Colour has achieved in a relatively small period of time. It was clear early into the night that Canada’s City & Colour has evolved into an unstoppable force.

Usually Bahamas, a solo project that also hails from Canada, sees Afie Jurvanen with a backing band. He proved that he really didn’t need one to get desired results amongst audiences, and that’s more than likely why Green temporarily utilised Jurvanen’s guitar skills for his own band during their Australia tour.

Well accustomed to the way of Australian audiences, City & Colour saw a sharply dressed Green and backing band taking control of the crowd like they were playing to only a handful of people. A sea of filming cameras were laid to rest for Body In A Box when Green told everyone to place their phones in their pockets, instead of trying to remember it so badly that they forget to truly experience it. After an hour-and-a-half of music, followed by a quick pee break, Green resurfaced with an acoustic guitar for an encore that treated fans to Coming Home before his band joined him to close the successful evening with Hope For Now. With such a hauntingly beautiful voice, Dallas Green was always destined for greatness, so its great to see this being realised.

Written by Daniel Cribb