Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dragging Pianos, Townsville

Current band rollcall?
I record most of it, but I'm a lousy performer so I get help from Bree (The Middle East) live. Some other Middle East guys have offered their services if I came on tour with them.

Dragging Pianos has been around since ...

Let's play Six Degrees of Dragging Pianos. What are some interesting musical links you could come up with?
I live with the Middle East. They practice downstairs. They don't play their hits much – it's usually a set of silly novelty songs inspired by Halo 2. Maybe they'll play them live if you request them (You will Respawn, Eagle for The Kill, Take A Bit of My Shield).

Nathan Roche (Marf Loth) is the most charming man in Sydney. I was going to release my records through his label Artgound Records but he's proven himself to be totally and utterly incompetent, which adds to the charm all the more.

The best man at my dad's wedding (and vice versa) is Phil Jamieson's father. It's unfortunate because I can't see Grinspoon fans having much love for my songs.

First song ever written?
Someone Else, a punk rock song in B minor. It was intended to be a profound statement against bullying. It was very very lame but I was only 13 at the time. I wrote a whole EP of songs similar in nature that I hope no one else in the universe has access to.

Music making for you began when...
I moved to an Aboriginal community in NT and wasn't into motorbikes like the other boys.

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music?

Strangest gig you've ever played?
Under 13s rugby league grand final.

Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?
Ronn Moss's I'm Your Man. I don't know why, but the hit song One More Try just kills me. I wish I could have seen him at one of his shopping centre appearances when he was in Australia.

Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics?
Preparation of food.

If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer ...
I thought pretty hard about this and I've concluded that my songs are not practically applicable to life. Not even metaphorically.

Unless of course you want to go back 1999 (teenage punk rock days), where I had a reservoir of wisdom that I was more than willing to share in my songs. "Open up your eyes, forget those lies" (about racism); "You gotta see a friend's fortune as a blessing" (about jealousy) – the messages weren't very subtle.

Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song?
In Xmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis by Tom Waits:

"Wish I had all the money
We used to spend on dope
I'd buy me a used car lot
And I wouldn't sell any of them
Just drive a different car everyday
Depending on how I feel"

It's probably not that useful but it's a wonderful thought anyway.


The story in The Gift by The Velvet Underground. Next time I need to get somewhere cheap, I'll know what to do.

Do you think the town you live in affects your music in any way?
Yes. I guess the isolation brings people together – the Townsville music scene is very close. People encourage creativity a whole lot. We put on our own shows in condemned warehouses and in art galleries – it's really great.

You would love to record with ...
A bunch of good songs, a lot of instruments, and good recording gear. (Maybe Mark Linkous as well).

Favourite person you have performed with/recorded with ...
Jake Core – he's a good friend and an excellent songwriter.

Outside of Dragging Pianos, you spend your time ...
Studying. Stacking shelves at Coles.

Next for you is ...
Finishing off a cardboard piano I've made for live shows. It will make a lousy little midi keyboard look like an old red piano. It's magnificent.

I'm also writing/recording songs about love at the moment. The EP is going to be called In The Desert.

Also I'm hoping to release The Food Chain which is an EP I recorded last year. It's based off a little story that appears in every song.

If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called...

Dragging Pianos appears on the Local Fidelity compilation that I put together to help raise money for FBI. You can get it online here for $12 postage paid or $10 at certain Save FBI fundraiser gigs. All proceeds go to keeping FBI on-air.

Food Chain #2 by Dragging Pianos is one of the many great reasons to hunt it down – hushed and gorgeous, your heart would have to be deepfrozen to not like it, it's one of my favourite songs for a long time. It appears on the upcoming re-release of The Food Chain EP. You can find out more about Dragging Pianos here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Save FBI 94.5FM at the Metro

Photo of Sherlock's Daughter by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

Sometimes it's hard to know what to do with a public holiday. Wanting to maximise this bonus day off, you can get sidetracked by all the choices and end up doing nothing!

This Queen's Birthday, the decision was pretty easy. The music-savvy folks at Spunk Records had kindly organised a FBI 94.5FM fundraiser at the Metro with a brilliant line-up: New Buffalo, The Middle East, Machine Translations, Firekites, Sherlock's Daughter, Megastick Fanfare just to name some of the 30 bands who lugged their gear on stage and captivated the crowd.

Photo of Sherlock's Daughter by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

It was good to see Sherlock's Daughter again. I was a little sad that they didn't use the pumpkin thumb piano they mentioned on-air when they were on Local Fidelity the night before. They put on a pretty lively show though, lack of musical vegetables aside.

Photo of Tim from the Firekites by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

My major disappointment of the night? Learning - via Shag, from Arvos - that Firekites had done an incredible cover version of 16 Beats by New Buffalo while I was manning the FBI merch desk. I was crushed! Especially as I've been in love with that song since it appeared on Sally Seltmann's first EP back in 2001. One consolation though - Tim from Firekites says they will likely to play the song again live, because it worked so well.

Photo of New Buffalo by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

Semi-speaking of New Buffalo, it was great to see her play again after a long absence from Sydney stages. The good news is that she is recording a new album and we got a taste of it when New Buffalo played an incredibly upbeat song from it, dedicated to "all the ladies in the house". Apparently the record will have a much more poppier energy to it than previous New Buffalo albums.

Photo of The Middle East by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

The unmistakable highlight of the night was seeing The Middle East perform again. I saw them back in February - in the more squishy confines of a sold-out Hopetoun Hotel show - but it was great to see them span their wings on a much bigger stage.

The band seemed energised by the thrill of (possibly?) performing to one of the largest crowds they've played so far.

I re-fell in love with their song Blood again (a track that Shag is so smitten with, he wishes he could have a legal relationship with it - he would marry that song if he could!)

For me, watching the seven-piece band recreate it onstage was mesmerising. The part in Blood where the band becomes a racuous choir - and the song surges into full-flight harmonies - was joyously loud and heart-halting. It was one of the most amazing things I've seen live this year. I can't wait to see The Middle East again.

Photo of The Middle East by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

Thanks to the swarm of great people who came to the show, bought CDs, FBI bags and merch and let their coins clang into our donation buckets. Keep saving FBI through the many gigs yet to come.

Photo of The Middle East by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

You can also check out some more great photos of the night, taken by my boyfriend Will, who spent most of the show running from stage to stage, camera lens in hand.