AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2012|
I. In the fall of last year Home Blitz embarked on a ten day tour of Australia. The itinerary was as follows:
9/30 - The Croatian Club, Newcastle, Sydney, AUS - Sound Summit Festival - with Royal Headache, Straight Arrows, Constant Mongrel, The Nugs
10/3 - Black Bear Lodge - Brisbane - with Kitchen's Floor, Martyr Privates
10/4 - The Nash - Geelong - with Woolen Kits, Austmuteants
10/5 - Liberty Social - Melbourne - with Blues Control, Woolen Kits, Rule Of Thirds
10/6 - The Gaso - Melbourne - with Ruined Fortune, Constant Mongrel, East Link
10/9 - The Square - Sydney - with Raw Prawn, Can Can
II. To sate some of my own curiosity (and perhaps yours as well) in regards to Australian adventures, I asked Daniel and Theresa from the band some questions about their experiences while touring the continent.
TB: How did the idea of touring Australia come about? Did you seek it out or were you asked?
DD: We never had the idea ourselves, it came about entirely through the efforts of Tim Scott, who had initially talked to me about it like three years ago I think. He then tried to set up an AUS tour for us a couple times before schedules and financial concerns finally permitted everything falling into place in Fall of 2012. I wasn’t really thinking it was ever gonna happen I think to like shield myself from potential disappointment, so I was real happy and excited when I finally realized it was gonna happen.
TB: You played Sydney, Brisbane, Geelong and Melbourne - any particular memories about any of the shows or the cities that stand out? I'm particularly interested in Geelong for some reason...
DD: Geelong was sick and pretty strange, I guess it’s like an out of the way city and I think it took a long time to drive there. The place we played didn’t seem that unusual except it seemed more “working-class” maybe, than other bars we’d played at. Before the show actually started, but after night fell, I went outside to try to buy bottled water and I think just for fun, and I walked around for like 40 minutes trying to find a place to buy it 'cause nowhere was open and the whole city was dark, except for when I walked along a brightly lit highway. It was sick. I wanna say I bought it eventually at a Dunkin Donuts, but I’m not sure if they have those there. Ausmuteants played first at that show and were really good and when we played I believe that I chipped my teeth on the mic, but not because of anything intense happening. The next day was the only time we went to the beach the whole time we were in Australia, though it was more just like a bay. We ate fish and chips there and I fed some to magpies.
I remember a lot of stuff relating to birds from being in Australia, like when we first got to Owen’s house and sat in the backyard and there were big loud crows that sounded like babies crying, and how I later sat out there alone and could hear a variety of other stuff in addition to them, or how eventually we were there at night and saw giant bats (the best kind of bird), and also how I guess magpies are supposed to be hostile and attack people. I especially remember being at Matt from Kitchen’s Floor’s house in Brisbane and seeing a wild turkey in the backyard in the bright sun, and then going and walking around in the yard and seeing like old rusted things and different structures and thinking about how it was a house where people had lived and had shows and stuff like that, and how it related to other places I could think of that I know in America. I feel like my perceptions of the tour might be kind of skewed 'cause I was so jet-lagged for most of it and am a bitch. I think I literally was asleep for part of the band’s set directly preceding ours for every show that we played except two maybe, through no fault of the bands. We spent a lot of our time in Sydney which I liked a lot, I remember the weather there being real weird, like warm in the sun but freezing in the shade, it was strange, I guess cause it was their spring? One of my favorite times there was the day before the night we recorded the Radiant radio set when I walked around and drank what felt like more coffee than I ever have in my life and went to a record store for a long time and bought Watersons and Dave and Toni Arthur LPs on Topic (that I had put back initially), and I’m really glad I did. I really enjoyed drinking cider and beer everywhere.
TS: Oh shit, we had fun in Geelong! The town itself kinda reminded me of the place I grew up (Tallahassee, Fla.), minus the speed traps and football fever. Flashback to suburban shit-disturbing. We played with Ausmuteants, who are fucking great, and have also probably done their share of s.s.d. (suburban shit-disturbing) in good old Geelong. I managed to get pretty tanked before the show (on cider, no less), so my memory of their set isn't all it could be, but I remember being particularly goosed by one song that my inebriated and hyperbolic mind placed somewhere in the squirrelly territory between The Fall and Mud Hutters -- but don't hold me to that, Termbo. Subsequent listens to band demos confirm the impression that this is a Good Band and I Like Them, and you should too.
TB: Did you have any romantic ideas about Aussie music/culture that were crushed (or fulfilled) by your trip there?
TS: Well, like any globally-ignorant, sex-'n'-viol-obsessed Amerigan, the bedrock of my impression of Australian culture is basically Mad Max and AC/DC. Because I'm a curious Amerigan, this initial impression has been tempered somewhat by cerebral/haunting fare like Picnic At Hanging Rock and Walkabout (made by a Brit) and the brooding nocturnes of the Dirty Three, and not-tempered-at-all by The Birthday Party, Cosmic Psychos, Venom P., Grong Grong, Fungus Brains, King Snake Roost, and a host of other bands whose topical considerations and raw-viol make the Symbionese Liberation Army look like a charity organization. So, basically, I anticipated a full-time drug-'n'-booze, kangaroo-tipping Aus-bender from the minute I got there to the minute I left, which did not, in actuality, happen. At all. Disappointed? Not really.
TB: Were the drives between cities as grueling as they say? What were your impressions of the country going by?
DD: We flew between all the farthest apart shows so we didn’t have any really long drives but the times we did drive (only between Sydney and Newcastle and then between Melbourne and Geelong I think) were sick. I remember from the parts I was awake for it seeming pretty desolate, like stretches of grassy land broken up by the highway and some traffic formations like you’d see in US, like I remember seeing some traffic “circles”.
TS: I had to keep reminding myself that I was on the other side of the planet. The drive between Geelong and Melbourne (about 50 miles?) looked like I-75. I was constantly on the lookout for exotic flora/fauna, but possibly due to my habitually limited awareness of my surroundings, I only noticed a handful of unfamiliar specimens. I assumed we'd be driving through outback, which was dumb, considering that we were never more than a few miles from the coast at any time. For the longer jaunts, we traveled by air, with guitars overhead. I felt like Jimmy Page, except our plane didn't have "Home Blitz" painted on the side, and I wasn't on heroin.
TB: How was the food?
DD: I keep thinking about how we were there for two weeks but I feel like I only remember eating like three meals. I remember there being mad middle eastern food but I think I only ate it once. I had a kangaroo “burger” one time but it was just like chopped up pieces of kangaroo on a bun with ketchup and mayonnaise (russian dressing) not like a patty, it was retarded. When we played in Brisbane in the shopping area outside the club there was a 7-ll and I had the kind of chicken salad sandwich from there that I like to eat in US late at night after the show which was awesome. Now that I think about it there was lots of chinese food we ate, which was good.
TS: Downtown Sydney was full of cheap 'n' good sushi takeaways and tiny, bustling dumpling joints. (Somehow I never equated Australia with generously-portioned parcels of fresh, wallet-friendly sashimi, but geographically speaking, it makes duh-sense.) Unfortunately, our status as near-broke traveling nincompoops limited us mostly to the pizza/meat-pie/gas station grub circuit, which isn't a fair standard to evaluate anyone's culinary merits by, so I'll reserve judgment (except to say that you guys should probably stop trying to eat kangaroos, unless it's kind of like smoking menthols when you're drunk.) I will say that I was impressed by their coffee game! Drip coffee is apparently all-but-verboten in the Aussie coffeehouse; it's all espresso-based fare, which is friendlier to palate than wallet, but hey, I'm a cheapskate. The basic offering is a shot of espresso with hot water, which I was advised -- in what my jet-lagged, paranoid mind interpreted as some kind of friendly Aussie hazing ritual -- to order in the form of a "short black". But, nope, that's what they call it. Also, you can get an espresso at 7-11 (yep, they have those there!)
TB: What were your favorite Australian bands you saw on the tour?
DD: Looking back over the list of gigs I can honestly say that almost all the bands we played with were real good and impressive to me, but ones that especially stood out especially were Constant Mongrel, Eastlink, and Ruined Fortune, all of whom we played with Melbourne. Woolen Kits were especially impressive live, and Royal Headache was sick at Sound Summit Fest in Newcastle and for a passing moment sounded a lot like Skrewdriver to me. I think my two most very favorites were Half High, which is Lucy and Matthew from NOTV’s new group, who played a great and serene set during the afternoon at Sound Summit along to tight projections of a stone face and other things, and Rule of Thirds, who we played with in Melbourne and were sick. They have a song on their demo called “Northanger Abbey” and I lost my pin after their set.
TS: Ausmuteants were great. In Melbourne, we played with a band comprised of Angie from Circle Pit and Nic Warnock -- heavy riffs and guy/girl vox. Played a couple shows with Woollen Kits, who were awesome. Kitchen's Floor were great in Brisbane. (The Aussie Pink Reason? I dunno, although I see the parallels.) Straight Arrows ruled it in Newcastle, with Owen doing double duty as axeman for S.A. and sticksman for Home Blitz!
TB: What is your favorite Australian record of all time?
III. While in Australia Daniel also did this fine interview with Tom from Woollen Kits that I tried to prevent overlapping questions with. it's a good read.
DD: I think either Saints "Eternally Yours", the Leftovers 7”, or the Chosen Few EP, or this Bee Gees song if it counts.
TS: Shit. Probably the first feedtime rec. Bleak, twisted, sublimely ugly, all grinding gears and rattling bass. Like a shovel to the back of the cranium.