Zulu Winter Q&A

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Despite a very short career, UK band Zulu Winter have already started to make a name for themselves with  the music press salivating over their debut single We Should be Swimming , a slot at SXSW and an Australian tour scheduled for April. Their debut album Language is due out in May and there are some seriously high expectations going on.

I was lucky enough to score to a Q&A with Dom Milliard before they visit our shores. I suggest you keep your eyes on these guys, they’re going to be big.

How would you describe your sound?

Luckily that’s not our job. Our advice would be have a listen and make your own mind up.
What has been the highlight of your musical career so far?
It has to be playing a show in Japan. None of us have ever been there before, and despite only being there for a ridiculously short time, its a place we would love to go back to. I don’t normally get too nervous before shows, but having come such a long way I had more than the odd butterfly in my stomach… god knows how I’ll be when we play Australia!
With so much hype surrounding you guys so early in your career, do you feel like there is a lot of pressure for your debut to match people’s expectations?
I can’t wait till our debut comes out, since I find it very strange that people come to such conclusions after only hearing a handful of songs.
We Should Be Swimming is ridiculously catchy. Can we expect a similar sound from the rest of your album?
Thank you! I think and hope that there is a relatively wide selection of sounds on the album. We’ve got a few others in a similar vein to ‘We Should Be Swimming’, but also some songs which are darker more delicate and atmospheric.
 
What can Australian fans expect from you live shows coming up in April?
Don’t think we’ve got any gimmicks planed, but we love playing live and hopefully that comes across. Actually we have been knocking about a couple of covers at the moment so you might hear a familiar tune with a Zulu Winter slant on it!
 
Are there any Australian bands making waves over in the UK at the moment?
I’m actually quite interested in ‘Primitive Motion’ who are from Brisbane and have an excellent blog (http://kindlingrecords.blogspot.com/) Filled with excellent artwork and of course music as well.
An album that’s been making waves with us recently is Peace For Out Times, by Warm Dust which came out in 1971, mondo tunes with Timothy Leary reading over the top! Of course we all love Tame Impala and Nick Cave as well.
What’s next for you guys?
We’re off to America next week to SXSW, which we’re all looking forward to, again I’ve never been to America and none of us have been to Texas, so it should be pretty exciting. Then we’re heading your way which once more is a place we’ve never been before, so you’ll have to show us round. I recently got a camera so I’ll be taking lots of snaps!
What are you currently listening to? Any bands you think we should keep an ear out for?
Literally in the last week or so I’ve dived head first into the whole ‘Berlin Scene’ people like Moderat, Modeselektor and Four Tet, although I think he’s based in London. It’s really opened some ideas on song structure and atmospheres.
Bands you should look out for: Outfit whose single Two Islands is one of the greatest songs I’ve heard in recent times and gets better with each listen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11wT1sdTRhU)  and a friend’s band called Brew Ha Ha, I wouldn’t normally recommend a friend’s band, but they are fantastic, they currently don’t have anything out there, but if you’re smart you’ll remember their name.
 

MELBOURNE
MON 16 APR – NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB
Tickets from http://www.northcotesocialclub.com

SYDNEY
WED 18 APR – OXFORD ART FACTORY
Tickets from http://www.moshtix.com.au

Blood Orange @ NSC 11/01/12

Dev Hynes is something of a musical chameleon. At only 25 he’s tackled thrash punk (Test Icicles), indie pop (Lightspeed Champion) and in his latest musical incarnation Blood Orange, r&b. With its layered grooves and full sound, the thought of him replicating Coastal Grooves in a solo show was enough to bring on at least mild panic. But like all of his other projects, the gig was well and truly a success.

If Fleet Foxes and The Doors had a Radiohead obsessed child, they would sound a lot like openers Tehachapi . The harmonies were strong and the musicianship was good, but at times it felt as though the band are in need of an editor with long instrumental jams taking up too much space in many of their songs. A cover of Radiohead’s Last Flowers to the Hospital was a definite highlight lead by drummer Laura Christoforidis on vocals. They have a lot of potential.

Dev Hynes walks on stage wearing a lot of leather and the stage set up of a laptop, guitar and synth looks strangely bare. However all of that is forgotten once he opened his mouth. That voice. Incredible. Hard to believe that not that long ago he was having vocal surgery and now possesses a falsetto to rival Prince.

Singing over a backing track can easily turn into terrible karaoke, but Hynes used his guitar playing abilities  and crowd interaction to his advantage. The stage never felt empty as he ran between each side of the room, and from the third song in he frequently leapt into the crowd to play a solo or even an entire song.

Lead single Sutphin Boulevard got the biggest reaction of the night while Forget It got everyone dancing. A new song was also trialled at the gig and, it appeared to Dev’s surprise, sounded fantastic. While some of the backing tracks sounded a little thin, it was hard to deny the talent or the quaility of the songs being played on stage.

When the time to end the night came around, the cheers for an encore were met with Hyne’s admission that he didn’t have any more tracks. Instead he packed up his gear while chatting to fans. And what more could you want out of a night than that?

Eliza Hull Single Launch

If you’re sick of waif-like female singer-songwriters, than perhaps you should give Eliza Hull a good listen.

Using beats instead of guitars, she stands out from the pack in the best possible way. Her debut single Five is moody and has a little bit of 90s vibe about it. Be warned that it will get stuck in your head.

 

She will be  launching  Five at the Northcote Social Club on the 15th and will be backed by a nine piece band. Entry is only $10 and since there’s nothing good at the movies, it’s a wise investment.

The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Loren and Carus, NSC 9/12/10

Photo: Sabrina Robertson

December is a month full of eating too much, awkward work functions and hearing endless Christmas carols about snow when it’s thirty-five degrees every time you go shopping. Thankfully, it’s also the month of Christmas gigs.

The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats kicked off tonight’s show at the Northcote Social Club  with their infectious brand of bluegrass. While banjos and washboards are an odd sight at a city venue, most of the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves. The dancing from some punters alone was enough to dispel the myth that Melbourne crowds are inattentive.

Loren’s set was very different to the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, with many audience members sitting on the floor. This wasn’t out of boredom however, as crowd joined him for a sing-a-long. Instead of using a setlist, Loren asked the crowd to request songs and despite the shouting and confusion, it led to a set of old favourites with the odd new track thrown in. His cover of his sister Freya Hanley’s song Come Around, an ode to being stood up for a date caused a lot of cheering from the female members of the audience. While he comes from the school of lazy chorus writing, it lent itself perfectly to this kind of setting and tracks like Good Seed and Island Man went down incredibly well.

After a short wait, Carus and his band took to the stage. As soon as their first song started it was clear that we would get to see more of Carus’ rock side than his usual solo set delivers. Tracks like Burn and Doing Time went down well with the restless crowd, however the same cannot be said for the new songs and some of the quieter moments. While these songs were all of the same standard, it was clear the crowd just wanted to have a good time. As usual, Carus brought a milk crate and his band to the middle of the crowd to perform his tale of prison love Doing Time and one other song before making his way back on stage. He asked Loren back on stage and after retelling the story of how they met, the pair launched into Thrown, which tonight was dedicated to Shaun O’Callaghan, a sound engineer who recently passed away. They finished the night with a reggae cover of Men At Work’s Land  Down Under before Greg Arnold stepped away form the keyboard to lead a cover of Happy Birthday Helen.

While the crowd may have been a bit restless, the gig showcased some of the best talent in the Australian folk scene. Here’s hoping the 2011 show will be just as good.

Ernest Ellis @ The NSC 16/07/10

Photo: Jack Crane

When it’s a ridiculously cold Melbourne night you really only have two options for entertainment: snuggle under a doona or head to your favourite live music venue to catch one of Australia’s most promising bands. The crowd that gathered at the Northcote Social Club to see Ernest Ellis in their first Melbourne headline show certainly made the right decision.

The choice to have the headline act start after 11pm was a puzzling one and left Goodnight Owl playing to an almost empty room for the first half of their set. This didn’t seem to deter them however, as they serenaded the growing crowd with their brand of lush indie pop. Beginning with an impressive remix of Seekae’s Void, it showed how the band have come a long way since the release of their debut EP last year, with the most notable difference being drummer Eric Moore who breathes new life into some of the older tracks. Unfortunately he had to leave halfway through Goodnight Owl’s set, resulting in the slower songs being played last, making the set seem a little unbalanced. The electronic glitches from the single Maps and Compasses worked surprisingly well in a live setting and would delight any fan of the Postal Service. The band’s final song was Red Wolf, about singer Eddie Alexander’s dog that died last year. While it was a bit of a depressing note to end their set on it showcased Alexander’s great falsetto. Judging by the number of EPs that flew off the merch stand, there is no doubt the band earned themselves some new fans.

Gosteleradio features members from Plug-In City and TTT who are obviously very competent musicians however it became very clear that many members of the audience were bored during their set, with many fiddling with their phones or sitting on the floor.  Their psychedelic folk tinged rock seemed to fall flat and many of the subtler moments of their music were lost in the live setting, which often left them sounding like little more than an Oasis tribute band. At times it felt like they were playing one long continuous song. There were signs of what they can really do shining through, such as their use of looping and their single Guillotine but overall it was a disappointing set. Here’s hoping it was just an off night, because given the right setting, they have the potential to be amazing.

After a short wait, the members of Ernest Ellis emerged on stage, to the delight of the crowd. On their stunning debut album Hunting their songs boarder on the atmospheric folk-rock side of things, however from the moment the band launch into Want For Anything it becomes clear that tonight will be all about showcasing their indie-rock side. Ellis’ voice in often hiding under reverb on record, but live it is a completely different beast, ranging from falsetto to pained screams. This is most obvious in Pulse that saw him transition from calm to completely insane in under four minutes. The pulsing bass from Ben Morgan was definitely a highlight, as was the steady percussion from Mat Gardner. After telling us that he left his acoustic guitar back home, he performed a solo version of Valley Song on electric guitar, which left the entire room silent, hanging on his every work. Morgan joined in for backing vocals, making it something truly special.

Dancing is not something you would expect to see at an Ernest Ellis show, but it’s exactly what happened during Taking Shapes and it didn’t stop until the very end of the set. Triple J favourite Heading for the Cold was a hit with the crowd and saw the majority of people clapping along. It sounded even better with a full live band behind the vocals and was a much faster version than what we are used to hearing. Loveless lost some of its restrained charm in the live setting, but the crowd didn’t seem to care. Ellis told the crowd that there would be no encore but invited everyone up on stage at the end of the set, before launching into Bad Blood which saw the band rocking almost as much as the crowd, however nobody took up the offer of a stage invasion.

Ernest Ellis have carved quite a name for themselves in the Australian music scene and it’s easy to see why. Their live show is both entertaining and moving and despite many missing the last tram home, the crowd would be more than happy to have them back in Melbourne.