Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2015
Published in The Music (WA, QLD) and on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2015
Why They’re Done Trying To Prove Themselves
A reunion for Perth hardcore legends Break Even is a way to give much-needed closure to a project that crumpled under its own success in 2012. Vocalist Mark Bawden tells Daniel Cribb why fans won’t want to miss their upcoming tour.
What fans didn’t know was that a reunion was in the works behind the scenes. In September they announced their return to the stage would be at hardcore gathering UNIFY, unleashing new single, Young & Bright, in December.
The track maintains their trademark sound and gives way to an album they’re working on, and a fairly extensive Australian tour. “Basically, we are kind of doing the tour to make a bit of money to actually record the album because we kind of want to do it all ourselves and show that we are a hard-working band. We’re not a band that just comes back and gets offered all these tours. We have been getting approached a lot lately, and we’ve had to decline everything, well not decline, but say ‘no’ to everything because we have a way that we want to do it and show that it’s all for the right reasons.”
The band’s abrupt end in 2012 was caused by tour after tour, leaving no time to rest. “To become a bigger band, you have to keep touring, keep going to places. We went to Europe twice and we were going to go a third time but we never really made any money from it. It was a hard thing to really do, with everyone having their own jobs and personal lives, it all built up. We had always done it for the passion, but when you take it on full-time, it does tear you down, and I think it got to all of us in the end, really.”
Burning out in 2012 left an unfinished record in the rubble, which was the catalyst for a reunion that Bawden says isn’t permanent. “We are putting everything into it. I feel like we have a record that’s almost finished but we haven’t finished it yet. For us personally, this is a record to give back to our fans and friends. There is only going to be the one.
“Basically we’ve got a fair few songs from when we were still writing in 2013, and we are just jamming all together as of this year… We’ll do a few tours, but really, we’ll just release the record that we never got to release. We don’t need to prove anything to anyone; we just want to release a record that we never got to finish and really rekindle the friendship we had as a band. That’s pretty much it.”
Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2015
Forget crowdfunding or slogging it away at a day job – Clowns guitarist Joe Hansen tells Daniel Cribb he’s found an easier way to satisfy the band’s financial needs.
Bright lights and a flurry of confusing sounds set the scene for Clowns guitarist Joe Hansen as he’s called up to the podium of Channel 7’s Million Dollar Minute. He may spend a lot of his time shredding for the Melbourne punk hardcore outfit, but as the camera focuses in, he’s dressed in a nice button-up shirt with a grin that becomes even cheesier the further into the game he gets. You’d be smiling too if you claimed over $20,000 on a quiz show. “I needed some money, so I figured, ‘What’s an easy way to get some fast cash?’ I just applied for some game shows, got on that one and, um, won it somehow,” Hansen laughs.
“They get you in for an interview and a knowledge test, and if you pass all that and they reckon you’ll be entertaining, they’ll put you on. They just want to make sure you can be on TV and not screw it up and make people change the channel, I suppose.”
His winnings were flushed into the band, which set them up for a big year. Their new record, Bad Blood, dances between ‘90s punk rock, straight up hardcore and even borderlines on metal at times, giving new life to the DIY scene in Australia. Much like Hansen’s TV debut, you won’t be changing stations if a track from the new Clowns record comes on. Not only was the record written in a building that also hosts a bakery, cattery and a morgue, and is located across the road from a cemetery, but the band ended up rewriting the songs numerous times over. Setting up a “little shitty PA” in the building, they found a second home and didn’t relent until the record was done. “We were there multiple times a week for months. Overall, we would’ve been pushing about 20 songs. Each song may have had five different versions with a different riff, a different structure… I think we’re definitely fans of classic albums and understand the power of making something where every track works with the one before it and the one after it, and how the whole thing sort of works as a whole.
“We worked until we felt like we had what we needed – which did take a while, but it was all worth it in the end.”
The next step is to get as many people as possible to hear the record, and their select style lends itself nicely to international touring, but Hansen won’t be collaborating so nicely with fellow contestants as he does with his band mates if he lands a spot on a US game show. “Fuck them; I play to win,” he laughs. “A [US] game show tour is an awesome idea… The Price Is Right would always be the dream.”
Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2015
Soundwave-bound California punks The Vandals have enraged and lost fans with the latest addition to their merch store. Bassist Joe Escalante states his case to Daniel Cribb.
As harmless as their intentions, it seems The Vandals can’t stay out of trouble. Before their last time to Australia in 2013, they’d just beat a lengthy court case that nearly destroyed them. US entertainment magazine Variety took the band to court over the cover of their 2004 Hollywood Potato Chip album, due to the band parodying the publication’s logo on the cover. Luckily, Variety eventually dropped the case, but, as The Vandals have been rebuilding the band and gearing up for another appearance at Soundwave, they accidently stepped on some other toes.
“Our logo is a machine gun, and it’s our best selling T-shirt, so if we don’t make a real one, what kind of hypocrites are we?” bassist Joe Escalante begins. He’s talking about a fully-functional AR-15 riffle which was created by gunmaker Jesse James as a “piece of art” to replicate the band’s logo for exhibition Peace Through Vandalism. Unfortunately, it sparked outrage among some of the band’s most dedicated fans when a picture was posted on Facebook. “It’s a little weird if you wear [our gun] T-shirt and are a little worried about gun culture… you could be a Vandals fan and you could hate our first EP and you could refuse to wear our gun T-shirts and wear our happier, lighter shirts. The whole thing is kind of silly.”
One product they know will be received with open arms is new music, which will be their first new material since 2014. “We’ve recorded a bunch of stuff; we just don’t know what to do with it. What’s a proper Vandals release? Should we release an EP? A record? Or just a couple of songs at a time? Since there’s not a lot of pressure, we don’t put a lot on ourselves. It takes a while to get this stuff done.”
They’ve let one track out of the bag for the Soundwave 2015 compilation – a cover of AFL star Mark “Jacko” Jackson’s track I’m An Individual – and Escalante says it sets the tone for an Australian-themed released that’s in the works. “We just started putting together a few songs here and there, and the funny thing is, we recorded all of these original songs dealing with Australian topics and Australian cover songs.
“We have a song called Pat Brown, which was a legend about some guy in Orange County here, for running over a bunch of cops. So we wrote a song about Ned Kelly in the same sort of style. It’s hard to talk about because people in the United States don’t know who Ned Kelly is, and the people in Australia, most of them have never heard of this Pat Brown guy. It is such a Vandals thing to do; something that makes no sense. And then, I don’t want to give anymore of it away, but there are songs that deal with Australian things and content… and I don’t know if the world needs another Waltzing Matilda version, but we have one.”
Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2015
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre (finished)
Based on the picture book by John Marsden and Shaun Tan, it seems The Rabbits was intended for the theatre all along. Carefully adapted for stage by director John Sheedy, the hour-long show details the displacement felt by marsupials when a group of rabbits tear their way through the native land, leaving a trail of destruction as they colonise an indigenous community, reflecting the history of Australia.
Extravagant and bold costumes gave new life to the story, and made its characters more relatable, and with Kate Miller-Heidke penning the music, the soundtrack was an interesting blend of pop and opera. Miller-Heidke was also among the cast, playing Bird, and while her costume was by far the most elaborate, it was the diverse and unique features of each of the rabbits and marsupials and their personalities that truly made the show captivating. From humour to heartbreak, it was somehow all delivered in an hour; an hour that was thought-provoking, engaging and, at its core, conveys Marden and Tan’s story and its undertones perfectly. The world premiere of The Rabbits set an exciting new pace for theatre and opera in Australia.
Published in The Music (WA, NSW, VIC, QLD) and on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2015
Not only is Falling In Reverse frontman Ronnie Radke’s past worthy of a feature film, it’s also been the reason he hasn’t been able to visit Australia. He discusses his dislike of modern music, doing favours for Travis Barker and the band’s new record with Daniel Cribb.
Having been arrested numerous times and serving a two-year jail sentence in 2006, few know conflict like Falling In Reverse leader Ronnie Radke. He may be in the thick of album promo for the band’s new record, Just Like You, in Las Vegas when he answers his phone, but there’s another issue on his mind – the recent event of Blink-182 revealing their inner-band turmoil to the public; something Radke, as a fan, can relate to all too well. “I’m never going to choose a side or anything because I love that band,” Radke comments. But a recent encounter with drummer Travis Barker might cloud his judge somewhat.
“I didn’t know he was a fan of me. And now he follows me on Twitter, which is mind-blowing. His daughter’s 15, and she came to my music video. He asked me for a favour so I told him to bring her down…[Blink-182]’s one of the bands that I actually still listen to. I don’t really listen to a lot of bands these days who are new or anything, so it’s sad to see that they’re not going to make a new record.”
It’s the “watered down” production of music today that’s turned Radke away from a lot of new acts, and with the band’s third album, Radke wanted to break the mould and throw people off. “These days, everything’s Auto-Tuned to the point where you can’t really hear the cadence in their voices, and it sounds the same because it’s so robotic…it’s just not my cup of tea anymore. Maybe I’m just getting older and growing up a little bit.”
It hasn’t been an easy road for Radke, but his learned from his mistakes and being himself is finally paying off, with the release of a career-defining record, launching his own clothing label, Hood$, and he’s finally secured a visa to tour Australia for the first time ever. “I don’t think it’s Australia’s fault,” he says on past visa issues. “I think it’s America’s fault. With the help of my managers, who worked around the clock with lawyers, we got there. So that’s who I have to thank for that, finally.
“I’m stoked, because everything we’ve ever wanted is coming true and it’s pretty amazing. Where I came from, from prison to now, it’s pretty wild. We complain about the dumb things, like, ‘Aw, man, I left my phone in the hotel! I’ve got to go back and get it!’ And I just kind of catch myself complaining about stupid things, like how everybody does. But I try to keep myself grounded that way. I can just pretty much wake up whenever I want and do whatever I want, all because I write songs and it reaches my fans and touches their hearts, you know, it’s crazy.”
Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2015
Not being allowed to take photos or videos at a gig isn’t anything new, but security issuing personal warnings to every single ticket holder as they entered, with a warning of being thrown out if caught, posed an interesting turn of events.
No doubt they had great success policing such laws.
There has been numerous line-up changes in the Eagles, but with founding members and primary songwriters Don Henley and Glenn Frey at the helm of a ten-strong band, there was no questioning the merit of the line-up on tour or what quality to expect. With the tour titled after the band’s 2013 documentary, History Of The Eagles, Henley and Frey appeared from opposite ends of the stage under spotlights, both yielding acoustic guitars to a roof-lifting cheers.
One acoustic guitar and quaint vocals broke the roar like only Saturday Night could, and after learning it was the only song written by the original line-up, Henley took to the mic and began to school the audience on what the summer of ‘71 meant for the band. The story led to how they met founding guitarist Bernie Leadon, who then joined them on stage to sing Train Leaves Here This Morning.
The opening tracks might not have been the most memorable out of the band’s catalogue, but they were integral to their history. Henley turned his guitar into a percussive instrument, bassist Timothy B Schmit appeared, and with four-part harmonies and a bit more punch, Peaceful Easy Feeling gave punters the first taste of the band’s classic California rock sound.
Henley continued his beat making, transitioning to the drums, and four grew to five with guitarist Joe Walsh joining them for a reinvented Witchy Woman.
The live show reflected the documentary, with cuts to interviews on the screen behind them, and when they’d said all they could with a toned-back production, a black curtain behind the band lifted to reveal an epic stage plot that projected the themes of gunfighter-themed On The Border And One Of These Nights, and the intimate vibe was transformed into a setting for big, classic, stadium rock.
The true extent of Henley’s soaring vocals was unleashed in hit Desperado, and their rock era was given an epic stage presence with four electric guitars for I’m Already Gone. There was layer upon layer of guitar parts and harmonies in songs Lyin’ Eyes, and disco-esque One Of These Nights, but every element had its place and nothing was overkill.
Soulful numbers I Can’t Tell You Why and Love Will Keep Us Alive saw vocals from Schmit, and alongside rocker numbers like In The City painted a comprehensive picture of the band’s extensive back catalogue and legacy. Highlights in the show’s second half included a Beach Boys-inspired version of Heartache Tonight and other hits, but with Leadon disappearing, less diversity in the songs delivered and next to no stories into the band’s history, the show dragged on. By the time Hotel California rolled around that no longer mattered, and everyone had been schooled in the importance of a well-written harmony, catchy hook and the longevity of classic rock. Eagles’ triumphant return to Australia will be a history lesson not soon forgotten.