theMusic.com.au: WA’s Iconic 78 Records Is Shutting Down: ‘It Was Such A Great Trip’

Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2019

Beloved WA institution 78 Records has announced it will close its doors permanently on March 3.

Speaking with The Music, manager Andrew “Fang” de Lang, who began working there in 1986 at the age of 19, cited high rent in Perth and the rise of streaming services as contributing factors.

“We gave it our best shot over a long period, but the time is nigh,” Lang said.

Over the past 47 years, the historic CBD record store has become a staples of the city’s music scene.

After opening in Forrest Place in 1971, 78 Records relocated numerous times around the city before landing at its fifth and final home in a laneway off Murray Street, all the while establishing itself as a thriving hub via its extensive vinyl range, live performances and more.

“There was a massive commitment to local music, particularly as [artists] were bringing out a release,” Lang said.

One memorable local launch, the first at 78 Records’ Mortlock Building location, included Perth legends Jebediah.

“We found out very quickly that we couldn’t have people jumping up and down on the [second story] floor because the floor might fall through.

“The whole floor was vibrating and this was a building we just got into. We had to frantically get on the microphone and tell everyone to stop.”

Other in-store performances came from Weezer, Powderfinger, The Living End, Eskimo Joe, Gyroscope and Julian Lennon, the latter of which proved to be one of Lang’s more memorable days there.

“There were so many Beatles fans coming into the store and asking me to give him things,” Lang recalled.

“That was probably the weirdest day I can remember; seeing middle-aged people just go stupid and act like children.”

There’s been an overwhelming outpour of emotion from music lovers and artists across social media, which Lang describes as “heartening on one hand and sad on the other”.

“It just made me realise how important this shop was; it just reinforced that we provided a service for people and they had a good time meeting their friends here or just buying music.

“What I’ll remember most is just the enjoyment I had working here – just serving people, talking music, organising in-stores. It was just such a great trip.

“Time’s up and it’s a bittersweet thing, but I have no regrets.”

https://themusic.com.au/article/oqi-tLe2ubg/it-was-such-a-great-trip-wa-s-iconic-78-records-is-shutting-down/

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theMusic.com.au: EXCLUSIVE: DEA Agents Who Inspired ‘Narcos’ Detail Tell-all Book

Published on theMusic.com.au, Dec 2018

The rise and fall of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar was thrown into the spotlight via Netflix’s Narcos back in 2015, and now, 25 years after his death, the former DEA agents who inspired the hit series, Steve Murphy and Javier Pena, will tour Australia to tell the real story.

Today marks exactly 25 years since Colombian police shot and killed Escobar on a rooftop.

“It honestly doesn’t seem like it’s been 25 years,” Murphy told The Music.

“Neither one of us ever thought the popularity that has come from Narcos would have anything to do with us – we are shocked by the worldwide interest about this.”

The image of Murphy posing over Escobar’s dead body has become iconic, but as he tells, the show used some creative licence during that pivotal scene.

Narcos portrays that I was on the roof when Pablo was killed – that’s not true,” Murphy said.

“I was back at the police base, the Columbian National Police were the only ones out there and they took care of business.

“Back at the base, you’re thinking, ‘Could this really be over? Is this really true?’ And then when you get out there and see what’s taken place, you realise that it is.

“It was a great feeling of elation; the weight of the world had been lifted off your shoulders and you knew that thousands of people were safer now, simple because Pablo was gone.”

Unfortunately, Pena wasn’t nearby when Escobar was taken down.

“The Ambassador had ordered me to go talk to an informant who told the Embassy he knew where Pablo Escobar was and was only going to give that information to me,” Pena said.

“Luckily, Steve was there, had the only camera and took all the photos, which are now famous.

“I was very happy; it was personal, Pablo killed some of my friends, so this was a great, great victory for everybody – Columbians, Americans, the world. Basically, justice had finally been done.”

Part of the reason they signed on to work with Netflix was to ensure Escobar wasn’t “glamourised” in any way, and their A Conversation On Narcos tour, which hits Australia in July, dives deeper into the terror the billionaire cocaine lord unleashed.

And, as they exclusively detailed to The Music, they’re also penning a novel that goes into further detail.

“We haven’t told anybody else, but we’re writing a book, so it’ll come out probably November of next year,” Murphy revealed.

“It’ll be about our law enforcement careers and the story of Pablo.”

Check out theGuide for all A Conversation On Narcos tour dates.

https://themusic.com.au/article/CxIXHx4BAAM/exclusive-dea-agents-who-inspired-narcos-detail-tell-all-book/

INTERVIEW: How The Inaugural Indie-Con Conference Aims To Fill A Void

Published on theMusic.com.au, Jul 2017

Australia’s newest music conference, Indie-Con, is looking to reshape the country’s independent music scene, as programmer Stuart Watters tells Daniel Cribb.

“We can bring something that is unique to the music industry that’s not trying to compete with any of the pre-existing events, and that’s certainly been first and foremost in our minds,” tells Indie-Con conference programmer Stuart Watters as the inaugural two-day July event fast approaches.

“We are not a BIGSOUND and nor do we want to be. We are not a Face The Music and nor do we want to be… we want to complement each and every one of those events by having a dedicated space for the independent label system that can feed into whatever those events are doing.”

Curated by Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) – of which Watters was CEO for five years – the new music industry conference accompanies their highly anticipated annual awards ceremony, this year making its Adelaide debut. Indie-Con was first established in the UK by AIR’s sister association, AIM, in an effort to address the needs of independent labels and artists. “We think that’s a fantastic event in its own right, and it just made sense that we would develop something locally here in the Australian market,” he says.

It’s somewhat filling the void of Adelaide-based music conference and festival Fuse, which dropped off the map a few years ago. During its prime, Fuse was “a real focal point” that saw a wealth of people fly in from around the country annually. And so, for the next three years, while the AIR Awards are in SA, Watters is hoping they’ll see a similar trend, all with the goal of “trying to establish an event that can hold its own long term”.

“Making sure there’s a long-term viability around it is absolutely paramount,” Watters reiterates. “So getting the content right, making it speak to the people who are going and making it relevant to those people is important.

“From the CEO of the largest independent in the country to the independent artists that walk in the door, they’ve all got to walk away with something that’s useful, meaningful and [that] they can apply to their business.”

There’ll be a number of panels throughout the conference that do just that, including speakers such as Portia Sabin (Kill Rock Stars/The Future Of What), Jen Cloher, Briggs, Sebastian Chase (MGM) and more. “There are a couple of key topics that need to be [discussed] by the independent label sector. One of those is what’s happening with safe harbour; it’s a big issue among the recording sector.

“Is block chain important? What is block chain? I would say a lot of labels – and I would argue a lot of the music industry – have a very rudimentary understanding of what block chain is.

“On the artist side, I’m very interested in trying to empower artists to understand how they can harness and utilise data to give them the insight to make informed choices about where they invest.”

Watters describes the DIY approach many artists and labels now take on as an apprenticeship, with valuable lessons learned along the way, but a major focus of Indie-Con is relaying how important collaborating is. “Maybe it should be DIO – Do It Ourselves; do it together. I love the old adage that I heard from a good friend in the industry who said, ‘You want to be nice to everyone on your way up because you want them to catch you when you’re on your way down again’.”

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2017/07/18/indie-con-stuart-watters-daniel-cribb/

theMusic.com.au: Don’t Panic – Trump’s US Visa Chaos Won’t Affect Aussie Artists

Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2017

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A lot of Australians didn’t really think Trump’s US presidency would have much of an impact on them, until a few days ago, when the news exploded around a number of changes to the country’s visa system, including the ban of citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries.

For local bands that want to or already have booked tours, the uncertainty surrounding the situation has created quite a mindfuck and has been aggravated further after today’s revelations about Trump’s aggressive phone call with Turnbull earlier this week.

Speaking with The Music, Brooklyn-based US immigration policy and procedure experts Tamizdat – who frequently deal with Australian artist applications – said “theoretically nothing” will change in the process.

“The Executive Order only impacts people from the seven banned countries,” attorney Matthew Covey said.

Covey also said US Customs and Border Protection has indicated Australian artists with dual-citizenship in one of the banned countries also don’t need to be concerned at this stage.

“It appears that they will not be affected by the ban, provided they are entering with their AU passport,” he said.

“This is the word from CBP, but it’s not official yet.”

The US Customs and Border Protection has updated their website since Trump signed the Executive Order with some FAQs, including one question that reads:

“Does this Executive Order apply to dual nationals of the seven countries who want to enter the US? If they apply for entry based on their citizenship from one of the countries NOT on the list, will they be allowed entry?”

To which UCBP answered: “Yes, but travellers are being treated according to the travel document they present.  For example, if they present a Canadian passport, that is how they are processed for entry.”

Fellow New York-based organisation RAZCo Visas has been providing visa and immigration assistance to musicians for over 40 years, with owner Ron Zeelens also telling The Music Australian artists need not worry.

“There have been no changes for artists applying for either an O or P visa and I do not foresee there being any issue for an Australian artist under the Trump administration. The basic costs are the same,” Zeelens said.

However, California Immigration Consultant and Global Access president Brande Lindsey told The Music in recent years the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services have “implemented a sticker interpretation of the government regulations”, meaning the application process has become harder in general.

“The artist and their reps need to market the artist to show there is a demand for their employment services in the United States,” Lindsey explained, saying the new changes could result in further delays.

“The Consular processing times and the actual interview process could be expected to take longer and include more stringent background clearance screenings which can ultimately could cause significant delays inevitably postponing dates…allow a 3 – 6 month window to include petition preparation, USCIS adjudication and US Consular visa processing.”

http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2017/02/02/dont-panic-trump%E2%80%99s-us-visa-chaos-won%E2%80%99t-affect-aussie-artists/

theMusic.com.au: Perth’s Giant Fire-Breathing Spider Is The Best Thing You’ll See All Day

Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2016

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A 50-tonne fire-breathing spider has appeared on the foreshore of Perth for Arcadia Australia, and while images of the machine’s past endeavours are enough to make your jaw drop, they really only scratch the surface of what the festival has to offer.

The three-day Australian exclusive kicks on Friday at Elizabeth Quay after community days this week. Here’s everything you need to know.

the spider

The beast itself it made of recycled military machinery and industrial components; its eyes coming from spy planes while its legs are partially constructed from helicopter tails. It’s 15 metres tall with flames that reach a similar height; amid the heat will be DJs in the body and acrobats flailing around the legs.

During a mid-week rehearsal, The Landing Show sees the spider from another planet awake in a flurry of lights and analyse its surroundings before unleashing dancers that mimic the actions of spiders – two of them being spun into a web cocoon while suspended well off the ground; perhaps not the best job for someone with arachnophobia. The suspense surrounding the spider’s gradual awakening will no doubt be next level when artists like Leftfield and Alison Wonderland are at the helm.

In the vicinity of the game-changing, suspended DJ booth (artists will actually be inside the spider), are posts spitting more flames into the air, and while the spider isn’t ready to unleash hell during the rehearsals, the bursts of warmth from those alone are enough to get the adrenalin pumping. Here’s a shot from past shows to illustrate how insane things will be when the festival kicks off on Friday. Pic via Arcadia Australia:

the shows

As well as The Landing Show, each night will feature The Lords Of Lightning and traditionally performance Yallorr Keeninyarra. As the sun sets over the river, the dance of the Dance of the Wadjuk Nyungar/People begins; a powerful performance connecting the Arcadia spider and the sacred Wadjuk spider of Garrgatup (meaning Kings Park, which is in view across the river as its unfolding). It’s an important and engaging piece that hasn’t been performed to the public in its traditional form since 1901 and sees the claws of the spider waving an Aboriginal flag.

Perched just behind the spider are two raised platforms that frame the scene for The Lords Of Lightning, a stand-out performance piece that’s almost worth the ticket price alone. You can feel the static and change in the air as the two dances wield four million volts of electricity… through their bodies. It’s amazing, and terrifying as they cycle channel modern dance, martial arts and freestyle performance.

the artists

With all this going on, it’s easy to forget this is actually a music festival. Across Friday, Saturday and Sunday the likes of Leftfield (DJ Set), Alison Wonderland, Shy Fx, Carmada, Elk Road and more will climb into the belly of the beast. Check out the full line-up here.

the view

Everything else mentioned here makes for an amazing festival, but when you add in the aforementioned Perth river/Elizabeth Quay and the city skyline as backdrops, you’ve got one of the most visceral experiences to visit the state.

Grab tickets now via the Arcadia Australia website. Jumping the fence isn’t an option – unless you want to have a really bad time.

http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2016/11/24/arcadia-rehearsal-daniel-cribb/

INTERVIEW: Peter Gould (Better Call Saul)

Published in The Music (VIC, NSW) and on theMusic.com.au, Sept 2016

Better Call Saul was a terrifying leap for co-creator Peter Gould, who tells Daniel Cribb the show’s trajectory can still be overwhelming despite its acclaim.

The Breaking Bad finale truly cemented the series as one of the all-time greatest TV dramas, which is why following it up with an unexpected prequel headed by a comedy legend was a major risk for showrunners Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan. “We approached the beginning of this show with a lot of concern, fear and trepidation; a lot of sleepless nights,” Gould begins from Burbank, taking a break from outlining season three. “One of the questions that certainly occupies me is ‘will we be able to stick the landing the way we did on Breaking Bad?'”

Two seasons in and it’s certainly heading in that direction; leaving fans with a cliff-hanger that teases the introduction of more Breaking Bad characters next season (Gould wouldn’t reveal any information), but despite this, Better Call Saul has established its own voice over its 20 episodes to date and, at times, the viewer will forget they’re enthralled in a prequel. “We were aware that there are similarities and there are differences, and we tried very hard to define the differences from the beginning. We tried especially in the first season not to introduce too many characters we’d seen before in Breaking Bad,” Gould tells. “The first indication that the show was going to work was I started to get questions about characters who originated on Better Call Saul… I get just as many questions about Mr and Mrs Kettleman as I do, ‘When is Aaron Paul going appear? Is Jesse Pinkman going to show up suddenly?’ And that’s a wonderful thing.”

Although Bryan Cranston will return to the Breaking Bad universe next year to direct an episode of season three, it’s still unknown as to whether Walter White will resurface in front of the camera, and depending on how the story goes, White and Pinkman might not turn up at all. “Sometimes you can get dizzy by thinking too big,” he says of those cameos. “The truth is, we’re not going to bring any character into Better Call Saul – no matter how much we love them – unless it serves the story, and we’re trying to be as disciplined as we can be. Having said that, there’s been a lot of surprises for the audience and a lot of surprises for us.”

Part of the story’s diverse nature comes from placing comedy legend Bob Odenkirk at the helm, creating an interesting blend of drama and comedy that ebbs and flows to perfection. “Bob is our secret weapon,” Gould says. “We know that if we have a comedic scene that Bob is going to take it and run with it and bring an energy to it that I don’t think anyone else could.”

It seems the storyline to date has surprised the writers just as much as the viewers, with Gould admitting the show is taking a different path to how they initially intended. “When we started this, Vince and I both had in our heads that by the end of the first season, he’d be calling himself Saul Goodman – but the deeper we got into this, the more we fell in love with Jimmy McGill,” he admits.

“Jimmy McGill is good-hearted, he’s a fast talker, but he’s not quite the dark, criminal sleaze bag that Saul Goodman is, and because of that, the more we work on this, the more the show feels like a sort of minor-key tragedy.”

Working within the parameters set by the Saul Goodman we all know and love in Breaking Bad, there’s always a stark sadness surrounding the character of Jimmy McGill, knowing something could be lurking just around the corner, ready to crush his soul. With Odenkirk recently suggesting that season three will be about the loss of innocence, could the next chapter of the show see an introduction to Saul Goodman? “We’ll have to see – it’s a good theory,” he laughs. “Season three is a very different kettle of fish; it will kick off with a lot of momentum and it has a different feel about it.

“One of the things I love about this character is he always seems to bounce back – but the question is, can he bounce back from everything? Or is there something out there that is actually going to break him?”

Even though it’s a prequel and the introduction of Saul Goodman would be a logical place to end the series, there’s really no limit as to how long Better Call Saul could run. No matter which direction it goes, Gould and co are very aware of not overstaying their welcome. “It’s certainly something we talk about in the writers’ room all the time; the one thing we don’t want is to tread water.”

Season two of Better Call Saul is out now on DVD via Universal Sony Pictures. Stream seasons one and two via Stan.

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2016/09/02/better-call-saul-peter-gould-daniel-cribb/

theMusic.com.au: End Of Fashion Frontman On How The Band Became “Sour”

Published on theMusic.com.au, Aug 2016

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End Of Fashion frontman Justin Burford might be in the middle of tracking new material for his solo project, Coco Blu, when he answers the phone, but it’s only been relatively recently that his passion for music was reignited.

“I’d just been over it for a really long time; I was kind of over music,” Burford begins from his home studio. “I only got into it again maybe 18 months ago when I got this studio and started recording again. Before that there were a good few years where I was like, ‘Ugh, it’s too hard.’”

It was a feeling that began before local legends End Of Fashion went on hiatus in 2014, with the entire band needing a breaking to explore other creative, personal and professional pursuits. “It just kind of wound down,” he recalls. “It starts to feel like it becomes sour; you put all this work into it and you might not be getting what you want out of it any more. So naturally it just kind of lost it.”

After two years on the sidelines, End Of Fashion played a last-minute hometown show back in February, which lead to a 10-year anniversary tour in support of their smashing indie-pop gem of a self-titled debut album. “I guess like anything else, your tastes change and hopefully mature, and progress in a way. I can look back on a lot of those songs and there’s moments where I’m just kind of like, ‘Jeez, that’s awesome,’ I couldn’t think of that now. And there’s other parts of songs where I’m like, ‘Oh God – what was I thinking.’ Usually the lyrics. Something this intense stirs up good and bad memories,” he laughs.

One of the more negative memories comes from comments the singer made in reference to triple j back in 2014, stating on his personal Facebook that the station was largely responsible for the band’s demise. “For me, it was sort of a mountain out of a molehill – just a Facebook rant,” he explains.

“It sucks being tarnished with that. I remember at the time thinking, ‘Jesus, we didn’t get any kind of attention for any of the music we’ve put out on the last two records, that sucks.’ I couldn’t believe that anybody would put that much stock in it or anything I had to say. It’s not pleasant.”

“I’m definitely not anti-triple j, in fact I’m the opposite. I wish there were more triple js. I think that the problem is that there is literally just one triple j. That’s a very limiting access point for a lot of bands. I guess over the years I’ve seen different industries and how they operate and the Australian creative landscape is pretty abysmal across the board.”

His comments on the Australian scene at large are reflective of the singer’s own admission of jumping the gun and speaking in absolutes, which is where the triple j issues arose, and why he told many that End Of Fashion would never return to the stage again. “I should watch what I say,” he tells. “I’m sitting here saying, ‘I don’t think [End Of Fashion] will be another creative thing.’

“Given the choice of pursuing End Of Fashion and pursuing something new, the answer is of course, pursuing something new. But if there was a way of kind of balancing the two so that they both sort of had their value, then sure.”

But for now, it’s Coco Blu that’s consuming his creative output, with something hopefully released in the next six months. “We mixed the tape about a week ago. So it’s kind of at the point now where it’s like, ‘I’ve got this thing, what am I gonna do with this thing?’ I’ve actually been showing people, which is exciting and terrifying.”

End Of Fashion hit the road in September; check out theGuide for all tour dates and ticketing info.

http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2016/08/16/end-of-fashion-frontman-on-how-the-band-became-sour/