All posts tagged melbourne

  • The Weekend Australian Review story: ‘Sight Unseen: Audio description for blind theatregoers’, September 2017

    A feature story for The Weekend Australian Review. Excerpt below.

    Sight Unseen

    For theatregoers with impaired vision, audio description services help to make sense of what’s happening on stage.

    'Sight Unseen: Audio description for blind Australian theatregoers' story in The Weekend Australian Review by Andrew McMillen, September 2017

    You are sitting in the front row of a theatre when a calm, male voice begins­ to speak into your ear, welcoming­ you and setting out key details about the play you are here to see. “The Merlyn theatre is a flexible, black-box theatre space,” says the voice. “For Elephant Man, the audience sits in a rectangular seating bank opposite to the stage. The stage is raised about 40cm off the ground, and takes up the full width of the Merlyn, about 10m wide.”

    You are listening intently to the voice because­ you cannot see what it is describing. You are blind, but you love going to the theatre, and you want to better understand the performance beyond the dialogue that all attendees can hear from the stage. This is why you are at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne’s inner city on a rainy Friday night, listening as the shape and layout of the stage begins to take shape in your mind’s eye.

    “A black proscenium arch frames the playing area, about 5m tall, creating a wide rectangul­ar space,” continues the voice. “A ­curtain of black gauze covers the entire width of the stage at its front edge, separating us from the playing area. We can see through the sheer material, but it softens the edges of everything behind it.”

    You are hearing the voice because your earphones are connected to a wireless radio receive­r that sits inside the palm of your hand. Later, this wonderful technology will allow you to follow the action you can’t follow with your eyes.

    While the boisterous audience take their seats behind you in the minutes before a performan­ce of The Real and Imagined History of the Elephant Man begins, you are listening to pre-show notes that are being broadcast into your ears from the green room on the building’s third floor. There, a bespectacled 26-year-old named Will McRostie sits before a computer, a live video feed of the stage, and some audio equipment that allows him to speak into the ears of theatregoers who have registered for audio description services this evening.

    “The play makes extensive use of smoke and haze effects,” says McRostie’s voice. “Nozzles emitting smoke are hidden in the walls of the set, sometimes leaking heavy mist that tracks along the ground, and sometimes blasting plumes of light smoke that billows to fill the space. Two powerful fans set into the floor of the space are sometimes activated to catch this smoke and propel it toward the ceiling. On occasion, the smoke is so heavy it becomes difficult to see the performers.”

    Difficulty in seeing the performers is the entire­ purpose of audio description, a niche and little-known service that is sometimes — but not often — available for people with low vision who attend theatres and cinemas. Because of its exclusivity and the resources required to produce­ the service, it is usually available only in Australia’s capital cities, and only for the bigges­t productions on the annual theatre and cinema calendars.

    To date, audio description has largely been provided in an ad hoc manner by volunteers and, as a result, the quality of the service exper­ienced by blind patrons can vary wildly. McRostie is at the forefront of a movement to professionalise it, however, which is why he founded an arts start-up named Description Victoria in March this year.

    To read the full story, visit The Australian. Above photo credit: David Geraghty.

  • The Weekend Australian Magazine story: ‘Saving Face: Brenton Cadd’, October 2016

    A feature story for The Weekend Australian Magazine, published in the October 22-23 issue. Excerpt below.

    Saving Face

    Need a new nose, eye or ear? Meet the ‘spare parts’ man changing lives

    The Weekend Australian Magazine story: 'Saving Face: Brenton Cadd' by Andrew McMillen, October 2016. Photo by Julian Kingma

    In January 1970, a young man joined the facial prosthetics department at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. As an apprentice ­dental technician, Brenton Cadd, 17, began learning on the job how to fix people with ­disfigurement so that they might be freed of shame or embarrassment. His mentor in the four-man department was Cliff Wellington, a ­signwriter by trade who’d served in the army as a dental technician. He had a painter’s eye for detail, and in 1945 he’d transitioned into the nascent field of facial prosthetics. Returned servicemen missing ears, eyes and noses were in dire need of some form of camouflage to help them blend into a crowd. Through a peculiar mix of technical ability and artistry, Wellington was an Australian pioneer who passed onto his young charge his aptitude for working on small, intimate canvases.

    Today, a framed photo of a smiling Wellington sits prominently on a shelf near the door that leads into a workshop managed by Brenton Cadd. For 46 years he has devoted his life to a single workplace and this single task. Through the use of silicon, empathy, paint, patience, titanium, plaster and good humour, he is a leader in a highly ­specialised field that employs only a handful of people across the country. He is a quiet achiever whose work takes time, and whose time at the Royal Melbourne Hospital is much nearer its end than its beginning. What will happen after he sees his last patient is unclear, for what he does for them is nothing less than life-changing.

    You could pass Cadd in a crowd without a ­second glance. If you are a long-time fan of the Hawthorn Football Club, you are likely to have done just that at a home game. He does not invest too much time in his appearance and wears polo shirts with a breast pocket in which he keeps a small notebook he calls “the brain” . It helps him remember his many pressing tasks. He is bearded, with kindly blue eyes that have looked upon thousands of patients who, whether they are able to articulate it or not, are relying on him to co-create a new identity for lives riven by the trauma of looking different from everyone else.

    Here he is, on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-August, looking squarely at a patient whose left eye was removed due to cancer. Geelong retiree Pamela Flatt, 68, sits on a high-backed ­dentist’s chair while her husband and daughter perch nearby. Flatt’s left eye socket is now covered by a skin graft and her disguise is a pair of thick-framed spectacles, with the left eye coloured solid white. In the near future she will no longer have a use for these glasses as a transformation led by Cadd is slowly taking place. Around the edge of her eye socket, screwed into bone, are three abutments made of pure titanium. Soon, a silicon-based ­prosthesis will be clipped into place with magnets.

    Flatt is a grandmother of six and a great-grandmother of three. Since her nine-hour operation to remove the cancer over a year ago, she has hardly locked herself away from the public eye: in fact, she has just returned from a trip to Thailand with a girlfriend, where she rode on an elephant. “Why not?” she reasons. “Life’s too short.”

    Despite her positive outlook, the metal implants have drawn attention. “Kids are looking at me like I’m an alien or something: ‘That lady’s got funny things in her head!’ ” she says. “They weren’t bothered until I had those things put in.” Nerve damage means that she can’t feel the ­titanium plate behind her skin, nor Cadd’s hands as he uses a small torque screwdriver to tighten the abutments. He then covers her eye socket with two layers of a rubber-like material for making a cast and lets it set on her face for a couple of minutes. Just like having a wax job, she quips.

    While she sits still and silent, Flatt’s daughter steps in to take a snapshot for posterity. “Someone usually takes a photo,” Cadd says, smiling. With care, he removes the cast, which will later be used for a custom-made mould that fits the exact contours of her eye socket. He excuses himself to retrieve from next door a beautifully hand-crafted eye prosthesis for a younger woman, complete with thick lashes, a realistic brown eye and dark eyeliner. It’s a work of art. “That’s what we’re aiming for,” Cadd says. “But we’re still about five visits off something like that.”

    The appointment concludes after an hour, but before Flatt heads back to Geelong she turns to Cadd and jokes: “I can’t be a one-eyed Cats ­supporter then, can I?”

    To read the full story, visit The Australian. Above photo credit: Julian Kingma.

  • Rolling Stone album review: The Drones – ‘I See Seaweed’, March 2013

    An album review for the April 2013 issue of Rolling Stone Australia. Click the below image for a closer look, or read the review text underneath.

    The Drones
    I See Seaweed

    The Drones explore cracks of beauty and humour amid the darkness on sixth LP

    The Drones - 'I See Seaweed' album reviewed in March 2013 issue of Rolling Stone by Andrew McMillenThis album’s greatest surprise is saved for the penultimate track, ‘Laika’: an orchestral upswing suddenly blooms from nowhere, and it’s later paired with a harmonising female choir. Neither stylistic decision sits well with The Drones’ reputation for misanthropic, noisy rock ‘n’ roll, but the result is beautiful.

    This Melbourne band’s sixth studio album sees keyboardist Steve Hesketh expanding the quartet to a five-piece. His contributions here work well, often providing another layer of rhythmic bedrock to keep these eight tracks grounded; on ‘How To See Through Fog’, though, Hesketh’s tinkering accounts for a memorable lead melody.

    Singer Gareth Liddiard is well-known for penning some of the most original rhyming couplets in Australian music; I See Seaweed is no exception. The eight-minute title track alludes to rising seas and overpopulation: “We’re locksteppin’ in our billions,” he sings, “Locksteppin’ in our swarms / Locksteppin’ in the certainty that more need to be born”. It’s the heaviest song – lyrically and musically – that The Drones have released since ‘Jezebel’, the devastating opener to 2006’s Gala Mill.

    But it’s not all dark. ‘Nine Eyes’ sees Liddiard using Google Street View to visit his childhood home – accompanied by a sinister groove – and wondering “what kind of asshole drives this lime green Commodore” parked out front; ‘A Moat You Can Stand In’ matches a hilarious skewering of modern religious practices to a taut, thrash-rock tempo that nods at their early material.

    I See Seaweed captures a singular band in scintillating form, delivering yet another astounding collection of songs.

    Label: MGM
    Rating: 4.5 stars

    Key tracks: ‘I See Seaweed’, ‘Laika’, ‘Nine Eyes’

    Elsewhere: I interviewed Gareth Liddiard for The Vine a fortnight before the album’s release

  • Mess+Noise album review: ‘Lostworks’ by Faux Pas, April 2011

    An album review for Mess+Noise. Excerpt below.

    Faux PasLostworks

    Less cohesive than last year’s Noiseworks, but no less compelling, Lostworks is a collection of “lost songs” and b-sides created by Melbourne musician Tim Shiel between 2008 and 2010. Crucially, these aren’t half-formed ideas mashed together just for the sake of pumping out a follow-up; after all, he’s charging zero dollars for it, so it’s hardly an attempt to cash in on the success of Noiseworks, his second full-length release. Instead, Shiel appears to have invested a similar amount of time and effort into polishing these tracks for public consumption: he calls this release a “companion piece to Noiseworks” on his website.

    Lostworks’ production isn’t as immediately attention-grabbing as what we heard on his 2010 effort – to my ears, there’s a little less depth in the bass, and fewer gaudy synth sounds filling out the high-end – but the result is still more than serviceable, considering it was assembled, produced and probably mastered by Shiel himself.

    As ever, it’s difficult to judge just how much of Faux Pas’ output is sampled and how much is original, as these songs betray very little about their origins. Even when Shiel teases listeners with familiar musical phrases, they’re skewed almost beyond recognition. He re-appropriates Carole King’s vocals from ‘Where You Lead’ – a song made famous by Barbra Streisand – throughout ‘I Will Follow’. In album closer ‘Don’t Go’, he hints at ‘Waterfalls’ by TLC. (The latter inclusion is a titular nod to Noiseworks’lead single ‘Chasing Waterfalls’.)

    For the full review, visit Mess+Noise. For more Faux Pas, visit his website (where you can – and should – download the album for free). An audio sample of Lostworks is embedded below.

    Lostworks (free album download) by Faux Pas

  • The Weekend Australian story: ‘Independent bookshops: Holding the line’, March 2011

    A feature story for The Weekend Australian Review. The full story is included below.

    Independent bookshops: Holding the line

    Some of the big boys may be in trouble, but independent bookshop owners are stubbornly hanging on, writes Andrew McMillen

    “We’re all a little bit crazy. We’re all a little bit obsessive. We all work far too hard. We’re really passionate about what we do. We all do a huge amount of unpaid work in the community. We’re all literary award judges. We talk to schools. We’re passionate about literacy.”

    Fiona Stager, co-founder of Avid Reader in Brisbane’s inner south, is describing the sort of people who own and operate independent bookstores across the country.

    Suzy Wilson, owner of Riverbend Books in Bulimba, an inner-east suburb of the Queensland capital, wouldn’t argue with that assessment. There’s “a certain addiction to doing this”, she says. “I love it and believe in it. I believe in how important bookshops are in communities, to the extent that I’m not prepared to disappear.” With a laugh, she adds an afterthought, “Which my accountant thinks would be a really good idea.”

    Entrance to Riverbend Books is gained by passing through the bustling Teahouse, Riverbend’s cafe. Monday morning business is brisk and walk-ins are hard-pressed to find empty seats. Inside, dozens browse the shelves; among them, young professionals and mothers with babes in arms. The sound of children laughing and playing echoes throughout the space. Handwritten staff recommendations hang from every other shelf. Overhead, a jazz soundtrack is played at just the right volume.

    A former schoolteacher, Wilson knows “a lot about literacy and the ways of leading children towards books”, but had “less than zero” business knowledge when she decided to open the store in 1998. Based on what she gleaned from books on the subject — and what other medium would a prospective bookshop owner use to increase her knowledge? — it became clear that since her business would not be based in a shopping centre or an area with a high passing trade, Wilson needed “some other thing to make it a destination”.

    Hence the Teahouse. Initially, a relaxation of Bulimba’s town planning laws allowed her to sell coffee, sushi and sandwiches, but not hot food. Since then, the overall store space has doubled and the Teahouse is now a restaurant in its own right, serving breakfast and lunch daily. Its earnings account for about 30 per cent of Riverbend’s overall business, but Wilson hopes the books and food split will return to 50-50, as it was in recent years. The two operations “complement each other really nicely”, she says.

    Visiting authors have commented on the bookstore’s atmosphere. Children’s author James Maloney regards it as the “community church”, and another writer compared it with an English pub, referring to the store’s power as a social space. “I really like that role,” says Wilson, eloquent and generous in conversation, and with her praise of others.

    Last year Wilson travelled to New York with Stager and two other bookshop owners, Mark Rubbo and Derek Dryden. Dryden is owner of Better Read Than Dead, in Sydney’s Newtown and Rubbo is general manager of independent chain Readings, which operates six shops across Melbourne. “He’s one of the few who’s significantly increased his online sales,” Wilson says, with unbridled admiration.

    Rubbo makes the point that “people will always want to have some face-to-face contact and the pleasure of going into a bookshop, discovering things and talking to people. I think it will always be important. But that aspect of the business is losing market share to internet retailers.”

    In New York Rubbo, Wilson, Stager and Dryden were the Australian contingent at Book Expo America, the largest annual US book trade fair. Calling it a place where “many interesting minds come together to talk and think about the book industry, and where it’s going”, Wilson found conversations there were the impetus for “facing the music”; for adding up the risks involved in continuing and the chances for survival.

    Wilson nevertheless gives the impression she would rather not have to deal with questions about her business and its future, whether asked by her accountant, her customers or a journalist. The mere existence of pleasant, inviting bookshops such as her own should be punctuated with an exclamation point, not a question mark. After all, what else but passion could fuel the pursuit of an endeavour such as hers?

    The business concerns of bookshops have been widely discussed of late, due largely to the mid-February announcement that REDgroup Retail — the company that oversees book chains Borders and Angus & Robertson — was entering voluntary administration. REDgroup chairman Steven Cain pointed his finger squarely at the federal government for its refusal to lift import restrictions or enforce GST on online shopping.

    When this topic is raised, Wilson is unequivocal. “I regard it as grossly, grossly unfair that Amazon doesn’t have to collect GST. Canada make them do it, so why can’t we?” she asks. “I’ve written a few letters to politicians over the years. I’ve been bamboozled as to why no one wants to do anything about it.”

    To Wilson, Amazon — the world’s biggest bookshop, whose storefront exists solely online — is “that horrible word we don’t like to use too often”. No wonder. Businesses such as Amazon and the Book Depository, an emerging online bookshop based in England that offers heavily discounted titles and free shipping to Australia, have altered the way customers buy books.

    Wilson tells a story about book-club members who had been buying titles at the store for 10 years. Discovering the Book Depository had the same books for half the price, members “took me to task”, Wilson says. “I asked if they’d let me put up a spirited defence of my situation because they actually thought I was ripping them off.” She sighs. “That hurts. So I put up my defence, but they’d already ordered the books, so they went away a bit sheepish. I said, ‘If you buy from them, you’re saying that this place has no value in our community.’ I completely understand that you have to watch your dollars, but it’s a choice about where you watch them and what you value in your community. I think you have to look at the bigger picture and say: ‘Do I want a community without a local bookstore?’ ”

    But this is all business talk. Wilson would much prefer to discuss Riverbend’s role as a community hub; how, for instance, seven local school principals use the Teahouse for their monthly breakfast meetings. Wilson regularly sits in with them. “They’re a really interesting group,” she says. In their most recent meeting, the topic of social media came up. It turned out that none of them — all “oldies”, according to Wilson, who lumps herself into that demographic — uses Facebook or Twitter. She realised last year all of her staff were “competent and involved” with such networks; at the time, she was blissfully ignorant yet aware of the necessity to keep her finger on the digital pulse. So, with the school principals as the first guinea pigs, Riverbend will soon begin hosting social media classes.

    These are the kinds of gaps Wilson loves filling: an in-demand service, provided for a greater good. An example is the Indigenous Literacy Project, which Wilson founded in 2004: since the start of the project more than 60,000 books have been delivered to 200 remote communities across the country.

    Wilson believes social projects at independent bookshops across the country are about “all of us putting our minds to building this community to be as strong as possible, so that we’ve got the best chance of surviving”, although she acknowledges they require a huge amount of work, which is “not really reflected in the returns”.

    However, the pursuit of what Wilson dubs “the tipping point of profitability” will determine the years ahead. By hosting school principals for breakfast and helping indigenous children, perhaps these community-focused measures, in a roundabout way, will help Riverbend’s doors stay open.

    Riverbend is not the first bookshop to realise the importance of leveraging its floor space beyond the basic act of stocking and selling books, and certainly won’t be the last. Stager sees the Avid Reader’s bulging events calendar as one of its key strengths. “We’ve put a greater emphasis on our events, which is what we’d started a couple of years ago. I’ve always been very event-driven; that was one of the core principles I started with, using Gleebooks in Sydney as a model.” Seeing as an example the growth of live music within an industry affected by declining physical sales, Stager decided to concentrate on what she deems “the live experience”; usually, visiting authors giving readings and conducting question-and-answer sessions with readers. Successes in the past 12 months include 400 payers attending a Shaun Micallef book launch at the Hi-Fi, a couple of blocks down from the bookshop on Boundary Street in West End, as well as more than 600 attending a Paul Kelly launch at the same venue.

    David Gaunt has managed Gleebooks since 1978. “We’ve been around for a long time and I don’t think we’ve ever been unaware that the best chance for independent bookstores to survive is to place a strong emphasis on social engagement in the community,” he says. “In our case, this includes heavy representation at festivals and conferences, events outside the shop, as well as the country’s biggest in-store author event program.” Such events sustain customer interest year-round, he says, but especially when the going’s “really tough, which it certainly is at the moment”. For Gaunt, the act of bookselling, online or off, has barely changed during his time in the industry. This year, the only real difference is that Gleebooks promotes its events program through social media channels.

    Enticing though such events are to so many, reading is still, by and large, a solitary pursuit. As to whether Stager views online bookstores as competition to the service in her shop, she responds cautiously. “Yes, they are. And that’s because everybody in the media has told the readers that Amazon and the Book Depository are our competition. I think they get millions of dollars of free advertising, which they don’t warrant.”

    It’s perhaps an irony that so many Australians have gained knowledge of these alternative, online retailers through the act of reading the news, and the growing profitability of online sites is proof people do still read; more than ever, perhaps.

    According to Stager she has “one big advantage over Amazon. If it’s on my shelf, you can buy it, there and then. I’ll gift wrap it for you, beautifully. I offer events and interaction with other readers through great customer service. There is more to retail than just getting something. Retail is an experience, and I have to make sure that when you come into my shop, you’re having an experience.”

    Stager is adamant book consumers shouldn’t support independent retailers just because they’re smaller and thus perceived to be vulnerable. Instead, she says, “They have to support us because of what we offer: customer service, our range and a whole lot more. We have to be good citizens as well, so we have to be doing the right things by our staff, by our community.

    “That all comes into play. Don’t support me just because I’m small and an indie; support me because of the things I do.”

    For the full story, visit The Australian’s website. Thanks to all of the helpful independent bookshop owners I spoke with for this story, many of whom I had to omit. Please note that the above photo was taken by Lyndon Mechielsen.


  • Australian Penthouse interview: UFC fighter George Sotiropoulos, September 2010

    My first story for Australian Penthouse: an interview with Australian UFC fighter George Sotiropoulos, which appeared in the September 2010 issue.

    Excerpt below – all text copyright Australian Penthouse. Click the image for a closer look.

    George Sotiropoulos interview by Andrew McMillen for Australian Penthouse, August 2010Caged Fury
    Aussie fighter George Sotiropoulos is taking the UFC by storm

    by Andrew McMillen

    He grew up in Geelong, completed a Bachelor of Business and worked in finance before dedicating his life to the pursuit of elite mixed martial arts (MMA). Meet 33 year-old George Sotiropoulos: Australia’s strongest contender in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), the world’s largest and most prestigious MMA tournament. Undefeated in the UFC (6-0) as this issue goes to press, George’s overall fight record reflects an impressive 13-2.

    MMA seems to be one of the purest forms of professional athletic endurance – it’s two guys in a cage using their training to try and take the other man down.

    That is part of it. In a street fight, anything goes. People can utilise any object as a weapon; they can literally take a person’s life. MMA is a sport with technique. The only way you’re going to win is utilising real skills and technique, from boxing, taekwondo, muay thai, wrestling, judo, jiu jitsu and any other martial art style out there.

    Skill is effective, not brutality: that’s the big misconception. MMA is a new sport which only been around for approximately 20 years. People are not fully informed about the facts, so that’s why they jump the gun. But that’s going to change; UFC is the fourth most viewed sport in the USA. Pay-per-view numbers are in the millions, and up to 20,000 punters attend events. It’s mainstream now.

    What does your average week of training look like?

    It’s a very gruelling and intense training schedule. I train three times a day from Monday to Friday, and I usually train once or twice on the weekends.

    Is there any difference between training in a gym with your team and fighting in front of 20,000 people?

    No; you train day in and day out for that moment. All scenarios, possibilities, techniques and strategies are covered in training. Then on fight day, the work has already been done. The training is harder than the fight.

    Visit the Australian Penthouse website for the full interview. You can also read the unedited transcript of our conversation here.

    UFC videos are pretty much impossible to find for free online, so I can’t show you footage of George in action. Instead, I’ve embedded an interview recorded after UFC 116, where George defeated Kirk Pellegrino.

  • The Vine interview: Quan Yeomans of Regurgitator, September 2010

    An interview with Quan Yeomans from Regurgitator, for The Vine. Excerpt below.

    Interview – Regurgitator

    Regurgitator's Ben Ely and Quan Yeomans, circa 2010With the help of drummer Cameron Potts (Cuba Is Japan, Baseball), Regurgitator’s core creative duo of Quan Yeomans (guitar, vocals) and Ben Ely (bass, vocals) are back in action. Previously, the ‘shock pop’ band – stable for most of the last decade with Peter Kostic (Front End Loader, Hard-Ons) behind the kit, and up until recently, Seja Vogel (Sekiden, Seja) on keys – were responsible for some the most interesting sounds to emerge from the burgeoning Australian alternative music scene of the mid-1990s.

    Now that Yeomans and Ely have left Brisbane for Melbourne, Vogel is pursuing a solo career, and Kostic is geographically removed in Sydney, Regurgitator’s music will be released in an unconventional manner for the foreseeable future: Yeomans states that the band will “eschew the stock-standard album release/record label scenario for a ‘take it as it comes’ approach more in synch with current trends of the listener”. TheVine got in touch with the singer/guitarist in late August 2010 to discuss these trends (and others) in depth.

    Before we talk about the new material, I’d like to go back a few years to talk about Love & Paranoia (2007) briefly.

    Oh, do we have to?

    I’d like to know what you took away from that album release. How do you feel about it now?

    I don’t know. Slightly embarrassed, I guess. I don’t really feel anything for that record, to be honest. I remember all of the things we did to get through it, in Rio [de Janeiro, where the band recorded the album], which is kind of funny. And it was fun having Seja there and being in that strange apartment in the middle of Rio de Janeiro. It was kind of interesting, but musically, [blows raspberry] – it means nothing to me in particular.

    You’re embarrassed by it?

    Oh, well, I wouldn’t say embarrassed. I don’t think about it. No-one comes up to me and goes, “What do you think about that record?” I don’t really feel embarrassed on a regular basis, but I felt a twinge then when you asked me about it, so maybe that’s a realistic understanding.

    Full interview on The Vine.

    More Regurgitator on MySpace. Music video for their song ‘Bong In My Eye‘ embedded below.

  • Mess+Noise track review: Cut Copy – ‘Where I’m Going’, July 2010

    A track review for Mess+Noise.

    'Where I'm Going' single cover by Cut CopyCut Copy – ‘Where I’m Going’

    Viewed in light of their past releases, ‘Where I’m Going’ is a black sheep, for never before have Cut Copy leaned so far toward the pop end of the musical spectrum. All four singles from 2008’s chart-topping In Ghost Colours – ‘Hearts On Fire’, ‘So Haunted’, ‘Lights & Music’ and ‘Far Away’ – had both feet planted firmly on the dancefloor. Here, the Melbourne-based act – a newly-minted quartet with bassist Ben Browning joining full-time – ease off the multi-layered synths that characterised their second LP in favour of a prominent rhythm section and a winning vocal melody.

    Full review at Mess+Noise. More Cut Copy at MySpace; you can also download this track for free at their website, if you give ’em your email address.

  • A Conversation With Mikey Young, Eddy Current Suppression Ring guitarist

    Melbourne garage rock band Eddy Current Suppression RingEddy Current Suppression Ring are a Melbourne garage rock band. I spoke with their guitarist, Mikey Young [pictured right], for a story in The Big Issue (‘Keeping Current‘) that was published in late April 2010. Our conversation took place on March 17, ahead of a national tour in support of their third album, Rush To Relax. What follows is a transcript of our whole conversation.

    Andrew: Mikey, my first question is more of a statement than a question. It’s something that I’ve noticed. Eddy Current seem to be one of the best bands in Australia at deflecting any and all praise thrown your way.

    Mikey: Well I appreciate praise, but it makes me really uncomfortable. I’m glad people like us, for sure, but I’m very wary of not letting praise go to our heads or thinking about it much.

    So it’s not a matter of when you’re nominated for a new award or critical accolade, you don’t sit down together and go, “Right, what’s the best way to downplay this?”

    No, not at all. I’m usually the one doing the interviews and so it’s probably my reactions that appear [in the media]. I don’t want to come across… I’m sure that quietly in my head I’m stoked and we’re proud of ourselves, but we definitely don’t sit around and say “let’s downplay it”. And the opposite of that, we don’t sit around going “how good are we?!”, slapping ourselves on the back. Awards and stuff are funny anyway, they’re a strange concept. We try not to think about it, and just make some tunes.

    A broad question: why do you think people like your band?

    That’s another thing I’ve briefly thought about in the past and I realised the more I think about it, actually I don’t really want to think about it. I don’t really want to know why people… I don’t want to be conscious of that. I feel it might sort of affect how we make music. If I’m oblivious to it and we just do it, for ourselves, then I figure it will be easier on my head.

    I have thought about it, though. I think we’re a good live band, which helps. I think there is a fair simplicity to the music, and honesty in Brendan’s delivery and lyrics. I guess when things are really simple and honest upfront, then maybe they appeal to a larger range of people. I don’t know. I think to keep things pretty simple, then a lot of people can get into it. That’s not why we make simple music. I guess that’s just the way it turned out, but if I had to think about why people like us, hopefully it’s because we’re an okay band.

    Do you think a band’s talent is reflected in their number of fans or number of records sold?

    Are you asking whether popularity is representative of talent? Not always, I would think not. Seeing as I can barely listen to the radio these days, but that’s just my opinion. I just can’t stand a lot of popular music. That doesn’t really mean they’re talentless. I’m sure there is talent in making songs that I consider horrible to my ears; it just doesn’t work for me. I feel out of the loop when it comes to popular music at the moment. I’m probably not the best person to ask that question. Popularity and talent aren’t always on the same page.

    Reading your past interviews, I did notice that the recurring theme of refusing to self-promote…

    I have to stop doing all these interviews. I have all the same answers. [laughs]

    There’s a quote of yours that I like: “I think if you don’t shove yourself in peoples’ faces, they’ll end up liking you more in the long run.”

    I guess that was – maybe not from the start because we probably didn’t think that far ahead, but when we realised things were starting to have some sort of groundswell of popularity, that was something I was pretty aware of, just from being a music fan, reading magazines over the years, that if a band is shoved in your face publicity-wise; if they’re on the front cover and have ads everywhere and you can’t escape them, they don’t really feel like [they’re] yours. If you let someone go out and find it in their own time, it probably feels more special to them. It’s like they’ve made the groundwork, and it might feel more like their band rather than everybody’s band.

    The self-discovery aspect is always more interesting to indie music fans. Those kinds of artists don’t have a big marketing budget behind them, and it’s generally the fans and critics that propel them forward, instead of the band themselves.

    Hopefully it attracts people to your band that actually like your band for the right reasons; they like the music you do and that’s the reason they’re into your band, not for any other reason. It’s more enjoyable, rather than being told to like something.

    Reading those interviews, there are lots of mentions of ‘finding yourself in certain situations’, as if you’re indicating that your success is entirely accidental.

    It’s not entirely accidental. It’s definitely not the goal. We haven’t done anything to further our career. If we tour overseas, it’s not to ‘crack a market’ or anything like that, or if we put a record out at a certain time, or anything like that. The only thing that is on purpose in this band is the making of the records and playing of shows. I guess everything else is a by-product of that. Maybe accidental is the wrong word. There have been a lot of funny accidents, but we’ve had a ridiculously good run. I guess success has never been our goal. None of us are anti-success; if that happens, that’s awesome, but it’s all a by-product of what we want to do, which is to make the best records that we can.

    You’re heavily involved in the Melbourne indie scene with the label and your time at the vinyl pressing plant [Corduroy]. Surely you must have had some idea that the music you were making would appeal to people.

    Not really. I don’t work at the plant anymore. I’m not even involved in the label anymore. That’s only a recent development. I guess I’m involved now. When I started, I didn’t really know that many people within that scene. I knew a small group of people from the record plant, but when we had that first jam I really didn’t think that it would appeal to that many people at all. I knew we could probably press 200 7-inches and get away with it, and then our friends and family would probably buy enough of them to make our money back. Beyond that, I thought I’d have them sitting under my bed for a year, then I’ll get rid of them when we play a show, and that will be fine. That’s all we wanted to do, was usually play one show, just to show our friends, “Look what we’ve got.”

    I think after the first show I did realise people did really like this. I was sort of surprised and I could see that there were bands before that I felt didn’t really have anything special about them, and when I did play with this band I did feel like there was that special thing that I’ve been looking for in other bands. I noticed that other people noticed that too. There’s no way that I thought that many people would like us. I sort of think if I hear us on triple j or something, I think we stick out really weirdly and don’t sound like a real band or something. I’m actually slightly flummoxed that we’re as popular as we are.

    Is it uncomfortable feeling when you hear your songs on the radio?

    I don’t listen to the radio that much anymore so I don’t have to bother about it. It’s sort of nice; because I’m so heavily involved with the making of the music and the recording of the music, when I hear it accidentally on the radio or when I’m out somewhere in a shop, I can be a bit objective about it for a second. I can sort of go, “Actually, this is pretty good.” The only way I can hear it as an outsider for a brief second.

    Then you think, “Wait a second, I actually recorded and mixed that.”

    Yeah, it takes about three seconds before it processes that it’s actually me playing. In those three seconds, I can have this weird brief moment of “Ah, I like this” and sort of feel different about it.

    Melbourne garage rock band Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Photo by Ben LoveridgeI want to clarify your role within the band. You’re the guitarist, keyboardist, and you mix the albums?

    I record and mix them, yeah.

    Is the band still self-managed?

    Yes, for the first time – for our whole career I’ve just booked the shows and I guess managed the band, just out of accident. We got bigger, and someone needed to do it and I had more time on my hands, so I kept doing it. This coming album tour is the first time I’ve ever handed over any of the responsibility to an outsider; we’ve got a tour manager this time. It’s gotten to the stage where the shows, especially for the album launches, are quite big. I wanted to sit back for once and just enjoy myself and just play. Sometimes, on the bigger shows, I get a bit stressed out with the responsibility of it all, and I’m more waiting for the relief of it to be over, rather than enjoying the show. I thought I just want to go out there and relax for a tour, just let someone do all the other stuff, like booking flights and everything.

    Did you find it difficult to hand over the reins?

    Yeah. Well, it’s still happening. The tour’s about to start. I think I found it weird. In a way, it’s no less work. You’re still [included] in the same emails, there’s just a middleman now, but I do feel a distance from responsibility, like I don’t feel like, “God, it’s my fault if this tour goes wrong” or something like that. I feel like just a band member and I feel good about it. I think we have gone so far with it being totally insular and doing it all ourselves. I did feel pretty weird to sort finally let go of something. It’s been good so far.

    You might be aware that there’s a bit of a backlash about the last album, which tends to happen with almost any band who ‘outgrows their roots’.

    I read one or two reviews. I think it was a Tom Hawking review [on The Vine] and then a response to that review that someone alerted me to. To be honest, I think for a band in our position we’ve gotten amazingly far without really having a strong backlash. Even if there is a backlash on the new record, it’s sort of been pretty minute. You put out three records; someone is going to like your first record better than the new one. Plenty of people whose opinion I totally trust think this is our best record. I should just be happy that anyone likes any of our records; I don’t think the backlash is for any other reason despite the music. I don’t care. I don’t like some records. Is that all that the backlash is about? You’re probably more aware of it than I am.

    For example, there’s a topic on the Mess+Noise discussion boards called “Eddy Current Backlash” which was mostly about that Tom Hawking review. It currently has 178 responses.

    Okay. I’m probably just guilty of Googling my own band and reviews as anyone else. I do realise it’s not the healthiest of habits. [laughs]. I’m not taking it to heart anyway, but I don’t know; that’s fine. It wasn’t a bad review. It seemed pretty genuinely thought-out, smartly written and stuff. It’s just weird for me. People think more about our records than we actually do. That’s the only thing that’s weird to me: I don’t think we’re the type of band you need to dissect that much. “We wrote ten songs in the last year, and we recorded them. Here they are.” That’s sort of how much we think about it. It’s funny to see other people analyse it when there is – it’s like other people care about it more than we do.

    I read a quote about your live shows where you said the bigger the band gets, the harder it is to please everyone, and you probably took it to heart a bit at first and you’re trying to make sure everyone is having a good time.

    That could equally apply to the records we put out. There was a stage when the shows got a bit bigger and the people that were there at the start weren’t enjoying it as much as the crowds got a bit rowdier. They got pushed to the back and there were jerks there. It would really affect me to find out after the show that so-and-so had a bad time because some dude was being a wanker. Not that I really want to tolerate jerks at any of our shows, but I’ve also got to realise that I can’t control everything and have to do everything I can and then just play a show and enjoy it, rather than stress about every person in the audience. It is a bit harder to control a thousand people compared to fifty.

    Mess+Noise writer asked you in 2006 whether violence at a rock and roll show is ever justifiable. I’d like to put that question to you again, now that you’re quite a bit bigger than you were in 2006.

    I don’t think violence at shows is ever justifiable. I don’t think violence anywhere can be justified. I don’t see a place for it, for sure, and I definitely don’t see a place for it at our gigs. I’ve never really understood that kind of reaction to our kind of music. It seems to me sort of fairly good-time music in my head. Maybe I’m wrong.

    You mentioned in another interview that Eddy Current can offer support slots to bands that you really like, to help or to expose them to other people. Was this because other bands extended that same courtesy to you when you were starting out?

    Yeah definitely, and it’s just more from being a fan of records. For instance, those overseas bands that we’ve played with; I’m sure Thee Oh Sees would have done fine without us, but if we can do a couple of shows and 500 or 1,000 people seeing them that maybe hadn’t heard of them, you know, then that’s awesome. It’s good when overseas bands come out and you’re in a position where you can do that. It’s the same with local bands, friends’ bands, and stuff like that. You just want to play with bands you love and you want to expose. I guess people come to our shows, there are a lot of people now that maybe don’t go to smaller gigs and stuff like that. If we can just expose some good bands, then you feel like you’ve done a good deed.

    You’re paying forward what you felt in the past couple of years, when you were growing your fanbase.

    Totally, and also like all the bands I grew up watching when I was first turned 18, 19 – bands like The Exotics and The Breadmakers – to be able to now put them on shows in front of younger dudes who wouldn’t have seen them before. It’s repaying that favor to those bands that have entertained us a heap over the years.

    Melbourne garage rock band Eddy Current Suppression RingI want to ask you about the live music scene in Melbourne at the moment, because I saw that Eddy Current were involved with The Tote’s final show. Did you attend the SLAM rally?

    I didn’t, actually. I’m glad it went really well. I had a mixing session to help a dude finish a record that day. I thought of cancelling, but then I thought “what’s the point?”. I thought it would be more proactive to sit there and help someone finish making music than actually go protest about not being able to make music.

    I’m not trying to guilt trip you for not being there, you know.

    Not at all, I was just explaining. [laughs]

    Following The Tote’s closure, how do you feel about the live music scene in Melbourne? Do you think it’s healthier, or really struggling because of those liquor licensing laws?

    I always say the wrong answer to these kinds of questions. I don’t think I said the things that people wanted to hear when The Tote closed. But The Tote was great, The Tote was awesome to my band and it was a good place for years. In that time, I know a lot of venues have closed down, but a lot of venues are still open. It seems to me – I guess I’ve been in the city for 11 years or so – like Melbourne has more venues [now] than it did 10 years ago. There seems to be more bands.

    Shit’s gotta die off and get fresh again. I think good things will happen, and good things will continue to happen, and even though it seems sad now, it’s probably good in a way. Things might get stale and younger dudes will start new venues and we’ll all think of different ways of doing things. I think Melbourne is strong enough to survive with one less venue.

    To change topics entirely, I want to ask about the masks on the cover of Rush To Relax, even though probably every other music journalist you’ve spoken to has asked the same question.

    No-one has actually asked about the masks.

    What inspired you to use them?

    I don’t know. Nothing, really. I think we just had the idea for the film clip before we had the cover. We wanted the film clip to look a bit creepy. We just wanted a creepy-looking film clip and then we had the idea of shooting the cover on the same day because we didn’t want to hire a plane twice. Maybe we were just scared of our own faces on the covers, but there is no symbolic meaning behind the masks. They were cool, so we put them on.

    It’s the first release of yours where the band actually appear on the cover.

    I know, I think people were getting a bit sick of our other covers. [laughs]

    So the masks weren’t a matter of trying to protect your anonymity?

    Melbourne garage rock band Eddy Current Suppression Ring, from the cover of their 'Rush To Relax' albumNot really. We’re pretty conscious of never wanting to be the ‘four dudes in leather jackets down an alleyway’ type of band. It happened because of the film clip. We had an idea for the film clip and we didn’t really want to – we wanted a different look for the film clip. That shot [the album cover] just happened to be a shot from the day of the film clip. That’s all there is to the masks.

    How much attention to you guys pay to the band’s image?

    Not much. There’s not really much difference between the way we look or act on stage or in the band than how we do in normal life. I guess the only attention we’re paying is just giving accurate representation of ourselves. That’s about it.

    You actually hired a plane for the album shot and the video clip?


    Which company did you go with? Did they dig the concept of what you were doing?

    It was pretty hard to find a company that still does those old plane banners. I think it was a guy called Sky Surfers down in some town in country Victoria. I always used to like those banners as a kid and I always wanted one. Our album cost nothin’, and our friends film our videos, and I guess we won some money last year [the AMP] and I felt like we should show that we spent it on something. So we might as well get a stupid big plane. When it came flying over, while were waiting to film the clip, it was seriously the most exciting event. We were just jumping up and down going “yes!”

    “We’ve made it. We have a banner!”

    Totally, man! It was like “box ticked – I can retire now”.

    Do you still have the banner?

    Unfortunately, they just recycle the letters and you can’t keep the banner.


    It would have been excellent to put it up at the back of our gigs or something.

    It would. With each album you’ve kind of gone backwards. I read that Rush To Relax was recorded even cheaper and more quickly than the last one. Do you see a logical conclusion to this pattern? Will you end up recording an hour-long album in an hour?

    Mike Young of Melbourne garage rock band Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Photo by Sarah McEvoyI always thought about it but I think probably not. I can’t see how we can do it much more quickly and cheaper than this one. Definitely not any cheaper. Too much attention is paid to how long it takes for us to record albums. It’s not like we’re trying to prove a point. I have the recording gear so it doesn’t cost us anything. We’re comfortable with doing it that way, and that it sounds okay for what we’re trying to do. Unlike some bands maybe, who go into a recording session to write songs or something, we have 12 – 15 songs written and ready to go. It’s basically just setting up.

    The album is only 40 minutes of music, so I always thought if you can’t play the songs you’re trying to record well after three takes, you shouldn’t be recording it. We try a song a couple of times and hopefully it’s done. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Brendan always seems to be quirky and out of time, and there’s plenty of room for bum notes and stuff like that. I like that kind of thing about this kind of music. We’re not trying to achieve any kind of perfection. Six hours [to record an album] is plenty of time.

    On the other end of the spectrum, do you ever see yourselves being victims or locking yourselves in the studio for a week to really nail it out properly, with a big name producer and all that sort of music industry bullshit?

    I’m not against that kind of thing. I don’t think it suits our band. I just don’t think it would work. I’m pretty sure that this way is the correct way for this band. It’s not necessarily how I’d do it for any other band or any other band I’d record. I don’t think it’s definitely the way to do it, I just think that it works for this band.

    Having said that, I don’t walk out at the end of the day with a finished product. I still bring it home and mix it, and spend some time making it sound okay. There is other time beyond those 6 hours, but I just guess we have the luxury of having our own gear and I relatively know what I’m doing. I can just mix the record in my bedroom. It’s nice to be in the position where you don’t have to rely on producers and studios.

    Are you happy to keep doing that for the next few Eddy Current releases?

    Yeah, I think so. For a new song we just wrote, I’ve got a very different idea that I wouldn’t mind trying a different way. I think I’m happy with, if anything, I can see us doing it sort of rougher. Like, I think we can experiment with some 4-track cassette recordings rather than 8-track, and I think I’d really like the drum sound we’re getting on that, so if we do some more stuff I wouldn’t be surprised if we regress even further.

    That sounds like the ultimate way to make money: to be completely DIY indie, to release the album for nothing, and just to tour on the back of it and make money.

    I guess it’s a way of keeping costs down, that’s for sure.

    Eddy Current are credited with having a large impact on the Australian punk and garage revival scene. What are your thoughts on that?

    I think there have actually been a couple of bands that have sprung up since that I feel some sort of kinship with, but I think if it wasn’t us that did that, it would have been someone else. I think it was one of those things that were going to happen anyway. We just happened to get in first.

    I read that you’re fond of playing house parties and small gigs to ‘keep it real’ for the old fans.

    I think it’s mainly for our sanity. If we play the big shows in Perth all the time, we just go nuts. I guess just to do an occasional really small show and house party is just really to keep us sane and to remember that type of show and enjoy the show. I guess it keeps things as diverse as possible.

    The upcoming tour you’re playing mid-sized kind of venues. In Brisbane, you’re playing The Zoo.

    Which is pretty big for us. I think we’ve only played The Step Inn in Brisbane, so I guess The Zoo seems like the logical step up, up there.  Brisbane hasn’t got a lot of options.

    No, it really doesn’t. Between The Zoo, which is 450, I think the next step up is the Hi-Fi, which is 1,000+.

    I don’t think we’re ready to go to that, not in Brisbane anyway. I don’t think our following is that strong up there.

    I read a quote where you said you’ve done a good job with distancing yourself from the music biz. I saw that you turned down SXSW, which a lot of other Australian bands probably wouldn’t do. They’d probably view that as a massive opportunity.

    It was probably bad timing, but I’d just rather go over there and play a lot of shows and not really worry about that kind of stuff. I think SXSW is probably really enjoyable for a local because you get to see a lot of bands, but unless you’re going there for a reason and trying to become something, it’s probably not the best time to play a show. I’d rather wait until things die down and do a normal tour.

    Considering there are 1,500 or 1,800 bands playing in a week or something.

    Totally. It almost sounds like it’s working against its purpose.

    I’ve read that you’ve got quite a broad taste in music, Mikey. I want to know what inspired you to play guitar in that Eddy Current style.

    I don’t know; I’m sure it’s a bunch of things. Definitely my time at Corduroy [Records, a vinyl pressing plant], being surrounded by those type of bands and musicians and stuff, had an influence on the type of music I play and how I play. I spent three years listening to teenage garage records from the ‘60s or something, and I realised that that’s the sound of guitar I like and I’m going to try my best to rip it off.

    I have one last question. It’s about the Australian Music Prize. It’s gone from Eddy Current’s indie garage sound to the current winner, which is a major label-distributed album by a former Australian Idol contestant.

    This is a loaded question, isn’t it? [laughs]

    I just want to gauge your take on that.

    That’s fine. I think it’s definitely reactionary. I think it was pretty obvious the day after we won it that they were going to give it to a chick this year. I haven’t heard Lisa Mitchell’s records so I’m not in a position to say if it’s a good record or bad record. I think I heard one of the songs on the radio and quite liked it. I guess if they’re doing it for why I say they’re doing it, it shouldn’t really matter if it’s on a major or indie or if it’s an Australian Idol winner or not. If they honestly think it’s the best record then so be it.

    That’s a very diplomatic response.

    I’m so out of the loop that I probably haven’t heard any of the records on the damn thing anyway. I don’t think I’m really the best person qualified. I have no ill feeling towards that.

    That’s all I’ve got for you, Mikey.

    Hopefully there’s something there. I rambled.


    Check out Eddy Current Suppression Ring on MySpace, and view the video for ‘Rush To Relax’ below.

  • The Big Issue story: ‘Keeping Current: Eddy Current Suppression Ring’, April 2010

    A story for The Big Issue #353 on Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Click the image below for full-size, readable version; story text is included underneath.

    The Big Issue story: 'Staying Current' on Eddy Current Suppression Ring by Andrew McMillen

    Keeping Current

    Six hours is plenty of time to record a full-length rock album from start to finish, claims Mikey Young from Melbourne band Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Did you hear that? That was the sound of professional recording engineers, meticulous sound technicians and veteran major label marketing managers gasping in horror.

    ECSR is beholden to no such middlemen. Instead, the band have cultivated a reputation as indie heroes, of sorts: their completely hands-on, DIY approach to all aspects of their career has resulted in a steady rise in the popularity of not only the band themselves, but of the lo-fi, old-school garage rock sound that they’ve played a large part in resurrecting for a new generation of Australian music fans. Young tells me that he spent three years listening to “teenage garage records from the ’60s” while working at Corduroy Records’ vinyl pressing plant, where he realised his fondness for the distinctive guitar tone that now characterises the band: warm and clean for the most part, though prone to occasional buzzing, abrasive bursts of energy.

    None of the above would hold much weight if the band didn’t have an audience. Who cares about an indie band doing everything themselves, for cheap? But the band do have an audience, and many do care. In a transition reminiscent of fellow Melburnians The Drones in recent years, Eddy Current Suppression Ring can lay claim to a rare confluence of events: they’re lauded by music critics, and they’re popular enough to dent the mainstream (their third album, Rush To Relax, debuted in mid-February at #20 on the ARIA album chart). But most importantly, they’ve managed to keep most of their fan base intact, despite their rising profile and the inevitable backlash that occurs when artists outgrow their roots.

    Though their lo-fi garage rock sound continues to attract more ears, the band’s production costs seem to be inversely proportional. The quartet were the recipients of the $30,000 Australian Music Prize (AMP) in March 2009 ahead of competition like The Presets, Cut Copy, and the aforementioned Drones. The album that won it for them, Primary Colours (2008), reportedly cost just $1,500 to make. Young – whose roles within the band include guitarist, keyboardist, studio recorder, mixer, and manager – claims Rush To Relax cost less and took even less time.

    Where does it end, then? The logical conclusion is that they’ll record the next release in one take. Curious, I put the idea to Young. “I always thought about it, but I think it’s unlikely. I can’t see how we can do it much more quickly or cheaper than [Rush To Relax]. Definitely not any cheaper!” However, he feels that too much attention is paid to the length of time it takes for the band to record albums. “It’s not like we’re trying to prove a point. I have the recording gear, so it doesn’t cost us anything. We’re comfortable with doing it that way, and it sounds okay for what we’re trying to do. Unlike some bands who go into a recording session to write songs, we tend to have 12 to 15 songs written and ready to go.”

    On record, ECSR aim to sound as close to their live performances as possible. Young elaborates: “I always thought if you can’t play the songs you’re trying to record well after three takes, you shouldn’t be recording it. We try a song a couple of times and hopefully it’s done. There’s plenty of room for bum notes and stuff like that. We’re not trying to achieve any kind of perfection.”

    Young believes idiosyncratic singer Brendan Huntley “always seems to be quirky and out of time,” which, alongside his simplistic, honest lyrics, may influence the band’s broad-reaching popularity.

    While keeping their career completely DIY might not quite result in the proverbial license to print money, self-recording their material is “a way of keeping costs down, that’s for sure,” says Young. What of the AMP cash they won 12 months ago, then? Besides securing their own recording space, Young laughs as he discusses the photograph that adorns the Rush To Relax album cover.

    It isn’t Photoshopped: they really hired the plane that appears in the sky, high above the band, who are wearing masks (“Maybe we were just scared of our own faces on the cover,” he adds, before stressing that there’s no symbolic meaning behind the masks). The cost of this venture seems at odds with their DIY approach, until you consider the importance the band place on their artistic integrity. After speaking with Young, I’m convinced that faking the shot wouldn’t have occurred to the band at all.

    “It was pretty hard to find a company that still does those old plane banners. I always used to like those banners as a kid and I always wanted one,” the guitarist says. “Our album cost nothin’, and our friends film our videos, and I guess we won some money last year,” – he laughs. “And I felt like we should show that we spent it on something. So we might as well get a stupid big plane.”

    It turned out to be one of those we’ve-made-it moments: “When it came flying over, it was seriously the most exciting event. We were just jumping up and down going ‘yes!’ It was like, box ticked, I can retire now!”

    by Andrew McMillen

    Video for the Rush To Relax title track embedded below.