Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Woodford and The New Year

Well, what a month December 2008 was! A DVD launch, a special Christmas Party appearance, 9 shows at Woodford, new merch arrived, new snare drums arrived!!, and even got to spend a day and half with the family for Christmas (loving a good old QLD Summer Christmas!).
In looking back over December, I think it is fair to say that Woodford was something of a highlight. Now for those of you who haven't been to Woodford my advice is GET THERE!! For those of you who have been to Woodford then I'm sure you can relate to me when I say that it is one of the most amazing weeks you can spend anywhere; allow me to elaborate...
The first thing that I would say is that even though I qualified as a 'performer', the main and best experiences I take away from Woodford are those of a spectator. Don't get me wrong, performing is fucking awesome, but the Woodford experience is way more than any 50min set. Set in the misty hills of Woodford, QLD, the Woodford Folk Festival serves up 6 full days (and I mean full, 24hr days) of the most amazing music, performance, art, food, social, cultural immersion anyone could ever dream of. My typical day at Woodford consisted of getting up at 7am (has anyone experienced what it is like trying to sleep in a tent past 7am when the sun is beaming down on it), having a shower (or in Andrew's case having a chat to Josh Pyke while they waited in line for the shower), perusing the list of events that were taking place that day, and planning things from there. But that was only the beginning...
One of the real highlights was planning what food I was going to eat that day. It's funny, at any other time of year I kind of pride myself on not eating the usual shit all the time (Pizza, steaks etc), and try to opt for 'unusual' foods' like go to a Turkish restaurant, or eat Hungarian, or have Mongolian food. But when i go to Woodford I realise just how narrow my food consumption diversity really is - for example, having Breakfast at a place called "Jerusalem", or eating "Abyssinian", or eating vegeterian dishes I can't even remember how to spell (Kofta balls?), not to mention those slime green energy drinks from the Common Ground (which were very good by the way!). But that's the whole thing - you spend the week at Woodford doing shit you wouldn't normally do, eating things you wouldn't normally eat, wearing clothes you wouldn't normally wear, surving on less sleep than what you could normally tolerate, and experiencing things you just don't experience elsewhere (or at least, I haven't found where..). The major challenge during the week is surviving the weather - be it driving rain or 40 degree heat, Woodford is sure to test even the most robust campers..
Now to some highlights -
1. Frightened Rabbit (Amphitheatre, see image -->)

These guys are from Scotland and leading up the festival I had heard plenty about them and they didn't dissapoint. What made the gig that much better was that just as they took the stage Woodford was smashed by a massive storm. Unfortunately this did mean that a lot of people ran for cover, but those of us eager enough to stay crowded the front of the stage and had the best time! The storm was that vicious that power was cut to the entire Festival and the whole stage was plunged into darkness for about 5mins before the backup generator at the Amphi kicked in. There's something so incredibly Rock N Roll about the power blowing during a rock concert. Brillaint stuff!
2. The Bird (The Chameleon)
Has anyone ever seen these guys/this guy play? Basically The Bird is drummer who has some of the most incredible chops I have ever seen and heard before. He gets up on stage with 2 synth players, an upright bass, and a tabla player and together, they pull off some of the best drums and bass music you'll hear. Packed with incredible time signatures, rhythms, melodies, and interchanges, these guys truly know how to get you dancing. Many thanks to Billy Bodean for the recommendation on this one!
3. The Campsite (image -->)
Unlike last year (which was a mess) this year we all camped together and even had a 'courtyard' in the middle which acted as a common eating/drinking/meeting spot. We had everythi8ng we needed in our campsite, including gas stove, 5 eskies, plenty of water, stacks of food, and of course our beloved tents! The best part of our camp was that it was right beside the Amphi so we could sneak through the fence and be right in the thick of things - and we were close to the showers and toilets too (our apologies again to our neighbours for not realising that just because we're camping doesn't mean we can urinate wherever we like..)

4. Performing at the Festival - Main stages

Although The Quills will struggle to lay claim to palying music that fits the traditional 'folk' genre, we had an absolute ball playing at the Festival. We were fortunate enough to play 4 shows on the main stages at Woodford, including one at The Grande, which is a truly great stage and has seen some of Australia's best artists perform. We also played a couple of shows at The Bazaar which I've decided was my favourite stage at this year's festival; kind of like a mini-Grande, the Bazaar had some awesome acts perform at it andf the PA, sound crew, and stage crew were all top shelf. It was also the stage where Billy Bodean launched his new look which totally below my mind (see image -->). There's only one guy who can dress like that and get away with it and that's BB>

5. Perfomance at the Festival- Mystery Bus

This had to be one of the coolest things going on at Woodford - The Mystery Bus. Imagine (literally) an old school Brisbane City Council Bus with a tiny stage at the front and you line up to get on the bus (which doesn't actually move by the way) and you have no idea who will ne playing. Sets last for 15min and you take seat and then, from behind a dark curtain, a band appears and starts playing! It could be anyone performing at the festival (including headline acts like Lior) or banjo players. Anyway, we were lucky enough to do 4 Mystery Bus shows and apart from the 40+ degrees on board, it was a great memory from the festival, check it out...

The only Woodford regret I have is not getting to see our friends, Avaberee, perform. These 3 girls from Brisbane had a couple of great shows at the festival and unfortunately in both instances their slot clashed with one of ours and I was unable to attend. I heard great things about their performance but I regret to have not seen it for myself :(
Anyway, that is my wrap of Woodford and December 2008. 2009 is already a big year and I look forward to the prospect of publishing many interesting blogs along the way...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sydney Wrap

Thought I'd post a blog today and provide a bit of a wrap up to my Sydney trip a week or so ago.

Let me share some highlights - (in order of appearance)

1. Don Bartley (Benchmark Mastering) - I was with Don on Friday at his level 7 studios in Castelreagh St. Don Bartley is widely regarded as Australia's leading mastering engineer and his discography (e.g., The Beatles, Metallica, Silverchair, Powderfinger, The Quills haha etc) certainly lends support to that claim. Don was the mastering engineer for our Thought In Your Head Tour DVD. For all of you that don't know what 'mastering' is (not that I really do), the best way I can describe it is the process by which your recorded song/s go from being incomplete to complete - mastering makes the recorded song sound whole and full, balanced and glistening. Think of it la bit like a proof reader of a novel. Anyway, Don is a man of few words but incredible talent and I was fortunate enough at the end of our session to spend some time talking with Don about the evlotuion of recorded music and how different sound waves are cut off in CD and MP3 format and the best thing we could possibly do is return to vinyl! Don really did blow my mind and I was greatly fortunate to be able to spend some one-on-one time talking to a true Australian music legend. Oh yeah, and he did a superb job of the CD/DVD too!

2. Meeting with Sebastian Chase - what can you say about this man? Sebastian essentially founded independent music in this country and is undoubtedly one of the most significant figures in Australian music history (a good friend of Don Bartley's too!). I went to Sebastian's office around midday (had to excuse myself from The Don) and didn't really know what I was getting myself into. Sebastian meets with band and band representatives all the time and it is no wonder why! He is an absolute wealth of knowledge and after an hour of talking with him my head was totally spinning. He offered many great insights into the music business, and important things to note about being successful. But truly, the greatest thing about meeting with Sebastian was that it was even possible in the first place. People like Sebastian are often far too busy or 'important' to meet with people like me and the fact that he was willing to take time out of his day to empart knowledge and share experiences is something that I think means more than anything else. Following my meeting with Sebastian I went back to Don's studio to finish the mastering.

3. Plug in City @ Spectrum, Oxford St - after finishing with the Don at about 5.30pm I went back to the Hotel and met up with Lara. I slept for 15mins (I had been up since 3am) and then got dressed and we went to the sky bar at the Hotel we were staing at and proceeded to take advantage of the free booze that we were offered. Lara and I stayed for 2hrs and had our fair share and then ventured over to Darling Harbour for dinner. This was all a premable to my meeting with Rachael from Hubb management scheduled for later that night. This was a late night meeting at a small smokey bar in Sydney's Oxford St precinct. We arrived and to my absolute aural delight, a band called Plug In City were playing. I had never heard of these guys before but I was so impressed I went and tracked them down on myspace and have been listening to them ever since. I met with Rachael and shortly thereafter we proceeded to Kings Cross to try a few bars out. The night ended with me coming home and ordering room service at about 3am and falling alseep before it arrived. I don't know exactly what happened to the food but I defintely ordered it and it wasn't there when I woke up so who knows!

4. Billy Hyde's Drumcraft - not that this was the highlight of the trip or anything, but...on Saturday morning I ventured overt to Billy Hyde's at Surry Hills (5min from the CBD) and spent the day there with Jonno, Ludwig expert. I have been researching and pondering my new drumkit acqusition for about 5 years now and today was the day that I finally got to make it happen. Jonno spent the day with me wondering around the store and trying different drums and cymabls etc out to make sure what i was buying was exactly what I wanted (and as it turned out only about 5% of the gear I ordered was catually in the store - the rest has to be either custom made or ordered in from OS). I have a very clear idea of what sounds I want to be able to create from my kit and although I probably tested Jonno's patience on more than one occasion I am very confident I achieved my goal of getting one awesome sounding setup! Although I could write 27 paragraphs about the gear I got and why, I will make mention of the 4 snare drums I purcahsed (as well as the Ludwig Custom Maple Outfit). The snare drum is the classic drum for me and it is quite incredible just how much different snares can change the overall feel and finish of a song - something I have come to learn from listening very closely to lots of records! To this end, I realised that I need a variety of snares to be able to capture the mood and feel of our songs. So, what did I do? - I bought 4! In fact, my sanre drums are worth more than the rest of the kit put together (except for cymbals, but don't get me started on cymbals because I will go on forever. I am a cymbal enthusiast to say the least!!). Anyway, for the drummers out there a picked up Ludwig 14x7 maple, an OC 14x6.5 vintage 1960's black oyster finish, a Brady (Aus made) 13x4, and a Brady 5x7. This range of snares will really open up my sounds behind the kit and I hope that someone out there other me actually notices! But, the reality is I wont have any of this gear until about April next year because it all had to be ordred in etc. There is so much other gear that I got it's not funny but I will save that for another time and introduce the new setup to you all slowly!

I think that should do for now.

While writing this I just picked up Coldplay tickets so I am stoked!!!

Also, last night I went to see John Mellencamp and Sheryl Crow which was very very cool. Mellencamp is an industry icon and a legend in his own right. His band were on fire and he played a great set. The only dissapointment was that he didn't play 'Cherry Bomb' which, along with 3/4 of the crowd, was my favourite Mellencamp song. But in saying that, the rest of the set was brilliant! Thanks to Lara for buying the tickets.



Friday, November 14, 2008


I am posting this blog from a tiny (as in 2 computers) internet cafe in Sydney. I am here for the weekend to do a number of pretty exciting band related things...

Firstly, I am about to venture up to to see Don Bartley (aka 'The Don') at Benchmark Mastering to have him master our live CD and DVD which we are going to launch at The Globe on December 6. While this is all happening I have to pop out around lunch time to go and meet Sebastian Chase. Sebastian is an Australian Music Industry icon and to be quite honest I am pretty nervous about meeting him. I am going to talk to him about a range of industry topics and my main goal is to learn as much from him as I possibly can in the short time I have with him. When I finish with Sebastian I will return to The Don and complete the mastering process. This should all wrap up by about 6pm whereby I will return to my hotel (which was kind enough to upgrade me to a suite) and take in 2hrs of free food and drink.

The other main reason I am in Sydney this weekend is because tomorrow (Saturday) I have an appointment with Australia's leading drum store, Billy Hyde's Drumctraft Sydney. The reason I have this appointment is to order a new drum kit!! For any drummer the purcahse of a new rig is unbelievably exciting and this is no exception. For the drummers out there I am looking at a Ludwig Legacy Classic or a Ludwig Maple Classic. There are so many things I love about Ludwig - I love the tradition associated with Ludwig drums, I love the sound, so many of my idols have and/or do play Ludwig and all-in-all they are big, loud, statment drums which suit me perfectly.

The purcahse of this equipment extends beyond personal gratification however. I will also be purchasing electronic equipment which will be used to really open up so many new sounds and possibilities for The Quills. The way I see it, I am actually doing the band a great service here - buying equipment for the greater good! Dave has told me that as long as I come back with a white drumkit he will be happy. I don't think Andrew believes that I will actually go through with it and I'm certain Billy Bodean is just as excited as I am. The drumkit will take 6mths to deliver because it needs to built in the US so more waiting to come...

Anyway, I will blog again when I return to Brisbane and talk about how things went and some highlights from the trip.

I might also mention that it is a pleasure to have my girlfriend, Lara, along for the trip with me. Although she did say she has only come for the shopping!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Listening to live recording

Just thought I'd drop a quick line as we're all sitting here listening back to some live recordings taken from our recent tour. It's always a slightly awkward experience sitting in a room listening to recordings of yourself as you end up trying to find all the mistakes you might have made!

I'm listenting right now to 'If This Is All There Is' recorded at The Zoo on Thursday Sep 25. I think it is a bit quick (which is my fault), but it has good energy and remains steady throughout (which is a good thing!). The more I hear it, the more I like it! And I tend to be super critical of our performances..

As we filmed the shows as well, we are actually thinking of making a tour dvd - including some previosuly unreleased material. This is an exciting idea, but a few things need to fall into place for it to happen. Our thanks, to all the people who made the recordings possible!!

Let's hope we can get something interesting out of it all...