Category: Interviews

 

Long before most people had any idea at all what climate change meant one band was already out there spreading important information about social issues such as the climate and the deplorable treatment dished out to many innocent animals around the world.

That band has been Cattle Decapitation a band who has never shied away from controversial topics like genocide and animal abuse. Their forthright way of spreading such important messages has not been without controversy. The graphic cover of their To Serve Man album back in 2002 saw distribution company SPV refuse to handle the product in Germany. Then again in 2004 another graphic album cover caused some trouble when the cover of their Humanure album saw some store owners self-censor it without label permission.

Flash forward to 2020, now people are taking notice of the message that the band has been trying to convey since 1996 and their past three albums have all charted in the US, including their current album Death Atlas which peaked at number 3 on the Hard Rock charts.

Now with Cattle Decapitation about to kick off their Australian tour I had a chance to sit down and talk to front man Travis Ryan about the tour and how the band want to help their Australian fans as much as possible.

“I actually called up my manager and told him that we didn’t want to wait two fucking years between the album coming out and us hitting Australia,” laughs Ryan as we talk about the closeness to the tour and the release date of Death Atlas. “ I don’t know what it has been but the evolution of the band has seen the international stuff for this band become few and far between. We do so much stuff in the States and we are trying to change that and do as much else as possible. One good place for us is Australia, and we know that we have to get out there and do more world tours because it has been too spotty.”

As our discussion goes on I also learn that there is a much deeper reason for why Ryan and the rest of the band felt that an Australian tour was so important right now. “We are really excited about heading back,” he says with clear excitement in his voice. “And I mean really, really excited, but we are also very saddened about what we have seen happening over there and we felt it was important to come over and help take people’s minds off things for awhile.”

There is no way you can dodge the fact that the events of this summer in Australia has been something that Cattle Decapitation has been warning us about for a long time. Even on my way home recently I found myself listening to their track ‘One Day Closer To The End Of The World’ while Melbourne was choking in bushfire smoke and bright red apocalyptic sunset sat right in front of my face. That is not something that is lost on the band either.

“Obviously we don’t have the foresight so it was almost embarrassing knowing we were coming over there after putting out such a record,” he tells me with real emotion in his voice. “But with that in mind we decided that we couldn’t just come over there without helping in some way so we have organised a few revenue streams, like charity streams, so that we can donate to this Sanctuary that got destroyed…named Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary. We have a special T-Shirt that will be available with all proceeds going to Cobargo and we’ll have some special VIP ticket upgrades available as well.”

“People will be able to come in and watch us do sound check,” he explains. “They they can hang out with us. We don’t normally do that kind of shit, because we are more old school, that is something very new for us and we’ve had a lot of people ask us to do VIP shit so we thought that is one way that we could help raise money – it’ll do some good and we get to hang out with people, and it all goes to the Sanctuary, we don’t want to see that die. It is all so fucking sad man but yeah the album does say that this does feel like the end times.”

This tour may see the more sombre side to Cattle Decapitation as they do what they can to help their Australian fans but as usual the band will put in great lengths to make sure that they deliver the best damn shows they can while they are on shows. Get behind them and help them support those Aussies that need a helping hand.

 

The year was 1979 and a tiny Irish punk band were about to send out a shockwave that would not only change the genre but forever impact on the wider music scene. Surprisingly the band responsible – Belfast’s very own Stiff Little Fingers – had no idea what they about to do.

How could they? Things were not exactly going the greatest for them. The band had started out in 1977 as a rock cover band called Highway Star but then after a few line-up changes they were introduced to the sound that was punk. That lead to a brief flirtation with the name The Fast before finally settling on Stiff Little Fingers.

The uprising and violence that Ireland was experiencing at the time ended up heavy influencing the early music of Stiff Little Fingers and after recording some of their tracks in a studio normally reserved for the creation of radio jingles the band signed with Island Records, a deal which fell through.

Not to be put off the band released some cassette singles, the ‘cassette bomb’ that was ‘Suspect Device’ did cause some problems at publications it arrived at, and eventually signed with Rough Trade Records, a deal which ultimately saw part of the rise of Chrysalis Records.

That led to the release of their debut album Inflammable Material and the rest as they say is musical history. Audiences took to the album that explored deep topics such as police oppression, sectarian violence and teenage boredom and the result was the first independent album to ever chart in the UK.

“We didn’t think anything about it,” said vocalist Jake Burns who I recently had the pleasure of sitting down and talking to about the anniversary of this stunning album. “I don’t think anybody ever does, but there seemed to be a lot of time to talk about this album. People have said to me ‘did you realise that it was going to be a classic?’ or ‘did you know you know you were recording something special?’ The answer to both of those questions is no!”

“As far as we were concerned we had already been turned by literally every record label in the country. It was only through the good graces of Rough Trade saying ‘you’ve never made an album, we’ve never made an album, so let’s see what happens.’ It was a shot in the dark for them, it was a huge leap of faith for them to take us. But as far as we were concerned we had been shot down by all of these labels so this was our last shot, I think from my point of view I thought that at least if we recorded them then in forty years time when I was sitting down with my grandchildren I could be like ‘here take a listen to what I did when I was young and stupid.’ Of course flash forward forty-two years and I haven’t got any kids, let alone grandkids and I’m talking to you about it instead.”

What Inflammable Material did when it comes to musical history though is not lost on Burns. “The thing did go on to become successful on so many levels. If I knew that was going to become the case though we would have tried to bottle it, it just happened to be the right time and the right place.”

One of the ironies that followed the success of the album was that nearly all of the record labels that originally knocked back the band then came knocking. “Everyone one of them except CBS came back,” says Burns with a laugh. “We heard that CBS didn’t come back because in their words they said ‘we have enough trouble with The Clash’ which I thought was a wonderful thing for them to say about us.”

But yeah everybody else came back and it was a wonderful experience for our point of view because we were as green as grass,” he continues. “We had no experience in the music business at all. Had we been signed straight off the bat we probably would have signed the world’s worst record deal and we would have gone down that path of ‘well we did all this work and we got nothing out of it.’ I was working as an Accounts Clerk before the band took off and I could have been back doing that again, it could been like that. But the deal we did with Rough Trade, who was just as green as us, was done on a handshake that covered the costs and then we split fifty-fifty and by the end of the year the thing had sold 100,000 copies. So when these labels came back to us they were like ‘well we will give you ridiculously large advances’ but the joy of working with Rough Trade was that we didn’t have to wait for the traditional eighteen months to get paid because they were selling them themselves so we were paid straight away… so the one thing we didn’t need from the labels was money but what we did want was control over the albums so we could control what they sounded like.”

“As it turned out Chrysalis were the only label that would give us that, the others were all like ‘we’ll give you seventy five thousand pounds’ and we were like ‘we don’t want seventy five thousand pounds you’re not listening.’ But Chrysalis were like ‘okay’ and we had a really good working relationship with them. We have been pretty lucky though people have normally ‘got’ the band straightaway or have gotten on board pretty quickly so we’ve been pretty lucky.”

Despite that early success it was the deal with Chrysalis that saw Stiff Little Fingers become members of a very different league. “Rough Trade were one of the most major independent labels but all the other bands they had would make a single or do two singles and then go off it never seemed like a long term thing,” Burns explains. “No disrespect to the other bands but there were no rock ‘n’ roll legends there you weren’t going to meet The Beatles when you walked in and then over night we signed with Chrysalis and then I found myself being introduced to Rory Gallagher my hero and we were on the same level as Blondie and the same level as Jethro Tull and I was suddenly like ‘wait a second these are the guys that were in the music magazines I read when I was growing up and they are talking to me like I am there equal.’ That was when I said to myself, damn I guess this is my job now.”

They were obviously the bands that Burns himself were in awe of but over recent years bands such as Bad Religion and Rancid have mentioned that Stiff Little Fingers were a major influence on their early work and that is something you can tell that Burns is incredibly proud of. “That is very flattering,” he says with humility present in his voice. “It is always very flattering when you hear a musician say that because I know how I felt when I first met Rory Gallagher, he was just charm and friendliness personified and if I mentioned what a fan I was he would look embarrassed and say ‘oh, don’t be like that’ so we’re kind of the same. I mean I met Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, for pete’s sake they don’t get much bigger, and we were doing a television show together… this silly little quiz thing. On the form you filled out before you went on it said ‘what was the first album you ever bought?’ and I wrote Led Zeppelin II which was true and I didn’t know then that Robert Plant was going to be on the show and then he walked into the green room and all eyes turned to him because everyone is saying ‘it’s fucking Robert Plant’ and he stood in the doorway and said ‘who is the idiot who bought my record?’ and I was like ‘me.’”

“I guess because those guys were so cool about it when it first started happening to us we were like ‘okay let’s go get a beer let’s not talk about that’, he says. “Internally though you are impressed, I mean those bands you mentioned we’ve toured with both Rancid and Bad Religion and they are both great bands, so yeah it is very flattening.”

Today Stiff Little Fingers are still together with founding members Jake Burns and Ali McMordie still at the helm. The band will be touring Australia this year and to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Inflammable Material will be playing the album in full. Yes everybody, this is a return to the good old days of punk.

 

 

Since its arrival on the stages of Boston’s heavy scene in 2006 Revocation have become a band who have used their unique blend of thrash and death metal to repeatedly change the sound of the genre. That time period has seen them deliver seven studio albums including the Lovecraft inspired The Outer Ones which gained the band worldwide attention.

Now as the band travels to Australia to tour with the mighty Cattle Decapitation we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to sit down and reflect on the band’s career to date with frontman David Davidson.

“It was awesome we played with so many different bands in the metal realm and in the punk scene,” says Davidson talking about Revocation’s early days in the Boston live scene. “We would be doing club shows and small bars, then we worked our way up to the bigger clubs, places like Great Scot and Middle East. That was a cool kind of stepping stone for us because we were like ‘oh wow we are playing at a 200 capped room rather than a 50 capped room.’ Playing at a 200 capped room was a really big deal, but then we were also playing basement shows at these random warehouse shows with punk rock bands and there were random house parties and stuff.”

“It was really cool to be part of that scene because all my friends were part of the music scene in all different ways,” he says continuing. “That made it cool because any given weekend we were all bouncing around at different shows right across the Boston scene.”

At that time Davidson and the band made the decision to change their name from Cryptic Warning to Revocation and even then the band thought that something special was going to happen. “I think it was always the goal,” says Davidson as we talk about whether or not the band ever thought they would reach the point where they were touring the world. “I’m not sure we ever thought it would come into fruition or not because it was hard to tell back them. But I always thought possibly if we remained focussed and I knew there was something special to the music, so I just figured that if I kept grinding it out, kept going, kept honing my craft then eventually people would notice, and yes it has become a career for me.”

The band have had many highlights over the years including touring with the likes of Cannibal Corpse. Their albums now regularly chart with their Deathless and Great Is Our Sin albums both hitting the Top Ten on the US Hard Rock charts. Then came the praise for their last album – The Outer Ones. Those moments certainly aren’t lost on Davidson and the rest of the band.

“When we first started out it was hard to see the trajectory that the band was going to take,” he explains. “We were just writing music for ourselves and to some extent that is what I still do, I have to let the music speak to me first and foremost before I think how it will affect anybody else. We’re not a band that thinks about writing for a particular fan base or anything like that it is really about satisfying this creative drive that we have and to me that is important because then I know that it comes from an honest place.”

“With The Outer Ones it was really just us embracing the death metal aesthetic that has been part of our band since day one but really just turning up the dial on it and really going head on into that death metal realm,” he tells me as we continue to talk about just how well received the tracks have been off the album.

That leads me to ask him how the tracks have been going live and what they have planned for their Australian shows. “The response to the music whether it is on the record or live has been really phenomenal,” he says. “We can’t wait to get to play them Australia so the Australian crowds can witness them, the material is obviously very aggressive because it is super heavy, but we’ll have some twists and turns in there and a few surprises thrown in as well. I think it is going to be a blast playing these tracks for the Australian crowds.”

“It is impossible to play everything,” Davidson continues as we discuss the amazing back catalogue that the band has to chose from these days. “What we do with each new release is primarily focus on the new material. I like that playbook rather than when bands just rehash song from a long time ago. I love it when they explore the new material and we are very passionate about the new material. Whenever we do a new record I think because it is so fresh to us we want to play it so we’ve been leaning pretty heavy on the new material to keep it fresh for us and to keep it fresh for the fans. We’ll also throw in a couple of crowd pleasers here and there so they can expect some new stuff with some crowd pleasers thrown in for good measure.”

The more you listen to Revocation the more you realise that this is band that certainly deserves more respect than they seem to get. With some amazing albums already in their back pocket and this tour with Cattle Decapitation about to hit our shores it seems like now is the right time to discover Revocation if you aren’t already a fan.

 

 

 

You wouldn’t know it if you walked past but nestled away behind some shops in Pier Street Altona sits one of the Melbourne’s most exciting recording studios. Owned and operated by Melbourne musician Mat Robins Coloursound Recording Studio is already beginning to carve out a history for itself in the Melbourne music scene as bands like The Baby Animals and The Dandy Warhols have already used its services.

Talking to Robins you release that this is a man that lives and breathes music, it runs through his veins and the passion in obvious in his voice. “I think like anyone I kind of just fell into it,” he says when I ask how he started out in the music industry. “Everyone has a drive or passion for something and they usually steer a way towards that so for me it was playing in bands as a kid, and I still play in bands now, but when I was playing in bands as a kid I was always looking over the shoulder of the engineer in the studio. I was always very much wanting to know about that stuff but not really understanding it, but over time you just take those small steps forward and you try stuff and you tick off stuff and then that turns into what it is today… whatever that is going to be, for me that is running a studio and managing artists… and I love it, it is a great thing.”

Robins’ musical journey begun with his parents listing to ELO and The Beatles at home and then turned to him starting his first band during his teenage years with the 90s grunge inspired Thimble Eye, today he is a member of Cicada Stone who recently played in a Bushfire Relief Concert for Silverback Touring.

Now he spreads his time across Cicada Stone and Coloursound two things he really enjoys. “Coloursound in its current form has been in Altona for the last ten years, it has been a steady growth procession. My journey started at home, I was recording on anything that I could afford and then I kept upgrading and buying this and buying that, then we moved into a garage and then into a more permanent space here in Altona. The concept was that I didn’t want to set up a studio like everyone else’s studio. Years ago I went into Hothouse Studios in St Kilda for a session and I just loved the idea of a studio being hidden away on a main street, you have life at your fingertips, whatever you need is just outside and all the studios I had been in in the past had been in warehouses or backyards and life was quite difficult.”

“So what I wanted to do was set up a studio that emulated that whole Hothouse concept,” he says continuing. “So when I set up Coloursound it was based on that – it is on a main street, it is hidden away behind shops, it is right near a beach – it’s a really good spot. It’s not even a big studio – I’ve got a control room and a main room for tracking, a couple of isolation booths, but it is amazing what you can get away with in a dedicated small space. I don’t even have a lot of equipment, I’ve got a nice vintage console, some really tasty microphones, but it is not about the equipment it is about how you use the equipment and it is about how you approach the songs.”

As the studio has grown over the years Robins says he has had a number of highlights. “Highlights would have to include getting in anyone,” he says with a laugh. “I think it is a highlight that anyone would go ‘hey, I believe in you and I believe that you can do something with my song.’ That is the greatest compliment, but if I were to drop names we’ve had some great artists in here. Locally we’ve had bands like Palace Of The King and Warbirds come in recently. Some international bands that I’ve had have been I had The Dandy Warhols in here recording drums for an album they did a few years ago… that really blew me away to have a band of such a calibre recording in Melbourne, especially at my place. We’ve had Whitfield Crane come in and when those sessions happen you kind of sit back and think ‘Shit, I never thought I would have people like this in my place.’ I mean I had Suzi DeMarchi in here with The Baby Animals and it is pretty amazing when stuff like that happens.”

Of course along with the highlights come the challenges and Robins says he has faced some of them along the way as well. “Honestly the biggest challenge is keeping the doors open,” he admits. “And I think any studio will say that. On the outside every studio always looks busy, everybody is trying to make themselves look bigger than they are but the reality is it is a small industry here – it is very niche. And with modern technology the way that it is, and I am all for it, modern technology is taking the power out of the studio and into the home and that is a good thing, people should be expressing themselves and doing their own thing but it doesn’t help established studios keep the bills paid. So that has been the biggest hurdle – finding projects where bands want to invest into a studio. And also for bands to invest into albums is getting harder and harder to pick up, bands are happy to do the single or the EP but finding an album project seems to have got harder over the past few years, maybe it is the sign of the times – bands don’t really want to do albums anymore.”

Aside from offering recording services Robins has also started to run workshops at Coloursound where he can pass on valuable information to people looking to learn more about the industry. “Over my time I have learnt a lot,” he says humbly. “I always find that I love talking about this stuff and I just realised that there is nothing wrong with passing on this information so I set up a workshop and it is a good way to fill in the days that aren’t busy here and there is always someone who has reached that point where they need to have a breakthrough and doing this kind of workshop can certainly unlock that for someone. I know I would have loved that when I was teenager trying to learn this stuff at home, if there had been a weekend style workshop that I could have done that would have been great.”

Melbourne is lucky to have a studio like Coloursound so if you are looking to work on that next project you may want to go down and spend some time with Mat Robins to get it done.

 

The legendary Geoff Tate rose to fame with Queensryche but since he parted ways with them he has forged out a successful solo career as well as recording music with his band Sweet Oblivion. Now Tate is returning to his roots as he heads to Australia to perform the stunning Operation: Mindcrime album in its entirety.

When Subculture gets a chance to talk to Tate he is in a jovial mood, his infectious laughter right there from the very moment he says hello. We joke for a bit and then his level of seriousness rises as he begins to talk about all the ins and outs of the tour.

“This tour came about because I wanted to do a thirtieth anniversary tour for Operation: Mindcrime,” he explains. “I wanted to play it in its entirety and when  I started the tour I didn’t expect for it to last as long as it has. I’m surprised that it has but I also have to admit that I am very pleased that it has. I thought it would be like twelve weeks and then I would be moving onto something else, but it has been like thirty-six months and we’ve been across twenty-eight countries… it really has been something special.”

If you are thinking about going to see Tate perform Operation: Mindcrime then this will be your last opportunity. “Australia is going to be last,” he says. “The last few shows will be in Australia. I’m very happy about that because it is always great to come to Australia because we don’t get to come there very often. I was in Australia in June or July playing with a band called Avantasia on their world tour and I think this is going to be my third or fourth trip there so I am excited and looking forward to it.”

As we talk more Operation: Mindcrime as an album I find myself asking Tate what it was like when he first started rehearsing this album and had to go back and re-explore music he had written thirty years ago. “It was an enjoyable task actually,” he says with a hint of surprise in his voice. “You know I had to to go back to it and delve into it and really listen to it again to see what was there. And that was really interesting from my point of view because as time goes by you don’t re-visit the album as much as you just remember it when you play a song.”

“Because it was the thirtieth anniversary I wanted to really present it in a way that was more in line with how it was recorded,” he says continuing. “I really listened to it closely and figured out a lot of things that I had sort of forgotten that I did on previous tours and the different times I had visited the album. But this time I wanted to do more of an album like version of the songs. So that was quite different and quite enjoyable to go back and listen to it with fresh ears as well.”

Of course going back and exploring music written thirty years ago means that you can wake up old ghosts and Tate chuckles when I ask if it woke up any for him. “Yeah it was definitely a journey,” he says. “I was surprised that I could recognise the subject matter of the album is so similar to today. Even though thirty years has gone by and so much has changed and some things have changed like night and day, but I think the basic human qualities are the same, and I think that we still struggle with the same human issues… they are still there. We haven’t surpassed where we have been yet. There are still things like social justice, in terms of human beings dominating each other, the rich getting richer… that has all stayed the same. There isn’t much growth in that area and perhaps there never will be, that is just the way it is.”

One thing is for sure though when you go back and explore Operation: Mindcrime it is still an album that holds its own and is going to sound spectacular live. “All I can say is get ready,” warns Tate as we start to wrap up the interview. “This is going to be phenomenal; this is going to be everything that you hoped it would be. I can guarantee that this is going to be a great show, the band is excited and very well rehearsed and I feel like I’m on fire and ready to go.”

 

So the world famous symphonic metal band that you are in decides to take a hiatus for a year to recover from a heavy touring schedule, what do you decide to do? Well if you are Marko Hietala from Nightwish you decide that it would be the perfect time to sit down and record a solo album.

Yes after the success of Endless Form Of Most Beauty the legendary Nightwish decided to retreat for awhile and Hietala decided that would be the perfect time to work on his debut solo album – Pyre Of The Black Heart. Now with the album about to be released Subculture decided to sit down and have a chat with Hietala about it.

Our conversation starts with Hietala telling me that he has been surprised by how many people have told that they love the album as he feels that it may sound a little different to what many people would expect it to sound like. “I feel like that a lot of people will listen to it and just expect metal,” he says. “And then it turns out to be a pretty versatile album but I guess song wise it does have a heavy metal identity, but it will be different to what they expect and for that I am pleased.”

We continue by talking about the kind of music that Hietala listens to himself and what genres inspire him. “Oh man I listen to so much music,” he exclaims. “Since my youth I have been a metal guy but I also listen to a lot of other stuff. Ever since I was a kid I’ve listened to jazz, Irish folk songs, classic, Elvis, The Beatles… whatever. My father had a very big vinyl collection, he was an enthusiast. He also played guitar and sang so that is where a lot of the versatility comes from.”

“I had been thinking about it,” says Hietala as our discussion turns to the very beginnings of Pyre Of The Black Heart and whether it was something he had been thinking about doing for years. “I had some lyrically stuff written and I had some musical pieces and then when the Nightwish sabbatical came I took all of those bits and pieces. And some were really just pieces of lyrics or pieces of music, suddenly they just all came up and they fit.”

“I had no ideas for a concept or anything like that,” he says continuing. “I just had some personal stories and personal visions written down, I had a bunch of those and I still have some leftover… quite a lot of them as well. I got the most interesting stuff together and then when I had that sabbatical year coming I got some musical friends in that I had known for years and they just really got into the music, so much so that they started to record, mix and produce the album. They also wrote some string sections for  some of the songs so without these guys the album wouldn’t look or sound as it is. They were a big help. I had some ideas and then they had lots of ideas on things. How to incorporate things, how to put drums here and there, they helped so much. This album looks like me but I think it looks like them to.”

I then ask Hietala what it was like sitting down to work with musicians that weren’t from his band after working with Nightwish for so many years. “I guess the biggest change was having to take that leap of faith,” he says after taking a huge pause. “You have to be sure that everything is worthy and you’re not qualified to judge. I had to be able to jump over that fence and once I did it was a great thing. But maybe the biggest change is that when you write for yourself you don’t have to think about the strengths or weaknesses of your band mates, which of course when you write for a band you take that into account. You think well if I take this chord or this melody it will sound more convincing and this time I didn’t have to do that though of course I take the responsibility of putting myself on the line if I put my face and name on it so in that sense it was actually taking on more responsibility and that made it scary.”

As our discussion goes on it also becomes very clear that while the Nightwish machine is going to keep turning this solo album is not going to be a one off for Hietala. “This started as a solo project and it feels like it grew a band of it,” he explains. “That implies that this will continue and that it isn’t over yet, but like I said my next year is full of Nightwish so it is hard for me to see what is going to happen. But there were pieces of music that we also went through and didn’t use on this album… and some of the stuff is pretty good. So there is every chance that we are going to return to this.”

 

You can listen to our full interview with Marko Hietala below.

Pyre Of The Black Heart will be released on January 24th.

 

 

Sydney metalcore outfit Harroway have exploded onto the scene with their debut single ‘Shine’ and after just one listen you can easily tell that this is a band that we are going to be hearing a lot about over the next few years. Made up of former members of Maybe I’ll Live Forever, Isotopes and Like Royals the band are already making waves so Subculture decided that it was time to sit down and have a chat with the band’s vocalist Matt Banks.

“We did the normal band stuff,” he explains when we talk about the band member’s past bands. “We did a the local band stuff around Campbelltown, played gigs, released an EP and then we had things like band members flake, they just weren’t committed enough and then bailed. We didn’t want to give up on the whole thing though, we love music… it is our passion. We want to do it as long as we can so we just said ‘fuck it, let’s find some new members.’ “

“It took a long time to find the right fit,” he goes on to explain. “Because some people just don’t want to do it or they see it as a hobby and just don’t want to take it to the next level. Then we found the right guys, but yeah it did take awhile to go from Maybe I’ll Live Forever to Harroway. But now we are back at it and stronger than ever.”

One of the first things that hits you when you sit down and listen to ‘Shine’ is the unique sound that Harroway have managed to create. I asked Banks how they arrived at the sound and whether it has evolved over the time they have been together. “I think we have always revolved around that metalcore sound,” he says. “During the writing process though I think that deathcore sound kind of crept in there and I think the metalcore died off a little. Essentially though I think it is just what we wanted to hear. I don’t think we are hearing enough of that in the local scene at the time when we were writing, given we did write these songs three years ago, at the time though we really did just write what we wanted to hear and at the time I wanted to hear more up-lifting tracks but at the time there wasn’t really anything coming out like that.”

“The original concept came from the fact that I was listening to a lot of Getaway Plan,” he continues as we talk more about ‘Shine.’ “I was really inspired by ‘Where The City Meets the Sea’, I wanted something upbeat, catchy and hooky but I wanted to make sure that it was ours and that I wasn’t stealing anything from anyone. I was just like ‘I like how this song makes me feel, let’s write a song like that.’”

One of the most amazing things about ‘Shine’ is that the band actually got to record it at the legendary Graphics Nature Audio studio in New Jersey and I just had to ask how that came about. “Well when we were in Maybe I’ll Live Forever we were talking to our producer over here, Sonny Truelove, about how with our next stuff we really wanted to do something out of the ordinary and we were hearing so much good stuff come out of Nature that we were just like ‘fuck it would be so sick if we could just go over there and record in the studio.’ Then a year later Sonny hit us up and was like ‘remember when you said you wanted to record over there? I’ve got this mad hit up with Putney and I’ve got a really good deal because obviously recording over in America is very expensive.’ You really do have to factor in recording costs, flights, accommodation and it ends up being really costly but Sonny ended up hooking us up with this sweet deal that ended up costing us the same amount that it would have to record here so we were like ‘fuck it…let’s go to America!’”

 

Shine is out now and you can look out for new music from Harroway in 2020.

 

The Used recently surprised all of their fans by suddenly dropping a single titled ‘Blow Me.’ That was the first release since the band had signed with Big Noise Records and shortly after the single was released the band admitted that they had been working on a brand new album after their festival tour. With the album slated for released in early 2020 and the band also embarking on an North American tour Subculture took the chance to sit down with Bert McCracken to see what fans can expect from this new album.

“It has actually been a dream come true working in the studio again with John Feldman,” he says referring to the fact that their old producer has returned to the fold as we talk about the work that has already been done on the new album. “It felt like a mission, an art project… it was a lot of hard work. It was a mentally and emotionally draining experience but to get back into the studio with Feldman as he worked at catching melody it really felt like the basics of songwriting and that is what it is all about. It was really nice, Jon Feldman is a true inspiration. I have said it numerous times but nobody works as hard as him, he is always ready to go no matter what. He can write four songs a day and they will all be really great. Just being in the same room as him is quite magical. If I lived in L.A. I would live really close to him so I could sleep outside his studio door…. that’s the magic of John Feldman.”

That leads me to ask McCracken what exactly it was that first sparked the thoughts about working with John Feldman again aside from signing to his label. “I’m not actually sure what it was,” admits McCracken. “We have maintained a fairly good relationship throughout the years. It is quiet overwhelming to me because I feel like in the past that I have been a difficult artist to work with and it might have seemed like I had burnt that bridge, but he is like a brother to me and it is just feels like home. It is something you are so comfortable and familiar with and this is our sixth or seventh album with him… yeah it was incredible, man We had some of the best times I think you can have writing and recording music.”

“We took a bit of an avalanche or volcano approach to it,” says McCracken when I ask whether he started working on the album in Sydney or if he re-located to LA for the entire writing and recording process. “When we were writing songs it was like we would just spew forth creative energy. We started working on the album maybe last October and then we demoed out about twenty or thirty songs, then we got into the studio with Feldman and just started from scratch with his process. Working in the studio with Feldman is pretty much the same thing day-to-day. You go in, you either start on a piano or an acoustic guitar and then you start to think about what kind of song you want to write. If it is a heavy song then you just rip out a heavy riff and then try to get an overall feel for content… lyrical content. Sometimes the lyrical content will write the song for you, but it felt really fun and free to be like ‘well what kind of song do you want to write?’ or ‘well what is some of your favourite songs, let’s write one that kind of feels like a wooden fence in the back-yard.” Anything is possible so it is really, really fun, nobody’s ideas are invalid, the whole band is throwing all their ideas at the wall and you see what sticks.”

The process was also so much fun that the band ended up with a lot more songs than they actually needed for the album. “We actually ended up with a bit more than that,” he says when I ask if it is true that the band ended up with twenty-seven songs at the end of the recording process. “There were about eight or nine that we were in the process of recording and then we were like ‘nah this one’s not good enough let’s move on.’ So we have about twenty-six or seven that we like, so we will probably put fifteen on this one and then call the rest Operation B-Sides.”

“In a lot of ways one child is always better than the other one,” says McCracken laughing when I ask isn’t picking which songs you like for an album like comparing your children. “I think it is like what it is like with children as well, you know straight away. You will be like ‘man this one is kind of gnarly’ or ‘this one is really fucked up.’ No, I think with a strong song it is really easy to tell in the basic skeleton version of the song. If it has a catchy melody or it flows well and everything just feels really natural, when it is like that you just know straight away and that is great.”

“I can’t wait for you to hear it,” he says to finish up the interview. “I’ve never really been someone that listens to his own records on repeat but I can’t stop listening to this one, it is so much fun and so interesting.”

 

The new album will be out in early 2020.

 

 

2019 has been a big year for father of desert rock John Garcia. The former Kyuss front-man returned to the airwaves with a new album after teaming up with The Band Of Gold. The critically acclaimed album then saw the legend himself return to the road for some live shows and only a few weeks ago it was announced that Garcia would be returning to Australia in January.

Subculture recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Garcia to find out what his Australian fans can expect from this brand new tour.

“I recently signed with a new Booking Agency and one of the prerequisites for him to pick me up and vice versa was that Australia had to be in the mix,” says Garcia as we start the interview by talking about the unique relationship that he seems to have with our country. “I try to get down to Australia at least once a year. Whether the shows do well or not I always try to get down there once a year because it is just a place I love to go, I have a tonne of friends down there and to be able to go down there and play music with The Band Of Gold for a live thing is bitchin’.”

The sad thing is though Garcia never gets to spend as long in Australia as he would like to. “ I would love to spend more time there,” he goes on to say. “But sadly I have an Animal Hospital here in Palm Springs that I help run so unfortunately I can’t be gone from my job nor my family and kids for that long. The plan was actually for me to play this string of shows and then fly my family down there to spend a little bit of time on the Gold Coast but unfortunately between my wife’s schedule and my son’s schedule it just didn’t work out this time, but I do get one day off in Byron so I am stoked about that… I plan on enjoying that day.”

That leads me to ask Garcia just how tough is it to combine touring with family and work life. “It is hard,” he admits. “It takes a lot of balance… and I mean a lot of balance. It is the same for the  rest of the guys, we all have normal jobs, we all have families, we all have kids…well Erin doesn’t have kids but he has pets that he calls his kids. So it is a lot of balance but really our families have to allow us to do this because without their support it would be very difficult.

Of course Garcia’s fans were very lucky this year with the release of his brand new album with The Band Of Gold and he says he is very much looking forward to playing some of the tracks off the new album on the Australian tour. “We want to come down there and play ninety minutes of music,” he says. “A good part of it will be playing songs off the new record but we will also be playing some songs off my first electric record as well. Of course I always throw in some Kyuss as well so it is always good to be able to go back and revisit some of these songs, it is always cool to play those tracks because they still make me smile, and if you have never seen Kyuss then this is about as close as you are going to get to seeing Kyuss. It is me with my band and I will show the songs an incredible amount of respect and we will get down there and do our thing.”

To finish off Garcia has a very special message for all his Australian fans. “ i just want to invite everybody who listens to this and reads this to come down and if you want some new rock and some old favourites come on down and we are not going to disappoint.”

 

You can listen to the full John Garcia interview above while all the tour details can be found below.