Monday, October 31, 2011

These Kids Wear Crowns

Looking through his tour van for a lost shoe, lead vocalist ALEXANDER JOHNSON of Canadian pop-rockersTHESE KIDS WEAR CROWNS takes time-out to talk to RACHEL BARNESabout the band’s rocket ride to fame.

On his way from one side of Canada to the other in a van filled with music equipment and five other guys, Alexander Johnson couldn’t be happier. While embarking on a jet-setting tour that will take them from their northern home country to Australia, These Kids Wear Crowns have never lost sight of where it all started. The band was formed and “discovered” in 2009 and shot into the spotlight after appearing on a reality TV show similar to Idol. Much Music’s disBand had musicians competing against themselves in each episode while a panel of judges reviewed them. Unsigned before appearing on the show, Johnson says everything that has happened since, happened because they appeared on it. “It was very beneficial. That show was a great thing for us. It really gave us a huge jump, a huge leap in our career,” he says.

After the contest they re-released their EP and began work on their first studio album before they were signed to any label. They recorded six songs before the pen hit the dotted line and in August of 2010 they finally had a contract. Now working with producers they had only ever dreamed of, the group were able to finish their first album in style. “It was a great process, a fun experience too,” Johnson says.

However, when it comes to being creative versus going on tour, Johnson says he enjoys everything in moderation. “It’s fun to tour for five or six months and it’s fun to get time off and write at home until you get antsy and you want to tour again … It keeps it all fresh. I wouldn’t want to do anything for a full year straight.”

The boys recently bought a new van, which they have apparently made very homely, and are using it to travel around Canada. The confined space doesn’t get to them as they all consider each other family, and even have plans to someday make that a reality. “Three of us all have nieces and nephews between the ages of one and three, so possibly when they get older we’re gonna hook them up with who we think are their best mate and then we’ll be related. Forced marriages, arranged marriages,” he laughs.

With something else to look forward to before things get all Royal Family-ish, Johnson says they’re ready to bring their chaotic show back to Australia. “We want people to have fun and lose themselves and get crazy. Give us energy so we can give them some energy back. Everyone just lose yourself,” he says.

The band’s ‘Neon Army’ is sure to rock up in full force. The Neon Army is the name they give to people who not only love TKWC’s music, but also live the same way the boys strive to. The group lives by slogans like ‘positivity creates positivity’ and ‘live life like you love it’, and are supportive and inclusive of everyone. “Its not just anyone who likes our music, the Neon Army is more like a family,” Johnson explains.

These Kids Wear Crowns are always writing and plan on finishing the recording of their next album once they get back from Australia. At least now they have a label to send demos to.

THESE KIDS WEAR CROWNS play both an under-18s show (3pm) and an 18+ show (8pm) at The Hi-Fi on Saturday Nov 5. JUMPSTART is out now through EMI. For more info check


SHAPESHIFTER’s SAM TREVETHICKtakes time out from planning a summer tour to talk to RACHEL BARNES about being signed by Hospital Records, moving to Berlin and touring where nobody knows their name.

Producing four acclaimed albums and live shows that are a must-see, Shapeshifter have been bringing unique beats since 1999. Sam Trevethick can’t even remember who their first albums were released through, because after creating their own label, True Tone Recordings, the boys successfully released three number one independent albums. “This was 10 years ago and the scene was just coming around,” Trevethick says. “It was before MySpace and all that kind of stuff and we just realised that major record companies kinda suck,” he laughs. “They wanted to take everything and maybe, maybe give us a little bit of a hand. So we were like, “Nah, fuck that.”

With such negative experiences of labels it came as a shock to some when the band announced they had signed with well-known UK drum and bass label Hospital Records in July of last year. Despite True Tone Recordings still being their label in New Zealand and Australia, Trevethick says it was a no-brainer. “They’re definitely one of the biggest labels in drum and bass music,” he says. Despite any doubts, the label globally released Shapeshifter’s platinum selling album, The System Is A Vampire, and now they’re hoping to do it all over again.

When it came to thinking about their next album the band decided to move their studio to Berlin to give them a chance to take a breath and focus. “We were just touring a lot... The process was quite time-intensive so it was good to have a little bit of a breather and just potter away on some other things,” Trevethick says. Despite moving to the other side of the world the band’s recording experience wasn’t that much different. “It wasn’t really different, because we’ve always had our own studio so we just took bits of that with us. So it was all quite familiar. But we had never been to Berlin before that... It was great,” he laughs.

The boys just came off a successful European tour where they played shows with only a couple of people in the audience knowing who they were, which was a change from the massive recognition the boys are used to back home. “It was really exciting, it was really good. It’s a completely different vibe then when you’re playing to people who know your music. It’s really exciting for us,” he says.

Shapeshifter now have their feet now firmly back on home soil and are ready to show their fans just what exactly they’ve been up to. Throughout their summer tour through Australia and New Zealand the band promises to produce live shows influenced by the sights and sounds of Europe that will only leave audiences wanting more. “We love coming here in summer, we’ve got a great show set up and we really put a lot of effort into it. It’s a big motivator factor when there’s gonna be a lot of people that know your music. You’ve gotta strive to do better and do things differently,” he says.

SHAPESHIFTER play The Hi-Fi on Friday Nov 4. for more.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On The Pulse Festival

Fortitude Valley PCYC - Sat Oct 22

The valley looks a little bit different for a Saturday night as hundreds of side-fringed pop-punk and rock music lovers descend upon the PCYC for On The Pulse.

Kicking off the small and intimate Red Octopus stage is local The Electro Kid. Staying true to the name, 17-year-old frontman Giles has a robotic/Auto-Tune-ish sound effect on his voice for the duration of the set, leaving you wondering what it actually sounds like, uncloaked.

The vibe definitely suits the intimate environment as Starlight Theatrebring a complete change of atmosphere. Playing an unrehearsed acoustic set (with their drummer watching from the crowd), the band look and sound like veterans compared to their predecessors. Bringing the Red Octopus up to tempo, Pandora’s Hero come out rocking; the room is up on its feet for the first time, apathetic youth no defence against their on-stage charisma. With an EP fresh out on iTunes, the boys make their new songs shine.

Down at the main stage Gold Coasters Nine Sons Of Dan kick off their set with their drummer going absolutely crazy to LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem, the rest of the band joining him with the same high energy. The boys performed at the Indy 600 earlier in the day and say it’s nice to play to be in front of people who know and appreciate their music.

The Never Ever are up next and despite spending a chunk of time fiddling with their sound, when finally underway they bring a unique touch to the festival. Labelling themselves as ‘power-pop’ the band retain a techno/electro base to each song, even rocking out on a keytar on occasion.

Showing everyone how it’s done, Californian band Rufio bring a touch of professionalism to the day’s proceedings. With no side-fringes to be seen, their energetic performance never wavers, remaining powerful and on-message. In this reviewer’s opinion, these guys should be the headliners.

But it’s Tonight Alive who step up as the final act tonight, as confident and natural as ever. With a simple “How you doin’? We’re Tonight Alive,” from the band’s lead singer Jenna McDougall, the crowd is under a spell, singing along to every word.

As the night draws to conclusion, and parents line up waiting for the all ages crowd to disperse, everyone shuffles out with a smile on their face and a new list of bands to add to their iTunes libraries.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Epidemic... Over

The road of a struggling musician is hard, and that couldn’t be more true for QLD alt-rock band EPIDEMIC… OVER.Frontman NATHAN BEDFORD talks toRACHEL BARNES about holding down a job while fighting for your passion and producing your best work yet.

Beginning their time together playing only covers, Epidemic… Over had no intention of ever writing their own music. That is, until boredom brought on a jam session that would change everything.

“We had no intention of doing anything, we just started jamming and we wrote a song really quickly and we liked it … then we pretty much quit covers,” Nathan Bedford says.

With a song and a new dream the four-piece were only missing two things, a name and a contract, one of which was a little less difficult to come by.

“Our guitarist Ben came up with all these names and he sent them to us in a text message and they were all pretty shit,” Bedford laughs. “So that was the best of the worst.”

The newly named Epidemic… Over were quickly brought back to reality when they realized just how hard their new path was going to be. It didn’t take long for the boys to figure out the struggle to become a full-time musician is a tough road when there are bills to pay and mouths to feed. The band members hold down day jobs to help them make it from week to week, but they are always musicians first. Wanting to take their music to the next level, they hope that steady touring and their latest EP project might help them get more exposure.

With a lack of money restricting their time in recording studios, the band came up with a way around the problem for their next EP, Long Way Home, due out in February next year. Converting a homestead in regional Queensland into “Karibu Studio”, E…O found a cheaper way to spend more time recording. This process gave the band a much-needed financial break and influenced their music for the better.

“I think the reason we got such a good result out of the studio is the fact that we did it somewhere different where there’s less pressure… At Karibu we lived and breathed it and spent as much time working on it as possible and it was really comfortable,” Bedford says. “I truthfully don’t think that we’ll go into a conventional studio again.”

Bedford takes on the task of writing each song’s lyrics and though they are usually inspired by the music his band creates, the new EP sees him drawing from more personal places. Now more emotionally connected to his music then ever, Bedford sometimes struggles to play his own work live.

“I’m not always comfortable with putting my personal feelings out there. But, it is what it is, that’s what I wrote, so I gotta do it, and I still love performing the songs and I think if I’m connected emotionally to the music people might see that and maybe even like it a bit more ‘cause it means so much,” he says.

The boys will be playing all the songs off their upcoming EP during their tour for the release’s first cut, Pushing The Stone. And while they believe their current project is the best representation of the band yet, they still plan on playing all their past songs during the tour as well.

“We just wanna go out and have a good time and have an adventure and have a story to tell our kids one day, you know.” Bedford says.

EPIDEMIC… OVER play Tattered ‘N’ Torn at the Gold Coast’s Beach House Tavern on Sunday Oct 23 (along with Averice, Burning Brooklyn and more), then bring their PUSHING THE STONE tour to The Tempo Hotel on Friday Oct 28.

Tonight Alive

JENNA MCDOUGALL and WHAKAIO TAAHI from breakthrough Sydney pop/rock outfit TONIGHT ALIVE talk toRACHEL BARNES about the influence a label can have on music.

A change in band members, names, and three years’ of hard work may not be on every band’s road to success, but for Tonight Alive that’s the road that sent them from garage band to trending Twitter topic. After releasing two independently funded EPs, touring and building up a fanbase on the road and online they found themselves drawing interest from the likes of high-profile American producer Mark Trombino and several record companies. After a showcase for Sony, everything seemed to fall into place for the young Australian band, who then got the okay to jet off and record their first studio album with Trombino.

Trombino didn’t come without a cost, with the recording process harder then they were used to. “Everything that we played in the studio was just 100% natural and it was hard but you can definitely hear it, you can definitely hear each instrument,” Taahi says. “It was a lot harder but it was so much more worth it.”

Trombino helped push Tonight Alive in the right direction without telling them what to do. “Everything on that record is us. It’s not some big producer putting his spin on it. Every melody, we wrote that. I definitely love and appreciate that that’s the way he did it,” Taahi says.

Sony gave the band complete creative control of the album that they finished in just two-and-a-half months. “They sort of act like an indie label, everything is really close and we all have really good relationships with our team,” McDougall says. Though Sony has a big say in what singles the band puts out, which can generate some tension between the two, McDougall says it’s always a mutual decision. “They know what’s best, but we definitely get a say,” she says.

With the new album just released and a tour underway, a wider audience has come at a cost for the band with frequent comparisons between them and pop-punk icons Paramore. McDougall denies any influence from Paramore and says although the comparison doesn’t exactly bother them it is annoying. The band hopes their latest release will help set them apart from the eerily similar-sounding Paramore, but the true test will be seeing how fans react to it on their upcoming tour. Hitting the road with close friends Rufio, who they met while touring in Indonesia, the two bands can’t wait to be reunited during Tonight Alive’s album release tour. “We respect them so much with their music, we grew up listening to them. So it’s definitely an honor to have them here,” Taahi says.

Touring for the rest of the year without a break until Christmas the band is looking forward to another full-on year sending them all over the world. “I used to sit in my bedroom and play guitar and then when I’d play guitar I’d close my eyes and picture I’d be in front of this massive stage and now it’s happening and it’s just like ‘that’s nuts’,” Taahi says.

“It’s like that dream you never think’s gonna come true,” McDougall says. “We know how lucky we are.”

You can check out TONIGHT ALIVE at the ON THE PULSE festival, Saturday Oct 22 at both The Hive and Fortitude Valley PCYC. They also play The Zoo on Sunday Oct 23. For more information hit WHAT ARE YOU SO SCARED OF is out now on Sony.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hey Rosetta!

With their last two albums both nominated for Canada’s prestigious Polaris Music Prize, HEY ROSETTA!guitarist ADAM HOGAN talks toRACHEL BARNES about positive recognition, rushing through the recording process of their latest release Seeds and the power of coffee shop gigs.

Recently missing out on the Polaris Music Prize for a second time, Hey Rosetta! guitarist Adam Hogan says that the recognition is “kinda crazy”. Not expecting to win, Hogan says that just being shortlisted was enough for the band.

From their humble beginnings in 2005, the six-piece Canadian band started out as a bunch of songs in frontman Tim Baker’s head. With four members playing the stock standard rock instruments, Hey Rosetta! mixes it up with a two-person string section. “Right from the beginning there was six, I don’t think we ever performed as four,” Hogan says. “So right from the get-go there was a cello and a violin in the band.“ Though they have been through a few line-up changes, Hey Rosetta! has had a consistent member base for the past two to three years, and Hogan says it’s, “nice to be in that place”.

Since the release of their last album the band has spent the majority of their time on the road playing shows, so when it came to making the new album, Hogan explains it was kind of a rush. Despite being drastically less prepared then they had been with records in the past, they were much more relaxed when it came to making Seeds, their third studio album. Hogan remembers that as little as two months before the band hit the studios they had songs that they were working on, but that they only actually “made into something” during those finals moments. Less nervous this time around, the band was more familiar with the studio and engineer. “It was easy, I think, it’s kind of a blur, I can’t even remember it really. We had a little more time, three and a half weeks or something in the studio. I think we all felt a little more confident in achieving the sounds we wanted to get and just performing under the gun,” he says.

With a six-piece band it’s interesting to hear how such layered music can sound so pure. But Hey Rosetta! pull it off beautifully, both on their albums and at live shows. Though Hogan likes both those worlds, he says he prefers live shows more. Having recently found themselves in a small coffee shop in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Hogan says it was one of their most powerful shows.

Soon to bring their sound down under for the third time, Hey Rosetta! were already planning their return to Australia during their last visit in April. While on tour with City & Colour, their manager was excited at the idea of a possible tour with The Jezabels. Though they weren’t familiar with The Jezabels, their manager quickly began organizing dinners and meet-ups.

“It was just one of these things where our managers were kind of talking to each other and we were putting each other on guest-lists or whatever and I guess they kept talking over our summer and kind of got this tour,” he says. “It’s a pretty amazing opportunity, I went to their show in Melbourne and the crowd was just crazy,” he laughs.

With both bands producing albums that pull listeners in and live shows that captivate audiences, it’s easy to see that this tour is going to be a doozy.

HEY ROSETTA! support The Jezabels at Byron’s Great Northern on Wednesday Oct 12, Toowoomba’s Uni Club on Thursday Oct 13, The Tivoli on Friday Oct 14 (sold out) and Sunday Oct 16, plus the Cooly on Saturday Oct 15. SEEDS is out now.


One of Australia’s most talked about up and coming artists, emcee 360 (AKAMATT COLWELL) talks to RACHEL BARNES about breaking the boundaries of hip hop and the importance of giving your fans something for nothing.

From Casper to Many Styles to 360, Matt Colwell has been through a lot of changes to get to where he is today and that doesn’t just include his previous names. With his love affair with hip hop starting when he was just a 14 year-old skateboarder, Colwell’s passion for rapping has continued to become stronger and more diverse – staying true to the meaning behind his name. “It just means the revolution. I want to try and take my music 360 degrees and not necessarily make ‘hip hop’ but just go in every direction,” he says.

Just after the release of his second studio album, Falling & Flying, Colwell is reflecting on the change in his sound and the reaction of his fans. Though nothing has changed much lyrically, Colwell still writing very personal lyrics about his life experiences or “taking the piss and just having fun.”

Loving working with other artists and integrating their sound into the mix, Colwell continues to take his music to the next level with each new collaboration. With Pez, Josh Pyke, Gossling, and N’fa from 1200 techniques on 360’s current album, the wishlist of collabs for his next project is growing long. Even John Farnham’s name has been thrown into the mix, so who really knows what he could have in store. “I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” Colwell laughs. “That could’ve gone really good or really bad.”

Colwell has never thought twice about the music he is creating, despite some in the hip hop community frowning upon rapping over dance beats. With even some of his own fans turning against him after the release of his latest album, saying that he is now ‘too commercial’, he just doesn’t seem to give a shit. “I can either listen to those people telling me to do that, or I can listen to people that are liking my new music and go even further with it. But at the end of the day I just gotta listen to myself and what I wanna do. This is what I wanna do, so if they don’t like it they can get fucked,” Colwell emphasises.

He says its very important to find ways to make a stronger connection to his fans since the internet completely changing the music industry. In the past seven months 360 has released 17 quality songs on Facebook for free, and Colwell hopes that his fans will remember this when it comes to supporting his album. “The free music that I’ve given out on Facebook and stuff has built my fan base up so much,” he affirms.

Already planning for his next album, Colwell shows no signs of letting the buzz and hype leave 360 anytime soon. He plans to have his next album ready for when the hype starts to settle so he can simply, “blow people out of the water again.”

Colwell is ready for his first headlining tour and can’t wait to make use of his extended set time. Fans can expect to hear a little bit of all of their 360 favourites as Colwell plans on fitting a bit of everything into his shows.

“It’s gonna be epic,” he says, and you can safely believe it.

360 appears at the SPRUNG hip hop festival alongside Pez, Drapht, Illy, Phrase, Joelistics, Resin Dogs and more at the Riverstage on Saturday Oct 15. FALLING & FLYING is out now through

Monday, October 3, 2011

Eskimo Joe

ESKIMO JOE frontman KAV TEMPERLEY tells RACHEL BARNESabout finally accepting and endorsing the notion of a trademark sound.

With huge hits throughout Eskimo Joe’s career, it might be surprising to find out that the band’s frontman, Kav Temperley, considers Ghosts Of The Past’s number three debut in the album charts their best debut yet. “We got a number one with Inshalla but I think we were … I don’t know, maybe full of our own selves at that point in time. We were just like, ‘Uh, of course we got number one,’” Temperley says mockingly. “But this time round Jay Z and Adele were in front of us and it just felt really, really positive to get number three. I think it was the most excited we’ve been.”

When the band produced Black Fingernails Red Wine it was the culmination of three albums’ worth of ideas and experience – but despite it being their biggest commercial success, they were hesitant with the statement it was making. “For us it felt dangerous to step out there and go, ‘Fuck you, we’re going to do a big rock & roll record and we’re gonna make the claim that it is a big rock & roll record.’ We didn’t really know how that was going to go down, but it worked,” Temperley says.

When it came to writing Inshalla, Temperley wanted to experiment and “keep the danger” – although in retrospect he thinks the album should perhaps have been ‘Black Fingernails Part Two’. But … “We just can’t do that, we’re not that band. We always have to kick against what we did before,” he says. And kick against it they did, with Inshalla going places the band had never been before. Plus the decision to bring in a big time producer had noticeably changed the band’s dynamic. “We did that record and it just felt quite kind of bloated, overproduced, over-thought, ‘cause we’d been thinking about it for years,” Temperley recalls.

Staying true to themselves, the boys changed tack again from the Inshalla experience and dove head first into Ghosts Of The Past. Recording the album in just three months, the trio wanted to put out a record that felt like a moment in time. Relaxing into the idea of simply being Eskimo Joe, they finally accepted sounding like Eskimo Joe. “What I’m really proud of about this record is that if your press play at any part of the record you know exactly what record you’re listening to, and it sounds like an Eskimo Joe record.

Temperley laughs. “And we’re probably the most qualified people to make an Eskimo Joe record.”

Though Ghosts Of The Past has been received very positively, the real test is yet to come. Taking the new songs on tour, Temperley is excited to see if the songs connect with fans. “People can write great reviews about it and stuff, which is lovely, but at the end of the day it’s really all about how the greater audience who listen to your music actually connect with it,” he says.

No matter what happens during the tour, Eskimo Joe are now equipped with their own studio (The Wasteland) and will head straight back inside after the tour and hope to produce a follow-up album – another moment in time – by November next year. Or as Temperley jokes, “Ghosts Of The Past Part 2 or Eskimo Joe Reloaded.”

ESKIMO JOE play the Caloundra Music Festival on Friday Oct 7, Toowoomba’s Full Noise Festival on Saturday Oct 8 and The Tivoli on Sunday Oct 9 (supported by Bonjah). GHOSTS OF THE PAST is out now through Dirt Diamond/Warner. Visit for more.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Meet the Wau Wau Sisters

Labelled New York's 'bravest and bawdiest burlesque duo', these foul-mouthed performers are set to capture audiences' minds during their upcoming shows at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. The Wau Wau Sisters' Adrienne Truscott talks to Rachel Barnes about their ridiculously fabulous performance style, the inspiration behind them and their passion to keep on going.
How do you come up with such unique performances?
We trust our imaginations and guts a lot. We don't search for themes, we try to notice what's on our minds lately, what's in the news, what the world feels like, what's in our hearts. But sometimes the work can start from a ridiculous costume we see or suddenly think of, or a song we hear. Our process is very free and spontaneous, at least in the beginning, and we trust our own relationship and laughter – if something makes us laugh or excited in rehearsal, we trust that that will translate with our audiences. Once we're on our way, there's a lot of crafting and challenging ourselves and one another on where we're headed and how we get there.
You have been labeled as utterly fearless, but is there anything in your show that you're nervous about doing?
Sure, there are some ideas that occur to us that even give us pause, but we just think things through, and if they feel like they are coming from the right place, intelligently provocative, etcetera, then we'll do it. We certainly want to keep challenging ourselves and our fears, whether that's a new trick or a 'new way' to perform. One day, the scariest choice for us could be to keep our clothes on! But one thing about our act that I think really reads is that it's our togetherness on stage that makes us fearless – we make one another fearless.
Why do you think your style of performance attracts such a large queer following?
It's pretty clear that our sense of sexuality is broad and bold and bawdy, and really all inclusive. We're pretty fond of love and reckon the more of it in the world, the merrier! Like an all you can eat buffet!
Do you have any involvement with the LGBTQ community?
Yes. For the most part we're on the road, and find ourselves quite firmly in that community wherever we land! It's an amazing community and as a community it's probably one of the smartest, most fun, elegant and festive ambassadors a country or city could hope for, for visiting folks! We work regularly with Olivia – a lesbian travel company which we love, and I work occasionally at The LGBTQ Center (in New York) – I've done some choreographic work with teens and young adults, some of them who have left their homes because of their family's intolerance, who use the centre as a resource.
Surely this kind of performance work is exhausting physically. Do you plan to continue doing this for some time to come?
We'll do it for as long as it remains fun, amazing and full of opportunities for us, which seems like it could be forever! Maybe it's exhausting sometimes, but we love it and can't really imagine anything else. It feels like our shows get better and better, and if we get really old, surely they'll just get funnier and more bizarre! In the meantime, we reckon a tent or venue filled with beautiful weirdoes, wigs and booze beats an office nine-to-five any day!
The Wau Wau Sister's Last Supper, until October 9, 2011, GH Hotel, 1 Brighton Rd, St Kilda, Melbourne,