Interview with DIRECTOR Richard Bates Jnr.

It is a very brave director who decides to try and create a film that not only contains elements of comedy but also remain a poignant film that makes its audience think. One director who has recently set out to achieve this feat is American director Richard Bates Jnr.


Australian film fans were first introduced to Bates several years ago at Monster Fest when his film Excision was presented to the audience but now he teams up with actor Adrian Grenier, who most people would know from hit series Entourage, to bring audiences his latest film Trash Fire. With the film now being released in Australia on DVD, we sat down with Richard to discuss the film in-depth.


As we start to talk about the fact that Richard both wrote and directed the film, he admits that the film did come from a dark place. “I was depressed, and I mean really upset, and I was like that for a year,” he explains. “So I wrote the film about depression, so I wrote these kind of quirky, funny depression like characters and I wanted them to show their selfishness and how wrapped up in your own problems depression can make you. So I wanted to hold up a mirror to people who are like that in the hope that they may see something of themselves in the movie and want to change.”

For a lot of screenwriters writing something very personal is the hardest thing that they can do but Richard says that wasn’t a problem for him here. “My first film Excision was pretty personal, but I had a bit of a rougher time on my second movie so I went into this one with the thought that I will never make another film again unless I can make it the way I made Excision. So the big difference between this movie and Excision is that Excision is a three-act movie, it has a beginning, a middle and an end, whereas Trash Fire is just a two-act movie. And the second act is really only ten minutes so as an audience you are really smacked in the face, and you’re shaken as we get our point across that sometimes it can be too late to change, so pull your head out.”


I can’t help but ask what the issues were that made his second film such a wild ride. “Well my first film was really personal, and I had final cut, it was a miracle, it was wonderful, but on my second film, there were all these things happening behind the scenes. There was interference. There were a lot of fights, and it didn’t end up being what I wanted it to be. The fact that I was never happy with it killed me inside quite frankly. So I didn’t want to do this one unless I could do it the way I did Excision and luckily I could, and again it was a miracle.”


Of course, a lot of people are going to be interested in the fact that Adrian Grenier is part of the cast, but Richard said he wasn’t always somebody that he imagined would be in the film. “I didn’t always imagine him in the role,” he says.

“I actually didn’t think of anybody in the role, to be honest; I hadn’t given a thought to cast at all when I was writing it. So the way I cast Excision and Suburban Gothic was to make it personal because I have already put so much of myself into it. So with Adrian these days everybody just knows him as the Entourage guy but the first independent movie that I saw him in was The Adventures Of Sebastian Cole, and that film meant something to me. So I said to him let’s go back to when you were taking all these chances and go with it. It turns out that he isn’t ‘this Entourage guy.’ I think Entourage is pretty specific because in that he sleeps with a lot of girls and hangs out with douchey guys and to people he has become that kind of character and I know that a lot of people love that show, but it’s not a kind of show that I particularly enjoy because I blame a lot of the hassles that I have to go through on that show existing. It’s meant that every single shithead in my country has moved to Hollywood just to get laid.”

So Adrian aside how did Richard go about casting the rest of the film? “Well, AnnaLynne McCord I put in because I trust her completely. We’re good friends, and I knew that she could pull that off. She will always push it right to the limit, and she will go to the depths of her soul to deliver, she is perfect for these kinds of characters. Likewise, Matthew Gray Gubler is one of my best friends, we both had pretty religious upbringings and Fionnula Flanagan I just love her. With things like Waking Ned Devine and that I knew she would be perfect to be the ‘someone’ commanding that I was looking for. When they drive back home, they are driving into another genre so there is 30-40 minutes of a romantic comedy, a dark romantic comedy and then they drive into a horror movie where everything is larger than life and exaggerated. I knew that Fionnula is somebody that could just chew scenery and intimidate them and she could just own every situation. She got the sense of humour immediately, and as soon as she read it, she called me and was laughing about all these things that people normally at her age wouldn’t even find remotely funny. With Angela Trimbur I met so many girls but Angela completely impressed me, and I could tell that if I could just put them all in the same room together that this thing would sell itself. This is the darkest comedy that you are ever likely to see and certainly the darkest I will ever make so just don’t watch it with your Mum… my Mum f**king hates it. But the main value is filmmaking is that you have to learn to ‘kill’ your parents. You can’t make a film for your family.”


Hot after winning an Audience Award at the Boston Film Festival Trash Fire is being released in Australia on DVD through Bounty Films.


Written by David Griffiths



“Mate, I don’t know whether you’ve seen the photos on Instagram but it was a great time,” enthused bass player and all round larrikin for King Parrot, Slatts, on their last overseas tour. “I had a massive hematoma on the side of my body. I got blackout drunk twice and I haven’t been that way since I was a teenager so I’m really settling in to adult life at 37 years of age (laughs).”


“It was awesome man,” he continued. “We were on tour with people that helped create and shape a genre of music. It was the first time that Exodus and Obituary have toured together. Obituary helped build that whole death metal scene in the States and obviously Exodus, shit, they are massive progenitors of thrash metal. Each of them have been together something like 37 years and you watch them and they are so tight it’s amazing. I actually didn’t even watch them for the first five nights and then when I finally did I was like fucken hell! Every night after that I would watch them play and then get on line and learn more about them. Even though I loved them as a kid it was just amazing. You see them with crowds and they just know how to work their shit.”


Touring through foreign countries can also give a band perspective on touring in local conditions, and when it comes to overseas hospitality compared to that at home Slatts says there are small areas where some, but not all, venues could improve in.


“Fucken oath!” he laughed. “They could all feed you every gig you play (laughs). They could provide accommodation at most venues. They could… nah, just feed me and give me a place to lie down (laughs).”


When I bring up free alcohol as well Slatts laughs before turning serious.

“Don’t ever drink with Polish women,” he almost whispered. “They drink way better than you and that’s how you end up blackout drunk…”


And is this outcome favourable or not?


“I honestly don’t know,” Slatts laughed again. “I’d have to consult the footage! I couldn’t even tell you the dates we did over there but basically we did seventeen countries in just under five weeks. We did about 15,000 kilometers, went through 4,500 litres of fuel and across that we had maybe three nights off. Obviously people who don’t work in the industry or haven’t toured like that say ‘you’ve just been on a holiday’ and I’m like fuck off with your holiday! Sure, I slept 23 hours of the day but it wasn’t a holiday. It’s not like you get to really experience most of the cities. You get to meet lots of great people and you start to get a very immediate sense of how people consume their music in different countries.”


You could be in Germany and the majority of people might prefer to stand and stare and watch and listen to it all but you can drive two hours down the road and play in another country and they are all going fucken spastic and stage diving and crowd surfing and that sort of stuff. It’s really interesting and a challenge for the way you perform – obviously you’ve seen us and we like to get people involved and we like to have people having to watch what’s going on because they never know what’s going to happen – but sometimes you have to work a little harder to make it happen.”


Another thing you learn on tours away from your comfort zone is about each other and what things make you tick or ticks you off, and Slatts says it all boils down to one major consideration. Space.


“We’ve been a band for six, maybe seven years and we’ve been touring together between six and seven months overseas every year for the last three so I think we’ve learnt a lot and certainly the most important thing is respect and giving each other space when no space actually exists. We were sharing a bus with Prong and, again, to me it’s awesome to be on a tour bus with these guys but you realize pretty quickly there’s certainly no privacy and you’ve just gotta… I know my personality and sometimes when I’m in the mood I like to be loud – okay, all the fucken time (laughs) – but sometimes I know it’s time to shut up and leave everyone alone.”


Through consistently good albums and a work ethic that is the envy of many up and coming bands, King Parrot have assumed the mantle as the kings of Australian metal, but Slatts says that although that may be true, it is not something the band members even consider.


“I still don’t feel that,” he countered. “I look at other bands and I get excited and I wanna be around them because they seem awesome. Recently we were in N.S.W and we played with a bunch of different local bands and it always comes back to the fact I am so stoked that I grew up in Australia because all my heroes, all my favourite bands in the world are from Australia. Of course not all of them, but the majority and it was cool to be in Wollongong and have three other bands from Melbourne playing because we never get to play with these guys. In Melbourne music is inclusive. We might play heavy metal but we hang out in places where you are talking to people like Dan Sultan or Dan Kelly or The Drones or whoever. Your peers are a wider group so to answer the question, it’s pretty great that we have established ourselves in bringing an underground, particularly disgusting and awful style of music to the people (laughs).”


(continued below)



So now that he has admitted to being somewhat of a role model to the up and coming metal musical generation, does Slatts feel like it’s time to actually… um… grow up?


“Fuck no!” he laughed. “I do feel an obligation to actually try and not be as much of a mess. I did mention I got blackout drunk a couple of times which I’m not actually proud of. When we started going overseas three years ago and doing shit… to get to the point where we actually respect each other and understand what people need while they are away we’ve fucked up a shitload. I don’t necessarily even drink when we’re away. We stay away from all temptations and that sort of thing because essentially while all of that is fucken great what’s the most important thing? The most important thing is to play our music. Honestly, I fucken love performing. It’s the best thing in the world and I hope that’s how we become cutting edge because of the commitment to actually doing the job as opposed to… I never understand why it’s sex, drugs and rock and roll. It should be rock and roll and everything else is kind of a bonus.”


To answer questions about the eagerly anticipated next album, vocalist Matt Young steps into the chair.


“We’re actually up at Bribie Island at the moment,” he began. “We’ve got a couple of QLD shows and they will be the last shows we play up here for quite some time I reckon. We’re doing a bit of jamming in a mates studio and we’re getting close to having all the writing finished and probably head into the studio in the next week or two and start laying down the real thing.”


For this, their third album, King Parrot return to their native country and local studio, namely Goatsound in Melbourne, with Youngy excited to be back on home turf after recording the last album overseas.


“It’s good to be doing it at home man,” he said happily. “We’ve been keeping a close eye on what Jason Fuller has been doing down there and some of the stuff he’s been putting out of that studio is really awesome. I think the King Parrot sound is really stooped in the Melbourne underground sound and scene and we’re heavily influenced by bands like Blood Duster and Damaged and Beanflipper and bands that came out of that 90’s scene and if anyone knows that sound it’s Jason.”

“We’re obviously not… we try to produce our own original sound but we certainly want to be influenced by the music that came out of Melbourne in the 90’s which is a huge part of what we grew up on. For us it’s very important and feels good to be able to record with someone who was there and right amongst it. For the most part what has come out of the new stuff so far with pre production has been really positive and there’s a few cracking tracks on there already so we’re getting excited to lay it down properly and then have a little break before we fire up again and get the new album machine rolling.”


“The new stuff is straight down the King Parrot direction,” Youngy continued. “I don’t think we’re gonna deviate too much from what we do (laughs). This time around… when we did the last record we had Toddy in the band for probably six months and we got straight into it and started writing and recording. I think this time around there’s a lot more chemistry in the band and we’re a lot more used to each other’s playing style. Obviously your drummer is a main component of the band and can change the feel of everything and I think now we’re much more comfortable with Toddy and we’ve had a lot more time to work on these songs and write them together. It’s been a really cool sort of process and I’m excited to get the songs out there. There’s a few little bits and pieces – nothing straying too far from the King Parrot formula – but I would hope to think there’s a general improvement all round in every aspect of the performance and the playing and the songwriting. I think that has come along in leaps and bounds. I think in some of the songs there’s even elements of simplicity that kind of harp back to rock and roll structures which we have always been a fan of. There’s also plenty of vicious, ferocious stuff as well (laughs). You get the whole spectrum of King Parrot on this new record.”


Written by Kris Peters

Photos by Carl Neumann at Unify ’17 for Rolling Stone


noun – information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.

Listen to EzekieL OX  while you read.

Such is the dictionary definition of the word which is featured alongside a spray can with the words PROPER GANDER emblazoned across the front which is also the title of Ezekiel Ox’s new solo project that takes some of the best parts of his musical career and spits them through the nozzle in a pounding barrage of riffs, venomous lyrics and drum blasts.

Ezekiel Ox is not just a man who sings about things political, he is the embodiment of a political musician who is not afraid to share his views and beliefs with the world via his music and a man who stands proudly behind every word that escapes his lips.


“The title is a pretty basic pun,” he pointed out. “A proper gander is having a real good look at something, as in the Australian vernacular of the word, or the actual meaning of the word which is on the cover. I think that in this modern age the connotations are strong and whilst we are forced to confront a lot of propaganda and quite negative stuff about homeless people or refugees there’s a lot of stories also in the paper about why it doesn’t matter that working people get their penalty rates cut but we have the power to put our own propaganda out. We can look at it from our point of view and put our incredibly biased, and in my case incredibly rock and funk propaganda out there.”


The project, featuring Steve Smith (Briggs and Caiti Baker) on drums/vocals, Sarox Martin on bass/vocals and Leigh Davies (Sleep Parade, Lunar Sea) on guitar is yet another extension of Ox’s personality, but one which he feels needs no title aside from being his solo outing.


“The big reason is because I’m playing Mammal, Full Scale and Nerve songs with some new arrangements of old classics with the band,” he explained. “When you see us play live we play the E.P but we’ll also be going back through my four piece rock band catalogue because that’s what the band is. In the case of Nerve and Mammal those bands no longer exist so this is the only place you can hear those songs. With Full Scale me and Jimmy talked about it – because Full Scale is currently writing a new album – and Jimmy thought it was a great idea. He said he would really enjoy watching someone else interpret his music. The show is pretty much my legacy. It’s a four piece rock band which is the line up people know me for through these bands and I think there’s a certain purity to that. The main reason is because I wanted to play Mammal songs again but I didn’t want to be in Mammal (laughs).”


In another display of bucking conventional methods, Ox says that the recording process for the E.P was unlike anything he has done previously, but the results still speak volumes for the eclectic methods.


“Steve Smith and I locked ourselves in the studio to do the E.P and he played drums and I did vocals so we just freestyled a click track of rhythms and voice. Then we’d go back over the ten minute freestyle session and we’d cut them up and put them in song structures and hooks and then we put the guitars and the bass over it. Steve played the lion’s share of the guitar and bass as well as the drums and I played some guitars so it came about from kind of bringing music back to the source which I imagine before we had technology and electricity was the way it was done. You would have people singing and dancing and it would have been drums and hitting things with sticks and there would have been singing and dancing and that would have been the beginning of music. We started these rock songs like that and then we put these monstrous riffs in and then just really went hard on the politics because it’s my solo stuff and I’ve got so much to say there.”

With so many current and former projects on the go, it would be difficult for Ox to put his whole self into each one, although he admits after deliberation that each outlet is an extension of his personality.

“That’s an interesting one,” he mused. “I think they’ve all got things that are similar about them. Obviously the main one is they all have the same vocalist (laughs). Anyone that listens to everything I put out will realize how different they are but having said that I guess there’s an inherent creative aggression in what I do and the volume itself… Over Reactor has got a new album coming out midyear, Full Scale is writing again, Superheist is back in the studio and we have three new ones and another debuting soon, and then you have the solo thing… so I think the volume says something and it all sounds like my intensity and my work ethic and my aggression for life. I want to change the world and like so many thousands of others around the world I want to be with people who think we can win. There’s so many great people out there and if you’re willing to have a crack and not just sit back and say she’ll be right mate you can make albums with them, you can shut down intersections with them and you can organize with them. You just have to be willing.”


Fans of Ox and all of his above music get the chance to see him in action in the coming weeks with a show in Sydney on March 24 and Melbourne on April 1, with the Sydney show also doubling as birthday celebrations.


“I always like to play on my birthday,” he laughed. “I’ve done it every year for about the last six years but I always ask my manager to book it on that day if he can. It’s always good to play for yourself on your birthday, I would hate to not have a gig for it.”


Presently, there is only the two dates booked for the solo project, but Ox promises other states are firmly on his to do list.


“We’ve got to take it elsewhere,” he promised. “We’re getting a lot of chatter from Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane so we’ve got to get there eventually. We’re introducing a new guitar player for this tour and we’re also currently building our studio so there’s a bit going on but the best thing about the Ezekiel Ox project is it can’t break up! (laughs) Whatever happens I’m still gonna be playing Mammal songs and I’m still gonna be playing the new solo stuff. I’m gonna have a kick ass four piece rock band and I’ve got some of the most amazing musicians that are interested already and that will be playing so it’s really exciting. People know what they’re gonna get when they come. They’re going to get a good punk rock show with me out the front finding the highest thing I can and jumping off it!”


Written by Kris Peters


Interview with “Fifty Shades Darker’s” Dakota Johnson

Love it or hate but the Fifty Shades franchise is one of the biggest movie series in the world at the moment. As is the way with these blockbuster franchises they also make actors household. Think Harry Potter with Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson and think of Twilight with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and you’re on par with what Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are going through at the moment.


Dornan is making a name for himself as the handsome, very sexual but also very damaged Christian Grey while Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia Steele the eager, young submissive that he has fallen in love with. Together they have become two of the most recognisable actors on the planet and now have a legion of fans behind the franchise.


While talking about the latest film in the franchise to hit cinemas – Fifty Shades Darker – Dornan says that appearing in the franchise and coping with its popularity has helped him form a special bond with co-star Dakota Johnson. “What’s a great thing about Dakota is that only she knows what I’m going through, and only I know what she is going through. We both really need each other through this process because there are days when it is not that easy, and there is a lot being asked of us. I think a lot is being asked of her, particularly with the physical stuff as she is normally wearing less of what I would be although that is kind of changing in these two movies but you need to have that person that understands and has been there with it since day one as well.”


One of the controversial storylines to surface in Fifty Shades Darker is the story of the fact Christian was sexually abused by his mother’s best friend Elena (Kim Basinger) so how does Dornan answer the question that a lot of fans are asking – ‘why doesn’t Christian just steer clear of Elena?’ “I think in some ways he still needs her,” says Dornan after some thought. “She still understands him; I think she is one of the only people that he can talk to. Christian really doesn’t have any friends, like he doesn’t have a group of guys that he grew up with like most normal people do. For me, I have the same group of mates I’ve had since I was a kid and I could call them up about anything, but he doesn’t have that support network. Elena he would use as that, someone to talk things through to you know, someone that can help him understand situations and someone that he feels understands him.”


That leads to asking about the damage that she has done to Christian which has left him with traits including his controlling personality. “There is a part of him that can be completely unhinged,” he says looking down. “To control that he is actually very controlling in everything that he does.

Of course, the other side to this love affair is Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia – so would she say Christian and Anastasia are firmly in love now? “There are components of sensuality and sexuality,” she agrees using her hands to illustrate the two sides. “But it is primarily a love story between people that are so intricate and so intelligent and so multi-faceted that even the different aspects of their personality and the different aspects of their life, whether they be family or work or sexual preferences are all kind of in orbit around the fact that they are just madly, deeply, fiercely, severely in love with each other.”


That statement might confuse those who are of the belief that the relationship ended in the final scenes of the last film so what brings Christian and Anastasia back together this time around? “They decide that they will try and work things out if he becomes more honest and open with her,” Johnson explains. “That was really all she wanted in the first place. How the last film ended was quite heavy on Anastasia, and I think that the fact that it was so intense and such an awful thing happened, and she still wants to go back, so that is a real testament to just how strong their love is.”

In the early days of the franchise, a lot of people criticised it for being sexist yet along the way we have seen Anastasia grow as a character that is something that Johnson agrees with. “I feel so lucky to be able to play a young woman who not only experiences so much and has such a journey but also becomes someone of such honour and substance and grace and elegance, and there is nothing thankless about her, and I love that. In the first movie Anastasia is quite nubile and innocent and virginal and soft, and I think through this exploration of her love for this man and through her exploration of herself and what she wants in her life, whether that is becoming a figure of authority in her workplace and also becoming more comfortable with her sexuality I think she discovers this strength within her is so extreme and is so powerful and that makes her be able to match Christian.”


The big change this time around is the inclusion of experienced director James Foley, and Johnson says he was great to work with, something that added with her trust for Jamie Dornan helped throughout the film. “Jamie is this wonderful, hilarious and talented human and we also have this kind of friendship that is… we built it around trusting each other so it wasn’t something that was like ‘oh I realise years later that I can trust you.’ Foley is a really great director, and he has such trust with his cast members that it sort of instills this kind of freedom, and that’s really lovely, and he’s a really nice person, and he is nice to be around, and he doesn’t have this outrageous personality and he isn’t like… you know. The set has a very, very mellow vibe.”


Fifty Shades Darker is in cinemas now.


Written by David Griffiths