Thursday, March 27, 2008

Naked Torso (Part Two) - James Beck of Soul of Condemned Ape Interview

Finally, the other half of the Soul of Condemned Ape story is revealed. James Beck, the drummer of the now deceased outfit, has kindly dropped some personal insight into the strange tale. Quite the Renaissance man, he can now be found drumming and singing in the post-punk/new wave netherworld of Magic Window, acting up a storm at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in preparation for a career in stage and screen and repelling lovestruck betties like malaria-infested mosquitos. Without further ado I give you the dramatic conclusion to Naked Torso - The Soul of Condemned Ape Story...


SOCA drummer James Beck in a pensive, yet hopeful moment.


You were in a band, Soul of Condemned Ape, that some people considered quite good. However, once you were on the verge of cracking though to the Perth local scene's middle-upper echelon (playing on stages, supporting indie pop bands, supporting at poorly attended obscure eastern states and international shows), you call it quits... What's the story there? What drove you guys apart? Pressure? Expectations? A WOMAN?

HA ha ha! I wish I could say it was a woman, that would be far more dramatic. But really, I think it was more to do with the enjoyment of the thing slowly dissipating. For the first couple of months it was really fun and exciting, because SOCA had really only existed as a sort of joke-improv-comedy routine, and now that we were a reformed pseudo punk duo with songs, the prospect of playing a decent 'show' was always enticing, and we were usually playing with local band mates, Astral Travel, Mental Powers and Burning Sensation, usually at Knackers, at the Hydey. Anyhow, Camryn's answer explains a lot of this so I'll get to the point. The last couple of shows we played were very unenjoyable, and I suppose the spirit was sort of ripped out of the thing. When I'm involved in something like a band, or a piece of theatre or whatever, I like to put my all into it (hence why I sweat like a pig on the drum kit) but if it feels like its pointless, then I can't find the truth in it...and it was just playing for 'playings’ sake. It’s not satisfying. I love to perform, either musically or when I'm doing some 'acting', but it’s so easy for that to swing the other way when the novelty is we called it quits.

It was a great experience mostly. We learnt a hell of a lot about being in an active 'group', and I think as far as playing our instruments, I think we've improved tenfold. Camryn is a great guitarist, and with his solo projects and Farmer Frontier, I often think of him as some sort of vigilante...he isn't recognised enough. Maybe that’s what also ticked us off about SOCA. We got more of a response from the public once we had died than we ever did when we were alive. I don't know if that ticked me off as much, because I simply enjoyed playing. But I do agree with Cam on the issue of helping forward a sort of DIY movement. I mean, I'd be a fucking liar if I said we pioneered some sort of movement of local groups, that’s not true. In reality, we didn't know how to play our instruments, sure we'd been 'playing' for some years, constantly bashing about and having a laugh, but we've never considered ourselves musicians. In saying that, I think what we were saying to people was "hey, look at us, we're having fun, we're not even that talented, and you can do it too!" I'm going to stop answering this question because I'll start repeating myself whilst being totally vague without being specific enough. It’s been a long week.

So how did Soul of Condemned Ape get together? What were your influences, beyond the EXTREMELY obvious?

Well, it started in Cam’s bedroom, 2003. We were smoking a lot of pot, and basically just fucking around. Cam had gotten this drum kit a few months earlier, and he was already pretty good at that. I was going through a huge 80's phase, and basically just wanted to play the keyboard all the time. So a lot of the first stuff we did was just noise and nonsense, just trying to play hard and fast. It was experimentation at its finest. I had also discovered Joy Division about half a year before that, and then of course New Order, which still remain massive influences on me to this day. I'm a blatant Factory Records fiend, most people know that. I learnt how to play drums from listening to 'Unknown Pleasures' everyday. Generally I'm stuck in the whole post-punk/new wave thing. I guess I enjoy the simplicity of the genre. But SOCA isn't exactly post punk. Cam’s musical tastes gave him a kind of unique guitar sound, I suppose I thought of it to be a bit more "Mission of Burma-ry" kinda style. Wire and The Homosexuals, Sonic Youth, and to an extent Fugazi were influential as well. I've always been a Bowie freak, since I was a wee lad, and the other great factory bands, Section 25, The Names, and Crispy Ambulance, all inspired me. Look at that, I just name dropped a bunch of bands, how much of a cool wanker am I?

What is next for you two, separate or together? Do you ever foresee a desperate, pathetic reunion tour/existence? What's Magic Window, your new combo, all about?

Ha ha ha, yes. A reunion might be on the cards when Cam gets back from Europe, we'll have to see! Magic Window is Amber Gempton and Tim Loughman from Astral Travel, and of course me. I've had a great time with these guys, they are lovely people and incredibly talented. We have a good chemistry, and a similar sense of humour which I think helps. Also, we share a lot of the same musical tastes, so I guess that’s why we have that sort of sound...I don't know if I'm brave enough to say what that 'sound' is, because I think we touch on a lot of 'sounds'. We have a few shows coming up in the next month or so, and hopefully more throughout the whole year if we are game. It’s fun because we all get to do things that we didn’t do in our previous groups. Amber plays bass, Tim and I swap drums (although I spend a lot of my time on the kit still) and we use a synth and a drum machine, and Amber and I both sing. So using new equipment, and swapping instruments has really opened it up a bit, and we keep it fresh enough I think. Some of our songs only have a rough structure, so each show will always be different. I'm ever admiring Amber and Tim, they are very very talented, it’s always a pleasure playing with them.

What was the highlight of SOCA's short but gloriously phoenix-like career? And the lowlight?

Hmm, well I guess I'll always have a soft spot for that first Knackers show we played. I also enjoyed that Velvet Lounge gig, and of course Deni's birthday party.

When did you discover your amazing ability to play the sh*t out of a tom roll? Was it a Spiderman-esque 'with great power comes great responsibility' type moment? What would you say to Stephen Morris if you saw him at say, a Magic Window gig?

Well I'd probably piss my pants, and do the whole "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!" a la Wayne’s World thing. I'm not going to deny that he's my favourite drummer. I learnt everything from listening to his beats in Joy Division and New Order. He's a fucking Duracell bunny. I guess if I could be even half as good as Stephen Morris, I'd be pleased with that. I'm sure there are other drummers in Perth who can tom roll a lot better than I can! Ah ha ha, as I am self-taught, there are still lots of things I'd like to suss out on a drum kit. Like arm-to-tom-to-snare ratio etc, how I should be sitting on the kit, how low or high, etc. I often get quite uncomfortable, and cramp up because of how fast I tend to drum. But I'm getting better I think, 'with great practice comes great tom rolls!' Or something. If it weren’t for the style that SOCA sort of decided to fall into, I'm not sure if my skills as a drummer would have improved.

For a while there I would shit Cam to tears with my "one two one one two one two roll crash one two one one..." beats, because I think he felt they were boring. But I always thought they were just simple. I wasn't going to be the sort of drummer who sounds like some jazz wiz kid or crazy Corsano. Cam is a great drummer, I think probably better than me in a lot of ways, because whereas I was listening to Stephen Morris everyday, Cam was listening to more 'off time' stuff, or crazy pattern stuff, like Corsano, which gives him the ability to drum some very complicated beats. But I dunno, I like to think that I'm finding new beats and techniques amongst the simplicity of my 'whips on ice and rolling toms'.

You're studying acting at WAAPA. I hear you're doing really well. That's really cool. However, you are yet to embrace the Method. Do you know the amazing actor Daniel Day Lewis has approximately 15 Oscars, despite having normal teeth and a crudely self-inked prison tattoo on his hand? How are you going to get into Robert De Niro's super-expensive restaurant in NYC if you don't know the Method? Omar Sharif once said to Dustin Hoffman 'you know, this Method stuff is interesting. Personally, I just pretend. It's easier' (something like that). However, Omar Sharif wasn't the Rain Man! Seriously, have you ever considered the Method? What lower-case method do you favour?

Hmm, this is interesting.... Well, in my training I've basically been going through a wide-range of 'methods', but I think what you're talking about is 'method' acting. (ED – duh!) Like actually living or doing something that the role requires. For instance, if I'm going to play a character that eats a piece of dog turd in a movie, I don't think I'm going to have to 'experience' that in order to be able to do it in the film! I think my imagination is capable enough of helping me get there. Which could be said for almost everything I do as an actor. I put myself in the shoes of that character. A lot of the time, its really just being able to feel the gravitas of a situation, and I think you have to have a good understanding of 'human nature'...but acting is hard! It’s been my whole life, and it’s certainly not without its bumps and major 'head fucks'. You have to personalise everything. Find the truth, play the truth, live the truth. In naturalism anyways, the most prevailing form of acting on screen today, and even stage.

If you ask Cam, he'd tell you that sometimes I'll come home and just collapse on my bed, and want to die. Ha ha, yes, I'm an actor, I'm a drama queen. But it does exhaust you. You need to be fit mentally and physically, and this is hard, because you need to go to dark places sometimes, and be in certain head spaces, so this can shake a person up a bit. I know a lot of people think actors are complete wankers, heck I'm sure some people even think that about me, but we are pretty vulnerable and sensitive most of the time. That’s sort of a major requirement; we're always sort of open, you know? And sometimes I have to dive deep into my past and dig up shit that I've buried in order to help me reach some places in my performances....ha ha, but then of course there is my self esteem which is in a constant state of flux!

I'm never happy with anything I do, but then maybe that helps me get places. I don't know! I guess what has been a major thing that I've been working on and am still working on, is just doing simple, and truthful’s sort of easier than it sounds. Some people get it quite well I guess, I'm surrounded by ridiculously talented people in my class everyday who astonish me with what they can do. But then I guess you never stop learning. So, even though I may not get to where I want by the time I graduate this year, I need to just trust that I will continue to refine my art, and just be the best I can be!

What's your favourite Bill Murray movie? Please do not say Lost in Translation.

Ha ha ha, no, it’s not Lost In Translation, although I did enjoy it. That’s new wave Murray. Well, if you know me, no wait, I'm sure even if you didn't know me, you would at least know that I'm a huge Ghostbusters fan. In fact, that’s probably the reason why I want to be an actor! It’s the first film I can remember watching...I don't know how old I was when I made that bloody decision, god, four, maybe five? Apart from all the cool special effects, and all that humour totally flying over my head, I think I had so much fun with that movie (heck I still do, its hilarious) that I wanted to be apart of something like that...

I know it sounds cliché or whatever, but I felt so joyous and excited by watching movies and TV, that if it made me feel like that, then I wanted to make people feel like that too! I know, that sounds a little lame, but its true. I love performing. Even though I've had some major confidence issues at drama school and stuff, and often walk away from the stage shaking my head and telling myself "you suck balls, that was a piece of shit, maybe you should be thinking about getting into some sort of other career you fuck" at the end of the day, there’s nothing that pleases me more. Except playing music. So you know, I'm thinking they are kind going hand in hand for me now. Oh look I've gone off track. Ghostbusters, followed by....ha ha Ghostbusters 2, then Stripes…shit its Murray, its all pretty good.

If Bill Murray is the Stones of 80's comedy, who would you say was the Beatles? John Belushi? Or would it be the other way around? I guess John Belushi is edgier.

Hm, yeah, maybe it is Belushi. Either Belushi or Akroyd. Fuck, Akroyd is such a bizarre surname. Sounds like an alien commander or something.

'Scrooged' - classic or dud?

I love it! One of fave Xmas movies next to National Lampoon’s Xmas Vacation. Hey, Chevy Chase, he's pretty cool too! Of course there is the cameo with the guy from New York Dolls as the cab driver which is pretty funny. I think Scrooged is on the same level as Groundhog Day for me.

If you could be in any past Bill Murray movie, in any role, EXCEPT for Bill Murray's role, what movie/role would you choose?

Hmmm.....shit that’s a tough one....Well, I guess I wouldn't have minded being another Ghostbuster, but let’s face it, Murray's Venkman character is like the leader and has all the best gags! Ha ha, I could probably play Louis Tully, who is Rick Moranis' character. He has some great moments in those movies...or maybe I would have liked to have played Hunter S Thompson's buddy, Gonzo, from "Where the Buffalo Roam"...Is his name Gonzo? I haven't seen it in a while. Oh shit! What About Bob is also a pretty awesome Murray movie.

'The Hunger' is a classic, gothy, modern vampire flick that you turned me on to. David Bowie plays a vampire. Bauhaus play in the opening goth club scene! How good is the love scene between a young and hot Susan Sarandon and the older Euro-Vamp lady? Despite all this though, didn't you feel a bit cheated by the ending? It was pretty weak IMO. What's your favourite David Bowie song? Mine is 'Rebel Rebel'.

Yeah The Hunger. It was one of those childhood movies for me. Yes, childhood! I loved vampire flicks when I was a kid, and was allowed to watch whatever I wanted. Then I rediscovered it when I was 16 and found an old VHS copy at a record store, which of course got me into discovering Bauhaus, round the same time as Joy Division actually... It’s a cool film! Very arty. So funny to think that Tony Scott went on to direct such greats as "Top Gun". Which was probably the most suggestively homosexual film I've ever seen in my life.

As for my fave Bowie song (god I think you know me too well NAME WITHHELD!) I could list a shit load. It’s too hard.... My favorite record is 'Low' and my fave track off that is 'Subterraneans'....I also adore the songs 'Moonage Daydream', 'Rock 'n' Roll Suicide', and 'Wild is the Wind'.....ha ha ha shit, then there's the whole Labyrinth thing. So many memories! But I think the ending is just 'okay'... it’s very ambiguous I guess. I kind of read it as Catherine Deneuve's character getting what was coming to her for all those thousands of years, whilst Sarandon’s character is about to embark on her own journey of love and melancholic betrayal....

Basically, the Perth music scene totally sucks. Are there ANY bands in this lame, fecking hideous suburban hellhole, that you would consider 'OK', 'quite good', or 'worth rescuing from a housefire'?

Ah ha ha, does it suck that bad at the moment? It’s hard for me, because apart from the gigs that I attend because Magic Window are playing, I rarely find the time to get out to shows, because of WAAPA (ED - West Australian Academy of Performing Arts?). But I've got some time freeing up so I'm going to really make the effort to get out there more and see shows. Well I adore Astral Travel, I'm really liking the new Whalehammer stuff, I'll kiss ARSE WITHHELD arse some more and say Burning Sensation is up there for me as well! Um, who else?

Mental Powers (despite having a somewhat ambivalent relationship with one member of that group), Extortion, Penetrating Stairs (RIP), The Tigers, At Waugh With Gieles, a lot of the Farmer Frontier roster. Ha ha ha, god, am I biased or what? I enjoy a bit of Cease now and again. Of course DJ Wooshie, I hold very dear to my heart. But I seems like there is a bit of a divide amongst bands at the moment. Look, I could be totally wrong here, as mentioned above, I haven't been out in a while, but it seems like there are certain bands who attract one large group of followers, and others who attract a certain group of their own. It seems like bands such as Carbuncle, Bone, Mink Mussel, Cease etc all have a strong fanbase and they play a certain kind of way....then I guess there are the more sort of punky groups like Burning Sensation, and the sort of new wavey/electro types that get the other half. That sounds blatantly obvious now that I've written it, but I think it’s true, and I guess with the tastes in music that I have, I'll see the latter more often. But I dunno.

Does that not mean there is a certain kind of variety in Perth? I guess I'm finding it hard to be critical here and say I think such and such band is shit....I think what’s most important is that there is stuff happening...whether it be good or bad. Look, nobody likes a shit band, a shit band is a... well they're shit aren't they? So what? Nobody goes to see them. Tough for them, but that’s the reality, but at least that shit band is giving it a shot and trying to make an effort and put something out there. I would rather know that a shit band is being shit somewhere rather than no band be playing at all....but who knows, this is where I get a bit conflicted, because I think about all the good bands that are out there who never seem to gig, or get the recognition, and the shit groups do. Ha ha ha! But then again, its all about taste isn't it, so some shit might smell better to some than others. Hmm, thought for the day, put that on your Feng Shui calendar.

It shocks me that any young person with half a brain manages to stay in this city. What keeps you in this desert outpost, and do you ever have the urge to relocate to somewhere else, like Melbourne or Sydney, like so many other ragingly artistic/deluded types / bands?

Yeah, it’s a tough one eh? At the end of this year it looks like I'll be moving over east just like every other schmuck from this town, ha ha. Essentially, if I get picked up by an agent in Sydney or Melbourne, that’s where I'll have to be so that I can audition for stuff and hopefully get work - and there seems to be more work over there...more film and TV stuff anyways, which is what I think I'll be going after. Work in general, ha! But you know, people make their way here in Perth as actors and muso’s... I guess it just depends on where you want to go and who you want to be! Unfortunately I can't see myself getting what I want in Perth...and its tough you know, because I went to Sydney and Melbourne over the holidays, and I really liked them both, gawsh they are huge, but I still kinda got homesick! Strange isn't it? My whole life, family and friends, all 22 years worth are here in Perth, and that’s a lot to fly away from...

Sure, it’s like 4 of 5 hours away, but home will always be home. Perth is not so bad...the more I think about it, the more I understand it’s the people who make this joint, not the city itself. Which is a bit rough I suppose, because everybody moves away! I don't know what Perth needs to do in order to pick itself up....I think it just has a lot to do with 'catching up'. We need more venues, and the liquor licensing to be freed up...more money into the arts etc... I think this is slowly happening now, I just hope it builds momentum before everybody has packed there bags for Melbourne!

If you were stuck on a desert island with a ready-to-go motorboat, helipad and tiki lounge, but had to impress a snobbish, 20-something movie editing arthouse rental babe in order to leave said island, what 5 movies in your collection would you take to this tropical wonderland?

1) Seven Samurai
2) Akira
3) La Heine
4) Blade Runner
5) Nosferatu

I wouldn’t mind taking more than that though! Too many to list!

What's the edgiest hairstyle you could ever imagine yourself having?

It’s got to be the shaved Sigourney Weaver cut a la Alien 3. Ah ha ha, god can you imagine it?

Peace and love,

James Beck

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Naked Torso - An Interview with Soul of Condemned Ape (Part 1)

Soul Of Condemned Ape were a Perth band, and surprisingly, they weren't totally pathetic. Consisting of two young artist-types, Camryn Rothenbury (guitar/vox) and James Beck (drums), they sounded like two young artist-types who had been profoundly affected by Joy Division. The Urinals playing Joy Division? All I can say is, James Beck can play the shit out of a tom roll! Also, Camryn's guitar style was quite unique and original. However, being lamezoids, they called it quits before they could deliver on their promise, the one they made on a quiet, deserted, moonlit beach, as a soft, warm breeze wafted through James' artfully tussled hair as Cameron gazed pensively into the glowing coals, head resting on James' naked torso, sparks ascending into the sky like so many stargazing fireflies - 'Let's start a band, become good, and make a troubled, abrasively moody first album, then we'll shift to a more electronic, depressed, epic, classically gothic style for our second album. We'll probably have to find a incredibly talented, obsessive producer to make our drums sound like whips on ice. Then I guess you'll have to commit suicide Cameron, as you're the singer and it's only logical.' Well needless to say they reneged on this promise, perhaps it was due to fear of success, or a genuine desire not to die at an early age. Sucks!

Here's a post-mortem interview about the rise and fall of SOCA with the guitarist/singer/cd-r wrangler Camryn Rothenbury. Now if I can track down the elusive drummer, James Beck, I could get the other side to this seedy, dark tale of promises unfulfilled, bonds tested, dreams dashed against the rocks...


SOCA guitarist/vocalist Camryn Rothenbury, in happier times.


You were in a band, Soul of Condemned Ape, that some people considered quite good. However, once you were on the verge of cracking though to the Perth local scene’s middle-upper echelon (playing on stages, supporting indie pop bands, supporting at poorly attended obscure eastern states and international shows), you call it quits… What’s the story there? What drove you guys apart? Pressure? Expectations? A WOMAN?

In late 2006 I saw two bands that got me really excited about music, those being Astral Travel and Mental Powers. That was at a house party. That night, I knew I wanted to start a band of my own and throw my own parties and just be a part of what was going on. When we first started writing songs and playing as a two-piece in January 2007, we didn’t know how to play or tune our instruments or write songs. What was driving us was basically having a fun time. We wanted to encourage other people to have fun too. We were very much interested in DIY and were big advocates of supporting other bands that we thought had the same feelings. A friend of ours, Alex, was running Knackers on Wednesdays at the Hyde Park Hotel, where a lot of new bands were playing. There was basically just a general atmosphere of having fun and all this sort of camaraderie between the bands.

As the year went on, we got a bit more involved in the organisation of events and played a role in some very special shows such as at Palm Court and various house parties. Eventually we threw our own party and that was a lot of fun. By the time 2008 had rolled around, I began to realise that things had changed a lot over the course of the year. The feeling was different. Knackers was gone, important people had left Perth, our favourite bands had morphed or broken up, other new (and to be honest, quite awful) bands had risen up... It felt like control had fallen in to the hands of people who weren’t really interested in the music, but more about artificial or menial things.

People had stepped up to become involved, but the problem was that they seemed to be motivated by the wrong reasons. I suddenly lost interest in the ‘scene’. I went from seeing pretty much every new band and being an avid supporter to complete abstinence. It all came to a head and we sort of called it quits. A lot of it was really to do with reciprocity. I guess we felt that our approach to music and shows wasn’t matched any more and that the reward in performing had quickly dissipated. At the end, I wasn’t really sure why we were performing or who we were performing for.

So how did Soul of Condemned Ape get together? What were your influences, beyond the EXTREMELY obvious?

We’d been playing together in some shape or form since about 2003, possibly even earlier. It started off as an afternoon jam band in my bedroom. We kind of screwed around a lot. Most of the time we were just coming home from school, getting really high and making a lot of racket. It’s hard to remember exactly how it worked out, but we somehow managed to play four or five shows as an improvised outfit. Some were as a two piece and some were as a four piece. All were improvised and pretty awful. In December 2006, we played the Meupe/Wilting Flower Christmas Party at the Rosemount. At the end, James Vinciguerra said to the audience ‘In case you’re wondering, yes we know that was a piece of shit’. The sound guy apparently also banned us from playing there again. So we all agreed never to play again as a four piece. Anyway, that was in December 2006. In 2007, James Beck and I decided to write some songs and try again. So we did, and hey presto that’s when the real SOCA came to life.

I’d say we were influenced by bands like the Feelies, Wire, Mission of Burma, ESG, Sonic Youth, Magazine and Joy Division. Are those obvious? (Ed – JOY DIVISION) Joy Division was one of the first bands that me and James really got in to and that was when we were in high school. That band really changed both of our lives. Towards the end, probably stuff like 100 Flowers, the Homosexuals, Devo and the Clean. James likes a lot of stuff like Section 25, Crispy Ambulance, the Names and that sort of thing. Also Australian bands like Soviet Valves and My Disco were really inspirational. We also were really in to older shit like Voigt 465, Wild West, the Take, the Cannanes, very early Boys Next Door and that sort of thing. We found some old compilations of Aussie stuff from the 80s in Sydney that just really blew us away. Lots of people told us we sounded like the Fall but I don’t see it myself.

What is next for you two, separate or together? Do you ever foresee a desperate, pathetic reunion tour/existence?

Well at the moment, I’m getting ready to go away on holiday for 8 weeks or so. I’m also doing some work with my free cd-r label, Farmer Frontier. James is very busy with WAAPA. He’s playing in a band called Magic Window with Amber and Tim from Astral Travel. They’re doing quite well and have been getting some really good reception. I quite like them. When I get back, I’d say there could be a chance for SOCA to play some shows again. But shhh, don’t tell anyone.

What was the highlight of SOCA’s short but gloriously phoenix-like career? And the lowlight?

I’d say the highlight was Deni’s 21st birthday party. That was definitely a lot of fun and the night we got the best feedback. We were playing with our favourite bands and it was just a really great night. I played all of our songs out of tune and nobody even noticed.

The lowlight was definitely our last show at Shape. I don’t think I will ever return there as a punter or a performer.

Who did you write the SOCA song ‘I Dated Catherine’ about? And your anthem, ‘You Come To My House’, what was your motivation there?

The song ‘I Dated Catherine’ isn’t really about anyone in particular. At the time, I was upset about a girl who messed me around. I guess the song’s about people who tell you one thing and then do another. The title isn’t really related to anything. I was once dating a girl whose friend was called Catherine, but it’s not to do with her, either. When me and James were trying to write songs he was singing a line about Amplifier and it went, ‘I went to the bathroom’ I thought he said ‘I dated Catherine’. So it’s not really about anything, except it’s sort of about a girl who messed me around. I mean, it could work for anyone.

‘You Come to My House’ was written because we went through a phase of all these people coming to our house and drinking all our beer and smoking all my pot and making a huge mess and just acting like general jerks. It was a summer of leaches (Ed – good song title – must steal).
These were people who didn’t even really like us or have any respect for us or anything like that. So I guess that song was about our frustration about these transients not behaving in a decent manner.

You have an experimental guitar/sound alter-ego, At Waugh With Gieles. You have a laptop on stage, but also a guitar, so I am often unsure of how to properly put down your performances. What do you think about ‘laptop performances’? Lame or ruling? And as I only listen to The Beatles and Diana Ross, who are you ripping off with this music?

Well, I used to hate people that used laptops on stage and think they were big tossers. One day I got a laptop and I found this freeware program that you could use for looping. I realised it gave me a lot more control over the music I was making, as opposed to the Line 6 pedal I use. That’s because the program has 8 independent channels that you can control individually. So yeah, that’s really why I started using the laptop in my live stuff as it gave me a lot more ability. I definitely don’t frown upon laptop performances as much as I used to. I think it works best in combination with other methods. It really depends. I’ve seen people play completely killer sets on laptop only (ala Matt Rosner, Pita, Bib Gnaw, etc) and I’ve also seen people use laptops as an instrument in combination with other instruments or methods (ala Dave Miller and Laurence Pike, Chris Cobilis and so on). At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what method you’re using to make music. A laptop is just another instrument.

I wouldn’t say I was ‘ripping’ anyone off, but I’m definitely influenced by Jackie O Motherfucker, Seaworthy, Chris Cobilis, Chris Corsano, Oren Ambarchi, Sunburned Hand of the Man and Ginnungagap.

Basically, the Perth music scene totally sucks. There are approximately 3-4 good bands at any one point in time. In contrast, lame indie pop and generic butt rock rules the roost. Why do think this is? Are there ANY bands in this lame, fecking hideous suburban hellhole, that you would consider ‘OK’, ‘quite good’, or ‘worth rescuing from a housefire’?

As much as I’d like to have faith in my fellow men and women of Perth I think a lot of people seem to be wound up in or content with mediocrity. A lot of people are friends with people that are in a shit band and I think they feel like they’re obliged to go and see this lame band. Not many people jump up and get excited when new bands come around. At the end of the day, the only thing I can think of is that a lot of people just have downright stinky taste. An example of this was that documentary that came out recently, ‘Something in the Water’. The catch line was ‘What drought?’ but it was self defeating. It talked about Perth’s worst bands, basically, with the exception of the Scientists, the Triffids and Sex Panther. Now I’m not interested in Sex Panther as a band, but at least they’ve got their heads in the right place. The bands it featured epitomised what is wrong with the Perth scene. I mean come on, Little Birdy? Where was Jed Whitey, the Tigers, Soviet Valves, AIDS, Extortion, Mink Mussel Creek, Astral Travel, Rupture, Adam Said Galore, Matt Rosner, Hexagon Halfblood, Traianos Pakioufakis or any one else who’s actually done something interesting? I think at the end of the day, people probably don’t want to see something unusual or out of the ordinary. They’re happy listening to cute, little, packaged, polished bullshit.

I’ll sing while you croak, and I’ll dance on your dirty corpse.

Yes, there are some good bands/artists doing their thing in Perth at the moment such as: Wooshie, Magic Window, the Tigers, Whalehammer, Chris Cobilis, Mink Mussel Creek, Hooper’s Store, M Rosner, Brutal Snake and Hep. I used to be a big fan of Mental Powers, too. I also think Andrew Ryan and Felicity Groom are fantastic guitarist/vocalists.

Often I come around to your house and there are empty pizza boxes lying around, freshly demolished. However I have never looked to see what kind of pizza it is. Where do you think the BEST, and WORST, pizza in Perth is?

I would say the best pizza in Perth is either Stone’s or Marcos, providing we’re talking about home delivery. I also think the Diva on Beaufort Street do nice pizza if you’re dining in.

I hear my friend Dylan cooked a pizza with pear and cinnamon and icing sugar the other night, that sounds pretty damn good. We can’t cook pizza at home because a rat pissed in our oven about three years ago.

The worst was probably Food Kingz, but they’ve long gone. The generic shit like Pizza Hut and Dominos is pretty stinky.

You once stated something along the lines of ‘partying sucks’. Why is this, and what’s your fragging problem?

I think my problem is that when I was younger I had a lot of anxiety problems. This is compounded by a 45 year age gap between me and my father. I’m like an old man in a youngish, fat man’s body. I do like partying, but I’m just so tired. I’m really trying hard not to be a party pooper.

You have a label, Farmer Frontier. What justifies it’s existence, and what records have you put out? What does a band need to do for you to cast your golden wand of widespread recognition upon them? What’s your favourite of your own releases so far?

Farmer Frontier is free. It’s fun. It’s unique. It encourages people to start bands, record music and have a good time. I’ve ‘released’ my own projects, At Waugh with Gieles and Canyons, as well as Perth pianist Peter Lamont. These were all hand made and each one slightly different to the last. The runs were limited to 10 copies each. I’ve also done a live split of Magic Window and Penetrating Stairs. This was a bit bigger. We did 50 copies and had Amber, Ferron and Ruby draw 5 different covers. They were all given away at a North Perth Bowls club show where Magic Window played. Funnily enough, the NP Bowls Club is on Farmer Street

For a band to catch my interest, it needs to be interesting music, usually a little bit off the wall. They need to understand that they won’t make any money out of doing a record with me. I suppose it’s an attitude thing in a way. A lot of the stuff I’ve put out has been in some way related to me. This year I’m doing releases from Wooshie, Gargamel Gibson, Mongolian Mystery and a split between Hep and Histroyectomy. Probably others as well depending on what happens as the year goes one. I’m also planning to do a photo book and some short stories.
My favourite release is definitely the Magic Window / Penetrating Stairs split. It was the biggest run and the most fun to do. Probably the most accessible style of music for most people too.

It shocks me that any young person with half a brain manages to stay in this city. What keeps you in this desert outpost, and do you ever have the urge to relocate to somewhere else, like Melbourne, like so many other ragingly artistic/deluded types / bands?

Well, I’m going overseas for the first time in about 3 weeks. I’ve thought about moving elsewhere and that’s something I will probably pursue in the next couple of years. I guess the main reasons for me staying in Perth are my family being here and my closest friends. Oh and you’re here too NAME WITHHELD!

If you were stuck on a desert island with a ready-to-go motorboat, helipad and tiki lounge, but had to impress a snobbish, 20-something fanzine editing babe in order to leave said island, what 5 records in your collection would you take to this tropical wonderland?

Flying Lotus - 1983
Wire - Pink Flag
J Dilla - Donuts
James Brown - 20 All Time Greatest Hits
The Clean - Anthology


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Burning Sensation GIG - SATURDAY March 22 - Hyde Park Hotel

Note: Granny Bashers will not be playing.

Whalehammer Gig - SUNDAY March 16 - Hyde Park Hotel

Contempt for Existence - Dire Fiends Unborn

‘Dire Fiends Unborn’ is the new EP by Contempt for Existence, a blackened noise punk/metal juggernaut born from the vile murk of Perth, Western Australia. This EP scratches, bites and kicks everything in sight with vicious, jagged riffs, squeals of noise and hateful bursts of spittle and spite. It evokes nothing less than a squadron of hungry buzzards laying waste to a dying horse inside a tin shed, whilst a blustery gale shakes the decrepit, rusting structure. The band appears to be influenced by uncompromising acts like Darkthrone, DNA, black metal-period Ulver and Siege, yet seems unable or unwilling to coalesce these influences into anything approaching coherence. In other words, this is a cyclone of SHIT, BLOOD, HATE AND SUFFERING that is not music by any stretch of the imagination. This is NOISE, sharpened to wound, with a vaguely whimsical side which makes it all the more absurd.


1. Summoning
2. Decapitate
3. Elliptical Moon
4. Caught in the Web
5. Call Out Their Names
6. Succulent Whores
7. Bring Out Your Dead

Download it from