Introducing: Black Flag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pick up a copy of this week’s Drum Perth and check out the first instalment of my fortnightly punk and hardcore column, Black Flag.

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 20.06.13 | Issue # 343

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Published in Drum Media (WA) | 20.06

Read the full column here

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Interview: Majical Cloudz

Published in 

Drum Media (WA) | 20.06.13 | Issue # 343

Published in Time Off (QLD) | 19.06.13 | Issue # 1632

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A CHANCE OF RAIN

Only a few years ago, Devon Welsh was sitting in his parents’ basement writing songs on his computer. Daniel Cribb gets the rundown on the evolution into Majical Cloudz, an act that often incites tears in audiences worldwide.

The subject in question in the title of Majical Cloudz’s sophomore record, Impersonator, is singer-songwriter Devon Welsh. After graduating college with a degree in religious studies a few years ago, the Toronto resident found himself in somewhat of a rut. He spent countless hours in his parents’ basement writing song after song, most of which now sit forgotten on harddrives somewhere. There was no denying he was creative enough to brand himself a musician, but without fame or riches, he felt the title wouldn’t be justified. He didn’t quite know who he was or where he was headed, so he kept writing, as a way to articulate his angst.

It wasn’t long before the tunes took on a life of their own via Majical Cloudz’s debut record, II, and ripped him out of his creative dungeon.

“With that album, II, it was when this project was kind of more of a recording project and I didn’t play live and I was just sort of experimenting with different styles of songwriting and different ways of approaching music,” Welsh says, with a map of Australia in front of him as he tries to pinpoint Perth. Unfortunately he’s not sketching out an Australian tour – although says the pair hope to venture Down Under early 2014.

“After that I had some pretty specific ideas of what I wanted to do and that’s when I started working on the songs that turned into this recent album, Impersonator, and so I guess in a lot of ways this album is kind of a debut in the sense that it comes from a totally different process and a totally different understanding of what I wanted to do, and it was the beginning of Majical Cloudz as a full band, and as a live project where performance was important, whereas in the past it had just sort of been a hobby, recording project.”

To describe Welsh’s lyrics as brutally honest would be an understatement. When he was experimenting with different recording techniques and ways of writing music, he discovered the perfect platform to best articulate his emotions.

“I had recorded a lot of music with a guitar and that was sort of what I was primarily used to writing music on. I got kind of tired of that, and I wanted to make music where it would be possible for me to just sing and not have to play anything live,” he says.

“Using synthesizers in the format of using loops and taking that approach appealed to me because it allowed for things to be even more minimal then they would be if you were using a guitar, because using a guitar sort of sets a limit on the songwriting process…you can have as many chords as you want and changes whenever you want, but when you’re just working with something as minimal as a set of chord changes that loops over and over again you’re sort of left to work with the vocal melodies as the intriguing part of the song, instead of the chord changes.”

Things have become so emotional at recent gigs that he’s looked out into the crowd and seen tears in the eyes of fans. “It’s started to happen with more frequency as people get more familiar with the songs, and I think it’s cool…I realised early on that it’s not about us – that was the difficult thing to figure out for me when someone would be crying in the audience – normally when you see someone crying and they’re with you, it’s because you know them really well and you’re on intimate enough terms with them that that would even take place around you, but in that case, I usually don’t know that person at all, and then the thing to realise is that it’s not about me, it’s about their own personal experiences that the music is allowing them to tap into in some way.”

theMusic Sessions: Wil Wagner

Last week I caught up with Wil Wagner and got him to perform a couple of tunes for theMusic.com.au. Check them out below!

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WATCH: SMITH STREET BAND LEADER & GENERAL LEGEND WIL WAGNER PLAYS US SONGS!

14 June, 2013

Staff Writer

In what is one of our most spirited theMusic Sessions performances to date, The Smith Street Band frontman and solo artist in his own right, Wil Wagner, took to the streets on a rainy night in Perth to play us two fucking awesome songs.

From The Smith Street Band’s (or “the fuckin’ Smittys”) much acclaimed 2012 LP Sunshine & Technology comes I Can’t Feel My Face, one of the songs that has seen the group quickly rise to garner national acclaim in circles outside of the punk rock scene. Check it out here.

Then Wagner moved onto a track from Laika his excellent solo mini-album of earlier this year, dropping More Like Signals Midbest – a pretty great portrait of his band on the road, among other things – with a little bit of help from a new friend!

Wagner plays the below shows coming up, while The Smith Street Band play a bunch of dates with the excellent Cheap Girls and Joyce Manor, which you can see here.

http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2013/06/14/watch-smith-street-band-leader-general-legend-wil-wagner-plays-us-songs/

Show Review: Kate Miller-Heidke 05.06.13

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 13.06.13 | Issue # 342

KATE MILLER-HEIDKE, BRENDAN MACLEAN

ST JOSEPH’S CHURCH: 05/06/13

Few times a year Subiaco’s St Joseph’s Church is bursting at the seams – but even Christmas and Easter doesn’t see people fighting over the cold wooden seating, trying to get the best view of the alter. Brendan Maclean was filling in for tour support Franky Walnut – there’s no way Walnut could have censored his material enough to fit the environment – and unfortunately the acoustics of the room were his enemy. Banter from those settling in over-powered what would have otherwise been an engaging set.

Completely sold out – to the point where people lined the isles and walls of the building – Kate Miller-Heidke strolled out onto the dimly lit stage to a reception better than Jesus Christ himself, and began with a heavily vocal and piano intro. From the moment she opened her mouth and notes began bouncing off the walls and roof, it was clear why she’d chosen such a setting for her tour.

Once Miller-Heidke had a feel for the room, husband/guitarist Keir Nuttall joined her onstage with his acoustic for the appropriately title The Devil Wears A Suit.

For an operatic pop singer who has been known to drop the c-bomb and talk about the female reproductive system onstage, it was interesting to see how she would censor her humour without losing wit. Luckily she avoided any blasphemous material, telling G-rated stories, and remaining engaging between tracks. Certain songs were no doubt immediately ruled out when planning the tour (God’s Gift To Women), which made way for the Eurythmics’ Love Is A Stranger and Antony & The Johsons’ Hope There’s Someone.

The venue was so intimate that, at times, Miller-Heidke would step aside from the mic, bypass the PA, and still be heard perfectly.

Thrashing his acoustic guitar to the point where damage seemed inevitable, Nuttall was given time in the spotlight during Words. During Humiliation, the pair proved they can make-do without a backing band by using a delay pedal to add layer upon layer of guitar track, and smacking the guitar body to mimic drums. Miller-Heidke topped it all off by playing tambourine into the guitar and having it loop back.

Two new songs, Oh Vertigo and another untitled, made their WA debut between hits before time-restrictions saw things out with a crowd request of Psycho Killer and The Last Day On Earth.

Her music was written for the acoustics of churches and cathedrals, and maybe if religious institutes had as much to offer as the church of Kate Miller-Heidke, every mass would be a sell out.

Daniel Cribb

http://issuu.com/spa_magazines/docs/dp342/26?e=0/3357120

CD Review: Paramore

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 13.06.13 | Issue # 342

PARAMORE

Paramore

Fueled By Ramen/Warner

Unless you’re a prepubescent female, Paramore are usually a band you love to hate or hate to love. Fans not publicly willing to admit their admiration for the band no doubt abuse their car speakers when alone or have them as a guilty pleasure on their iPod. On the other side, diehard groupies make sure the entire world knows about it.

If you sit on the other side of the fence and have a distinct distaste for this band, this record will just throw fuel on the flame, but if you surrender to the cheesy lyrics and pop punk melodies, you’ll have Paramore on repeat for quite some time. At the very least, there’s no denying vocalist Hayley Williams has an incredible voice.

There’s a fine line between generic mainstream pop and well-written original pop rock, and in songs such as Still Into You, Now and Ain’t It Fun Paramore are definitely toeing that line. Still Into You is a pinnacle of catchy pop, but don’t even think about watching the music video. It looks like Katy Perry threw up on Hi-5, and the whole thing ruins the song. And while most of this record sits dangerously close to generic mainstream pop, there are still a few songs – mainly Anklebiters and Proof – that remind fans where their roots lie.

After three albums, it seems unorthodox to have number four be self-titled, but if a record was ever going to redefine Paramore, this is the one that will do it. It’s the angst-filled, heart-felt pop anthems that really bring this album home.

Daniel Cribb

http://issuu.com/spa_magazines/docs/dp342/40?e=0/3357120

Drum Media Perth: EPs/Singles

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 06.06.13 | Issue # 341

EP OF THE WEEK

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NAIK

Mutating Machines

Independent

Creeping out of hibernation, Naik returns with an EP nothing short of brilliant. With 10 tunes clocking in at nearly 35 minutes, the three years between his debut LP and now wasn’t time wasted.

Repetition is key with Naik, as he generally builds from a simple beat, slowly adding more layers as the song progresses, leaving the listener with an almost visceral sense of his creative direction. His collaboration with Will Stoker on Memory Lane is Mutating Machines’ highlight. The fact these songs didn’t make the cut for his upcoming full-length leaves one thinking his next release will be groundbreaking.

LIONIZER

Song For A Cat Named Max

Independent

It’s rare that a band nails true DIY without coming across as cheap or tacky. From the home-printed packaging to raw recording feel, Perth two-piece Lionizer have managed to capture something special with minimal tools at their despoil – and with only two of them to fill out the sonic realm, this single sounds huge.

What makes this tune interesting are the various influences that bleed through. There is a distinct punk rock vibe throughout the pop song structures, while the grunge-esque vocals of Vez Litten seem to originate from indie pop. Hopefully a follow-up will see the luxury of more studio time, as with a few more harmonies and developed guitar riffs, Lionizer will be unstoppable.

THE BENNIES

Better Off Dread 7”

Jackknife

The Bennies’ debut album was Party! Party! Party!, and with this follow-up 7”, the Melbourne four-piece make Cheech & Chong look like responsible users. With more variety throughout the record’s four songs, it sounds like Bob Marley, Sublime, and Rancid threw down in the studio to give birth to an original blend of ska, punk, and reggae. My Bike tackles punk rock, Mushroom Tea controls funky ska, Better Off Dread attacks reggae and Return To 9-5 has a crack at some beats. These four songs showcase every element of their music – it’s their showreel. You may not be into illicit substances, but one listen to these infectious tunes and your body will be on the verge of an overdose.

Interview: Way Of The Eagle

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 06.06.13 | Issue # 341

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WAY TO GO

Working on new Way Of The Eagle material, and suffering from a mild case of studio “cabin fever”, award-winning producer and songwriter Jan Skubiszewski tells Daniel Cribb his new project signals a fresh, and much-needed, new beginning.

For years Jan Skubiszewski has been sitting quietly in the background of the Australian music scene, helping shape some of the country’s biggest hits. If you haven’t read his name in the credits on John Butler Trio or Cat Empire’s liner notes, you may know him as one half of Jackson Jackson.

He definitely has a presence onstage, but for the most part he’s behind the scenes – writing songs, producing and setting the direction of albums with the likes of Ian Kenny (Karnivool, Birds Of Tokyo), Wendy Matthews, Bliss n Eso and more. Those credits alone prove no genre is out of reach. Skubiszewski has even composed and arranged music for advertising campaigns for the Australian Defense Force, Yellow Pages and Panasonic.

For the length of his career, he’s been soaking up bits and pieces of each project he produces, and writing riffs, vocal melodies and songs that didn’t really fit with anyone he was working with. So with a large amount of creative energy and no way to vent it, Way Of The Eagle was born.

“I love that I’ve had so many great experiences producing records, but I finished a project recently and I literally woke up the day after and I thought, ‘Right, today’s the first day that I can really just focus on this Way Of The Eagle thing’,” Skubiszewski tells from his studio in Melbourne, taking a break from mixing the remaining four songs of Way Of The Eagle’s Rattlesnake EP.

“I’m just really, really excited about the years to come. I feel like I’ve had such a great run over the past couple of years, but I feel like I’m a prolific person and I just know there’s so many great songs to come, and I think Way Of The Eagle is going to be something that I focus on for a long time.

“Being a songwriter, I spend so much time in the studio working on tracks, and it’s always been something that I’ve loved to do and so I guess it’s just that thing of, I love working on people’s records and helping them develop as artists. I guess this is just for my artist development, and it’s a great challenge, but so far I’m really enjoying the challenge.”

The world’s introduction to the new project was the EP’s title track, Rattlesnake, and its accompanying music video in late April. The song was born from a spontaneous collaboration with long-time pal Dan Sultan. “The whole Rattlesnake [song] is quite stylised, and I love that, but I think the one thing that ties through a lot of Way Of The Eagle’s music is this sense of the romantic and it’s almost like really pushing that sense of fantasy, and so a lot of the songs are to do with big romantic gestures, but not all stylistically like Rattlesnake.

“Dan and I created Rattlesnake when we were doing a writer’s workshop, and we wrote the song in literally three hours, just sitting in a room…we just spent the rest of the day lying in the sun drinking wine – it was lovely.

“Dan and I are really chuffed at how people have been receiving it, and the film clip seems to growing; more and more people seem to be watching it, and since the project is only a couple of weeks old, as far as the public knowledge of it, I’m really chuffed that people are starting to grab onto it so quickly.”

The song Rattlesnake was released with an animated short-film music video that follows protagonist “The Wanderer” (Dan Sultan) through the dangers of the Wild West. The style of video and its storyline encapsulate the vibe of the music perfectly  – something Skubiszewski tells is an important element to the project. A gun-singing cowboy is the perfect role for Sultan. Having worked on so many different projects, Skubiszewski knows exactly where to place each piece of the puzzle.

“That sense of fantasy and that kind of real immersement into a sense of romance or nostalgia or something like that – whatever that emotion might be, it’s about pushing it to the extreme. So I think the video clip was a great way of facilitating that for Rattlesnake – really grabbing hold to that whole world. But the other songs have got different contexts as well, and so it’ll just be interesting to see how people can join the dots between everything.”

Over the years, Skubiszewski has come in contact with a ridiculous amount of talent. Daniel Meriwether sings on Find Your Love while Tin Pan Orange’s Emily Lubitz lends her voice on Drowning Sea. He’d struggle to fit any more talent onto the four-track EP if he tried.

Not only is Way Of The Eagle a way to vent his creative energy, but a means of bringing together and showcasing some of his close friends. But an EP isn’t nearly enough to capture the vibe he is going for. A follow-up LP is already halfway completed.

At the end of the music video for Rattlesnake, it fades out with “To Be Continued”. Skubiszewski says he plans to continue the story the full-length.

“Basically my plan is to finish this EP, and then I’m going to get straight into production of the LP,” he tells. While keeping “tight lipped” on the LP’s full cast, he did say that Illy and Owl Eyes, both artists he has worked closely with, will be making appearances.

Most know for his producers hat, Skubiszewski has decided to temporarily step down from producing other artists to focus on his new endeavor. He hasn’t booked any more production gigs for the rest of 2013.

“In-between working on the album, finishing the EP, I’m putting a lot of emphases into rehearsing a band for the live show, and the live element, and that’s going to be a big focus for the rest of the year. I want to figure out the right way to launch it live. I mean, everything that I’m doing for this, I’m really focused on launching it the right way, and I want the live act to have the same vibe.”

WHO: Way Of The Eagle

WHAT: Rattlesnake (Sony Music)