Thursday, November 8, 2012

PREVIEW: Supanova — Rupert Young (No Longer Attending)

Knight in Shining Armour

*Unfortunately both Rupert Young and fellow knight Eoin Macken have cancelled their tour with Supanova due to scheduling conflicts but Australian fans of the series will be able to meet at least one knight in shining armour as Sir Percival – played by Tom Hopper – will still be attending the Brisbane event.

The widely anticipated fifth season of Merlin finally makes its way back into our world. Now, Rachel Barnes gets every girl’s dream come true. She talks with a knight in shining armour, Rupert Young — the actor behind Sir Leon — about reliving his childhood fantasies and riding the wave of a successful TV series.

When you picture a knight, you think of a tall and handsome man wearing shining armour, holding a sword and a shield, standing in front of a dastardly enemy, without even the slightest glint of fear in his eyes. Although Rupert Young looked the part during his first day on set, he was anything but the fearless knight. Young recalls only having one line to say. “I had to interrupt the scene and say, ‘The king commands your presence immediately,’ and I opened the door and went: ‘The king — uhh…’ — and my chain-mail was pounding away and I was absolutely terrified,” Young says. “To be honest they were all very sweet but I was just very scared. Luckily the next day I went in and I had one word which was ‘here’. I managed to remember that,” he laughs.

Rupert Young

Young originally auditioned for two roles, both of which were only supposed to be small parts. But after landing Sir Leon and filming his scenes he was told they might bring him back. “This literally tiny part has become the knight that is Sir Leon now,” he says excitedly. “It’s been a nice journey, not knowing when I’m coming back and for how long. To get to the end of series five and still be there, I feel very lucky.”

Young says playing a knight is a childhood dream of his and he has loved every aspect of the journey. “I remember when all five of the knights got together for the first time. We rode into the castle in France with our capes on and there was a group of nine year olds just looking at us with their mouths open, going, ‘That’s so cool.’ It really was. We were all going, ‘I know. Look how cool we are.’” Young laughs. “It’s brilliant. You get to have sword fights and you get to do things that I remember loving every minute of when I was a child.”

With the filming of season five finishing and the first few episodes screening, Young says this season continues to push the boundaries. “I think it goes on routes that no one would quite expect. Some things happen that are quite shocking,” he says. “It’s definitely the darkest yet”

The success of the show grows with each season and, though Young thinks its popularity could be attributed to both the picturesque knights and the element of fantasy, he believes there is a deeper connection for fans. “A lot of people at school who feel different or have a tough time and get no credit at all can relate to Merlin,” he explains. “He gets bullied by the knights. Arthur is mean to him. And he always saves the day without any thanks. The reason that the show is so successful is because of that underdog character that people identify with.”

Supanova runs in the RNA showgrounds from Friday 9 Nov through to Sunday 11 Nov. Check out for more details

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PREVIEW: Supanova and Gareth David-Lloyd

British Institutions, Fandoms, and Sci-fi, Oh my!

Torchwood star Gareth David-Lloyd talks to Rachel Barnes about why he enjoys the science fiction genre, his success with Torchwood, and how he relates to being a part of a sci-fi fandom.

Having acted since he was just a kid, Gareth David-Lloyd is no stranger to the power of a good story. Whether he is on stage performing to a crowd, or waiting for the television ratings of his latest endeavour, David-Lloyd doesn’t prefer one medium over the other. “It’s all storytelling. It all has its rewards,” he says.

Despite his long background in theatre, it wasn’t until 2006 that David-Lloyd landed his first regular role in a television series — Torchwood. He could not have been happier. “I was huge into sci-fi, especially Star Trek The Next Generation when I was younger. Obsessively so to some extent,” he laughs.

Although too young to follow all of Doctor Who’s changes, David-Lloyd was well aware of the franchise. “I knew it was a great British institution. It was a great honour to be a part of it,” he says. “Originally my role was called Idris Hopper,” he laughs. “When I got the role they gave me the name of another character I had played in a different show, so it was almost like they were giving me my character back.”

Gareth David-Lloyd

David-Lloyd knew the show was going to be successful before he had even auditioned, but had never imagined it would succeed as it did. “With it being a sort of dark and adult show set in the universe of Doctor Who, it sounded really exciting,” he says. “The amount of success is quite overwhelming.”

His resume filled to bursting with sci-fi related projects, David-Lloyd admits that the genre has quirks like no other. “There’s always a little bit of extra fun with science fiction because you let your imagination suspend a little bit more.”

The quirks don’t stop there; fans of the genre can become deeply engaged with particular niches within the community. “I think the reason sci-fi fans become so invested in the characters and stories is because of the great escapism, which envelopes people. It’s the same reason I really got into Star Trek. The worlds are so far removed from reality that it’s not merely escapism. It’s escapism that walked right into another universe.”

David-Lloyd joins the guest list of Supanova for the third time and couldn’t be more excited to meet more of his Australian fans. “I’d say all Torchwood fans are the greatest fans. Some actors give horror stories about their fans leaping over tables and exposing themselves and doing things like that but all the Torchwood fans I have met have been great. There’s never any fears.”

You can catch Gareth David-Lloyd at Supanova in the RNA showgrounds from Friday Nov 9 through to Sunday Nov 11. For more information check out

Rachel Barnes is a freelance journalist and aspiring author. When she’s not writing she spends her time playing Roller Derby or American Football.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Road to an AIDS-free world

MELBOURNE: The World AIDS Conference is held every two years and aims to not only increase awareness about HIV, but to also find that elusive cure. Held in Washington this past July, the conference once again brought scientists and patients together, inspiring the hope of an AIDS free world. Rachel Barnes spoke to conference attendees, Professor Sharon Lewin from the Burnet Institute and Matt Dixon from the Victorian AIDS Council.

Co-head of the Centre of Virology at the Burnet Institute and Director of Infectious Disease at Alfred and Monash, Professor Sharon Lewin is a key player when it comes to challenging HIV. Professor Lewin not only works as a scientist in a laboratory researching the disease but she also actively works as an infectious disease physician with HIV patients. Professor Lewin has been attending the conference for 20 years: “The World AIDS Conference is a real landmark event for all people working in HIV,” Professor Lewin says. “It’s often not the peak scientific conference but there’s a lot of detailed scientific information presented and it’s a really important conference to track how we’re going and see the really important changes in the field and how to implement them.”

Despite a previous lack of scientific content at the conference it is now a place where scientists can meet up and network their ideas. However, the event still continues to push its original key goal of equality.

“The conference has fought for reducing stigma and discrimination for years,” Professor Lewin says. “It’s been a hallmark agenda of the International AIDS Society and of that conference.”

Every conference celebrates people with HIV and strives to show the world that they are not second class citizens. As well as this, there are two other main themes at the event; one of these is the importance of finding a cure for HIV and how this would make a big difference to the strategies of getting people on treatment.

“If you can find a cure it means that people don’t need to be on treatment for forty to fifty years, they might only need to be on treatment for five or ten years and that would free up a lot of capacity and money to treat more people,” she says.

However, until this is found there are actually current ways to control HIV, which can essentially rid the world of AIDS. While current treatments do not mean the end of the HIV virus, it does mean those who can access treatment can hope to live relatively disease free.

One of the main goals at the conference is to reduce new infections to 50% by 2015. We know that we already have the tools to do this, what we need now is to figure out how to actively get people tested, finding people that are positive, getting them in care, and keeping them on treatment.

“One area we really need to work on is increasing testing... If we could do that really effectively everywhere we could basically eliminate AIDS,” Professor Lewin says.

It’s no question as to whether or not Australia is doing this effectively, we have an extremely low infection rate with basically a steady one thousand new diagnoses a year for the past ten years. The question is, how we can do this even better?

“Although our infection rates are low we need to look at ways as to how we can get that even lower,” Professor Lewin says. “How we can test people earlier and that could involve home based testing or rapid testing. Starting treatment at the right time and keeping people in them.”

Although HIV is considered to be low prevalence in Australia, it is high prevalence in certain risk groups and Professor Lewin says we need to change the approach we have been using for the past ten years if we want to get our rates even lower. With HIV in Australia predominately found in gay men, Professor Lewin says the message has to get out to them.

“Gay men are in a very significant high risk group and they should be investing in more aggressive testing,” she says.

“Because once you get tested then you know what your risk is, you can access treatment which reduces your risk of transmission and you can access treatment which reduces your risk of getting sick.”

The Executive Director of the Victorian AIDS council, Matt Dixon went to both the World AIDS Conference and the Global forum on MSM [Men who have Sex with Men]. The Forum is a pre-conference meeting that concentrates on gay men, MSM and trans people.

Dixon agrees with Professor Lewin and believes that we need to focus on assisting those in high risk groups. Rapid testing could be one answer to this issue as it enables people to get a test result in twenty minutes rather than the current two weeks. Though Australia does not have access to it yet, Dixon is hoping this will change soon. “We are hoping to work with the Victorian Government and other partners to do a trial of rapid testing in a community setting,” he says.

One of the things that excited him most about the conference was learning about new prevention developments.

“It was very useful to hear more about PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) where a person who is HIV negative may take antiretrovirals in order to protect themselves from becoming HIV positive. We are keen that trials of PrEP happen in Australia, so we can work out how it should be used and who it would be most useful for.”

Despite the new research and treatment options, Dixon says that high HIV rates are found in gay men because of the negative impact of restrictive laws and cultures. He believes this can all be changed by non-clinical treatments.

“The answer to HIV lies as much in human rights and equality as it does in vaccines or treatments,” he says.

With the situation in the worst HIV affected nations getting better each day, it may only be a matter of time before we see an AIDS free world.

“We know what to do and now we have to work out how to do it and how to make it sustainable,” Professor Lewin says.

Even in the worst effected nation we are starting to hear some great success stories. Though 80 percent of people living with AIDS are located in Africa, the number of new infections has been reduced by 20 percent and the number of people on treatment has increased. With this kind of news coming from the worst affected country, it would seem we are at the very least, heading in the right direction.

World AIDS Conference 2014 will be held in Melbourne. For more information:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Queer lives on TV

Packed with a talented cast and recognised for what could be the perfect mix of comedy and drama, the UK television series Lip Service came onto the scene after The L Word left it and has filled the void in many lesbians’ lives. The co-creator Harriet Braun talks to Rachel Barnes about making the series, the difficulty of living up to fans’ expectations, and the show’s uncertain future.

How did it feel to know that you had a lot of the LGBTQ community eagerly waiting for the show and how does it feel to still have the same energy from the show’s fans today?

I think when we were actually making the show, I had to put those expectations out of my mind or I might never have written anything. But then when we were approaching the first episode airing, it did suddenly hit me, and I got very nervous. So I was delighted when so many of the LGBTQ community embraced the show. It’s a wonderful feeling as a writer, to realise you’ve created characters and stories that so many people engage with, and that they’re enduring in peoples’ imaginations.

Is it true that the BBC came to you and asked you to create a UK-based lesbian drama and if so why did they choose you to take on the task?

My first ever film script had lesbian characters in it, and years ago I co-created a series called Attachments that had a lead lesbian character. I was actually asked to do the show by Derek Wax, an executive producer at Kudos, the company who make Lip Service. He’d seen some of my work and realised it was something that might interest me. He’d been talking to Anne Mensah at BBC Scotland, who was also keen on doing a project along those lines. At that time The L Word was just finishing. I was a bit concerned about following in the footsteps of a show virtually every lesbian had seen. I chewed it over for a while and then I thought - why not? There are countless dramas with groups of straight characters, so why not another lesbian show? I also knew this would be set in the UK and come from my imagination, so it was bound to be different. Ultimately it was too good an opportunity to miss out on.

How did you find the cast? Was it a hard process finding people to fill the roles you had in your head?

It was a fairly lengthy process. We were keen to cast people who weren’t already household names, and we auditioned a lot of people for the first series. So yes, it’s a hard process in that it can take a while, but when the right person turns up they tend to really stand out. It pays not be too invested in exactly what a character should be like, because sometimes you realise what you imagined you wanted doesn’t work as well as a different interpretation.

It is almost inevitable for this to happen but how does it feel to be compared to The L Word? Was it a show you were inspired by, or something you wanted to be distanced from?

The L Word paved the way and I was definitely inspired by how real and felt the lesbian relationships depicted were. That blew me away. I always hoped that the two shows could co-exist. That people could enjoy both shows, and that Lip Service would be judged on its own merits, in the same way loads of straight audience members enjoy different dramas with straight characters.

With season one having a good reception, were you nervous about releasing season two or was it a relief to get it out there?

I’d got most of my nerves out the way the first time round, so I was actually much more relaxed this time. I realised that there’s no point in worrying, you can only do your best and then hope it chimes with the audience.

Looking back on the show and after hearing fans’ reactions to the show, is there anything you would go back and change? Any characters you would have make different choices?

I think to be a good writer/producer, you need to listen to your audience and look at what worked well and what worked less well, both in your eyes and in theirs. That said, I try not to dwell on the notion of changing what’s already happened, I tend to use the criticism positively to move forward and incorporate what I’ve learnt in future work.

Is there going to be a third season? If so, is there any inside information you can give us? And if not, is there any chance of a concluding movie or web series in the future?

Understandably people are really keen to know if there’s going to be a third season, but I’m afraid I just don’t know. We’re waiting for the BBC to tell us. Until we know about that I don’t think we can really think about alternative plans.

Finally, if you could date one of the girls in real life who would it be?

All of the characters have a bit of me in them, so I don’t think I’d date any of them as it would be like going out with myself!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Bamboos

LANCE FERGUSON, Leader of THE BAMBOOS, talks to RACHEL BARNES about breaking free from the restraints of genre pigeonholing.

11 years have passed since Lance Ferguson formed The Bamboos, with no idea at the time that a decade later the band would be receiving the level of recognition it currently enjoys. Sick of just being a member of everyone else’s band, Ferguson decided to take the reins, and under Ferguson’s leadership, The Bamboos have become an extension of his body – evolving and growing as he does.

“Things have developed organically along the way and certainly 11 years ago I was with three of my good friends who happened to be great musicians and we were thinking ‘let’s put a band together’. The music was so different and the line-up of the band was so different that I must say that I didn’t have any idea that we’d even still be together at this point,” Ferguson laughs, “but I’m glad we are.”

Though the band was heavily influenced in its early years by the funk of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, with each album their music steps more into its own. “The music that we make has changed so much,” Ferguson says. “Our roots are still coming from that, area but I have been very conscious of trying to break out of The Bamboos being stuck in any sort of genre-based thing.”

This is especially true of the band’s latest release, Medicine Man, which is filled with all the colour of their funk roots and so much more besides. Ferguson spent two-thirds of 2011 writing and producing the album and you can definitely hear that in the result. “My main motivation is to make each album not only better, but also really different ,so I think we’ve achieved that,” he says. The album contains collaborations with the likes of Tim Rogers, Megan Washington and Daniel Merriweather, who each compliment Ferguson as if they had been working together for years, despite some of the writing being finished in the studio. “It forces you to make decisions very quick,” Ferguson laughs.

If you’re lucky, you may get to hear some of these collaborations live. “My management reckon that I can’t really speak about that because it’s meant to be secret,” he laughs, “but I can confirm that there will be some very special guests on certain shows in the tour.”

The now 10-strong line-up had already been playing a few of the new songs live prior to Medicine Man’s release, but they are yet to play them to people now familiar with the new record. Ferguson is excited to finally see the reaction to them. “When we made the record it definitely wasn’t a case of the band being fully set up live and playing in the room together. It was very much a produced wall of sound with many layers,” he says. “We don’t necessarily try and replicate that live, it’s a bit rawer and it’s slightly more stripped down.”

The Bamboos will be taking their tour over to Europe in September and Ferguson isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon. “As long as I can feel inspired about the project I will never stop making Bamboos records. Unless I’m struck by lightning of something.”

THE BAMBOOS play Byron’s Great Northern on Thursday Jun 28, the Coolum Civic Centre on Friday Jun 29 and The Hi-Fi on Saturday Jun 30. MEDICINE MAN is out now through

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sui Zhen

BECKY FREEMAN talks to RACHEL BARNES about her solo project SUI ZHEN and the ups and downs of being an independent artist.

Sui Zen is the Chinese middle name of Becky Freeman and the stage name for her intimate experimental folk solo project. Freeman started performing in 2003 but has been into music ever since high school. “I just kind of started playing because my brother was in a lot of bands so I would just open for them. That was almost a decade ago, which seems kind of crazy,” Freeman laughs.

These days Freeman has been focusing on finding her own sound and getting it out to the public. Despite the release of her first self-titled EP in 2007, being accepted to the Red Bull Music Academy in 2010 was the major turning point of her career. “It helped me find my own sound more so in the sense that it helped me to realised what was sound was up against completely different other people,” Freeman says. “It inspired me to keep doing what I was doing and keep progressing and experimenting rather than looking to other people too much.”

The academy did come at a cost after it forced Freeman to put her almost finished album on the back-burner. But after a few failed independent label negotiations, an unexpectedly long vacation to visit family all over the world, and some major life changes, Freeman is finally ready to send her new album Two Seas out into the world. “I think it’s one thing to be able to write music but it’s another thing to want to put it out and get really excited about it,” she says. “Music is so simple when it’s just an activity, but when you actively try to be a part of the music industry it becomes all sorts of complicated, so getting the motivation to do that is kind of difficult.”

As with any independent artist, Freeman sometimes feels as if she is pouring her money down a well, but she believes it is worth it when she gets to connect directly with her listeners. “I think people understand what’s involved when you’re doing it independently so you’ve got a bit of respect already, regardless of what your music sounds like, just for finishing a projected and putting it out there,” she says.

It looks like Freeman will be playing a lot of actual music in the future. Fox & Sui is a side project that she has underway with Andras Fox, who she met at the Red Bull Academy. Freeman is also working on more solo material and is trying hard to find a way to keep her music sounding full without the backing of a band.

She hopes to gain the backing of an indie label soon so she can have more of the fun and less of the organizational hassles. “I’d love to find a label for my Sui Zhen releases but it’s not something that you can really force,” she says.

Still working out the kinks of her national tour, Freeman says she would love touring as much as she loves writing her album if she was only able to tour more comfortably. With the logistical nightmare of organising gigs and places to stay set to continue, Freeman just wants to hit the stage: “I can’t wait to be actually performing the set, you know, like playing the actual music.”

Catch SUI ZHEN (with full band) at Black Bear Lodge on Wednesday Jun 6 with special guests Fanny Lumsden and Epithets. TWO SEAS is out now.

Monday, May 21, 2012


One of America’s best dance crews,JABBAWOCKEEZ, have taken up residency on the Gold Coast. Crew member BEN CHUNG tells RACHEL BARNES about the group’s stage show MÜS.I.C and their partnership with Jupiters Hotel and Casino.

Jabbawockeez began as a group of friends who wanted to help each other grow and progress as dancers. Their trademark masks, gloves, and hats have been a part of the crew since the very beginning and were put in place to force the audience to look at the group as a whole and not focus on individual talent or skill. Crew member Ben Chung was in the audience at the group’s first ever performance and says that he had his mind blown. “I was immediately a fan,” Chung says, “but later I found out that the guys that were in the crew were guys that I knew that were also on other teams,” Chung was made an official member of the crew in 2007 after a top secret initiation.

Despite their roots labeling them as a hip hop crew, the group prides themselves on being innovative and are inspired by all styles of dance and martial arts. “People say that Jabbawockeez, through the course of the years, have created our own style,” Chung explains. “They call it the Jabbawockee style, and that was never really our intention but it just kind of happened like that because our minds like to explore and we don’t like to limit ourselves to think inside the box,” he says.

The tight-knit Jabbawockeez only began receiving mainstream recognition after they won the first season of America’s Best Dance Crew in 2008. Though they were skeptical about trying out for the show, the group decided to do it in honour of their fallen member, Gary Kendall, who was adamant about trying out for the show but passed away just months before the first taping. “We did it out of respect for him, even though we didn’t want to go forward with it, we were like ‘we have to for Gary’ and we stuck it through, and lo and behold…” Chung says. “We didn’t know that we were going to win the thing.”

The crew has been a sought-after act ever since ABDC, allowing them to land a dream gig – a residency at Las Vegas casino Monte Carlo. “A Vegas show was something that we always dreamed of and talked about just kind of like a pie in the sky kind of dream,” he says. Still unable to believe their dreams have come true, the boys feel very blessed to have continued building their success via a partnership with Jupiters Hotel and Casino.

The 20 million dollar refurbishment of the Jupiters theatre at the casino is immaculate and the new surroundings have the Jabbawockeez looking forward to being a part of the new entertainment program. Despite the great reception they’ve had so far from Australian audiences, the group isn’t used to such a low level of recognition. “It’s really humbling to know that a lot of people out here have never even heard of us before,” Chung says. “They don’t even know what a Jabbawockee is. It’s a challenge and it gives us an opportunity to feel brand new at it again.”

The crew is showcasing their Vegas show MÜS.I.C with a few tweaks here and there due to a difference in stage designs and some new music. “The cool thing about our show is that there is a big portion of the show that has a freestyle element to it, so no two shows are ever going to be exactly the same and I think that’s something that we pride ourselves on, that our show is always changing everyday,” Chung says.

And if it’s your dream to dance alongside these amazing performers, you might just be in luck, if you can stick out the initiation process that is. Though there is no audition process for the crew itself, Chung says that they try to preserve the crew mentality by keeping the group as an exclusive group of friends. “There is a process of how to get into the crew and it’s kind of this top secret code that we all follow, Chung reveals. “Let’s just say that there isn’t necessarily a hazing but there is a top secret society type of way to get initiated into the crew.

“If we find any worthy candidates we might have to let them in on our little secret society but we will have to keep that under wraps for now,” Chung laughs.

But if a more intimate style of dance is what you are hoping for, and if you can recognize the boy’s without their masks on, the group isn’t planning on holding back during their stay in Australia. “There are single members in the crew and everyone is very open-minded,” Chung laughs.

“Oi, Oi, Oi,” fellow crew member, Joe Larot shouts enthusiastically in the background.

You can catch the JABBAWOCKEEZ at Jupiters Hotel and Casino from now through to Thursday Aug 16. Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster. Check out for more information.

Monday, May 7, 2012


MUTEMATH frontman PAUL MEANYtalks to RACHEL BARNES about life after their Grammy nomination and living up to expectations.

What started as an electronic experiment has turned into a global phenomenon as Mutemath sell out tours globally. Now on their way to Australia for the first time, the New Orleans band are ready to prove that they’re worth the packed venues they will be playing to.

Founded in 2003, Mutemath started out as a side-project for Paul Meany and drummer Darren King. “I just knew when I first met Darren that I wanted to make music with that guy,” Meany says. The two were unsure of what exactly their partnership was going to turn into, but before they knew it they had gone from writing a few songs to putting out an EP and becoming a four-piece band. “We started slowly evolving into this hybrid rock band that we’ve become.”

Despite a slight change in line-up that Meany describes as, “evolutionary survival of the fittest”, the band’s latest release, Odd Soul, is their most collaborative work to date. Meany, King, and their bassist/guitar-player Mitchell-Cardenas, all had a hand in some aspect of the album. “Darren had always been the music guy and I was more the lyric/vocal guy and I think we started blurring those lines a bit more on this record just for fun and we really had a good time with it,” Meany says. “At the end of the day though I’m still usually having to be left in a room by myself to try to finish up lyrics and sing vocals and whatever, but it was certainly more collaborative on this record than it has been in the past and we enjoyed that.”

The band is proud of their latest work and thinks it lends itself perfectly to live shows. “We consciously went into this record thinking about creating something that’s stage ready and it’s going to be tailor made for the four guys in our band, although we didn’t know who that fourth guy was going to be at the time, we just figured he was going to be good,” Meany laughs. With their fourth member – guitarist Todd Gummerman – in hand, Mutemath have been continuing to prove that they are worth the recognition received since their Grammy nomination in 2007.

While the band’s live shows started off much quieter and introverted, they were quickly forced to fight for the audience’s attention and as a result have become very energetic while on stage. “I think just that natural necessity kind of forced us to amp things up and we enjoyed that,” Meany says.

Meany affirms that fans should expect no different at the band’s Australian shows and that they should get ready for a good time. “That’s really all we want,” he says. “We really hope to entertain whoever shows up and is kind enough to give us their time and check out what we’re doing.”

Mutemath will be playing a round of festivals during their time in our country, but Meany says that their sideshows are the ones to catch because they have to trim down their sets too much for festival gigs.

MUTEMATH play Groovin The Moo in Townsville on Sunday May 6, then a sold-out show at The Zoo on Thursday May 10. ODD SOUL is out now.

Monday, April 30, 2012


RÜFÜS co-founder JON GEORGE talks to RACHEL BARNES about trying to hold onto their DIY mantra while gaining more and more recognition.

Rüfüs have been going from strength to strength as both local and global recognition of their music continues to grow since the launch of their debut self-titled EP in 2011. With their second self-titled ‘blue’ EP recently released, the indie-dance outfit have hit the road with their This Summer Tour and are planning to further their accomplishments.

Despite the band’s successes, George didn’t always want to get into the music business. “I was thinking about a bigger picture or something that’s more typical like the doctor-lawyer route that my parents wanted me to go down. I suppose when I left school I realised I could do anything,” George says. And lucky he did. After pursuing a career as a DJ, George decided to take on a sound engineering degree and quickly found himself wanting to make music. While George was in Byron finishing his degree he met his brother’s best mate, Tyrone Lindqvist, and the two quickly became inseparable. “It worked really well,” George says. “I suppose the best thing was the workflow, it was just super easy, and we realized we had our own sort of sound pretty quickly and that we could give it all a shot.”

After they finished their first EP the boys locked in their drummer, James Hunt, so they would be able to reproduce their music live. Rüfüs have been working non-stop since and are finding themselves booking bigger and better gigs and even gaining some international airtime. “We’ve had some pretty bizarre phone calls from people travelling overseas and being at a house party and hearing one of our songs,” George says. “It’s an awesome feeling but it’s really surreal.”

The band has been rehearsing for their summer tour for months and will be showcasing all the songs off the blue EP. “We are super excited to play an action-packed set, as far as we’re concerned it just doesn’t stop. I’m just pretty pumped to get sweaty and get it out,” he laughs.

As the band’s following grows bigger, the amount of work to do increases. Although they were once a band set on a DIY style, the boys have had to reach out for assistance for the first time. This EP is the first Rüfüs release to hit record stores with the help of Gigpiglet Recordings and Inertia, and the added exposure has forced the band to have more and more people working behind the scenes. “We still have a massive part in everything that happens with the band and that has happened right from the get-go,” George tells, “so this time around we’ve got our hand in every process … It’s a massive workload so we’ve got a good team behind us.”

It’s fortunate they have the support, as Rüfüs are planning to release a “substantial amount of work” by the end of this year and hope to tour overseas as soon as they find the time.

RÜFÜS play The Loft (Gold Coast) on Friday May 4 and Alhambra on Saturday May 5, supported by Polographia. The RÜFÜS (blue) EP is out now through Gigpiglet/Inertia.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Supanova 2012

GCCEC – Fri Apr 20-Sun Apr 22

When you arrive at an event to be greeted by a weapons check-in area, you know that you’re in for one heck of a weekend. From the most intricate cosplay outfits (including those that barely cover anything at all) through to comic book signings, card games and movie memorabilia, the first Gold Coast Supanova is well-equipped to cater for every aspect of fandom.

It’s standing room only for most of the weekend in the exhibitors area as dedicated fans raid every inch of the vendor stalls hoping to find the perfect wand, comic, figurine, replica weapon, or that set of dice they have been saving for. If you’re not spending $350 on a replica World Of Warcraft Frostmourne blade, perhaps you’re watching an idol speak or waiting in line to get their autograph. And when it comes to superstars, Supanova has quite the range.

Peter Facinelli is one of the headlining actors at the event, much to the delight of Twihards everywhere. The perpetually 20-something Dr. Carlisle Cullen looks less pale in person, but still ravishing enough to make some girls squeal with excitement; although to be honest, most of the squealing is coming from the Weasley corner. Oliver and James Phelps’ autograph line never quite seems to diminish as wizards, witches, mudbloods and muggles alike put aside their differences and become wildly excited about the chance of seeing the Weasley twins in person. Elsewhere, ‘Geek all-star’ Wil Wheaton lives up to his title and is definitely the right pick for an expo seminar. Having featured in shows like The Big Bang Theory, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Guild, he’s also a lifelong gamer and seems to really connect with the crowd that is gathered. Bullied most of his teenage years, Wheaton leaves the audience with some wise words of wisdom: “Be kind, be honest, work hard, and always be awesome.”

With cosplay competitions, live wrestling matches, Rockstar Rock Band performances, anime showings, and so much more, the proud geeks of the Gold Coast are all going home with smiles on their faces, and possibly a new suit of Boba Fett armour.


SUPANOVA will be back at the RNA Showgrounds in Brisbane later this year, from Nov 9–11.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Exploited

WATTIE BUCHAN, frontman for Scots punks THE EXPLOITED, talks toRACHEL BARNES about evolving while still holding strong to his roots.

With far more line-up changes than albums, The Exploited have seen their fair share of difficulties over the years. For some, it may come as mystifying as to how the band is still together, with incidents and line-up changes littering their career, but their longevity is more understandable when you listen to their music or see them live. The Exploited simply epitomise punk rock.

Since the band’s humble beginnings in Scotland in 1980, their lead vocalist and founder Wattie Buchan has used the band to vent his growing frustrations. “Back in the ‘80s there was lots of poverty over here, and punk music gave people a voice to get the anger out. So I started a band,” Buchan says with a laugh.

Success didn’t come easy for the band however, a lack of publicity forcing them to survive by gigging constantly. However, what seemed to be a hindrance ended up helping The Exploited gain a massive following of local hardcore fans. “We’ll still get the same people who followed us from the beginning coming to the shows. The only difference is that sometimes they bring their kids,” Buchan says.

This new generation of fans has also inspired new music from the band. Staying true to their punk rock roots, The Exploited’s newer songs are arguably some of their best yet. “The new stuff goes totally massive, that’s why we get so many 14 or 13 year-olds coming to our shows. The last album did really well.”

Even though the band may be a little calmer now (they haven’t been banned from any countries lately), they are still just as passionate about their political and social beliefs as ever. “I’m Scottish, but we’re controlled by the English government. That’s why we’re here, explains Buchan, “and that’s what we’ve felt since the beginning and that’s part of why I keep The Exploited going. It’s just anger.”

The Exploited are bringing this anger to Australia for only the second time in over 30 years and Buchan is excited to get his tourist on. “If we get past the customs again, a second time, we’re looking forward to it,” he laughs. Despite their last tour through our country being anything but spectacular, playing in small clubs with few fans, they are just happy to play.

Buchan says fans who make it to their gigs can expect to see a “real punk band” that has become one of the best. Although it seems they won’t be up to their usual antics until later on in the tour as they are hoping not to get into too much trouble before the trip is done. “We’d like to finish the tour first, and then you can deport us,” he chuckles.

Despite a lawsuit hanging over their last four albums, triggered when Buchan found out his producer and friend of 20 years had tried to release a bootleg album without telling the band, The Exploited are planning another album and already have seven or eight songs waiting to go. With any luck Australian fans will get to hear the new songs soon.

THE EXPLOITED play The Hi-Fi on Thursday Apr 26 supported by Chainsaw Hookers and The Scam.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dead Meadow

DEAD MEADOW frontman JASON SIMON tells RACHEL BARNES that while they’ve regained a founding member of the group, time has continued to change both how the band writes and how they sound.

Formed in 1998, Dead Meadow was actually created out of tragedy, with each of the original members coming into the project from various dead punk and post-punk style bands. “I feel like we just came together and figured out what we were meant to be playing, what kind of sound, and what not,” Jason Simon explains.

With each member inspired by artists like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix since they were kids, it’s no wonder Dead Meadow started playing the style of music that they did. In the band’s early days the music was centred around the use of “far out imagery” that allowed them to distance themselves from each song’s true meaning. “I think sometimes using imagery like that makes it easier to talk about more direct things in a way,” he says.

However, Dead Meadow has slowly been moving towards a more confronting style of music. “I think over the years there’s definitely a lot more direct style of songwriting that has emerged, especially on later records,” he says. Although there has been no drastic change to the band over its lifetime, it only takes a comparison between the band’s first album to the new stuff they’re cranking out live right now to see just how far the boys have come. Simon hopes that the fans are enjoying their progression in writing. “Despite everything, I think all the way through we definitely have a sound that is ‘Dead Meadow’.”

This slow change was definitely assisted by the coming, going, and coming again of their original drummer Mark Laughlin. After he left the band in 2002 to become a lawyer, Dead Meadow found a replacement and pushed forward. However, when their latest addition decided it was his turn to move on, Laughlin was simply in the right place at the right time. With the news that Laughlin was moving back to New York and looking to get back into music full time, it simply took what was supposed to be a one-off show to solidify their decision. “We just had a lot of fun, it just felt good playing,” Simon says.

The band has a new record half recorded and a bunch of new songs that they are ready to try out while on tour Down Under. “I feel that over the last year and a half that Mark has been playing the music has really started developing in a new way.” Simon says that people who come out to their shows will definitely be able to see the bands new direction.

Their Australian tour sees the boys with just one day off which they are hoping to fill with some of our most clichéd tourist attractions. “I think I’ve seen our drummer write emails to our promoter various times, all he wants to do is hug a koala. Every time I come to Australia that’s what we want to do. We still need to make it happen,” Simon laughs.

Dead Meadow’s latest album is expected to be released either mid to late 2012, but if you can’t wait that long to escape from the troubles of the day to day, Simon says an immersion in their psychedelic music at a live show will do the trick.

DEAD MEADOW play The Zoo on Thursday Apr 5 with special guests Pink Mountaintops.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Endless Boogie

ENDLESS BOOGIE frontman PAUL MAJOR talks to RACHEL BARNESabout the band’s slow crawl to recognition and the surrealism of their recent accolades.

The New York rock scene’s best kept secret have been slowly but surely creeping out of anonymity. Endless Boogie have been jamming since 1997 when the boys got together after being united by a love of ‘60s and ‘70s hard rock. The group decided to set aside one night a week where they could just jam, drink, and have a good time. However, it seems that fate had other ideas. With no intention of ever playing live, the boys started to get begged to hit the stage after word got out about their unique jams. “It turned into a band by people twisting our arms to actually play a live show because we never had any plans except to have some fun,” laughs frontman Paul Major.

Since their first live show in 2001 the band have been progressing through word of mouth alone, and have met with significant success despite their ‘70s-style ‘live in the moment’ attitude. “At our sort of slow Endless Boogie pace over the last 10 years-plus, it just sort of moved up bit by bit and we’re playing more now than ever and we’re having a great time,” Major says.

Each member has had previous experience in bands, but none of their separate projects ever really hit it big. Major says he loves the irony that the one project they never had intentions of turning into a career has become their biggest success. “Of course it makes sense, because the other bands I was in back in the day like The Sorcerers and that were the ones where I was trying to be successful,” he laughs. “But I think that if there is a key to our thing and why we get people souped up and have an appeal is because we don’t have that ambition. We mainly just get up on the stage and do what we do.”

And that’s exactly how Endless Boogie come across live. Hitting the stage without a single thought about rock moves or even a set-list, the boys simply try to play in the moment and recreate the jams that happen in their rehearsal space. With Endless Boogie hitting Australia for the first time soon, Major says this tour will be no exception to the band’s usual vibe. True to the band’s loose philosophy, they have no plans for their shows, but they hope that they can get the Aussie public into their music and filling their gigs with the right energy. “It’s awesome when everything in the room is going into orbit and it really is a situation of us and the people that we’re playing for riding the same wave,” he says.

Though the band haven’t really put much thought into their future, they will continue to play live as long as people want to hear them. “It amazes me and makes me feel good that people get off on it that way, ‘cause that’s the way I get off on it,” he says. With new listeners still discovering the Endless Boogie music machine, it seems one thing is for certain: this jam isn’t ending anytime soon.

ENDLESS BOOGIE play the Jubilee Hotel on Thursday Mar 8. and their Facebook page for more.

Monday, February 6, 2012


FLANNELETTE frontman MATT CAMPBELL talks to RACHEL BARNESabout an emotional return to the stage after surviving a car crash that crippled his band.

Just hours after winning the Loudfest competition at Beenleigh Tavern in May last year, Brisbane band Flannelette succumbed to a tragic car crash that decimated the four-piece. Bandmates Tyler Gunn and Mark Fisher and a female friend were lost in the accident when a truck hit their tour van as Matt Campbell pulled into the stopping lane because of engine difficulties. Along with the tragic loss of life, all of the band’s equipment was destroyed in the crash, leaving Campbell and Gordon Paterson (the band’s drummer – who wasn’t in the van at the time of the crash) devastated. With another two close friends passing away within a fortnight of the crash, Campbell attended five funerals in just a few weeks, and despite trying to push on, the depression hit him hard. After trying to return to normal life back at university, he knew there was only one thing that would help him. “I used the music to get me back on track,” Campbell says. “As soon as it happened, Gordo and I just said to each other ‘there’s no way we can just let this go just because of that’. There’s even more reason to play now.”

The boys’ passion for music stayed strong as they fought to get their band back on its feet. After pushing for donations of musical equipment and fundraising to replace all the gear they had lost, they were then left with the extremely difficult task of rebuilding their band. Campbell and Paterson went to work and held extensive auditions to try to fill the huge holes that their mates had left. They soon found two new members, Dave Hardy (bass) and Shaun Balcher (guitar), who instantly connected with the band and had the exact chemistry that the boys were hoping for. With no time to waste, the new recruits were thrown straight into the mix and given just six weeks to learn the all of the band’s songs before they hit the stage for Flannelette’s anticipated comeback concert.

The emotional return is set to take place at The Hi-Fi, which Campbell says is very fitting as the band played there a few times with their old members. The boys are excited to be headlining the night and are planning on playing a long set so they can squeeze in as many songs as possible. The early Flannelette live shows were always high energy and Campbell intends their comeback to be no exception. Crowd interaction and a vigorous performance are key elements for the band, as they want to be more than just the music. “It’s full-fledged entertainment. It’s not just watching a band,” Campbell says. “We’ve got that old school rock sound from the ‘90s, but it’s just got this whole fresh new approach to it.”

Campbell is well and truly on the road to recovery, and though he’s still got a long way to go, he says he is more passionate about music than ever. “There’s not one percent of music that has left my body since the accident.”

FLANNELETTE play The Hi-Fi on Saturday Feb 11, supported by Black Mustang, Chasing Sun and The

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Smoking Hearts

THE SMOKING HEARTS’ new voiceBEN MILLS talks to Rachel Barnesabout the band’s fight for survival after their lead singer abandoned them.

After the departure of their original lead singer Rod Lethal, UK punks The Smoking Hearts refused to let their fire die out. The boys never actually got an explanation from Lethal as to why he left and have since taken it into their own hands to make a few up for him. For example – despite his sudden exodus, the band all wish him well with his new peacock farm. The peacock-less Smoking Hearts have pushed on without Lethal and have never felt stronger. Their new lead singer Ben Mills says that the change has only been good for the band, and that Lethal’s abandonment actually empowered them. “It got better, that’s for sure,” Mills laughs. “I think as a band we gelled so well and we all came together. We’re a unit, we’re a team, and it feels good.”

Reinforced and ready, The Smoking Hearts are getting set to release their much-anticipated second album, Victory! When Lethal departed, the band still had songs in their heads that they refused to let go of, so the album was born out of pure stubbornness. With only one song finished in full when Mills joined, the boys came together to produce the band’s best work yet. “A lot of hard work went into this album and a lot of tears have been shed over the fact that it might never have happened,” Mills says. “I think we all agree that we have done something brilliant here and we’re so proud of what we have done and we hope everyone else is proud too.”

Ready to share their new sound and new songs with the world, the boys are coming to Australia to play Soundwave and could not be more excited. Calvin Roffey is the only member to ever visit our shores, and needless to say the rest of the band is eager to set foot in the southern hemisphere. “I’m pre-tanning,” Mills jokes. “I can’t wait, it’s in my nature, I’m from Essex,” he says, sounding like a child at Christmas. “I might actually get to hug a Koala,” he laughs, “but I’ve already decided that I want to get a tattoo of a kangaroo with boxing gloves on while I’m in Australia ... I just need to find someone to do it.”

Despite the thrill of a new tattoo, Mills is more excited to hit the stage and show Australia just what The Smoking Hearts have been up to. Having to keep their notorious guitar smashing to a minimum due to a lack of access to new equipment while playing Soundwave, the boys promise their shows will still be just as exciting. “Audience participation is definitely something we like to get involved in, we like everyone to be singing along, clapping along, jumping up and down, and having a good time, and if you don’t look like you’re having a good time we will make you have a good time,” he laughs.

The band’s world domination continues past Australia as they are set to hit the U.S straight after our summer. Though they aren’t down here for very long, don’t worry, they’ll be back – Mills promises he won’t be starting a peacock farm of his own anytime soon.

THE SMOKING HEARTS play the sold out Soundwave Festival at the RNA Showgrounds on Saturday Feb 25. VICTORY! is out Feb 17 through 3Wise/Sony. See for more.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Stillsons

Melbourne based band THE STILLSONS are braving the heat and starting 2012 off with what they’ve dubbed the Mammoth Summer Tour. Singer, songwriter, percussionist, and all round nice girl CAT CANTERI talks to RACHEL BARNES about the band’s eclectic and sometimes surprising style.

With their latest album Earnest being named album of the week by radio stations and publications all over the place, The Stillsons unique, non-genre-specific approach to music is getting them some well deserved attention. From bankruptcy scares that threatened to shut the band down through to line up changes that massively impacted their sound, they have been through it all. Now touring as a four-piece, The Stillsons are stronger than ever with a sound that seems to have become even more eclectic. Stepping away from the indie folk idiom of their first album Circus, The Stillsons second effort, Earnest, moves towards a more roots-country-blues base. The band’s plethora of personal influences have helped them in this sonic evolution. “We all listen really widely to lots of different kinds of music, so I think the music just comes out the way it comes out. We don’t sort of intend for any particular genre at any time,” Canteri says.

With the album is now out and getting great reviews, The Stillsons are very far from being still. The band have spent the lead up to their tour in Melbourne preparing for a jam-packed summer by rehearsing in 40 degree heat without air-conditioning. “It’s pretty sticky and smelly, but you gotta do what you gotta do,” Canteri laughs.

The band tour with a fourth member, bassist Edmondo Ammendola, leaving Canteri outnumbered three to one in the gender stakes while on the road. Canteri doesn’t seem fazed by being the only girl on tour, and only realises her plight when there is another female close by. “When there’s another woman around it’s like, ‘Oh, this is what it’s like to talk to a woman, I’ve almost forgotten what it was like,’” she laughs.

Girls or no girls, Canteri says she appreciates every aspect of being in the band and especially loves touring because she is able to interact with different audiences and fans each night. “I suppose at the end of the day it’s really just about connecting with people (and) I really enjoy that process.”

The Mammoth Summer tour is one full-on way to kick off the new year, but the band are eager to play gigs all over the east coast at the peak of summer. “We’re all pumped for it,” Canteri enthuses. “We’re all really excited and really pumped to get out on the road and play some good shows and meet some new people.” Fans can expect a load of new material at the shows, ranging from funky and up-tempo beats to a taste of rock & roll. “There’s some really fresh stuff that we’re really excited to pump out and get some people dancing.”

Despite having so much new material in the bank, The Stillsons are taking their time to showcase their scope on tour and don’t plan on rushing into a new album. “We’re just going to take it easy and see how it goes. I think we’re all going to know when it’s the right time to record,” Canteri says. “Before you know it we’ll probably be in the studio again,” she laughs.

THE STILLSONS play Byron’s beach Hotel on Wednesday Jan 18; The Royal Mail Hotel, Ipswich, on Saturday Jan 21; Earth Sun Markets, Brisbane, on Sunday Jan 22 (morning); The Cave, Nobby Beach, on Monday Jan 23; and The Palmy Café, Gold Coast, on Tuesday Jan 24. They also play two secret shows – one in Byron on Thursday Jan 19 and one in Brisbane on Thursday Jan 26; details EARNEST is out