theMusic.com.au: ‘Roadies’ Proves Cameron Crowe Is Out Of Touch

Published on theMusic.com.au, Jul 2016

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“Let me just say what no one is saying, the band have become relentlessly irrelevant,” said a review of fictitious indie rock act The Staton-House Band on the Sunday’s episode of Showtime comedy-drama Roadies.

Rainn Wilson (The Office) plays a popular music blogger that reviews the band’s show via a YouTube video and slams them; ironically enough, the general gist of which could loosely be applied to Roadies and creator/writer/director Cameron Crowe.

While Roadies doesn’t quite paint an accurate picture of the music industry’s inner-workings, it’s in interesting case study on Crowe and what mainstream media actually believes goes on behind the scenes.

It’s also a prime example of why shows like Scorsese and Jagger’s HBO flop Vinyl are unable to hit the mark. In order to create content relatable and entertaining to your average network TV viewer, things need to be generalised and almost dumbed down – it’s why the characters on Roadies throw Taylor Swift’s name around every five minutes (no joke) and other bands like Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson get name dropped, all while making the show’s writing feel like an out-of-touch parent trying to talk with their kids about what’s hip.

A network trying to stay relevant by feeding off someone who’s now so far removed from the actual way the music industry is growing was always going to be a recipe for disaster.

Crowe’s now 58 and it’s been 15 years since his Almost Famous flick came out and won a slew of awards, and since then it seems he’s been living in a bubble, blissfully unaware that touring in 2016 is quite different to how it was when he’d follow acts like the Allman Brothers Band around in the ‘70s while writing for Rolling Stone.

J.J. Abrams scores a producer credit, while Hollywood stars Luke Wilson and Imogen Poots play the show’s main characters, showing they opted for big names rather than people more relevant to the industry. They’re good actors, but none of them actually have any decent musical background, so there’s a disconnect between the actors and the authenticity of their characters.

Rapper Colson Baker, aka Machine Gun Kelly, plays Wes and is the closet it comes when looking at main cast members having strong musical ties, and his credits are linked to shows like Ridiculousness and a slew of MTV-awards. Plus he’s actually not that great an actor.

Carla Gugino plays Shelli, a production manager who works alongside tour manager Bill (Wilson), and this pair actually manage to carry the show pretty well considering what they’ve been given to work with, but once again, they’re just not all that believable as die-hard industry folk.

It’s not Gugino’s first stint on Showtime, having a recurring role in Californication back in 2010 – in fact, if the network really wants a hit, they’d be better off reviving the character of Atticus Fetch – played by Tim Minchin – and giving him a spin-off. It wouldn’t necessarily be more accurate but at least it would be more engaging. Plus it’s Tim Minchin.

Reg Whitehead (Rafe Spall) is the show’s villain – so to speak – a suit sent from corporate to make cuts and the crew more efficient, and while it’s an obvious stab at the businesses and corporations behind the scenes of the music, the character is almost an unintentional dig at the showrunners.

On top of all this, where are the appearances from up-and-coming acts? Buzz bands and acts that are actually popular now. The support band slots on this fake tour go to artists like Lindsey Buckingham, generic indie-folk act The Head & The Heart and a somewhat cringe-worthy performance from Reignwolf.

More importantly, for a show based on the music industry, the soundtrack is less than note-worthy and once again feels cliché.

It’s only every now and then we’re given a glimpse into the real scene, and for some reason those aspects are hidden as Easter eggs, like when Bill is trying to find an opening act and we get a quick glance at his list of potentials.

Tame Impala apparently weren’t available, but he’s also listed Best Coast, Chvrches (spelt Churches on their list) and Kurt Vile – the latter of which actually does have a song on the soundtrack. So, someone on the writing staff does know music, but their expertise is being overridden by Fleetwood Mac solo acts and cheesy indie rock.

Actual roadies have been bagging the show too, with a friend of mine who works in the field saying, “If the show was accurate it would be 50% unloading trucks and 50% people trying to find cigarettes.”

One of the few correct depictions in Roadies comes from the tour managers and others needing to baby the talent and the ridiculous requests said artists make throughout, but even then they don’t explore that nearly enough.

The main problem with the show thus far is its characters and storyline could be applied to just about any other field. If you take this plot and apply it to a group of bakers, mechanics or retail workers, it wouldn’t feel all that different.

Approach Roadies as light-hearted entertainment – something to chuck on in the background as you do other things — and you won’t be too disappointed. If you dive in head-first looking for life-changing industry commentary you’ll be sorely disappointed.

http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2016/07/12/%E2%80%98roadies%E2%80%99-proves-cameron-crowe-is-out-of-touch/

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theMusic.com.au: EXCLUSIVE: Adelaide Live Music Venue HQ To Relocate After Demolition

Published on theMusic.com.au, Jul 2016

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Following news earlier this week that iconic SA venue HQ would be demolished next year, they have revealed plans to reopen at a purposely built space on Hindley Street.

After 25 years on North Terrace, the land the building sits on was sold and will be cleared for development in January, but HQ regulars and musicians won’t have to wait long before the venue reopens in the thick of the state’s entertainment precinct, with general manager Stephen Rose telling The Music they anticipate a March opening.

“There’s going to be a total demolition of an old building and we’re developing from the ground-up and building a three-story, bar, restaurant and nightclub,” Stephen said.

“We certainly want to keep the live music aspect going. We’re up to about 52 bands a year at the moment, so we’d like to push that to a few more.”

With building approval acquired and a new liquor licence application in the works, the new space will have a 2,200 capacity.

“There’s a market for a super club again in Hindley Street. We think it’ll do much better being on the entertainment strip rather than being a destination.”

HQ’s North Terrace lease expires in January, with the venue announcing a final gig earlier this week.

For all upcoming HQ events, head to the theGuide.

http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2016/07/01/exclusive-adelaide-live-music-venue-hq-to-relocate-after-demolition/

INTERVIEW: Ludacris (Fast & Furious 7)

Published in The Music (WA, NSW, VIC, QLD) and on theMusic.com.au, Mar 2015

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With Paul Walker’s tragic passing before production of Fast & Furious 7 had finished, rapper-turned-actorChris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges tells Daniel Cribb the franchise’s biggest film was also the hardest to complete.

The seventh Fast & Furious film sits in an odd place in the franchise’s timeline; it directly follows on from the events of 2005’s Tokyo Drift, in which character Han Seoul-Oh was killed, yet there are two films between them. It’s a series of events that even has star Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges a little confused.

Tokyo Drift is right before the one you’re about to see. See what I’m saying?” Ludacris, who plays tech head Tej Parker in the series, begins. “So they did it out of succession; Tokyo Drift really would have been six. I don’t wanna confuse you. I’m basically saying the timeline in which that movie was, it wouldn’t have been the third in the timeline after [2 Fast 2 Furious], it would have been Fast & Furious 56… shit.”

Family plays a big role in the theme of the film, which couldn’t reflect the atmosphere behind the scenes any better. When actor Paul Walker was tragically killed in a car crash before the film was finished, it took its toll on everyone. “He was finished with about 80 per cent of the film before he passed away, but his brothers came in and filled in the blanks with some of the things that he wasn’t able to do, and it was definitely very emotional for the whole cast.

“We actually had to stop production for a couple of months, but we came back together in his honour; we knew that we had to stick it out and make sure that we carried on his legacy in the right way and that’s why we all came together to do that… What got us through was knowing that he would have wanted for us to finish this film.”

While Ludacris’ onscreen character often avoids the action, the seventh film sees a change of pace. “I’m always the guy that keeps the crew together and the brains behind the tech, but I am also surprisingly able to whoop a little ass in this film. I’ve never really had any fight scenes; I am usually the guy behind the scenes. I had to fight for my fight scene, so it was great to know not only that I did, but it also made it into the movie.”

With a grenade blowing Dwayne Johnson out of a building and Vin Diesel jumping from one skyscraper to another in a Lamborghini, Fast & Furious 7 definitely one-ups its predecessors. “When I went through the script and saw that car jumping, I was like, ‘This dude’s out of control; that is ludicrous.’

“That’s exactly why it just keeps exciting people and surprising individuals, because you never know what to expect next. I’ve been asking since two films ago how the hell we are going to outdo what we just did… Only time will tell where it goes from here, but we have lost a very integral piece of this franchise.”

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2015/04/01/fast-and-furious-chris-ludacris-bridges/

theMusic Sessions: San Cisco

Filmed, edited and mixed by Daniel Cribb.

Their triumphant return to the forefront of Australian music sees accidentally take their new record, Gracetown, around the country at the end of April.

We caught up with the band at Perth venue The Bird before they hit the road, and they ran through a couple of stripped-back numbers for us.

You might notice bass player Nick Gardner was absent from the filming. He was in hospital at the time after accidentally shooting himself in the foot.

Catch other hits from Gracetown and older classics live when San Cisco tour Australia this April/May.

You can find details on their album tour and Groovin The Moo appearances in the Gig Guide or on The Music App.

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.”

INTERVIEW: Lagwagon

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

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BACK ON TRACK

With nine years between studio albums, it took disappointment and heartbreak to reignite Lagwagon’s creativity, as Joey Cape explains to Daniel Cribb.

It was in 2005 that SoCal punks Lagwagon dropped Resolve and since then we’ve seen frontman Joey Cape venture to Australia with Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, in solo mode and, in late 2013, fronting his other project, Bad Astronaut. So it’s not surprising he’s embedded in another musical realm when he answers his phone. “I’m actually mixing a record I recorded not too long ago,” Cape begins.

During one of his solo visits he met Gold Coast singer-songwriter Laura Mardon, which led to her recording an album for Cape’s new label, One Week Records. “A lot of people send me music, or I’ll play with people when I’m touring acoustic, and there’s so many talented people that I meet and every once in while I meet someone whose music I really love, and they don’t seem to be occupied with a deal, so they can actually do it… [Mardon] came to San Francisco to record and I started mixing it today, and it’s a good time for a break.”

Cape’s always juggling numerous projects at once, but the decade it took to produce Lagwagon’s eighth record, Hang, raises some questions. “It’s just something that has to happen naturally, I guess. For a really long time there I was making other records for other projects. It wasn’t a matter of not being creative… I know the guys in my band would have loved to have gotten some songs earlier, but everything I was writing didn’t feel right for Lagwagon, and Lagwagon is too important to me to do something that wouldn’t suit the band.

“I’m constantly explaining why we take so long to make records,” he laughs. “And I should be, because it deserves an explanation, but we’ve just never been a band that wants to rush or force things. There’s been a few times in our career when we have done that, and we didn’t end up putting the material out because we didn’t think it was good. We’re not known for momentum, hence the name.”

The catalyst for Resolve was the unexpected passing of founding drummer, Derrick Plourde, which drove the band to write something of a concept album around their emotional responses, and themes of loss, betrayal, aging – while not the only source of inspiration for Hang – have resulted in darker and heavier sounds from the band. The passing of longtime friend, musical partner and punk legend Tony Sly in 2012 resulted in the track, One More Song, and also influenced Cape when piecing together what could easily be described as a career-defining record for Lagwagon. “It’s just an interesting thing, with our band. Once we know what we want to do and I know what to write and we get our vibe, it just happens, and it’s miraculous, usually. The chemistry just came and we knew what to do, and it was really collaborative this time. We spent a lot of time putting this record together, and I think you can hear it; it’s got a lot more soul.”