CD: British India

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 28.03.13 | Issue # 331

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BRITISH INDIA

CONTROLLER

28 March, 2013

With the album format fast becoming obsolete, many bands have forgotten how powerful a well arranged full-length can be. With their fourth record, Controller, British India have fine-tuned a tracklisting that has the vibe and dynamics of a well-constructed and balanced live set without feeling too rehearsed or predicable. Opening with the slow-starting Plastic Souvenirs, it quickly escalates into a full-throttle British India assault with a chorus that’s been built to do nothing else but make an impression.

Track two, Blinded, pulls things back a notch to allow the listener to process the album’s introduction before their latest single, Summer Forgive Me, throws things back into a whirlwind of catchiness with layer upon layer of tantalising guitar riffs building the foundations for which vocalist Declan Melia has solid ground to work his magic.

With numerous singles receiving strong rotation on the airwaves months before the album was unleashed, listening to parts of the record almost feels like a greatest hits release.

But with four solid albums under their belt, it’s clear British India never really try to break the mold and tread into new waters. At times they begin to stray into uncharted territory, but it isn’t long before they return to familiar ground. It seems they’ve become a little too comfortable in their skin and almost reluctant to jeopardise there winning formula. Which is fair enough, but there’s only so many times they can reuse said formula until they start going in circles. That aside, this is still a great album, and in a world where artists are beginning to go from acoustic folk to dubstep in one album cycle, a little consistency and an act you can rely on is a comforting thing.

Daniel Cribb

http://issuu.com/spa_magazines/docs/dp_331/19

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Interview: Good Riddance

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 28.03.13 | Issue # 331

GOOD PERSPECTIVES

Backstage at a venue in Santa Barbara, California, the driving force behind Good RiddanceRuss Rankin, givesDaniel Cribb the lowdown on the band’s break-up and reunion.

Anxious to hit the stage and, due to his straight edge lifestyle, no alcohol to take the edge off, Good Riddance vocalist Russ Rankin seems somewhat distant when he answers his phone during a pre-show warm up. “We’ve actually not played in Santa Barbara in a really long time,” Rankin tells. Although it’s only a four and a half hour drive from their hometown of Santa Cruz, it’s not surprising.

Originally forming in 1986, they released seven albums, made a strong name for themselves, and had a sizeable impact on the punk rock community before calling it quits in 2007. Their last show before the break-up was in their hometown on 27 May, which was recorded and released as a live record.

In an interview after the show, Rankin said they didn’t really fit into the punk scene anymore. “I think it’s still the same way,” he expresses. “But I think that there’s some people that appreciate hearing the songs and maybe some people that were too young to see us the first time… I think that music changes, I think it’s inevitable that styles change and people’s tastes change, and I think that our band never really changed along with it. We just did what we liked to do and we didn’t do much else, and we had a bit of time where that was what was really popular and then that was no longer what was really popular, and we decided as a professional working band, that it was not a good idea to keep trying and fit a square peg into a round hole, so to speak.

“I think that’s still the same case with music, and I think that some bands are more clever and can change what they’re playing and how they look, and we just weren’t that clever,” he admits.

With that in mind, and the fact the band stated they wouldn’t be able to write a record better than My Republic (2006), how come, in February of 2012, the band announced they would resume with their usual line-up? “It was combination of the fact that we had time to do it, and we missed playing the songs. We all had other stuff going on that was pretty important to us, and it helped us put the music in a healthy perspective, to where we can just sort of have fun with it.”

During their five years apart, Rankin was active with his other band, Only Crime (which features Descendents’ Bill Stevenson on drums and, up until recently, Rise Against’s Zach Blair on guitar), and spent some time on his solo career. “Once we were able to step away from [Good Riddance] and do different things with our lives, and have different things that define us, I think that it put the band in its proper perspective, meaning that there’s some good music and we have fun doing it, but it doesn’t have to completely define us, and it doesn’t have to make or break us.”

The band jumped into the studio a few months ago to record a cover of Descendents’ Sour Grapes for a tribute CD. Despite everything running flawlessly on that recording, they have no plans to re-enter the studio anytime soon. Instead, they’re taking their music around the world in-person to catch up with old friends and fans that never thought they’d get to see Good Riddance again, or for the first time.

“Our fans are older and uglier now than they used to be,” he laughs. Admitting that playing to decent-sized crowds may have something to do with the “novelty factor” of their reunion, Rankin is also quick to cite another area of their fanbase. “We’re really fortunate to have some really awesome fans, as far as how dedicated they were and how appreciative they were of our music, and those people never stopped listening to our music, and so those people are still just as passionate as ever. I think we’re really fortunate to have that.”

Good Riddance will be playing the following dates:

Thursday 28 March – HQ, Adelaide SA
Sunday 31 March – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC
Monday 1 April – Metropolis, Fremantle WA

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2013/03/28/good-riddance-russ-rankin/14255/

 

Interview: Shawn Colvin

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 28.03.13 | Issue # 331

AN OPEN BOOK

Returning to Australia for the third time, and visiting Perth for the first, the award-winning Shawn Colvin chats to Daniel Cribb about fighting depression and alcoholism with music, and writing her first novel.

You don’t take out three Grammy Awards and receive nominations for another seven without a little hard work. Having just returned home to Texas from “working” in Montana, it’s clear folk country singer Shawn Colvin’s Grammy Awards (Best Contemporary Folk Album 1991, Record Of The Year 1998 and Song Of The Year 1998) are testament to how embedded within her livelihood she is.

“It’s pretty much go, go, go all the time. When I’m in Australia, I’m going to try to get out more,” Colvin begins.

Her debut tour of Australia in 1990 was somewhat of a whirlwind visit, with appearances only in Sydney and Hamilton Island, and when she returned in ’97, it was just Melbourne and Sydney that had the pleasure of shows.

Although Colvin is still in the touring cycle of last year’s All Fall Down, her eighth studio album, she won’t be focusing too strongly on new material, and will instead be doing a “retrospective” set for fans that haven’t seen her in over 15 years. She’ll be performing solo and acoustic in Perth, but the latest record sees an impressive backing band, hand-picked by producer Buddy Miller. As a result, it’s one of her most diverse releases to date.

“[Buddy] chose the band, and it was kind of an eclectic mix of players. There’s Buddy on guitar, who’s very blues and country, Bill Frisell [guitar], who’s very jazz, Brian Blade who’s a jazz drummer, and Viktor Krauss on bass who, well, he can just play anything…I was just finishing a book when we started the record, and I said, ‘You know, you go for it. You pick the band out, I want to see what your vision is.”

Travelling the world and doing something that you love, and are great at, isn’t a bad way to make a living, but for Colvin, her writing is a form of expression that has helped her through some rough times. This became clear with the release of last year’s autobiographical book, Diamond In The Rough – an extremely revealing and honest account of her life and career to date. A lot of people struggle to talk about depression or drinking problems, but Colvin put pen to paper and let the whole world in.

“Disclosing personal things, like struggles with alcoholism, depression – things like that, that was not really that tough, to tell you the truth. Writing about people I was close to was hard, because it’s really a commitment to describe your relationship with someone on paper and put it out there to be read, and you want to be fair, and you want the right emotion to come through.

“These are people, you know, that most of whom I’m very close to, so that was probably the hardest part, and I sought help with that, I asked other writers, ‘How do I do this?’ How do I write enough and not be – what’s the word I’m looking for – not be coy, but not be embarrassing to someone?’, I’d say that was most challenging.”

As well as being a sonically diverse record, All Fall Down is one of her more-darker releases. As Colvin dug through her past for Diamond In The Rough, over the good and bad, she stumbled across some unfinished business. “Without sounding kind of artsy fartsy, I think music is a really healing thing. It accompanies you in your celebrations and in your grieving, and there’s just something about music, and I wouldn’t know what it was, whether it was the tone or the vibrations that takes you to another place.

“And lyrically, it’s expression, and that, for me, kind of moves me forward through things to become aware of them, to express them, to feel them. It’s like a companion, the songwriting, it’s kind of like something that holds your hand.”

Interview: Frank Turner

Published in: 

Drum Media (WA) | 28.03.13 | Issue # 331

Drum Media (NSW) | 26.03.13 | Issue # 1153

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TO BE FRANK

With music his one true love at the moment, Frank Turner spent Valentine’s Day getting “pissed” with mates at a pub in London. Daniel Cribb wakes up a hung over Turner the following morning.

“I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little hung over and it’s early in the morning,” a tired but surprisingly cheery Frank Turner begins from his flat in London. Having spent the previous night drinking to a Ramones cover band, and recently concluding a European tour with Dropkick Murphys, there’s no doubt he has punk rock flowing through his veins.

“It was the second time I’ve toured with them, and, it’s going to sound like I say this about everybody, but I promise you I don’t, they are my favourite band to tour with. Them and their crew are just the nicest dudes, and they are a fantastically amazing live band,” he explains, looking forward to touring Australia with them in May.

His involvement in the punk world began long before picking up an acoustic guitar and taking the world by storm. He was originally in hardcore punk band Million Dead. But with the messy break-up of the band in 2005, and certain lyrics since (for example, in 2008’s Love Ire & Song, Turner sings, “Punk rock didn’t live up to what I’d hoped that it could be”), his stance on punk is somewhat unclear.

“If asked, I would say that I’m essentially a punk, you know, I’m into punk rock, it’s the kind of music that I love, and I’ve written songs on the subject. I think it’s more, everybody who gets really heavily into punk rock has a moment where they think it’s going to change the world and save the world and all the rest of it, and it doesn’t. There’s always a moment of slight disconnect there, but that doesn’t mean that it’s invalid in any way, it just means that it’s perhaps not going to bring about world peace.”

He may consider himself a punk, but opening up his music to a wider audience by mixing in healthy doses of pop and folk has allowed some huge opportunities over the past couple of years. After selling out Wembley Arena in March of last year, he performed at the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

“It was a weird [show]. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m very pleased I was given the opportunity to do it, and I sort of feel the music industry is a fickle business and after everything else has kind of faded away I’ll still be able to tell my grandkids that I played at the Olympics, do you know what I mean, and that’s cool.

“But as an actual gig, it was very weird. It wasn’t a normal gig, I was playing on a fake hill to a bunch of actors and sheep and it was all a bit weird. But like I said, at the end of the day, my approach to life is that you might as well, because life is short, and it was a unique and bizarre experience that I’m glad to of had.”

To top off an impressive couple of years, Turner will be releasing his fifth studio album, Tape Deck Heart, in April. On previous records, he tells it like it is, and has remained fairly grounded considering his success. A quality he assures hasn’t been lost due to selling out arenas.

“The one thing that I’ve always tried to do with my music is just write songs that I think are good songs, regardless of the context, and you know, it’s not like I suddenly decided to start writing anthems for arenas or whatever, but at the same time, the last couple of years have been pretty crazy, so I’m sure it does have some affect on the music that I make, but not quite so calculated,” concludes Turner.

Frank Turner will be playing the following dates:

Thursday 28 March – Bluesfest, Byron Bay NSW
Sunday 31 March – Panthers, Newcastle NSW
Monday 1 April – Big Top Luna Park, Sydney NSW
Tuesday 2 April – Festival Hall, Melbourne VIC

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/frank-turner-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Deep Purple 07.03.13

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 14.03.13 | Issue # 329

DEEP PURPLE & JOURNEY

PERTH ARENA

7 March, 2013

When two of the world’s biggest rock heavyweights made a brief stopover in WA, it seemed all age groups wanted to be a part of the action. But when Journey took to the stage, it seemed as if they played to a half-full arena where the majority of punters probably hadn’t been to a rock show since the band’s breakthrough album, Escape, surfaced in 1981.

In somewhat of a cliché entrance, Perth Arena darkened and a massacre of stage lights frantically darted around the venue like prison spotlights until they landed on each member. Being their debut tour of Australia, Journey were out to make a lasting first impression, and delivering a flawless set for their Perth fans that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Classics such asAnyway You Want ItDon’t Stop Believing (despite being somewhat tainted by Glee), and Open Arms were just as epic live as they are on wax.

But Journey’s lack of interaction with Australian fans over the years became all too clear whenDeep Purple strolled out to a packed arena. Having last visited in 2010, fans obviously felt a sense of familiarity, and knew they were in for a mind-blowing performance. Camera flashes bounced off a huge curtain shielding the stage as a drum roll overpowered the band’s Star Wars-esque intro music. Before the white material had met the floor, Into The Fire was well into motion and a light show that surprisingly didn’t incite numerous seizures was engaged.

Standing in front of a ridiculous six guitar cabs, Steve Morse steered the ship most of the evening. But it was the combined talents of each member that really made Deep Purple remarkable. From vocalist Ian Gillan’s unique and powerfully diverse vocal range (at times you couldn’t tell where the screeching guitar solo ended and his voice started) to the tight and creative bass skills of Roger Glover, which didn’t reveal themselves until the set’s end.

The organ-like tone of the keyboard was most prevalent in the mix, and the band’s relatively new keyboardist, Don Airey, showed that keys definitely have their place within hard rock. When people think of Deep Purple, that thought often comes with the undeniably catchy Smoke On The Water. Closing their set with the masterpiece, no one thought an encore would do any justice, but with a twenty-minute version of Black Night, the night wrapped up with a series of solos that would have left a deafening ring in ears for weeks to follow.

Written by Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/reviews-live/2013/03/13/deep-purple-perth-arena-daniel-cribb/

Interview: William Elliot Whitmore

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 14.03.13 | Issue # 329

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NO FOLKING AROUND

During a grey and dreary Iowa winter, locked inside working on new material, William Elliot Whitmore comes out of hibernation to chat with Daniel Cribb about the differences between touring and living on a farm.

Somewhere buried away in the Iowa countryside, not too far from the mighty Mississippi River, lays a small farm. Once a fully functional endeavour, it now lends its services to house country/folk/blues musician William Elliot Whitmore, when he’s not occupying stages around the world with his unique kick drum and banjo combo.

“It’s kind of interesting, I mean, it’s these two different worlds,” Whitmore begins. “It’s sort of this balance between the quiet life on the farm with no one around, and then jumping off to cities like Perth and Adelaide and Sydney, and then Amsterdam, London, and Paris, and all these places.”

The house, in which he grew up, belonged to his parents, and while it’s not as alive as it used to be, Whitmore still keeps it somewhat active. “My folks are passed on, they’ve been gone since when I was a teenager, and so when it was time for me to start playing music full-time, I really couldn’t plant row crops anymore, and we used to have horses and I had to give all that up,” he says. “But now, I definitely grow a big garden, and I’ve got a few chickens and a few pets, but it’s not what you’d call a working farm anymore because music kind of took over. I don’t know, one day I could see myself maybe returning to it full-time.”

As well as taking on his parents’ passion for farming, Whitmore inherited a love for music. And there’s no denying his day-to-day life provides him with more than enough inspiration. “It’s my favourite stuff to write about, and I’ve always enjoyed those themes of planting in the spring, harvesting in the fall, life and death,” he says. “When it’s time to slaughter the chickens, you sort of get a real idea of what life and death is all about. There are all these metaphors to be had within the framework of the farm that I really enjoy tinkering with.”

Taking every opportunity to escape the seclusion of the farm and expand his point of view, he only got a taste of Australia when he toured last year. The weeklong tour supporting Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls left him yearning for more. A relatively new name to most Australian’s who saw him on that tour, he’s got eight albums behind him, and is coming back within a year of his live debut. “The opportunity came to tour there again and I jumped at it because I feel like I need more time to soak it up,” he says. “I’m hoping this is the second of many, many trips. There’s just really unfinished business down there – I need to see more, and do more and taste more. There’s unexplored territory that needs lookin’ to.”

Touring with the punk rock infused Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Whitmore covered Bad Religion’s Don’t Pray On Me. Growing up in such a secluded area, listening to predominately country and blues music, one might wonder how he found punk rock? “It’s pretty geographically isolated here, so in the pre-internet days it was hard to find new music, and so I would just sort of seek out these sounds, and kind of became aware of punk rock, hip hop, and hardcore, electronic noise music… Punk music definitely called out to me because it didn’t seem all that different to a lot of country music. It’s just sped up a little bit and you’re kind of using three chords to put forth a story, and so I really grew to like it a lot, and a band like Bad Religion, for instance, I mean, that’s heavy stuff – he’s writing about real issues and it’s pretty cerebral as far as punk music goes, and it made me think that there’s not really any limits on anything.”

William Elliot Whitmore will be playing the following dates:

Saturday 23 March – Mojo’s Bar, Fremantle WA
Sunday 24 March – Enigma Bar, Adelaide SA
Tuesday 26 March – Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Wednesday 27 March – Annandale Hotel, Sydney NSW

Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/william-elliot-whitmore/

Show Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 06.03.13

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 14.03.13 | Issue # 329

NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS

RED HILL AUDITORIUM

6 March, 2013

Serenading a sun setting behind the grassy banks of Red Hill Auditorium, the folk rock sounds of Washington’s Mark Lanegan provided the perfect icebreaker for those who had rushed home from work for the show’s early start, giving everyone time to unwind with a few drinks before the headliner took to the stage.

30 minutes inland, Red Hill Auditorium is just far enough away from the city that it escapes the light pollution excreted from the suburbs, leaving nothing but a visceral view of the stars and distance to temporary forget the stresses of daily life. As well as sounding attractive in a real estate catalogue, its unique amphitheater set up was the perfect venue to host one of Australia’s most influential rock bands.

Arriving to a standing ovation, Nick Cave, sharply dressed as always, anxiously paced up and down, until The Bad Seeds slid into the ambience of We No Who U R, closely followed byJubilee Street, both off this year’s Push The Sky Away record.

Between songs, Cave would temporarily vacate his microphone and do a quick lap around the stage, confirming the next song, as if he was the only one with the evening’s set list. When he did turn his attention on the audience, he generally lost his train of thought midsentence. But it didn’t matter what he was saying, because he said even the simplest of things with a commanding charisma that took control over the sold-out venue.

Holding a relatively tame composition for most of the set, it was during his early works, such as 1984’s From Her To Eternity, that Cave really unleashed, revealing his aggressive side is the most enchanting.

Lanegan resurfaced to join the band for a “once in a lifetime” duet on The Weeping Song, that had no doubt occurred every other night of the tour. Had there not been technical difficulties with Cave’s microphone cable during the last chorus, it would have been the most powerful moment of the night.

With an endless list of classics missing from the set, it was once again a newer tune, Push The Sky Away, which concluded the show. As the song’s final reverb-drenched lyric drifted into the ether, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds had proved their best days were still in their grasp, and their new record deserved all of its success.

Written by Daniel Cribb

http://themusic.com.au/reviews/reviews-live/2013/03/15/nick-cave-and-the-bad-seeds-red-hill-auditorium-daniel-cribb/