Rohan Williams

Rohan Williams

Wednesday, 04 December 2013 15:32

DZ Deathrays: Great Expectations

Considering he grew up in Bundaberg, you might not think the Big Day Out played a big part in the life of DZ Deathrays frontman Shane Parsons. You'd be wrong.

“It was what I looked forward to every year,” he remembers. “I've only missed two since I was 14. I've been to, like, 11 or 12 of them. So, yeah, it was a big thing. It was the only live music I really got to see. There weren't too many all-ages shows in Bundy. I got to see Frenzal, they played there once, and there were some random bands that you'd just go see because you wanted to see live music. I was in a band at school, but we just used to play at house parties. So Big Day Out was… it was a huge thing.



“We got on a bus, leaving at four in the morning, and the bus would take us down to the Gold Coast. We'd hang out at Big Day Out all day, moshing and jumping and running around having a great time. Then we'd get back on a bus, all sweaty, and we'd just freeze our arses off because of the air conditioning all the way back to Bundaberg. We'd get back at four or five in the morning. So it was a huge day, but when you were young, you just didn't care. You were just so excited.

“Everyone would have mix CDs of all the bands they wanted to go see, and we'd put it on in the bus, and people would say, 'Oh, you've got to check out this band, I've made this mix CD of all their hits!' It was rad. I just remember standing there watching bands at Big Day Out, just thinking, 'I don't even know what I'd do if I got a chance to stand on that stage'.”

These days, of course, Shane and fellow Deathray Simon Ridley know exactly what to do on a Big Day Out stage. It's the same thing they do to every stage — lay waste to it, mercilessly, until God takes pity on anyone who has to follow them. Debut LP 'Bloodstreams' was a masterclass in brutality, winning the Brisbane-based duo an unlikely ARIA and earning them rave reviews from international tastemakers Pitchfork and NME — giving them plenty of opportunities to destroy stages in the US and UK, as well.

At the next Big Day Out, however, audiences will see a new side of DZ Deathrays. New single 'Northern Lights' is the closest the duo have ever come to recording a ballad, and opens up a whole new world of possibilities for their forthcoming sophomore LP. “It's probably the softest song that we've ever written,” Shane says, “but we thought it'd be cool to release it to show that we're not just doing loud stuff all the time.”

The pair wrote the track while isolated from the rest of the world, and from the pressure to follow up 'Bloodstreams' with more of the same. “We went and spent two weeks out in country New South Wales; there was this house in Yass that Jack Ladder and PVT recorded at. We just hired it out and did demos there by ourselves, just me and Simon. The owner was there, but he and his partner were away most of the time. So we were in this four-story, 10-bedroom, 120-year-old homestead by ourselves. It was creepy as. We spent two weeks just writing, and that's when we wrote 'Northern Lights'. It just felt right.”

That isolation had an undeniable influence on 'Northern Lights', which feels more introspective than anything they'd previously released, but so did Shane's increased interest in storytelling. “I would never class myself as a strong lyricist at all,” he qualifies, before explaining his new approach.

“I just take different things from different places, kind of like a snapshot of my life. Other times I'll just write about a story that I make up in my head, or a fake person that doesn't even exist, but they're fun to write about because you can imagine all the shit they'd get up to. I've been doing that a little bit more recently. The lyrics on this record might seem like they're about me, but I'm just writing about stories that I have in my head. I've just been sitting around thinking, 'Imagine if that was something that happened,' you know?”

Unsurprisingly, 'Northern Lights' has been another success for Shane and Simon, even going into rotation on BBC Radio 1. It's the sort of thing that would be unthinkable for most local bands, but is almost inevitable for DZ Deathrays. Not that they're taking anything for granted. “We don't expect anything,” Shane stresses.

“That's always been our little motto — don't expect anything. The only time you're going to be really disappointed is when you expect that you're going to be played on the radio; when you expect that you're going to play at a festival and it's going to be packed out. If you get those opportunities, don't expect anything, and you'll always be surprised. That's always been the way I've felt about it, you know. Don't expect anything. It's better to just do things.”

DZ Deathrays play Big Day Out at Metricon Stadium and Carrara Parklands on Sunday January 19.

Wednesday, 06 November 2013 16:12

Terry Molloy: Supanova In Preview

The 'Doctor Who' universe has always been well represented at Supanova Pop Culture Expo.

Each year, fans dress as their favourite iteration of the Doctor, build makeshift Daleks and get a chance to meet the stars of the show. This year, it's Terry Molloy — best known for his role as the villainous Davros — who'll be waiting to meet them.

“It's kind of like being part of a very large extended family,” says Molloy, no stranger to 'Doctor Who' fan conventions, “of people who have been in the program, people who watch the program, and people who have worked on the program.

"There's common ground there. It's the fans who keep the program going, and always have. Certainly in the years when 'Doctor Who' was off screens, they were the ones who kept the faith, if you like. I've met a lot of interesting people and made a lot of friends by going around the world and meeting the fans.”

An evil scientist responsible for creating the Daleks and intent on becoming the supreme ruler of the universe (despite being confined to a life support chair), Davros is one of The Doctor's most popular and enduring enemies.

Molloy wasn't the first actor to play the role, but since making his first appearance in 1984's 'Resurrection Of The Daleks', he has been the most iconic.

Not only did he play the role on-screen a number of times, but when the TV series went off the air for a number of years, he continued to appear as Davros in a number of audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions. In 2013, 'Doctor Who' celebrates its 50th year; Molloy has been part of the family for 29 of them.

“The actual concept of the show itself is brilliant,” Molloy says. “[The Doctor] solves things with a bit of Sellotape and a Sonic Screwdriver. You look at the big, flash stuff that goes around; some of the effects on a lot of the other series... they were never there in 'Doctor Who'. Not in the classic series, anyway.

"Obviously they have the ability to use CGI to create effects now, but they still don't over-use it. The stories come before everything else. When you have those strong storylines, that's what makes it work. That's what makes the fans want to watch the program.

“With the Daleks, it's one of those amazing things... you've got these little metal pepper pots that somehow create absolute fear in people. I suppose it's the unrelenting paranoia and demand for domination that they've got.

"With Davros, the appeal is actually the intellectual game he plays with The Doctor. He and The Master are on the same intellectual level as The Doctor, and they know it. They both know it! They know that they're of a kind.

“Rather than always trying to bump each other off, they enjoy the intellectual chess game of their meetings. Who's going to come out on top? That's something we've drawn on a lot more in the audio plays than they've been able to do on TV, which a lot of fans have picked up on and really, really enjoyed.”

The Doctor's adventures will continue in 2014 with Peter Capaldi (best known for his role as sharp-tongued spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in 'The Thick Of It') in the lead role. Molloy is confident the franchise is in the right hands.

“You know full well that Peter Capaldi's going to deliver,” he says.

“He's been a fan since he was 15, and he's a superb actor, a supremely good actor. If anyone was fated to be The Doctor, it was him. I just trust he's not going to be quite as foul-mouthed as he was as Malcolm Tucker! It'd be lovely to have an interaction between Davros and him, you know, just cussing each other out.”

Terry Molloy will appear at Supanova Pop Culture Expo at RNA Showgrounds from Nov 8-10.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 16:23

Supanova: Festival In Preview

Since its inception in 2002, the Supanova Pop Culture Expo has brought countless 'Supa-Stars' to our shores.

The expo is a magnet for fans of sci-fi, fantasy and anime films and TV shows — but for event director Daniel Zachariou, comic books have always come first.

“It's always mum's fault,” he laughs. “My mum came home one day with a big stack of comics, including 'Super Goof', who flew around in his long johns and fought the Beagle Boys. I just devoured them!

"Then when I was 10, I broke both my arms at the same time at school, and ended up spending a lot of time in the library reading 'Asterix', 'Tin Tin', 'Lord Of The Rings', 'Chronicles Of Narnia' ... and then 'Star Wars' came out in '77, which was around that time as well. And that was it!”

Supanova started out as a comic book convention (before rebranding the event in 2002, Zachariou ran Sydney's Comicfest for two years), and Zachariou insists that comics will “always be a huge part of the festival”.

Much like similar conventions in America, though, there's no denying that film and TV actors have become the biggest draw. Zachariou's breakthrough in that department came when he secured a 'Lord Of The Rings' star to appear at Supanova in the early 2000s, and in a sense, he's still pinching himself.

“The first time we got a really 'hot' actor across to Supanova was Sean Astin,” Zachariou remembers, “when he had just finished filming 'Return Of The King'.

"He was filming a 'Hercules' mini-series or something in New Zealand, and he flew across for us... I went out to dinner with him and my family and closest friends, and John Rhys-Davies from 'Lord Of The Rings' as well. I just remember him sitting across from me, and me asking him, 'I'm really glad you're here, but... why are you here?'

"Even as I was booking him, you know, I still struggled to understand why he would say yes. He was very gracious in his response. He said, 'Look, I've got my aims and aspirations. I love the fans and they are a huge encouragement to me, but I see these events as another valid form of income. I want to produce, I want to direct, and this all helps towards that goal. And I'm happy to do it!'

"So that was it. And then he said, 'Have faith in what you do; you're doing a good thing here'.”

The Brisbane leg of this year's event will be bolstered by the presence of 'Game Of Thrones' creator George RR Martin and star Lena Headey (a late replacement for Peter Dinklage, who had to drop out due to film commitments).

They'll be joined by fellow 'Game Of Thrones' stars Mark Addy and Jerome Flynn, as well as fan-favourite actors like Joe Flanigan ('Stargate Atlantis'), Dominic Monaghan ('Lord Of The Rings', 'Lost') and Sean Maher ('Firefly'). For Zachariou, though, one star shines a little brighter than the rest.

“I'm a huge Summer Glau fan,” he says, obviously proud to have secured the 'Firefly', 'Serenity', 'Dollhouse', 'Arrow' and 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' star for another appearance.

“She first came down in 2006 for our Brisbane convention, and she's been back a couple of times since then, but not to Brisbane. She's so wonderful. I remember that first tour ... she was just a Southern belle in her composure. I personally looked after her, as far as making sure she was alright at all times, but she was so refreshingly normal at the same time.

“We're really excited that we've been able to secure Lena Headey as well, because her credits across fandom are just massive. The fact that she's swinging in to save the day, and that she was the lead in 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles', the same show where Summer was the Terminator ... it's really fantastic to have them together for Brisbane.”

Supanova takes over RNA Showgrounds from November 8-10.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 15:01

Rush: Movie In Preview

Playing Formula 1 champion Niki Lauda in ‘Rush’ might be the highest profile role of actor Daniel Brühl’s career, but it’s certainly not the most glamorous.

A cold man and a stickler for details, the abrasive Niki Lauda was not the most beloved man on the F1 circuit in his 1970s heydey. Nor was the Austrian champion famed for his good looks — his rodent-like features earned him the nickname ‘The Rat’, and that was BEFORE the horrific crash that did severe damage to his face.

Playing a role like that would be enough to damage most handsome young actors’ egos, but it gets worse for Brühl — he co-stars in ‘Rush’ with hunky Aussie Chris Hemsworth, who plays Lauda’s fierce rival, rock star McLaren driver James Hunt.

"It was terrible sometimes,” Brühl laughs. “I tell you, I suffered. Especially these moments when I got the prosthetic make up, which took six to seven hours, and my pick up was at three a.m., and sometimes I'd look at the call sheet and it'd say, 'Chris Hemsworth, pick up at 10... The first scene is Chris Hemsworth kissing a nurse, the second scene is Chris Hemsworth making love on a plane, the  third scene is [Daniel Brühl] checking his tires.

“These are tough moments and it helped me to create that rivalry with Chris because by the time he stepped on the trailer and said, 'Hey buddy, good morning,' I was like, 'oh, fuck you'. It's hard for the ego!"

Under those conditions, it was only natural that Brühl (best known for his roles in 'Good Bye, Lenin!', 'Joyeux Noel' and 'Inglourious Basterds') would start to take on some of Lauda's grumpier characteristics. “The caterers hated me,” he admits. “Sometimes I would put on Niki's voice and say, 'The food is shit, it tastes horrible', and they knew I was being serious. They'd bring me something better. It worked! It's a shame that this movie is now over so I can't do the Niki [attitude] anymore.”

Brühl got so deep into character, in fact, that when he encountered a problem while training for the film's driving scenes, he immediately knew who to blame. “I had an accident with my fake Ferrari,” he explains. “It was a Formula 3 Ferrari but it was a Formula 1 chassis, and a wheel came off and made [the car] spin. I had two or three uncomfortable seconds where I had to get the car under control, and in my paranoid German brain I immediately thought it was Chris who had manipulated my car.

Hemsworth denied the accusation, of course, but in the back of his mind, Brühl still suspects foul play. “When I finally stopped the car and turned around, I saw Chris with his mechanics, his McLaren guys. [They were] laughing and I thought, 'You assholes. You Australians are such assholes.'”

'Rush' is released on Thursday October 3.

Wednesday, 04 September 2013 15:02

Kelly Sue DeConnick: Brisbane Writers Festival

Three years ago, most comic book readers wouldn't have heard of Kelly Sue DeConnick.

Today, she's a big enough name in the industry to be invited to the Brisbane Writers Festival. But like virtually all ‘overnight successes’, there was nothing too rapid about DeConnick’s rise — long before she was writing top titles like 'Avengers Assemble' and 'Captain Marvel' for Marvel Comics, she cut her teeth adapting countless manga volumes for US publishers.

“I edited or adapted more than 11,000 pages of dialogue before I moved to primarily doing my own work,” DeConnick explains. “It made me very dialogue focused and gave me a perspective on the visuals of language — similar, I  suspect, to what an apprentice letterer might pick up.”

Since her focus shifted to her own scripts, DeConnick has worked with some of the industry's most talented artists (most notably Emma Rios, with whom DeConnick is developing a creator-owned project, 'Pretty Deadly'). Each collaboration has its own challenges and rewards.

“Pages NEVER come back exactly as I imagined them,” DeConnick says. “For one thing, I don't really imagine pages as a whole (rare for a comic writer, I'm told, but true). I sort of feel and hear my way through a page. Visuals are my partner's job. I do my best to give  them what they need from me and  then get out of the way. So, yes, pages are always a certain surprise and  that's  part of the joy of this process.”

At the moment, DeConnick's fans have multiple opportunities to enjoy her work each month — a state of affairs they should probably enjoy while it lasts.

“I'm too slow,” DeConnick laments. “I've gotten faster over the last year, but I don't know that I'm getting faster fast enough. I may end up having to leave monthly comics for that very reason. There are people who can produce four to six scripts a month and keep the quality up. For whatever reason, I am not one of them.

“The only thing that gives me any comfort there is that several other of my favorite comic book writers have had the same issue and gone on to do interesting things.”

Kelly Sue DeConnick appears at the Brisbane Writers Festival from Friday Sep 6 to Sunday Sep 8.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013 17:05

Matt Fraction: Brisbane Writers Festival

Celebrated comic book writer Matt Fraction — of 'Hawkeye', 'Iron Man', 'Fantastic Four', 'Thor', 'X-Men', 'Iron Fist' and 'Casanova' fame — has a plan to make comics “less comic-y”. Well, sort of. 

“Oh, oh, I wish I was so organised and far-seeing as to make plans,” counters Fraction, best known for his work with Marvel and Image Comics. “I suspect it's more about trying to find my way in to writing these long-running (in some cases) or long-existing characters that I didn't create but rather inherit for a brief time - to start with the characters themselves and grow out from there. 

“The pyrotechnics and visual excitement and action stuff, the genre stuff, the superhero stuff — it's all meaningless if you don't care about who it's all happening to, I guess. Or if I don't care about who it's happening to.”

The stars of Fraction's comics may be godlike beings, but he never loses sight of the fact that they're also human beings. Unlike many other mainstream comics, which are often written for an ageing audience of diehard fans, you don't need to be a “supernerd” to understand what's going on in his stories. In fact, two of the biggest fans of Fraction's recent run on 'Fantastic Four' were his young children. 

“'Iron Man' and 'Thor', which I had been a part of for… eesh, like five years? Four years?... were very much NOT for kids,” he explains. “And so much of the early Stan [Lee] and Jack [Kirby] stuff just sparks wonder with kids, if you've ever shown it to 'em. 

“So we'd pile into bed at night and I'd read old Stan and Jack issues to them, and then when my issues came out, we'd read those. One night my son realised I was ripping him off for ['Fantastic Four' character] Franklin [Richards] and then realised I was basically just lifting my family life. He literally said — 'hey, that's just like I do'. And he gave me this very adult look. Hilarious.”

Matt Fraction will participate in a number of Brisbane Writers Festival sessions from September 6-8. For more information, head to bwf.org.au

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 14:18

Kick-Ass 2: Tough Mother

When ‘Kick-Ass’ was released three years ago, it left the door wide open for a sequel — but even the film's stars weren't sure they'd ever walk through it.

“I think we were all very surprised, yeah,” says Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who plays the villainous Chris D'Amico (aka The Mother Fucker) in the ‘Kick-Ass’ films, but will probably always be best known as McLovin from ‘Superbad’.

“We filmed ‘Kick-Ass’ about four years ago, it came out three years ago, and it didn't make as much money as I think people wanted it to. So a couple of years went by, and we just thought, 'Well, alright, we made it and we're proud of it and we'll just leave it be'.

“And then we got word that through DVD sales, iTunes and digital downloads, people were really becoming fans of the movie. Soon enough, [‘Kick-Ass’ director and ‘Kick-Ass 2’ producer] Matthew Vaughn called me and said he found a great guy, Jeff Wadlow. He wrote a great script; it was funny and dark and action-packed, so we all signed on and wanted to do it.”

Naturally, Mintz-Plasse felt some trepidation about recreating what worked in the first movie, especially with the unheralded Wadlow — whose last film was 2008's unremarkable ‘Never Back Down’ — in the director's chair instead of Vaughn.

“I think that's always a fear, you know? When you make a movie like the first one and you're very proud of it, you're always worried that if you make a sequel it could ruin the first one. And yeah, I was a little sad that Matthew wasn't coming back. I thought ‘Kick-Ass’ was his baby. He made the first one strictly out of his own pocket, which was amazing, so when he called me [about Jeff Wadlow] I was a little bummed. But I had a meeting with Jeff and he seemed very passionate; he understood the movie and where it needed to go.”

With Wadlow replacing Vaughn at the helm of the film, it was up to Jim Carrey to replace the star power of Nicolas Cage. A self-professed fan of the original ‘Kick-Ass’, Carrey was tapped to play Colonel Stars And Stripes, an ex-mafia goon turned vigilante. Playing against type as a grizzled tough guy, Carrey excels in the role; a couple of months before the film's release, however, he withdrew his support for it.

“I did ‘Kick-Ass’ a month before Sandy Hook,” Carrey tweeted in June, “and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”

Mintz-Plasse is diplomatic when asked for his opinion on Carrey's decision. “It came as a surprise,” he admits. “He read the script. He loved the first movie, so we know he wanted to be a part of it. We came to him, and we were just so happy that he wanted to do the movie. When you read a script, there's violence on the page, but you never know how it's actually going to play out in the movie. So when he read the script, I think he said, 'Alright, it's violent, but I've done some movies like this in the past and I've seen movies like this, so it's fine'.

“In all his scenes, he doesn't have a gun, and there's not too much blood, so everything he was shooting was fine. Once he left the set and we shot everything without him, and the action came to life off the page, it got really, really violent. And when he saw the finished product, it was just too much for him.

“I think people definitely have the right to think what they want and say what they want, and with all the tragedies that have happened, it's totally understandable why he and other people are against the violence... I love violence in movies. I think it's a fun escape. If done right, it's great. But I totally understand why people say that.”

Of course, the wisdom of objecting to the high level of violence in a film called ‘Kick-Ass 2’ is debatable. Like its predecessor, this is a movie targeted at an audience that has long since been desensitised to screen violence.

“I think that's absolutely what it is,” Mintz-Plasse agrees. “I'm very desensitised to action and violence. I was talking to someone recently about how in all the action movies that I see lately, the third act is always, 'What's the biggest city or the biggest monument or the craziest thing that we can blow up and destroy?' To see New York City explode should be the craziest thing you see in your life, it should be the craziest thing of all time. But you see it in every movie. So it really numbs your brain and desensitises you to that.”

While he doesn't share his co-star's concerns about the film's content, Mintz-Plasse admires Jim Carrey's career arc. In much the same way that Carrey was able to go from 'Ace Ventura' to 'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind', Mintz-Plasse hopes to go from 'Superbad' to dramatic roles of his own.

“I think that'd be a blast,” he says. “It's always so much fun to challenge yourself and take yourself out of your comfort zone. I think that's really good for a person to do. But I'm still young, you know? I've only done, like, seven or eight movies, so I'm still trying to figure out who I am in the film industry.”

‘Kick-Ass 2’ is in cinemas August 22.

Wednesday, 07 August 2013 14:10

Amanda Palmer: Ask Me

Earlier this year, Amanda Palmer delivered the performance that her entire career had been building towards. No, it wasn't her attack on The Daily Mail (but we'll get to that), and it certainly wasn't her poem for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (but we'll get to that, too) — it was her TED talk.

Palmer's presentation for the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Conference spanned her life's work, from her time spent busking as a living statue to her game-changing, record-breaking Kickstarter project, and it succinctly explained how these seemingly disparate things related to each other.

“The big thing that inspired the TED talk,” Palmer says, “was a need to really deeply explain myself after feeling that I'd been heavily misunderstood when I came under fire for crowdsourcing things.

“In my community, that's such a natural way of doing stuff,” she continues, “and I was so caught off guard when I was criticised for it. I really felt like I was standing up, not just for me, but for all the artists I know who do a lot of crowdsourcing and exchange a lot, creatively, with their fans and their friends. The culture is shifting, especially in America right now, and a lot of artists are coming under fire for how they do things. I felt like it was an important talk to give, to remind people that it really is the artist's prerogative how they want to interact and exchange with their fans and their friends.”

Followers of Palmer (and keen observers of internet shitstorms) will be aware that when Palmer talks about “coming under fire”, she's mostly referring to the criticism she received when she attempted to 'crowdsource' musicians to play with her Grand Theft Orchestra last year. She eventually caved to public pressure and agreed to pay the volunteers; I ask her why she relented and if she regrets not standing her ground.

“It was the easiest way to get back to work,” she counters. “That's the easiest answer. It wasn't like I reversed my principles. My principles stayed steady. But with so many people screaming, and with a job to do — this was literally happening during the first few weeks of our tour, while we were driving from show to show and working with these musicians every night — I didn't really feel like it was the correct time for a political battle. It was time to play music for people.”

That wasn't the only controversy Palmer found herself embroiled in over the past 12 months. She also wrote 'A Poem For Dzhokhar', a stream-of-consciousness work that appeared to take a sympathetic view of alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

“My views about this are probably continually controversial,” she shrugs, “but I think human beings should feel empathy towards everybody. When I say 'everybody', I mean absolutely everybody. It doesn't work if it's selective. That means young, old, violent, non-violent, black, white, you name it. If we're selectively empathetic, we're just not doing it right. That being said, it's a lot easier to feel empathy for a five-year-old than it is for a 37-year-old suicide bomber, but that doesn't mean it's not possible.”

Most recently, Palmer attracted more positive press when she skewered The Daily Mail. The British tabloid wrote a bizarre review of Palmer's Glastonbury performance that made no mention of her music, focussing instead on a minor “wardrobe malfunction”; in response, Palmer threw off her kimono and performed a new song, 'Dear Daily Mail', entirely nude.

“When I saw that Daily Mail article,” she remembers, “my first reaction was to laugh. I really thought it was so fucking funny that The Daily Mail thought I would be embarrassed someone could see a quarter centimetre of my nipple. Someone at The Daily Mail obviously didn't Google my name. I just thought that was so funny, but also so telling about how culture is built, because they're functioning on a planet where a female artist is fundamentally supposed to be embarrassed by something like that.

“As a female performance artist, nudity is definitely a powerful tool... especially if you use it with humour. That can be a really powerful statement because often, female performance art and nudity gets stuck in a box of ultra serious, highly academic feminist bullshit. Sometimes it's just really funny to rip your clothes off and do something hilarious.”

Amanda Palmer will speak at the Bigsound Conference (September 11-13) and perform at The Tivoli on Thursday September 12.

Thursday, 01 August 2013 09:00

The World's End Review

Everybody knows somebody like Gary King.

King, played by Simon Pegg, is the erstwhile hero of The World's End, the last film in Pegg, co-star Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright's so-called 'Three Colours Cornetto' trilogy. Pushing 40 but still dressing (and living) the way he did when he was 18, King is that guy who peaked in high school and wants to drag everyone else back there with him.

In this case, King rounds up his four best friends from high school, who have all grown into ordinary, well-adjusted gents, and convinces them to finish a pub crawl they started 20 years ago. Naturally, this being the conclusion to a trilogy that's so far revolved around zombie outbreaks and slow-motion shoot-outs, they get a lot more than they bargained for.

Unlike the loveable types he usually plays, Pegg has boldly chosen to make King as unlikable as possible — he's truly pathetic, a vicious takedown of the perpetual adolescent, and if audiences are able to relate to him, that's more of an indictment of the viewer than a credit to Pegg's charms.

The shift from Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz's supremely likeable protagonists to this cringeworthy character is indicative of the larger tonal shift that's going on here. While those earlier films were laugh riots, The World's End is a much more subdued affair — it's darker, deeper, and occasionally depressing.

That's not to say there aren't laughs to be had in The World's End — there are plenty — but they just don't come as thick and fast as they do in Wright's earlier efforts. That's clearly intentional, to a degree; a natural result of the fairly serious themes of ageing and social malaise that co-writers Wright and Pegg are kicking around here.

But part of the problem is very much not intentional. There are a lot of moments in this movie that are clearly meant to get a laugh that don't quite work; obvious jokes that fall flat and banter that doesn't sparkle. It's impossible not to compare The World's End with Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz and wish that it was, well, funnier.

That said, the script is still awfully tight. Wright is a master watchmaker, and every single part of his films connects to the others in some way — seemingly minor asides end up paying off as major plot points down the track; ostensibly insignificant details are actually layered with hidden meanings. There'll be plenty to dig into here on repeat viewings, even if it doesn't completely satisfy the first time.

Ultimately, that's where The World's End will most likely shine — at home, watched repeatedly at the tail end of a Three Colours Cornetto triple bill.

That's certainly how Gary King would choose to watch it, anyway.

3/5
The World's End is out now.
Wednesday, 31 July 2013 20:09

Pond: Hobo With A Rocket Launcher

Pond is the sound of your favourite Perth musicians having the time of their life.

'Hobo Rocket' is the fifth LP from the WA five-piece, made up of Nick Allbrook, Jay Watson, Cam Avery, Joseph Ryan and Jamie Terry. It's also their most immediate, a 30-minute blast of twisted psychedelia and Sabbath savagery.

“This was supposed to be an EP,” guitarist Jay Watson — who splits his time between Pond, Tame Impala and his forthcoming solo project — explains. “And then… we don't really like EPs, so we put two more songs on it. I don't know, I just can't be bothered. I wouldn't bother with an EP. So it's really short, and it's only seven songs, and I feel bad for people who are, like, buying it.

“But I think it's kind of cool. Traditionally, 34 minutes isn't really short, at all, for an album. I've got heaps of albums on iTunes that are shorter. It's kind of cool that you can just listen to it on a car ride to your friend's place or whatever and it's over. It's half an hour of super intense sonic chaos.”

'Chaos' is the right word. Watson likes to refer to the album as 'rogue'; it's his diplomatic way of referring to the frenzied recording process. “We rushed it,” Watson says, “because we never have any time. We recorded it in, like, three days. There's a lot of stuff we could have done better or tighter. A lot of the takes are first takes. But I think that means it sounds kind of rogue and chaotic, like our live show does, just because we never rehearse properly.

“We all get a perverse kick out of doing things slightly more shittily. I mean, it's not actually 'more shittily'; it's just for the sake of being more real. Each of these takes would have been the first or second take, and someone would have whinged about it at the time. Usually Cam [Avery], because he's playing drums and he's not even really a drummer. He'd be like, 'man, I didn't do a very good job on that', and we'd say, 'fuck it, sorry, we're movin' on! Deal with it!' So we do that, and then I spend six months being really paranoid that we fucked up and we should have recorded more takes.

“I think we're just passionate about the rogueness, because that's what Pond is, you know? We could sit there on the computer for hours and make it sound way better, technically better. But that's not really the point.”

Pond's next album has already been written, and Watson promises that it's “more original” than most of their output so far; that the band are “sick of retro rockin'”. He also hopes to release his solo album (which he's already recorded) later this year. The members of Pond and Tame Impala may not look particularly industrious at first glance, but there's clearly something pushing them to create at such a prolific rate.

“I think it's just that we've got a lot of ideas,” Watson says. “I mean, we've got more ideas than we have talent, that's for sure. We've got more ambition than talent, as well, and that's why we keep making lots of records. None of them are perfect or our best thing, but I feel like it's all gearing up to a run of really amazing records one day.

“I don't think any of us think that we've done our best yet. I mean, maybe Kevin [Parker] has, but I think we have some classic songs in us. That's motivation.”

‘Hobo Rocket' is out on August 2.

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