Items filtered by date: April 2013
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 18:21

Big Scary: Big Changes

Eighteen months on from their J Award-nominated debut LP, ‘Vacation’, Melbourne’s Big Scary are back with a brand new single and a brand new sound.

And brand new methods. When lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Iansek made mention last year of creating music built around hip hop, most local fans hardly took him seriously. There’d be a bit of experimentation, sure, but once the session musicians and producers and mixers had been through, it would be another Big Scary record.

But as it turns out, ‘Luck Now’ is indeed a striking departure. Big Scary’s new single shifts to shuddering drums, fuzzy synths and wandering piano samples. Part Radiohead and perhaps part Four Tet, it’s a multi-dimensional rabbit hole of a song.

“We wanted to let the songs be what they wanted to be,” Iansek explains over the phone from his Melbourne home. “There were moments where we wondered if this is us, and how we were going to recreate it live. There were so many of those questions that popped up. But I just think why sacrifice a good song just because you can’t recreate it live? Or whether it relates to what we’ve done previously. Just let the songs define who we are, in a way.

“Hip hop has been a recent discovery for me, and it wasn’t so much the sound – it was more the philosophy and the production behind it that was the main driver for me. I got into hip hop through the production-before-the-songs approach. That’s what sparked my interest initially. And that’s what sparked the initial idea for the LP.”

Iansek likes the idea of hearing a hip hop song and not knowing exactly what he’s listening to: is it a live drum kit? Or something somebody played live 40 years ago? Getting lost in the question is a turn on for Big Scary.

“I wanted this hybrid of live and sampled beats,” Iansek continues, “and making this weird mix of old and new, which I think hip hop does so well – it’s all about samples of different origins … so there were all those things that got me excited, and helped develop what I wanted the whole album to sound like overall.”

The album he talks about is ‘Not Art’, due for release via Pieater and Inertia in late June. And anyone looking for the more conventional rock of ‘Vacation’ may need to alter their expectations.

“[Luck Now]’s very much in line with the rest of the album. It was just that same approach. That’s what that song wanted to be. I started off with that riff and drumbeat at the start – that’s what I had first, and a few of the piano chords. We tried doing live acoustic drum versions of it, and it was just a different song. So we preferred the way it was and kinda rolled with that.”

Iansek and bandmate Jo Syme didn’t even want live considerations to stand in the way of delivering a song in the studio. Which raises the question: how does a two-piece tackle such complex music in a live setting?
“Actually, today we’re having a rehearsal for the tour and we’re trying to figure out how to play ‘Luck Now’, because it’s baffling us, really,” he laughs. “But we just didn’t worry about that stuff or about how different it was. It was that mindset that carried right through the album this time around.”

Iansek and Syme are about to set off on a clutch of tour dates in support of ‘Luck Now’ and earlier teaser track, ‘Phil Collins’. It will be their first live performances since May last year, and Iansek becomes animated when talking about how the duo have evolved in that time.

“I think our live show is always trying to keep up with what we record,” Iansek says. “It will be completely different and as scary as it is, I think it’s fun to push ourselves live and do things that we’re not completely comfortable with. We’ve got samplers onstage now, and that’s new to us. There’s bound to be some hairy moments during the show where we hit things and sounds don’t come out. But I think that nervous energy will make it fun and keep people on their toes.

“I’m curious to see how they go. We haven’t played ‘Luck Now’ live once. So we’re literally in the studio today, scratching our heads and figuring out how we’re going to do it. It’ll be interesting, and I think we’ll get there. But the good thing is that we’ve got the help of one more person – [multi-instrumentalist] Angus Rigby – who’s helping out on bass and keys and other bits and pieces. We’re looking forward to it.”

Big Scary play Alhambra Lounge Friday April 26.

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 05:44

Greg Cipes: Supanova In Preview

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is the hottest animated show on television, Ninja Turtles action figures are flooding toy store shelves and there's even a live action movie on the way. No, you haven't travelled back in time to 1989 — Nickelodeon has rebooted the franchise for a new audience, and Supanova guest Greg Cipes has played a big part in its success.

“‘To play Mikey is the greatest responsibility and gift that I've ever received,” says the voice actor, who plays Michelangelo in the critically acclaimed new show. “Mikey has had so much to do with who I was, and who I am, from the time I was a kid... [the Turtles] taught me how to meditate, and they got me into martial arts, surfing, and skateboarding. Even my love of animals came from watching the Turtles! They made me look at animals differently, like, 'whoa, maybe they're more like us than we thought'.”

In fact, the only major difference between Michelangelo and Greg — aside from the fact that one of them is a mutated turtle — is that Greg is a vegan. But he still shares Mikey's love of pizza.
“In LA, there are multiple pizza options [for vegans],” he explains. “Organic pizzas that are so good; restaurants like Cafe Gratitude, restaurants like Planet Raw, we have a lot of options in LA. And once you learn what a raw pizza is, you can make it yourself at home! It's really easy. It's way quicker than a cooked pizza, and it tastes better, and it makes you healthy. My favourite ingredient is actually Mikey's favourite ingredient, which is algae.”

Algae? On a pizza? “We're taking the opportunity to teach kids that eating green things is not a bad thing to do,” Greg says. “It's actually good for you. It's natural for a turtle to eat algae, and it's actually natural for us to eat this algae, because it's so, so good for you. The nutrients and vitamins and minerals in blue green algae, it's called spirulina, and this spirulina contains all the vitamins and minerals that are not in the food that kids and most people are eating.

“Cereal that says it has vitamins in it? It doesn't have vitamins. The soil that food is grown in — apples, bananas, grapes, avocados, everything — there's no minerals in the soil anymore, so you have to find it somewhere. Blue green algae has the minerals. So it's cool, and maybe kids will try it, because Mikey loves algae!”

Cipes has lended his voice to characters in 'Ben 10', 'Teen Titans' and 'Ultimate Spider-Man', and appeared on-screen in shows like 'Gilmore Girls', 'Deadwood', 'House', 'Without A Trace', 'Cold Case' and 'CSI Miami'. But in many ways, his portrayal of Michelangelo has been his breakthrough role. It's a just reward for his dedication to the character.

“I've also developed a really cool relationship with Kevin Eastman, the original creator of the series,” Cipes beams. “He was just in my living room yesterday, having tea, kicking back and listening to music. That's so cool, because that's the dude who created a show that really affected me and made me who I am today!”

Greg Cipes appears at Supanova at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre from April 19-21.

Published in Film
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 05:36

Margaret Cho: Comedy In Preview

Margaret Cho returns with her new stand-up show 'Mother' and reveals her celebrity friends and what she plans to do while Down Under.

Cho, who found worldwide fame opening for Jerry Seinfeld and to this day hears from the ‘Seinfeld’ star, still enjoys the frantic and crazy life on the road and enjoys making overseas ventures to Australia.
"I love visiting Australia as it gives me the chance to catch up with my old comedian buddies such as Wil (Anderson) and Hannah (Gadsby) who are just so dear to my heart," the comedian chuckles.

When asked about what she misses most about home while on the road, her answer is somewhat surprising for a performer as risqué and colourful as she can sometimes be perceived.

"I love nothing more than doing 'normal' things like gardening! It sounds like something so normal but it's a great feeling to get home after being on the road and get back to your real life."

A close friend of the star is pornstar bombshell Tera Patrick, who asked Cho to write the opening introduction to her autobiography 'Sinner Takes All' in which she makes the surprising comparison that porn stars and comedians have a lot in common.

"Tera and I met and I was really impressed with her overall attitude. Here's this highly successful woman that's created her own franchise and of an Asian background which are two things you'd struggle to find in the adult entertainment industry. I felt that our professions were both similar in that we go out night after night trying to give people a good show and for them to leave with a smile on their face."

Margaret Cho appeArs at The Tivoli for one night only, Monday April 22.

Published in Comedy
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 05:30

Imogen Kelly: Burlesque In Preview

One of the biggest names in burlesque, Imogen Kelly is back with her new show 'Herstory', to put a refreshing twist on some of history's most famous females.

“I tried to pick females that would show all different aspects of womanhood. There's a Queen, a writer, a politician’s wife, and some from Hollywood as well. I'm just trying to show different characteristics of women who have been in places of power and have been judged because of their sexuality. So that's what the show explores in a very comical and sexy way.

Though this is Kelly's latest offering, the inspiration stemmed from one her earliest ideas.

“The inspiration behind it came from one of my early bodies of work which involved women from history or old films. It involved changing their dialogue and exploring their sexuality — people like Margaret Thatcher who were completely devoid of all sexuality but I'm sure had to exist deep down. The first character I did was Shirley Temple, actually, inspired from this quote that she was the world's first porn star, and I loved that.”
After being crowned the World's Reigning Queen of Burlesque in Las Vegas last year — something she sees as a defining moment — Kelly's long and impressive career is littered with achievements, including multiple degrees. But Kelly believes that what separates her from other burlesque girls is actually having something to say, and not just  being a pretty face.

“I think it (burlesque) struggles in Australia a bit because the girls performing don't push themselves or they don't have anything to say. They're just up on stage to be seen. They call that empowerment, but for me that's indulgence. They need to understand that as a performer they have a responsibility to entertain their audience and to get them to think, to laugh and to engage. But I do think it's a very important art form because women are standing up for pretty much the first time in Western history and claiming their own sexual image on stage. It's very exciting to see women be able to do that, especially those with different bodies. I think it’s important that burlesque is one place where women aren't judged for the way they look.”

For those familiar with burlesque, don't get comfortable too soon as Kelly tends to do things a little differently from the rest of the pack.

“It won't be like your average burlesque show. It won't have feathers and froth and all that glamour. This show will be about exploring women and their sexuality. But it will still be lots of fun.”

'Herstory' will be performed at the Judith Wright Centre from April 5-6.

Published in Cabaret
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 05:17

Sushi Girl: Film In Review

In many ways a spiritual successor to 'Reservoir Dogs', Kern Saxton's 'Sushi Girl' is a cult classic in the making, packed with unpredictable twists and a memorably demented turn from Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.

A gritty and often confronting indie thriller, it tells the tale of Fish (Noah Hathaway), who's just been released after six years on the inside. In all that time, he kept quiet about the other four men involved in the robbery that sent him to prison, and they decide to reward him with an unusual celebratory dinner - a lavish array of sushi served off the naked body of a catatonic young woman. It makes for compelling viewing, but you have to imagine it was a distracting set-up for the actors.

“After a while, it just becomes part of the gig,” laughs James Duval ('The Doom Generation', 'Donnie Darko'), who plays one of the film's depraved lead characters. “But we're really eating sushi off her at times in the film. We had a sushi chef on set, and when we were doing our close-ups, he would replace the prop sushi with real sushi. So that was a significant advantage of working on this film; we got paid to eat sushi off Cortney Palm.”

Duval joins a murderers row of recognisable faces in 'Sushi Girl', including Hathaway ('The NeverEnding Story'), Tony Todd ('Candyman'), Sonny Chiba ('The Street Fighter'), Michael Biehn ('The Terminator'), Jeff Fahey ('Grindhouse'), and Danny Trejo ('Machete'). But the most recognisable face in the cast belongs to Mark Hamill ('Star Wars', obviously), who spits in the face of typecasting as the insane Crow.

“After watching the film [the final scene], we all kind of looked at each other and said, 'okay, yeah, I think he just murdered Luke Skywalker',” Duval remembers. “I'm not gonna lie, it was amazing to be on the set to watch that happen, and realise that was happening. For 30 years, maybe people thought of him as Luke Skywalker, but no more.

“I grew up with 'Star Wars', that's my generation, and I saw all three films in the theatre. He had an enormous impact on me. So even as a child, I watched 'Corvette Summer', I watched 'The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia', I watched his career from then on. Including the stage work he had done, actually. I was too young to go watch it at the time, but when he was doing Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, I was following his career. So it was an extra special treat to be working with him, in that sense.”

It's ironic, then, that after finally 'murdering' Luke Skywalker, Hamill is lining up to play him again for the first time in over 30 years in the next 'Star Wars' film. “Isn't it funny how things work?” Duval laughs. “I think sometimes you need to kill things before they can be reborn. He can absolutely go back.”

Duval is currently preparing to revisit an old role of his own in 'Punk's Dead', the forthcoming sequel to 1998's 'SLC Punk!' He's taking some time out from that preparation, though, to appear at the Gold Coast Film Festival and Supanova Pop Culture Expo with the rest of the 'Sushi Girl' cast and crew.

“When I first met my booking agent years ago, he asked me to give him a call when I could do these shows. I always thought it was kind of a weird thing for me to do, because I thought, 'nobody wants to talk to me'... you know, I'm not a movie star, I'm an actor. Over the years, he kept running into me, and he'd say, 'you should call me, people want to meet you, they want to talk to you, and you'd get to meet all the other people on the circuit'.

“That's when I realised it would be a win-win thing - I could meet people who actually liked and admired what I did, but I could also be that person who's excited to see the other people there, and that's okay! That entire scene is so open and fan-friendly. I can definitely tell you, had I not been going to these shows as an actor promoting his work, I would definitely be there as a fan, just because I love all the people there.”

The Gold Coast Film Festival, in collaboration with The Supanova Pop Culture Expo, will host The Australian Premiere Of ‘Sushi Girl’ At Pacific Fair On Friday April 19.

Published in Film
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 05:12

Rüfüs: Globetrotters

After receiving a stack of praise for their single, ‘Take Me’, Sydney electro-poppers Rüfüs are set to go to the next level with the imminent release of the debut album, ‘Atlas’.  

“It's been a while since we released anything so we're really excited to get some new stuff out there,” says keyboardist Jon George.

“The reaction has been awesome so far. We've just finished writing the rest of the album so I can't wait for everyone to hear it and hopefully the response is the same.”

Recorded on the south coast of New South Wales, ‘Atlas’ brings more of the same colourful and exciting synth-pop that Rüfüs have already given us a taste of.

“We've spent a lot of time on it, and I'm really stoked with the outcome. It's a real solid, streamlined piece of work, I'm really happy with the continuity that plays throughout. The deep tones that we were going for are really constant and I'm proud of that.

“We started in July/ August last year and rented a house for a month to start the recording process. We ended up leaving with about 15 tracks, maybe 20 ideas all up. We built this studio in my parents place in Cronulla, decked it out with gear and we've been getting together and whittling away ever since.”

Drawing upon a range of influences, Rüfüs cite fellow Australian electronic heavyweights Cut Copy, The Presets and Midnight Juggernauts as having a big impact on their sound.

“I remember the buzz and the hype around them just as I was getting into that scene and how cool it was to see that kind of electronic music played live. But I think we've definitely got a heavy European influence as well within a lot of the dance production and I like to keep that mix.”

With a full scale national tour under way, things aren't slowing down anytime soon, not that Rüfüs are concerned in the slightest.

“We're really pumped to hit the road again. But the great thing about touring in Australia is that you get to go to places you normally wouldn't. I always tell people that I love going to Fremantle, it’s such a cool place, really chilled and nice.”

Rüfüs play Alhambra April 5, Cooly Hotel April 6 and the Great Northern, Byron, April 7.

Published in Electronic
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 04:59

Plump DJs: Hammer Time

With banging new single ‘Hammerhouse’ currently garnering support from the best in the business, and an Australian tour beckoning, life is sweet for one of the UK’s most endearing electronic duos. One half of the act, Lee Rous, fills us in.

Sum up the Plumps DJs sound in five words for the uninitiated.

Slightly rounded dance music pioneers.

Congratulations on the release of ‘Hammerhouse’; can we expect a remix package in the future and, if so, who is on remix duties?

We would love someone like Surkin, Oliver or The Loops Of Fury to remix our ‘Hammerhouse’ record, those guys are inspiring us at the moment. 

How was Miami, and what’s your take on the whole EDM phenomenon in the US?

It’s inspiring to see such a surge in support for dance music. We have been involved in this scene for 15 years and we are proud to still be making and playing music that is challenging and relevant. 

Do you think electronica’s credibility is being compromised by its sudden commercial appeal? And are the wrong artists getting the limelight as a result?

The right artists will always get the limelight, that is the way of the world: 'the public get what the public want'. There is a danger now that the market will saturate, however, we don't mind ‘cos 'we’re going underground’!

What’s next on the cards for Grand Hotel Records?

We are focusing on releasing regular music on GHR this year, with a dancefloor focused slab of gold planned every month now, and as much touring as possible to test the music. It’s a great process, travelling home from a dancefloor in Budapest at 6am to complete a record you made last week. 

How do you find running a label in the digital age?

Challenging and inspiring, to be honest. There’s so much music out there; good and bad. Tunes are made and forgotten in seconds, everyone is fighting to get their voices heard, and the whole process of making music is much easier, too, so everyone is doing it. 'Game on', as they say.  

When can we expect a follow up album to ‘Headthrash’, and what might be its direction? Or will you do like many artists and only release EPs from now on, a la the Dirty Weekend EP?

We are releasing a special version of our ‘Dirty Weekend’ mix album in Australia this year — the work won Mixmag’s 'comp of the month' title in January... nice. Then it’s singles and remixes for the foreseeable, and lots of them. We have so many new ideas going on at the moment, gotta get that shit down! 

Tell me about the Plump DJs live show; what’s your set up, and what can your up-for-it Australian fans expect this time ‘round?

We will be touring our 4x Pioneer CDJ deck live show in Australia. Andy [Gardner] and I mix while reading the environment. Creating a unique soundtrack for each event, and improvising with tricks and effects, trying to push the DJ envelope as far as we can, playing the freshest music we can find and presenting our Plump music the way we know how. 

Aside from the obvious technological advances, what’s changed the most about your scene since your broke out?

Nothing has changed apart from the technical aspect, to be honest. People are still going out for the same reasons... they just want to be together and dance, that’s where we come in!
What’s one thing you never go on tour without?

We never go on tour without our Muppets 'Scram' mascot. It was presented to us by our close Australian friends a while back and has now become a good luck charm. It’s furry and green. Hard to be unhappy with that in your tour suitcase. 

Most embarrassing tour story?

Get this, I woke up on a friend’s couch in Miami after a WMC after party... the thing was I was covered in urine. Turns out I had pissed myself during the night and had soaked the sofa. My pals woke up and I had to admit to the crime, there was no escape. Sitting wrapped in a towel in the front room, waiting for your clothes to be washed was sheer hell. Later that day after the most humiliating morning of my life, the owner of the house admitted to me that their dog Charlie had a urinary tract infection, and had pissed on a female guest the previous week. I still don't know whether he was telling me the truth or trying to save my soul, I don't think I ever will.

Plump Djs Play Oh Hello April 26.

Published in Electronic
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 04:53

Super Wild Horses: Drinking Whisky

No-fi rockers Super Wild Horses are to embark on their ‘Crosswords’ album launch tour next month.

The second album from duo Amy Franz and Hayley McKee, the ‘Crosswords’ release follows their recent US tour and festival appearances Australia wide.

“Since our debut [album] we got to tour America and got the opportunity to play with lots of great bands. I guess it’s responsible for allowing us to meet a lot of excellent people and allowed us to travel a fair bit through our music, which is a really fun way to travel because you instantly connect to a community as opposed to travelling on your own,” Amy says.

It’s always five ‘o’clock somewhere, and Amy says performing at music festivals is an experience like no other.

“When we played at the Golden Plains festival and also the Big Day Out, we were the first band on both those times. So for both of those gigs beforehand Hayley and I ended up drinking whisky to try and calm our nerves. It was definitely pretty strange being half drunk in the morning trying to play a gig and pretending it was twelve at night.”

When it comes to crazed fans and interest from the opposite sex, Amy says there’s a distinct lack of both for the Super Wild Horses duo.

“Surely there is some point playing in a band, getting free drinks or something? [But] it’s kind of nice that we have a lot of people who seem to come to a lot of our gigs, and it’s enjoyable to see their faces and getting to know them through gigs, but no crazies or stalkers that we know of. I remember Hayley and I used to laugh because we were saying we never got hit on, I don’t know what that means about us, maybe we look scary or unapproachable or something.”

‘Crosswords’ is released April 5. Super Wild Horses perform at Black Bear Lodge Friday May 17.

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 04:48

The Delta Riggs: Freedom Lovers

The Delta Riggs have announced the release of their debut LP, ‘Hex.Lover.Killer’, which will coincide with their upcoming national tour.

After a satisfying lamb sandwich, bass player and vocalist Michael ‘Monte’ Tramonte says it was the freedom that made producing their latest album so enjoyable.

“It was just the freedom of being able to create and experiment with sound, not having someone there telling you what to do, and we are really happy with how it turned out. Everything else we’ve ever done we’ve kind of rushed; it was two days to get everything done. But this time we had six days to record.”

Recording studios can become less than comfortable when spending large amounts of time with the same group of people. But Monte says adding a personal touch makes all the difference.

“We recorded out at The Grove, which is up in the Mangrove Mountains, so when there were times where it was getting too much, you could go for a walk outside along the shore or just jump into the ocean. We transformed the studio in a way so that it gave out a good vibe; we’ve got rugs and throws everywhere and little candles and incense and shrines.

“The actual recording space is really vibrant and captures a really good essence of what we’re about. Sometimes you’re so focused on concentrating and you’re working on a song and it just isn’t working so you go chill out for an hour and you’ll come back and have that instant creativity from the room that was already there. The creative process is always tough and gruelling, but it’s also really rewarding.”

Finding balance with sound isn’t the only thing The Delta Riggs have to manage; Monte says dealing with hangovers never gets easier.

“A lot of the time it’s harder than it sounds. You play these shows, then you get hammered, and then you have to get up and go somewhere the next day and that’s not always easy. Sometimes you can have two or three nights that are more chilled out and you’ll do the show and have a couple of drinks and call it a night, and other times you’ll get loose as. It’s really good.”

The Delta Riggs play Black Bear Lodge April 11 and The Beach Hotel, Byron, April 12. ‘Hex.Lover.Killer’ is released April 12.

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 04:43

Funeral For A Friend: Punk Rock Buzz

Funeral For A Friend may be a post-hardcore institution, but drummer Pat Lundy will be keeping his feet on the ground for the band’s upcoming Australian tour.

“We're just going to show up, plug in, and jam, it's all we know how to do,” he says. “We're not into any crazy production or anything like that; even at home we tour in a van and we do that because we choose to. Hotels are overrated, man. Bus touring, the smell of ammonia, piss, engines, and vomit; I kinda like that vibe. We just plug in and play, and get really sweaty in a bunch of kids' faces.”

The band's Australian tour consists of ten shows in eleven days, and Lundy is excited by the prospect of the busy schedule.

“It's the new dynamic of the band and it's pretty normal,” he says. “I've just got home today from five shows in five days, so we're into packing as many gigs as we can and playing to as many people as we can in whatever country we're in.

“We wanna keep it punk rock! It'll be a much more intense, more intimate vibe, played in places the band have never been to. I've only done Soundwave before, so getting to play the Gold Coast, Canberra, and places that we've never been will be the best part of the tour, I imagine.”

The band has just released their sixth album ‘Conduit’, and the reaction so far has been positive.

“It's a bit funny, when you work on something from inside it's hard to tell. It's hard to conceive that we have fans, and trying to guess how people are going to see our record is an alien concept. Even for the guys who have been in it from the start – we're talking about Matt and Chris, obviously – for them I think it's even harder to fathom how people are going to take it, but I can tell you for free at this stage that they don't care.

We're the happiest we've ever been as a band, and I can say that safely as we're such a good line-up. Recording was slightly different for me, as the record had been finished, so I re-recorded the drums. It all turned out well, and at the end everybody was really buzzing.”

Funeral For A Friend play The Rev May 8.

Published in Rock
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