Makers of Melbourne

Welcome to Makers Of Melbourne – the ‘go to’ guide for our technically integrated age.

Makers Of Melbourne has been created to consume and assimilate Melbourne culture. We're male focussed, but not male specific, sorting through the dross to weed out the creative stars, standout events and stylish folk that make this city unique. 

MOM aims to embrace all facets of what makes this city a creative hub. Our aim is to inform without condescending – to keep you abreast of what’s going on without regurgitating Press Releases & to seek out this city’s sub cultures to give our readers the inside scoop on what’s REALLY happening with the people who make Melbourne Melbourne.

Filtering by Tag: melbourne music

The Event: Falls Festival, Mt Duneed Estate 2015

When word spread of bushfires along the Great Ocean Road on Christmas Day 2015, there was little thought spared for the Victorian location of the annual Falls Festival and more concern (rightly so) for the families who had watched helplessly as their homes burnt alongside the dense bushland surrounding Erskine Falls.   

It was only on Boxing Day, as out of control flames still ravaged the coastal towns of Lorne and Wye River that festival organisers knew that they had a very big decision on their hands – make some serious changes or risk the safety of several thousand attendees.

And make some serious changes they did. In a little over 27 hours the folk behind one of Australia’s longest running music festivals managed to relocate the entire event from its longstanding base in the foothills of Lorne and into a safer location, Day on the Green venue and winery Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong.

It was an epic effort by the team and a large group of volunteers who were still busy setting up as festivities got underway on Monday 28th December. While backhoes and cranes silently lifted equipment and tradies were hard at work putting the finishing touches on the main stage, a select group of performers entertained the first wave of ticketholders in the Grand Theatre, getting the audience psyched for four days of entertainment in the brand new space. 

    'Wei  rd   Al' Yankovic performs on night one of the 2015   Falls Festival at Mt Duneed Estate - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback

 

'Weird Al' Yankovic performs on night one of the 2015 Falls Festival at Mt Duneed Estate - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback

While the grounds weren’t overly busy it was nice to see the gleeful faces of punters as they strolled through the Mt Duneed entry gates, the majority of whom had no doubt been glued to social media over the Christmas weekend, patiently waiting for news on the future of the 2015 festival.   

As afternoon rolled into evening excitement built around the theatre, as we early arrivers prepared ourselves for a performance by American comedian ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. Although his set was peppered with technical difficulties it was still a great time – no one knows showbiz like ‘Weird Al’ and with fat suits, Segway’s and several costume changes thrown into the mix, everyone seemed happy enough to trade a couple of electrical blackouts for hits like ‘Fat’ and ‘White and Nerdy’.

 

 In the interest of full disclosure there are two things that I need to mention:

1) The ‘new’ location meant that this reviewer was able to travel to the venue everyday from the comfort of her own Melbourne apartment.

2) Sometimes the best entertainment happens in the VIP area (but that’s a story for another time).

 

 After ‘Weird Al’ wrapped, the executive decision is made to hit the road and skip a late night slot by Art vs Science. On the drive back to Melbourne my companion and I listen to a compilation of the best of the worst of the 80s,  the only appropriate thing to do after seeing one of the decade’s biggest cult stars.    

   Enjoying the view. Punters soak up the atmosphere at Mt Duneed Estate, the location of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Enjoying the view. Punters soak up the atmosphere at Mt Duneed Estate, the location of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

Day two, otherwise known as Tuesday, starts off well. After watching lovable larrikins Dune Rats pelt the amassed audience with an array of sex toys and blow up dolls this reviewer is scolded by a fellow member of the media for missing Leon Bridges’ show earlier that afternoon. A couple of minutes are spent contemplating his sideshow at 170 Russell before I’m informed that it has completely sold out. There’s no time to be sad as latest it-girl indie pop princess Halsey struts her way onto the main stage and instantly wins over the throng with a selection of tracks off her debut album, ‘Badlands’. Originally discovered on YouTube, the New Jersey native has attitude to spare and maintains this momentum for her entire 50-minute slot.    

Next on the agenda is Paul Kelly and the Merri Soul Sessions, featuring performances by Dan Sultan, Ash Naylor, Vika and Linda Bull and Clairy Browne. We watch the set while sitting on a patch of dry grass and eating delicious Hare Krishna dinners, content to relax and let the smooth stylings wash over us like waves, not to be confused with Wavves, who storm the stage straight after Kelly, dedicating their set to Motorhead front man Lemmy, who had sadly passed away that morning. After sticking around for a couple of songs I wander back to the VIP area to grab a drink and settle in for some serious people watching. 

Resident DJ Eddie spins classic disco and offers complimentary massages to the motley crew dancing in front of him, some of whom look like they could desperately use a nap after working around the clock to get the event up and running.            

   Danny Beusar, singer and guitarist for Brisbane based Dune Rats rocks out on day two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Danny Beusar, singer and guitarist for Brisbane based Dune Rats rocks out on day two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

   Time out between sets on day two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.  

 

Time out between sets on day two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.  

   Making her Australian debut, indie pop singer Halsey showcased tracks off her album 'Badlands' on evening two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Making her Australian debut, indie pop singer Halsey showcased tracks off her album 'Badlands' on evening two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

Darkness falls and Wavves make way for perennial favourites Hilltop Hoods. Hilltop Hoods are followed by crowd pleasers Wombats. Their set finishes at around 1am and once again we’re back in the car for the journey home.

Wednesday, day three, is a scorcher. Attendees struggle to keep cool as festival organizers erect shade cloths and security hose down the crowd near the main stage. Melbourne locals Alpine have the right idea; they’ve made their entrance carrying pineapple shaped cocktail glasses, although the group still looks like they’re suffering in the heat.

There’s time to spare before Gary Clark Jnr is due on stage so we hike up the hill to watch an angelic sounding Jarryd James. His set ends and once again we’re thrust into the glaring afternoon sun, there’s a race to get back to the main stage before Jnr’s blues tinged show begins, although the heat makes it feel like we’re wading through toffee. The American performer’s so great that I have plans to stay and watch the entire show, unfortunately the temperature gets to me after a handful of songs and I have to leave the main stage area to find myself some shade. The tracks that I do manage to catch before venturing off sound pitch perfect and I make a mental note to download his entire back catalogue on Spotify.  

There’s a moment every year at Falls when the sun dips and the temperature drops to almost freezing conditions. Amazingly Mt Duneed Estate doesn’t seem to work in the same way as Erskine Falls and once late afternoon sets in we still find ourselves comfortable in short sleeves – for once there’s no need at all to rug up in the usual winter layers.

   Temperatures soar on day three - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Temperatures soar on day three - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

Melbourne Ska Orchestra are trying their darndest to bring back dancehall flavours. The Wednesday evening crowd is digging the beats and follow up performances by Rufus, Block Party and Disclosure means that the night is one giant party.

Usually by New Years Eve energy starts to lag. It’s the classic combo of heat (and freezing cold), lack of sleep and a steady diet of festival food that leaves everyone feeling slightly worse for wear on the last day.

I’m lucky that I’ve had the luxury of going home each night, especially in such dry conditions. Although beautiful, Mt Duneed has morphed into a dustbowl and by night time my companion and I are grateful to be able to wipe the dirt of the day off our shoes and hands.

   Crowd favourites King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard entertain the masses in the Grand Theatre on day three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Crowd favourites King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard entertain the masses in the Grand Theatre on day three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

   Melbourne's own Phoebe Baker (Alpine) hits all the right notes on day three of the 2015 Falls Festival at Mt Duneed Estate - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Melbourne's own Phoebe Baker (Alpine) hits all the right notes on day three of the 2015 Falls Festival at Mt Duneed Estate - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

   Grammy nominated Courtney Barnett gives it her all on night three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Grammy nominated Courtney Barnett gives it her all on night three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

   Kele Okereke of British rock group Bloc Party plays on night three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Kele Okereke of British rock group Bloc Party plays on night three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

My afternoon begins with a super mellow routine by Meg Mack. She’s attempting to sing while holding on to her sunhat, but gives in and allows the wind to blow the stylish accessory off her head and towards the back of the stage. Mack finishes her show and the early afternoon crowd cheers the heartfelt performance. The temperature is peaking as I ease my way back up to the Grand Theatre to watch Money for Rope. I don’t really mean to, but end up staying for their whole act, they’re good fun and it’s so much cooler in the tent. 

The evening passes in a blur of Kurt Vile, The Maccabees, Harts and Sweden’s own Elliphant, who performs while wearing a Falls Fest volunteer t-shirt.   

2015 is coming to a close and excitement is thick in the air. As night settles in I catch an encore performance by Borns (after the cancellation of The Avener leaves a gap in the schedule). The young rock group are super talented so it’s a pleasure to watch them again – this time playing in front of a much larger and energized pack.

   Festival fashion on New Year's Eve 2015  - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Festival fashion on New Year's Eve 2015  - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

   Feeling the heat on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Feeling the heat on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

   Meg Mac perfroms in style on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Meg Mac perfroms in style on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

Before I know it it’s time for Foals, the London based band chosen to ring in the new year with style. This is the show I’ve been looking forward to the most over the past few days and they don’t disappoint. Lead singer Yannis Philippakis dives off the stage and heads into the assembled mass several times during the show and by the time they wrap things up the crowd seems to have reached maximum hyperactivity – the people are ready to keep the party going. It’s a tough act to follow but Django Django don’t appear to have any issues, they put on a killer set and wish everyone a great 2016.

As Django Django’s last song winds up we sneak out of the grounds via a hole in the fence and wander back to our car. The sun has set on yet another great Falls Festival and despite the unusual circumstances we've enjoyed four great days of music, performance, food, vintage fashion and general people watching. It’s been a fantastic effort by the Falls group and the seemingly tireless volunteers, who have managed to raise over $139,000 for bush fire relief via the release of a one off New Years Eve Appeal ticket, day parking rates and collection tins onsite.

It’s been an awesome, albeit hot, four days and no matter where the show ends up in 2016, you can guarantee that it won’t ever be boring.

   Money for Rope entertain in the Grand Theatre on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Money for Rope entertain in the Grand Theatre on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

   Swedish singer/songwriter Elliphant wears a Falls Festival volunteer t-shirt while performing on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Swedish singer/songwriter Elliphant wears a Falls Festival volunteer t-shirt while performing on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

   Waiting to celebrate the New Year, Falls Festival 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Waiting to celebrate the New Year, Falls Festival 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

   Yannis Philippakis, lead singer and guitarist of British indie group Foals crowd surfs after ringing in the New Year at Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.   

 

Yannis Philippakis, lead singer and guitarist of British indie group Foals crowd surfs after ringing in the New Year at Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.   

Interview: Brian Nankervis

Brian Nankervis loves a yarn.

Even though I’d been previously advised of this fact, it comes as actual relief when we settle easily into our allotted phone interview.

It's Nankervis’s genuine openness and natural gift of the gab that has made him a stalwart on Australian TV, with appearances on Hey Hey it's Saturday, Jimeoin, and cult 90s sitcom Let The Blood Run Free, as well as warm up jobs for The Panel and Big Girls Blouse, not to mention his long running gig as MC on the SBS music quiz show RocKwiz.

Monday afternoon and the St Kilda resident has just finished up a relaxing coffee in a neighbouring café, taking brief respite from a busy day. He spent the morning performing at a local primary school before moving on to host an intimate lunch, raising awareness for people living with disabilities.

It's a rich and varied schedule and one that no doubt keeps this former teacher on his toes, however (and as much as we could chat for hours) it’s none of these things that have lead us to arrange today’s conversation, neither is it his annual hosting role for the Sacred Heart Mission's Heart of St Kilda variety show, nor his spell as a Triple R DJ in the 1970s and 80s.

We’ve been brought together to discuss a very special collaboration between the members of the RocKwiz orchestra and Melbourne institution Ding Dong Lounge; who are proudly presenting a night of soul food, music and entertainment inspired by the spellbinding history of New Orleans.

What initially started life as a side project between owner of Ding Dong, Bill Walsh, and Nankervis, rapidly progressed into a series of sold out dinner shows occurring in late 2014 – the two have once again joined forces to develop a brand new night of entertainment, set to make its debut this coming Sunday the 1st of March.

Nankervis: “Bill approached the [RocKwiz] office and suggested that we get RocKwiz involved with the club and put on a show based on New Orleans, as their kitchen has a New Orleans theme. I knew that the band were all mad fans of New Orleans music so I approached the orchestra and we hatched this plan to perform the Dr John album Gris-Gris from start to finish, followed up with a second set of live dance songs.”

For the Melbourne born showman, live performances like the Ding Dong theme nights offer great opportunity for audience interaction, “to get the band going and see the audience dancing.” He happily shares that last year’s shows were “fantastic, one of the real high points of my career” allowing Nankervis time to schmooze, mingle and host, “I’ve always fancied myself as a maitre d' so that was good fun.”

While Nankervis may proudly wear his self-appointed title of Maitre d’, it’s not the only new mantle that he’ll be awarded with this afternoon. As we begin to wind up our interview I casually enquire about his evening plans. “I’m off to supervise my son’s cricket practice.” He shares, and it seems to me that we can go ahead and add the word coach to that impressive resume of his.

 

Brian Nankervis and members of the RocKwiz Orchestra New Orleans dinner and show is on both Sunday the 1st and 15th of March from 6:30pm. Tickets available here

The Event: Falls Festival, Lorne 2014

The closing note of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ fades and a palpable excitement builds as a projected clock counts down the seconds, ebbing closer and closer to midnight. Lead singer and drummer from the recently reformed Spiderbait, Kram, is working his way awkwardly around the stage, rhetorically asking the assembled audience when he’ll be asked to host the ARIA awards, before turning his attention back to the digital timepiece and beginning the new year’s countdown.

Kram

Kram

It’s a slightly strange moment on what had been an unusual new years eve at Falls Festival Lorne, with the noticeable absence of the annual parade leaving a hole in the festivities earlier in the evening. But Kram’s midnight announcement is met with thunderous applause from a sea of eager festival-goers. The valley surrounding Erskine Falls echoes back with cheers and catcalls, flares and fireworks explode as the Finley born performer exits the stage and The Presets begin a blistering post new year’s countdown set.

The beloved Aussie duo has been on stage for little over 5 minutes when a flare is thrown into the photographer’s pit. Security swarms as carpet begins to smoke and a thick haze settles on the first few rows of the audience. Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes continue to play, seemingly unaware of the smog and eager to please the hyper throng that has turned out to watch their first performance of 2015.

The Presets'  Julian Hamilton

The Presets' Julian Hamilton

I stand near the stage wrapped in several layers of clothing. Although the day started out at a perfect 20 something degrees (new years eve offered the best weather conditions for the entire festival), the night has turned decidedly frigid; it doesn’t seem to have bothered the majority of the attendees I note, catching a glimpse of a guy dressed in little more than a pair of shorts - My gaze returns to the main stage as I wait for my photographer companion to complete her “three songs and out” duties.  As the herd of snappers makes their exit from the front of stage the sudden decision is made to leave before the end of the Presets set. It’s been a long couple of days and now is the perfect time to head back to Melbourne.

Falls is always exhausting but we’ve had it decidedly easy compared to most, although good food, coffee and some excellent vintage shopping are all fully available to the general public. Not to mention the beautiful surrounds, comedy, face painting, circus acts and music on offer.

Luke Steele from Empire Of The Sun

Luke Steele from Empire Of The Sun

Over the last few days I’ve managed to catch sets from some really great performers (Empire of the Sun, Jagwar Ma, Glass Animals), discovered some new favorites (Big Freedia, DMA’s) and have complied a massive list of albums to download on my return home. I’ve seen musicians get in trouble for smoking indoors, been offered glow sticks while in the queue for the toilets and asked by an inebriated punter if I was a figment of his imagination…Spoiler alert, I wasn’t.

Big Freedia

Big Freedia

Although festivities officially started on Sunday the 28th with performances from a host of bands including Client Liaison and hip hop legends Salt ‘n’ Pepper, it wasn’t until Monday the 29th that things kicked up a notch with headlining sets from The Temper Trap and DZ Deathrays (the latter being added to the bill after the cancellation of Julian Casablancas + The Voidz).

The weather was miserable with scattered showers and chilly conditions but that wasn’t enough to keep crowds away from Melbourne’s own North East Party House who had had a mid-afternoon audience dancing up a storm with their special blend of indie dance music. Unfortunately a real storm settled in toward the end of their set, leaving follow up act Dan Sultan performing to a disappointingly small crowd, as a majority of punters headed elsewhere seeking shelter from the steady rainfall.

North East Party House

North East Party House

By far the biggest buzz band of the day was Milky Chance, the German group have been attracting global audiences with their reggae tinged “folktronica” and their live set solidified their excellent reputation as they performed tracks off debut album, ‘Sadnecessary’. Lead single ‘Stolen Dance’ was the highlight of the show, greeted with rapturous applause from an inspired Monday night crowd.

Tuesday, and the second last day of 2014 had the most varied and appealing lineup with Sticky Fingers, Cloud Control and SBTRKT playing over the course of the day. The weather remained cold and miserable, but the first day of performances in The Grand Theatre gave a chilly audience the chance to keep warm with performances by Run The Jewels, Remi and The Black Lips.

SBTRKT

SBTRKT

John Butler sounded pitch perfect and got things moving with his early evening performance. He was a great choice to play before British electronic artist La Roux took the stage; the combination of laid back jams followed by dance music meant that the assembled crowd was large, varied and up for a good time.

As the sun rose on the last day of the festival it appeared that the clouds and wet weather had left for good. A slightly worse for wear looking crowd took full advantage of the sun, many stripping down to shorts, T shirts and summer dresses, basking in the summer heat.

One-man band Kim Churchill won over the audience early in the day and paved the way for killer performances by Vance Joy, Megan Washington, Cold War Kids and an enthusiastic farewell set from Bluejuice, all before the clock struck twelve. 

English band Alt-J sounded flawless as they performed songs off the Mercury Prize winning ‘An Awesome Wave’ and their recently released follow up, ‘This Is All Yours’. Vocalist Joe Newman’s lilting vocals pitch perfect, blending seamlessly with his bandmates uplifting sound.

Alt-J

Alt-J

 And then it was over.

Time to beat the crowds and return to the city. Back to life with the internet, mobile phone reception and fresh vegetables after a 3 day festival diet of fried food and cider. Thanks again Falls, as always you were an awesome way to usher in the new year.

The Event: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, HiFi Bar 19th December

Victoria’s purveyors of psych-rock fuzz, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard wrapped up the year and a national tour with a corker of a live set at The Hifi Bar last Friday night, supported by Leah Senior, Tonstartssbandht and Adalita, as well as a scene stealing series of psychedelic projections created by mixed-media artist Jason Galea.

 

After receiving international praise for their performances at New York's CMJ Music Conference in October, the November release of I’m In Your Mind Fuzz (their 5th LP in the space of two and a half years) and extensive tours throughout America, the UK, Europe and Australia during 2014,  the young band would be forgiven for subjecting their audience to a lackluster performance. Luckily for us, they remained in high spirits throughout the concert, obviously ecstatic to be back on home turf.

The show at The Hifi would best be described as full sensory overload, visual effects working in perfect unison with the tunes, resulting in a mind-bending cacophony of sound, skill and stamina.

For the uninitiated King Gizz play fuzzy psychedelic rock, with a strong hint of 60s garage. The band lineup includes two drummers, three guitarists, and a sometime harmonica/tambourine/keyboard playing backing singer. What could easily be an overwhelming amount of sound works perfectly together, blending seamless layers of beats, echoes and fuzz with the vocals of lead singer Stu Mackenzie.

Four years in and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have managed to explore a staggering array of genres throughout their brief career; from bubblegum psyche pop (Oddments, 2014), garage punk and Daptone influenced soul (I’m In Your Mind Fuzz was partially recorded at the legendary Brooklyn based studio). With their “more is more” approach to recorded music it’s only fitting that their live shows should follow suit.

Playing a setlist that included a number of tracks off the latest LP, King Gizz kept their performance loose, happy to jam and draw out the running times of several tracks; incorporating drumstick flips, gobbing, tambourine solos and all manor of onstage shenanigans while an enthusiastic crowd whipped themselves into a hyped up frenzy.   

By the end of the gig this reviewer was left feeling both exhausted and elated, although sober I had the overwhelming feeling of having my drink spiked with LSD, Galea’s trippy lightshow embedded in my retinas while tunes firmly echoed through my head.

I made my way up the stairs of The Hifi and stumbled back onto Swanston Street deep into a thick crowd of unsuspecting late night shoppers. Although reluctant to break the live music spell, the reality of a pre-Christmas general public hit me hard as I wandered towards a Bourke Street tram stop, more than ready to see this magical septet perform again at the Sugar Mountain festival this coming January.

Interview: David Vodicka, Rubber Records

Sometimes you need to celebrate an achievement.

In the case of Rubber Records, an indie label grown out of a bedroom in Melbourne in 1989, it was decided that this silver anniversary should take form in a months worth of specially curated shows featuring rare performances by some of the acts that the label has played host to over its life span.

Releasing over 250 titles in its 25 year history, Rubber Records has been home to artists including Even, JET, Cordrazine, Underground Lovers, Crooked Fingers, Icecream Hands, Liquor Giants, 1200 Techniques, Ricaine, The Affected, The Grapes, The Casanovas, bZARK and The Genes (to name just a few).

Says label founder David Vodicka, “I’ve always preferred being in the background and just releasing records by artists that I love working with. This series of shows is just as much a celebration of being around a long time and sticking with those artists, as it is an excuse to try and get some of them to play again!”

With the series of one-off shows by a range of artists from the label due to start at the Northcoate Social Club in December, Makers of Melbourne thought that now was the perfect time to sit down for a chat with label founder David Vodicka, whose own personal history is steeped in the Melbourne music industry; from hosting breakfast on Triple R, founding the label and establishing one of the country's most respected entertainment legal firms as well as sitting on the AIR board. 

Rubber Records founder David Vodicka

Rubber Records founder David Vodicka

Hi David, thanks for the chat - Could you please take us back to the beginnings of Rubber Records, what drove you to start your own record label?

Arguably a combination of stupidity and naiveté, but in truth a love of music, and the desire to work with artists whose work I loved.

Did you have a background in the music industry, how did you know what to do to get the label off the ground?

I learned on the job, and generally just did what needed to be done. At the start I was in 3RRR and a student, so blew the savings on putting out records. Luckily we made enough to keep going, though never quite enough for me to stop being a lawyer.

Was there a “tipping point” for the label, how did it grow in popularity over the years?

Tipping point was signing Even and then Cordrazine – we moved from indie distribution to a major, and major label funding. But that was also an education on the politics of big business. Arguably labels don’t grow in popularity, their acts do, and as such you live and die on the success of your artists. When our artists were more popular, so were we.

How do you choose the acts that you work with? 

I have to like the music, the artist and the work ethic. No rules as to genre or style, just has to be interesting art.

How has the Melbourne music scene changed since Rubber’s inception?

Better infrastructure to play live, perhaps more of a community (the advent of Music Victoria, government funding programs certainly assist), but its still essentially a great city that breeds great music and talent.

Has the music industry changed in general?

Arguably not much insofar as its still about talent connecting with people. What’s changed are the means of distributing that music and the methods of communicating with media and fans.

There are a series of Rubber Records concerts taking place over December to celebrate the anniversary, how did you choose the performers for the gigs?

They’re all great acts that I’m proud to have released, even if they aren’t all equally well known. It was partly availability and willingness – I would have loved to have had Icecream Hands, The Exploders, Ricaine, TSOMM, the Liquor Giants, etc play but with limited time, availability, and everyone’s commitments, I still think we put together a great program.

25-years in, what does the future hold for Rubber Records?

Continuing to release records we love, and keeping the flame alive for those artists we’ve released in the past.

 Is it hard to sustain a record label in the age of digital downloads and music piracy?

Of course, any business that doesn’t fit squarely in the mainstream is going to be tested by diminishing revenue streams from physical, digital, streaming. But at the same time, it is possible to create a community around your artists, and label, and provided you keep releasing material that keeps people interested, then it will remain possible.

Has hitting the 25-year mark made you feel sentimental towards the ‘good old days’?

I tend to be about looking forward and am not a fan of nostalgia, and whilst  there are certainly what in retrospect seems like a stack of great adventures had with many of our acts, I couldn’t do them justice. I’d prefer to share the present and future, and that for me will be the shows we do in December - Hope to see you there!

25years.jpg

The three-week Rubber Records residency starts at the Northcote Social Club on Wednesday 3rd December - Tickets on sale now.  

 

 

Interview: Robert Muinos

Perhaps better known in Melbourne music circles as the guitarist in Melbourne’s 9 piece soul-rock group Saskwatch, Robert Muinos also performs with garage rock collective Dorsal Fins and now to top that off, the seemingly tireless Muinos has just released his first solo single, showcasing his own talents as a singer-songwriter.

Press Shot 1.jpg

Earlier this year and in the midst of a busy tour, Muinos persuaded a few of his Saskwatch bandmates to forgo a highly anticipated week long break to head back into the studio to help record his forthcoming debut EP.

Having done the hard yards touring both nationally and internationally, Robert felt that the time was right for greater introspection and his single, I Was Dreaming, captures the sound of a musician forged, not depleted by time on the road.            

It’s been an exhausting schedule and it comes as no great surprise when Muinos mentions that he has just spent a whole weekend in bed recovering, during our recent phone conversation. Having just returned from Big Sound, where both Saskwatch and Dorsal Fins performed, the performer is understandably enjoying some downtime before turning his focus to a run of solo shows.

Robert: “I’ve tried to write music for both Saskwatch and Dorsal Fins before and it always comes out really shit (laughs). I love the music that I play with them [Saskwatch, Dorsal Fins], but whenever I’ve had those great moments where a song comes out of me it’s always been a folk thing. I never made a conscious decision to write music like this, it just happened and it got to the point where I just thought, if this is what’s going to happen every time I write a song it must be for a reason so I should just go with it and see what happens."

With a strong alt-country feel, you can almost hear the kilometers rolling by in the drums and bass line that accompany I Was Dreaming. Late nights and hangovers run deep in a yearning harmonica while the Rob’s vocal melody seems to search for something naively optimistic. It’s a change of direction for the performer, but not completely out of left field.

Robert: “For me this is my chance to be the boss, which is nice. The single and the EP were recorded with Ed, the drummer from Saskwatch, but as far as the live band goes its Jim Lawrie on drums. I wanted him because we’d just done a tour together and we get along really well. We used to go to each other’s gigs all the time and became really good friends. You want to make music with people that you love.”

The theme of love plays a prevalent role in the film clip for I Was Dreaming and Makers is happy to hear the young singer speak highly of his fellow musicians. There’s praise for drummer Lawrie, who also sidelines in Dorsal Fins, as well as mates in Eagle and The Worm and The Bamboos. Muinos assures us that the Melbourne music scene is for the main part a nurturing and supportive industry.

 Robert: “We’re all just putting music out there for people to hear and for the public to decide whether they like it. I think that there are lots of people out there that have a kind of, competitive vibe when it comes to playing music. I just find it fucking weird. What’s the point in being competitive about it? Just be supportive of the whole scene.”

While he may be proudly supporting his fellow bandmates, Makers can’t help but wonder how accommodating the mainstream music industry is when it comes to up and coming musicians like Rob. With record contracts now few and far between, more and more artists are independently releasing albums, paying for production and studio sessions out of their own pockets.

It’s a hard slog, but for Robert the rewards are paying off ten fold. “It feels good. I think some people like it [the single] and some people think it’s ok. It was pretty scary before but now that it’s released I’m just letting it do its own thing. I did my best to raise the kid and now it’s going to have to look after itself, I’m letting him be free.”

Robert Muinos launches his debut single I Was Dreaming on Thursday October 16th at The Old Bar in Fitzroy.

Interview: Boy & Bear guitarist Killian Gavin

There were high expectations before the release of Sydney-based alternative folk-rock band Boy & Bear’s second album, Harlequin Dream. That’s no surprise considering the group’s 2011 debut, Moonfire, garnered five ARIA awards and achieved a platinum status on the Australian album charts. The band, riding high on that success, hit the road for 18 months of solid touring both home and abroad, playing extensively throughout America and Europe.

Boy & Bear on stage at the Palais Theatre last Friday

Boy & Bear on stage at the Palais Theatre last Friday

Although they’ve built up a healthy amount of frequent flyer points, the band has never been one to neglect their loyal Australian fans. Boy & Bear have ensured they return to their motherland for not one, but two national tours in 2014, with a massive 30-date regional tour taking place earlier this year, and a national tour currently underway. It’s been a hard slog for the boys, but it’s a journey that lead guitarist Killian Gavin describes as a good and incredibly rewarding ride.

In the lead up to their two shows at The Palais Theatre last week, Makers spent a late afternoon in the company of guitarist Killian who, along with singer David Hosking, Timothy Hart (drums and vocals), Jonathan Hart (vocals, banjo, mandolin and keyboards) and bassist David Symes, formed the group in 2009.

Boy & Bear lead guitarist Killian Gavin

Boy & Bear lead guitarist Killian Gavin

Killian: “I’m sure that a lot of people find themselves in a similar situation when they’re busy like this and time flies, but I’ve found this year in particular to have gone remarkably quick. We started touring last year just after the record came out then we had a little bit of time off in January, then we left in the beginning of Feb and we haven’t stopped since. Now here we are in… what month is it?”

 There’s good-natured laughter: while most travellers would be in the midst of a heavy jet lag, the performer is in fine spirits, obviously happy to be back on home turf.

 Of course there’s no getting around his memory lapse is the ultimate rock cliché; a young band hits the road and loses track of time, dates and names of cities. For Boy & Bear, the recent American tour also included travel in a deluxe tour bus – the vehicle serving as the backdrop to a series of shots posted on social media.

For the group, the vehicle itself proved something of a significant milestone: it was the band’s “first bus”, indication in concrete form that Boy & Bear has reached a certain level of success.

Killian: “We haven’t been doing this for a long time, but long enough to gain an understanding of how things work. We’ve always wanted to be in a band that builds slowly with touring and I think that’s how you build up a credible fan base. Fans that like every song on the album, not just the one song that they’ve heard on the radio.”

Tune in to most Aussie radio stations and it’s near impossible to not hear either Southern Sun or Three Headed Woman, the first two singles lifted off Harlequin Dream. The album was recorded in Sydney, which allowed the band to stay close to friends and family. As a result, it reflects a far different personality to the debut album recorded in Nashville.

Killian: “Fortunately we were off to a great start with the first record but this record has been better in many ways. It has helped build a stronger audience for us overseas and that’s why we’ve been busy touring nonstop, to make the most of it while there’s so much momentum.”

And the momentum doesn’t seem set to stop anytime soon. Not only are there more dates booked in Canada and America (the band’s fame boosted by a recent appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien) there’s also a slew of Australian dates to fill up their September and October schedules, including a sold-out show at The Opera House.

Killian: “Sydney shows are probably always a bit more nerve-wracking because your family and friends are in the crowd. Just to make it a little bit more intimidating you’re also playing at the Opera House. To be completely honest I’m super excited to be playing it, it’s going to be a fun night.”

The future is sure to hold plenty more fun for Boy & Bear but near the top of the guitarist’s priority list is some more time off.

Killian: “We’ll finish up in December and after that I’m going to take about four weeks off and do nothing. I’m really going to make the most of it.”

He laughs, but we can’t help but think the summer break won’t last long.

Interview: Tim Kill

“I will do extra things at my own cost for my own satisfaction. I just love it. Guitar making has never been about the money for me.”    -       Tim Kill

Tim Kill remembers with perfect recall the day INXS guitarist Garry Beers came calling. The kid from Frankston who had directed his focus from the age of 16 toward making guitars was wandering around Bunnings when the phone rang. Garry wanted a guitar. And he wanted Tim to make it.

Tim: “It was just bizarre. He [Garry] wanted to catch up and it was all just super cash. From being in such an iconic Australian rock band he was just a real down to Earth guy. Same with guys like Colin Hay – he’d just come around to the workshop and start swearing like a trooper.”

When Makers recounted the experience of chatting with Tim earlier this week, an old time friend of the now 35-year-old specialist custom guitar maker emphasised the importance of conveying the talented artist’s eccentricity – as it turns out, there’s really no other way to frame him.

Substantial red beard aside, Tim’s quirks owe nothing to the physical. Instead, his left-of-centre characteristics are almost entirely attributable to the passion and dedication he has maintained for almost 15 years – a rare quality in today’s world – relentlessly pursuing expression and voice through creation of stunning instruments designed to each produce a particular unique sound.

His talent is one that was less directed then simply uncovered and then honed over years of practice: having bought a book on guitar making as a guitar-playing 16-year-old, Tim’s furniture-restorer grandfather helped to fashion his first instrument, an experience that set Tim on the road he is still driven to travel.

Tim: “In Australia there is no real way toward an apprenticeship or anything like that, so I learned the hard way. My grandfather let me pinch his tools and I just kept making and making and played in bands, which helped me to get feedback from other people around the sound.”

There was an apprenticeship of sorts with renowned Australian luthiers, James and Merv Cargill (for whom he still works part-time restoring, building and repairing classical stringed instruments), but the slow reveal of his talent owes much to Tim’s focussed practice of the art form.

It’s a dedication that has brought him to the attention of all the right people. If Garry Beers was the first rock musician to come calling, he certainly wasn’t alone in appreciating Tim’s soulful touch. In fact Tim’s client list reads like a role call of both current and past Aussie rock icons – from the aforementioned Colin Hay of Men At Work fame, to relative newcomer Xavier Rudd, the Living End, and the crew from the John Butler Trio.

But one gets the feeling it’s the man as much as the music with which they all identify. Tim has a way about him. He’s a down to Earth guy with a serious bullshit detector. An artist who follows his passions with no posturing or pretending. A craftsman, in the truest sense of the word. All are aspects of his personality that come through strongly when Tim speaks of his work.

Tim: “I’m a custom-based maker so I don’t really run a production line of staff. I have a couple of standard models but I always go out of my way to go a bit extra – I try to pride myself on the fact there are no two guitars out there that are the same. I will do extra things at my own cost for my own satisfaction. As far as time and money goes, I’ve never put a stopwatch to [making] one…because it distracts me from how I started. I just love it, but it was never about the money for me. It’s nice to have it for food on the table, but I don’t chase after it.”

And I guess that’s it – his eccentricity and his appeal neatly rolled in to a sentence. Someone who does it for the love. It’s a rare energy and one – as human beings – that we’re all drawn to.

Certainly it helps to explain why his new hobby, the restoration of vintage motorcycles, is fast becoming a second income stream, even if Tim himself is doing everything he can to preserve it as a personal passion: when the rest of us lock on to that person following the beat of his creative heart, then we all want a piece of it.

But for Tim it’s not the unspoken adulation that matters, but the trust this brings from those that seek him out: confident in his talent, they let the artist take the lead. For Tim as a maker, this is where much of the pleasure derides.

Not that it doesn’t sometimes go wrong.

Tim: “I did this job for a guy over in WA. He was a guitarist, had a share house with Diesel and Jimmy Barnes when they were teenagers and had all these wild stories to tell. Anyway, I did a sunburst and thought it was really beautiful and I sent him some pictures. He rings me up to say, ‘I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but I just don’t like it’.”

Tim laughs when he tells the story and it’s had not to admire his lack of hubris. Hoisted by his own artistic petard. So what’d you do, Makers asks?

Tim: “I made it again.”

You can hear the shrug in his voice, matched with the hint of a smile.  And there it is again. Easy. Honest. Light. Characteristics we’d all be happy to have more of.