Show Review: Gyroscope 22.09.12

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 27.09.12 | Issue # 307

GYROSCOPE, THE SCOTCH OF ST JAMES, BOSTON & CHEVY

ROSEMOUNT HOTEL

22 September, 2012

 

Saying the road to Gyroscope’s sold-out show at the Rosemount on Saturday night was one paved with trouble would be an understatement. The show – originally scheduled for June as a benefit to raise funds for burns victim Dana Vulin – had to be rescheduled after guitarist Zoran Trivic was involved in a motorcycle accident that broke both of his legs.

A packed-out venue early into the evening signaled that everyone was ready to give Trivic and co. a huge welcome back to the stage after their six month break. Easing punters into the night was the laid back, acoustic sounds of Boston & Chevy. The husband and wife duo, consisting of Warren and Amy Page, took turns at lead vocals, allowing each member to shine. They realise that less is sometimes more, and have utilised that to its full effect.

With a thumbs-up from frontman Paver Pickins to the sound desk, The Scotch Of Saint Jamesbegan a set that bridged the gap between the ambient, laid-back openers and the intensely energetic headliners that were to follow. With guitars dripping in warped, reverbed effects, tight harmonies and erratic song structures, they executed a tight performance that few local acts could match.

A causal “what’s up?” from a sprightly Trivic and the opening riff of Don’t Look Now But I Think I’m Sweating Blood drew everyone inside, transforming the beer garden into a wasteland inhabited by the few punters who missed out on tickets and smokers. Gyroscope were back in the saddle and had six months worth of energy to unleash.

Frontman Daniel Sanders may have looked more tame than usual – he’s done away with the mullet, jeans and polo – but screaming relentlessly into the mic from the get-go proved otherwise. It became clear during their set that the show would be their last in quite a while – drummer Rob Nassif is moving to New York for an unspecified amount of time.

It wasn’t until late in the set did Sanders finally venture into the crowd like he usually does. “Who touched his balls? Someone did,” bassist Brad Campbell queried upon Sanders arrival back to centre stage. Closers Doctor DoctorBaby, I’m Getting Better and Snakeskin showed that their time away from the stage hadn’t tarnished their live show one bit, and an encore of Nirvana’s Territorial Pissings provided a memorable burst of energy to a set that hopefully won’t be the band’s last.

Written by Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/reviews-live/2012/09/27/gyroscope-rosemount-hotel-daniel-cribb/

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Interview: The Lawrence Arms

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 27.09.12 | Issue # 307

UP IN ARMS

 

Sipping on a bedtime martini, The Lawrence Arms vocalist/bassist Brendan Kellyconverses with Daniel Cribb about angry fans, growing up and why the hell the band’s been so quiet.

Brendan Kelly may be preparing for bed when he answers his phone, but his band, The Lawrence Arms, are just waking up from somewhat of a three-year hibernation. Their last release came in the form of ‘09’s Buttsweat And Tears EP, and since then things have kind of come to a standstill. What could have possibly drawn the three members away from something that is such a big part of their lives? “I had a couple kids, made a couple movies and I made two, three [solo] records… fuck. So, I’ve been pretty busy, I guess,” Kelly reveals. “I never really thought about it until you asked the question, but yeah, I guess it’s probably been the busiest time of my life,” he laughs.

“Life happened,” he sums up. “We spent over a decade just bustin’ our dicks touring every single day of our lives and we finally slowed down. And it’s weird, because that’s when people actually started to give a shit about our band. It’s hard to pick it back up again. When you’ve got nothing in place it’s easy to get up and go on tour, but now I’ve got two kids… [Touring’s] where I’m most at home, that’s where I love to be, but now, as I get older, I do have a family, so it’s tough to be out there, too. It’s like the curse of family; when you’re with them you’re like, ‘Get me the fuck out of here!’ and as soon as you’re out of there you’re like, ‘God, I miss those fuckers’,” he laughs. “It’s a no-win situation.”

It won’t be long until the dormant punk rock outfit rises from its slumber, however. The Chicago three-piece are in the process of writing their sixth record. “We haven’t even practiced the songs together, but we’ve got about half the record done.” With any luck he hopes it’ll be recorded by Soundwave.

A small, dedicated following, one that might only like The Lawrence Arms and a few other similar acts on the Soundwave line-up, has been on social media airing their displeasure about paying $200 for a ticket. But when it comes down to it, if Soundwave hadn’t offered the band the tour, they wouldn’t have been here for quite some time. “We haven’t done shit for a long time,” Kelly reiterates. “We don’t get offers to go to Australia, the regular promoters haven’t been beating down our doors to try and get us back.”

A lot of the stigma surrounding their appearance on the Soundwave line-up stems from a secret track on the band’s most recent full-length album, Oh! Calcutta!. The tune, Warped Summer Extravaganza (Major Excellent), details Kelly’s hate for the US Warped Tour – a festival that could be seen as the American equivalent of Soundwave. “That whole thing was a very specific time and place. It was about 2000. There were so many awesome small clubs and so many awesome bands and all these bands that were super popular, like your NOFXs and your No Use For A Names and your Lagwagons, who were touring and taking all these small bands on tours around the country. It was really cool, and all of a sudden the Warped Tour comes and they suck up all those headlining bands. Now, instead of 17 nights at one cool, small club, it’s one day at a fairground and all the support bands get to either play up against the Warped Tour, which sucks, or on the Warped Tour where it’s like, ‘My shitty band is playing the same time as Rancid’. That’s even worse.

“For Soundwave, we didn’t have an apparatus in place to go tour Australia. It was just impossible for us, you know? It’s chalk and cheese – I believe that’s a phase you guys have down there?” For all those unaware of such a saying, it’s the equivalent of comparing oranges and apples. “That shit’s chalk and cheese, buddy.”

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2012/09/27/the-lawrence-arms-brendan-kelly/9016/

Interview: The Amity Affliction

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 20.09.12 | Issue # 306

CHASING DREAMS

 

Once upon a time you’d find The Amity Affliction passing out and throwing up on stage in front of only a handful of people in regional Queensland. With the release of their third album looming and upcoming national tour selling out faster than they can add dates, vocalist Joel Birch tags out of the chaos to chat with Daniel Cribb about their controversial cover art and other hiccups faced when churning out Chasing Ghosts.

It’s 5am and The Amity Affliction awake in New Zealand after two hours’ sleep. The previous day the quartet was in the middle of nowhere shooting a video for the title track off their new album, Chasing Ghosts. Throwing up on set and passing out, one might think that these boys have been partying all night. Partying is, after all, one of the tags commonly associated with the Queensland metalcore four-piece. In ’07 and ’08 they embarked on two separate tours dubbed The Drunk And Disorderly Tour, and their 2008 debut album Severed Ties contains the tuneFruity Lexia. But, as mainman Joel Birch assures, they’re all “getting on now” and “usually go to bed” after they step off the stage. The sicknesses suffered during the video shoot are not party related – rather, they’re from working too hard.

Flying home from New Zealand, they managed to squeeze in some rest time to power up before embarking on their biggest national tour to date, supported by US band The Ghost Inside, UK boys Architects and Buried In Verona. “For some reason that still follows us around,” Birch says of their publicly perceived party personas. “We do party, but not like we used to. We’ve got a lot more respect for what we’re doing these days. I think it’s pretty important that we be on our A game and not be too drunk before we play,” he continues.

It was around the time Severed Ties came out that they had an epiphany of sorts. During their Severed Ties Tour (a name perfectly fitted to their realisation) they discovered people actually started coming to the shows. “I guess we saw that we maybe had a crack at doing this for a living and not just getting out bank loans that we can’t repay because we’re touring. We’ve been touring for eight years now and If you’re touring for eight years and you’re not making a living, it’s probably time to give up, but we’re luckily enough that we’re… we’re not rich by any means, but we don’t have to go and work a nine-to-five between tours and stuff like that, which is great.

“I think a lot of our success is to do with the fact that we’ve never changed our sound either, not drastically anyway,” he explains. “I think it’s always just been a natural, organic progression rather than any wild sort of jumps. I think the craziest thing we’ve ever done was add a keyboard and I don’t even think that was unwarranted. We’ve still got keys on the new record and I think they add a nice warm sound to the songs, but apart from that, we’ve kind of just been doing the exact same thing. I guess we’ve just hammered it into kid’s heads,” he laughs.

With that in mind, it’s surprising to hear that the band jump from one producer to another. Their sophomore release Youngbloods (2010), which debuted at number six on the ARIA charts, received a wealth of praise worldwide and was recorded and produced by Machine (Bullet For My Valentine, Enter Shikari) in New York. Although he was somewhat of a perfect match for the band, they felt the need to mix things up and keep it interesting. Enlisting producer/engineer Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette (Story of the Year, Falling In Reverse), they flew to Florida to begin work on what would be an album that would produce a few hiccups along the way.

“We wanted to do something different, so we went with Elvis and, you know, it worked in the studio, but the mixing didn’t work out and we had it mixed by Will Putney (Four Years Strong, Suicide Silence), who actually engineered a lot of the guitar on Young Bloods,” he explains. Which begs the question – what went down out of studio? “Well, we were getting the mixes and they kind of sounded like shit. They sounded like a rock mix. It was really flat and not really dynamic, and then I think Troy [Brady, guitar] just had enough and called everyone in the band and said, ‘Our songs sound like shit, we need to fix it’. And so he got in contact with Will Putney and he pretty much saved the day. [Troy] had to cop it from Road Runner; they were really pissed off and Troy copped the brunt of it. He pretty much said, ‘If you want a good record then you’ll let this happen, otherwise you’re going to have a piece of shit and you’re going to have to explain to people that we tried to change the mixes and you wouldn’t let us and it’s all your fault’. And they were like, ‘Alright, that’s scary’, and yeah, we went with this guy Will and he fuckin’ saved the day.

“It was a fucked situation,” Birch admits. “I mean, they’ve got this guy that they’ve used before for other bands and it’s been fine, it just didn’t work with us. Every band’s different. Sometimes that’s going to happen and it happened with us and we did something about it. I think a lot of bands might be scared by their labels, but we don’t really give a fuck, so Troy just went in with guns blazing and we came out with a much better record.”

It was obviously important for them, and would be for any band, to ensure their album was the best they could make it. For Birch, though, it meant all the more. Chasing Ghosts is a platform to voice his strong views on suicide and start conversation in the public arena. The cover art for the album did just that; backlash was plastered all over the internet the day it was unveiled to the public. The artwork depicts a suicide victim, hanging by his neck from a tree.

“I’ve been writing anti-suicide messages since 2006, and it just didn’t cross my mind that people would take it the wrong way,” he contemplates. “Some people did and I said some pretty harsh stuff [see sidebar] and obviously had to rescind it, because it was pretty mean. But, yeah, I dunno, the message on the CD is a very positive one – I don’t think people have a problem with it after they’ve actually read the lyrics. The cover’s the cover – it’s full on, but it’s going to get people opening a discussion about suicide and I think that’s a positive thing. It needs to be discussed. It gets swept under the carpet too much, in Australia especially.

“I’ve been through it, I got through it, I’m really happy now and I’m dealing with it. I have anxiety issues every now and then, but for the most part I’m happy. I think a lot of people who kill themselves forget that when they’re dead they’re leaving behind a lot of people who have to deal with that shit… I really want to affect people in a positive way and I feel like we’re on the right path, despite the extremely brutal cover imagery.”

TCHY TRIGGER FINGER
The problem with social media being largely a one-way street for a lot of musicians, celebrities and high profile individuals (Ashton Kutcher has more than 11 million follows and follows less than 1000) is anything said on the tubes can spiral out of control or leave them sharing a little too much to too many people. With a smartphone in their pocket, someone might get pissed off about something and vent his or her rage in 140 characters or less without fully comprehending the audience about to read their spontaneous post.

When The Amity Affliction released the cover art for Chasing Ghosts, they were bombarded with a slew of negative press. Frustrated, Joel Birch took to Facebook, saying, “Let me explain how you DIDN’T TRY TO KILL YOURSELF AND WEREN’T DEPRESSED BUT I DO WANT TO HEAR YOUR OPINION.”

The next day, after cooling down, Birch returned to Facebook with “I just wanted to give you my apology for being insensitive and indignant with my initial comments that I aimed at those who were upset about the album image… I feel really awful about that. No one deserves to be berated about their emotions, and I feel I was far too offensive, and defensive.” Although his apology was fairly prompt, by the time it was released, his previous comment had spread like wildfire.

Whether the feedback of his posts and the artwork itself were positive or negative, they definitely got the issue of suicide in the spotlight, which was ultimately Birch’s plan from the beginning. Once the album is released and the imagery is intertwined with the lyrics and themes throughout it, Birch and co can be assured that it will do well.
If you need help dealing with a situation or want to talk to someone, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or head to lifeline.org.au.

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/joel-birch-the-amity-affliction/

CD Review: Gallows

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 13.09.12 | Issue # 305

Published in Inpress (VIC) | 12.09.12 | Issue # 1241

GALLOWS

GALLOWS

7 September, 2012

The first 45 seconds of Gallows’ new and self-titled album sets the scene with a sample that features a monotone, computer-like female voice asking a series of questions to the sound of a steady, building drum beat. Following that, Gallows wastes no time in answering the question on every fan’s mind – are Gallows better or worse off with a new frontman? As soon as you’re smacked in the face with Wade MacNeil’s voice it’s clear that the band has left little room for anyone to opt for the latter option.

There may be a new voice up the front, but the music on this release still screams Gallows. Catchy guitar riffs laid over pacey drums sees a slight drift from the brutal sounds featured onGrey Britain and more into the realm of punk rock-infused hardcore. Although this is the first full-length with MacNeil – an ex-Alexisonfire member – the band did release a four-track EP with him at the end of last year. Gallows have taken the band in a completely different direction than the one the Death Is Birth EP suggested they would.

Last June, the first single lifted off the release, manages to capture and sum up the new sound of Gallows perfectly. While it’s arguably not the best track on there – Outsider Art and Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead) gives it a run for its money – it’s structured in such a way as to allow each member’s defining characteristics to shine through. When one door closes, another opens; Gallows have found new life with MacNeil fronting the band, and he, in turn, has been given a new creative outlet now that Alexisonfire are, or are soon to be, no more.

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/album/2012/09/07/gallows-gallows-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: The Beach Boys

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 13.09.12 | Issue # 305

THE BEACH BOYS

BURSWOOD DOME

6 September, 2012

 

After 50 years, 30 studio albums, numerous line-up changes, countless hits and a big dose of band politics, the five surviving, original members of Rock And Roll Hall of Fame superstarsThe Beach Boys found themselves in Perth to round out the Australian leg of their 50th anniversary reunion tour.

As their backing musicians took position (all nine of them), the stage lights were replaced by a booming kick drum and a dark silhouette welcomed the legends to the stage one by one: David Marks, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine, Mike Love and, the man behind the music, Brian Wilson. For a band whose members couldn’t stand to be in the same room as one another at one point, they gelled instantly with Do It Again.

Only after tune number six, Surfin’ Safari, did they have a brief pause to allow vocalist Love to have a crack at saying “G’Day”. Love then took on the role of backing vocalist to allow his cousin, and foundation of the band, Wilson to take control with Surfer Girl, the title track off the album released in 1962. While substance abuse in his heyday has unfortunately taken its toll, and despite a lack of energy, it was still surreal to see Wilson in his element. Some more vocal swapping throughout the band and after 30 songs, they took a quick, well-earned intermission, “followed by a nap”. Part two was kick started by guitarist Marks unleashing a lengthy guitar solo before they gathered around Wilson’s piano for an intimate rendition of Add Some Music To Your Day. Tracks from this year’s That’s Why God Made The Radio album were nice additions to the set but don’t shape up to the classics from albums such as Pet Sounds.

Two hours into the set, Wilson spoke to the crowd for the first time – introducing his two brothers, Dennis, who passed away in 1982 and Carl, who passed away in 1998. Forever andGod Only Knows allowed each brother to take the spotlight via the huge screens either side of the stage. A best of ending to the set – Good Vibrations, Help Me, Rhonda, Surfin’ USA,KokomoBarbara Ann and Fun Fun Fun – and they were gone. The fact they played for well over two and a half hours with such relentless energy cements just how incredible this band is. Anyone who missed this show may not get another chance to witness this magic live. But, no one expected this tour, so anything could happen.

Written by Daniel Cribb

Interview: Gallows

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 13.09.12 | Issue # 305

OUT WITH THE OLD

 

Even though Gallows sound like a completely different band these days, guitarist LaurentLags’ Barnard reiterates to Daniel Cribb they still like “fuckin’ with people”.

It almost seems as if the stars aligned to bring the world a third Gallows album. When the band announced the departure of vocalist Frank Carter in 2011, it was shortly followed by a statement detailing that Alexisonfire’s Wade MacNeil (mainly known as a guitarist/backing vocalist) would step up to take his place. The new line-up then released the Death Is Birth EP less than six months later. With so much happening so quickly, fans were left in a state of shock. The band didn’t struggle for a single second to find a suitable replacement. Things just worked out so perfectly.

The story begins in May 2011 in an East London pub called The Old Blue Last where Black Lungs, MacNeil’s side project, are playing a secret show, supported by Gallows. “That was the first time I actually saw Wade front a band,” Gallows’ Laurent ‘Lags’ Barnard recalls. “I was thinking, ‘He’s a fuckin’ awesome frontman’. Fast forward about a month, Frank leaves the band, at the same time we got the low-down that Alexis were gonna break up, and this was before everyone else knew about it. So Steph [Carter, guitar] from Gallows called up Wade and was like, ‘Hey, man. My brother’s left Gallows, do you wanna sing for the band?’ and he was like, ‘Sure. When do you need me?’”

It was a seamless transition that enabled the band to continue their rampage unhindered. But with an Alexisonfire farewell tour planned for December and rumours of the band doing one final release, does that mean that Gallows will have to slow down temporarily to accommodate? “We actually planned to have a break for December and January anyway, so it’s fine, man. I’ve never been an Alexis fan in the past, but as I toured with those dudes and started listening to their music, just through being friends with them, I realised they are a great fuckin’ band. It’s really good they’re doing this tour because I know so many kids would be stoked to see them one last time.”

So MacNeil was able to impress the Gallows crew a fair bit at The Old Blue Last, but how does he shape up compared to Frank Carter? If you were lucky enough to catch Gallows at Soundwave 2010, when Carter was fronting the band (or more appropriately put – in the crowd smacking the microphone into his head), you likely have their set deeply embedded into memory, but as Barnard enthuses, it’s probably for the wrong reasons. “It felt like Gallows was becoming a spectacle and people were just going [to shows] to see what might happen, do you know what I mean? It got to a point where that just became boring for everyone in the band – including Frank – and I think now we’ve got the right balance between putting on a sick show where spontaneous events do happen, but, at the same time, we hold down the music. It’s become a lot tighter and a lot more professional.”

When Carter left the band, he cited that they had “hit a crossroads” and were struggling to find a direction everyone was happy with. Fans were sceptical that MacNeil fronting the band would remedy this problem, and wondered if Gallows’ best days were behind them (one listen to their album reveals they’re not, not by a long shot). “The EP was very much, ‘Let’s make some fuckin’ intense, heavy noise just to prove that we’re not going away,’ and also, you know, prove to anyone that thinks that we might go soft – just because we have a member of Alexisonfire in our band – that’s not going to happen.”

With a four-track EP that proved that very thing, they entered the studio again, this time more relaxed  to put together their first album with MacNeil, simply titled Gallows. “Wade set into being Gallows and this record’s basically what Gallows is all about now. The last two records we did, yeah, we like them, but looking back there’s a few things I’d change. Listening to this album since we finished it, I don’t think there’s anything I’d change,” he emphasises. “By making it self-titled, it’s just telling people, ‘This is Gallows. This is what we’ve been working up to’ and I really think it is that, you know? It’s got millions of guitar riffs in it. It’s like everything I’d want in a heavy album.

“In many ways the songs bridge what we were trying to do before [Wade] was in the band. I think, again, similar to Grey Britain, we were trying to come up with something a bit grand and at the same time we weren’t signed to a major label. It wasn’t a case of we could spend loads of money in big studios to do something similar to Grey Britain, so there was a lot of pulling and tugging. I know in my head, I just wanted a solid record and I think we’ve definitely done this with Gallows.”

A confusing piece of imagery plays the role of cover art for Gallows. In a black and white photo, two people (presumably female, but it’s hard to tell) are lying on a bed intertwined, both wearing balaclavas and revealing clothing. While it’s just a simple photo with no writing on it, it says more about the band than almost anything they’ve done before. “What I love about our album cover is, firstly, loads of people will have no idea what the fuck we were thinking when we chose it – I think that’s a really good part about it – but at the same time, when I first saw the image it wasn’t glamorous. I’m sick to death of bands that try and set up these shoots for over-the-top album covers.

“I wanted to keep it really simple, like back in the day when punk bands first started it wasn’t a case of spending ages trying to pick the right shot or the right kind of image; you just threw it together quickly. That was my gut reaction when I saw the photo. I was like, ‘This would look fuckin’ sick as an album cover.’ I know loads of people won’t get it, but for me, that’s important too, you know? I just like fuckin’ with people. I think that’s the best thing about Gallows: we can get away with fuckin’ with people quite a bit.”

Daniel Cribb

Drum Perth (Sep 13, 2012)

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/joel-birch-the-amity-affliction/

CD Review: Peter Black

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 20.09.12 | Issue # 306

Published in Inpress (VIC) | 12.09.12 | Issue # 1241

PETER BLACK

NO DANGEROUS GODS IN TUNNEL

Considering the year The Hard-Ons’ Peter ‘Blackie’ Black has had (for those living under a rock, he was assaulted whilst driving his cab in Sydney and suffered serious injuries), it’s almost hard to approach this release and judge it on the songs alone. After all he’s been through, and the support everyone has shown him, who really wants to be the person to say this album doesn’t shape up? Luckily, through honing his many years of musical experience into twelve tunes, Blackie has ensured no such situation arises.

Admittedly, it takes a little time for the softly sung, stripped-back acoustic numbers to stick, but once they do, you’ll have numerous chorus melodies in your head for days. And with nothing for the lyrics to hide behind or be buried under, these 12 songs provide an intimate look into the inner workings of the musical mastermind. While it’s a solo record the collaborations featured really take certain songs to the next level. Strings on Algebra & CalculusBus Catcher andDumb Dumb, performed by Samantha Fonti, help drive vocal melodies to a level he wouldn’t be able to take them on his own. Blackie has taken a lesson from a certain Gotye hit and Cloud Nine sees him swapping vocals with Michele Madden – a match made in heaven. The only notable downfall is Blackie’s harmonies are sometimes too confronting in the mix and every now and then it distorts the intimacy the record is trying to achieve.

Overall, No Dangerous Gods In Tunnel is not only symbolic of how strong Blackie is, but testament to how powerful the Australian music community can be.

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/album/2012/09/05/peter-black-no-dangerous-gods-in-tunnel-daniel-cribb/