INTERVIEW: Alan Tudyk

Published in The Music (QLD) and on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2014

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VOICE OF REASON

A self-proclaimed “weirdo” who creates trouble for animators of multi-million dollar Disney films, US actor Alan Tudyk’s taken to subtly ripping on a “jaded” and “litigious” crowd as of late. Daniel Cribb investigates.

A visit to Australia for Supanova may have fans of cult hero/voice actor master/all-round nice guy Alan Tudyk in a flurry, but it’s actually his second trip down under this year. At the begging of 2014, he ventured to Victoria to film 2015’s Oddball, alongside a wealth of Aussie talent, including Shane Jacobson (Kenny). He’s usually embroiled in projects of a somewhat complex nature or storyline, but the concept of Oddball is simple and what attracted him to the project. “It’s about a dog and some penguins,” an affable Tudyk laughs. “It’s light and fun, and it was really just a good time. It isn’t some drama where we’re in pain or struggling or fighting off some alien invasion or anything too overbearing. “

Stepping away from his home and spending a prolonged period of time in Australia gave him an interesting perspective on the US. “Australia reminds me of America, but [Australians] are not quite as jaded, and not as litigious. There’s a little bit more personal responsibility down there, which allows for more fun. I could give you an example – it seems weird,” he chuckles again.

“I went white water rafting up in Cairns, and our guide was talking about this plant, and if you touch it, the spines of the plant will embed in your skin, and then forever when you touch it – almost like a fibreglass splinter – it hurts and is like one of the worst pains…we pulled the boat over and went on a little hike and he went, ‘Ah, over here, here’s that plant I was telling you about’, and I was like, ‘That’s the plant? That’s the thing that makes you kill yourself if you touch it too much?!’, and he’s like, ‘Yeah’. And I was like, ‘Why don’t you cut it down?!’, and he was like, ‘Well, are you going to touch it?’, ‘No!’. And he goes, ‘Well, there’s no reason to cut it down, c’mon’.

“In America, not only would we cut it down, ‘You know what, let’s put a plexiglass thing over it. You know what, let’s just cut it down. Nobody gets out of the boat. Why are we even in a boat? Nobody get on the river’. Everything would be removed like, ‘This is all just a little too dangerous; I see lawsuits everywhere, let’s just stop, stop, stop, stop, stop’. I like that about Australia; there’s a little bit more adventure in daily life, even with all the snakes and spiders and things.”

It’s the difference in cultures that Adult Swim parody news show Newsreaders feeds from, and season two – which is currently rolling out – sees Tudyk take the lead as news anchor Reagan Biscayne. “It’s a good place for comedy because,” he pauses to prep his deep news anchor voice, “newscasters are typically very serious people and they’re an authority figure, and if an authority figure comes on and says, ‘Tonight, we discuss how my gerbil was able to fly for a very short period of time, and then he experienced rapid weight lose’. It’s ridiculous, and it’s funny.

“I feel like we’re losing – at least here – that authority news figure. Our news anchors want to be your friend; they’re funny and they tweet and giggle. There isn’t that kind of serious news so much anymore, and the lines are blurred. It’s all kind of entertainment…I think the people who really need the news are the ones that are missing out.”

As evident with a series of different roles in multiple genres, Tudyk makes whatever he’s working on his own. He made a name for himself with Joss Whedon’s (Buffy, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) cult hit Firefly and its accompanying film, Serenity, which wrapped up in 2005, but was quick to break free from being type-cast to work across numerous genres. On top of frequently voicing games such as Halo, he’s also a regular on blockbuster animated films like Frozen, Ice Age and new kids hit Big Hero 6.

“I’ve always played with my voice; doing different voices growing up, mimicking people who I thought had funny voices…just to be able to match a voice to a drawing, that’s a lot of fun, and in the world of animation, you can do anything. You’re in your head; you’re not seeing animation in front of you.

“A good example would be in Frozen, they told me, ‘Oh, and you’ve got these big guards with you’. I was like, ‘What?! I have two guys with me at all times?’, and they were like, ‘Yeah, they’re these big guys and they never say a word’. And so from then on out, I always brought them into the story.

“And also, any noises you make – ‘eewweeeww’ – they’ll animate something happening to the character that would validate him making that noise and that is a really fun collaboration to do. You just made a noise because you’re a weirdo like me, and then you’ll see they took it and made something. That’s a lot of fun.”

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INTERVIEW: New Found Glory

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2014

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 WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU

Most artists find expressing their emotions through their work cathartic, but in the case of New Found Glory’s latest record, drummer Cyrus Bolooki tells Daniel Cribb it brought them back from the brink of destruction.

“We’re currently finishing up our run headlining the fifth annual Glamour Kills Tour here in the US,” New Found Glory drummer Cyrus Bolooki begins from the depths of Seattle, surrounded by party pals We Are The In Crowd, Fireworks and more. Despite being in good company and touring their new record, Resurrection, around the US to a solid response, the writing and recording process for the band’s eighth record wasn’t an easy one to get to.

It’s been a tough 12 months for the pop-punk icons, and a year that almost saw the demise of the band. When former guitarist Steve Klein was charged with lewd conduct with a minor, their world was thrown into chaos. “Given the circumstances, I think a lot of bands wouldn’t have continued their career after going through changes, yet for us we used it as a springboard to push us to continue and make sure that no one or no thing would stop us from doing what we love,” Bolooki comments on the situation.

Pushing through the heartache of the publicly aired case, the band landed on their feet, and became closer because of it. It’s not surprising the new record feels more mature and perhaps well rounded than previous offerings. “This time around we were able to channel some of the feelings and emotions we had been going through for the past year and put those things into lyrics and themes for the songs on this album…rather than focusing on only relationships, you have lyrics that deal with how to overcome struggles, or how to look inside yourself and question and really figure out if you are truly doing what you want to do with your life. By putting a lot of these themes in our new songs, it helped us to deal with and move past our own struggles.”

A restructure in line-up also rendered for a different writing and recording process. Where in the past the band had entered the studio and hashed things out as they were going, they spent more time collaborating before entering the studio. By the time they went into track, the album was completely written. “[It] allowed us to focus on the recording process more, making sure that what we recorded really captured the sounds and overall feeling that we had while writing the material. It also allowed for us to be able to live with a lot of the songs for a longer period of time before we entered the sessions.”

Overcoming a trying year, and bringing the new material to Australia for Soundwave, it’s clear New Found Glory aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. “I think we’re all closer and tighter as a band, not only musically on stage, but also personally as well. Sometimes unfortunately I think it can take a bad experience to really put things in perspective, but after overcoming what we have had to endure throughout the past year, we know now that we can push through and survive almost anything, and there’s a big sense of confidence and tranquility that comes along with that. We’re here for the long haul, and we’re going to keep pushing on for years to come.”

INTERVIEW: Perth Theatre Company

Published in The Music (WA) and on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2014

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Perth Theatre Company’s 2015 program is like nothing they’ve produced before. Artistic director Melissa Cantwell discusses the Hollywood highlights and immersive elements on offer with Daniel Cribb.

Where you might watch, read or listen to the news and briefly take in facts before moving onto the next breaking story, Perth Theatre Company artistic director Melissa Cantwell and her partners in crime see a completely different side of things. New work From The Rubble, which kicks off their 2015 program in March, captures a different side to the fast-paced news bites by telling stories of civilians living in conflict zones and others based on award winning WA journalist Sophie McNeill with the assistance of acclaimed visual artist Fleur Elise Noble. “How exciting to be able to talk about it,” Cantwell begins, having just broken free from rehearsals of The Rubble. “We’re playing with elements of reality and I guess I became fascinated with how you deal with watching the news, and how you deal with the amount of global grief. So we’ve discovered some stories that have an element of hope or beauty or transformation in them. It’s a very theatrical telling, in the sense that we’re creating an environment that’s very projective and immersive.”

At the helm of one of Australia’s leading theatre companies, Cantwell has not only found time to coordinate the 2015 program, but also produce her own piece for the event, which also aims to draw its audience in. She’s written and directed The Song Was Wrong, one of five ground breaking pieces on next year’s program, and it is set to unfold in June, using numerous elements, focusing on its score, to tell the tale of an epic love story and the trails and tribulations, love and redemption involved. “It has a really beautiful, strong story behind it, so there is the ability to create something very memorable for people; a way of looking at a story that they might not have experienced before.”

One-on-one experience yourseven comes as close to that as possible, by taking participants through a large outdoor installation, offering up various personalised encounters created from their past, and The Confidence Man allows six audience members to take to the stage in an intimate 80-seat venue. And if you aren’t sold yet, Hollywood star Jai Courtney, whose recently starred in Divergence, and the Die Hard and Terminator reboots, returns to Perth to close the season playing Lennie Small in John Steinbeck’s timeless hit Of Mice And Men, with live music from Stoney Joe. “Reading it again as an adult, you start to understand how many stories have sprung from that world that Steinbeck created – that world of friendship and loyalty, and how often that runs through other narratives we see in today’s world. It’s enduring, and to look at it now and revisit it as an adult understanding all those questions of wanting to find your place in the world and caring so deeply for people and being part of a social system; it’s an interesting thing to revisit.”

INTERVIEW: Gerard Way

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

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The solo debut album from ex-My Chemical Romance vocalist Gerard Way is crafted in a somewhat deceptive way. Daniel Cribb tries to untangle the puzzle.

With judgemental eyes fixated upon Gerard Way’s every musical decision since My Chemical Romance disbanded in 2013, his first solo record, Hesitant Alien, tells quite a story. It begins with singles Action Cat and No Shows, which sound like they could have been plucked from the past, easing fans and sceptics in with familiarity before slowly tip-toeing into unrecognisable and experimental realms as things begin to wind down with Maya The Psychic and Get The Gang Together, and when the experimental lo-fi sounds come flooding in, listeners have already let their guard down.
“The most important thing to me was to get a really great start and a really great bridge from what I used to do and what I’m going to be doing,” Way begins. “I think where I’ll end up as a solo artist is going to probably be drastically different to what we’re hearing now. I’m already writing new stuff and the new stuff’s pretty different…it feels a little less fuzz rock and feels like a little more garage. There are some elements that feel a little like The Cramps, but you know it feels like it’s darker, but not dark music. It definitely feels different to the fuzz rock from this album.”
Bleeding creativity, a new musical endeavour was always going to surface quickly. Even in the brief period between bands – not that there wasn’t a moment Way wasn’t penning music – he was still working on other projects. Including writing an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! in 2013 called The AntiBats!, which resulted in a Daytime Emmy Award nomination and further collaborations.
“The episode I wrote features two of the people in [my backing] band – Ian [Fowlers, guitar] is one of the stars of The Aquabats so he was obviously in that episode, and Matt Gorney [bass] played one of the bad guys, so it’s funny the two of them ended up being onscreen at the same time.”
A new line-up was also accompanied by a more liberating and loose take on songwriting, an element that’s firmly stamped on Hesitant Alien. “I’m not overthinking the process; I’m just getting it down. I think towards the end of My Chemical Romance there were some pretty conventional song structures there. Like one of the things we made work really well was the big, sweeping, super epic chorus and I don’t feel like I was going for that this time. I feel like I was trying to find a new way to get you into a chorus, to get you out of a chorus and almost make the whole song feel like a chorus.”
The choice for Way to embark on a new path under his own name was a means to ensure he didn’t make the same wrong turns he did with MCR. “I kind of felt like by starting another band I’d be trying to create another scenario or I feel like I’d be just trying to fix any mistakes I may have made in the past. It was important for me to move forward into something new. I couldn’t just move forward by starting another band.
“When you’re in a project as big as My Chemical Romance, there are always things you maybe wished you could do a little differently, but I can’t fix any of that…I’ve never been a fan of the glamour side of things. I feel like I was pretty vocal about that.”
With a new outlook on music, it seems Way has just begun to scratch the surface of his creativity. Unfortunately for fans of his past efforts, it’s unlikely we’ll see a reunion. “It was hard and it was emotionally difficult. But at the end of the day, coming out of it, it was fine. I accept a lot of it and I’m really proud of it so it’s something I can move on from. There’s no anger there, there’s no resentment. Me and the guys all still talk…[a reunion] is not something I could see down the line. I mean, if you ask me today, I definitely don’t think that’s something I would do again.”

INTERVIEW: The Swellers

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

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 All your band needs to do to get attention is break up. With The Swellers going out on a high, frontman Nick Diener runs Daniel Cribb through the band’s final days and what’s planned next.

The last time Michigan punk rockers The Swellers ventured to Australia was in 2012, supporting the release of their first independent EP, Running Out Of Places To Go, after numerous releases on various labels. Just two years later, they’ve announced they’ll be calling it splits after a handful of farewell shows. An odd revelation to some punters, considering their solid live show and the fact they produced a solid record in 2013’s The Light Under Closed Doors, but a closer look at their ‘12 Aussie tour confirms being in a touring band isn’t always glamorous. “It mostly driving once we got there, there were no flights between shows,” frontman Nick Diener begins on their Oz headline effort. “We landed in Sydney and then we had to drive 15 hours to Adelaide after being on a plane for 36 hours in a really small vehicle. The shows were fun, but we were just more used to being babied, I guess. We were pampered by Soundwave-type tours,” he laughs.
With four Soundwave dates and a few in the US, with hopes to make it back to the UK and Europe, June 2015 seems to be the current end date for the band. “Which will be in time for our 13-year anniversary, so we should probably be done before then,” he jokes, before diving into the reasons behind the seemingly sudden split.
“I think it was pretty much trying to get everybody on the same page as far as some tours and some opportunities we had coming up, and we were like, ‘Yeah, that’ll be a good tour, but it won’t be great. It’ll be kind of worth it, but it won’t really’, and then we were like, ‘Let’s only do stuff if it’s going to be awesome; if we’re really going to love it’. And then we realised the opportunity to do that stuff wasn’t going to be there unless we did it totally on our own terms, and we didn’t want to be one of those bands that just dragged it out and dragged it out and slowly died. So we’d just got off an England tour and it was awesome, and it went really, really well, so we thought we’d just announce soon that we’re going to be doing some final shows. And it was kind of weird, because all of a sudden we had given a timeline for the end of the band; it was almost relieving. We’ve done a lot of great stuff, and this means that our final shows are all going to be really fun; they’re all going to have a vibe to them. The fans are going to know it’s the last time, we’ll know it’s the last time we’re playing there, so it’ll be pretty intense, but at least we’re going out the way we wanted to go.”
It’s fitting the final track on The Light Under Closed Doors is titled Call It A Night, and although The Swellers is being laid to rest, it sounds like whatever Diener decides to embark on next won’t stray too far from that sound. “That is kind of like my sound. That’s what I enjoy the most, and some of my favourite bands are Weezer and The Get Up Kids, so depending on who I’m writing with, and which direction we take, there’ll definitely be that influence… I can’t really shake that, that’s part of my songwriting.”

Show Review: Katy Perry 08.11.14

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2014

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The first thing you need to know about a Katy Perry show is it is likely you will never experience another production as grand and enthralling ever again.

As the masses filed in dressed like they were attending a KP-themed Halloween party and opener Betty Who, aka Jessica Newham kicked off proceedings, the prism-shaped stage making its way into the audience and the accompanying triangular backing screens didn’t look like anything too special, but things would escalate quickly. With synth-infused pop and big vocals, a 6’4” Newham bounced around to tracks off her debut record, Take Me When You Go, which had dropped the previous day. Although born and raised and Australia, it was only her second show in the country, after spending several years honing her craft at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Set highlight came in the form of Somebody Loves You, which became a hit when it accompanied a viral YouTube video of a gentleman proposing to his partner with grand choreographed danced moves. The production of Newham’s set wasn’t anywhere near as elaborate, but her uplifting, upbeat vibes produce new age stadium pop at its finest.

In support of Perry’s latest record, The Prismatic World Tour was split into seven sections, and it was a Prismatic-themed introduction that kicked off her second ever show in Perth. Futuristic fluoro warriors with space tridents stormed the stage to booming drums and began to dance, while three large triangles lying flat on the floor slowly rose to form a 3D prism centre stage. Contagious excitement began to Roar throughout the arena when the triangle separated to reveal Katy Perry inside. Skipping ropes filled with colourful LED lights appeared at the song’s end, and Perry and her backing dancers began working out in sync. Every area of the stage was set up in way that it could rise or act as an escalator, and when Perry was left alone at the end of Part Of Me, it became evident that her backing band was yet to surface, yet still audible.

“If you don’t like germs, tonight is not your night because we are going to be sweating on each other,” she said, pitting the ‘patient’ audience against the previous night’s, and it was at This Momentthat her band surfaced. Screaming Love Me until the lights faded, she disappeared backstage for the second act, returning upon aDark Horse in ancient Egyptian attire with guest vocalist Juicy J appearing as an animated floating head on the mammoth backing screen for his lines. E.T. saw backing dancers transform into acrobats, and suspend above the stage within a prism, spinning and weaving between one another, before Perry herself was harnessed to the floating object and lifted to dangerous heights to bellow the final chorus.

You might be surprised to learn that more phones were recording for Kissed A Girl than Perry’s extravagant airborne venture, but mummified female dancers clumsily running amok on the stage were a fine addition to the song’s theme. Shredding solos and bursts of fire consumed interest while Perry prepared for the next phase.

High rolling cats doing yoga, buying designer products and sipping cocktails poolside pulled focus on the screens, while shadows shuffled around the stage moving oversized cat playgrounds and more into place. Dressed from head-to-toe in a cat suit, a solo dancer returned, tap-dancing to Kitty Purry’s re-entrance on a giant ball of thread. While the gag only lasted for slower, bluesy-themed renditions of International Smile and Hot N Cold, it showcased purfectly (sorry) her brand of quirky pop.

Another change of pace saw the stage transform into a garden with a novelty-sized daisy, with Perry – dressed like a sparkling white Red Riding Hood – leading an acoustic trilogy of hits. “Are most of you seeing me for the first time? That is so intimidating,” she said, tucking her head away from view. “I’ve changed since the movie. I don’t have blue hair anymore.”

The intimate crowd-banter continued. “There’s a guy who is dressed like me in my Roar video,” she said with a disgruntled, spine-tingling shiver. She grabbed his phone and took a selfie with him, before kicking off By The Grace Of God. She went through the contents of her garden at home, before being interrupted. “I do not grow that, whoever yelled that. Is that even legal? I definitely don’t grow that,” she laughed.

A fan left loving her Unconditionally when invited onstage to claim a pizza and selfie, and it was time to kick things back into gear with a throw back set led with an ‘80s disco-style dance party, thrusting punters into temporary stardom with a Dance Cam, but it wasn’t long before Perry snatched the spotlight back, once again strapping into a harness for some Walking On Air. Floats made their way out into the audience like the annual US Macy’s Day Parade, only it was a giant taco, poop, handbag and more that did the rounds to a mash of This Is How We Do and TGIF, while Perry cruised around the stage in an inflatable car.

Hyper Neon kicked in to close the set to the sounds of Teenage Dream, California Gurls and Birthday, the latter of the three seeing another punter invited on stage to sit upon a massive cake while Perry floated around the arena on a harness surrounded by balloons while confetti fell from the roof. But there was no way the night was over without one of the biggest hits showing its face.

“It’s time for Prism Vision,” a voice echoed through the blackened arena, over and over again, instructing punters to put on paper glasses handed out upon entry. The pink paper cut-outs intensified the chaotic lightshow and helped build the set finale to an epic high as fireworks shot from the rafters (fittingly for Firework), solidifying The Prismatic World Tour as one of the best productions of its kind. Perry may have missed WA on all of her other Australian tours, but anyone in attendance would attest that her Perth debut was worth the wait.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2014/11/12/katy-perry-perth-arena-daniel-cribb/

INTERVIEW: Fowler’s Live Music Awards

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2014

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Smashing detrimental stereotypes surrounding Adelaide music, Fowler’s Live Music Awards producer Peter Darwin tells Daniel Cribb he’s likely to offend some people at this year’s ceremony.

Tour managing big names such as Keith Urban, and doing site management around the country with acts like The Rolling Stones and One Direction, as well as holding the title of owner/operator of Adelaide live music venue Fowler’s Live, you’d struggle to find someone with a better grasp of the Australian music scene than Peter Darwin.

With the SA Music Awards falling through the cracks almost a decade ago, it makes sense than Darwin began his own annual awards to fill the void, and now into its third year, the Fowler’s Live Music Awards is establishing itself as a reputable annual event. “What I was trying to do was to create some general recognition, but very much looking at newer and up and coming stuff,” Darwin comments on the structure of the 14 peer and five publicly voted category of this year’s awards. “If you are looking at the same acts over and over, you’re probably not progressing the situation much at all.”

By pulling focus on new talent – such as this year’s nominees Tkay Maidza, Collarbones, Timberwolf, Allday and more – the awards go further than providing recognition, and in some ways are fighting negative preconceptions about their scene. “There’s that generalisation that [Adelaide’s] not really keeping pace with the eastern state, or people don’t go out, or it’s a small tour and nobody wants to pay for anything or buy tickets. People keep harping back to the ‘70s or ‘80s with bands like Cold Chisel, rather than looking forward and looking for people actually doing stuff. I think on occasion people don’t look deep enough, and they only equate success with maybe a top 10-type hit.”

The somewhat isolate nature of the state – much like WA – means bands need to be dedicated to break out of the safety net of their hometown, which sees higher quality sift into the mainstream, and you don’t have to look far to see SA talent leaving its mark on not only the rest of the country, but the world. “I think over the past four or five years that maybe Adelaide people have stopped looking inwardly and wingding quite as much as they did for a while there, and thought, ‘Well, we actually need to just get out there and just do it’. There’s been some recognition for those kinds of bands too.”

Things seem to be on the up and up for the scene, but there are still areas, according to Darwin, that need improvement. “It’s a little disheartening that the organisational parties haven’t seemed fit to try and pick [Fowler’s Live Music Awards] up and run with it, which would put us in a much better situation, and give it a bit more credence.”

Regardless, this year’s awards night is looking like a big one, with performances from local legends Bad//Dreems, National Campus Band Competition Winners Slick Arnold, and a set from DJ Play / Pause / Play at the end. Public voting is also up 25% on last year’s. “It ends up being a good night of having a reasonable cross section of the music industry hopefully having a good time and getting some recognition for that they do…generally the highlight is to see how many people I can offend, because I tend to upset a few people when I’m presenting stuff.

“I generally upset government or council by telling them they screwed up their latest decision, and generally wind people up by telling them to stop wingding and get out and do their job, rather than winding or crying for more money all the time,” he laughs.

Fowler’s Live Music Awards goes down Thursday 13 November at Fowler’s Live, and you can check out the fill list of nominees here.

http://themusic.com.au/fowlers-live-music-awards-peter-darwin-daniel-cribb