Seth Lakeman Interview

Long before Mumford and Sons were winning the Hottest 100 and Laura Marling was being a teenage prodigy, Seth Lakeman was being dragged to his parents’ folk club every Sunday. Since then he has been nominated for a Mercury Prize, sold thousands of albums and played some of the biggest festivals in the UK. Despite this, he recorded his latest album Tales From the Barrel House in a mine using tools and chains as percussion.

“I wanted to play all the instruments on the album because there are all these stories of people who worked with their hands, and I wanted to do it with my own hands” says Lakeman, “The album has defiantly got an edge to it that is cohesive and it continues throughout the whole record. But there’s no doubt you can add other stuff to it a background singer and some conventional percussion but I think it’s left at a place where it represents the songs really well.”

However despite his enthusiasm for the record, his first since leaving EMI, he was hesitant to release it commercially. Instead he made it available as a limited edition release from his website.

“We sold 10,000 within a month and a half and then we released it here again commercially and digitally. Thankfully it’s spreading out to other areas. I’m really happy the happened”

It isn’t just his recorded output that’s been making waves. Having played almost every major UK festival, and an endless list of venues, we’ll finally have a chance to witness his live show this month as he tours Australia for first time. But he’s quick to warn me that it won’t a formal, sit-down affair.

“Over here we like to play stand up shows and people want to dance and drink and enjoy it.” He laughs, “It’s really driving and all the stories are there from the couple of records that we’ve got, but also we try and give people a really good time.”

The venues on this tour are a far cry from the large ones Lakeman and his band play in the UK, with many half the size. But rather than seeing this as a downside, Lakeman is excited about how it will sound.

“Thankfully because we play acoustic instruments they translate better on a smaller stage or pub than a bigger venue. We don’t like playing in this country to 900 people because with the instruments we’ve got we can only get so far with them. We’ll be ripping them apart when we play and shredding them but there’s no doubt it works really well in a smaller, intimate environment. Much better, I think.”

 

Local troubadour Carus Thompson will joining Lakeman along for the ride after spending a lot time touring around Europe. It seems the two of them have quite a history.

Me and Carus have known each other for about 10 years. He comes over here a lot performing and he’s come along as support about three or four times. So it’s about time,” Lakeman laughs.

While his Mercury Prize nomination marked a turning point in the mainstream success of folk, he doesn’t feel threatened by other artists stealing the limelight. In fact, he believes it is a good thing.

“In the UK folk music has always been pretty steady of a genre and the way it’s broken out in this country and has spread to other territories is definitely a trend thing I think.” He pauses before adding “. But it’s exciting for folk music because you can ride the coattails of that.”

Saturday 7 April  Harvester Moon
2330 Portarlington Rd, Bellarine VIC

Sunday 8 April – Bennetts Lane,
25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne VIC

Monday 9 April – Bennetts Lane,
25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne VIC

Tuesday 10 April – The Vanguard
42 King St, Newtown, Sydney NSW

Thursday 12 April – Clancy’s Fish Pub

51 Cantonment st, Fremantle WA

Friday 13 April – The Hyde Park Hotel
331 Bulwer St, North Perth WA

Saturday 14 April – Fairbridge Festival
Fairbridge WA

Sunday 15 April – Fairbridge Festival
Fairbridge WA

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The Vines Interview

The Vines don’t need an introduction. After taking the world by storm with 2002’s Highly Evolved the band went into a meltdown. Nine years, four albums and an asperger’s diagnosis later, The Vines are back with their fifth album Future Primitive. I was lucky enough to speak to frontman Craig Nicholls before they headed out on their current Australian tour.

How did recording Future Primitive differ from previous albums?

It’s the fastest one we’ve done and we did it live. All of the instruments were done live. It was just quick and we had a good time.

So how long did it take you to record?

It took about three and a half weeks.

Did working with producer Chris Colonna change the sound of the album?

He knew a lot about electronic music and equipment so he could help us with some of that stuff that we wanted to add. Yeah, it was good.

What’s behind the album’s title?

Well, we just started out with the song Future Primitive and then we kind of thought after doing the album that it was a cool title. It kind of describes the futuristic, kind of electronic sounds, mixed with our more rock and roll sound. There was some kind of really stripped back moments there as well.

I’ve read that you don’t particularly like technology. Do you feel like you are living in the wrong era?

Yes. I don’t know where I should be living but I know this doesn’t feel right. But maybe in the next life I’ll get it right.

Why have you recorded so many versions of Autumn Shade?

I don’t know, it just started out as the one we did on our first album and then we had one on our second album as well. And then it just got out of control. I think I just like it because it’s acoustic minor chords and they all have a similar kind of feeling to them but they’re all their own songs. It’s just kind of interesting to do that with some songs.

Do you have a favourite version?

Umm…The second one. I really like that one a lot. I mean I like all of them, but if I had a hypothetical gun to my head I’d probably say the second one is my favourite. But, ah, I’ll check with my manager.

I know there’s talk of another album in the works. Are you planning to record Autumn Shade Again?

Not for the next one. But maybe on the one after that, for the seventh album. We’ve already started recording the 6th one. We’ve done ten songs so far.

What can we expect from the 6th album? Or will it be a surprise?

It’s going to be a big surprise for you and for me because I don’t know what it’s going to be like. The ten songs, they’re like these epic ballads with strings and trumpets and piano and they’ve really got a lot going on. But then we want to go and record some more upbeat so that might change. But yeah, there’s going to be some epic ballads on there, at this point.

So it’s going to be quite different from what we’re used to hearing from you?

Yeah, it’s going to be more of an easy listening album I think.

Did financing the recording yourself create more pressure to succeed?

No, it’s all the same. When you always want to do well, and I always want to do well, you go into the studio and do everything you can to make it good. It’s just the same.

People often talk about Highly Evolved as being your best work. Do you feel like there’s a lot of pressure to live up to it?

I don’t really feel any pressure. I enjoy writing and making albums and we get to do what we want so we just try and do the best we can and have a good time.

Who did the album’s cover art?

A guy called Wayne who did Tame Impala’s artwork. I feel really bad, I forget his last name but he’s a really cool guy.

Who came up with the Scott Pilgrim vs the World influenced video for Gimme Love?

A guy called Tom Spark. We’d done another video with him before that. He mentioned this movie which I really liked.

What can we expect from this tour?

A mixture of songs from all throughout our existence, especially a lot of Future Primitive Songs.

Is it true you’re going to South America after this?

Yeah it’s true. We’re going to a lot of different places, it should be interesting. And then we’re going to Japan as well. We get petitions from people who would like to see us but I’m not too sure what the place is like.

Do you have any crazy fan stories? I’d imagine some people are quite dedicated.

There’s one girl who had a tattoo. Like a I signed her arm and then she got a tattoo. She gave me a lot of cool art and drawings that she did. But mostly people are just really nice and they like our music.

What bands are you currently listening to?

The Kaiser Chiefs, The Arctic Monkeys and Richard Ashcroft’s new band.

Do you find that style of British music as influenced your style a lot?

It always has, since the late 90s, bands like Supergrass and Blur. Now there’s a whole new generation. There’s a whole lot of great bands from England.

Thanks for that, and good luck with the upcoming tour.

Thanks. Bye.

September
1 – Wollongong Uni Bar, Wollongong

2 – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle

3 – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne

9 – The Gov, Adelaide

10 – Capitol, Perth

Glenn Richards Interview


Glenn Richards is one of Australia’s finest songwriters. As well being the front man for Augie March and causing commercial radio to play a half decent song when One Crowded Hour was released, his solo album Glimjack featured members of The Drones and is a much darker listen than his previous work.

He will be joined by Mike Noga and Dan Luscombe for a tour in September where they will play whatever they feel like and the possible audience request. I was lucky enough to speak to Glenn before the run of shows.

How did you get the idea for the upcoming tour?

It really came down to whether we could afford to take the band out on the road and unfortunately we can’t. Dan (Luscombe) and I have done a few of these style shows a few months ago and they went really well. It allowed us to do a lot of Augie March stuff as well and spread the show out and kind of have a bit of fun with it. So I figured, we can’t afford to do the band so we might as well do as decent tour and bring Mike (Noga) along to keep us company. It’s pretty simple really. It’s a good way to get around and people really seem to enjoy the shows and it’s a bit cheaper as well to actually get to the show.

Will you be playing any songs by The Drones seeing that you have two members of The Drones with you?

[Laughs] That’s kind of up to them, but Gareth (Liddiard) is The Drones’ main songwriter and if he was here I guess we would. But I don’t think so. Mike’s got his own album out so he’ll be doing that exclusively and Dan will just be helping me with whatever I want to do.

How did you first meet Dan Luscombe?

When Augie March were doing their sixth or seventh ever gig, about fourteen years ago and we were supporting The Church at the Palace in St Kilda. The other support act was a band called the Black Eyed Susans that Dan had just started playing with. We did our show, came off stage and Dan came up and said “Hey guys that was really messy.”

We thought, “Gee, thanks I guess.” But he actually meant it as a compliment. We got chatting and ended up going out that night. And we became very good friends and we’ve been buddies ever since and happen to play in similar bands.

Did having Dan and Mike play on your album Glinjack influence the sound in any way?

I’ve known those guys for so long, I kind of knew what to expect. I wanted everybody in that band to be multi-instrumental even if they’re crap at something. I want them to be able to do it because sometimes crap is better than good [laughs].

I read you recorded your album in a Fairfield (suburb of Melbourne) warehouse and got sick doing it. What was that like?

We leased a gigantic warehouse in Fairfield and it really helped a little bit with putting it together, particularly the studio aspect of it. It was the same time last year that we did it, so it was the middle of winter, and as you can imagine a place like that is really hard to heat so it was really easy to get sick and really easy to get frozen. It made us work a lot quicker because we just wanted to get it done and sit in front of a heater.

Do you ever resent the success of One Crowded Hour as it’s the only song a lot of people associate you  with, or do you see it as a way for people to discover the rest of your music?

It would be foolish to wish a song away like that. We’ve had a problem over the years with the record label we ended up being with just not being able to get the idea of the band across to anybody, even when we’ve had a lot of success. No one knows who we are essentially. They know our songs, but apart from our fans who we’ve been building for years, it is hard for people who’ve heard our music to identify it with anything. But that’s a problem with a lot of Australian bands because we’re not as extroverted as we’re supposed to be, or something. We tend to let the music speak for itself which is a kind of old fashioned way of looking at things but it’s hard to look at it any other way when you grow up that way.

I usually ask bands or musicians what they’re listening to, but since a lot of your music has literary influences, what are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, a new one which is kind of enjoyable. As far as what I’m listening to, I just got the Phil Spector box set of pretty much everything he ever produced.

The dates for the upcoming tour are below. All tickets are on sale now.

Thursday 25th August – The Toff in Town, Melbourne
Friday 26th August – Theatre Royale, Castlemaine
Saturday 27th August – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Friday 2nd September – Manhattan Wine Bar, Launceston
Saturday 3rd September – The Grand Poobah, Hobart
Thursday 8th September – Mullum Civic Hall, Mullumbimby
Friday 9th September – Sol Bar, Maroochydore
Saturday 10th September – Old Museum, Brisbane
Thursday 15th September – Lizottes, Dee Why
Friday 16th September – Lizottes, Newcastle
Saturday 17th September – Lizottes, Kincumber
Sunday 18th September – Transit Bar, Canberra
Wednesday 21st September – Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide
Friday 23rd September – Bended Elbow, Geelong
Saturday 24th September – Caravan music club, Oakleigh
Thursday 29th September – Brass Monkey, Cronulla
Friday 30th September – Notes, Sydney
Saturday 1st October – Hotel Gearin, Katoomba

Buchanan Q&A

 

Buchanan (pronounced bew-cannon) were one of my Laneway Festival highlights and their No Photo EP has been getting quite a workout on my stereo in recent weeks. I did a quick Q&A with lead singer Josh Simons ahead of their shows with Jinja Safari this weekend.

 

How would you describe your sound?

The perfect balance between the Spice Girls and Radiohead! Or rather, soft rock at its heaviest.

How did the band form?

An attempt to salvage another band turned into the formation of this one. It happened kind of unplanned after a small jam session where we tried to get some production ideas down which ended up being some of our earlier songs.

 What was it like playing Laneway Festival?

Incredible, nerve-wracking and fun all bundled into one. Probably one of our best shows to date. We’re very grateful to Triple J for that opportunity.

Is the title of the No Photo EP a response to hating publicity photos?

The idea behind the name was kind of a response to social media where if you don’t have a picture that represents you, some guy in some office somewhere has designed this graphic of a silhouette which usually has the words “NO PHOTO” printed over it. So we thought, what if this relatively new idea existed sometime in the 18th century, what photo might they use to represent someone who hasn’t got around to choosing their favourite photo of themselves. I think that makes sense!

 

What’s next for you guys?

We’re in the middle of a tour that has us playing in Sydney and Adelaide, as well as supporting Jinja Safari and Trial Kennedy back in Melbourne. We’ve also just started recording our follow-up to No Photo. We’re not sure whether it will be another EP or a full length record, but it’s sounding good!

The No-Photo EP is avaliable now. Buchanan will be playing at the Corner Hotel on Sunday supporting Jinja Safari. Tickets avaliable from www.cornerhotel.com

 

Noah and the Whale Interview

Noah and the Whale are coming to Australia this month for the Splendour in the Grass Festival and will be playing sideshows in both Sydney and Melbourne. I was lucky enough to talk to the band’s lead singer Charlie Fink about their latest album The Last Night on Earth, Filmmaking and a possible upcoming tour.

This interview was brought to you from a shitty Sydney hostel, $8 an hour wi-fi and a ridiculous amount of swooning.

You guys are coming here for Splendour in the Grass. What can we expect from your Australian shows?

Charlie Fink: I think you’re getting us at a very good time, actually. We’ve just been on the road for 16 weeks so we’re a pretty well oiled machine now.

Will we get to hear stuff from your back catalogue as well as your new album?

CF: We try and play a pretty diverse set from all albums. I guess the old songs get re-imagined to sound more like the new record.

 Your new album sounds quite different to your previous work. Did you consciously decided to create a different sounding album, or did it just happen?

CF: I wanted to make a record that tested us as a band. I didn’t want to rely on what I’d previously done and try and discover new ground.

The Last Night On Earth sounds like a complete album, something that is beginning to get lost in the age of mp3s. Was it a conscious decision?

CF: With all of our records I try and make the record coherent where the songs are improved by being together. You know, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I think that’s really important. Pop songs have a lot more weight in that context.

I know you’re a big fan of film and even named your band after one (Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale). You also made a short film for The First Day of Spring. Do you have any plans for more  filmmaking?

CF: Yeah, I really want to do more film. I’m actually writing a short film at the moment that I’m hopefully going to shoot next summer. But yeah, I’d really love to do more film.

Bit of a random question, but how come you’re only doing shows in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, rather than in other states?

CF: We’re going to come back in February to do more shows because we’ve got the Fuji Rock Festival a few days before Splendour and then we’ve got to do Lollapalooza in Chicago the week after so we’ve got a limited time. But we’re planning to come back.

Do you ever freak out about the big names you play with at festivals? At Splendour alone you’ve got bands like Pulp and Coldplay.

CF: You just have to focus on the time that you’ve got, you’re 40 minutes or whatever the best that you can. I always make a list of all the bands I want to see at the festivals we’re playing at and I never end up going to any of them. Lollapalooza has one of the best line-ups.

Are there any bands you’re hoping to catch at Splendour?

CF: Well, there’s an English band that we’re friends with called The Vaccines and if we’re not playing when they are I’d like to go and watch them.

You guys seem to tour a lot. Do you ever feel like you need a break?

CF: I guess so at some point. But right now I’m enjoying the shows.

Is there anything you’re looking forward to doing in Australia?

We have a new drummer who’s from Australia, near Griffith and he’s always telling everyone that Australia’s the best place in the world. So Australia’s got a lot to live up to. So I’m quite excited.

Do you think your next album is going to be a different sound altogether from The Last Night On Earth?

CF: Um, I don’t know really. I’m not against trying new things but I generally just go with my gut.

Thanks so much for talking to me.

CF: No worries. Take care.

Noah and the Whale are playing:

Tuesday 2nd August – Factory Theatre, Sydney
Wednesday 3rd August – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

The Panda Band interview

It seemed like The Panda Band dropped off the face of the earth. They’re now back with a new single and will be embarking on an Australian tour in June. I was lucky enough to ask the band a few questions about what they’ve been up to during the past few years and  their upcoming album Charisma Weapon.

It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from you guys. What have you been up to since then?

After we toured Australia for the last album we lived in America for 6 months. It was a bit of an adventure. We lived in New York for the most part but we drove right across the country. We played Chicago, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and many places in between. And we spent Christmas in Florida that was not even close to white. We had pool that was getting a good work out.

Since we arrived back we’ve just put a lot of work into new songs and hope to get the next album out next year if we can, as we have a lot of material ready to finish off for that. This album was slow coming out for a bunch of reasons that are painful to retell.

How did the American tour go?

The tour was modestly epic as we covered a lot of miles. It was such a great time. We played with a lot of different bands of different styles. Touring the US is tough, you never know what to expect when you turn up to a show. But folks are usually especially friendly and accommodating when they find out how far away from home you are. They really appreciate the effort.

How do American audiences differ to Australian audiences?

I’m only guessing but it feels like they are very open to watching all the bands on the bill. They don’t just give their attention to the band they’ve heard of, or just the headline band. They seem very curious and  hungry for new music.

You’ll be releasing your latest album Charisma Weapon in June. Can you tell us a bit about that?

It feels to me to be a bit darker than the last. When I think about what the songs are about, what we’ve put into them, it feels quite heavy. Quite deep and existential. We worked very hard on the lyrics and melodies on the album. I think it will be quite a rich and fulfilling album to listen to.

Did you approach it differently to recording your first album The Vital Chapter?

We tried to. There’s more collaboration on this album. David and I wrote a few more songs together this time, and Chris and I wrote the last track on the album, ‘Cliff Dweller’, together. I definitely knew I didn’t want to mix it this time, so we went up to Magoo’s studio in the hills outside Bribane to finish it off. That was still pretty intense, but Magoo was right into it, he was great.

What are you plans for the near future?

Really, we just hope people embrace the new songs and we can tour as much as we possibly can. We can’t wait. We’ll probably be off to the UK and USA towards the end of the year around October. Then hopefully we can hit the summer festivals back in Australia if all the timing works out. I have a good feeling that this album is going to appeal to a lot of folks, the response to the first single has been amazing so far.

The Panda Band are touring in June. The dates are:

Thurs May 19th – Endeavour Tavern, Lancelin WA

Fri May 20th – Jurien Bay Bowls Club, Jurien Bay WA

Sat May 21st – Discovery Centre Ampitheatre, Dalwalinu WA

Sun May 22nd – Civic Centre, Wongan Hills WA

Sat May 28th – Northbridge, Perth WAMI Festival WA

Fri June 3rd – Beetle Bar, Brisbane QLD

Sat June 4th – The Lansdowne, Sydney NSW

Sun June 5th – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

You can also grab their new single The Fix for free from their Bandcamp page.


Charisma Weapon
will be released on July 15.

Jason Collett Interview

Jason Collett has been playing music for over twenty years, both as a member of Candian indie powerhouse Broken Social Scene and as a solo artists. Although he’s visited Australia with Broken Social Scene in Janauary he will be visting our shores as a solo artist for the first time, joined by fellow Canadians Zeus.  I was lucky enough to interview him before he starts the tour.

Electric Skeleton: Do you prefer playing with Broken Social Scene or as a solo artist?

Jason Collett: It’s fun taking a back seat and not concerning yourself with navigating, but ultimately I like being in the driver’s seat.

ES:You will be playing Peats Ridge festival this year. Do you enjoy festivals or prefer playing smaller shows?

JC: Festivals are fun for their social aspect, it’s an opportunity to hang with your peers for a few days, but I love nothing more than playing in a packed, sweaty club where the energy is reciprocated because the room is a defined space. Playing outside only begins to resemble this when night falls and the lights come on. Sunshine and open-air are nice for camping, but not so conducive to rock ‘n roll.

ES: In Australia it seems that bands have to get noticed overseas before they can get noticed here. Is it a similar situation in Canada?

JC:  you mean to say that you’re a nation of second-guessing, self-doubters, reluctant to celebrate your own talent? Awesome, I’ll feel right at home then.

ES:  You’ve been playing music for twenty years. Has the internet changed how you go about promoting and releasing music?

JC: Well, I wasn’t doing interviews over the internet 20 years ago, but it’s changed how my label and management operate more than it’s changed how I do my thing. Much to their chagrin, I’m just not interested in all the social media hustle. I miss the mystique that rocknroll had in my youth, there’s not much left to the imagination these days. I feel the time spent schilling tweets or blogging about what I ate for breakfast is time robbed from creating. It just doesn’t resonate with me.

ES: How hard is it to juggle having a family when you’re a touring musician?

JC: Family is hard to juggle for most folks, but parenting has become a bit of a fetish these days. Far too many people use it as an excuse to give up being engaged in work they’re passionate about. Kids need to grow up seeing their parents engaged in the world, how else do they learn to do the same? Doing what I do requires some sacrifice on my family’s part, but the flip-side is that when I’m home, I’m not rushing out the door at 8am five days of the week.

ES: This will be your first lo tour to Australia. Is there anything you’re planning to see or do?

JC: The thing about touring is you can’t plan too much. It’s better to be open to whatever comes up. You hope the venue is in an interesting neighbourhood and you can find a decent coffee and maybe a good bookshop in the few hours you have before leaving town again. However, given that we’re touring with Dead Letter Chorus, I plan on letting them be our tour guides.

ES: What are you listening to at the moment?

JC: Al Tuck. He’s the best writer of my generation in Canada. Only problem is, he’s not ventured outside of Canada, so nobody in Canada knows who he is yet. Maybe our two countries should have an unheralded-artist exchange program. We’ll celebrate yours and you celebrate ours and then they won’t have to be imports to their native lands.

 

The tour dates are:

Thursday 6th January 2011: The Brass Monkey – Cronulla

Friday 7th January 2011: Oxford Arts Factory – Sydney

Saturday 8th January 2011: Northcote Social Club – Melbourne

Sunday 9th January 2011: Northcote Social Club – Melbourne

Wednesday 12th January 2011: The Great Northern – Newcastle

Thursday 13th January 2011: The Zoo – Brisbane

Friday 14th January 2011: Joe’s Waterhole – Eumundi

Saturday 15th January 2011: The Loft – Gold Coast

Sunday 16th January 2011: The Northern – Byron Bay (NSW)

Jason Collett’s latest album Rat A Tat Tat and Zeus’ debut album Say Us are both out now on Arts & Crafts.