INTERVIEW: Kate Miller-Heidke

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

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CURTAIN CALL

Performing in a New York theatre with protesters being arrested mid-show as well as smoke-filled European venues, Kate Miller-Heidke’s had an interesting six months. Daniel Cribb gets all the details.

“I haven’t really been home in about six months or something, so I’m kind of dazzled by the Melbourne sunlight,” a jet-lagged yet spritely Kate Miller-Heidke begins. She’s travelled the world since her last Australian tour in support of latest album, O Vertigo!, early in 2014, and seen more than most would in several years. Miller-Heidke’s first destination in her mission to dominate the globe was New York City, where she performed in the Metropolitan Opera’s The Death Of Klinghoffer. An international operatic theatre experience isn’t anything new for the Brisbane singer, but the controversy surrounding it was.
“[On] opening night, there was a little bit of fear, because there was NYPD swarming around and the whole building was cordoned off because of the protesters outside and people were coming in to disrupt the show. We had people come into the theatre with smoke bombs and people getting arrested during performances. It was very electric.
“It’s not a life that I’d choose for myself full-time, but getting to dip one toe in it every now and then – especially if it’s a challenging and interesting project – is something I feel very lucky about. There’s something about a show coming together and how impermanent it is, you know. You put all this work in and then a few weeks later it’s gone forever, and there’s something I really love about that.” From there, it was across the ocean for a “crazy” European tour. “We had big drives every day, and played seven different countries in eight nights to start off with. People still smoke in venues there, which was kind of a shock. It was amazing that night in Vienna thinking, ‘Fuck, ten years ago in Australia venues would have been like this.’ It was pretty gross.”
With O Vertigo! getting a European release early in the New Year, it won’t be long before Miller-Heidke’s living abroad again, but not before returning Woodford Folk Festival. “It’s one of my favourites. I started off going as a punter when I was a teenager and they were the first people to ever give me a proper gig, and it was hugely influential for me growing up, listening to all those folk bands and all kinds of musicians that they have there, it represents utopia for me.”
All the worldly experiences garnered while away from home are set to make Miller-Heidke’s fifth album a step up. “I think the next record is going to be a bit more experimental. I think living in New York, in that time I sort of started to get into this new Brooklyn scene that’s happening with classical musicians doing really cool, weird pop-influenced stuff. It’s kind of just a general new direction for classical music, and it’s something that’s exciting me quite a bit.”

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Show Review: Gyroscope 20.12.14

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

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Pic by Elliot Cahill

GYROSCOPE, THE LOVE JUNKIES, GRAPHIC CHARACTERS

Rosemount Hotel

20 Dec

With smooth rock vocals from guitarist Chris Winterburn, drummer Jarryd Price hell-bent on annihilating his kit and tight, gritty bass from Mark Wallington, it was clear a run of shows in some of the country’s best rooms had kicked up the intensity of Graphic Characters’ live show, setting an exciting new pace for the band.
Good things indeed come in threes, and when local rockers The Love Junkies set up shop with a pedal overload, tampering with tones until everything locked in perfectly, it was time for grunge rock mayhem. They made enough noise to fill the room three times over, and the playful and eclectic nature of their tracks left no dull moments. Guitarist Mitch McDonald and bassist Robbie Rumble threw a wealth of vocal variations around punk, grunge, and rock riffs with creative, blistering beats from Lewis Walsh. The Love Junkies pertain a credible originality that few can match.
Gyroscope playing their classic debut, Sound Shattering Sound, ten years after its release in full was, for some, the most anticipated show of the year. Fists thrust into the air in synchronisation for opener Confidence In Confidentiality with suffocating bass from Brad Campbell and a booming kick drum from drummer Rob Nassif that was borderline dangerous. Frontman Daniel Sanders wasted no time getting up close and personal with the audience, climbing into a sea of clapping hands for Safe Forever. Playing the classic album in full saw tracks surface that usually wouldn’t make the set, and Hollow Like Cheyenne and Get Down were pleasant additions.
“We’re going to slow it down a little bit; we’re getting old,” Campbell joked. Equipped with an acoustic guitar, Sanders led Misery. Punters knew exactly what was coming, but each track was met with unrivalled excitement.
Making its live debut on the tour, My Hands Are Tied smashed it, making its exclusion from the set over the past ten years criminal. From Zoran Trivic’s guitar work and Nassif’s insane drumming to the crowd screaming along, Driving For The Storm encapsulated the vibe of the album perfectly and slid nicely into album closer You Try Waiting This Long – a slower number that allowed for reflection before hits from the band’s other three records were delivered, closing a solid set with Snakeskin. Expectations were shattered and the ringing in ears reflected screeching guitars from a night that will live on, much like the legacy of the band’s game-changing debut.

Show Review: Thriller Live 16.12.14

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

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CROWN PERTH, 16 Dec

It’s easy to approach a tribute show to one of the most influential artists of all time with hesitation and a sceptical outlook, but most of the time those feelings will no doubt also be counteracted by a sense of excitement.

An international cast led by Aussie stars Mig Ayesa and Prinnie Stevens, the Australian debut of Thriller Live was an immersive rollercoaster of hits, largely in chronological order, joined by stories to tie each era together. Moving from Jackson 5 to Michael Jackson’s solo career and tackling Motown, soul, pop, disco and more, subtle costume and set changes were used to great affect, working with a somewhat restrictive stage size.

The crowd erupting with praise every time a cast member employed the iconic moonwalk, and a solo performance of She’s Out Of My Life by Ayesa followed by the UK’s Alex Buchanan absolutely nailing Smooth Criminal perfectly captured the highs and lows of the evening, with Beat ItThriller and Black Or White closing an epic show.

It was ultimately the flawless choreographed dance moves and pop perfection vocals of the cast mixed with spats of fireworks that made for a tasteful, fun and exciting show; an appropriate and comprehensive celebration of over four decades of hits.

http://themusic.com.au/arts/reviews/2014/12/18/thriller-live-daniel-cribb/

INTERVIEW: Angels & Airwaves

Published on theMusic.com.au, Dec 2014

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DARE TO DREAM

Moving into new realms of creativity with the release of a comic book, novel, animated short and full-length feature film, Angels & Airwaves’ frontman Tom Delonge tells Daniel Cribb the smorgasbord of multimedia resonates back to one “stoned” night in Paris 15 years ago.

With furry companion Henry by his side and a sofa to sink into, a relaxed Tom Delonge is still riding a wave of excitement from scoring Best Animation at the Toronto International Short Film Festival for Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker. “Hey, we win shit because we’re awesome, period,” the Blink-182 guitarist-turn-visionary laughs. The short film is just part of AVA’s latest independently-funded ambitious endeavor, which includes album, The Dream Walker, which plays soundtrack to the short film, and a comic book. All of which will be followed up next year by a novel and features film surrounding protagonist Poet Anderson, who has been in the public eye since the band’s inception in 2005. But Anderson has been around longer than that. “I came up with the idea when I was super stoned in a hotel in Paris about 15 years ago, dreaming up the idea that there needed to be a new Peter Pan, but cool. I never really knew what the story was, and I played around with different concepts but many years later, I got into journals and documentaries about dreams and nightmares comparing them to the real world, the way that decisions you make during the day, you’ve kind of journeyed through them the night before.

That really resonated with me, and the idea of this character, that was how it came about. I like to play with juxtaposition, and it all became a fantastic kind of arc quite quickly… I got a screenplay writer to check both of these things out and tell me which direction it should be. One was very normal, you know, coming of age, and then the second one was very futuristic with spaceships and wars and light and dark. We merged them both together and that’s where we kind of ended up long after the start.”

 

 

Although the band released another award-winning film in 2011, sci-fi art piece feature film Love, they recruited writers to take control of that and work with their initial concept. The Poet stories were written by Delonge, who’s increasingly stepping outside his mainstay of writing music, last year penning children’s Christmas book The Lonely Astronaut. “Music’s hard, because when you write lyrics, you’re very limited, you have a line with a certain amount of words or something. When you write a screenplay or a short story, you can really expand what you’re trying to say, and it’s so free,” Delonge explains.

 

The Dream Walker still delivers the big choruses that AVA made a name for themselves with, as evident in the album’s first single, Paralyzed, but also sees them branch into new territory, experimenting more with electronic elements in Kiss With A Spell and even introducing an acoustic track to close the album, Anomaly, with Delonge also expanding his lyrical focus. “I probably needed to ground the band, bring it back to earth, and be more raw – there’s other bands that are very kind of atmospheric, big, ultra-serious kind of space rock-y type stuff now when I look; so to me it’s kind of rebelling against other people kind of picking up and entering what we were, I guess.

“I wanted [lyrical] ambiguity. I didn’t want to stick anything right under your nose. Lyrically I love the idea of painting, like Jackson Pollock, capturing an event in real time… I didn’t want to be right under the nose, and you can’t stuff it into a box, you’ve got to let the art go where it wants to go, too.”

It’s easy to hear Delonge’s influences when it comes to Blink-182, but the lines become blurred when analysing AVA – a task made even harder on The Dream Walker, but with good explanation. The band’s fifth record is the first time Delonge has written a majority of the material in collaboration with someone else, drummer Ilan Rubin. I don’t listen to a lot of new stuff; I’m always listening to a lot of older stuff with an interesting background. Ilan listens to a lot of rock, Queen and The Beatles. I grew up with punk rock, which is a much simpler form; it comes from a tribe of people representing an idea and rebelling. But bridging the gap between those two worlds is something that took a little bit of time.

 

“I think we found a mutual respect. I’ve never been a Zeppelin fan until I met Ilan. I learned to like it and learned why he likes it so much, and I think likewise he’s learning why the punk rock scene mattered… What I learned was being around a fantastic musician like Ilan – he’s better than anybody I know – is so inspiring.”

Angels & Airwaves’ new record, The Dream Walker, and its accompanying animated short film, Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, drop 9 Dec via To The Stars.

Game Review: Far Cry 4

Published on theMusic.com.au, Dec 2014

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You’ve likely spotted the promo for Far Cry 4 splattered around town, maybe passing you on a bus with a smug, sinister looking gentlemen staring you down.

You don’t know him, but he knows you. He’s a friendly kind of terrifying – a psychopath that strikes terror into almost everyone. His name is Pagan Min, and, unsurprisingly, he kidnaps you, which fits the concept surrounding the other games in the series, only the fourth instalment takes things to the next level.

You’re quick to escape into the vast landscapes of fictional Himalayan region Kyrat, and join forces with rebels Golden Path, and from there a wealth of paths and options afforded to you, rendering countless possibilities and numerous endings, focusing your effects on combat and/or survival skills and short or long-term outcomes, the first of which probably the most fun as it contains the most action. With a more engaging storyline and immersive open-world gameplay, the realistic nature of combat requires more stealth and strategy to be implemented.

With so many paths to go down, the only downfall is the game’s one save slot, meaning you can’t have two games on the go. Luckily this is easily surpassed via logging into a different Xbox Live account and starting a new game there.

Little feature tweaks like the ability to turn on autopilot when driving allows you to focus on other more important things (gunning everything down), but perhaps the biggest improvement is the introduction of drop-in/drop-out co-operative play.

If you’re on the edge about the next game to dive into, consider this: Have you ever ridden a elephant whilst throwing grenades at a rhino?

Nail-biting strategy, fast-paced action and absurd almost inside joke humour ties everything together nicely and makesFar Cry 4 a huge step up from past efforts and one of the best games of the year.