By design – or, at the very least, by the nature of the beast itself – They Might Be Giants were never meant to last as long as they have. They have outlasted a thousand bands that were cooler, more accessible and with bigger hit singles – not only that, they’ve managed to outperform and sell out rooms bigger than them, too. Over 35 years into their career, and the Johns – Linnell (with the accordion) and Flansburgh (with the guitar) – are just as in demand now as they were in their late-80s/early-90s heyday. They’ve got the material to back it up, too. Just last year, the band put out three albums – I Like Fun, My Murdered Remains and The Escape Team. That would have been impressive enough, but factor in these were their 19th, 20th and 21st albums respectively and it’s all the more surreal.
Nickelback. They’re the coriander of the music scene, you either love them or you hate them. People who don’t like Nickelback don’t like Nickelback fans and vice versa. Nickelback tour in Japan and Australia in 2019 through Live Nation, returning from their arena tour in 2016. Fortunately for me, a young Nickelback fan, I had an opportunity to have a chat with Mike Kroger, bassist of one of the biggest bands in the world. Listen to Nickelback’s new album Feed the Machine on all music streaming platforms or be cool and buy it on CD when you see them live.
Tell us about the new album Feed The Machine, are you excited to take it all around the world? What separates this one to your other records and what’s different about it?
It should definitely be linked with what we have done in the past to a degree. It was part of our intent to make it into a rock effort, and that was the biggest goal we had, just really focus on making a rock album. That was the goal and the aim and so far so good, we’ve heard that’s what other people interpret what we did so that’s nice.
What do you reckon the reaction from your fans was like compared to your other albums?
I’m glad that the people realise that we’re trying to make them a rock record. They appear to be happy about it and they appear to be good with us making a rock record. It’s a lot better response than we really expected – I don’t know why we would expect less – but after a while you wonder when you’re gonna put up some music and no one’s gonna care. So far we haven’t had that so thank goodness.
I remember seeing you guys at Qudos Bank Arena few years ago and remember you saying that you actually wrote and recorded a few of your songs in Sydney. How does it feel coming back and performing those same songs and even throwing a few cheeky new ones into the setlist?
It’s pretty interesting that is. There are certain times that we go on tour and we have written songs, and when you’re in those dressing rooms again and it’s like a repeating episode over and over and over again and you start to think; “oh I wrote this song in this dressing room” and it is really crazy to think about. We’re super excited to get back to Aus, we have a lot of love for Australia and it seems like Australia has a lot of love for us too. We really enjoyed there and tell me from Canada It’s not that much different really. I think that it’s like Canada with better weather and that’s pretty much my interpretation. We just love Australia and the people are so fantastic
You guys are one of the most loved and unfortunately one of the most despised bands of all time, how do you personally and as a band deal with the ‘haters’ and the bandwagoners that you come into contact with?
It’s one of those things that for the most part isn’t too bad, but there is the odd example of someone totally anonymous or as I call “the old keyboard tough guy” who nobody really knows who they are as a person or what they do. So it’s sort of one of those things where you want to say to this anonymous person “Wow why don’t you create something and then I’ll comment on that.” I believe that critics never create and creators never criticize.
Nickelback has been around quite a while now, how do you reckon your band and the scene has changed since you started?
See when we first started there wasn’t a big rock scene in the world. The later on in the 90s and closer towards the 2000s was the beginning of the time where if you weren’t a female singer or songwriter, you didn’t get anything or anywhere. We went through that and it took quite a few years for that to kind of break loose and then we had a time when it was cool to be in a rock band again. Then it kind of retreated again into a sort of urban or R&B world. It’ll be back and I’m not too worried about it as long as we keep going it will come back really quick. Truly the experience and the scene is like the weather, in that you know if you don’t like the weather one day, just wait a day because better weather is coming and it’s the same thing with music scenes. There’s seasons when you’re doing something that nobody wants and then there’s times where you’re doing your thing and everybody wants it. All you can do is do your best because people will come back around.
Excited and ready to continue the world tour and bring the new record to Australia, Mike closed off the conversation with some parting words for his fans down under:
“We can’t wait to get back. We’re going to be passing through Japan quickly on our tour so hello to any people in Japan reading this. We’ve been to Australia a number of times when we had a little vacation and saw the beautiful sights of Australia. This time unfortunately is going to be very business like, I don’t even think we’re in Australia for a week this time and it’s horrible to me. Bring us some love. It’s not our farewell tour but we’d really love to see all of your beautiful faces again.”
Interview – Robert Tannous
War Child, a charity supporting children caught in conflict and war, are running a fundraising concert in Sydney tonight, with British rockers The Wombats to play an intimate show at The Oxford Art Factory. We spoke with Sheena Bourke, head of War Child fundraising, to speak about the show and the importance of music and War Child.
Who doesn’t love new music? Local Wollongong band, The VANNS, have just released a new single
How Was I Supposed To Know and celebrating with a tour. Kicking things off with a bang, the four-man band played at Yours & Owls 2018 last Sunday.
The VANNS currently have 2 EP’s released including singles The VANNS in 2013, Scattered By Sundown in 2015 and Skinny Legs in 2016. But they want to share more with a new album in the not so distant future.
We were lucky enough to talk to Jimmy Vann (vocals/guitars) and Cam Little (songwriter/guitarist) and share their excitement of the new single!!
First off are how are you guys?
Cam: We’re great yeah, we are pretty good
Keen for Yours & Owls on the weekend?
Cam: Very keen for Yours & Owls, we get to see the whole festival so it should be good and keen for that.
Now I have to ask, who is the face of the new single, the man with the moe? Who is this Legend?
Cam: That’s Jimbo’s Dad, Sharky
So why did he get he get a feature and not the other dads?
Cam: well we have more art coming for more songs. We like this theme of not us on the cover, but I don’t know its just a cool photo. It was kind of like “yeah that photo is cool” so we chose it.
So I listened to your new single How was I Supposed to Know, and it sounds like summer is gonna be fun and hella crazy and out there. What does the single mean to you guys?
Jimmy: Well it is probably our favourite song to play live because there is so much energy in it. Not only summer I feel it covers the whole year, every season of the year to be filled with fun. *laughs* But for us, yeah, it was probably one of the first songs we put together that we were writing like a new batch of songs and this is probably one of the first ones we were playing the longest out of the new songs and yeah still a fan of them all.
Yeah definitely sounds like a good one to play live, are you guys gonna play it Sunday?
Jimmy: We are yeah, so its gonna be open of our first times playing it live which is exciting.
You have a a lot of new music coming up, how do you choose what’s the single is gonna be? Like what’s gonna be the single of the album or EP?
Cam: Umm with this one I guess like for the first single we just wanted the one. Well number one it’s the shortest song on the album – well one of the shortest – and its full of energy well I guess its the next step in our sound compared to the last EP. And yeah it was gonna be another song that was gonna be the single but then last minute we were like nah nah lets do this one.
Do you guys decide that as a group?
Cam: yeah we do a lot of nice arguments
What is the process of making new music? Do you guys share responsibility of writing your songs or is there one main songwriter?
Jimmy: Cam and myself do most of the music when it comes to the lyrics and all the other instruments and then we take it to the lads. There is no real plan but me and Cam are always writing, which just works which is cool. You know we are always pushing out boundaries to make new stuff as well and yeah. So it doesn’t really matter for us however the song comes together, as long as writing it feels good. But yeah, the main purpose is Cam and myself.
So do you guys have any rituals that you do to prepare yourself to write music?
Jimmy: Not really we just kind of… we don’t plan to write music if that makes sense. We are always just hanging out and we will just be gabbling on our guitars and have a little song idea and then next thing you know we have written a song and yeah, there are no real rituals. Like every time we write a song we always need to do that thing we also do.
Cam: Like lighting a candle *laughs*
Jimmy: *laughs* Light a candle, get it all vibey. Yeah no, just whenever we are feeling it. There is no
secrets, its just about working and hard work and lots of it.
Cam, I hear you have a snow globe collection, can you tell us about it?
Cam: I should say that my snow globe collecting days started and ended before I got into music I think… it was just one of those things that my dad collected bottles and I started collecting snow globes. I think I got like 20 in a box somewhere.
Do you have a favourite one?
Cam: My favourite one is probably the size of a small car believe it or not, its like huge, we got it stored away in the garage. It’s a large snow globe, is that weird?
What’s inside the snow globe?
Cam: well actually I got this one that’s like a haunted house and its got little bats inside instead of snow. So it looks like the bats are flying everywhere. But I haven’t collected one in a while.
As a band do you guys have any bands/artists you inspire you or your style of music?
Cam: Yeah I guess there are heaps. The people that are inspiring us at the moment are a band called Parcels if you have heard of them. They are originally from Bryon Bay and then they moved over to Europe. You should definitely check them out cause they are playing shows and you should go see them. They are just awesome and whenever we get together as a band, we get together and watch their live
show. So check out Parcels.
So what was your first “big break”? How did you feel about that?
Jimmy: Ah, our first big break was performing at Homebake Festival. That was like one of the our first gigs. It’s not a festival anymore but it was great playing on a big stage, towards lots of people and yeah we were stoked. It was in Sydney, it was kind of like our Big Day Out. It was a huge festival but now its not anymore. Its sad to see all these festivals like not happening.
With the tour kicking for with Yours & Owls, what are so stylish tips you give those festival goers?
Jimmy: Stylish tips… pink hair is a goer, I have seen a bit of pink hair going around lately. It
looks like it’s coming back, I don’t know. *laughs*
Cam: I would say dress more situational wise. Think about the festival and where you are going. But not really, I’m not a stylish dude. I just wear like pretty basic Kmart shirts. Cheap and particular but nothing fits me anyways *laughs*
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on tour?
Cam: One time we had to cancel a show once because of really bad flooding up around Bryon Bay and stuff. We went all these back roads to try and get there. I don’t really know any crazy things though.
Jimmy: That flooding one was pretty good cause we had water following in and slowly making its
way through the venue. Its was bad luck and we were flooded in.
Oh wow, that’s pretty crazy. Did any equipment get ruined?
Jimmy: No not equipment but more importantly, where they were selling the beer, it flooded at the front of the pub. It was devastating to see the beer getting ruined. No one wants beer destroyed.
Being a festival lover myself I have discovered a few things that I find necessary to bring to a festival like spare hair ties, chewing gum (but only bring it out in front of your friends) and ponchos just in case. What are your top three items you must bring to a festival?
Cam: A portable phone charger so you can always contact your mates. Probably sunglasses and if you can get your hands on an AAA pass, you will be able to get free drinks which is always good. What about you Jimmy?
Jimmy: My top three would be… everyone needs chewing gum… you need a pretty randy shirt. Sorry that’s randy meaning as like an out there shirt because you’re at a festival. You got to fit the vibe. So you could also bring snacks into a festival. Can you do that anymore? Cause they are over prized. Yeah bring some snacks in if you want and bring your mates. *laughs* Mates are essential!!! That would be my top three.
How do you decide on what to wear on stage?
Cam: Whatever really, whatever is laying on the floor. Especially when by the end of the tour, when you’re living out of a bag, it’s like literally what’s clean.
Jimmy: What’s the cleanest, what can I turn inside out. There are like full on shirts you can turn inside out, whether or not that’s clean. That’s just like exposing the dirtiness. But yeah not really, we just wear black clothes.
Cam: Yeah we cant wear colour cause we spill stuff on it all the time cause we are real clumsy. I would love to wear white shirts but I just can’t it will be wrecked in about 5 minutes. It’s so dangerous. Whenever I see someone wearing white clothes, I’m like “damn there is a risk taker”.
Cam: That’s a brave person!
If you could collab with anyone, who would it be? Dead or alive?
Cam: I would love to do a song with Dire Straights, when you know released Telegraph Road but I don’t know. I would probably mess it up. Yeah they are one of my favourite bands. But they aren’t dead or anything, they just aren’t a band anymore. So I would have to round up the boys again. What about you Jim?
Jimmy: I would love to play with Frank Ocean. I would let him sing but to just play with him. Just create music with him. That would be very interesting just because he is a very interesting songwriter and know never know what he’s gonna do. He is very to himself and I like that.
Would that be a solo thing for you Jimmy or the band?
Jimmy: Nah it would be me and Frank. *laughs* It will just be a duo.
Would you guys consider branching out into different genres?
Jimmy: Yeah definitely. You look at bands that can – well except AC/DC but you know – if you change it up every album it keeps it interesting. You become a fan of someone when you get surprised
So with your tour are you excited for any places or to go back to certain places?
Cam: Probably excited for the whole thing its all really nice. Like Brisbane is really cool and always fun in Byron as well.
Jimmy: And Melbourne. I love Melbourne, I love the people there. Melbourne is fun and yeah, we have always have a fun show in Melbourne.
What has been your most rowdy crowd?
Jimmy: Probs Melbourne. We had a show once with Ocean Alley cause we were touring with them.
Cam: I think they had like twice over the capacity. There were people hanging of the rafters. They napped the front barrier. I don’t think they understood how big Ocean Alley were. *laughs* that was retty rowdy. The security had no chance. It was a pretty wild night, that one.
How do you go about choosing your supports?
Jimmy: Anyone who is just doing something cool, something different and interesting and fun… I guess just something fresh.
Cam: Lachie is good for that too. He always has his eye on the ball and like looking for new acts and stuff and said “oh we should bring them on tour, check out this song” and I’m like “yeah alright lets do it.” We have Wing Defence coming on this tour. They are cool, they are named after a netball position and yeah they are really good.
Final question, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Jimmy: Still playing, still writing cool music. Goal is to go to Europe!! Love to just be based there really. We’d love to get overseas as soon as possible!!! But we will always come back to Australia.
Interview – Sophia Downes
Join The VANNS on their How Was I Supposed To Know tour:
Fri 5th Oct Black Bear Lodge – Fortitude Valley, QLD
Sat 6th Oct The Northern – Byron Bay, NSW
Sat 13th Oct The Lansdowne – Sydney, NSW
Fri 19th Oct Rocket Bar – Adelaide, SA
Sat 20th Oct Northcote Social Club – Melbourne, VIC
Have we seen you play at the UOW UniBar before?
Yeah, you would’ve. We’ve played a couple of gigs there over the years, both Luke (Carra; guitars, vox) and I went to uni down there, so it holds quite a sentimental place in our hearts.
I’ve had a listen to your new single (‘Come Back’, from the Silver Linings EP), I know that comparisons can be pretty reductive but I’m getting a Boy and Bear, Beautiful Girls kind of vibe from it; are you happy with that comparison, would you consider it a compliment?
Yeah, 100%! The song wasn’t written or even intended to be produced in the sound that it ended up, but I think that leading with the acoustic guitar really kind of puts it in a different world. It was exciting to have a song and an idea and then take it into the studio and then kind of let it take on a life of its own. It’s a great comparison, for sure.
I really like the beat, it doesn’t seem to suit the style of the song at the outset, but then after a while it makes total sense and it’s very danceable!
Yeah, that’s exactly right. We had that beat from another demo, and with the acoustic intro I suggested, “Hey, why don’t we just try and fade in those drums the way they are?”, so we did and we ended up super happy with how it sounds. Like you said, not intended to fit; but totally does.
So you’ve just come back from Europe. How recent is just?
Oh you poor duck, how are you feeling?
Ah, pretty jetlagged. I mean, we’ve done it seven times now, we usually go over every summer; but it never gets any easier, it’s always the same. I been waking up at 4am since we got back, but always have such a great time over there that it doesn’t really matter. It’s kind of the price you pay for being able to travel the world and play music for different audiences.
Well, so long as you’re prepared to take that hit, I guess?
Yeah, usually it takes a few days to readjust, but I think it gets to me more mentally and emotionally, than physically. You come back and everything’s familiar, you want to get straight back into work, but you know it doesn’t really work like that – your mind and your body aren’t really going to let you. But it’s all good, I’ve just learnt to take it easier over the years.
I feel like it’s almost a symbolic kind of ‘exhale’, like you get home and you can kind of just deflate?
Oh, 100%. I mean, it’s so funny – we were on the road for about seven weeks, and I got sick over there; but a lot of the time your body really kind of ‘holds’ the sickness until it knows it can deflate; and I think we get home and that’s when we really start to feel it. It’s definitely a well-deserved exhale, for sure.
Perfect, you can finally afford to get sick just in time for your Australian tour!
[Laughs] Exactly right, a couple of weeks’ grace to hopefully get strong again!
So what was your favourite fixture that you played over in Europe?
We got to tour around to a lot of different countries, but this year we spent a lot more time in Germany and they’re known for putting on a lot of big festivals and open-air concerts; so we played about four or five shows to around 6000 people and that was a really cool experience – not so much for the amount of people, but more for that culture behind listening to music and connecting in the live sense. In Germany it seems to just be such an open, accepting vibe at these events and I think that when it comes to summertime in Europe everyone’s going out to experience something, whether it be community or culture or music or whatever; and I think with a lot of these concerts we had some incredible experiences – particularly in those quieter moments, when we had the entire crowd with us in the palms of our hands, it felt very special. Those shows were highlights, for sure.
Do you feel like there’s any kind of fundamental difference between European summer festival-goers and their Australian equivalent? I believe that Australians tend to take it for granted that summer’s just gonna be great, whereas Europeans don’t seem to let the occasional day or two of bad weather get in the way of a good time. Do you tend to see a bit more mindfulness in European summer crowds, a bit more living-in-the-moment?
There are so many factors to people and festivals and music and culture, like over in Europe I think – especially in places like Germany – they do experience some version of what you or I would consider ‘winter’ for most of the year, so when the summer comes there is this sense of ‘richness’; and I think more broadly, such places have endured collectively hundreds of years of adversity in which they’ve had to turn to art and community and culture in order to feel connected; and so I think when it came to a lot of these concerts, I certainly felt that music and the enjoyment of music was held very highly in their ideology. Not to say that we don’t feel similarly in Australia, of course we do; but we also have such an incredible country, the climate’s amazing, and I think that can sometimes up the ante in terms of what such crowds expect.
It’s really cool to hear such a measured, thoughtful approach; rather than just a get onstage, play the set, get paid mentality. I really enjoy the fact that you can appreciate a humanitarian element.
I think it’s just human, man. When you do anything for a long enough time, the bullshit gets put aside. All the smoke and mirrors fizzle out, because they have to; and when times are tough you really do rely on things like human connection as a pretty basic form of happiness and satisfaction. I think that when we travel abroad that connection can get even deeper precisely because we’re from elsewhere, and you’re welcomed as a guest and a friend, as well as a working professional.
Any dates that you’re particularly looking forward to on your Australian tour?
Well a lot of the places we’re playing we’ve played before; but we spend a lot of time up in the Kimberley, we’re usually there two or three times a year, and this time we’re going to be spending another week up there hanging with a bunch of friends and some of the local mob. It’s a really good opportunity for us to kind of wind down and take some time out on country up there; it’s a real grounding experience and puts things back into perspective for us. I’m also looking forward to going to Broome and Melbourne too, we’ve learned to make good friends wherever we go because we spend so much time away from home; so I think we’re very fortunate to have members of our chosen family all around the country. It’ll be nice to have a few days off and some potluck dinners!
Excellent! It’s cool when work doesn’t feel like work.
It’s a funny one, touring in a band. Especially for us, we’re known as a party band, and I think when people talk about ‘work’ and ‘music’ in the same breath – we don’t see it as getting paid for the shows, we see it more as getting reimbursed for all of the orbital expenses outside of the shows! When we’re onstage playing a show, that’s not work.
I used to maintain this ‘measured’ nihilistic attitude that “Every silver lining has a cloud”. If the EP is Silver Linings, presumably there was the aforementioned attached cloud at some point – would that be a sore point for you to talk about? Are we witnessing the re-emergence of the band after some trials and tribulations?
That’s such an interest take on that concept. I think that’s the great thing about art in general, it takes on its own life within the audience. We’ve been going as a band for close to nine years now, and we’ve grown from friends into business partners, in a way; so I guess that within any organisation or relationship you’re bound to experience hard times with no option but to face them. I think this EP was really easy to write, actually; the concept of the title track revolves around my having gotten a flat tyre right next to a pineapple farm up in Byron Bay. It’s interesting how it plays into the deeper aspect of the band though, and we’re stoked with these songs as a body of work to be coming out under that name, it’s just so poetic.
I like that story. Whenever the public sees entertainers they’re ‘always on’, there’s this mystique that you live your life in a cupboard or a box and only ever come out to perform; but that’s not true at all. You’re just like the rest of us. You get flat tyres. You like pineapples. Very humanising.
[Laughs] The amount of times these tedious moments happen in life…You can either endure them and see them pass, or you can think to yourself, “Hang on, I think this might be something bigger!” and just follow them and see where they lead.
That comes back to mindfulness too, I guess.
Yeah, exactly. It’s so interesting, as an artist I think I have a deeper appreciation for those moments than I otherwise would?
I’d say. Who are you playing with on your Australian tour? Did you want to give them a bit of a gratuitous plug?
We’re playing with a band called Gold Member [stylised ‘GLD MBR’] mostly, I met the singer/guitarist Az about two years ago when we were touring Europe, he was tour-managing Boo Seeka at the time, and I remember we were staying at the same accommodation and we ended up hanging out. He said I should check out his personal project, I said, “Yeah no worries, we should do a tour sometime”, and here we are, two years later.
Yeah so Gold Member, very awesome, based out of Sydney, and they’re playing most of our east coast dates, which will be great.
Fantastic, I love that you always seem to run into Australians overseas. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, and here you are making a profit on that coincidental meeting.
We pop up everywhere, there’s no doubt about that.
A bit of an esoteric, music nerd question, but what sort of gear are you guys running at the moment? Is there any awesome new hardware that you’ve picked up that you just love playing live?
On the bass, I keep it pretty minimal when it comes to my rig. I might use an [over]drive pedal from time to time, but I think when you talk about gear you’d have to go more towards the keys, synth, trumpet. Ken [Allard] is the gear man. He runs his own mixer from his set-up of two different synthesizers, and a Nord keyboard with a bunch of different delays. We’re always on Instagram trying to find some new bit of gear, but the hard thing about gear is that it generally doesn’t survive touring! They do not go hand-in-hand, and I think at the end of the day you just have to be accepting and conscious of that.
I often find that touring bands will have refined a song down to its very essence, and I’ll usually end up preferring the live version because they’ve kind of been able to let the arrangement ‘breathe’?
100%. You want to be able to hear and feel a live version existing as its own beast, I definitely agree with you. And you’re right – I can very easily get stuck in ‘gear holes’; but I think as long as it’s adding to what you’re producing, by either inspiring or informing your output, then I can justify having it. But if it doesn’t speak to the process, then it’s just an exercise in ego; and a lot of the time on the road you just flat-out don’t have that luxury.
In relation to Caravãna Sun’s image and aesthetic – I’ve always wondered this about bands that seem to hitch their wagons to one of the four seasons – does it get tiring, projecting that image of the endless summer? Or do you guys relish it?
To be honest, our aesthetic kinda goes hand-in-hand with the name of the band and the style of music which we play. But I think as we’ve grown, we’ve definitely try to reinvent what it means. When we were younger, we were projecting more of the Latino American ‘party’ kind of thing, and nowadays we’re incorporating a lot of West Coast Americana; but I think no matter what, the simple concept of ‘summer’ will always be prevalent in what we’re doing. It just depends on what kind of shade.
Oh, definitely. I mean, you certainly have your niche. But I was just wondering, you’ve just come from touring Europe in their summer, about to tour Australia in our summer; after awhile do you just think, “You know what? I really just want to do a press shoot in a cable-knit beanie and a chunky jumper.”?
Oh man, do I ever. I love winter, but this life and this path is flowing towards the endless summer; which certainly isn’t a bad thing!
Interview – Nick Heath
Deniz, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I know you must be busy getting ready for the tour. How are the preparations coming?
Coming along pretty well. We’re still sorting the song list, stuff from the back catalogue and we always like to do a few covers that we haven’t done before with every tour, so we’re sort of debating back and forth which cover songs we want to do. And we’re all rehearsing, so we should get together a few weeks from now and just start hammering it out in the rehearsal room. So, from my point of view preparation is just getting on top of the music and we’ve been around the block a couple of times before and it shouldn’t be a problem.
Off the back of a fantastic new album and a national tour, we sat down with Ben from The Hard Aches to talk the album, the tour, and what bands can be doing to make safer spaces at gigs.
Firsts things first, is your dog on the cover art?
It is. Yeah it’s my dog Tunes. His names Neptune but we call him Tunes for short. He’s a year and a half old Huntaway x Border Collie. And he’s the perfect angel from hell. *laughs*
I think I would be buying the album even if I hadn’t heard of the band just for the dogs on the cover art.
He’s a very handsome dog. He’s also on the Camp Cope album cover. There’s a fun fact for ya. He’s a great dog, he’s a beautiful dog, he’s my number two dog. My number one dog is past his days of caring enough to be in front of a camera. *laughs*
I guess into the serious questions, this is the first full length in a while, how does it feel different to stuff that’s come before?
We definitely feel like we knew what we wanted to sound like, how we wanted to make this record, what we wanted to say with this record; and we felt better than we’ve ever fall as a band coming into the studio making this record. So I think up until this point we’ve kinda just been, kinda playing around and experimenting with a few different things, especially sonically. For a two piece band it’s taken a lot of experimenting to get to the point where we’re feeling stoked with our sound and how we’re gunna replicate that sound on a record or how we’re gunna replicate a record live. This has been the first time that we’ve felt really, really, really, bloody good about it. So I guess going into the studio this time we knew how to get to the sounds and how to get to the place we wanted to get to. Which was really nice, but simply came from experimenting with all the other records we’ve done up until this point.
Yeah, I’ve seen you guys live and it’s definitely a really full sound considering that there’s only two of you on stage. Especially with the guitar tone, it’s impressive how many amps you feed one guitar into.
*laughs* Yeah look, you’ve got to do it.
So I’ve seen you talk about that before, that this album is where the bands been wanting to head for a long time. Now that it’s out is there a sense of relief or are you just gearing up for the next thing?
Ah, I don’t think it’s relief. I guess it’s relief in the way that, have we done everything right, especially leading up to a record, is the record going to come out when we want it to come out. But you know we’ve kinda just been hanging out, waiting, wanting to share this with everyone. So it’s really rad, it hasn’t really been a relief, it’s been a ‘fuck yeah’, now everyone else can share this thing that we’re so proud of. Which has been really nice, and it’s all been really positive so far which is really cool.
I’ve been listening to the album pretty much non-stop since it came out, and some of the lyrics are really amazing. Outline has some personal favourites, but a lot of the album is super personal and you talk about mental health a lot. Is it difficult to be that open publicly?
Definitely. I’m still trying to figure out how to do it and be more comfortable with it. But it’s something I’ve wanted to become more comfortable talking about it. And us as a band have wanted to champion it more than we have in the past. We’ve always talked about it in our music, but we’ve never talked about it in a way that we want to make some sort of positive change and start some sort of conversation around it. And I think we’ve managed to put this record out in a way that it still touches on all these topics but where we’re doing it in a more positive, hopeful way. We want people to start their own conversations, and break this stigma that still surrounds, especially, things like depression. And that’s something that rings really close to home for us. So that’s something that we’ve wanted to do, be able to use our music for something better than just putting out music.
It’s amazing stuff. Really amazing to see. So you’ve also just had a tour with Antonia and the Lazy Susans and Sincerely Grizzly. What’s it like touring the new stuff and working with those bands?
It’s been really fun being able to play these new songs live. It’s the first record that we’ve done that we haven’t had the chance to really road test all of them. The last couple of years we’ve played a couple of them in our sets every now and then but we haven’t been able to go out and play all of these songs in the way that most bands would work on tracks by just going out and playing gigs with them. We didn’t get the opportunity to really do that this time. So it’s really rad to be finally putting these songs together in a jam space, and then straight into a studio, into a live setting. And they’re all going down really well and it’s obviously really fun to be able to freshen up the set. And not do a whole new set of songs, but a whole new set for us. It’s been really rad to be able to play these new songs, and considering the record came out just before the tour it was so surreal how many people were giving on the new stuff already. It’s been really really rad. To able to tour with bands like Antonia and Grizzly is probably our most favourite thing about being in the weird position that we are, of being able to take bands we love on tour with us. And show them to people who have maybe never been exposed to them before. It’s been really rad to watch those bands just win over rooms every night, and Antonia has been getting up and doing a song with us. It’s just been really really beautiful. Everyone’s just been received well. I think, I mean I know I did, have the sickest time ever. I think it’s up hill from here. I think uphills good, or maybe downhill is good. I’m not sure, which ever way is good, we’re going that way.
I’ve also seen that you played with Nothing Rhymes With David in Sydney, but you’ve skipped over Wollongong?
Look it’s one of those things, we are going to be doing Wollongong, just not this tour unfortunately. When you’ve only got a small window to put shows together you kinda have to weigh up whether you wanna do Canberra, or Newcastle, or Wollongong. We haven’t forgotten about you! We really really love Wollongong, and every show we’ve done down there has been amazing. We unfortunately couldn’t squeeze it in this run, but it will happen.
We’ll hold you to that!
Awesome, I really want to tick off Rad Bar before it disappears. Not only are they great people they also have a room full of pinball machines, so you gotta do it.
Kind of a serious question, but you’ve got Georgia Maq from Camp Cope on a couple of songs on the new album, and they’ve been at the centre of a lot of awful abuse online in regards to the gender imbalance in the music industry. As an all-male band how do you go about addressing that without talking over the top of women and non-binary musicians?
Look it’s really important for an all male band, and I know it took us being educated on it, to realise that we’ve got to be better at advocating for these things. For us, putting on shows that are as diverse as we possibly can and doing everything we can to support the people around us. And listening to what these people are saying, I think that’s the most important thing. You know we are all male band, and we haven’t been subject to the fucking horrible things I know other people are. And I see it every day, being so close to Camp Cope, we see all the bullshit that gets said about them on the internet. And they’re so much stronger than I could ever imagine having to be for having to endure this bullshit because they know what they’re fighting for is the right fucking thing. Just listening, and calling out bullshit when you see it. I think a big part of it is a lot of, I’m gunna say all male bands, and people out there feel like it’s someone else’s problem to make this better, and to make this go away. And I know this through simply getting in an argument with someone on Twitter, who’s in a high profile band, who openly said to me “It’s not my problem what am I meant to do about it.” When the reality is this person is in a position where they could support non-male musicians, they could support bands that don’t identify as just four fucking dumb arse white dudes, just playing boring arse metalcore music. You know I got into this like big argument with him because he openly felt like, it’s not his problem and what is he meant to do about it. And I feel like that attitude is shitty, and guys are allowed to talk up about this stuff and guys are allowed to call this shit out. We have to. If we want to be a part of this positive that is going to happen whether we all like it or not. And obviously it’s something we feel so strongly about. Just listening, and talking about it amongst ourselves, and doing everything we can as a band to make sure that we’re not perpetuating that same stereotype of music and culture that surrounds music. And try doing everything that we can to ensure that the spaces we occupy as a band are as safe and welcoming for everyone. Because we want everyone to feel like they can go not only to our shows and feel safe and feel at home, but anyone’s shows. Because it’s so heartbreaking to hear stories from people that aren’t nice, that bad things have happened to them at shows, that they’ve experienced bad things or heard bad things, and it’s put them off wanting to have the experience all together. It’s so heart breaking because music for me has been such a saviour and such an important thing in my life. We want everybody to feel like they deserve to have that same experience or they deserve to have that space.
Yeah definitely. And I think that’s some great advice to some of the all male, white guy bands out there that kind of don’t consider it their issue. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to me, and Volume Media today, we really appreciate it.
Interview – Josh Mills
Just before Cradle of Filth return Down Under to crush their newest album into our country, Lindsay Schoolcraft had a chat with Robbie about the upcoming tour, the band and what it’s like being in one of the most successful active metal acts in the world.
Sleeping With Sirens are heading down under for the first time in three years. The Florida alt-rock and metalcore outfit have announced a new Australian tour for 2018 off the back of their latest album Gossip, and will be visiting fans in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane this month, beginning in Sydney. Before the tour kicks off, drummer Gabe Barham had a chat with Robbie about their latest album and their world tour.