INTERVIEW: Fowler’s Live Music Awards

Published on, Nov 2014


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.