Archive | September, 2013

Misfits Announce Australian Tour!

20 Sep

When you think of a band that is defined as being outside the realms of what is punk, one of the first bands to spring to mind has to be the one and only Misfits. They have left their darkened imprint on many a soul worldwide with their iconic horror punk stylings, blending the intensity of punk rock with themes and imagery from horror films and literature for over 35 years and they are making their long awaited return to Australia in 2014!

There is little doubt that Misfits have had a major influence on many different bands over the years both in image and of course with their music. A testament to this is that they been covered by a myriad of artists such as Metallica, Guns ‘N Roses, My Chemical Romance, NOFX, Cradle Of Filth, Sick Of It All, AFI and The Alkaline Trio which has resulted in the Misfits being introduced to completely new different audiences with each of rocks new generations.

Attending a Misfits performance is a totally immersive experience; the band gives it 110% from start to finish with unbridled energy and every drop of their blood, sweat and tears is left on the stage leaving many of their contemporaries looking like a bunch of amateurs and let’s face it, the Misfits would not have it any other way! Unlike many live shows, a Misfits show is like a veritable punk rock family gathering where everyone comes together under one roof to have some fun!

Tour Dates: January 2014

Fri, Jan 10 – Bodega – Wellington NZ

Sat, Jan 11 – Kings Arms – Auckland NZ

Thurs, Jan 16 – The Zoo – Brisbane

Fri, Jan 17 – Corner Hotel – Melbourne

Sat, Jan 18 – The Factory Theatre – Sydney

Sun, Jan 19 – Amplifier – Perth Tickets only $59 + bf available from metropolistouring.com

Strictly Limited VIP Meet and Greet Packages available for all Australian shows!

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LORD take over Japan!

19 Sep

Sydney Melodic Metal band, LORD are currently tearing it up in Japan on their current Digital Live tour. LORD have been one of Australia’s premier Metal bands for quite some time now and are enjoying the success their recent albums have brought them.

This is the bands 7th visit to Japan and will wrap up the Digital Live tour which has seen the band tour other countries such as Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and Germany.

Check out the bands tour promo here:

A Conversation With: Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree)

13 Sep

Visionary, Genius and the best musician you’ve never heard of. These are just a few of the descriptions you’ll hear about Steven Wilson. There’s no denying that the man is a true pioneer of the Modern Progressive music era. He’s produced, written and recorded some of Modern Progressive music’s greatest albums and now he’s back with his latest solo album, ‘The Raven That Refused to Sing’. Steven will be heading to Australia to play a run of shows which will feature his quadrophonic sound system and his remarkable backing band. We had the pleasure of chatting to Steven about his incredible career and what we can expect to see on his upcoming aussie tour.

Congratulations on the new record, Steven, as well as your first Australian tour. Your live performances so far have received some amazing feedback, could you tell me about how these shows will differ from your average live show, and in particular how the “quadraphonic sound” aspect will take place?

Thank you very much. Well, I mean, the simple answer to the question is they won’t; the shows won’t differ. We’re bringing the whole thing. The whole idea of the show is to provide a completely immersive audio-visual experience which sounds like a very pretentious way of basically saying that the show has got lots of things going on that have nothing to do with the musicians playing on stage, which of course is still the centrepiece of the show but, there are many other elements to the show; visual and audio. We have screens, we have films, we have stuff going on before the show, we have stuff going on after the show which are a little bit out of the tradition of the regular rock and roll concert experience. Another thing that is kind of different is the fact that we have the quadraphonic sound system. I’m not the only person to be doing quadraphonic sound, but I think I’m probably the only person, the only artists doing it at this level. If you go and see Muse or you see Roger Waters doing ‘The Wall’, you’ll get quadraphonic sound, but you’re talking about massive stadiums. I’m trying to bring this kind of experience to a smaller, more intimate club/concert hall. And that, I think, is quite unusual; I don’t know of anyone else doing it at this level, but the idea is really just to create more of a sense of the music surrounding you. One of the things I do in my studio life, is remixing classic albums and my own music, into 5.1  surround sound, and I have a reputation for doing that. So I think bringing that live context is a logical step for me.

Something like that would have taken a lot of organisation and careful thought; has the level of planning that this requires skyrocketed, in comparison to one of your regular shows, especially with this being an international tour?

Yes, it has. I mean the show is not an easy one to stage. It took me about three months work, originally, before we did any of the shows with the solo band. It took me about three weeks to figure out how I wanted to do it, all of the production elements that I wanted, the film, projectors, screens, the quadraphonic sound; it took a long time to prepare all of that. It is hard work, but I think for me personally, I think it’s important to be trying to do something that kind of differentiates my show from every other show, because there are so many bands out there touring right now. There’s probably more bands touring now than any other time in the history of rock music because if you’re a professional musician, that’s the only way you can make a living; to go out on the road. You can’t sell records anymore. So there’s a lot of bands out there and I think there’s a lot of competition for the money that people have to spend on concert tickets. So I think for me, it was important that when I went out with the solo show, I actually didn’t think about it as a commercial venture, I just simply thought about “how can I blow some minds?”, you know, how can I really make an impression with something that people perhaps won’t get from any other show, to make it a really unique experience. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t cheap, I did lose money for the first couple of tours; I lost a lot of money but I think the important thing was that people went away from the show kind of raving to their friends about it, “You have to see this amazing show!” and that’s kind of the way it’s worked. So the word of mouth has built up now, and it’s doing okay. It’s still expensive to put on but it’s been totally worthwhile for me.

What has it been like working with people like Guthrie Govan and Alan Parsons? Both of them have an extensive musical history, it must have been quite the experience.

Do you write for a guitar magazine?

Haha, no I don’t.

Okay, because the only people that I’ve come across that actually knew who Guthrie Govan was are people who write for guitar magazines, because I’d never heard of him.

Oh really?

Yeah, I had never heard of him, and I don’t think most people I know had heard of him. The only people I knew that knew Guthrie, were people who were either guitar players, or wrote for guitar magazines.

Well, I am a guitar player myself.

You are a guitar player;  okay, that sort of answers my question because I have to be honest, I’d never heard of Guthrie and I’m just beginning to appreciate now how much of a legend he is amongst the guitar playing community. He’s extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary, but I think he’s unknown outside of those, or at least he was; I’d never heard of him. He was recommended to me by my drummer, Marco Minnemann who has a project with Guthrie. I was totally blown away by Guthrie. I don’t normally like so called “shredders”, I don’t like anyone that plays with some kind of a limp-pick technique, unless they can play one note and really break my heart, you know? I think that’s what music is about. Guthrie can totally do that. He has the technique but he also has the ability to play the simple thing if he thinks it’s the right thing to do. So to answer your question, how was it like to work with Guthrie? I didn’t know who he was, he was just an extraordinary musician to me, so I guess the legend of him was not a factor for me. In contrast, to working with someone like Alan Parsons, where clearly the legend definitely preceded him. In the case of Alan, I was very familiar with him and had grown up listening to the records he had made, but you know, like a lot of great artists, when you get to know them, they are very passionate about what they do and they’re music lovers and they love making music and they love working with people that are creative and have integrity about what they do. Alan did a fantastic job, he’s a sweet guy, and it was very easy, actually. It was a very easy-going connection.

How did you go about organising that with Alan? Did he approach you or did you approach him in terms of engineering the new record?

Well what happened was that I made a decision that I wanted to record the band, the six piece band, including myself, pretty much live. Which is such a fashionable way to make records these days. People tend to make records by careful control and gradual overdubbing, so you get the drummer in for a week, you get the bass player in for a few days and you get a lot of control recording that way. But I was very committed to the idea of making this record with the band all facing each other in the studio and playing live, and that’s what we did. But having made that kind of decision to do it that way, I realised that  I wouldn’t be so much in control of the actual recording process, because normally I would engineer my own records, but I knew that I was going to be playing in the band, in the other room. So I needed someone I really could implicitly trust, and also understood how to record musicians working in that way, which is the way that everyone recorded in the 70’s. At that point, Alan became top of my list for people that I wanted to engineer my record. So we called him up, and luckily he knew who I was and he was kind of a fan of some of my work, from then it became quite easy to get him on board.

I know you’ve probably been asked this hundreds of times now, but Porcupine Tree was the first of your music that I heard, and the first prog that I was hooked on as a teen growing up, discovering the genre. Is there any point in the foreseeable future that Porcupine Tree could possibly reform?

The thing about Porcupine Tree is that it hasn’t broken up, I’ve not done anything melodramatic like say “This is over.” but at the same time I am doing other things now, and I feel like I am still evolving as a musician. Part of that evolution process is doing different things and collaborating with different people. I think the perspective is different from a fan’s point of view because fans become very attached to romantic notions of a particular band and a particular sound and a particular dynamic and personality that a band has. I understand that a lot of people are attached to the Porcupine Tree sound. But Porcupine Tree itself started off as a solo project, the first three albums are just me and it became a band later on. So in a way I feel like history is repeating itself with my solo career; it’s become a band and has more of a band sound and has more of that band identity. I feel like that’s important to me, that there are different possibilities available to me with working with different people and perhaps making slightly different kinds of music. Having said all that, the simple answer to your question is I don’t know, but yes there is a possibility. It hasn’t broken up and I like the idea that it’s still there and I can still get together and make another record with Gavin and Richard and Colin at some point.

Well I mean, after you focus on your solo work, you eventually might feel like you want to continue that.

I think the mistake is to consider the solo career somehow as an aberration, or just a temporary side project because it isn’t, and I can tell you now that the solo work for me will probably be the most important-will be the key project for me, probably for the rest of my working career. So in a way, I feel like it’s what I’ve always worked towards, you know, PT would have to fit in with that. It’s not like the solo band is just a little side thing and I’ll go back to my day job at some point, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude the idea of doing another record, for sure.

I read in a previous interview that you don’t write music with any particular demographic in mind; you write for yourself. How has the fan feedback for your most recent album “The Raven That Refused to Sing” been, given that the sound has changed quite a bit to that of Grace For Drowning and especially Insurgentes?

I think the difference was, I knew I was writing for particular musical personalities. The difference between the first two solo records, and this one, “The Raven That Refused to Sing”, is that the first two records were made without any particular idea of which musicians would be playing on each track. So basically I would write the music and then I would say to myself “Hmm, okay, who should I get to play drums on this. Who should I get to play bass on this?” and I would kind of find the musicians that I felt were appropriate for each track. With The Raven, because I’d already been on tour and I’d already put my band together, and I really enjoyed the chemistry that this particular line up had, I had in my mind already, an idea about how I could write music, specifically for that  band line up to play. Taking into account the personalities of Marco the drummer, Nick the bass player, Adam the keyboard player and Guthrie who came in just before the record. So I wrote very much with those guys in mind, and I think that’s the major difference that you hear , is that actually, if it doesn’t sound like a contradiction to say it; it’s a solo record but it’s actually also a band record, and it’s probably the first band record I’ve made since the last Porcupine Tree record, in that sense.

I was curious as well, I know that you wrote the album but when the other musicians came in, did they have any suggestions about the music or see any parts and want to add their own input?

Okay, here’s the thing. They didn’t write any parts, but the thing is, when those guys are playing, for example, certainly with the solos, when someone like Adam or Guthrie or Theo step up to take a solo, they are completely improvising and it’s their musical voice that you’re listening to. There are a lot of solos on this record, so when those guys are soloing, whether it’s a Fender Rhodes, a Moog, guitar, or saxophone or flute, or whatever it is, I’m not telling them what notes to play. They are soloing, and they are improvising completely with their musical voice. I think that’s a very important element on this record because there are a lot of solos, and some of the greatest moments on the record probably come from the way they solo and improvise, based on the basic material which was written by me. So I think the answer to your question is all the structures, chords and melodies are written for them, but the solos-you know, there’s a lot you can do as a musician obviously, even when you’re playing parts. I mean, Marco is always, in a sense, is exploring the possibilities of the rhythms, and the detail of the rhythms. Same with the bass player, Nick. There are always fills going on that are completely their personality. It would have been silly of me to get these extraordinary musicians in my band and then try to dictate to them exactly every note and every event that they play and that’s not what I do. I kind of let them express their musical characters, but through the music that is quite tightly composed, if that doesn’t sound like a contradiction.

At what point did recording albums and producing music change from being something that you did by yourself, for your own benefit to something that you could make a living out of and be successful in?

Well that’s a difficult question to answer, because for many years it was borderline-you could argue whether I was actually making a living at all. I started as a professional musician in 1992, twenty one years ago now, and I would say that probably for the first ten years, it was a struggle, and it was barely a living, and I had to do other things in order to continue to make music professionally. I think what’s interesting there is that if I had not done the other things, it might have possibly begun to affect the purity of the creative side of being a musician, and that’s important because there are many people in the music industry that have to compromise their music in order to get paid, ultimately. I’ve managed somehow to avoid doing that for most of my career. I’m now in a situation, a very fortunate situation, where I basically make exactly the music I want, and I don’t compromise, but luckily for me there are enough people out there that like the fact that I do that. that I don’t have to compromise in any way. I don’t have to make my music radio friendly or MTV friendly, I don’t even have to make it so that it’s journalist friendly or media friendly; I have a good fan base now. The reason I say that is because I think it was fairly hard earned, over a period of probably the first years. It was a struggle, and I think now it’s even harder than it was for me.

Yeah?

Well you’re a musician yourself, so you probably understand what I’m talking about. It’s never been harder, I think, to get a foothold as a professional in the industry, because the music industry hardly exists. It’s hanging on by the skin of its teeth but it barely exists. It still kind of existed and it was still fairly healthy when I started. It’s a difficult question to answer, I started making a proper living from being a musician, probably about seven or eight years after I technically became a professional musician.

Unfortunately we are running out of time, and I know they don’t like us going over, so if you could finish this off with one crucial piece of advice for people like, I guess myself, who are trying to break into the music industry and make a successful career out of this. What advice would you give someone starting up?

This kind of leads on from what we were just talking about. The best advice I can give to any aspiring musician-it sounds very facetious in a way but it is honestly  the best advice I can give, and it’s this: Don’t even think about having a career in the music industry, just think about what you want to do creatively and do it the best you can. If you somehow manage by accident to find that leads to a career in the music industry, that’s a bonus. But I don’t honestly think that you can expect to be really exploring your creativity with integrity if you’re thinking about trying to make a living from the music industry. Do you see what I mean?

Absolutely.

I think that’s a decision that you have to make fairly early on. My advice has always been, be incredibly selfish. The point is that there are so many out there making music, there’s way too many people making music these days. There is a million bands on Myspace, Facebook, Bandcamp and on Spotify; millions of bands! I think what you have to do is find what is really unique about what your musical personality is. And that’s sometimes hard, because there’re so many people out there doing it. Just find something really unique about your style. It’s probably there and you just have to find it and you have to accentuate that. That’s what will bring you an audience, the thing that makes you different, not the thing that makes you the same. And that’s kind of the way it worked for me, but you know it’s not easy. It’s not easy.

That’s probably the best advice, or answer to that question I’ve received so far. Thank you very, very much for you time, congratulations on the album again, and good luck with the tour.

My pleasure, William. Thanks very much, and hopefully I’ll see you at one of the shows.