When Warp Records (Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus, Grizzly Bear) founder Steve Beckett signed an unknown band from Sydney in early 2008, based on the strength of their seething, instrumental album, ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’, you could forgive him for being a little taken aback when only 18 months later they returned to his office with the follow up. ‘Church With No Magic’ represents a new vocal-lead direction for the band, and is arguably one of the most ambitious experimental rock records ever to come out their native Australia.
Questions answered by Laurence Pike of PVT
1. What was the first band you saw live?
I think the first show i saw was Poison at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in 1989 when i was 10, i think Rich and I went with our older brother.. or it may have even been my mum actually, which is pretty amazing thinking about it. I kind of grew up listening to a lot of British metal because of my eldest brother’s influence, stuff like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, and that basically lead quickly to a fascination with Hair Metal. Fortunately this didn’t last too long, by age 12 or 13 i had discovered smoking cigarettes and listening to Miles Davis. Things took some interesting turns after that.
2. What’d you learn from them?
Just the fundamentals really – grooming, make-up, high kicks, and that roto-toms should be lowered 30 feet from the lighting rig and suspended above the drum kit for any mid-set drum solo. I still don’t know what an ‘Unskinny Bop’ is.
3. Got any pre-gig rituals?
Nothing obsessive compulsive or anything, sometimes I like to stretch a bit, maybe get some drum sticks in my hands about 10 min before the show. i like to get my voice working too, make some primitive noises, get in touch with my power animal, that sort of thing. I realised when we started doing a lot of touring, especially overseas where we might do 6-7 shows a week, that a couple of vodka tonics weren’t always enough to get limbered up to do what i do on the drums.
4. What do you think the most important issue effecting artists in NSW is today?
We’ll there’s the perennial problem of their not being enough good venues, and restrictive licensing laws making it near impossible for good things to be established and/or flourish. I’m sure that’s one the most pressing issues. There’s been some movement on this of late which is great, but sadly not enough. All i’ve noticed is Surry Hills slowly turning into Paddington as a result, with more wine bars and gourmet grocers, and not enough 200-300 capacity venues for bands who are looking to start headlining shows and building a fan base. I think that in a broader sense there are limited avenues for artists to develop, and put their art into practice on a regular basis without making the wrong type of concessions, which ultimately effects the cultural output of a city.
5. If you weren’t a musician what do you reckon you’d be doing?
Stay at home dad, maybe running an ebay store on the side.