INTERVIEW: American Hi-Fi

Published in The Music WA and on theMusic.com.au, Sept 2014

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Their last record almost destroyed them, but US rockers American Hi-Fi are back with a mission to save rock’n’roll. Frontman Stacy Jones takes a break from his work with Miley Cyrus to chat with Daniel Cribb about their return to form.

It was with the release of their debut self-titled record and its accompanying worldwide hit single Flavor Of The Weak that Boston-bred rockers American Hi-Fi almost made their Australian debut, but it never quite happened. “We were supposed to play Big Day Out like years and years and years ago. Maybe 2001 or 2002, but I can’t remember what happened,” affable frontman Stacy Jones recalls.

With five studio albums to date, it’s surprising the band’s never made it over. Jones, on the other hand, has ventured to Australia numerous times. Increasing delays between the band’s latter records can be explained in part by the frontman’s other job as drummer and artist director for Miley Cyrus. “My job is to produce the music anytime she plays live – figuring out if she’s going to run off stage and do a costume stage, what does the band do for the 30 seconds that she’s off stage? It’s quite different to putting a rock show together where we get together in a rehearsal space with a case of beer and play the set a couple of times and go to a gig. With Miley, when we put the Bangerz tour together, I think we rehearsed for like three months before we ever even played a show.”t was with the release of their debut self-titled record and its accompanying worldwide hit single Flavor Of The Weak that Boston-bred rockers American Hi-Fi almost made their Australian debut, but it never quite happened. “We were supposed to play Big Day Out like years and years and years ago. Maybe 2001 or 2002, but I can’t remember what happened,” affable frontman Stacy Jones recalls.

The band’s fourth record, 2010’s Fight The Frequency, was almost their final. “When we put out Fight The Frequency like four or five years ago, we thought we’d put it out ourselves, we’d get a distribution company to release it, we’d hire a marketing person and organise regular promotion. We gave all of these people the money and because we weren’t set up to keep an eye on them on a daily basis they didn’t do a god damn thing for us. It was really frustrating and disappointing. We were all just kind of like, ‘Fuck this’.”

They took a step back and focused on different projects until a few years later when Jones found himself scratching demos that sounded reminiscent of American Hi-Fi’s earlier work, which reignited the band’s passion for big guitar rock and led to album number five, Blood & Lemonade. “When we wrote that first record, we didn’t have a record deal, we didn’t have a manager, we didn’t have anybody. It was just us and that’s exactly how this record came together. We basically made this record thinking, ‘Hey, hopefully someone will want to put it out but if not, we’re kind of doing this for us’. We want to put one more thing out into the world – we feel like we’re not going down without a fight. And so, it was nice to be able to just go into the studio and at the end of the day, the only people we had to please were the other guys in the band.”

While this record has so far rolled out better than the last, it still could be their final. “Honestly, this is probably the last hurrah. If it doesn’t work, if no-one cares then we probably won’t make another record. I think we had a great time doing this one and I think the general consensus within the band is if people like this record and if there’s even a few places that respond to it, we’ll do another. If it just comes out and nobody gives a shit then we might hang it up and that would be fine. We’ve had a great run.”

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INTERVIEW: The Madden Brothers

Published in The Music WA and on theMusic.com.au, Sept 2014

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FAR FROM DONE

You wouldn’t expect a judge on a reality music TV show to be fighting against mainstream musical conventions, but Joel Madden tells Daniel Cribb he’s on a mission with the newly founded The Madden Brothers to revive the art.

“In modern music there is rarely uniqueness,” begins Joel Madden, one half of The Madden Brothers, down the line from LA. It’s an interesting comment coming from a judge on The Voice, with most finalists building a career and sound that revolves around a certain mould. “In a time when music is dying rapidly, disappearing, artists have a hard time making a living,” Madden tells. “It’s funny because it’s the only art that people don’t really respect… Record-making is kind of a lost art. A lot of our favourite bands still make great records but if you reference say the top 40 songs at any moment in the country, how many of those albums do you want to own?

“How can we make a record? That was the big question for us. We’ve made five albums with Good Charlotte that we’re proud of. We started at a young age and learned how to make records over 10 to 15 years, and with this album we wanted it to be better and to challenge ourselves.”n modern music there is rarely uniqueness,” begins Joel Madden, one half of The Madden Brothers, down the line from LA. It’s an interesting comment coming from a judge on The Voice, with most finalists building a career and sound that revolves around a certain mould. “In a time when music is dying rapidly, disappearing, artists have a hard time making a living,” Madden tells. “It’s funny because it’s the only art that people don’t really respect… Record-making is kind of a lost art. A lot of our favourite bands still make great records but if you reference say the top 40 songs at any moment in the country, how many of those albums do you want to own?

The singer-songwriter has been playing catch-ups since returning to California from a long stint in Australia, so press calls around the world resonate nicely with the title of The Madden Brothers’ (Madden and brother Benji) debut record, Greetings From California. “We’re not saying anything’s good or bad, we’re just saying we want to create something special and unique and different and take a chance and if it’s the death of us, great – so be it.

“It’s completely different, separate from Good Charlotte when we were 15, 16 in our bedroom. It isn’t really rocket science and it’s not like open heart surgery, we’re kind of just making music and we’re being honest about who we are. “

The brothers have come a long way, and while some Good Charlotte fans might not like the mainstream avenues they’ve ventured into, Madden explains why reality shows do more good than bad. “I think it’s good that, for an hour on TV, they’re playing music, people are singing, families are sitting around watching and discussing whether or not they like someone’s voice or if they like a certain song. Kids are learning songs they’ve never heard of or classic songs. That’s what it’s all about for me as a songwriter.”

They might have taken a step further away from Good Charlotte, but Madden enthuses the project is far from dead. “The Good Charlotte album is going to happen whenever it does. It’s got to be special and we have to have something to say. We’re going to go out and take this album to the world and see where it takes us. When the songs come, the songs come.

“We’re never going to break up. I don’t know when the next album will be but I couldn’t ever see us breaking up. We love each other too much.”

INTERVIEW: The Interrupters

Published in The Music (NSW, QLD, VIC, WA) and theMusic.com.au, Sept 2014

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They’ve won Grammys and written TV jingles through their respective solo projects, but now The Interrupters vocalist Aimee Allen and guitarist Kevin Bivona are back to their punk ska roots. Daniel Cribbdiscovers that it runs in the family.

LA-based 2-Tone ska/street punk outfit The Interrupters have only been kicking around for about three years, but the collective experience of the band’s members outdoes most seasoned acts by far. Vocalist Aimee Allen has collaborated with The Black Eyed Peas, Jimmy Cliff and more, co-wrote Unwritten Law’s Here’s To The Mourning, and her trackCooties features on the Hairspray soundtrack, while guitarist Kevin Bivona plays bass with Transplants (Travis Barker, Tim Armstrong), has won a Grammy for his engineering and performance of Jimmy Cliff’s Rebirth and more.

It’s the various projects the pair has worked on with Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong that caused the formation of The Interrupters. “About a year after I met Aimee, she was making a solo album and we were co-writing songs together,” Bivona begins. “I was working on a Transplants record with Tim Armstrong at the time, and Tim heard some of the stuff we were working on and he was like, ‘I want to write with Aimee too,’ so he came in and wrote some songs on her solo record and I bought in my twin brothers to play bass and drums on it and work on it and by the end of recording, there was just such camaraderie between the twins and Aimee and I.”

“And all those songs on that first record didn’t make it,” Allen chimes in. “The only song that made it was Easy On Youand I’m happy with that because it led me to The Interrupters, and that’s way more fun.” An outfit born out of spontaneous and succinct creativity also led to an organic writing and recording period for the group, and their debut album was in the bag the end of 2012. “It’s weird to put out a record when you’ve never played a show so we went out and started gigging as much as we could,” Bivona explains. “We toured with Rancid, we were lucky enough to do some one-offs with Social Distortion, The Toasters, Mustard Plug and Left Alone. We just had to go out and see how we did live before releasing the record.”

A self-titled debut puts more focus on the band’s name, which can be interpreted in numerous ways. With three members of the Bivona family in the band, it’s only natural that it’s to do with them. “I’ll take this one,” Allen laughs. “We were trying to come up with a band name. We had a hundred names written [down] but kept crossing them off. The twins and Kevin’s mum came over to visit… I hung out with her for a couple of days and couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I looked at Kevin and said, ‘God, your mum is such an interrupter.’ Kevin was like, ‘That’s the band name’. We told their mum and she thought it was funny. She’s since let me say a little more in conversation.”

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2014/09/09/the-interrupters-aimee-allen-kevin-bivona-daniel-cribb/