Interview: Say Anything

Published in:

Drum Media (WA) | 28.06.12 | Issue # 294

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Show Review: Frenzal Rhomb 16.06.12

Published in Drum Perth (Jun 21, 2012) – Issue 293

FRENZAL RHOMB, AGITATED, NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT

ROSEMOUNT HOTEL

16 June, 2012

You know you’re at a Frenzal Rhomb gig when the first thing you see upon arriving at the venue is a punter vomiting in a car park. But in their 20 years as a band Frenzal Rhomb have secured more than just a dedicated, party-ready fan base – amongst an impressive discography and unique charisma, they’ve perfected their up-and-coming bands radar, which was working nicely when they selected supports for this show.

The night kicked off with a slightly staggered music flow, Negative Reinforcement smashing out an energetic hardcore set an hour after doors opened and finishing 20 minutes early. Although their set was brief, it packed an enthusiastic punch that opening bands rarely deliver. Playing to a sold-out and intoxicated Frenzal Rhomb crowd is a potentially dangerous feat, but luckily Agitated had just the right amount of punk rock-infused hardcore to tame the beast. Forty minutes of music three hours into the show – you can imagine the amount of alcohol consumed by the time the headliners came on.

20 years is a long time for a band, and if nothing else Frenzal Rhomb sure know how to make an entrance, strutting through the stage door and gearing up to Earth, Wind & Fire’s Just Groove. Opening their set with a disclaimer – warning punters about vocalist Jay Whalley’s loss of voice – no doubt from intense partying in Bunbury the night before – they managed to cross an album’s worth of material off their setlist quicker than patrons could get through a drink, which was surprising considering the rants their stage banter often turns into.

Whalley’s voice issues were easily resolved by frequent trips to the barrier, which saw him engulfed in a sea of sweaty male love, and bassist Tom Crease taking on the role of lead singer from time to time. Tailoring their humour towards WA, they joked about winning a WAMi award for their song I Know Why Dinosaurs Became Extinct and referenced Jebediah on numerous occasion, guitarist Lindsay McDougall rattling off bits of their hits in-between songs.

By the end of their set Whalley’s voice had just about had enough, but the crowd’s collective voice for Never Had So Much Fun and Punch In The Face was a remedy that showed why this band sells out most WA shows. Drummer Gordy Forman took control of McDougall’s mic to urge the crowd to check out the openers when they next played and jumped back behind his kit as the stage fairy lights turned on for Home & Away and You Can’t Move Into My House.

Written by Daniel Cribb

Interview: The Bride

Published in:

Time Off (Jun 20, 2012) – Issue 1582

Drum Media Sydney (Jun 26, 2012) – Issue 1116

Drum Media Perth (Jul 26, 2012) – Issue 298

HARD TIMES

The Bride vocalist Kevin Schwartz reckons Australian hardcore is in need of some life support.

“Sydney for a long time had, in my opinion, the best hardcore scene in Australia,” reckons The Bride’s Kevin Schwartz of his hometown, “Unfortunately, it’s sort of slowed down a little bit over the last year, two years… Places like Brisbane, it’s pretty much non-existent, the scene’s almost gone because venues are closing down all over the place and no one wants to put on hardcore gigs anymore, which sucks.

“But in saying that, because that sort of thing is happening, you’re starting to see a lot more house gigs and that kind of thing. Fans are saying ‘Hey, come play in my living room and we’ll invite everyone and charge a dollar and we’ll put sandwiches on.’ That’s the kind of scene that you saw a couple of years ago, which I think is fantastic, and I think it’s great to see it come back now. So it is on demand and I think it is getting better and better, but it’s only going to be as good as the people coming to the shows and supporting it. So yeah, come out to gigs – don’t sit at home and be lame.”

Doing all they can to keep the music they love alive, The Bride have been on the road constantly since the release of their debut album, President Rd, providing ample opportunities for punters to come out of the woodwork. “We really just want to build up our fan base. We’re pretty passionate about what we do, so we try to tour new places and play to people that might not have heard us. Ultimately, the goal is playing as many of those shows as possible – as well as playing the capitals where we’ve already established a bit of a fan base. We want to play as many spots as possible and get the music out there and sort of bring back that community of hardcore that’s gone missing over the past couple of years.

“[On tour] we pretty much live in a crappy little eight-seater van,” he laughs, admitting their goal isn’t an easy one. “It sucks, it’s really hard, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. Always in a van, always listening to the same songs, and always sitting next to the same smelly feet.”

Although the album came out in November last year and they’ve already circled the country a few times, this is the band’s first headlining tour in support of an album that features vocal cameos from the likes of Jenna McDougall of Tonight Alive and members of Heroes For Hire. The pairing of Sydney pop-punk and hardcore reinforces the strong sense of community that energises The Bride.

“For us, [community] is essential. We couldn’t have done half of the things that we do as a band without being friends with so many different people. It seems that over the past year some bands have started to keep to themselves and they don’t want to talk to other people and stuff like that. I hate that crap. I’ll talk to anyone who wants to sit down and have a chat – whether it’s about music, life or fucking sport, I really don’t care. That’s the kind of community that we’ve tried to build up, and is why we have guest vocalists on our album.

“I don’t really see the point in being a band if you’re going to sit there alone by yourself the whole time. It’s supposed to be fun and it’s supposed to be about friendship and mates. That’s extremely important to us and we would never change it.”

Daniel Cribb

Time Off (Jun 20, 2012)

Interview: Frenzal Rhomb

Published in Drum Perth (Jun 14, 2012) – Issue 292

WEEKEND WARRIORS

Frenzal Rhomb vocalist Jason Whalley tells Daniel Cribb about singing in tune 80 percent of the time and being blocked on Twitter by Russell Crowe.

Watching boats sail around Sydney Harbour, Frenzal Rhomb vocalist Jason Whalley ponders life as a sailor: “I’m thinking, ‘Should I get a boat?’” the frontman begins. “And I think, ‘Well, I can’t afford a boat, but even if I could, I don’t know if I want a boat.’ Our bass player likes sailing. He sails those little tiny boats. He’s very good at it, but I don’t know if that really appeals to me. Anything that you could die from if you make a mistake doesn’t really appeal to me,” he explains.

But you won’t find bassist Tom Crease sailing Sydney Harbour; rather the coastline of South Australia. The only two members of Frenzal Rhomb that live in the same state are Whalley and guitarist/triple j’s Lindsay McDougall, aka The Doctor – with drummer Gordy Freeman residing in Victoria. The separation, and thus somewhat intense commute to unite as one single unit, can render simple tasks, such as jamming, a difficult one. Which usually isn’t a problem – it’s only when it comes time to record or prepare for a tour that said distance requires the Rhomb rhythm section to head for NSW.

“It feels like we could do it all in three weeks, but I like spreading it out,” Whalley explains of the band’s weekend tour structure. “And I also like only playing on Friday and Saturday nights. It gives you much more of a bigger party vibe and you don’t end up playing in Warrnambool on a Tuesday night. We used to tour for seven months of the year and that can be a little bit of a drag, when you’re just kind of going through the motions every night. I feel this way we can put more of an effort into the actual shows and everyone’s got more energy.”

Now that their latest record Smoko At The Pet Food Factory has had several months to breathe, Whalley looks back at it with fresh eyes. “It was a horrible, miserable failure,” he jokes. “Nah, it went pretty good I think, all things considered. And I like the sound of it. It sounds better than our other ones, thanks to the top notch team at Blasting Room Studios in Fort Collins, Colorado, and I like the songs – I like about 70 percent of the songs, which is a higher ratio than most of our records. I like a few songs off most of our records, but this one I feel is quite consistent from start to finish.

“I didn’t really want to use Auto-Tune or anything, so I figured, if there’s one thing that I can do, I’m not the world’s best singer, but I can sing in tune at least 80 percent of the time. Even if it takes me like 20 or 30 goes, I want to be able to try and get it right… I actually got the shits because some reviewer afterwards was like, ‘By the end of the record you get a bit sick of hearing all the Auto-Tuned vocals,’ and I’m going ‘Fuck you! I did that fuckin’ a thousand times to get that right’,” he laughs.

One can’t help but assume Frenzal’s ode to Russell Crowe’s band, off their ’03 release Sans Souci, is one of the tracks that has made his favourite list. Over the past little while Whalley has been chucking Crowe the odd retweet here and there. “I’m probably missing some as we speak,” he says. “Frenzal Rhomb followed him on Twitter and he blocked us straight away. I don’t think he’s made the connection with me yet, and I actually haven’t said anything controversial. All I do is give him a little retweet of his gym stats every couple of days. Hopefully we can forge a new relationship into the future.”

Daniel Cribb

Interview: The Stanleys

Published in Drum Perth (Jun 7, 2012)

THE TRAVEL BUG

Lawyer by day, international rock star by night, Mark Di Renzo manages to slip out of a business meeting to chat with Daniel Cribb about The Stanleys’ debut EP Always and the band’s somewhat backwards game plan.

Release an EP or two and an album, hit the radio, conquer your hometown, head over east a few times, and then take on the rest of the world. This is what seems a logical sequence of goals for a band, and often each component somewhat rely on one another, but Perth power pop-rockers The Stanleys had a different blueprint laid out in front of them when they started in 2011.

Their mission to take over the world began long before any official release had surfaced from the band – even before they were stage ready. In fact, it begins with frontman Mark Di Renzo laying down musical roots throughout the US in his other band Gigantic. In 2011 Gigantic were offered a slot at The International Pop Overthrow Festival in LA, but declined as the band were on holiday. Di Renzo suggested his new musical endeavor The Stanleys, who at this stage hadn’t even played their first gig. Locking in an international show, more US dates unfolded and eventually expanded to Europe and Japan, transforming their live debut into somewhat of a world tour. Returning home victorious, songwriting became the main item on their agenda.

“The [Always EP] came about through Gigantic’s last visit to Japan, where a promoter told us about an act called Caddy, and that is Tomas Dahl who is a studio member of The Stanleys [and the drummer for Norwegian punk-rockers Turbonegro]. Essentially what happened was, we started talking online – Tomas and I had never met or spoken on the phone – and we started writing songs over email. Just shooting MP3s to each other and we were pretty happy with what was going on, so we got in the studio,” Di Renzo explains. “Lyrically, it is pretty simple. We’re not necessarily trying to change the world with what we do, we just want to play rock ‘n’ roll, have fun and if people want to jump on the train and have fun with us then that’s awesome.”

With Always coming out in China a month before the rest of the world, it was fitting to kick the EP tour off there. A couple of hundred people at each show confirmed they’re on the right track. “It’s really quite amazing that you can write a tune on your sofa at home and jump on a plane and have people waiting there for you to play it and for them to go nuts, have a dance, have fun – especially on the other side of the world, where English isn’t their first language. It’s fantastic that music can break those barriers.” And no tour of China is complete without an appearance on Chinese television. “We did an interview on this show called…the English translation of the name of this show is, House Of The Kick Arse People,” he laughs. “Any show that has a name like that that ask you to be on it, you cannot say no.”

Touring the world as well as managing the band and holding down a day job can leave Di Renzo with a lot on his plate at certain times. “The lead up to tour time is bloody busy…I could do with a couple of extra hours sleep, to be honest. But look, there’s plenty of time for that when we’re dead, right? Also, I’ve been doing this for quite a while now and I’ve learnt that if someone offers you something, and it’s something you want to do, you’ve got to do it because you don’t know what’s around the corner.”

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/the-stanleys-mark-di-renzo/