Welcome to HEAVY DIGI-MAG ISSUE #25 – FREE EDITION
This month we are featuring ten-year-old melodic metalcore band, MISS MAY I, they’ve made such an impression in our HEAVY headquarters that even the most die-hard thrash veterans are saying, “Yeah, all right… yeah… I like it. Fuck yeah, actually.”
Who said old dogs couldn’t be taught new tricks?
While Hollywood superstar-extreme, Tom Cruise, was in town we were given the royal opportunity, which only the top publications got to do, to ask him some questions about his starring role alongside Russell Crowe, in The Mummy.
We also had a lengthy chat with Richard Patrick of Filter which is a must read before their tour with Ministry later in 2017.
Modern rockers, Trapt, have seemingly gone unnoticed, so it seemed, but judging by their Facebook and Spotify numbers, they will be filling venues to capacity.
We’ve also got Australian legends, Grinspoon doping this issue along with Ill Nino, The Dead Daisies, In Hearts Wake and DragonForce.
We also introduce you to some kick-arse up and coming acts such as Devil Electric, Far Away Stables, Kings, House Vs. Hurricane, Casey and Figures, along with more talent.
“It’s just gone, go, go, we’re gonna have to kick its ass!” laughed Cristian Machado, lead vocalist for Ill Niño, on their upcoming August tour of Australia which features five shows in five days.
Ill Niño will be performing their groundbreaking debut album Revolution Revolución in its entirety, celebrating its fifteen year anniversary, with Machado saying the album still resonates with fans as much today as when it came out.
“I think that album had an impact because it was definitely an album that felt inspired by a lot of the cool and a lot of the great culture metal bands that were trying to make their way at that time, but I think the most important thing was it had some identity and it really was from beginning to end its own thing. It didn’t sound like anybody else, you know? That’s the thing that’s allowed us to survive so many years later and is the catalyst to why our fans felt so attached to the album when it came out. I know that we weren’t expecting too much. We didn’t know what the world would bring when we released that first album, but happily, it made that impact and had an impact on so many people that it changed our lives.”
As well as hitting a chord with the fans, Machado says on a personal level the album still has great significance to not only himself but also the rest of the band.
“Definitely playing it and this anniversary has brought back so many memories,” he offered, “and also a lot of sad memories from back then. I think I’m just grateful to have been a part of something that can still be thought of as somewhat timeless 15, 16, 17 years later, so it’s… the more I think about it in my head, it’s just musical innocence. You go and do something cool and you hope that it’s cool and you hope that people connect with it and the thing that has stuck with me is purely those moments. The moments that people have really connected with and have had life changing experiences throughout their lives and how one of those songs or a couple of songs off that record are part of the soundtrack of people’s lives.”
When Ill Niño formed in 1998 in New Jersey, they were entering a musical culture that had almost lost its way at a time when order needed to be restored to the equation.
“The vision for the band back then was just to be a Latin metal band,” Machado recalled. “It was nothing more than that. We got categorized into a nu-metal thing, but the vision was always from the beginning to be a Latin metal band. We were metal heads but we wanted to be a culture and we wanted to have a culture in our music. You could say we wanted to be a culture metal band, that was the main focus.”
Coming up with a unique sound blending flamenco guitar tones, Latino passion, and aggressive metal, Ill Niño not only were a new band on the growing metal scene, they were different. It was an untried sound for the times and was certainly a risk but Machado says the band was always confident it would succeed.
“I think it was simply… we were each individually influenced by different things and it naturally made us pull in different ways so the final shape that we wound up with is pretty much what we have today – something that’s got a lot of different points and a lot of different references and a lot of different angles. I suppose we were never just influenced by traditional metal. We loved traditional metal but we also loved British heavy metal. We loved classic rock and rock bands and we loved punk rock and hardcore. We were very influenced by the New York hardcore scene and at the end of the day you wind up with this thing after you put your culture in and your personal stamp on things and that’s really what we got. Obviously having influences like Quicksand and the Bad Brains, along with Fear Factory and death metal, that’s how the band ended up being what it is.”
Ill Niño was as much a product of their environment as they were of their sound and Machado feels the band entered the musical landscape just when it was crying out for something new.
“At those times in music, everything was an open field,” he recounted. “You could do cool things, you could experiment, but when it was genuinely done, and it was done with intent, and with concept and identity, the sounds always worked and we were blessed to be one of those bands. Our album came out with a lot of other Roadrunner Records releases on the same day. It was originally supposed to be released on September 11, 2001, but it got moved back a week later because of what happened, and on that level, we didn’t receive a lot of promotion. There wasn’t a ton of money behind our marketing. Our album got released with a lot of other great albums on the same label and the fans gravitated to it. We started to get some college radio support and then eventually a little bit of radio, but it was really just the fans and word of mouth and people sharing the music with each other that allowed us to be something that kind of stuck from the moment it got released.”
To coincide with the release of Revolution Revolución, Ill Niño embarked on a nineteen-month tour through America, Europe, the U.K., and Japan: a massive tour for a young band on the back of their debut album. Despite such a hectic schedule, Machado says in retrospect, it was the perfect introduction to what was to become a successful career.
“It taught us everything man,” he enthused. “I knew it all when we went on those initial tours but you don’t know anything before you go on the road (laughs). You train as a musician and get yourself ready but if you don’t spend the time in your rehearsal place and home making sure you can depend on yourself and your own musicianship when you get on the road it’s gonna be a disaster! It may not be like that for everyone but for 95% of the people it will be, and to me, it was no different. I was a great local musician but I had to go out there and learn. I wasn’t a singer, I was always a guitar player and bass player in bands who would sing once in a while and when I did it was in a death metal band and I had nothing to do with what we were doing at that moment so I had to go out there and learn a lot man, so to be honest with you, it taught me everything. How to vocalize properly, how to have relationships with friends properly, how to be respectful to someone’s personal space: everything.”
Over the course of their career, while many things about the music industry have changed, Machado feels that Ill Niño has remained true to themselves, letting their music run its own course and dictate terms.
“I think at the root of everything what I like now and what I liked when we started are still the same thing,” he mused. “It has to be pushing the boundary in some way or another and it has to be real and it has to say something other than nonsense. Perhaps it’s the punk rocker in me that feels music is here to teach people in one way or another. To me, it has to say something – it has to be emotionally tied to something. There are some bands that are very progressive and very technical that can still do that – a band like Animals As Leaders, which I think is an amazing band – and there are bands that can be simplistic and don’t need to do anything technical to really hear the heart of that music and I think in everything I’ve always liked it’s always been like that. It hasn’t really changed too much. Even though I may not be listening to Obituary as much as I was when I was 18, I think that the reason why I was such a big Obituary fan when I was 20, 21 years old was at the root of what they do it is so intense. It’s as fucken real as fuck.”
Written by Kris Peters
With the impending release of Shadows Inside, Miss May I frontman, Levi Benton feels that his band have finally made the leap from being on the fringes of success as a metal band and is looking forward to further enhancing that with what he believes is the band’s most comprehensive release yet.
“It’s our sixth record and our first with Sharptone / Nuclear Blast,” he enthused, “and we’re really excited. It’s our first time with international support, which I think will be a really big deal for us and it’s also the first record we have done with two producers; which is pretty weird, but it turned out awesome! We took a lot of time off for this record – the new label gave us a lot of time. They weren’t breathing down our neck with a schedule at all and with that, we wanted to make a record that was over-the-top and put us into that headline spot where we want to be in as a band. Nuclear Blast wanted us to use a local producer on the album and he was great and for the instruments we wanted to use the same person who did our last record, so with both of them, it was definitely a headache and it was like pulling your hair out and sounding really crazy at the beginning, but we did the whole record over email and satellite – because the guys were in Michigan, and I was in Ohio – and we just wanted to bring as many people on to the record as we could.
“Our biggest goal with the album was just to write a headlining record,” he continued. “Not that our last record was bad, but we just wanted to go out of our way to make people’s heads turn and go above and beyond. We knew we needed something that turns people’s heads and that’s why it came out sounding like it did.”
Shadows Inside is an introspective record, with Benton saying the band put a lot of thought into the title.
“The whole record is really about the past and trials and tribulations that you go through in your life and the changes we have been through over time both individually and as a band. The title, ‘Shadows Inside’, is a reflection obviously on shadows being something that is behind everyone, and we feel like everyone has a past – whether it is positive or negative, there is always a past with everyone. And that’s what we wanted the record and the title to be about. We actually had all of the sounds done first and the whole record was finished then we went back and set the title. It was stuck in our heads the whole time that we wanted it to be the one. We spent a couple of weeks messing around with other titles but we decided this was the best.”
Benton also believes that his songwriting has improved over time and that these days he thinks more about the effect his lyrics have on others as opposed to just himself.
“It means a lot to have people relate to my lyrics,” he affirmed. “I think I’m getting better at writing lyrics that people can relate to the older I get. I used to really be outside the box and just really have not technically selfish lyrics but from a very, I guess, unique to one person type of lyric where you just had to go along with the journey but the older I get the more I feel like I’m getting better at making my lyrics less vague and so people can actually come along for the journey as well.”
Miss May I are entering their tenth year as a band, with Benton admitting it snuck up on even them.
“It’s been an awesome journey,” he surmised. “It’s been really crazy because I don’t think any of us felt we were gonna be a band this long. We hadn’t even thought about the ten-year thing until the press started ringing up a couple of months ago (laughs). We were like, ‘Oh, shit,’ but we’re still the youngest band on tour sometimes. We’re still only 24, 25, 26, but all we know is this band. It definitely is weird. The journey has had its ups and downs but we’re all in it for the same reason; we all want the same goal and I think that’s what’s important and really special.
When they formed while still at high school, Benton says there were no delusions of grandeur, just a common love of music that was yet to be defined.
“We just really wanted to have a good time at the start,” he recalled. “I honestly thought we were gonna do one record and maybe sell 10,000 copies and tour that one record once and then everyone go their separate ways, and go to college, and do normal person things and everything sort of got really crazy really fast and it’s been crazy ever since (laughs). The original vision was just to go on a couple of tours and see the U.S – not even the world – and have some fun, play some sweaty shows and that was it. We started touring in 2009 – which is eight years ago – and we’ve been doing it ever since (laughs).”
Going on tour straight from high school sounds like every teenager’s dream, but Benton says the reality of the situation forced the band members to grow up quickly.
“Oh, my God, yeah,” he laughed. “It was crazy! On tour there’s no mum or there’s no one to do your laundry for you, or make your food or help you when you’re down or clean up after you, and that really makes you grow up fast but we were all pretty much best friends and we could all help each other out along the way. We were only talking about this recently about growing up on the road and I even learnt how to shave my face on tour! We have learnt pretty much everything on the road, it’s wild.”
Over time, comes confidence and Benton firmly believes that Miss May I finally has the belief and confidence in themselves and their music to go to the next level in music.
“We’re all better musicians now,” he stressed, “because we’ve been doing it for so long and we’re better songwriters, but I think the biggest change with us is we’ve found our sound. We know who we are and we have found our identity so we know what we are good at. I think we have only just now figured that out over the last couple of records so now that is figured out and we don’t have to stress about it we can focus on taking it to the next level and not only having the Miss May I sound but also making the shows as crazy and great as the sound is. You can’t really focus on having a great show if you’re still trying to find your sound and yourself but now that we’ve found that we’re ready to move to that next level. It’s the same as Parkway Drive. They never really had crazy production or crazy anything, they were just a band but then they found their new sound and now they’re just focusing on crazy live shows. It’s a case of okay, this is where we are. Put the nail in the coffin, this is it.
No matter how long you have been in the music industry, Benton strongly believes that you are still learning and the best way to further your career and better yourself is to watch and listen to your peers.
“Oh, man, that’s everything,” he affirmed. “We’ve learned so much from every band we’ve played with. I remember with Killswitch Engage and Trivium we learnt how to be better performers and we thought we were already great (laughs), but until we went on tour with them we didn’t realize how much we had to step up our performances and play better. You see how they do things and then you tour with bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Korn, and you learn how everything runs behind the scenes and how the production is and how they really bring the show to life. You learn so much from different bands and I think we’re a band that really studies that and takes it to heart. We just really want to succeed and take everything to the next level as a band. We soak up as much as we can.”
Written by Kris Peters
When you put together as ambitiously dynamic an album like Different Animals, the next chapter in the metalcore saga of Californian five-piece Volumes, excitement is understandable… and understated. “I’m so psyched!” squeals vocalist, Myke Terry. “Just three weeks away, man, [at the time of interview], I can’t believe it, it’s been so long! I really believe this is a fucking good body of work. I’ve been listening to it for a month now because we’ve been working on it for so long, so I’m anxious for everyone else to hear it.”
The album is written, recorded, cut and ready to go, but with the media and personal pressures of a release such as this (Different Animals is Volumes’ label debut with Fearless Records), one does wonder whether a band who’ve been so long at work will listen back with doubt, maybe a hint of self-deprecation, that they could have done something differently, tweaked drums here, used different guitar effects there – Volumes are certainly guilty of this. “Oh, yeah!” laughs Terry, “For me, I’m like, genuinely, little stuff that you can’t change but I learnt, you’re always gonna go back to like, ‘Oh, man, wouldn’t it have been cool with this,’ but you’ve gotta trust in yourself, trust in your work.”
That trust must extend to your fellow band members and with two vocalists in Volumes – Terry being the clean and melodic vocalist and Gus Farias the heavy – the work ethic between the two of them worked well to get different layers of volatile noise, producing a cohesive sound for the album. “It was cool, we really work well together. We work at once, one brain, two different levels.
“He’ll do a verse or bar and then I’ll do… whatever I do! It’s just like thrown back at him. When we were working on this album, he pretty much had these songs already written and I filled in the blanks, pretty much it was him – all him – and I just go with it.
“We just want to give whatever is required to get a sound we love.”
Of the two singles already dropped, it’s hard to decide which is better – both are heavy and confident tracks, both are great. So why decide? “On Her Mind” was a collaboration with rapper Pouya, who Terry says brought elements that Volumes have long wanted to try out. “Obviously, there’s the rap and hip-hop aspect, that energy. Something we wanted to explore for certain, we’ve always been huge fans of that style but he [Pouya], he brought that energy on his own, so bringing that to our already aggressive style, it made it blow up, you know what I mean?”
Volumes bassist, Raad Soudani, has been quoted as saying that the second single, “Left For Dead” is an exploration of all good things coming to an end – “One day we all get left for dead” – an interestingly deep spin for a nu-metal group who seem to be coming to terms with a hard truth. “Some stuff happened that kind of bummed me out and that’s what that song is about, er… it’s about going through trash, and, you know, that’s the way life goes sometimes.” Though a topic whose roots Terry is reluctant to discuss, the video for the single was recorded live at one of their shows, producing an energy more positive than the material that perhaps fuelled the song. “We told everyone [the audience] all over, we filmed it over the course of the tour, to get a good video. The audience changed up the energy.
“I think they were already amped but it’s kind of the thing like, ‘Argh, I’m psyched!’” Terry squeals.
Chaos reigns in a Volumes show, clear from the video for “Left For Dead”, and looking at it, Australia can only hope to have a chance to share in the madness with Volumes one day. “We’ve got a lot of awesome tours coming up over the rest of the year, but maybe, just maybe, we can get over the next year,” Terry says.
“We love everyone in Australia, it’s been so long since we’ve been there and just thank you – thank you, everyone – so much for loving us, for supporting us, and yeah, check out the new album!”
Written by Anna Rose
For a quiet morning off, there are worse places to be than a little country pub in Chester, England. Here we find Jake Taylor, enjoying a pub lunch with his guitar tech – the vocalist for In Hearts Wake surely does deserve a little R n’ R after the journey the band has been on in the last five years.
These self-proclaimed ‘eco-warriors’ have spent their time on the scene using their music as a pedestal to spread messages of environmental concern, topics of great importance to the band, and indeed, to the state of the world. It has been a whirlwind of success for the Byron Bay metalcore group and their work isn’t done yet. With the release of their fourth studio album Ark, In Hearts Wake have adopted a fluid stance, focusing on the state of the world’s oceans. Each release prior has been a bridge for the band to this point, as Taylor reflects. “It’s been a long ride but an incredible one,” he says. “I guess at this point, what people are expecting is for us to take that next step – really something incredible. And we have done that.
“It’s always the calm before the storm before you release a new album because you don’t know how it’s going to go. What are people going to think? I’ve felt like this before; you don’t know [anything] about what’s ahead of you other than you enjoy it and you love it.”
All the titles on the album have a very natural, static, yet urgent ring to them. “Frequency”, in particular, has, melodically, a great sense of ebb and flow. In Hearts Wake have created colour, but just how they have been able to take such a natural thing and give it sound remains a mystery, even to Taylor. “I wish I knew. It’s a natural process for us – you never know where the song will end up but when something happens, and it feels right, for me, it’s in my gut, we just run with it.”
In Hearts Wake run like the river, a constant motion of creativity, sound and selfless action. Though evidently proud of the work that’s gone into Ark, there’s a tone in Taylor’s voice as he describes the drive he has to embark on the tour and perform these new songs, which suggests Taylor feels this is the band’s peak. Ark is a great release, pulling and turning in unexpected ways, certainly, but Taylor feels there’s a way to go before the band’s tide turns. “I don’t think we’ve peaked at all, I think that peak is miles away,” he decides.
“We’re not expecting to get to that peak – if you imagine you have many camps to pass to get to the peak of the summit, it requires not just more work but the next level of commitment and creative risk and expression to get there. It can be quite a challenge, quite a pressure, but we’ve put effort into this record, and this is the next step.”
An album comprising environmental awareness, as is typical for In Hearts Wake, Ark revisits the past but also looks toward the future with conscious heavy music. “We’ve drawn on many earth elements before, that looking after the earth, look after each other,” says Taylor, “That’s always been the theme of the band, I don’t want to say in the past because it will always be our present and future. Thematically, this is taking a look at us as a whole, as a water planet.”
In Hearts Wake’s focus doesn’t just lie with a musical focus on our planet’s water, but an active one, too. Pivotal members of the Tangora Blue movement, the band have created the ‘We Are Waterborne: An In Hearts Wake Initiative’, a series of clean-ups along of some of the most polluted waterways on the east coast of Australia. “The more research I do, it’s really apparent that our oceans really sustain what happens here on land,” says Taylor. “One of the biggest problems is that our oceans will be devoid of fish by 2048. The way we’re going with commercial fishing and pollution and the marine debris we are producing.
“We came from the ocean, we evolved from the ocean. Being the band that we are, we love doing what we can, but we can only do so much. We don’t have millions at our disposal. One of the things we can do is cleaning up the beach, the waterways that are polluted both inland and the coast.
“We live in Byron Bay,” he continues, “and one of the things we do see is the tourists, the tens of thousands that come through every year and treat it like their ashtray. Things like that have an impact on all the life that lives in the water. We want to make a difference.”
The message isn’t for Australia alone – In Hearts Wake want to bring awareness of these ecological crises all over the world. Thus far, the reception for their powerful message has been strong, with Taylor saying people are connecting with it. “What we aim to share with the new album, people have loved. They love the sound which makes them open to our message. With Tangora Blue, we’ve yet to see the result of participation to that – people are interested in it but us being this way, it’s not new to the scene, it’s not new to the band, so people have that expectation of us and what we do.
“What really determines how it goes is what happens on the days we’re cleaning up, and I can’t wait for those days.”
Written by Anna Rose
TOM CRUISE & RUSSELL CROWE
When cinema-goers first heard that a film was hitting screens in 2017 titled The Mummy, people instantly thought the franchise starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and, yes, The Rock before he was Dwayne Johnson, was making a comeback. When the trailer and featurettes started arriving though, it was soon realised that, no, this wasn’t a reboot: this was the start of something very different.
People were a little confused at first – why were the likes of Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe starring in a monster movie? – but those fears were all put to rest when Universal announced that this was the start of a brand new Monster universe that has some big name stars appearing over the next few years. The first cab off the rank is The Mummy, which is directed by Alex Kurtzman (known as a producer on Star Trek and The Amazing Spider-Man) and sees Cruise and Crowe finally appear in a film together.
When being interviewed about The Mummy, Cruise says it shouldn’t be a surprise that he is in a monster movie. “I want to see a monster movie now,” he laughs. “I only go for things that I… I love movies. I go to the theatres to watch films, you know I watch a movie a day and I am hungry as an audience to see a film like this. I want to be scared and I want to be entertained and I want it in a way that is thrilling and will put me on the edge of my seat. We have really been pushing the edges of storytelling, and this film is obviously going to have really great action, real thrills, real scares and wonderful kind of character humour that I love within it – a kind of dark humour that I want from this kind of film. It’s exciting when you get together to make a movie like this… you can feel it, it is massive. It’s a massive scale but there is also that sense of enjoyment of creating something and I love it. And I love this genre and this universe.”
So how would Cruise describe his character to an audience before they watch the film? “Nick Martin is a thief!” he says, laughing loudly. “He is… he is basically stealing these old relics and then selling them on the black market for money. He works for the Army and uses his position in the Army to scout and go ahead and work the size of the black market and with his partner Chris Vail (Jake Johnson). He has no interest in history, he has no understanding of what he deals in and he gets caught up in this terrifying adventure.”
He is also full of praise for two of his co-stars: Sofia Boutella, who plays Ahmanet, and Russell Crowe, who plays the legendary character, Dr Jekyll. “Sofia is perfectly cast as the Mummy,” he says. “She brings a real exotic charm and exotic energy to the role, it is a brilliant performance from Sofia. Russell is a very powerful actor, he is a brilliant actor; and to have him play this character, I was excited when he said that he wanted to be part of it. See, I am very interested in him playing this character at the centre of the film. He’s playing Jekyll, and it was very exciting to watch him create it. Having the promise of that in the film and having that dynamic between the two of us and also with all the other cast.”
For Crowe, though while Cruise’s character is just a thief, Crowe, on the other hand, is playing a character that many instantly think goes hand-in-hand with evil – Dr Jekyll. “What we have with our Jekyll is that he already has something inside of him,” Crowe explains. “He has to work hard to keep that thing suppressed and I don’t think it is giving too much away to say that because he has the thing inside of him he has a very clear understanding of evil.”
Like Cruise, Crowe says he believes that people are going to be genuinely impressed with Boutella’s portrayal of the Mummy. “I think Sofia is going to be a revelation to people in this movie. Some of the stuff that she was doing physically is just amazing, what she can make her body do is just amazing. And she brings something very special, and the make-up design that they have done with her character is crazy, man.”
Crowe says the film was further enhanced by the skills of director, Kurtzman. “Alex has such a deep passion for film,” he says. “That is the most infectious thing about him, you really realise that when you hang out with him. You see very early on that his heart is just in the right place so it just makes the whole experience a lot more fun when people are approaching with passion.”
One sequence that the trailer hints at that audiences are excited about is the fight sequence between Cruise and Crowe, and it seems both men enjoyed filming it. “We had to do a fight sequence in this film,” Crowe explains. “Right when we first started talking about it – because it wasn’t really fleshed out on the page – we just made a pact between us to try and really do something with it. There’s a whole bunch of things in there with it: there are some martial arts, there is some boxing, there is some wire work and there are even some rugby moves – one particular back-slam onto a desk that I thought will rattle theatres when you see it.”
The Mummy is in cinemas on June 8th through Universal.
Written by Dave Griffiths
GAL GADOT & CHRIS PINE
Over the years, DC has brought countless numbers of their comic book heroes to the big screen. We’ve had Superman, we’ve had Batman, and, of course, all the bad guys and gals that come with them. Hell, Heath Ledger even picked up an Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker, while The Dark Knight itself is considered one of the best films ever made. One character though who hadn’t made her big screen debut until Batman vs Superman though was Wonder Woman… something that didn’t always sit well with DC fans.
At times, it did look like Wonder Woman was never going to get her other movie. Over the years, we’ve heard of a number of Wonder Woman films that went into pre-production but were never made. Avengers director, Joss Whedon wanted to make one, and then Aussie director, George Miller wanted to make one with homegrown talent Megan Gale playing the role of DC’s strongest female hero. Of course, Gale’s name then joined a list that over the years had seen the likes of everybody from Sandra Bullock through to Angelina Jolie playing the lady with the golden lasso.
Well, now a Wonder Woman film is about to hit our screens and Heavy Magazine has been lucky enough to hear from two of the stars of the film – Gal Gadot who plays Wonder Woman herself, and Chris Pine, who not only plays Wonder Woman’s love interest but a true war hero himself.
Listening to Gadot talk and you soon realise that Wonder Woman/Diana Prince has become a character that is very close to her heart. “The beautiful thing about Wonder Woman is that she is so diverse and so many things,” she explains. “She’s everything. She can be vulnerable and sensitive and then be the greatest warrior ever because she is strong and confident. But then she can be confused, she can be all of the above. When you first meet Diana on the island, she is about five or six, and she is this curious little girl that is very courageous; who is very sassy and naughty.”
“She is very inspired by her aunt, and she wants to learn how to fight, but she is very sheltered and very protected by her mother who does not allow her to do so. However, she finds her ways, and she has this spark in her, and she has this fire in her eyes, and eventually, she gets her way. I think that everything Wonder Woman stands for is brilliant – she stands for justice, and she stands for peace and wisdom and love and acceptance and compassion, and all of these things are so rare and they are becoming rarer in our world.”
The relationship between Wonder Woman and spy. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), is a very special one as Gadot is quick to explain. “The first time I see Steve is the first time I see a man in my life,” she says. “And I think that she is, Diana is immediately intrigued by him. She is very curious about him and who he is. More so though she is curious about the world that he has come from.”
So far critics have praised Chris Pine in the role of Steve Trevor, so what was it like for Gadot to work with him? “I think he is such a talented, smart and funny, funny, funny, funny guy,” she says, smiling. “People do not understand how funny he is. We had to break so many takes because he made me laugh but I felt very, very comfortable working with him.”
Another big element of Wonder Woman is the amazing stunts, and for poor Gadot, that meant a lot of physical training. “I had five months of pre-production,” she explains. “I had to do horse-riding and martial arts and a lot of body work. I was lucky to be able to work with people that I admire and that really inspired me. I was so lucky Patty (Jenkins) was the one to direct me on this movie. She is such a brilliant, smart, talented person. Her vision about Wonder Woman, and by the way Wonder Woman was something that she has always been passionate about her whole life… she was very opinionated about her. She has always wanted to tell Wonder Woman’s story and her vision for Diana was very similar to mine. I remember the first time we sat together we were just talking about life and we were talking about our families. Everything was so similar, the way that we see the world Patty and I is so similar and to be able to work with someone that you get along with, that you agree creatively with on almost everything and even when we had our conflicts it was always fair and it made me think and then it made her think and we both evolved from it and the result from that was the best that we can get. As a person, she is so loving and warm and she has become a really, really close friend of mine.”
Playing Gadot’s love interest is Chris Pine, an actor who is now known to cinema lovers as Jack Ryan, and, of course, Captain Kirk from the recent adaptations of Star Trek. By the time his character meets Wonder Woman, he has already undertaken several spy missions during World War I and Pine says it has started to affected Steve, “He’s kind of world-weary figure, I suppose,” he explains. “When he comes into Diana/Wonder Woman’s life he has already seen a lot and he’s seen the ravages of the first World War. Not much is given of his backstory, but you can tell that he’s seen a fair bit of pain. Then in the story, Diana starts throwing at him that she needs to meet the God of War. I think that is so far beyond his concept of the world that he is to offer, then there is the world of magic lassos, people who can jump five stories and people that can run across No Man’s Land and single-handedly defeat everybody, but the idea of the God of War is just that much further out there he just thinks, ‘Well, you can obviously kick some pretty major ass so help me do that and you can figure out this obsession that you have with the God of War character.’”
Pine is also full of praise for his co-stars and his director. “Sometimes in a film, that group surrounding the protagonist are never fully fleshed out and you can’t really understand why they are there and they have witty quips but they really don’t do much of anything. But these guys who have a different prism in the way that they see the world and they really compliment our lead in Diana. It works beautifully. They are all so well-rounded and such good actors. Patty is a pretty incredible human being and to be able to sit across from her and to her and watch her act out pretty much the entire film for us over two hours at lunch. She acted out the entire film and she so passionate and she is so specific and so articulate I would have pretty much just said yes for her alone. Then there is Gal, and I think the beauty of what Gal has got is that she is stunning, she is six feet tall and she is super strong emotionally, her presence is very captivating. And she also has this very beautiful spirit to her that is, and she hates me saying this, but kind of child-like and very opening, warm, and inviting. She has a wonderful maternal quality to her, she has a very deep love for the world. That’s very much a juxtaposition to Diana and Wonder Woman in this film.
Pine says he hopes that people who go to see Wonder Woman leave remembering the film’s message. “This is a very modern telling of this story,” he says. “It’s beautifully rendered and it has a very transparent message – that no matter how ugly this world gets, no matter how much death we encounter or how many homicidal maniacs or haters are out there, or how many genocides occur, how many wars happen – there is still hope in the best part of ourselves to be good and to protect one another and to do right by one another. That’s what we need to hold onto and that is what she represents. So she’s not just your regular every day super–hero that has x, y and z capabilities and wears capes and whatever and defeats bad guys. Not only can she defeat the bad guys but she has a powerful, loving spirit aside from that – she is a saviour in some ways. She sees the best parts of ourselves.
Written by Dave Griffiths.
Interview courtesy of Warner Bros.
If you love 1990s Aussie music then 2017 has so far been a big year for you. The Living End, Spiderbait, Killing Heidi, and Midnight Oil all hit the road and even Def FX have announced there is something in the offering. The latest band to announce that they are back is Grinspoon who exploded onto the scene in the late 1990s, thanks to Triple J’s Unearthed competition.
Seven albums over a twenty-year career and now Grinspoon are going back to where it all began. Taking a leaf out of Spiderbait’s book, Grinspoon is playing shows to celebrate the twenty-year anniversary of Guide To Better Living from 1997, and are also releasing a mega – and I mean mega – version of the CD with a bunch of never-before-released material.
When I catch up with Phil Jamieson from the band, he laughs when I ask what has made the band decide to hit the sweaty stages across Australia again. “To be honest, we didn’t know we were going to do a tour,” he laughs. “We knew 2017 was the twenty-year anniversary of our debut album and management had always kinda planned that they would re-release the record – put out on vinyl because it’s never been on vinyl, etc., etc., etc. Have a bit of a ‘Happy Birthday, Guide To Better Living’ situation. Then it came up, ‘Did we want to go on the road?’ and I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t even know if I can perform this record.’ I was like that because I recorded it when I was 19 and it was really full-on and then I went through a ‘really, people would come and see this’ stage. But the plan all came together, management put it all together and then we were like, ‘yeah, let’s get out there and play this’. And then when they announced the tour, people were very excited, which was very lovely and now I have to learn how to play this record from start to finish which is intimidating and scary but also a challenge. People out there seem to have a lot of affection for this material which makes it even more special in some ways.”
Just as Spiderbait faced with bringing Ivy And The Big Apples to the stage, Phil says there are tracks from Guide To Better Living that have never been played live before. “We’ve never played “Scalped” live… I know that. So we will have to learn how to play that and there are a string of other tracks from that album that we wouldn’t have played for twenty years. I don’t really like listening to myself so twenty years is a good time, so I’m able to go back and take a look at it all. Was has struck me about this record is now I can listen to it without being in it. When I went back and listened to that, it was a lot of fun. It’s a fun listen and I enjoyed it, which is really weird because I really don’t enjoy listening to what I record.”
Of course, the thing that really made Guide To Better Living stand out when it was released was the fact that it was so raw, so how does the band go back and recreate that rawness live? “A lot of that is going to rest on Pat. Pat’s guitar sounds over the seven albums we have ended up tracking has matured over time. His guitar work has become more refined over time because back then it was a real buzzsaw – it was really raw guitar. That is the really essential thing about the sound of that record… its guitars. So we are going to have to work on that and get the guitars sounding identical, or as close to as we can get. As for the singing, I just yell a lot, really… don’t I? I just carry on. I was stoned, I was out of my brain on Lismore weed and was carrying on about things that were really nonsensical. What I have to do is not easy but I have a fair grip on what I can do. It is going to be fun going back and screaming at people again, though.”
As we chat, Phil remembers back to the actual time they were putting Guide To Better Living together. “We were all living in Lismore at the time, I think, and we just recorded all the songs we knew… I think it was like 20 songs or something. We recorded out in the hinterland of Byron Bay. We were allowed to stay in the studio, which at nineteen is the ultimate fantasy. Recording at 4am, going for swims in the pool… it felt so luxurious.
Being able to record everything we wanted. There wasn’t even a tempo mat, it was just like, ‘No, that’s a bit fast or a bit slow.’ That was how we did it. You can even hear the tempos changing during songs if you really listen. There are even guitars out of tune. We tracked it all in seven days, it was mixed within fourteen, and yeah, it was an amazing time. There was a birthday, a blackout… yeah, we have lots of memories of that recording. There were even times where I’d be yelling at 5am: ‘I want to record now’ because I was drunk or stoned.”
Phil bursts out in fits of laughter when I tell him that Guide To Better Living recently made a list of Top 50 Australian Albums that all music lovers should own, alongside albums by bands like Midnight Oil and Cold Chisel. “Maybe Guide To Better Living somehow represents the late 1990s,” he says between laughing. “I’m lucky that I made that record but I think it’s something about the time and the age of the people making the fucking list. In ten years time, it might be The Presets or something; but I am honoured that we made the Top 50 and I am glad that people want to own it. I love it and I fucking made it so I’m glad people want to own it.”
Grinspoon’s national tour kicks off on June 30th.
Written by Dave Griffiths
When Heavy Magazine catches up with Herman Li, one of the brilliant guitarists from British power metal outfit, DragonForce, he is beside himself with excitement because he had just discovered that we had given their brand new album Reaching Into Infinity five stars… something that doesn’t happen very often with music reviewing in 2017.
“Wow… five stars. I can’t believe it!” Li yells before I even get a chance to ask a question. “The process for doing this album was a little different this time because we were touring at the same time. We would do these big shows in Europe, these big festival shows, and then we would go back and do a week of recording and then head back out on tour so that probably added some kind of energy to the recording. It probably sounds a lot more like we’re live rather than we’re stuck in a recording studio.”
As we read through the Heavy review, Li picks up on the part where we mention that DragonForce have taken the guitars up another level and he says he believes that the extra oompf with the guitars did come from the fact that they were touring at the same time. “I think so,” he exclaims. “With all the previous albums we would just be sitting in a studio all locked up, we’d all be unshaven and not looking very good, and we’d just keep recording and recording… and that would all drive us a bit crazy, but that is how you make an album. But this time, we were at these massive festivals and doing shows in front of ten or twenty-thousand people and then we would go back and record. That makes you feel pretty good about yourself.”
So was that something the band were aware of while they were actually recording the album. “Yeah, we were more relaxed,” he agrees. “I haven’t felt that with the other albums. This time there was no stress, everything was done on time. It was easy going and because we saw each other all the time we could communicate and talk about it – things like, ‘Oh, maybe we should do this here’ or ‘what about these lyrics’ or ‘can we do this in production here’, so I think in the end that really helped. We didn’t realise that in the beginning but now I look back and realise that I saw these guys more than I usually do when I am recording, because normally when you are recording an album you don’t have all the band members around you – are just there by yourself.”
Li says one of the things that fans will notice about this album is that the lyrics are a lot more personal. “They are very personal,” he says. “The song “Silence”, that is one of the slower songs, and that is actually about one of Fred’s friends. It’s a much darker song because it is about suicide, so there are the darker lyrics. And then you have “Judgement Day”, which is more uplifting and more fantasy based. There is also more serious stuff like “WAR!” and “Edge Of The World”, and there are some story-based lyrics, as well.”
With everybody talking about the fact that this album is one of the best guitar albums of all time, Li tells us a little bit about his history as a musician. “I first picked up a guitar when I was about sixteen,” he explains. “I would say that I am always developing, so to play like this the way I do now is because of touring a lot, and making albums and working with people. I always practice, that is a continuous motion that just never stops, and if you don’t get better at one thing, you get better at another thing. Last night, I was actually practising for the tour and last night the type of practising that I was doing was something that I used to do when I was sixteen. I was so tired that I couldn’t learn any more music in my head so I just switched the lights off and sat in the dark and played some improvised music to some music I like. I switched the light off because then I am no longer looking at the guitar, I’m not looking at the fretboard, I can just play and feel the music. You can learn a song pretty quickly, but when you’re preparing for a tour you’ve got to learn a song to the point that it is part of you… you no longer have to think about it. First, I learn the song by sitting down and just concentrating on the individual parts, practising them, and then I stand up and play it like I would on stage. I will be walking around my house doing it… and kinda doing weird things to the guitar. To prepare for a DragonForce show, you have to be in shape. We jump off rises, we’ve had trampolines on stage before (although we won’t be bringing the trampolines on tour this time)… but it will be full of energy and fast. Think about the kind of music that we play and it would be pretty disappointing if you came to see us and we just stood still. Expect another full energy DragonForce show.”
Li says because DragonForce haven’t been to Australia for a while they are planning on giving fans a real treat. “We haven’t headlined in Australia since 2009, so we’re going to bring back some old favourite songs and we’ve been listening to fans as they say what they want to hear off the new album, so we have been practicing a lot of new songs, so we will be making a long setlist – a very long setlist.”
DragonForce’s Reaching Into Infinity is out now and the band hits Australian shores on the 21st June.
Written by Dave Griffiths
Few bands can lay claim to the title of supergroup as richly as The Dead Daisies.
Their current lineup features David Lowy (rhythm guitar, Doc Neeson’s Angels), Marco Mendosa (bass, Thin Lizzy), Brian Tichy (drums, Whitesnake, Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne), John Corabi (vocals, Motley Crue, The Scream) and Doug Aldrich (lead guitar, Whitesnake, Dio), with former members such as Richard Fortus (Guns N’ Roses), Jon Stevens (Noiseworks), Dizzy Reed (Guns N’ Roses) and John Tempesta (The Cult) having passed through the fold since their inception in 2012.
In those five short years, the band has released three studio albums and most recently the epic live recording, Live and Louder, which Corabi believes is a prime release of a band at the peak of their prowess.
“It’s just a great album from a great bunch of musicians,” he enthused. “I mean, how hard can my job be when I look back and see guys like Aldrich, Lowy, Mendosa and Tichy behind me? (laughs). “We had a lot of fun making this album – if you could even call it work. We just went out and had fun and did what we do every night and Live and Louder is the result.”
Recorded over a number of shows on the 2016 tour through Europe and the U.K., Corabi says hopefully Live and Louder’ will appease the many fans who have been screaming for a live album.
“Man, fans have been on to us for a long time about putting out something live,” he divulged. “It’s not that we haven’t wanted to, but it takes time. We wanted to record a few shows, and then they have to be gone through to pick out the best bits. It isn’t just as simple as recording something and putting it out there. There are people I’m sure who would like one concert in one take, but for us, we wanted this package to portray the best of The Dead Daisies and so we took our time and mixed it right. There’s a DVD there and a whole package kind of deal so it’s not just something you can listen to. You can watch us live and watch some behind the scenes stuff, so it really is an insight into the whole process of touring life not just a quick snapshot of one performance.”
David Lowy is the mastermind of The Dead Daisies, having formed the band with Jon Stevens in Sydney in 2012, and Corabi can’t speak highly enough about Lowy’s involvement and influence over the band.
“He’s basically the general,” Corabi laughed. “It is his baby and his brainchild and we all pretty much defer to him when it comes to making decisions. I am truly blessed to be in a band with so much individual talent and it is so much fun right now that I can’t get enough of it.”
In February 2015, The Dead Daisies became the first Western rock band to play Cuba since the Obama administration reopened trade ties with the country, and as well as being a milestone moment in music it was also a turning point in the life of the band when Jon Stevens was unavailable to tour and Corabi was asked to fill in.
“I had no idea then that I was going to be in the band for anything more than a few gigs to help out while Jon was away,” he revealed. “I hadn’t even heard of the band before, to be honest! I don’t really know what exactly happened with Jon, but I got the call asking me to fill in and it was so much fun that when I was asked later on to join the band full-time, I had no hesitation in saying yes. I was disappointed for Jon because I have always been a huge fan of his and think he has an amazing voice, but I am a singer, and when I get asked to sing…”
In that same year, The Dead Daisies released their second album, Revolucion, with Corabi admitting to being pretty much thrown into the deep end.
“I think they had a couple of songs written with Jon before I came on board,” he said, “but the majority of it, we wrote in the studio. We wrote and recorded the whole album in thirty days which was insanely quick! That chemistry was there straight away and things just seemed to click for us as a unit.”
That album had barely had time to digest with the fans before the band was back in the studio again in January 2016 writing Make Some Noise, with Corabi admitting he was a bit more comfortable with his role in the band being his second album.
“Even though it was a short turn around with albums, I had had a chance to perform some more shows and spend more time in the band environment with the guys so when it came time to recording Make Some Noise, I was definitely more comfortable,” he recalled. “Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed making Revolucion completely, but it was just rush, rush, rush to that point and it felt like I didn’t have enough time to grow into my role with the band.”
With such a plethora of talent collectively from the members’ previous bands, Corabi says that there is never a shortage of material which explains the quick output of albums.
“There’s so many years of experience between us from some of the greatest bands to have ever played, so inspiration is never a problem,” he laughed. “In fact, it can be the opposite. We are so prolific at writing that the hardest part is deciding which songs to leave off the albums. Everyone in the band openly encourages each other to express their ideas and run with what feels right and that makes for a huge pool of material from which to draw on. I don’t think we will ever be in danger of running out of ideas (laughs).”
Written by Kris Peters
If you love metal with a bit of a folky tinge, then chances are you know who Anna Murphy is. Irish-born Murphy first rose to prominence as one of the driving forces behind the popular Eluveitie before wowing Australian audiences with a string of sold-out solo shows.
Now Murphy is back with two of her fellow ex-Eluveitie band members, Merlin Sutter and Ivo Henzi, in a new outfit called Cellar Darling. Ahead of the release of their debut album, This Is The Sound, on June 30th through Nuclear Blast, the band have dropped two singles including the brilliant “Black Moon”.
When she talks about how Cellar Darling came into being as a band, Anna is very honest. “Cellar Darling was the result of a bit of an unfortunate situation that happened a year ago, because Merlin, Ivo and I decided to leave our previous band, Eluveitie, so our band kind of came to light because of that split, but we had been planning on creating music together anyway. The original idea was to do a side project, so it’s not a completely new idea. We immediately started composing and playing together about a year ago and then it just kind of happened that we wrote an entire album. We’re very proud and happy with the result… it’s something new, and the music we have created is very eclectic: it’s for open minded people that like various musical genres. Each song tells an abstract story or a poem, we want to take listeners into a different world and we want them to dream along to our music.”
The eclectic sound is really obvious on This Is The Sound to the point where you never know what the next track might sound like, and Anna says that was a result of the band doing a lot of experimentation. “The funny thing is we weren’t really looking for anything when it came to sound,” she admits. “We just met up and we wrote songs and this is the result of it, and we were a bit surprised about it as well because we didn’t know what to expect. What we didn’t want to do was force anything upon us so we didn’t want to say, ‘Okay, we are going to be this genre’ or ‘we are going to write these types of songs’. We just wanted to let creativity flow naturally and see what happened, and yeah, this is the result. There is a lot going on though because we ourselves listen to a lot of different kinds of music and are inspired by a lot of different things.”
Anna also warns that fans of Eluveitie should be prepared for Cellar Darling to be using a lot less instruments. “There’s a bit more of a minimalistic approach so you can really hear every instrument,” she explains. “The instruments I use are the hurdy-gurdy – which I also used in Eluveitie – and I picked up again the classical flute, which I played as a child but then forgot about and it was just sitting in a corner. Then when I wrote “Six Days” (a track on the album), it just spontaneously came to me that I should pick it up again. So there are flute parts, violin parts, then there’s piano, and there’s one pipe on the album, plus, of course, drums, guitars, and bass. I also co-produced this time and I really wanted to get a natural sound. I didn’t want the drums to seem triggered. I wanted a lot of overheads in the drums and a lot of bass because they are things I often miss in metal production – the earthy sound, the natural sound. I think that is what makes the album so special and so diverse.”
With so many musical abilities, it’s not a surprise to learn that Anna started playing instruments at a very early age. “With the flute, I was actually trained classically,” she says. “I was also able to read notes back then which I can’t do now, so in that sense, I’m an untrained musician. With the hurdy-gurdy, I had some lessons to just learn how it works, and then I basically learnt the rest myself by learning Eluveitie songs and my vocals just came about on their own accord. I never took any lessons, but I did seek help when I stagnated and realised I was doing something wrong, but I’m not a trained singer apart from that.”
And while the album seems to have come about in a relaxed way, Anna admits there was a mixture of nervousness and excitement when it came to forming the new band. “It switched between both,” she says, laughing. “There was some fear and some excitement because we were very successful with Eluveitie. We could actually afford to live only from that band, so it was kind of like so it wasn’t only that we were losing the most important thing in our lives but we were losing our main source of income… our job, so to speak. So that was a huge factor, but I also love chaos and things that drastically change in your life, because that is what inspires you and that’s probably why we have been so creative over the past year, and I’ve actually never felt more fulfilled creatively, so I think in retrospect it has been a good thing that has happened.”
This Is The Sound is out on June 30th
Written by Dave Griffiths
“I think we had this chat at band rehearsal recently,” laughed Pierina O’Brien, vocalist for Melbourne’s Devil Electric.
“I definitely think that imitation is definitely not something any of us subscribes to deliberately. For me, I try not to listen to… if we’re writing music I try to listen to things that I’m influenced by that’s not necessarily in the same genre so I’m keeping away from writing melodies and stuff that sound too close to anything else but I feel there’s no harm in taking inspiration and working it through with your music. We’re all influenced by different things that kind of leap out in our creativity and I think that’s important to include as long as it’s not ripping off.”
The reason this subject is even broached is because Devil Electric is and sounds heavily influenced by Black Sabbath, but in saying that, have modernised the sound and feel of the music and stamped their own influence throughout.
“I think that’s something that has always been done,” O’Brien answered of taking classic rock sounds and giving them a modern twist. “If you look at the way music has evolved, it’s always old sounds and trying to make them contemporary and your own interpretation is… I mean, everyone is exposed to different things every day and takes different things into account and has different upbringing so it all comes through in what we do and I think your own take on things will always make it a bit more contemporary. So I think it’s just something that you naturally do when you’re songwriting.”
With their debut self- titled album coming out on August 11, O’Brien says this period of time with having the album finished and just waiting for it to be released is full of excitement and nervous anticipation.
“I actually love this period just before it comes out,” she laughed. “There’s so much unknown and so much that we’ve got that we’re still holding back. It’s a pretty exciting period but it has been hard to wait to release everything.”
So does that excitement translate to a feeling the fans are going to enjoy the album?
“I hope so,” she answered sincerely. “I definitely think… people that have heard the EP will hear that the album is the next evolution of our sound. People are reacting really well to “Hypnotica”, so let’s hope they like the rest of the album, too (laughs).”
“Hypnotica,” the lead single off the album, is an epic six-and-a-half minute song which is a big risk considering people’s reduced attention spans in the modern age, but O’Brien feels the strength of the song will help overcome any doubts people have over its length.
“It’s a bit of a dark song,” she revealed. “It’s kind of about – for me, anyway – your own personal struggle between good and evil and being helpless to your own bad decisions, which I’m classic for (laughs). It’s kind of an abstract look at your own struggles between what’s right and what’s wrong. We love that song and it shows how we can be melodic when we want to be and have that openness to do one big, epic song. We knew that it was a strong song and we didn’t want it to not be the single just because of the length of it. I think in this day and age, there’s more opportunities to put longer songs like this out. There’s not as much risk because there’s so many platforms out there. In saying that we do have songs coming out that are definitely shorter (laughs).”
With just the one song currently on which to judge the album, O’Brien says that “Hypnotica”, while not summing up what the album is in its entirety, is a good starting point if you are new to their music.
“I think it’s indicative of perhaps the evolution of the band in terms of what we’re leaning towards, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the full sound of the album,” she surmised. “There will be new surprises that come through as the rest of the singles come out. It’s almost like a journey of an album. It starts at one end and goes through a different variety of types of musical influences and it ends on “Hypnotica” which is similar to the big opening song really and that’s more the doomier, darker side of things.”
When it came time to writing the album, O’Brien says that there were no real goals aside from improving on their debut EP, The Gods Below.
“We all have a very eclectic mix of music between us all,” she replied. “I think off the back of the EP, we were all pretty new still. I had joined the band a bit later than the boys and some of the songs on the EP were already written by the time I joined, so I think that this album is more all of us collaborating together and bringing all these influences together and working towards a common goal in that sense. We’ve all settled together as a band now and you can hear that even with some of the music we’re writing now. The album is a lot more what we’re going to sound like in the future. On the EP, we had a lot more of the doomier side of things. We do a lot of hard rock and we have the doom stuff, but I think we leant more towards the hard rock with “Çonfusion of Mind”, which was on the EP, and I think we combined those elements across to the album and we have a nice cross section of things with “Hypnotica” and a few more heavier ones like that. There’s more of the rock side of things on a few of the other singles that will be coming out in the next couple of months.”
Written by Kris Peters
Great Australian music is dropping all over like the first patters of the spring rain – but none more delicately nor so profoundly as the pending offering from Figures. From their new album Chronos, the band have dedicated single “Recoil” to the memory of long-time fan and friend Mick Mills, who lost his life to lymphoma.
Historically, the Melbourne five-piece have never been interested in subtlety and in Chronos, it’s no different, the band parting with extremely addictive melodies and harbouring ultimate authority over Australian hard rock. An expansion of their sonic spectrum, Chronos is the sophomore EP that was worth waiting for, marked by an intense period of creativity for the group. Just listening to lead singer Mark Tronson reel off Figure’s itinerary of activity this year alone is frankly, exhausting. “We’re slowly dolling up some hype for the EP,” says Tronson.
“The first half of the year for us has been super intense. We had a plan and stuck to it – recorded videos, photos, press, that all happened in the last three months of this year. By this point we’ve done a thousand times more work than we’re used to, especially the recording, the process was very intense. We’re going to have a breather while the fruits of our labour are coming out… Since the video for “Recoil” dropped, we’re getting a lot more attention.”
And what ear-blistering goodness there is to be had from “Recoil”. “We really like it,” laughs Tronson. Different things certainly figure for Figures in comparison to their self-titled debut. “I think it’s a lot more us,” says Tronson. “With this new lineup, our bass and synth player have only joined the last year-and-a-half and this is our first project with them, the solid crew. It’ a combination of old and new songs, the full thing sounds as it currently stands.
“It’s a heavy album [Chronos], tonnes of energy, and as far as production goes, it’s a lot more cohesive. With the first EP we recorded it sporadically with different locations and engineers and sonically, maybe some engineers out there can tell.
“Me personally, as a singer, not a gear head or anything, as far as being able to tell if things were recorded with a different mic or not, it’s totally lost on me,” he laughs, “I think engineers out there might hear familiar sampling but this last EP has been a well-oiled machine.
“We recorded everything in Sing Sing in Melbourne, which won’t be around for much longer, did you know that? And it’s such an iconic place, all the great artists have recorded there so we’re very thankful to slide in there as they come to their end.”
No band ever wants to make music just so they can tinker around with the twiddly knobs in the box behind the screen, so whilst Tronson certainly has much to say about the production of the new album, he’s not left much to say except to address the elephant in the room – the heavy influences surrounding much of Chronos’ thematic material. “It’s our heaviest song, it leaves the biggest impression and we always close with it.”
There was such fluid motion in the first release and amazing harmonic changes in such songs as “Filter”. Then in the new album, songs like “Recoil” are incredibly brutal. Musically, fans can expect the rest of the release to follow suit.
“When playing it, people always comp us on it, ‘I love it, it’s so brutal, heavy and massive.’ We wanted that to be our kick-off point and make as big an impact as we can. As far as our second single that’s going to come out, ‘Alpha’, and other songs on the EP. I’d say they’re definitely full of energy but they definitely steer more towards the Filter sound, much more singing and emotion, say.
“’”Recoil” is aimed at a certain kind of demographic, very niche, then the next single will widen that circle – more for everyone, I think.”
With such an in-depth body of music already so heavily in focus, so draining in terms of the dedication and effort Figures have indulged, it’s a staggering revelation that Tronson and co. have already been at work on the follow-up to Chronos. “We are in pre-production for the next project – we don’t want to slow down! We don’t know if it will be another EP or if it’s going to be an album. We have enough material for it to be an album, we do have enough material that we’re tinkering with though, trying to find the best versions amongst demos.
“I reckon by the end of the year we’ll have a better idea of what it will be, but it will be next year, a release of something… for sure… I hope!” Tronson laughs.
Wait with baited breath, Figures fans, wait with baited breath!
Written by Anna Rose
When Superheist took to the stage last year with their ‘Don’t Call It A Comeback’ tour, it was hard to describe it as anything but… it was a comeback, and a most epic one at that. After time away to work on several issues with production and roll call, dropping new music gave the band the boost they needed. With the release of Ghosts Of The Social Dead, the band and fans alike were revitalised to the Superheist sound. The return to the live stage was mind-blowing, utterly sensational. Superheist took to their performances with an impassioned rage, determined to make their mark as forerunners of Australian nu-metal, but to also give back to the fans who have stood by all these years with patience and support. Frontman Ezekiel Ox swells with pride as he discusses the experience, “We were hitting our stride then so, the whole Superheist return tour was absolutely sensational.
“Sydney was one of the best shows, it had a certain edge – we filmed the crowd when we played “Wolves In Your Head Space” and that was just amazing, so much energy – if people did want to check that show out they can check out, the video clip is on YouTube.
“[There were] a lot of fans old and new and people were buzzing. We were finding our feet, and working out a few lineup issues throughout that has been, at times, challenging, but it’s been a fruitful time for the band.”
Did you miss out? Fear not, Superheist have announced a national tour beginning June 16, coinciding with their new release: Raise Hell AAA Side. An interesting title – where most bands wold release a single with an A and B side, Superheist have one-upped their game – AAA raises some questions. “Oh, you think we’re pushing it a little bit?” Ox asks with an air of worry. No, it’s just curious – are Superheist likening themselves to batteries? “Yes!” Ox exclaims, pleased at the notion, “I hadn’t even thought of that, yes, that’s cool, AAA batteries!
“We’ve got 25 songs written for the next album, so we’re already well and truly down that path. And we want to tour again! [To] get back out there and show off our new lineup, so we thought we’d put together a AAA side so that we could put out some new music and show people what we’ve been up to – DW [guitarist and founding member, DW Norton] had just gotten himself a 8 string guitar so we thought let’s put something out, some really exciting tacks to show people what we’re doing.
“My favourite track on the AAA Side is “Got The Bounce”, but everyone has a different fave – they’re all very strong songs. We’re just so stoked with how that sounds and what we’ve managed to achieve, going back to basics, and using DW’s amazing ARIA nominated production skills to produce, record and master the tracks in house – I think it’s the best Superheist stuff yet, but I have to say that because I’m the new singer!”
New singer? Ahem. No, Ox, you are far from new – you are the singer. Ox took over frontman duties in 2016 when Superheist ended their lengthy hiatus and former lead vocalist, Joey Biro, had well and truly left the group. As Ox stated at their last Sydney show, this is a guy who was a fan as a teenager, singing Superheist songs in his bedroom, ignorant of the idea that one day he’d be the one on the stage that people sang with.
“I’m actually the third and final [frontman], that’s how I see it. DW and I have a wonderful working relationship, something that can be taken forward. I’ve certainly been putting my mark on it and I tend to agree, I feel very settled in the band now, I’ve managed to throw my weight around a bit and get things where I want them – now we’re in a position where we can look forward to the future, putting out the best nu-metal in Australia, which is our mission! Superheist is a very specific genre where we were never cool, even back in the day when I wasn’t in it, and we don’t really care about being cool.
“We just want to make big mosh pit friendly riffs and bring people back to basics with great, aggressive, passive vocals and a killer live show, that’s what we’re about. The new music we’re putting out,” Ox continues, “is indicative of how strong the band is at the moment, and how quickly we’ve managed to pull together and set ourselves up for the future.”
Superheist’s lineup has been through the ringer, but it’s clear from Ox’s firm tone when he discusses his new bandmates, this lineup gels. These guys are on point, this is the lineup. “Situations change but we’re extremely keen to pursue and work with all the current members. The core of the band now is DW and
“Anything could happen, the sky could fall in tomorrow, but we feel settled; like we’ve got a lot of grownups in the band, who have been there, done it and got the postcard. So we certainly feel like we’ve got a point to prove on the ‘Raise Hell Tour’ coming up.”
Indeed, Superheist will be back to
“Superheist is a state of mind.”
Written by Anna Rose
Few bands can have a strong head for business and a charming, witty manner to go along with it – Kings are the exception. Talking with brothers Elliott and Josh Burnett offers a delightfully grounded account of their experiences with the music industry, married with humorous over talk and a real, profound voice of gratitude. As I thank them for the late night call, Josh candidly relays that it’s their pleasure. “Let’s be honest; we weren’t doing anything else, were we? I’m kidding, of course!”
A band flying as high as Kings; naturally, I want to test their waters and see how good they are being kept on their toes – I throw them a curveball – what do they want to talk about? “Oh wow! That’s a very bold move!” Surprise takes Elliott, “I like your confidence because we could totally throw curveballs back at you!”
Bring it on, boys.
The Burnett’s are steady on their feet, an open and willing fountain of information ready to spill. “Personal stuff, organisation, tours, what do you want to know?” “Yeah I’m on board,” laughs Josh, “Keep it cash, keep it real and we’ll see how we feel!”
That unabashed realness isn’t a gradual aspect of the Burnett’s, it’s what you get from all of Kings at face value. With their new album about to drop when we speak, Kings naturally have a lot going on. Comprised of members from a menagerie of Brisbane bands of days gone by, Kings have worked tirelessly for eighteen months to produce an album that would make a significant dent in the heavy scene. Never Alone covers common themes over overcoming hardship, and self-belief, all evident in some well-thought out lyrics and raised up with some soul-searing melodies. The band released two singles before the album’s completion, ‘Lionheart’ and ‘Stand Up’, ultimately amounting to this debut release. It’s an album worth waiting for and one that Kings have had a business projection for a long time. Hearing about their promo prep, touring plans and playing history, the Burnett’s meet me on a candid level. “We only launched last year,” explains Josh, “So before we even launched as a band we had half the album recorded.
“We grew up playing in a lot of bands. You get it in your genes super early and just ‘cause you’re jacked up on your own stuff, ready to take on the world with your four originals and two covers and you know, you’re gonna get a major support, quit your day job and you’re gonna have a lovely time… The reality of all that, you learn otherwise quickly.
“You do kind of mature in the music industry, and you do kind of learn from other bands. We wanted to present the strongest front we could for the best chance of success, I guess – whatever success is. We wanted to present, ‘Hey, this is us; we’re organised, we’re ready to go – single, film clip, single, film clip, album, let’s do some shows’. Like, well thought out shows, as well. That was really the reason why we took so long to go, ‘Yeah, sick! Hey, world, we’re here!’ and actually back it up with some substance.”
In the grand scheme of things, Kings really are chicks fresh from the egg, but they have a solid understanding of who they are, where they’ve come from. “All of us have come from different backgrounds. Like Elliott and I, we’re brothers, right? So we’ve been doing bands and playing music all our lives. Both our parents are insanely talented and classically trained musicians, so we’ve taken that and formed something in the belly of the beast and waited for that to come out to show people, I guess.”
Kings have an interesting perspective on what success means to them. On the pre-release side of the album drop – and with the work gone into the release having taken an extraordinary length of time – one can’t help but wonder, what would be a measure of success for Kings by their standards? “It’s a hard question,” says Josh. Elliott, thinking for a time then answers, “It’s a good question!”
Elliott begins, “Success is so…”
“Contextual,” offers his brother.
“Yeah, contextual to you as a human. Something people might call success, like…”
“Releasing an album.”
“Yeah, releasing an album! And yeah they’re good, they’re ready to go. That’s like a massive achievement for us, I guess it’s like a journey. Progression. I’m convinced even in life, broadly, there’s no such thing as ‘you’ve made it.’”
I offer the brothers an observation. Perhaps the measure of success will depend on what milestones Kings reach in their career? “It depends on what comes after too, what comes of it,” concedes Josh. Elliott agrees, “That’s right. Like success is in the journey. If we’re growing up, success might look like getting married and having kids, as well as just being a music career to whatever degree that you’re allowed to with your capacity for work and finances kind of thing.
“Success is in the progression. Like, cool, we’re moving forward, we’re playing bigger venues, more ticket sales, more travelling – I think some bands might do fairly well with minimal travelling, but they need a strategy (something to back that up) and that’s what success looks like to them. For us, the milestones are in the little things. At the moment we’re filling out what we’re doing, even the backend business structure of what this is going to look like. Success for us right now is landing an organisational plan of like, okay, even establishing those goals – establishing what success is – so that we can formulate a calculated plan and work towards that. We’re not just sort of hacking at shows or the sake of it, we come prepared.”
“We have had our little whims along the way, though,” Josh interjects, keeping his little brother grounded. “Like releasing “Lionheart”, the video getting 150,000 views, a mention in Alternative Press magazine (which is awesome to be a part of), so we just keep working to better things to see what happens.”
For the sake of argument, the three of us imagine we have a little crystal ball in front of us, an idea that tickles the Burnett brothers. As they say, it’s a journey, all about planning and all comes step-by-step. Hypothetically speaking, where do the band see themselves in three months time? “We already know what the next year looks like,” Elliott shares firmly. “With writing, recording, videos, promoting, tours – the whole deal. It’s almost like in our minds, this album is done, and we’re already working on the next thing. We’re just going through the motions of this whole thing. But for us, it’s been out a long time, does that make sense?”
For Kings, it’s almost as if they have to be promoting and touring off the back of Never Alone out of obligation and because it ties in with their business projection, even though the second album is in full conception. “We have definitely started writing – even formulating – a plan,” Josh notes. “Are we gonna do a writing camp, record it ourselves? [We’re] looking forward. In reality, the next few months for us look like we’re supporting the album, do some national touring and follow up and capitalise on any opportunity that comes our way.”
It’s a resounding and unified “no” as to whether Kings are the kind of band who will say ‘yes’ to every opportunity. That entrepreneurial spin they have in creating their music means Kings will only take up an opportunity if they feel it will work to the best intentions of the band, and, of course, stay within the frames of their business structure. Reading between the lines, it’s only positivity for this band. “We try to be tactical in what we do,” Elliott says. “We don’t want to be that band that’s playing every single weekend because it loses its excitement… the ‘buzz’ of what’s going on. So we want to give the band its best shot and not be burning out, so to speak.
“If you’re playing the same venue twice a month, and getting the same crew out there, kind of what’s the point? But we’re trying to speak for more of the long term. We love what we do, we love our band and the music we make, we just, want to be smart about it all.”
So far, the strategy seems to be working for Kings. And so long as they can keep up the slapstick back and forth conversation that comes with being brothers as close as they are, Kings should have every reason to keep their hopes high. “Let’s do a quick shameless plug,” Eliott suggests.
“Our album is out! You can get it on iTunes…”
“Yeah, Spotify. Videos for our singles are on YouTube – the whole kit and caboodle!”
“We’re playing some shows.”
“Yeah! It’s gonna be unreal; a really cool time!”
“Check out our social media, we’re gonna be hitting the road late in the year.”
Written by Anna Rose
It is fair to say that Australian rock wouldn’t be the same today if it wasn’t for two acts that were born in the same year of the last century.
The Screaming Jets and Baby Animals both gave birth to their infectious brand of Aussie rock in 1989, breathing life and fresh air to a scene that had become increasingly stale.
While both had their own musical agendas, neither conflicted with the other, and even early on in their respective careers, the two bands played with and toured together, with both etching their own significant marks on the musical landscape.
Now, 28 years later, the two stalwarts are joining forces again on the ‘They Who Rock’ tour, kicking off on June 2 at Castle Hill and winding its way around the whole country, before finishing in Chelsea Heights on July 8.
“Way back in the day, the Baby Animals and the Jets toured together right back when they started their careers,” recalled Screaming Jets guitarist, Jimi ‘the Human’ Hocking.” It was a bit before my time – I joined in 1993 – so it was more like 1989, 1990, like the very first years of the bands. There’s been a lot of years go by since those days but we got together at Hope Rocks on the same bill as Mossy and a few others on the central coast last year, and it was just good to catch up with everyone. I knew Suze DeMarchi (Baby Animals vocalist) from before I was in the Screaming Jets when she first came over from Perth when I played with the Angels, so we all had that connection and it was good to catch up. It was kinda like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do a tour together to commemorate that very early tour?’ So it was part nostalgic, and part a good idea; and that was how it was birthed.”
The tale of the two bands goes back even further still, with Hocking throwing a surprise twist into the relationship.
“When the Baby Animals first hit the scene in Australia, they did their first tour with the Jets and a band called the Degenerates,” he recalled, “and I knew all of the bands back then. I wasn’t in the Jets at the time but I had a band called Jimi the Human and Spectre 7 in Melbourne, and, in actual fact, when the Screaming Jets first came to Melbourne they opened for me, so that’s how I met them. And when the Baby Animals first came to Melbourne, they also opened for me: so I was like the little local legend in Victoria and nowhere else (laughs). That’s how I met a lot of people in those days but there was a whole swag of us coming through the scene in the very late ‘80s and early ‘90s. [Johnny] Diesel and Nick Barker and the Reptiles and bands like that were all in the same age group, so most of us have stayed friends pretty much all this time. So when the Baby Animals did their first show with the Jets and did some shows with me in Melbourne, they got picked up to do their own tour in the States and they pretty much took off pretty quickly so we didn’t really see a lot of them for a while. Then, of course, Suze famously married Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) and was living in America so apart from bits and pieces we didn’t see a lot of them for a while.”
That one band can still be a draw card after a quarter of a century is testament to the quality of the music, but when you consider both bands are still headlining acts in their own right, it raises the question of just what is it that keeps the fans coming back.
“Well, let’s hope they come back!” Hocking laughed. “So far this tour is already selling out. We’ve already sold out one of the Adelaide shows and one of the Melbourne shows, so it’s doing really well without even playing a note. I think we’re living in a period where a lot of these – as I call them – ‘heritage’ rock bands are going back on the road, like ourselves, and it’s because there’s not a lot of new bands getting support out there in TV and the media, especially. I’m talking about these singing shows that are on when I say that and I think we’re more tried and true. People like to go and see their favourite band and a lot of people from my generation probably got married when they were younger and had some kids and now their kids are older so they feel like they can go out again and they are going to see their old favourite bands again now that the kids are 15 or even 20 years old and they came take them with them. There’s kind of like a second wave happening and because there’s a good touring circuit that’s opened up as a result of some of those big festivals there’s a lot of good acts back out on the road.”
As far as front men in bands go, Dave Gleeson from the Jets is as zany, unpredictable, and entertaining as they come, with even Hocking admitting to not ever being sure just what will happen when Gleeson gets behind a microphone.
“I’m going to say yes, he is just as crazy off stage as on,” he laughed. “The thing I love about Dave is he is what you see, and what you see is what you get. Dave will say things that are completely off colour… we’ve been friends for many, many years and we don’t always agree on everything and that’s the beauty of our friendship. We don’t have to be completely and utterly in agreement all the time about everything. We’ve had our arguments and I think you know you’re really close with someone when you can have a blowup or a disagreement and it doesn’t affect your relationship. He often walks close to the edge, but he always comes back, as well. After a show, he’ll say to me ‘Oh, shit, what did I say (about whatever it was), do you reckon that was a bit much?’ and I will say, ‘Yeah, man, I think it was’ (laughs) but that’s just what happens.”
After almost living on their reputation for the last decade, the Screaming Jets hit back emphatically with last year’s Chrome, a rock album that not only harked back to their music from the All For One era, but also had enough in the way of diversity to prove that the Jets will never be a band that just lives in the past.
“That’s anybody’s guess. Who knows?” Hocking replied as to why Chrome was such a massive hit for the band. “Is it timing? What is it? From the inside and my experience, I thought a lot of things came together all at once, but one of the things it is is a good record. I remember… Scam was a good record and I think the band has made some good stuff in my absence (Hocking left in 1997 and returned in 2009) when Izzy [Osmanovic, guitar] was playing but I think that Paul [Woseen, bass] really produced a bunch of good songs this time, and when we went into the studio to make the record, the thing that was exciting was how good a headspace we were in as a group. We were really on a positive. The gigs had been going well, we had sorted out any problems that we had in the past inside the lineup, and I think we felt so good that it came across on the record. And to couple that with Steve James coming back to the production seat – for my money, he’s always been the best producer for the band – and it was kind of like getting the old recording team back together, and because the gigs had been in a good place and the bands headspace was in a good place, I think it really filtered through with that vibe. Maybe I sound like an old hippy when I say that but it kind of felt that way (laughs).”
There was an eight-year gap between Chrome and the previous album Do Ya?, and another eight years between that and Scam, so the question is, will there be as long a wait to hear the follow-up to Chrome’?
“No, no, there will definitely be another eight years, don’t you worry,” joked Hocking. “There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes in the world of a band in those years off, and things aren’t always so peachy. There were financial issues, there were line up issues, and all that kind of stuff. We’re a classic rock and roll story – there’s no doubt about it – but if I look to the future, I can see us making a record in the next year or two because we’re still really in a good place. We’re enjoying working together. I think the new record won’t be a far off idea. We’re just enjoying being in the band. We’re enjoying life on the road, so that’s kind of the proof in the pudding.”
Written by Kris Peters
Without knowing anything of Casey, it’s easy to discern that their music carries some heavy subject matter. In a ravaging debut release, Casey’s album Love Is Not Enough sings of love lost and won; parents grappling with a child’s mental health; the inability to repay a debt of gratitude after a prevented suicide attempt – all are topics weighing heavily on the heart of singer, Tom Weaver, who experienced a significant decline in his mental health in years passed. He was once bent and broken – the band’s name should be a giveaway as to the cause of this sorry tale.
Nevertheless, the Welsh hardcore outfit took the effects of those experiences to produce an amalgamation of seamless flow and intricate passage, with real lyrics that all stem from personal passion. “I’ve said previously that all these are truly from my love of the stage but this is all based on the last ten years or so,” says Weaver.
Casey is not shy or dishonest about their struggles or feelings, and that’s evident in their music. Even on their social media, they take a stance of brutal truth with their past and their present, a forthrightness that many bands would not likely adopt. “It’s a weird one because I’ve never really written music for other people, which sounds a bit narcissistic I suppose,” says Weaver, “but I know there are musicians who say, ‘I’m going to write a song about this topic because I know it’s going to help this group of people feel this way’, but I’ve never been like that.
“At the same time, I know a lot of people who will say ‘music is my therapy’, but not to discredit any of them, because I’m sure in their own ways they mean what they’re saying, but for me, I went through the mental health system, I tried the psychiatrists and the medications and other bits and pieces, and it didn’t end up working out for me and I was very fortunate in finding a positive outlet in music.”
Weaver’s message of openness continues: “It took me a very long time to be honest with myself about a lot of things that were going on in life and to become comfortable living and talking about them, and now I’m at the point where I feel it helps to remove any stigma around it. If I can be completely open and honest myself, then other people may feel more comfortable speaking about themselves.”
He’s not alone by any measure and certainly doesn’t want to let other people think they’re alienated by their own mental health or society’s stigma around the matter. It’s a great mantra that Casey has taken, one that’s seen Love Is Not Enough explode with success. But with such a strong first release, one must think about the possibility of any sort of regression in Weaver toward the negative aspects of his mental health, should the band gain further prominence and their music become more successful. Under such pressure, will the music still be enough? You can hear the smile in Weaver’s voice as he says, “I like that you think we’re going to get more and more famous.
“A lot of the content on the album is sort of shots of time from the last decade – that feeling that I remember and have worked through – but there are other new thoughts, like when I say to myself, ‘I’ve had a bad show tonight’ – doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve had a bad show, it’s just for me, I got to a point where I felt things more intimately than some other nights. Some nights are a good performance and some are fresh in my head, a cerebral experience.”
“Thus far, it hasn’t been an issue for me,” he says. With touring and the release of more music will come inspiration for new material, so Weaver will undoubtedly have more to draw from in future. “Moving forward, I’m not going to concentrate so much on the relationship-y side of things, I’m going to explore other avenues.”
For now, the debut album holds many opposing, though interesting, concepts. “Happy”’ is one such song, a soundtrack to an often misinterpreted emotion. “We were conscious when we were writing the album of how it would flow and what was being said and how it sounded – that song was one we wanted to be quite melancholy but at the same time, still have its place on the record.
“”Haze” is one of the more powerful songs on the album for me but “Happy”, we had to be in the right mindset and work out how to transition from that.”
In forming this band, Weaver created his own therapy to overcome personal issues. With bursts of distortion and the aggression of hardcore, Weaver can now sing these songs knowing his unbridled passion has become a solution to life’s painful scenarios. But one does wonder what that means for the direction of Casey as of now – what does Weaver want to come of it all? “I suppose hoping for direction is sort of at odds with how Casey operates,” he says. “We’ve come as far as we have by allowing the band to develop organically, and not intentionally steering it down any particular path. I hope that we’re able to continue growing in that way. That we’re able to carry on expressing ourselves without the looming threat of pigeon-holing or cliché.
“As for what I want to come of it all, I’m not really sure. I don’t really have any personal goals, but I’d like the name to live on in a positive light beyond the end of the band.”
Written by Anna Rose
Want essential metal? Look no further than Fleshgod Apocalypse and their latest album King, a balanced work of searing metal riffs and majestic classical elements. With King shooting the Italian metal masters to the top of their game, there’s something about the positive reaction that album produced that vocalist and guitarist Tommaso Riccardi is unable to put his finger on. “I believe that King has a very good balance between the elements and [is] a very varied album,” he says. “I can just say we are honoured to be considered ‘essential’. We simply do our best to deliver good music and I truly believe that doing this is possible only when things come from the heart. And we put all of our heart in what we do!”
Truly a work of art, King is as heavy as it is beautiful. “We actually approached it with the idea of finding the perfect balance between the grandeur orchestral elements and the aggressive riffing that we always had, combining many things of the past with things that look forward to our future and we feel like we did a good job. Also, I really believe that the work we did together with Jens Bogren and Marco Mastrobuono in terms of recordings and production has been extremely important to give this album a clear sound that could help bringing all these elements to the listener’s ears.”
Such a delicate balance between two drastically opposing genres naturally involves a balance between an album’s concept and a perfecting of the execution, and just like true Italian cuisine, needs to be cooked to perfection. Riccardi says “Like everything in life, the balance between things is the most important aspect. Even when playing live, we give a lot of importance to the execution but we absolutely conceive a live performance as a show. This means that imperfection is not only normal to us but also welcome, because a show must be a show: energy has to cut through, no matter what.”
Not your typical headbangers, a Fleshgod Apocalypse show is a sensational opportunity to see this delicate balance Riccardi speaks of in practice, while still retaining that heavy and traditional metal showmanship. “Even if there are several practical and visible reasons why we could say that a Fleshgod Apocalypse show is different from other kinds of show, I like to think that the main reason is the people on stage and the amount of heart that they put in the performance,” Riccardi says.
“In fact, this is something that you cannot see (and there are many, many things to see in a Fleshgod show) but I believe it is far the most important element. It is what I call ‘energy.’”
Want to experience that magic metal energy live? Look no further than June as these Italian masters are about to crash onto Australian shores on their first ever headlining tour. “From the reviews [of King] and what I’ve seen in terms of fans reactions online, it looks really good. I hope the live reaction will match the expectations once again!”
With a back catalogue of four studio albums across a decade-long career, Riccardi has much to reflect upon and much still yet to bring. “We learned many things… and I guess we still have to learn a lot! Of course, if I think about how it was seven, eight years ago it is pretty impressive.
“Being on the road and in the studio for so much time literally changes you in many ways and the best thing is how your relationship between the band members gets deeper and gives you more and more strength and vibe when on stage playing together.”
Positivity is rife in the world of Fleshgod Apocalypse, and the support of their fans and the steady consumption of metal music by the masses is something Riccardi feels can only continue to benefit bands like his. “The fact that the saturation of the music (and metal music) market that happened during the last two decades is bringing some sort of collapse and hopefully leaving space to real passion and creativity once again,” he observes, a cloak of wisdom in his voice.
“It is still far from actually happening, but I can feel something in the air. My hope is that art will take over.”
Written by Anna Rose
FAR AWAY STABLES
If I had been given a CD copy of Far Away Stable’s debut release, I’d need a second by now – the first would be scratched from overuse. Luckily for CD players everywhere, my first experience of the Sydney alternative rock group was in a mp3 download, a mp3 with a sound like no other. Between Rage And Serenity is an absolutely sensational debut offering, there’s no other way to put it. A zig-zag of melody coupled with refreshingly poetic lyrics and some clever instrumental manipulation, the forecast for next big thing in rock is this band.
There’s not much money in music anymore, bassist Tim Byles agrees, but to hear positive feedback about their music is currency enough for him. Indeed, the opportunity to speak with a member of such a pioneering group is currency enough for me.
Right up there with the likes of Sleeping with Sirens, 30 Seconds To Mars, and Hands Like Houses, already Far Away Stables have an excellence of sound and professionalism like that of an A-list band. They’ve been together for six years and yet still fall under the banner of a local band. Clear across their social media, they’ve taken an independent direction in producing and releasing their music, but when a band has this much potential, why is it they choose the path of independence? “It’s very much an instance in the music industry where you do have to sign your soul away to a music label and you want to make sure it’s the right person,” says Byles. “It’s bringing another member into the band and you want to make sure they can help you grow where you want to grow, otherwise you’d just be bastardising yourself for an unclear path, as opposed to when you’re doing it yourself, it’s very much easier to have complete control and focus, because nobody’s ever going to work as hard for yourself than you.
“You have to have more faith in yourself and that was a big part of that decision. Not to say anything against the labels that we were talking to, but we thought we could bring something to the table ourselves and still maintain that story of being an independent band.” And indeed, Far Away Stables maintain their mantra without being dictated to by a contract and an ever-changing face in the music industry. Being independent just makes sense for them at present.
But how will a band with such a distinct sound fare past that point? There will come a time where local shows won’t be enough, for them or fans – could they bear to sell their souls at that point, whether they feel a sense of family in their label or not? “It’s not that we didn’t feel a sense of family in the labels we were talking to,” Byles concedes, “It was definitely a mixture of a million different things. For example, with one label, it mostly came down to not being able to find the right dates by which to release [the debut album]; our schedules weren’t lining up. So it definitely wasn’t a ‘fuck you’ to them or the industry as a whole, we just went on our own path. Some days we are like, ‘we certainly did the right thing’; other days, not so much.
“We could certainly ‘sell our souls’ – not that that’s even the right term to use anymore, it’s far too harsh of a term. In the ’90s, it meant writing a song for a Pepsi commercial, but now, opportunities are opportunities. So if a label comes along and all the parts line up, then we definitely will jump on board.”
There’s a distinct air of entrepreneurialism about Byles – a natural businessman as well as talented musician – taking the path of independence will surely work well for Far Away Stables. How is a local band making a sound this large? “This album was five years in the making so we were learning as we went along and never settled for anything less than what we considered to be as close to perfection as we could get. We spent hours and hours learning what it means to make a big song, what it means for a drum build to complement the next bit, studying bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Muse – more Radiohead-esque stadium bands – to see what they did to make a big sound. We never thought anyone would think that we do that, so it’s great to hear it’s succeeded to some capacity.”
Even though there was a significant complexity to the creation of Between Rage And Serenity, Byles is adamant that their second album won’t take quite as long to compile. The band has learned so much in the run up to this release, the process will be quicker, tighter, and somehow even more refined. “I’ve actually talked to the guys recently about the second album and it’s going to be ten times bigger. We want to do something stupidly ambitious.
“We want people to look at us and say: ‘these guys are doing something different’. In an industry where it’s hard to stand out, we want to stand out. Next album, it will be a lot more involved and we’re really excited about that.
“We were a lot younger, wanted to play shows, had to get our live capabilities up, got to play America, South East Asia – when I say five years, it culminated to this point. We thought of the album title in the first six months of being a band, we wanted to release an album similar to the 2006 era of music, the music we grew up with, but we wanted to put our own stamp on it.”
Far Away Stables has toured with everybody who is anybody, all before the release of an album and only off the back of two EPs. The reception for the band was generally mixed but Byles says playing those shows were not only a learning curve but a massive kick in the butt. “When we supported Paramore in Sydney, we sold 260 EPs in a night – we could see how the industry worked a little bit. A couple of weeks later, we did The Offspring tour and sold maybe 15 EPs in total. We started seeing what our crowd was, what people wanted to hear from us.
“A learning curve like this is an invaluable one.”
In order to achieve and be the best at what they do, Far Away Stables undoubtedly have a methodological approach. It’s not just about making music, it’s almost a business plan. “When you start a band, you read everything you can and everything says to treat it like a business. All it is is thinking logically, how to solve a problem, and getting people to listen to your music,” says Byles.
“We’ve always tried to think two steps ahead: often that’s failed, often that’s succeeded. We’ve always tried to think as opposed to just doing, and hopefully, that’s a recipe for some sort of success – a success we will hopefully obtain one day.”
Written by Anna Rose
Josh Scogin has a fearsome reputation as a live performer with his previous bands, The Chariot and Norma Jean; regularly risking life and limb in his energetic stage show, which included setting things on fire, swinging from the rafters, and spending more time in and on top of the crowd than in front of the audience.
While his latest offering, ’68, could be considered as merely a duo, Scogin maintains that ferocity and intent despite now having to contend with guitar duties, as well as vocals.
“I don’t compare ’68 to my previous bands,” he shrugged. “I write music that makes me move and makes me wanna get rowdy. So, therefore, obviously, on stage it gets rowdy, but I am having to play guitar now instead of just purely singing, so there are some songs that come with that but there’s also advantages to playing guitar and singing – little tricks you can do. If you keep it separated and try not to compare it to previous bands and make it the most it’s supposed to be, then I find it very easy to do and it comes very naturally from that point.”
After fronting a couple of full bands, it would seem, in theory, that going to a two-piece is a regression of sorts. But Scogin says it’s just the opposite.
“I find it easier to have less cooks in the kitchen, that’s for sure,” he laughed. “I’ve been in bands before and they’ve always been five-piece bands, and when I decided to start ’68 I wanted something new; something fresh and different, at least for me. And when I came up with the idea of making it a two-piece, and the challenges that come with that (and the perks that come with that), that’s when it got really exciting for me. That was when the puzzle started finding its way to the correct spot. It’s really enjoyable. Some of the limitations are the things that make it so beautiful, you know?”
With the band’s second full-length album, Two Parts Viper, coming out on June 2nd, Scogin says ’68 are starting to feel like they are achieving their potential.
“I’m not too goal oriented,” he stressed, “and I don’t set out too many things. I obviously wanted this album to sound different to the last record and I wanted it to be its own entity. I just want it to be the best it can be, and create songs and write songs then step back and listen to them and that’s it. As long as it meets that goal, then I’m happy. This album was recorded over seven months in little bits here and there – instead of recording it in three weeks or whatever – because we were just on tour for so long and we never had time to stop for a few weeks and record it and get it done, and I’ve never done it like that. It’s just always been one finite period. You write it, you record it; then it’s done. But this one being done over seven months, and little bits here and there, or two nights in the studio and then out on tour… my overall goal was just to keep stepping back and keep looking at it as a finished product and as an entire thing. Is this where I want it to be? And it definitely met all of my expectations and I’m very proud of it.”
Recording over a prolonged period is not a favoured option of bands, with many believing the more you analyse a piece of music, the more purity you will take out of it. Scogin admits that was his main concern throughout the whole process.
“There’s pros and cons,” he conceded. “One element I loved is I’ve never had the opportunity to listen to a song one hundred times over two months. It’s usually done and it’s out for better or for worse there it goes and so that can be a good thing and a bad thing. Some of these songs five months later I had the ability to change it and it was a case of should it be changed or should it not? These were the things I would toy with and have to discern for myself. Rock and roll, I think, should be impulsive and it should be a gut instinct, and I don’t wanna over produce it or over think it. So I tried to find this healthy balance where, hey, I do have this opportunity that I’ve never had before and I do wanna take advantage of it in making the song better than it originally was but I didn’t wanna suck the soul out of it at the same time.”
While not wanting to split the two albums, Scogin believes that you can definitely hear the musical growth in ’68 from In Humor and Sadness to Two Parts Viper.
“I think Two Parts Viper is a lot wider of an album,” he measured. “It travels down a few different roads that the last one didn’t. There’s one song in particular and the whole thought process was to have zero guitars. A lot of our music is riff-driven and guitar-based, so the challenge or the thought was to do a whole song with no guitars. So we started messing around on a keyboard and synth, and at the end of the day, it’s one of my favourite songs on the album. I think this album travels down a few different paths and I really enjoy that journey aspect of it.”
Despite only having two members, ’68 has a massive sound and when it comes to reproducing this sound in the live arena, Scogin admits sometimes the band has to take liberties.
“It’s when I’m writing the songs, I write them with the thought process that we’re just two dudes, so you technically keep it drums, guitar and vocals, and then maybe an extra thing here-and-there where you go, I can play this bit on the guitar one-handed; or do that with one hand; or the drummer is playing a real simple beat there, so he can play the organ or the piano bit. So it’s not impossible, but it’s definitely something that’s always in the forefront of my mind as I’m writing stuff. Having said that, the album is the album and the live show is the live show; I keep them separated. If something needs to be on the album to make it stand out and make it feel good or feel right, then I’ll do it. And if it’s something I can’t reproduce live, then I’ll figure out a different way to make it sound, hopefully, just as good, but that’s not gonna hinder me from putting it on the record, necessarily.”
Written by Kris Peters
This year is shaping up as the year of the franchise. Already we have seen a new Fast & Furious film, a new Pirates Of The Caribbean film, and there are more films coming in both the Marvel and DC cinematic universes. There is, however, one other franchise movie that has got a lot of fan-boys (and girls) very, very excited – a brand new film in the Alien franchise from the creative mind of masterful director, Ridley Scott.
For Alien fans, the last few years have been a little confusing. Some loved Prometheus, others hated it. Whether you were a lover or a hater though, Scott promised very early on that the new film, Alien: Covenant would answer a lot of the questions that people were left with after Prometheus. Star of the film, Michael Fassbender, sat down to see if he could help us out with some of those questions.
Fassbender begins by telling us about the ship, ‘The Covenant’, that is central to the film’s plot. “This is a ship that is going to start a new world,” he explains. “This ship has something like 2000 colonists on it that are going to start life anew on a new planet. On their way there, the ship hits a storm and the storm does some damage to the ship and Walter (Fassbender’s robotic-like character) is concerned that the colonists might get damaged so he awakes the commanding crew. So, the commanding crew are awake and are out of cryosleep, and soon after they have woken up, they hear a beacon… one seems to be a distress signal or call, which happens to be Shaw’s distress signal from a planet that seems to fulfil all the necessary requirements that they need to start life – air that is breathable and fresh water – foliage. It is a sustainable planet to their knowledge so they decide that rather than going back into cryosleep and journeying on for six years, they decide to take a look at this planet… and they shouldn’t have done that.”
He is also quick to admit that like most Alien movies there is a ‘scare factor’ to this film. “The concept of space and what is out there is that it is very hard to believe that we are the only species that exists in the universe, so there is that to begin with, and then there is the idea of parasites that can use us as a host. I think that is a very disturbing concept, and for me personally, I always remember from the first Alien film John Hurt and the bursting out of the stomach scene and that has always stayed with me. That whole thing of something growing inside of us is pretty scary.”
As an actor, Fassbender’s work on Alien: Covenant was made harder by the fact that he plays two characters that look identical but are very different on the inside – Walter and David. “The David models are designed to allow the synthetic to have human-like qualities and characteristics, so we very much see that in David. He has characteristics like pride and vanity – which are very human traits – and that ended up disturbing people… they weren’t very comfortable with it, so they decided to design the following models with fewer of those programming functions, so basically Walter is very much just a functioning synthetic that operates on logic without any human emotional thread, so he doesn’t incorporate threads like vanity or jealousy or gratitude; he doesn’t fall in love with characters like the strange relationship we saw between Shaw and David in Prometheus – there is a bond that develops there that is a very human one and with it comes human flaws. But Walter is just there to look after the crew and the ship, the Covenant, he is like a super butler.”
Michael Fassbender is an actor who has now put together an impressive resume of films, so what has it been like for him to work with a director like Ridley Scott? “There is nobody like Ridley,” he says. “Certainly no one that I have come across or that I have read about or heard other people in the industry talk about. He is just very special. He comes from an art background, so he is very aware of a frame. He’s very specific and he is very knowledgeable about what should be in the frame, i.e. working with the costume department on looks for the outfits that we are wearing. I’ve seen him talk in great detail to the Art Department in a language that is familiar to them, which is exactly what he does with the acting department and the camera department and every department. He is seeing everything and his passion for each department. Ridley will always pick actors who are on the fringe of popularity, from films that are more arthouse and there is always a great diversity in his cast. There are different ethnicities that he uses, and even just the fact that he will notice somebody in the props department and notice how important they are or how good they are at their job. He’s just an all-rounder and that would be selling him short because he is a master… a master filmmaker and there aren’t many of them out there, they are a very rare breed.”
Alien: Covenant is out in cinemas now through Twentieth Century Fox.
Written by Dave Griffiths
What better gift to receive than a new album from House Vs. Hurricane. In their first batch of new music since 2012, the reincarnation of the Australian heavy-heads laid out in Filth is likely their best work to date, and it was all written and ready to go by founding member Chris Shaw way back when the split occurred.
This release harnesses some very raw and emotive tracks – “Give It Up”, in particular, is very direct. “I’m not the lyricist,” laughs Shaw, “So I don’t know what the lyrics are about. It’s definitely stuff that Dan [vocalist, Dan Casey] experiences himself. I can’t give you a proper answer because I don’t know.”
Surely as a band, if Dan is penning the lyrics you get a say on whether they like them or not, whether Shaw feels the words reflect the music because after all, he wrote these songs. “Yeah, like I wrote the music, and it’s just sort of the meaning and what it’s about, what it’s gonna be like: that’s all Dan. I don’t think about it too much, but there’s something there.”
Shaw penned Filth when the band broke up and with these songs so much time on the shelf, it’s interesting to find out whether what they eventuated to be is what Shaw had perceived originally. “I think I had written one or two tracks as we were sort of calling it a day,” he says. “I had a whole bunch of riffs that I’d written over the years and after that [the break-up] I wrote a record with the intention of starting a new band – I tried a bunch of vocalists, and no one worked how I envisioned it.
“One day, I gave Dan and Rick [lead guitarist, Ryan McLerie] a call and said: ‘Do you wanna sing with me?’ They heard it, they loved it, and we were all like, ‘why not?’ Let’s just release it and see what happens.
“I guess it was always written with Dan in mind, I guess subconsciously. The vocals were the next extension.”
It took going through the process of Shaw looking for a new vocalist before he realised that these new songs had been written for House Vs. Hurricane. Perhaps on some level, Shaw was, in fact, break up or no, writing for this lineup. “I’ve always written music in-house and it’s always been the core of the band was Dan, Rick and myself, and Sam [Osborne] on drums – yeah, on a subconscious level, it’s just the style I write. They were the ones who could twist around the music and make it their own, put lyrics on top of it. We’re all on the same brainwave.”
It’s great news for fans that House Vs. Hurricane was able to come together and still have that connection even though they had had such a long time apart as a group. The release of Filth is, in some ways, the band renewed; the band at its best. “It’s a hard one to think about because sort of every musician is so blinded by their passion and think, ‘Yeah, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done,’ but it’s the most exciting album I’ve written, recorded and been a part of.
“Whether it’s our best work or not is completely opinion-based. I think it’s my best work personally because it’s a massive step up from what everyone else has always been playing. But in the sense of ‘is it your best?’ Maybe it will be, depends if anyone likes it.”
It’s not so much a question of House Vs. Hurricane’s musical output and the standard of it so much as the relationship and determination as a band – with a five-year gap, is this now the band at its absolute best? “Not in terms of touring,” Shaw laughs. “Musically, it’s way more technical than anything we’ve ever done and Dan is singing some pretty high vocals there… we’re tight, we’re here again.”
House Vs. Hurricane’s first live performance together since their split was at UNIFY 2017, an invigorating performance that Shaw says only sparked the fire for more touring and more performing. “I wasn’t nervous but only because I’ve been playing a few years but the guys, they’d left off music for so long, but it ended up feeling like a routine though, totally natural.
“I was excited to play the news songs and wasn’t sure how it would go down but we were so, so happy with the reception.”
Shaw performed again with his band members, a feeling very familiar. “It was like I’d never stopped playing with them. As soon as we walked off the stage we were so excited, we had played together again, it was kind of surreal.
“I think when you’re invested in something for so long like we were, you grow to see the bigger picture and how much people appreciate you and what you’ve created.”
Written by Anna Rose
THE ONE HUNDRED
Not since Slipknot burst onto the scene back in 1999 has there been a band with such diversity of sound, with the power to persuade every type of music lover to their melodic cause with a diverse range of skill and idea – now, we have The One Hundred. They rap, they sing, they scream, they use drum n’ bass effects – all to create a beautiful medley of nu-metal, hip-hip, and rock. There’s just no putting your finger on their style, nor pigeon-holing these British boys. To converse with singer Jacob Field, his thick cockney accent turning up with the tone of a question at the end of each sentence, you’d be amazed that such a varied set of vocal techniques come from this one man, not to mention surprised by the eloquence and intelligence of which he speaks. Yes, The One Hundred are proof that great things are set to erupt from the U.K. and it’s a bold and welcome change to the scene.
Anticipation for their debut album is making waves all over. A blistering marriage of heavy riffs and tongue-twisters, Chaos And Bliss is not only a contrast within the title but a reflection of the contrasts to be experienced by The One Hundred’s music. It’s all conflicting, but it works. “I think it kind of worked for us as a band, to be honest – in a sense of the music style we do, what we’re trying to achieve,” says Field. “I think if you delve a little bit, it wasn’t intentionally for this, but you could use it as a metaphor for what we are as people – there’s always elements of chaos, elements of bliss, in everyone’s life – but I think musically, it’s exactly that.
“We have elements of hip-hop and R’n’B but we’ve also got like, the metal and the rock sections. It’s an optimist title that really represents us as a band. The go to.”
On listening to Chaos And Bliss, the band’s representation of sound is undeniably clear. The pastiche is refined, as is Field’s explanation of how they came to this musical direction. “There’s certain tracks which are, literally, because of our style, diverse. They’re heavier tracks, in the metal area. Obviously, within those tracks, there’s an ambience of sound: the singing, the track title “Chaos And Bliss” is exactly that – it’s ‘chaos and bliss’ – it’s kind of structured and monitored aggression! It’s all there and we have a place for it.”
No one sounds like The One Hundred and Field readily explains that it was always their aim to cultivate this kind of sound. “It was our style when we first started the band – we sat there and said we don’t want to be a bland band. We don’t want to do the paint-by-numbers, typical metalcore sound or anything like that. For us, it’s mundane, cliché; we’d rather people have an opinion of us – whether it’s positive or negative – we want people to talk about us.
“We want to be the band that paves ways for others, but we’re by no means the fore-figures. But we want to be.” Field and company are ambitious to make a dent in the scene, it seems. “Exactly,” he agrees, “but we want to make it our own.”
So unique is their style that when they first formed and honed their technique, Field said to himself that if he were ever looking for another band, he would want to be in a band like The One Hundred – but as it was, Field, who set out to form the band back in his teen years, believes he’s unlikely to ever find this again, because it can only be what he’s made of it – there is only The One Hundred. “I’d agree with that [observation], actually,” says Field, “We were a little bit forced in the scene with our old band, we played the gigs, got the fans and an idea of how the scene works. I think if we didn’t have any experience of it, we probably wouldn’t be churning out the music we are; because we know how stagnant the scene can get and what people expect. But we’ve got fans who go to our gigs for a certain sound.
“Like we went, ‘if we wanna mix and match this, we’re going to have to do it in a way that appeals to everyone.’ Like, we’ve gotta get the hardcore kids on board, but we don’t wanna be a hardcore band. We’ve gotta create a whole vibe and image that can reflect us in a positive way but also get anyone from any kind of ballpark involved.”
“We want to be commercial, that’s our aim,” Field continues. “There’s such a stigma, like, ‘you’re a metal band, you can’t be famous’. It’s like, why the fuck not? That’s our aim: we want to be commercial, we want to drop records, we want to be that band that which gets kids that were into pop music into rock music. And if we’re that gateway band, that’s what we want to achieve. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want that. I don’t get bands who are so, like, anti-famous. I don’t get it, why would you not want that?”
The direction and ideals that he seems to have for the band and their music is overwhelmingly refreshing, a breath of fresh air to speak about. As such, there are standout tracks on the new album which are hellishly catchy – “Monster” is one such song and it’s got a catchy, gripping video to match. Filmed in part on a bleak night at a nineteenth-century fort in Rochester, England, the combination of strobe lighting, blue lights, neon war paint, and a little girl battling monsters and demons Ghostbusters style frames that curve of musical diversion in such a way that you go back to the video again and again, hypnotised by its content.
“To have something different, music that’s kind of so diverse, with a music video that’s so far away from what you expected, you want to watch it again and again. The whole point of the video is that you keep going back to it, put the album on and listen to the tracks, we want people to go back and watch.
“We’ve got lots of little Easter eggs in the video too that we want people to go back and find, things that reflect other tracks; the album title is in there, little things people wouldn’t pick up the first time and when you’re watching it and rewatching it and rewatching it, you start to realise what the message was.”
Indeed, the imagery of “Monster” is great, both thematically and visually and continues in The One Hundred’s new release. The subject matter Field is singing about, rapping about, screaming about comes with a heinous draw of influences. “I don’t want to sound cliché but a lot of is experiences I’ve had,” he says. “A lot of it, a lot of it comes down to the fact that I’m a massive geek – like, I am a huge gaming geek. Like, I don’t like to leave my room, I play games like all of the time. I’m the most introvert rock star probably out there.
“You know, that’s just me. A lot of the tracks are like that, things on my brain. I just write down my issues and rewrite them and that’s always been me.”
Written by Anna Rose
ZAC EFRON & DWAYNE JOHNSON
David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson, and the bright sunshine of a Californian beach – for many, that is what the Baywatch television show was all about – okay, that and tight swimsuits… let’s not try to pretend that this wasn’t a television show that was aimed at the teenage boys going through puberty.
Well, now Baywatch is back – this time on the big screen and this time with a very different slant on things. This time, Baywatch is not trying to be serious – no instead the film takes the show in the same direction that we saw 21 Jump Street go… yes, Baywatch is now an action-comedy.
When asked about he describes the film, star Zac Efron laughs, “It’s like The Avengers on the beach,” he says, laughing out loud. “Baywatch is a very specific group of life-guards who watch Emerald Bay and they do a lot of kick-ass saves.”
In Baywatch, Efron plays troubled, former Olympian, Matt Brodie, whose party lifestyle has ruined his swimming career and now being lifeguard is his last chance. “My character Matt Brodie has kind of been forced into Baywatch,” he explains. “He doesn’t really want to be there, he’s there because he is technically on parole. He’s done some illegal stuff during the Olympics and he has gotten into big trouble and it was either this or working on the side of the road or jail or some other kind of community service, so he picked Baywatch, which is kind of his punishment. So he joins the group and almost immediately thinks that everybody is taking themselves way too seriously.”
That leads Efron to talk about the character that takes ‘seriousness’ to a whole new level – Mitch (Dwayne Johnson). “Mitch is like Poseidon,” says Efron laughing again. “He’s like he represents the ocean and everything about him is oceanic, so he’s become, like, it’s protector and he now has this spiritual connection with it. It’s like he can do everything but talk to dolphins. Mitch’s relationship with Brodie – well, at first, they really don’t get along… not at all. It all seems so unnecessary to Brodie and really forced and fake. He’s looking from the audience’s perspective and he can see how ridiculous this all is and it just seems like they are all trying way too hard. He doesn’t know how to take it so he just treats it for what it is – a bit of a joke. But as it progresses, he comes to really respect Mitch.”
Aside from trying to win over the respect of his superior, Matt’s other major storyline is his romance with Summer (Alexandra Daddario) and that again brings a smile to Efron’s face as he talks about it. “It’s still budding, we are still working it out,” he says. “Brodie initially sees Summer coming in from a surf session so she is definitely like an ocean girl, and she has had her heart set on being part of Baywatch for a long time and it turns out she was saved by Mitch when she was out with her marine biology class one day. So she has wanted to do this for a long time.”
Reprising the role of Mitch Buchannon – made famous by The Hoff himself – is Dwayne Johnson, and he says he was really pleased to be asked to be part of the film. “It is the most successful television show in the history of TV,” he says, really excited. “So to be able to take it and retell it in the form of a movie and try to put our own spin on it and make it so grounded while still winking at the audience… that lets everybody know that we are in this for the fun. I really wanted to make an homage to the original spirit of the show. The spirit of the TV show was that you had these characters who were exceptional at what they did.”
They looked great on the beach and they looked great in slo-mo, but they were awesome at what they did. We wanted to capture the spirit of that because you really want to root the film in a nice foundation that has some depth to it. Baywatch is a group of individuals who will go way above what is asked of them for the protection of something much bigger and the protection of something much bigger than them is our natural resources – it’s our beach, our water, Mother Nature; and the people that enjoy the beach, the water, and Mother Nature. So we are there to serve and protect.”
Johnson says that, like the film itself, there is a different slant when it comes to his Mitch Buchannon. “I play Mitch Buchannon,” he says. “Mitch Buchannon was made famous by David Hasselhoff and my version of Mitch Buchannon is a man that cares deeply about his beach and deeply about the people on the beach and the families on the beach. He just wants everybody to have fun.”
So what can Johnson tell us about two of the most iconic things from the television show – the women and the slo-mo runs? “Every girl here is perfectly cast, every girl is perfect for her character. And each single one of our women are strong, smart, funny and cool, and relentlessly sexy. So there is sexy, and then when there is relentlessly sexy, it is game over. All of those girls are great… Zac included! Obviously one of the most iconic things about Baywatch was the slo-mo running and we couldn’t wait to put it in our movie… everything is better in slo-mo. “
Baywatch is in cinemas now through Paramount Pictures.
Written by Dave Griffiths
A new nightmare has come to haunt us. When we sleep, he comes; grappling our minds with a dark and twisted sound. We know his name, though he’s not as we knew him before. We call him Wednesday 13.
Straight off the back of his short run of acoustic concerts in Australia, Wednesday 13 has re-emerged with a new persona, changing direction and shaking off the horror punk rattlings of yesteryear. In Condolences, we find Wednesday rushing toward vivid and gothic imagery, reborn as a darker being, deep and threatening as he explores the seemingly endless possibilities to be had in heavy metal. Wednesday has long been a focal point for rapid theatrical change in both his get up and live stage performances, but what took a hold of him to prompt a change as drastic as this one? “I think the way this record turned out, I feel it’s a natural progression for us,” he says. “Even the last four releases, the sound started getting heavier back in 2013 and the last record we did it really went heavier – I just worked the angles we were going anyway with this one and being with the new label, we gravitated toward that new direction naturally.
“I just wanted to change things up for me, I’ve been doing this a really long time. It’s almost like giving the band a makeover or rebranding, so to speak – I changed our logo up, music took a darker direction – but it’s still very much Wednesday 13, it still pays respect to the past. It’s not like it’s a crazy, crazy transition but when it comes to the live shows, people will see like with more or less everything we’ve done, it all ties in together.”
Visually, there’s certainly a lot more going on, both in Wednesday’s music videos and live productions – things got darker, there’s a lot more going on, and not all of it is aesthetically comfortable. Evident in the videos for singles, “What the Night Brings” and “Blood Sick”, you might wonder whether all of this is truly an artistic change in direction for the singer, or that darkness stems from reflections on his life at this point. “The imagery of what we’ve been doing isn’t too much different to what we’ve always done,” says Wednesday.
“The songs have a darker feel and the sound and imagery is pretty much sort of where I am these days, and the way it looks, it’s a combination of all my looks over the years.”
Nowadays, to don the theatrical makeup and the heavy black clothing, though Wednesday has made a career out of having an alternative look, it’s a little more socially acceptable than it was. But coming from a conservative state such as Wednesday’s home state of North Carolina, the reactions he had in the ’90s with the direction he was trying to take his personality compared to the success he has now are stark contrasts, indeed. Residingly, Wednesday says, “Oh! I was the weirdo of my town! I’m still the weirdo in my town.
“I grew up in the ’90s, with being the only kid in my school with dyed jet-black hair down to my waist, I was definitely considered a weirdo – but at the same time, it was cool back then, it was such a different thing. It wasn’t a trend thing back then, it was just… cool. I was obsessed with Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe, so yeah, now it’s little more socially acceptable to look that way. Back then, it was like, ‘What are you doing?’ When Marilyn Manson came out, people started calling me that. I’ve always looked like this, probably since I was 15 years old.”
And since then, Wednesday has made it part of his performance ethic to constantly change up his image, and his music, to keep people guessing and keep the young ones in the wake of his creative shadow. Several bands cite Wednesday 13 as being the influence for their visual style, their wanting to step out and be different, bands like My Chemical Romance and Black Veil Brides. This is a fact that resonates somewhat comically with the goth-mad singer – kids just can’t keep up with his ever-changing game. “I can definitely tell they’ve looked at Murderdolls, seen pictures, but I’m always trying to reinvent myself.
“People like [David] Bowie and [Alice] Cooper, they never stuck to the same thing. When I see these younger bands trying to do the image thing I do, it always keeps me on my toes because I try to do something different. By the time someone’s figured me out, I’m already on to something else! It’s great to see the influence, but I’m always changing things and I think when people see what we’ve changed on this next live show, they’ll see just how weird I’ve gotten.”
He’s like a cat with nine lives and with his new live tour, the entire stage show will be completely different to anything he’s done before, reflecting the change in pace on the new album. “Just for me, with the new album, I’m on another level and we had to take the stage show up another level.
“It became more of a performance, every song there’s something different that I’m doing: whether it’s visual with a costume change or a mask or a stage prop or something like that, so it’s really like a mini-movie – so yeah. it’s gonna be what I think in my mind as the biggest and best Wednesday 13 show we’ve ever done.”
Do yourself a favour and ease yourself into this more twisted side of Wednesday’s mind and watch the video for single, “What The Night Brings”. In it, you’ll have your first taste of Wednesday’s devil character who, honestly, does nothing but make you feel uncomfortable. “Well, good!” laughs Wednesday.
“There’s an old black-and-white silent film called Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages , and it’s just basically some of the imagery in that film is so weird, these devils are dancing around and I don’t know, I just had that image in my head and when I got that mask, I wanted to incorporate that sort of imagery from the film into my live setting.
“When I tried that mask for the first time live, I could see the reactions on people’s face like, ‘What the fuck is that doing, that’s creepy as fuck!’ So I saw the reaction of the audience and it became something we do live, something we look forward to every show. When it came to the video, I was like, ‘I’ve gotta incorporate that devil guy somewhere’ – so he’ll be back in the live show, for sure.”
And his unexpected appearance in any further music videos? “I don’t think I have any plans for him to return, but who knows? He may be a character who will return in another album,” says Wednesday. “We’ve already filmed four videos for this album and planning to film two more before Halloween.”
Written by Anna Rose