Adele Pickvance of Brisbane’s Adele And The Chandeliers: “My bass guitar gives me superpowers…”

Photo courtesy of Adele; handmade mixed-media art by B.

Meanjin/Brisbane trio Adele & The Chandeliers play jubilant pop with post-punk energy, full of charm, playfulness and sparkle. Before forming the group, vocalist-bassist Adele Pickvance was a member of The Go-Betweens plus solo work with Robert Forster & Grant McLennan, and did multiple albums with The Dave Graney Show. Gimmie interviewed Adele about moving to Brisbane from the UK as a teen, beginnings as a musician, a love of Pete Shelley, the band’s debut LP First Date and of what the future holds.

You first moved to Brisbane from Bury in Lancashire as a teenager; what were your first impressions of Brisbane? What was the music scene like? Was it an exciting time for you?

ADELE PICKVANCE: I was 15. The smells of Brisbane’s flora and the bugs and creatures… and the heat and humidity really threw me. There were a lot of changes to get used to. My school uniform for one… suddenly I could, and everyone else could, see my white hairy legs. They seemed to glow in the sunlight. My parents promised me a pony in our back garden so I could ride to school, but it ended up being a bicycle to ride to Sandgate High and that was bloody hard work as we lived at the top of a hill.

 I think we all watched too much Skippy The Bush Kangaroo as prep for immigration.

In England, I was listening to music by Depeche Mode, Visage Fun Boy 3, etc and anything on Top Of The Pops and sometimes The Old Grey Whistle Test if I stayed up late enough. My world was BBC radio and TV. The only experience of Aussie music I had was Men At Work. At the time, I had heard of The Go Betweens, but I thought they were a punk band from Germany, not Australia, probably because they were spending a lot of time touring there.

When we landed in Brisbane, it was Radio 10 and commercial radio again. Cold Chisel, etc… I didn’t quite get it… so I was happy to continue to listen to my old mix cassette tapes.

I know that you come from a musical family, both your father and grandfather were musicians. Early on you played violin, who or what inspired you to switch to playing bass guitar?

AP: My dad used to play in the clubs in England as organist and generally with a 3-piece band. One morning I woke up and found a Vox bass guitar on my bed, he told me it fell off the back of a truck! Bass guitar has 4 strings, like the violin, but the other way round, so I jumped onto it quickly.  When we arrived in Brisbane, I had left behind my violin teacher, the youth orchestra and my grandad, who I adored, as we would play violin duets together. There was no music at Sandgate High so the violin stayed in the case and my bass guitar became my instrument.

Can you please share with us an album that has had a really big impact on you? How did it effect you?

AP: At the time, I was soaking bass lines and had a nice set up in the Granny flat underneath the house in Brisbane with the record player and bass amp. Kissing To Be Clever by Culture Club hit me. At the time I didn’t understand my attraction to the album, I just loved it and learnt the bass parts. I’d come home from school, switch on the record player and turn on my amp and play along to it on repeat. Now on reflection, it was the gathering of different types of styles like soul, reggae, pop and calypso. Each song had the magical taste of Soho, London, which was something I was being drawn to. And of course, Boy George and his gender bending was appealing to me.

You’ve had long stints as a member of The Go-Betweens plus solo work with Robert Forster & Grant McLennan, and four albums with The Dave Graney Show; why was it finally time for you to do your own thing with your band Adele & The Chandeliers?

AP: I moved to Sydney in 2010, after playing with recording and touring Robert’s The Evangelist album, and made a record with Glenn Thompson called Carrington Street of which the two of us toured, and I suddenly then realised I wasn’t getting offered the gigs as a bass player that I used to get so frequently and easily. I moved back to Brisbane in 2017 and still the phone didn’t ring, and so thought if I wanted to continue making music and performing music, I would have to form my own band and do it myself.

How does it feel to be the person up the front singing the songs now? Is it ever scary for you? What feeling do you get from playing live?

AP: I might be in denial, but I still feel like I’m not the centre of attention. And there’s something about being a wee older and wiser. It’s never been scary… more exciting and a wee bit nervous which helps me play better. My bass guitar gives me superpowers too! It is a different headspace and I’ve had to come to terms with being the one who is responsible for the maintenance of the band/ keeping it going/ planning, etc… That’s all new to me. I love playing live, I’ve gigged since I was 17. My comfort zone is plugging the jack in to the bass, switching the amp on, testing the microphone and being on stage. It’s not the glory of being on stage, it’s the making of music that’s the thrill for me. I think the audience picks up on the energy and excitement.

One of the first things your band released was recorded during one of the group’s first ever sessions in the studio, the Buzzcocks’ song ‘Love You More’; has this song got a special significance to you? What do you appreciate about Pete Shelley’s songwriting?

AP: I was in a cover band when I was 21 called Torn Sweaters, three girls, guitar, bass and drums, and we did a version of that song. It’s a song that’s always stuck with me, it’s such a great song to play and you have to be a bit brave to sing it, you almost shout it out. When Pete Shelley had passed away, I did a really big deep dive back into Buzzcocks.

The Chandeliers’ original drummer, Ash Shanahan loved to play fast and I believe we ended up recording the song quicker than the Buzzcocks version, which I was shocked about…  as that feels really quick.

The connection I have with Buzzcocks is of course Pete Shelley. I think of him as a queer guy in a 70’s/80’s DIY punk band singing love songs that aren’t about specific genders and I really like and admire that. I like to think my songs are similar… And of course, he’s from around Manchester.

At the end of last year Adele & The Chandeliers released your debut LP First Date; where did the album title come from?

AP: Our album name comes from a band discussion with Scott Mercer and Ash Shannahan when we first started. We felt like we were on a first date of sorts with all those similar questions of: do we want to hang out together? Do you want to commit to turning up to rehearsals? Do we have a connection? And of course, when considering touring: does anyone snore?

The album’s cover photo features your parents, Bill and Alma, at Manchester United Supporters Club, Deansgate, England 1965; was this their first date? Is this why you chose it as the cover image?

AP: The older I get the more I see the nostalgia and hip coolness caught in their black and white photos. They were bohemian types. The First Date cover photo was the first photo of them together. Dad had just finished his gig with his jazz band and mum brought her girlfriend with her as she knew she wanted to chat up the pianist as she had seen him and his band play before. I love this moment where everyone is having a good time sitting on the edge of the stage, you can see there’s a sparkle happening.

How did First Date get started? Tell us a little bit about writing the record. Were many of the songs in your notebooks for a while beforehand?

AP: Two of the songs are from an early solo EP recorded at home in Sydney called My White Rabbit. I released that around 2017. The other Chandeliers’ songs were formed from riffs or chords on the guitar that I record onto my phone, and I make sure I write in my notebook any line or idea I have…. then the two meet. I record roughly into my home studio then send off to the band for us to have a crack at the next rehearsal. We then record the songs at band rehearsal, then listen back and try again next week. When I write, I try to make the songs come quickly. II don’t like to spend a lot of time overworking the words and the music. I try to maintain the initial spontaneity and the guts and vibe of a song in the final result. There’s a chance to think about keyboards and extra guitar parts after the sessions in the studio, when we get the songs home.

How does a song most often come to you?

AP: I generally start with a predicament or a thought and I write notes in my book. I come up with catchy riffs and I play them on my bass and record into my phone and then try to get the two to meet. Generally, in my bedroom. That’s where the good songs come from.

There’s a universal theme of love that runs through each track on the LP; what inspired you to write about love in its many different forms?

AP: Writing about love isn’t intentional. I used to write a lot of miserable love songs with the acoustic guitar in my 20’s and 30’s. I wasn’t miserable, it’s just what I did. As I’ve aged, I’ve turned it around with the Chandeliers to be up and pop… bright, and I guess that’s where the Chandeliers come from – light and bright. Nothing miserable there, up and fun, but I’m still thinking about the curly things about love and the wayward adventures I get myself into. I like to play with it.

Cam Smith at Incremental Records record First Date; what was one of your favourite moments from recording?

AP: Cam creates a relaxed environment in his studio and nothing is too difficult, which encourages everyone. I like to work fast. My favourite moment was when we invited Karin Bäumler to sing her response to the song German On My Mind in her native tongue of Bavarian. Ive known Karin for many years, since 1995 and it was the first time we had sang together. We planted the microphone in the middle of the room so we could both sing into it, face to face. I had no idea what Karin was responding/saying… but it sounded great and we had a ball!

What’s next for you?

AP: I’m writing in my notebook, sitting on my bed, there’s new songs in the pipeline for Adele & The Chandeliers. We’ve been gigging a little, and we’re always looking for shows.  We don’t mind if it’s in a back garden.

We’ve had a change of drummer. My brother Jonny Pickvance has joined us and he’s bringing a new energy to our songs. I feel like we’re going to make some great new work because of the familiarity Jonny and I have, even though we come from different styles of music… Scott, myself and Jonny all have a playful sense of humour. I have a feeling the next record will be even more playful, with a little more splash of old rock’n’roll.

Please check out ADELE & THE CHANDELIERS on bandcamp and adelepickvance.com.

Brisbane goth trio It’s Magnetic: “There’s usually a pretty emotive story or feel driving the songs.”

Handmade mixed-media by B.

Conjuring a heady mix of primal rhythms, atmospheric guitar and moody vocals Brisbane’s It’s Magnetic are spellbinding. This year manifested their debut self-titled release. Gimmie caught up with bassist Ben Ely, vocalist Mia Goodwin, guitarist Jamie Trevaskis and drummer Black Prizm.

How did you first discover music? 

BEN: Through my older brother listening to his Midnight Oil tapes. His excitement about the band and the first time I saw them blew me away.

JAMIE: I grew up in a tiny country town and would listen to the radio to fall asleep every night- the music was strange to me, it was mysterious.

MIA: Video Hits for me. I used to just love watching it all morning as a young girl. 

What was the first concert you went to?

BEN: Haha, Midnight Oil at Boondall Entertainment Centre. I rode there on the back of a friends motor bike. He rode like a total psycho so my adrenaline was already up when I got there. The show absolutely blew me away…

JAMIE: The Cure at The Entertainment Centre. 

MIA: It was the musical Phantom Of The Opera. Quite gothic really. 

How did It’s Magnetic get together? 

BEN: Jim put together the track ‘Leaving Is Neon‘ [it’s on the album] with Mia and he invited me up to play bass on the track… then we decided to do some more tracks and it led onto the band taking it seriously. 

Where did your band name come from? 

BEN: Jamie came up with the name and it was in context to everything just being – magnetic. 

The It’s Magnetic sound has a real 80’s goth vibe to it; is that something you’ve consciously worked to curate? Or is it just a natural progression of your interests and influences? 

BEN: I feel we are all fans of that kind of music and general vibe. I feel naturally drawn to darker sounds when I’m writing…I personally consume really a really downer style of music when I’m at home… I’m a massive Joy division, New order, Peter Hook fan, Jamie found The Cure at the age of 15, and Mia sang on the recent Twin Peaks tour so… I guess it all happened naturally…

You recorded your debut album at Jamie’s Wild Mountain Sound Studio (a tape-based studio), Mt Nebo set in a natural subtropical eucalypt forest setting; did the environment inspire your creativity/music? What was it like recording away from distractions?

BEN: Yes, it does have an alienated feel when you’re up there. We rehearse up there also. When I hit the forest-y part of the road heading up the mountain it does feel as though you are travelling through a portal of some kind. It is another world. Having that peaceful place to create is really great.

I understand that the record was recorded in a night; tell me about it. What was the first song you created? How did you feel when writing it?

BEN: The first song we wrote together as a band was ‘Heatwave‘. It all flowed very naturally. I feel all our best songs just fall out. Most of the album was done live in a few hours one Monday night. We went in with the intention of just recording ‘Heatwave‘… the second take was great… we kept it… then just kept going until most of the album was finished. We did do a couple of overdubs and mix it later. It surprised us all. 

One of our favourite tracks on the record is ‘Heatwave’; what inspired it?

BEN: I feel our band works well when there is a lot of space in the sound. If we create a sound that’s minimal then there is a lot of room to hear all the parts. I like that.

MIA: I wrote the lyrics coming into summer. That kind of oppressive Brisbane heat- you can feel it coming. And I was thinking about late nights when you can’t sleep, and the city, and small apartments, and lovers in those small apartments, hot together, uneasy together, anxious together.

Can you tell us a bit about making album closer ‘Disallowed The Past’?

MIA: It was a instrumental drum and noise guitar piece that Jamie recorded. Ben came up and put his bass part on and it just sounded like the closer for an album so that’s where it went. 

Mia, your vocals are very emotive; is there anything that you tap into to give that kind of vocal performance?

MIA: I just love to sing- and I love to sing strong- and I feed off the guys and all the emotion that is coming out of them and their instruments, and I think of the emotion behind the lyrics. There’s usually a pretty emotive story or feel driving the songs.

We saw you play live a couple of weeks ago at your album launch with Adele & the Chandeliers; how did it feel to finally get to play your album live?

BEN: Oh man… we practiced a lot for the launch and put a lot of work into setting up the stage… planned costumes etc.. so when it finally happened it was very exciting and felt really special to us. It did feel as though time flew by very quickly though.

It’s Magnetic use a drum machine, was that out of necessity or did you want that kind of sound? 

BEN: I feel it allows a lot of space for the guitars and vocals to stand out. We also love the cold hard evening hand our drummer provides. We did name our drummer to give him a human quality. His name is BLACK PRIZM.

JAMIE: It was always intentional for me for sonic reasons and I don’t really like cymbals.

What do you feel was the value of working to tape?

BEN: Tape does have a lot of character with tape hiss etc, though I feel it is very forgiving when it comes to vocal performances. Any slightly weird note doesn’t sound as obvious on tape. It’s some kind of witch craft I think…

JAMIE: I always record to tape for everybody else’s projects so it’s my most natural way to capture music and I love what it does to the sound. It does something whether you like it or not, and we like it.

There seems to be a witchy-occult-ish kind of theme to, It’s Magnetic; where does that come from?

BEN: We are all very superstitious people and have varying beliefs. Also I think Jim performs some kind of rituals before he plays. his guitar sound is not of this world, it’s from another realm… No one makes a sound like that…

Why do you feel that you work so well together?

BEN: I think we are all sensitive people who are conscious of the parts each of us play in the group. We allow space for each other. I think that’s the reason I love playing in the band so much.

What have you been listening to lately?

BEN: Danzig Sings Elvis. [its actually an amazing record], Trees Speak, Lost Animal, Gong, Spaceman 3, Crack Cloud.

JAMIE: Steve Von Till, Danzig sings Elvis, SWANS, Wet Taxis.

MIA: Chelsea Wolfe, Brendan Perry’s Songs Of Disenchantment:Music From The Greek Underground. The Blue Nile- Hats.

What’s next for It’s Magnetic?

BEN: We are about to go back into the studio on the Mountain and record a follow up album. We probably won’t do this one in one evening. We plan to take a lot more time and create a broader range of sounds. It’s very exciting…

It’s Magnetic’s debut LP is out now through Valve Records.

Brisbane dreampop shoegazers Ultra Material’s Matt Deasy: “The four of us have been working on our own gardens… we all live on main roads and it creates our own little sanctuaries.”

Original photo: courtesy of Ultra Material. Handmade mixed-media by B.

Meanjin/Brisbane dream pop shoegaze quartet Ultra Material are getting set to finally play live in support of their Ep 3 which was released in May this year. It’s both energetic and dreamy at the same time; a powerful and lovely release. Gimmie caught up with drummer Matt Deasy.  

How did you first find music?

MATT DEASY: My earliest memories of music are of listening to records on my Dad’s turntable stereo. I used to love sitting next to the player with headphones on listening to 7-inch singles. I guess it was my earliest exposure to the idea of DJ’ing as I was more taken by individual songs than listening to full length albums. I loved listening to the radio and watching The Rage Top 40 on a Saturday morning. I would attempt to tape songs from the Rage Top 40 onto my little portable cassette player, this of course resulted in a lot of shouts and breakfast table talk from family members in the background.

What was the first concert/gig you ever went to?

MD: My very first ‘live gig’ or more accurately ‘live band experience’ was on a trip to Bristol in the UK with with my Dad to when I was 14. My English cousin, (who I’d met for the very first time that trip and became the absolute coolest person in my world) took me to her boyfriend’s band rehearsal at a share house. They were a ska/skate punk band who went on to make a few waves locally and nationally. It was an inspiring first experience actually seeing how a band functions in their own environment. I also met them all afterwards and we were all both equally intrigued by each other geographically.

Who or what inspired you to make music yourself?

MD: I wanted to play drums from an early age. The only thing was that I didn’t have a drum kit, so I use to just tap on things and eventually started entertaining the other kids in my class by playing wipeout on the top of desktops or whatever other surface might create enough of a tone to get the class moving (this resulted in a lot of detention from memory). I’m not even sure how I learnt to play the wipe out, but I spent a lot of my childhood tapping out rhythms on any available surface I could find. The idea of making my own music came much later in high school when I bought an electric guitar from a friend and decided to start chipping away at that. I became fully engrossed in styles of music that were not popular with my peers at all, bands like Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and the grittier side of the Seattle scene. Then after high school finished, I started making tapes of me just playing guitar. Slowly these formed the basis for the first songs I wrote which turned out to be the foundation of my first band.

What brought Ultra Material together?

MD: Sarah and I met Nick and Zuzana at a Do the Robot show (which was our previous band).

They were fans, so of course we immediately became friends. Nick and Zuz had been writing their own music under the name Monochrome and had just started a band with fellow architect friends Jonathan and Veronica Kopinski called Sunshine State. We all instantly hit it off, playing double bills together across Brisbane for a couple of years. After Sunshine State and Do The Robot dissolved in 2012 we decided to start a new project which quickly morphed into Ultra Material.

What draws you to making a combo of shoegaze and dream pop sound-wise?

MD: I think it’s the music that comes most naturally to us. All of our previous bands had at least some elements of shoegaze and dream pop to them and once we’d started Ultra Material those kinds of sounds became the main emphasis of the band. In a lot of ways dream pop and shoegaze is a mood to us, a constant and shared feeling we have about life in general and that obviously influences our song writing process quite a lot.

Ultra Material are known for really beautiful all-encompassing live shows; how has not being able to play live over the past few months affected you?

MD: It’s been a little tough as we had to cancel our EP launch show originally scheduled in May. Since Nick and Zuz had twin bubs last year we’ve had to become a bit more selective in what we take on, so we were already looking to only play 2 or 3 times a year before the shutdown happened. Our routine over the last few years has usually been to write and record within a few months followed by a couple of shows to promote the release then have a break for a while. It’s likely we’ll continue this way, but hopefully we can make the few shows we do play really worth it.

On your latest release Ep 3 there’s a bit of a garden/flower theme via the art and songs like ‘Marigold’; what inspired this?

MD: The idea for the ep artwork came from some polaroid photos Sarah and I took on our travels through Ireland and the UK last year. Our approach was to find a wild flower garden and use the polaroid camera to create a soft-focus look to the photographs, with Nick and Zuzi providing accompanying illustrations of native flora from their home garden. The four of us have been working on our own gardens over the last few years, and it’s another thing we bond over – we all live on main roads and it creates our own little sanctuaries. I think generally nature plays a big part in our artwork, and whether it’s planting some new natives or just daydreaming in the garden, it can be quite cathartic.

Can you tell us a bit about the recording process for Ep 3? We love how you layer sound!

MD: Our last two releases we’ve recorded with Marly Luske at Alchemix Studio in West End. I think Marly is a bit of a mind reader with translating what we want into reality and is always open to ideas and experimenting. He’s also a genius and whizz when it comes to editing and mixing as we keep a pretty tight schedule when it comes to recording. Generally, we try to have all the songs down beforehand so we can come in and record everything together in one room over a couple of days, and then record vocals and overdubs throughout the mixing process to create the layered sound. With Ep 3 we actually recorded in February 2019 but didn’t get back to mix it until the end of that year, so it was an opportunity to return after some time away with fresh ears and add additional layers.

We love the extra love and care that you always put into the packaging of your physical releases! EP 3 had a handmade screen-printed gatefold jacket with bonus fold out screen printed poster with two versions a white card and kraft version of the jacket; why is it important to you to give us something special? Can you tell us about the thought behind the latest packaging?

MD: My work at No.7 print House gives me the opportunity to be thinking about and planning physical releases, sometimes months before we’ve even written and recorded the songs. We’ve always approached each release as a new art project, and factoring our budget and time frames usually decides what physical format will be best suited to that particular release. All 4 of us have some kind of design background but we are pretty democratic about everyone having a chance to have creative input into a release – it helps that we all love each other’s work. Being able to build these super deluxe packages all in house, creating accompanying artwork for inserts or fold out posters, making each release something special and different from the last one, I think it’s all a natural extension of our music.  We’d been dismissive of CDs for years in favour of vinyl or cassette, as they just seemed a more interesting physical product. But lately we’ve been getting back into CDs in the car (the only place any of us have CD players) so it was nice to change things up and with CDs being so compact and affordable it was just perfect for this release.

This year’s been a challenging year; what’s something important that you’ve learnt about creativity or making stuff in 2020?

MD: I felt some pressure to take advantage of the lockdown and subsequent quiet periods this year to focus on art, although having large amounts of downtime to work on art alone can have the opposite effect on me as far as productivity goes. I’m very much used to working within small pockets of time that become available in and around my regular work schedule. The downtime did however prove to be very handy for the actual making and construction side of art projects especially when it came to the screen printing. If we are ever to have another year or period like 2020, I only hope I’ll be better equipped to deal with the potential that comes with large amounts of downtime.

What’s something that’s really engaged you lately? What did you appreciate about it?

MD: Lately and especially during lockdown music by Roy Montgomery, Seefeel, Windy & Carl, Pink Moon by Nick Drake, Julee Cruise’s The Voice of Love, locals Mckisko and Ancient Channels’ new albums. These have all made up this year’s soundtrack and kept me company during the best and the worst of this year.

What’s next for Ultra Material? Have you been working on anything new? What can you tell us about it at this point?

MD: We have our second (and final) show this year on the 5th of December at The Cave Inn with Ancient Channels. Unfortunately, the show is only 30 capacity, so all tickets are sold but it will be a nice end to what was a really dark and insanely bizarre year. We’re also writing songs for what will most likely become our next EP, so I think that will be our main focus for the next few months.

Please check out ULTRA MATERIAL on bandcamp; on Facebook. Ep 3 is out now.

The Stress Of Leisure: ‘I’m excited for the genre of faux wave. I think this could be a thing!’

Original photo by Jackie Ryan. Hand-coloured mixed-media by B.

Last week Brisbane band The Stress Of Leisure released their exciting new album Faux Wave. Recorded in Melbourne by John Lee (who has recorded many Gimmie favs: Bananagun, Gordon Koang and Lost Animal) it captures the band’s live wild energy that lights up the dancefloor—they might just be the world’s greatest party band. Gimmie caught up with them to chat about the LP; a hot contender for our Album of the Year!

What is one of the most exciting things for you about your new album Faux Wave?

JANE (bass): I really feel we knew the songs well before we went and recorded them, so all of the performances felt strong and confident. I can listen to it now and say ‘Yeah!’ It’s all solid and great. I am excited by the impressive efforts of my bandmates, and I’m excited for interested members of the public to check it out.

IAN (vocals/guitar): I’m excited for the genre of faux wave. I think this could be a thing!

PASCALLE (synths): I feel excited that the album even exists! I’m aware of how close to the line we were in getting it recorded — in the way we wanted to — and the pandemic’s impact on everything we do now.

JESS (drums): This album makes a great companion piece to our previous album Eruption Bounce. It’s exciting hearing us grow as a four-piece.

I understand that this album was written as your most collaboratively one yet; can you tell us a bit about writing the record and collaborating?

IAN: We record all our ideas, and we had up to 60 sketches of songs in the bank for this album. Recording the ideas we produce at rehearsals also means we can capture golden moments that can be hard to remember. What I’ve found more and more doing The Stress of Leisure is that the songs where Jane, Pascalle and Jess bring something in (an idea) is way more exciting than what I come up with. I feel when I have an idea it tends to dictate too much how things turn out. A song like Banker On TV literally came out fully formed in one jam — Jess had a beat she wanted to try out, Jane had a bassline written down she married to it and then Pas and myself did our stuff on top. Individually, none of us could’ve come up with this song.

PASCALLE: I really love how Ian challenges us to come up with lines but we also had to constantly remind him that his lines are very fun for us to play along with. One way he was convinced to drive the song was in Spiralling, which has Ian’s power pop synth line, Jane’s enormous bassline and Jess’ unconventional drums.

What’s one of the most challenging things for you in regards to your creativity?

JANE: Speaking for myself, I sometimes find it hard to carve out time to make creative things happen.  But that is pretty much on me, I think I need to try harder.

JESS: Coming up with rhythms that sound fresh, and like Jane, finding the time to get creative in modern life. I generally don’t practise so I’m composing beats in my head and then trying them out at rehearsal. Nothing is out of bounds or too weird to bring to rehearsal and I think that vulnerability is where magic happens.

PASCALLE: Yes, I think it mostly comes down to time… we’re all just waiting to win the lotto so we can make music as often as we want!

IAN: I find my bandmates sell themselves too short. They’re always bringing in great ideas, regardless of outside pressures. It comes back again to the fact that we record the jams. Creative inspiration strikes when you least expect it, so it’s important to always document. Like panning for gold, you can’t expect a high success rate. We’re only challenged by timelines, not creativity.

Photo: Jackie Ryan.

We’ve always loved the wit, social commentary and humour in your lyrics; what’s your personal favourite song and lyric in this new collection of songs?.

JANE: I particularly like Ian’s lyric in the song No Win No Fee, where he intones ‘Mission accomplished, for the rich and the foppish’.  The song has a sort of sleazy, lazy groove to it, but it goes along at a slightly quicker tempo than you would normally expect for such a groove, which makes it compelling to me.

JESS: My favourite lyric is ‘Everybody wants to tell you how you’re doing it; Everybody loves to tell you how you’re doing it wrong; Everybody seems to know just where you’re coming from’ in Connect to Connected. It’s an astute observation of the countless daily interactions between humans courtesy of the internet.

PASCALLE: I feel a sense of achievement that we incorporated the line ‘no quid pro quo’ in a song.

IAN: If you read the lyrics of Your Type of Music and Beat The Tension with a John Cooper Clarke accent in mind they really work! I’m delighted by that. I played a solo gig earlier in the year with Seja, and during the set I recited them, so I can attest to it.

Faux Wave was recorded in Melbourne with John Lee at Phaedra Studios over five days at the beginning of the year; what drew you to working with John? What was it like?

IAN: John Lee’s name came up in a lot of Australian independent music I was listening to and liking — starting with Lost Animal, Laura Jean through to Brisbane/Melbourne act No Sister. Everyone I inquired of really rated John and said he was great to work with. We wanted to record an album outside Brisbane too, to get out of our comfort zone. It’s one of the best decisions we’ve made as a group I think. The reports rang true, John is a total gentleman, but he also challenged us with this recording, in a totally positive way. Recording the ten songs over five days was a real buzz and my feeling is that as a group, we’ve all connected with this experience. It was like recording a debut album all over again.

PASCALLE: Yes, John’s the absolute best!

What’s one of your fondest memories from the sessions?

PASCALLE: This was the first time we recorded an entire album in one go — usually we’d go into the studio on sporadic weekends and record two or three songs until the album was done. Going down to Melbourne for a solid week felt like we were at camp and, from my perspective, we had a whole new level of togetherness. From the get-go, John was a kindred spirit and made the whole week memorable, too. Favourite things about recording were not using click tracks, listening to Ian record his vocals and getting to play with John’s vintage synths.

JESS: Like Pas, getting to spend a whole week together recording was a luxury! No click tracks and a live recording setup really captured the energy. For me, anymore than three or four takes starts to sound forced and contrived. Having that week also meant we could sample the gastronomic delights that Melbourne had to offer and catch up with friends.

PASCALLE: Yes, we really explored Melbourne’s food and beverages, and we even managed to see Dave Graney and the mistLY play Memo Music Hall, too. Great times.

What inspired the album art?

IAN: We thought it was important to go back to the collage style we’d previously utilised on the Sex Time and Achievement artworks. It rang more true to who we are as a band. The imagery we’ve chosen feels like Faux Wave for some reason — the crowd in a fervour and the rubbish pile. The disposable aspects of modern day hyperconsumerism comes to mind — the shiny new thing that gets people excited, quickly replaced by something even shinier and newer. It’s disconcerting.

PASCALLE: This is also the first time we’ve included the song lyrics on the back of the vinyl, too, so you can follow along if you like.

What have you been listening to lately?

JESS: Billy Nomates’ debut album, Fontaines D.C’s A Hero’s Death and Blake Scott’s Niscitam. Despite all that has happened in 2020, fantastic and exciting music is still being made.

PASCALLE: Have you seen Sampa the Great’s Planet Afropunk performance Black Atlantis? Incredible! I’m also listening to Blake Scott like Jess, as well as Chloe Alison Escott’s Stars Under Contract.

JANE: I have been listening to the Scratch and the Upsetters album Super Ape, though it is not a recent release by any means.  I really enjoy the space in it, from top to bottom, and front to back.

IAN: The Music in Exile label is releasing some great stuff. I particularly love the Gordon Koang album Unity.

2020 has been a challenging year for pretty much everyone; how has it affected you and how have you stayed positive?

IAN: Making my own coffee is a nice ritual I’ve developed during 2020. Also smelling the roses in New Farm Park has been a highlight. When we were allowed to rehearse again as a band — I felt that was a big moment of positivity. We’ve been writing more songs, languid and slow types of songs.

PASCALLE: It’s been a year where each of us has had to learn who we are in this situation. There’s been an unavoidable wave of planetary depression — whether we explicitly feel it or not — and coming up for air amongst it all has been an effort, I think, for many of us. Art and a kind community helps.

JANE: When I was able to return to fitness classes and band rehearsals that helped me heaps. I’ve joined the video streaming revolution. Drinking heaps of Malbec has also been very good.

Anything else you’d like to tell us or share with us?

IAN: Community radio in Australia has been a big support to us. Support community radio wherever it finds you by subscribing. 4ZZZ, our local station in Brisbane, has been an absolute champion over 40 years plus in pushing local and Australian music and we’d be severely diminished in Brisbane as a music community without it. There’s never been a more important time to support local independent media and arts.

PASCALLE: It’s also heartwarming to see all our fellow bands emerge from the Covid hibernation. I hadn’t realised how much I missed seeing live music!

IAN: Long may it continue. Fingers crossed.

Please check out THE STRESS OF LEISURE; on bandcamp; on Facebook; on Instagram. Faux Wave out now HERE.

Meanjin Grit Hop band Spirit Bunny: “We feel strongly about diversity and social responsibility, supporting community and grassroots art and initiatives”

Original photo: courtesy of Zang! Records. Handmade collage by B.

We love Meanjin/Brisbane Grit Hop trio, Spirit Bunny, a joyful explosion of noise from multi-instrumentalists Kate Thomas, Joel Saunders and Cam Smith. We’re super excited to bring you the premiere of first single ‘Paper Handshakes’ from their upcoming sophomore album on new independent label Zang! Records. Spirit Bunny’s sound is a perfect storm of circuit bent Casio noise and C64 synths with phat beats and whimsical melodies.

Firstly, congratulations on signing with Zang! Records. We’re really excited that Spirit Bunny has new music to share with us. We’re really digging your new song ‘Paper Handshakes’! Where did the song name come from? I’ve heard that Spirit Bunny songs often start with a title before music and lyrics are written.

SPIRIT BUNNY: Thanks! We’re super happy and excited to be able to share some new stuff again. ‘Paper Handshakes’ actually had a different, working title until right at the last minute. That’s pretty normal for us – a lot of our songs start off with working titles that are related to how the songs sound or what they remind us of. A good example of that is ‘Gold & Brown’ from our first album, which in its very early stages of being written reminded us in mood of the song ‘Golden Brown’ by The Stranglers. Sometimes those working titles then inform the lyrics and themes, which are almost always the final part added to the song. So it almost always goes music, working song title, lyrics, and then sometimes a proper song title if we decide the working title is no good (or embarrassing). This song had an embarrassingly mundane and meaningless working title.

What inspired it both musically and lyrically?

SB: Musically we wanted something that was upbeat and really punchy. We started the writing of the album with a couple of more downbeat or weirder songs, and thought we should perhaps write a pop song. Which is what we did, or at least it’s what we consider to be a “pop song”. It was one of the first songs for the record where we started experimenting more in-depth with dual and duelling vocals, something we tried a little bit on the last record. Lyrically it’s about the sway that people with money hold over decision makers, and how that doesn’t always benefit the greater good.

How much did the song change from its beginnings to what we hear now?

SB: This is one of the songs that just kind of came out and didn’t need a whole heap of tweaking, it came together pretty easily (which can’t necessarily be said for the some of the other songs from our forthcoming album). The only significant change came right towards the end of recording, when we invited our friend Keeley Young (of Claude and Requin) to play saxophone on it. That’s something we experimented with on the new record, getting our friends in to replace our parts but playing them on an instrument that we don’t normally use, to try to get some new and often more organic sounds into the mix. So on this song, Keeley multi-tracked her saxophone to replace some of the chordal parts that Kate plays on Commodore 64.

What interests each of you in what you create as Spirit Bunny? I know you’ve all had many other bands and projects.

SB: It’s probably the most democratic and collaborative band any of us have been in, which can be challenging but also very much worthwhile. It’s definitely a project where if you were to replace any one of us you’d end up with a completely different thing. When we first got together we had an idea of what we wanted to sound like, but ultimately what came out is Spirit Bunny. It really pushes each of us in different ways, both technically and in what we’re comfortable with in terms of our roles in the band. For example, Kate is kind of the musical core of virtually every Spirit Bunny song and that’s not something she’s done in her other projects.

Photo: courtesy of Zang! Records.

It’s also very different from any of the other projects we’re involved with. Some musicians like to play in a bunch of bands that are all of a kind, but that’s not something we’re overly interested in.

Spirit Bunny shows are pretty special, there’s an amazing synergy between you; do you ever have trouble capturing the spirit you play with live in recording or do you see live and recording sound-wise as two different things?

SB: The first record was definitely a pretty close representation of the live version of the band. The new album is perhaps very slightly less so, although the majority of the record was still built around the way we would play the songs in a live context. We did try a few new methods of writing and recording this time, with a few of the songs being partially constructed in the studio instead of extensively hashed out in the rehearsal room. We also tried to incorporate a few more textures this time, and to give some of the songs a bit more space than on the previous album. We definitely try to capture the energy of our live shows, though. That’s really important, and I think both albums go pretty close to achieving that.

What’s something surprising that people might find interesting about the way you write or record?

SB: We’re all multi-tasking in this band, each playing multiple instruments at the same time. Kate plays two Commodore 64s, Joel has two of his unique circuit-bent Casios plus a bunch of noise boxes, and Cam has his looped beats alongside the acoustic drums. So everything can get pretty layered and dense for a trio, but that’s what we actually sound like. It was a bit of a focus on this record to strip that back a bit sometimes and give the songs some room to breathe.

You use circuit bent keyboards/Commodore 64 synths; where did your interest in using these come from?

SB: We like repurposing obsolete or outdated technology in a creative fashion, giving it a second life that’s perhaps outside its original purpose. It’s cool to make something that’s somewhat futuristic and hopefully forward-looking with elements that could sometimes be considered somewhat ‘retro’. Also, these instruments have inherent limitations and we like that those limitations can force us to come up with novel solutions. An interesting example of that is that the Commodore 64 has virtually no dynamics, and Cam came to Spirit Bunny from bands that were highly dynamic so he had to rethink the way that his drums were going to function in this new context, where if he played quietly he was going to be drowned out but if he played loudly he would drown everyone else out. The answer ended up being adding dynamics to the drums via the density of the playing, rather than playing softer or louder.

What can you tell us at this point about your sophomore album you have coming up?

SB: Firstly that we’re really happy with it. There’s been a lot of work to get to this point. It’s been good to welcome some new people into the fold to help us get the record to the finish line, whether it’s been various friends of ours adding their own flavours to the record sonically, or teaming up with Zang! to get the record out into the world. Listening to it now, it seems like real growth from the first album. The songs are simultaneously more extreme and also more accessible, more dense and also more spacious. It’s been a journey of discovery for us as much as it is for anyone else, perhaps more so. From within the band, everything we come up with seems to be greater than the sum of its constituent parts.

What bands/albums/songs have you been obsessing over lately?

SB: We’ve been listening to Deerhoof’s two new records a lot, always listening to lots of Deerhoof. We love the new Party Dozen album, in a way we feel like they’re kindred spirits in the Australian music community. Similarly with the new Wax Chattels. Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors is a record that weirdly influenced some of the sounds on this album, in terms of some of the mellotron arrangements and a kind of chamber-pop sound we attempted to incorporate in parts (with varying success).

We also listen to lots of local stuff, and there’s been heaps of really good local releases lately. The new Ancient Channels is fantastic, which some of us are involved with in some ways (Cam recorded it, and Joel now plays in the live band). Zang! labelmates Gold Stars have a fantastic debut album. Local Authority, Ultra Material and Relay Tapes all put out some great shoegaze and dream-pop records recently. Nathan John Kearney put out a lovely solo record, It’s Magnetic have a wonderful debut album. There’s new Grieg. We’re looking forward to the new Apparitions record. There’s so much stuff.

What’s something that’s important to Spirit Bunny?

SB: Musically we just want to make something that excites and challenges us. On a more important note, we feel strongly about diversity and social responsibility, supporting community and grassroots art and initiatives. We delved into some of these issues lyrically on the new album, which we also did on the first one but often in a more oblique way – this time we were a bit more overt in the presentation of some of these themes.

Please check out SPIRIT BUNNY. SB on Instagram. SB on Facebook. ZANG! Records.

Dreamy Meanjin based post-punk Ancient Channels: “Time, Space, Ancient Worlds”

Original photo: Jason Cahill. Handmade collage by B.

Meanjin/Brisbane musicians Kelly Hanlon (Deafcult/Terra Pines) and Chris Preindl (Apparitions/Leavings/Vestiges) take us on a sonic sci-fi expedition exploring ancient, ceremonial drumming together with shoegaze dream pop and cosmic themes to create a band that’s outta this world, Ancient Channels.

How did you two first meet? What were your first impressions of each other?

KELLY: I first met Chris through the Brisbane music scene. Our other bands have played multiple shows together over the years so we’ve been in each other’s orbit for a while. I’ve been consistently blown away every time I’ve seen Chris play with any of his bands whether its Apparitions, Leavings or Vestiges. He’s all over the kit with such deft and precision, technically brilliant but also insanely creative, I swear he’s got an extra set of arms hidden away somewhere. I remember thinking that I’d like to work with him sometime soon after seeing him play, and here we are! Dreams do come true!

CHRIS: Our first meeting is hard to pinpoint because Brisbane often feels tiny. I do feel like my first impression of Kelly is one-and-the-same with what would be the most prevailing impression, that she’s an incredibly talented songwriter and musician, and a really cool, calm and compassionate person.

You both play in multiple other bands. Kelly plays in Deafcult/Terra Pines and Chris plays in Apparitions/Leavings/Vestiges; what inspired you to start Ancient Channels?

KELLY: I had wanted to start a project a little more pop-centric and beat orientated. I was also watching a lot of Ancient Aliens  at the time (for pure entertainment, I don’t actually believe Ancient Aliens built the pyramids) which resulted in the idea of combining elements of ancient, ceremonial drumming with more contemporary style song structures and the aesthetics of dream pop, shoegaze and post-punk. I wrote a few demos and sent them to Chris and asked if he’d be keen and lucky he was. We didn’t practice together before recording just winged it on the day and Chris wrote and executed his drum parts with such energy it was beautiful! The drums are really the forefront of this band in my opinion, almost like a lead guitar or something, well and truly up front.

CHRIS: Kelly reached out about starting a new project together in early-mid 2019 and I didn’t deliberate much; sometime after my band Leavings played with Terra Pines (for something like the third or even fourth time around Southeast Queensland) Kelly had written some incredible demos and after hearing them I was very excited at the chance to collaborate. She suggested it’d be more of a studio project from the outset which was super ideal for my other band commitments and life schedule. Dates were then set for roughly six months later to record with Cam Smith at Incremental Records.

You’re into sci-fi soundtracks of early film and television; what’s one of your favourites? What do you appreciate about it?

KELLY: Film soundtracks, particularly sci-fi soundtracks are so evocative and they overtly convey tension in a way that I love. The 1950’s had some really great film soundtracks full of creepy theremin tones that make my skin crawl in the best possible way. It Came From Outer Space 1953 is a favourite, also The Day The Earth Stood Still 1951. I tried to get a theremin-ish like tone in “Orbital Dance” with one of the synth lines, it’s not exact but it’s the best I could do with the tools that I have haha. I also love the original Dr Who theme 1963 by Delia Derbyshire and Ron Grainer. It’s such an iconic piece of music, “Carpe Noctem” was an attempt to do something big and dramatic in that vein. There is a great doco on Delia Derbyshire called The Delian Mode on YouTube that everyone should watch for a bit of backstory on her. I’m also big into Vangelis like everyone else under the sun.

CHRIS: I think this is more Kelly’s realm, at least as far as direct influences on this project go, but for me I can’t go past such iconic scores as: Blade Runner (Vangelis), Akira (Geinoh Yamashirogumi), 2001: A Space Odyssey (Richard Strauss), and more recently the scores of Drive, Ex Machina and Good Time… although some of those absolutely aren’t sci-fis.

You’ve recently released Moments In Ruin; what inspired the writing of this album? It seems pretty cosmic!

KELLY: It all comes back to Ancient Aliens haha I feel like I was thinking about it for a year or so before we even started writing, but mainly the idea was to just have a collection of songs that draw from many influences both concrete: Shoegaze, Dream Pop and Post-Punk and Abstract: Time, Space, Ancient Worlds etc… I think there was also talk about writing a record full of singles. The idea that every song on a record could be a single is a bit of a novelty but thought it would be a fun challenge.

CHRIS: Other than a partial embracing and full appreciation of engineer/producer Cam Smith’s drumming (in specifically Terra Pines), and the desire to serve Kelly’s demos sufficiently I embraced influences stemming back to when I first started playing drums. Essentially bands like Metric, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and pretty much any DFA/New York City band from the mid-2000s.

I’ve heard that drums and percussion are the foundation of your sound; how do your songs form most often? Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?

KELLY: All the songs were written using Garageband to demo initially , and then Chris rewrote the shitty Garageband drum loops and made the songs infinitely cooler and more interesting. All the songs were written with the same approach though, built from the ground up, rhythm section, then guitars and synths (textural)  and vocals last. The vocals took the most amount of time to write because melody was really important, most of the songs on the record have alternate versions of the vocal melodies and harmonies. I think “She-Rise” had about 8 different versions.

CHRIS: Up until now it has been part recreating the beats mapped out by Kelly and part improvisation in the studio environment. The intricate layers that formed the first versions of the songs that became “Moments In Ruin” afforded me a lot of room for inspiration and, to a degree, experimentation so it’s been quite a thrilling and fun process; the approach with Ancient Channels is different to the more jam-based process of other projects I’m involved with.

We really love the song “She-Rise”; what sparked this song?

KELLY: From memory it was one of the last songs written for this project, there was a feeling the record needed something a little more driving and immediate. I’d read an interview with Grimes about her writing process, that she’d often write songs to scenes from films. I kinda liked that idea and thought I’d give it a go. I picked the Bride vs The Crazy 88 scene from Kill Bill Vol1 and tried to write with that scene in my mind and often playing in the background on silent. Thematically I guess I projected myself into the role of the bride and sexist sound guys in the role of the crazy 88 (metaphorically speaking of course). It’s a clusterfuck, I’m not sure it works as a score to the scene but I was happy with how the song turned out.

CHRIS: For my part I really wanted the rhythms to be straightforward and blunt, as the song seemed to me to be one of the most propulsive and pounding. It embodies what is probably the most intense, menacing and bold energy and so I thought a rigorous and sweatily performed dance beat would serve the song best. An undoubted influence for me for “She-Rise” is the music of U.K. post-punk band Savages.

What most excites you about your new album?

KELLY: I’m excited that it’s out and we can move onto the next one.

CHRIS: Recreating the songs live, with additional members: Elise Clark, Imogen Kowalczyk, Kelly Saunders & Joel Saunders. We haven’t yet brought all the songs to life: as is the case for a lot of other bands (local and nationwide/worldwide) it’s been a difficult year to effectively showcase new music. Fingers crossed for the remainder of 2020 and the start of 2021…

I know that you love recording and being in the studio; was there anything you tried or experimented with while recording?

KELLY: Most of the experimentation came with the drums (different beats that Chris wanted to try and varying types of accompanying percussion.  Everything else was locked in by the time we got to the studio as we had Garageband demos with sounds and tones finalised etc…

CHRIS: Percussive layering felt like the most immediate example of studio experimentation. Usually I’m quite hesitant to contribute or sign off on drum parts that aren’t in the realm of possibility to perform live, but we both agreed that we could maximise some of the songs with overdubbed drum hits and cymbal swells. It also helps that Elise is also a drummer!

We love the vocals on the album, very ethereal, haunting and atmospheric; how did you approach doing them?

KELLY: I would say that we wanted vocals to sound that way for sure, ambience and atmosphere were important but also melody. A lot of time was spent trying to make the vocal melodies as infectious as possible, as mentioned before they were rewritten a hundred times over and vastly different from their first incarnation.

CHRIS: I can only dream of having had a hand in the vocal process, though it’s fun to watch agape and in awe from the sidelines for this aspect. I guess there’s always the possibility to harmonise live!

Your music is a collage of genres and I love how your artwork for your releases is also collages; where did the idea for this style of artwork come from? You do the art Kelly, right?

KELLY: My friend Jason Cahill (who did our video for “Footprints In The Dark”) is a great visual artist and filmmaker and he sends me art all the time that he thinks I might enjoy. He had an idea once of doing a collage film clip for one of our songs by animating a collage and in doing research for that idea I came across the collage hashtag on Instagram and fell in love with the otherworldly nature of it. It’s a format that seems like it has no rules and so much possibility.

CHRIS: I think Kelly’s collage art precedes Ancient Channels! I love how effective and evocative it is.

Is there anything else you’ve been working on that you’d like to tell us about, Ancient Channels-related or otherwise?

KELLY: Stay tuned to our socials for show announcements and news, we’ll probably start thinking about the next record soon-ish. Both my other bands Deafcult and Terra Pines have new records coming out next year and I believe Chris has a bunch of exciting stuff up his sleeves too which he can tell you about.

CHRIS: We’re excited by the prospect of working on new music as a six-piece band. In the meantime Kelly’s other bands Deafcult and Terra Pines are working on new material. My other band Apparitions will be launching its album in roughly a month’s time with Deafcult as well, so I’m really excited for that!

Please check out ANCIENT CHANNELS; AC on Facebook; AC on Instagram. Moments In Ruin is out now get it here.

Tape/Off and Total Pace’s Branko Cosic: “Watching Fugazi’s Instrument documentary was the turning point. It seemed like a subconscious roadmap on how to start a band”

Handmade collage by B.

Branko Cosic is one of the hardest working people in Brisbane’s music community. He plays in alt-rock band Tape/Off, punk band Total Pace, indie-rock band Gold Stars, organises shows including Sonic Masala Fest and does a show on 4ZZZfm radio. We recently chatted to Branko about his love of music and all he has going on.

What first got you into music?

BC: Earliest memory I have of liking music is seeing the video clip for “Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight” by Models on TV. It blew my mind. I think I kept begging my parents to hear the song again, so Mum went down to Woody’s Music down in Woodridge and grabbed the 12” single of it. I’ve still got the record.

I also had older cousins that had cool tastes in music, so I remember digging through their collections and hearing things like The Cure, Devo, Public Enemy, Ice-T, N.W.A, Stone Roses before turning the age of 10.

You play the drums; how did you first start? What drew you to them?

BC: A family friend had a drum kit setup in his garage, and I was enamoured by all the parts that went together to make it up. After that, every time I would see performance clips on Rage, I’d be mesmerised by the drummers and their setups. I got my first drum kit at 15. The first song I attempted to play was Powderfinger’s ‘D.A.F’. It had a really tricky hi-hat pattern in the chorus, and before I acquired a kit, I had practiced air drumming to it (with my mum’s old makeup chair as the “snare drum”) and was adamant that was going to be the first thing I tried.

What was your first introduction to DIY?

BC: Watching Fugazi’s ‘Instrument’ documentary was the turning point. It seemed like a subconscious roadmap on how to start a band. It was the most honest document of being in a band and everything that went along with it (recording, releasing, touring, etc).

A few years later, I went with a friend to this place in Red Hill called ‘Lofly Hangar’. It was a DIY space that had parties once a month and was filled with people with the same interests as me that I never thought anyone else in Brisbane shared. It was like an epiphany when I found it. That place was my church. I learned so much during those short-lived years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the existence of Lofly Hangar.

You’re in band Tape/Off and Total Pace; how are they musically different from each other?

BC: They’re slacker rock bands in their own way, which are both loud, but have different intensities. TP has it’s foot on the gas 95% percent of time, T/O dynamically weaves through the gear changes. T/O listens to a lot of Pavement, Slint, Sonic Youth, Fugazi… and TP listens to a lot of The Replacements, Cloud Nothings, METZ…

What sparked each to start?

BC: I started T/O in 2008 and was my first go at starting a band from scratch. I had been in bands before that, but they never got off the ground. I was initially going to play guitars, but had more fun playing drums. Simon, Matt and [Luke] Henery had started putting TP together when they asked me to join. We’ve all been buds for years, so it was exciting to start something new.

The last release Tape/Off had was song ‘Work Xmas Party’ towards the end of last year; have you been working on anything new? What can you can tell us about it?

BC: Yep, we’ve been working towards a new album. It’s about half-written at the moment. We seem to be travelling to more intricate and quieter passages in the new songs. We’re challenging ourselves to not be so loud and introduce more warmth into them. I would love to get it out in the next year or so.

‘Work Xmas Party’ was something that we just needed to get off our chest. It came together quite quickly in the practice room and it was super quick to record. So rather than sit on it, we thought we’d get it out before the end of the year to coincide people’s favourite/least favourite time of year when they have to congregate with their fellow worker outside company time to mostly shameful results.

Does Total Pace have anything new in the works?

BC: This is also true. We have a new EP coming soon that we’re currently putting artwork together for. We released the first single off it ‘Stay In’ just two weeks ago on the internet. Most of the songs got their live debut when we played with Mclusky* in January. We’ve also been playing a cover of ‘Shopping’ by Pet Shop Boys which has been awesome to play. A recorded version of that should surface sometime in the future.

As well as playing in bands you also do radio show Unnecessary Knowledge with Tape/Off band mate Cam [Smith]; what’s some of your favourite songs and bands you’ve been playing lately?

Turnpike is probably the most played artist on our show. The most brutal music from the most humblest humans on earth. Requin is also another favourite and also sits in the humble basket. Party Dozen, Good Boy, Bushing, Majestic Horses, Local Authority, Good Morning, PYNES, Cable Ties are bands we’ve been playing lots of lately.

I love playing anything from Bearhug, Batrider, Can, Slayer, A Tribe Called Quest, Screamfeeder, Aphex Twin, OVLOV, Flying Lotus whenever I get a chance.

How did you get involved in community radio? What inspired you to do it?

BC: My good friend Rachel Tinney was my conduit into Community Radio. I met her at The Hangar in 2009 and when she started volunteering at 4ZZZ, she was the first one to start playing Tape/Off. She had a graveyard shift show called ‘Theme Me Up, Scotty!’ from 12am-2am on Wednesday nights. I used to finish work around midnight so she invited me down to the station to check it out. I’d keep her company whilst she was doing the show and would marvel at the CD library.

Six months later, she was offered a daytime show and asked me if I’d like to be her official co-host, which I completely jumped at. It was Rachel that called it Unnecessary Knowledge because she thought I knew too much of it and it has stuck ever since.

She moved interstate in 2013 and I then asked Cam if he’d like to jump on board. The rest is history.

You also have interviewed bands yourself; who’s been a highlight and what made it so?

BC: Too many to count, but talking with Conrad Keely from …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead about their magnum opus ‘Source Tags And Codes’ was pretty special. That album is in my top 5 of all time.

The Kashmere Stage Band was another highlight. You should check out the documentary about them called ‘Thunder Soul’. Rachel and I interviewed them when they came out to promote the doco and could’ve talked for hours about all of their stories.

What’s something that you’re really, really excited about?

BC: I’m working to start a new musical venture that is equal parts terrifying and exciting at the same time. It’s going to combine my love for music, graphic design and film all into one. It’s the new record label that launched a few weeks ago, called ‘Zang! Records’ and I run it with Jack McDonnell, who is a fellow 4ZZZ-er. You can check it out at: Zang Records Facebook and Zang Records Instagram.

I also play in a band called Gold Stars with Ben from Tape/Off and Phil from aheadphonehome/Lofly Hangar which is for fans of Guided By Voices. Look out for our debut album that will drop sometime this year.

Please check out: TAPE/OFF and TOTAL PACE. T/O on Facebook. TP on Facebook. Listen to Unnecessary Knowledge.

Pleasure Symbols’ Jasmine Dunn: “Colin Wilson’s The Outsider and.. Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help.. ended up proving to be great influencing texts”

Original photo by Pierangela Hidalgo. Handmade mixed-media collage by B.

Brisbane’s post-punk, ethereal, goth rockers Pleasure Symbols levelled up and really came into their own with last year’s release Closer And Closer Apart, a moody dream-pop affair. We’re excited to see where they go next, the band have been writing new material. We interviewed bassist-vocalist Jasmine Dunn.

How did you first discover music?

JASMINE DUNN: Slowly, it was always more of a background noise in my earlier years with some significant moments of discovery thrown in. I remember watching my parents dancing to Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ in the living room and realising that people can have sentimental attachments to music. On the flip side to that, I grew up in the 90’s so there was a lot of really cringe worthy pop music on the radio and on TV. I learned to dig deep!

How did the creative process begin with your first full-length, Closer and Closer Apart?

JD: I reached out to Steven to see if he would be interested in helping me record what I originally anticipated to be a solo body of work, we had only met once prior to that conversation so the direction for everything was still very unknown. The idea of a solo record quickly moved into talks of a collaboration between Pleasure Symbols and his project Locust Revival, which then evolved again into having him come on board as a guitarist to work on a Pleasure Symbols album, so we began writing and getting to know each other from there.

Photo by Pierangela Hidalgo.

Sound-wise Closer and Closer Apart is quite different from your first self-titled EP, you’ve gone from a more synth-based dark-wave style to a more guitar-orientated dream-pop, shoegaze style; what influenced this evolution?

JD: Four years between writing and then bringing in Steven on guitar meant Closer and Closer Apart was never going to sound like anything previously released under the Pleasure Symbols name. The EP is very primitive overall and I was keen to push the sound further to better represent our influences and songwriting capabilities. We still have a lot more to learn and a lot further to reach, but we’re getting there!

‘Image Reflected’ is one of our favourite tracks on C&CA; can you tell us a little about writing it?

JD: On the weekends I’d drove over to Steven’s place and we’d start with nothing, maybe a very loose idea and have a song or two close to completion in just a couple of hours. It was kind of surreal how easily we were writing together and I kept wondering if these songs were going to turn out horribly because of how easily they were coming together! I’ve never had such ease in songwriting before and I think a lot of that comes down to the trust and respect we have for one another. For ‘Image Reflected’ Steven had programmed the drums the day before I had come over and a good portion of the song really wasn’t changed much from the first take we did.

Do lyrics come easy for you? Who’s one of your favourite songwriters?

JD: Unfortunately not, I hesitate because I want the lyrics to perfectly articulate a feeling or a mood that’s driving each song. Sometimes there’s too many thoughts or it’s a lost moment in time and trying to catch those fleeting moments can be difficult. When it happens though, it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling. I mostly read to inspire lyrics and to get myself into the right headspace and I was pouring through a lot of Roland Barthes in particular while writing for the record. I came across a very well loved, second-hand copy of Colin Wilson’s The Outsider and my best friend had lent me Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help. Both of these books also ended up proving to be great influencing texts for me at the time.

We love the Closer… album cover; what’s the story behind the cover image?

JD: The photograph was taken by a friend of mine Haydn Hall who would hide out inside this restaurant on the Lower East Side in New York. The photo resonated with me as writing had already begun for the record so I had some idea in which direction we were heading sonically. It’s simple and unassuming with a soft focus. It feels like the calm before the storm.

Multiple Man did a remix of the song ‘Endless’; how did that collab come about?

JD: Chris Campion is an old friend from when we both lived in Brisbane, plus he recorded and mixed the very first Pleasure Symbols demos so there is a bit of history there! He asked to do a remix a while back but it took a little while for me to bounce it across to him in New York.

Last year PS toured Europe; what was one of the coolest things you saw in your travels?

JD: We drove the whole leg so we were exposed to a lot, but we saw so much and loved our time spent there, it’s hard to narrow it down! We hope to be back as soon as we can.

Is there anything you’ve been listening to a lot lately? We love finding new things to listen to!

JD: There’s some new Locust Revival tracks that more people should hear, as well as the new SDH record I’m really enjoying too. Still spinning the latest Tempers record too, that’s an incredible album.

Have you been working on anything new lately?

JD: Yes! We’re currently writing for the new record.

Lastly, what do you love most about making music?

JD: It’s a love/hate relationship for the most part, but it’s a vessel to create and a compelling medium to capture a moment in time and that has to be worth something.

Please check out: PLEASURE SYMBOLS. Closer And Closer Apart out via AVANT!

Brisbane Grunge Indie Rockers Lunchtime: “Family and emotional violence is a hard topic because love is used as a weapon so often… we’re trying to help young people who are going through similar situations feel strong”

Original photo by Kieran Griffiths. Handmade collage by B.

Lunchtime are a band that wouldn’t be out of place in the ‘90s; the dream of the ‘90s is alive in Brisbane. Their songs are a mix of grunge, punk and indie rock, the band co-founded by twin sisters Eden and Constance along with high school friend Lachlan. We interviewed them just as they were getting set to drop their latest single and video ‘Science Of Sorrow’.

Lunchtime are from Brisbane; what can you tell me about where you live?

LACHLAN: Constance, Eden and I live at Stafford but they used to live in Deception Bay and I lived at Caboolture while Tim lives in Carindale.

CONSTANCE: The best thing about Deception Bay was going down to the local shops and seeing people sitting at the bus stop drinking wine. Our single ‘Deception Bay’ was inspired by these three blokes who were omnipresent at that bus stop. 

EDEN: I always know if it’s a cloudy day in Stafford cuz Constance only does the washing when it’s raining which is annoying but funny.

How did Lunchtime get together?

LACHLAN: We started when the twins and I were at school and then two years ago Tim joined the band after our previous drummer left.

CONSTANCE: It was kinda weird how we ended up in the same band because Eden and I were in a band with these other guys that broke up and started a band with Lachlan which also broke up then the three of us formed Lunchtime with the drummer from the original band.

EDEN: I just remember me auditioning Tim before the others got there and the only question I asked was “Do you like Tiny Teddies” and he said “Yeah they’re alright” and I was like yup this is the one.

Photo: Ben McShea.

How did you start playing music?

LACHLAN: I picked up a guitar.

TIM: I started drums in school.

CONSTANCE: I found my dad’s old guitar in the garage. It had three strings and that’s how I taught myself to play. Hence the punk rock band…

EDEN: Constance needed someone to back her up so I got forced into it and then I decided playing piano was cool cuz I was obsessed with Mika back then. Then I also got forced into playing bass cuz our first bass player decided he wanted to play guitar instead.

Can you tell us something about everyone in the band?

LUNCHTIME: Tim can do a kickflip. Eden is an artist @mumblebee_art and has 93 cacti. Lachlan can put his legs over his head Constance is a Pilates nut!

Constance and Eden are twins; what’s it like creating with your sibling?

CONSTANCE: It’s pretty great because I never really have to explain the artistic direction I want the song to go in, she just knows. Or if one of us is struggling with part of a song in the writing process we can run it by the other and they usually can make it perfect in two seconds.  

EDEN: I love it because it’s like we were made to harmonise with each other. Singing together is so easy and she can always finish things if I hit a wall or tell me how to do it better. You can be brutally honest with each other and there’s no hard feelings.

What’s an album that means a lot to you?

LACHLAN: Hungry Ghost by Violent Soho. They’re a really good Brisbane band, I think we look up to them a lot.

EDEN: I remember hearing ‘Covered in Chrome’ and thinking he had a weird voice and I liked that cuz I thought I sang funny as well. The show at the Riverstage for that album was my first mosh pit and I lost my toenail which I keep to this day in a jar.

Photo: Schema Collective.

What was the first song you wrote for Lunchtime? What was it about?

CONSTANCE:  The first song I wrote for Lunchtime was called “Get over it”. It’s the last song on our first EP Feedback and it was about the first time a band I was in broke up. When bands break up it is way more upsetting than any romantic break up. For me anyway haha. The song was me telling myself that you can try and do everything to forget and still feel the pain but you need to find a way to move on and get on with your life.

EDEN: My first song for us was “I Bleed Lemonade” it was about me punching a concrete pillar after my mate told me he had unknowingly set up my secret crush with someone else.

Your latest song was released late last year and called ‘Deception Bay’; how did that song get started?

CONSTANCE: Deception Bay is where Eden and I grew up. I wrote it when I was about 16 and in the midst of trying to figure out life and all these crazy emotions. ‘Deception Bay’ was named because when it was discovered they thought it was a river because it was so shallow. Random fact but it started the process of ‘huh this place isn’t as it seems let me make some art about it.’ At 16 I was at the restless point when you just want to run away from your problems and used my hometown as a synonym for everything (mentally, etc) I was trying to escape from.

Last year you released single ‘Show n Tell’ which is a song about domestic violence and feeling like there is nowhere to go even when you’re in the place where you are supposed to be safe; what inspired you to write this song?

CONSTANCE: Eden and I had a lot of family issues (as you can probably tell cuz half of our songs are about it.) ‘Show n Tell’ was written about my family and basically what it was like for us growing up. Writing songs has always been a coping method for me because I felt the only way to be heard was through music. The lyrics are pretty dark and sarcastic I think I wrote them after a particularly nasty fight.

EDEN: Family and emotional violence is a hard topic because love is used as a weapon so often. I think we’re trying to help young people who are going through similar situations feel strong and let them know they can get out because there is so much to look forward to in life.

I saw that you were recording last month; is there new music in the works? What can you tell me about it so far?

LACHLAN: We’re recording every day for a couple of things hopefully you see it sooner rather than later cause we don’t have any excuses for time.

CONSTANCE: We’ve been working away at an album which should be finished this year at some point. Its top secret but we may be about to drop a new single – ‘Science Of Sorrow’ [Ed’s note: the song has come out since we did this interview]. We are pretty stoked about this song as it is our longest yet (over 5 mins) and quite different from our other material.

EDEN: One of our mates is hiding in a scene so there’s a Where’s Wally kinda scenario in the new music vid.

I know recently you were super excited to be working on a music vid with Kieran Griffiths Filmmaking; tell us a little bit about it?

LACHLAN: Kieran is a mate we met at a gig and have been good mates since and he did a degree in film so we thought it would fun to work together.

CONSTANCE: We were filming the music vid for our next single. It was pretty fun we all just set up in Tim’s living room for a couple of hours. Kieran is super talented and we are pretty honoured to be working on this with him.

EDEN: The Griffiths twins are our insanely talented best mates, Kieran had been bringing his camera to Gathos and one night we got talking and said it would be cool to do a collab. He directed and shot the whole thing singlehandedly. I’m really proud of it cuz the new song is my baby and is very personal to me. He made me punch yet another concrete wall and made Tim sing which was great. Keen as mustard for yas all to hear it.

How are you keeping busy while we’re all locked down at home right now?

LACHLAN: Lots of recording and Netflix and Minecraft.

CONSTANCE: Studying a marketing degree and a lot of songwriting and jamming.

TIM: Hanging with my girlfriend and fishing.

EDEN: Painting and gardening and watching Friends at 6pm on channel 11.

Please check out: LUNCHTIME. Lunchtime on Facebook. Lunchtime on Instagram.