Archive for October, 2015

Interview: Drowning Horse

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Drowning Horse are one of those bands that defy description. You can hurl the usual adjectives and genre tags their way — doom, sludge, drone, heavy, unbearable, crushing. But words fails to capture the absolute immensity of this band; that physical sensation, that veritable onslaught of emotional heft. It always comes down to language of the disaster — the torrent of depressive feeling and the earth-shaking power of the band’s climactic moments. On Sheltering Sky, Drowning Horse expand their sonic palette of devastation, balancing powerful moments of catharsis with subtle moments of reflection, realisation and horror. Here, ahead of their upcoming national tour, guitarist Michael Larkins discusses the demanding process of Sheltering Sky’s creation.

Matthew Tomich: To start off, could you walk me through the timeline of making Sheltering Sky, from the genesis of the first song to the recording process?
Michael Larkins: Sure. The writing process was probably from the end of 2012 until midway through 2013. We recorded a pre-production demo which was like a live recording at Studio Sleepwalkers Dread, which is Ron Pollard’s [of Tangled Thoughts of Leaving] studio. We did that over a weekend at the end of December. That was mainly just so we could plan out how the songs fit together. Once we heard that, we booked in for the start of 2014 to record track by track for each instrument. That took about three months – we were just doing that over weekends which we had free when Ron had time available in the studio. There was a lot of time in between where we could reflect on what we recorded, have a listen, see if there was anything which needed re-doing. So we did have a lot of time to go over it and make sure that everything was perfect. We didn’t finish the tracking until maybe around April or May. And then, again, we started mixing, and I don’t think we finished that until around September in 2014.

MT: So what delayed it – the year between finishing mixing and releasing it?
ML: It was mainly just time. We all work, we all have other bands and other commitments. We wanted to make sure that it was going to be perfect so we spent a lot of time listening over the mixes. Over the mixing process, a lot of that was done in the studio. We’d go back and listen to that mix for a couple of weeks, get in contact with Ron via email and say, “can you try change the levels on this instrument,” or EQ that a bit differently or things like that. We’d go in maybe a couple of weeks later and go over the tracks and listen to it on the studio monitors. It was a bit hard because Ron’s studio is in North Dandalup and that’s about an hour south of Perth, so it’s a long drive. Each session took about eight hours so it really took it out of us. We didn’t want to do it all in one block or it might destroy. We usually went there for about three or four session in a row. Some of the sessions we just went down with a couple of us, other times we were all down there. We spent a long time tracking. It was a lot different to our last recording, for which I think we did all the tracking in about four days or so. With Sheltering Sky, we really wanted to spend time and make sure we get the best out of what we were going for. In Ron’s studio, he has a great setup, so we could really capture the sounds and tones of our amps. We had a lot of time to experiment with sounds and different equipment.

MT: What kind of stuff were you experimenting with equipment-wise?
ML: I suppose more just using – the same way we do live, generally – Brendan [McGrath, guitars] and I will play through two different guitar amps, but instead of double-tracking any guitars, we just mic’d up two separate amps at once and got a really full sound. You can do a lot when you’re blending different guitar tones. We just wanted to have a lot of space to breathe for our instruments and Ron’s studio could capture that. It was a good way of mixing. It sounded quite natural in comparison to how we sound live.

MT: The thing that’s always struck me about Drowning Horse’s music is the sheer monumental heft and emotional weight of what you’re doing, both on record and on stage. Is the experience of making and playing that music as painful and exhausting as it sounds?
I’d say yes. The whole thing with the band is we really want to play some devastating tunes. I mean, there’s not really anything uplifting about the music. With this sort of music, you don’t want anything to be positive or sound uplifting. You want it to sound quite depressing. A lot of the time when we’re rehearsing together or playing live, I get quite lost in the music. When I’m playing, it doesn’t make you happy or anything like that when you’re playing it, but I do get a lot of fulfilment and enjoyment out of it. After a set or a rehearsal, I do feel quite – I don’t know – quite uplifted in a different way. It’s an outlet for all negative energy. From that I feel a bit more positive once we’ve gone through it. It’s not like we really don’t look forward to rehearsing or playing the songs. We all need that outlet because we’re all busy and we don’t always face those sort of emotions or feelings when they come up so it’s a good way to get those sort of feelings out with the music.

MT: You mentioned before that because of the time you had working on Sheltering Sky, you had to more reflect on it, and that to me comes across in the record. It feels a lot more meditative, like you’ve scaled back some of the more extreme elements and balanced them with passages that remind me a lot of Earth. Is that part of a dynamic move – to wind things back so those cathartic climaxes have even more power when they hit?
ML: I think it was more like a natural progression. The first album was all pretty much sludgy doom sort of stuff. Whereas with Sheltering Sky, we focused more on songwriting and structures. We still explored a lot of the heavy sort of stuff and doom stuff which we had previously, but we wanted to look further into portraying those emotions through sound. I think some of cleaner or softer parts of the album are some of the more depressing or depressive-sounding parts on the whole album. You don’t need to have heavy guitars or anything like that to sound crushing or devastating. I think some of those riffs are pretty destroying as well, just the soft parts. It was quite different to what we’d played in the past. I think you can still kind of tell it’s the same band as well. It’s just that real natural progression. It makes it a bit more interesting as well. You need to pay a bit more attention rather than just play a heavy riff or something like that.

MT: How much of the material from Sheltering Sky has been played live over the past couple of years?
ML: We started playing those songs around August 2013 when Whitehose came over [to Perth]. We’d been working on that material, as I said, since probably around the end of 2012. We had a permanent rehearsal space so we were jamming like twice a week for probably about a year. Over that time we were quite happy with the songs which we were playing. We didn’t play many live gigs between that time, I don’t think. We were just concentrating on writing. We just knew we had to put something out or we wanted to work on new material rather than just play shows which can get in the way of writing material. Out of all the songs we’ve written on Sheltering Sky, we’ve probably played maybe six of those songs. We don’t really play any of the older stuff any more. Not that I don’t like it – I still really like the older stuff, it’s just we’re pretty sick of it. We were playing a lot of live shows for a long time and played those songs to death. And with these songs, they’re a bit more interesting. We work better as a band when we play these songs. I highly doubt we’d ever go back and play a song like “Kings” or something like that, one of the songs which we wrote maybe five or six years ago. We just want to keep moving forward with the Sheltering Sky stuff and the songs just work really well live.

MT: Will you be playing each of those eight tracks at some point on this tour?
ML: I highly doubt it. With the situation with James [Wills, drums] in Melbourne, it can be hard to rehearse. Again, that’s why we don’t play very often. James has been in Melbourne for I think close to two years now. So rehearsing is quite difficult. If we do have a show, he usually comes back a week in advance and we have to rehearse four times in a row prior to a gig. I mean, we tend to record together, but it’s not the same as when you’re rehearsing every week. I’d say from the Sheltering Sky stuff, we might try doing at least half of those songs. They’re quite long songs as well – the shortest one is five minutes and the longest one is about 18 minutes. We might look at maybe three or four songs per set, but we’ll probably try and have a few different sets because I know we’re playing two launch shows. It’s not going to be much fun if you’re playing the same songs at both launches.

MT: Where does that name Sheltering Sky come from?
ML: I can’t remember [laughs].

MT: Because there’s a novel by the same name, and I know there’s also a King Crimson song that takes the name from that novel.
ML: Yeah. Brendan came up with the name based on the novel I believe. That’s where the name came from. Brendan had been reading the novel and I think and Kim and a few others had read the novel as well and they were all really on board with what was covered in the book. And I guess with Sheltering Sky as well, the theme is kind of based on isolation, both with the lyrics and the music. And I believe the book is about a similar sort of grim, isolated sort of area. So I think it all links in.

MT: Did you read The Black Captain’s review of the album that we posted on Life is Noise?
ML: Yeah. That was a phenomenal review. The Black Captain’s writing is just so above everyone else’s. That was probably one of the best reviews which Drowning Horse could ever hope to receive, and it was such a positive review but also such an honest review. There was a lot of thought which went into it. A lot of times you can read reviews and a lot of them are all the same — they all sort of focus on the same sort of points. But there was a bit about The Black Captain’s own experiences in comparison to the album as well, which was really interesting to read. I’m quite stoked with that sort of review. It’s just such a tragedy that he passed away. I don’t believe I had the chance to meet him but I’d always listen to Behind the Mirror and I know he’s been a real influential person in the heavy music scene, especially for a lot of my friends. He turned them onto a lot of different underground heavy music as well. He’s just got such a great taste in music. And for someone like him to praise Sheltering Sky and review it in such a positive way was just unreal.

MT: A couple of the things he and I talked about after I read that was the way religious belief as well as notions of space come into music – that the ritualistic aspects of doom become a form of worship in themselves, which kind of ties into what you said before about isolation being a big part of Drowning Horse’s music. Do you think you’re drawn to that extremity by being from a place like Perth that is so far away, and is so flat and geographically and topographically uninteresting? Do you think Drowning Horse’s heft and the depth of the music is a way of channeling that?
ML: It’s hard to say. There’s five different people in the band and we’re all quite different people.

MT: From your perspective then, when you’re writing your parts.
ML: I can’t really say. I actually really love living in Perth. I like the isolation. I like that it’s kind of dullsville. A lot of the people in bands move to Melbourne or something but that’s never really appealed to me. I’ve always loved living in Perth. I like how boring it can be. It sucks that there aren’t many venues. It sucks that not a lot of bands tour. I mean, Life is Noise has put on some great tours and they always come to Perth which has been a big change over the past couple of years. But previously there were never any bands which toured here. I guess the members of Drowning Horse are all in a punk/hardcore scene and there aren’t so many bands there and not so many people there. When you compare that to something like Melbourne, where there’s probably 1,000 people in that sort of scene. In Perth there might be a couple of hundred. Since there’s not a lot going on, it makes you want to play music and do something. I’m quite busy with work and other commitments as well but if I didn’t have the musical outlet, I don’t know if I’d stay in Perth either. I think it’s the perfect hub if you want to work on music. You don’t always have the same opportunities for constant performances but it gives you a lot of time to work on the music which you want to put out. That might be why there are a lot of Perth bands who are gems. A lot of people say that there’s a lot of quality bands which come out of Perth and it’s just because a lot of people in Perth put a lot more effort into their music because they have the time.

MT: Will Drowning Horse be going into hibernation again after this tour?
ML: It’s hard to say. Sometimes opportunities come up and performances do come up. We have passed up a lot of performances based on James being over east. Whenever we perform, we want to make sure we’re on top form and we play phenomenally. We don’t want to put on a poor performance. Sometimes if we get in two rehearsals and we haven’t jammed together for six months, it’s not going to be worth it because we don’t want to put on a poor performance. It comes down to if James can get time off work as well. We really like playing together and I think the time apart can be better as well. These songs have been around since when we started writing at the end of 2012 but they’re still kind of fresh to us. We look forward to rehearsing and playing more so than if we were rehearsing every week. It’s a bit of a treat when we do get together and we really appreciate the time when we can get together. I’d say we probably will go on a slight hiatus but who knows. James could come back. It probably comes down to what everyone’s doing. We’re definitely not going to end the band just after releasing Sheltering Sky, but performances will be hard to do since a key member is living in Melbourne.

Witness Drowning Horse on their Australian tour on the following dates:

October 30 – The Rosemount, Perth
w/ Space Bong, Craig McElhinney and Alzabo

October 31 – Mojos, Fremantle
w/ Space Bong, Foxes and Self Harm

November 5 – Crowbar, Brisbane
w/ Carnal Urge, Ripped Off, Frown and Idylls

November 6 – The Curtin, Melbourne
w/ Gentlemen, Mutton, Whitehorse and Scab Eater

November 7 – The Tote, Melbourne
w/ Space Bong, Extinct Exist, Contaminated and Tombsealer

November 8 — Newtown Social, Sydney
w/ We Lost The Sea, Thorax and Jxckxlz

Tickets are available on the door for each show.

Anger Management: Shanghai

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

It’s taken five years for Shanghai to meticulously arrange and record their magnum opus, The Ultraviolent. Blending the best moments from 2009’s Esoterica (which had some good moments but perhaps wore its influences on its sleeve a tad too earnestly) with their chops learned from 2010’s excellent cinematic-and-TV theme covers EP, The Battle For Mount Analogue, the nine-headed beast has delivered an album as ambitious as it is epic.

The band’s self-styled ‘film-rock-mutant-metal-jumpcut-cabaret’ juxtaposes cinematic pieces, furious surf guitar, beach pop/60s mod, death metal and much more. Imagine, if you will, Trey Spruance conducting a big band interpretation of a Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies James Bond score.

The whole album is constructed like a good film with a three act structure. But like a Jodorowski or Tarantino film, it takes a different path to get there. There are some excellent cinematic tracks here like “The Mercy Killings” and “A Murder Of Crows” that bridge the more conventional tracks together. The album is anchored in the middle by the first single, “Caveat Emptor”, and it’s still a highlight.

It’s not all crazy jumpcuts all around though. “Sundowner” sounds like an alternate universe Bond theme. Second single “Buffed Silver Is Shiny” is the ending credits/feel good music with vocals sounding a bit Weird Al. However halfway through the track builds to an epic space rock opera, the kind of thing that Devin Townsend would be proud of.

“Menage A Trois’” is a highlight that almost, almost collapses on its own sword. Halfway through it builds to an amazing horn/opera crescendo, only to be interrupted by an excellent death metal section (Luis Rojas can shred with the best of them when he lets loose), which is then abruptly discarded for a ‘cha-cha/doo-wop’ section that seems a tad unnecessary. It’s short enough however that it doesn’t take away too much from the track.

For the adventurous there is a lot too enjoy here. The production is top notch (self-produced and recorded) and special mention must go to some excellent drumming. They are an excellent live band too and I bet these tracks will be great in the live setting.

The Ultraviolet is out now.

Noiseweek: David Bowie, The Saints, My Disco and David Lynch

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


Word is there’s a new David Bowie record coming out on January 8. The Times of London is reporting that there’s a seven-track LP due from the Thin White Duke, who’s been in the news recently for his work on the Last Panthers soundtrack and his compositions for an upcoming Off-Broadway show. The Times of London is the first outlet to report this news and there’s been no official confirmation, but at this point any Bowie news is good new.


Full-time internet shit-fighters and occasional shoegaze band Whirr taught a masterclass in bridge-burning this past week. It began with a random shot at Washington punk band G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit). It devolved into a series of transphobic comments, and after a torrent of negative feedback, Whirr’s label, Run for Cover Records, severed ties with the band. The band penned an apology, putting the blame on “a good friend” who the band let “have free reign of the Twitter account along with ourselves”. Head over to Noisey for a full blow-by-blow of what went down.



Two Minutes With Fuck The Fitzroy Doom Scene

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Before they open proceedings for Earthless and Elder at the Corner on Saturday October 24, we spend a couple of minutes with Melbourne’s doom revellers Fuck the Fitzroy Doom Scene.

Describe your music in five words or less.
Birth. Life. Love. Death. Peace..

What’s going on in the world of Fuck the Fitzroy Doom Scene?
About to embark on our second album recording. The plan is to track, mix and master ourselves, all on tape… Here’s Dave with the gig updates: “We’re Supporting Elder and Earthless on their Melbourne Show!” Pretty stoked!

What motivates you to make music?
Life seems to pile up in the subconscious and spew out through music. It’s cheaper than a shrink ;) . But only just.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
The first record is something we are immensely proud of and the Boogie Festival show was very special. There was a blood red moon rising up over the crowd as we played — that place just rocks!
The low point was nearly driving our car off a cliff in dense fog at a Mt. Hotham show but even that was fun. P.S. Luke, you’re designated driver from now on ;-) .

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Apart from our phone demos: Down, Mad Season… Lots of live and local stuff including Magic Mountain Band… also Elder’s Lore! Luke’s griming on the Mark Ronson/Mystikal collaboration, Feels Explicit. Ali’s car radio is tuned to ABC Classical for late cruising.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first?
Dave. His hair smells scrumptious.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Dave’s hair in my teeth.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
In no particular order:
Bon Scott w/ AC/DC, Fraternity, Madder Lake, ’80’s-Midnight Oil, EasyBeats, Daddy Cool, The Purple Hearts, The Birthday Party, The Scientists, The Church, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, Master’s Apprentices, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Chain, Buffalo, Dragon, The Dirty Three, Pirana, The Zoot, GutterSnipes, The Missing Links, The Drones & Frantic Toss… All at the Espy Front Bar for $5!

Fuck the Fitzroy Doom Scene support Earthless and Elder at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne this Saturday October 24. Tickets are on sale now through

Interview: Earthless

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Earthless weave dreams. Reaching the limits of what three human beings can achieve with a guitar, a bass and a set of drums, the California trio have carved a sonic palette the size of the Mojave desert with blistering guitars, inimitable grooves and an allegiance to the might of the riff. Here, on the week of their upcoming Australia tour with Elder, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell talks intuition, religion and playing on the fly.

Matthew Tomich: Earthless has been operating for almost a decade and a half now with the same three members, which is a pretty rare feat. How have you guys kept it together so well over the years?

Isaiah Mitchell: I don’t know. We just kind of do stuff on our own terms, I guess. Not overdoing it. If we can’t do something, we won’t do it. We all got along before we were in a band – Mike and Mario were friends and I was good friends with Mike. I knew Mario – we all came from the same town and knew each other. It’s easy. They’re easy going guys. I think the three of us are easy going for the most part, about playing music and everything. No assholes in the band or anything like that.

MT: Does the dynamic still kind of evolve now you’ve been playing together so long? Do you still find ways to surprise each other?

IM: It seems like there’s clearly the same formula to everything in the past couple of albums. I think we’re just getting better at listening to each other. I think we’re getting a lot more dynamic about feeling what each other’s going to do. I’d say that’s definitely it – being a little bit more intuitive with how someone’s going to react to something someone else does.

MT: I’ve read you talk about intuition a lot. How long did it take to come to that level where you felt you could read each other well and allow yourself to improve in a live setting from that?

IM: I think it happened pretty quick. They’re great musicians, so if you’re a good musician, you can play by feeling instead of being extremely mathematical about it. That stuff is already there and finding like-minded people that maybe come from the same place – it came pretty quick. It wasn’t this difficult thing, which is why we keep doing what we’re doing. I don’t know. When I hear other bands that do that, it’s like I really like that band because I can tell they’re kind of getting into the jazz a little or something, I don’t know, just being intuitive. Not saying we’re exactly like that, but just that feel and intuitiveness.

MT: Do you reach that similar level of intuition with the other players in Golden Void or any of your other projects?

IM: Yeah. I’d say so because the drummer and I, we were in our very first band together. I know him really well. In junior high school we were in bands, so I know him pretty damn good. I know what he’s going to think about. You can communicate with a look, and if you work something out in a practice space, same with Earthless – OK we’ll go this long, then do this fill to move to the next part, this riff to move to the next part – I feel like we gel really well and we take our live performance on a little trip sometimes.

MT: Does that mean you guys don’t really put together strict set lists? Do you kind of leave a lot of room to feel how the set’s going so you have different directions you can take it?

IM: Yeah, sure. We do that. Are you talking about Golden Void?

MT: With Earthless, mainly.

IM: Yeah, of course. We know what we’re always doing. We talk about it beforehand but there’ll be times when we do something – if we’re in the middle of a part that we know is going to be a long, drawn out section where we’re mainly improvising — that’s always spontaneous and we don’t talk about that. Sometimes we’ve taken it to really weird places, which is awesome. It’s invigorating. Sometimes we kind of stick to what we’re used to and somewhat planned out. It just depends on the night.

MT: I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately about the link between spirituality and music and how certain genres – usually the ones that break away from the pop song structure like doom metal or post-rock or psych – work to fill this psychic void that non-religious people have. What’s your experience with religion and faith – did you have a religious upbringing?

IM: Not really. My parents are groovy, I know that much. They were brought up going to Catholic church or some Christian church or whatever. One of the two. They didn’t force it on me. It’s something that I was just by myself a little drawn towards and interested in. I got really into Buddhism for a long time, meditating and all that. I definitely spent a good portion of my youth really involved in that. Playing music and being involved in religion and mediation and all that, it really goes hand in hand.

MT: Are you still practising that – do you still consider yourself a practitioner of a particular belief or faith system?

IM: I mean, I don’t know. A lot of it is just golden rule kind of stuff. Just treat people great. Treat them vas you’d like to be treated. But no, I don’t really immerse myself in reading religious texts all the time. Actually, more so Native American ideas and the spirituality of that, I’m really into that lately, so I guess that counts. But just trying to be more in harmony with the Earth and yourself. It’s just like a daily thing. I don’t really think about it too much all the time unless I’m reading about it.

MT: The reason I ask is because in the live footage I’ve seen of you guys, there’s that sense of something ephemeral going on – you’re locked into some kind of immaterial groove and you’re not just playing music but conjuring it. I know that sounds kind of cheesy but do you know what I mean? Does that reflect how it feels for you?

IM: Yeah. There are times when it feels like I’ve gone to a different place. I might not be feeling very good – I might be upset or I might be sick or I might be in pain or whatever, and then you go play music, play a show, even rehearsal — it all stops. All that stuff stops. You’re just in the moment and you don’t feel any of that pain any more. But as soon as you stop you’re like, “oh shit, here I am again. There it is.” So it definitely takes that stuff away for me.

MT: What’s the status on a new Earthless album? Are there songs in the works? Is there a rough timeline for anything?

IM: Yeah. Last time we got together, we had to record something for a Vans surf video so we ended up writing a few songs for that. But we had a bunch of leftover stuff that we didn’t use for that. Last time we rehearsed, which was maybe a month or so ago, we were focusing more on that. I feel like we probably have half a side of a record, more or less, started. We just have to hone and tighten stuff up. We’ve got stuff in the works.

MT: Will you be playing any of that newer, unreleased stuff while you’re over here?

IM: I don’t think so, but you never know. We might play something new. It’s hard to say. I think it was two times ago when we were in Australia, we did an in-store at Tym’s Guitars in Brisbane. We were waiting for Mario – he was out in the back or something – and I just started to jam and he got on the drums and that’s how he opened the set and we thought that was really awesome. It was something totally brand new and we just played that for the rest of the tour and that became “Uluru Rock” which we recorded. Stuff like that happens – we just start doing something out of the blue and that becomes a new song right there. But I mean, that’s quite possible that that’ll happen again. But yeah, nothing planned. Nothing planned right now.

Earthless and Elder hit Australia next week on the following dates:

Thursday October 22 — The Rosemount Hotel, Perth
w/ Puck
Friday October 23 — The Corner, Melbourne
w/ Fuck the Fitzroy Doom Scene
Saturday October 24 — Newtown Social Club, Sydney
w/ Hawkmoth
Sunday October 25 — Hermann’s Bar, Sydney
Monday October 26 — Crowbar, Brisbane
w/ Hobo Magic

Tickets are on sale now through, Oztix and venue outlets.

Noiseweek: Hüsker Dü, MONO, Space Bong, Gold Class, Porches

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


Hüsker Dü might be reuniting. Then again, Hüsker Dü might not be reuniting. The long-defunct trio have opened up an official merchandise page and hired former Meat Puppets manager Dennis Pelowski to get their affairs in order. In any case, it’s the first time anyone’s talked to each other in a long while. More at The Minneapolis Star Tribune.


John Murphy passed away last week. A percussionist who began his musical career in Melbourne in the late 70s, Murphy had tenures in a number of influential post-punk, industrial and neo-folk outfits here and abroad, including SPK, Current 93, Shriekback, Whitehouse and most recently, Death in June. Photography and collaborator Zeena Schreck has written a lovely tribute to Murphy on her website.


Mega-publisher Condé Nast has acquired Pitchfork, bringing the site’s “very passionate audience of millennial males into our roster” to an editorial stable that includes Vanity Fair, Wired and The New Yorker. On another, potentially unrelated note, Pitchfork has deleted the contributions of one of its early writers (and former Senior Editor to boot), Chris Ott, who’s since become a long-time aggravator and critic of the brand. In light of the acquisition, Ott was raising questions about Pitchfork’s ownership of old published material, which reviews of Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief and Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted. More on this story from Jason Sargent over at Gawker’s media news outlet, TKTK.


David Bowie is never touring again. That’s not exactly news — Bowie hasn’t been on the road since the Reality Tour in 2014, which was cut short when he underwent heart surgery in Germany in June of that year. Now, former booking agent John Giddings has confirmed that Bowie’s road days are behind him, though he’s still keeping plenty busy, writing new material for the Off Broadway musical Lazarus and penning the theme for forthcoming British crime drama The Last Panthers.


Two Minutes With AVER

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Before they join Elder and Earthless on one of the psych bills of the year at Hermann’s Bar in Sydney on October 25, we spend a couple of minutes with heavy, handsome lads of AVER.

Describe your music in five words or less.
Heavy psych. Three extra words.

What’s going on in the world of AVER?
We’ve recently signed with Ripple Music in the USA, who are putting our latest album, Nadir, out on vinyl. We’re in the process of recording a couple extra tracks for it at the moment so the whole thing will be a fairly beastly hour an twenty minutes or so over two vinyls. This has also given us an excuse to give in to our GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and spend far too much money of new noise making trinkets. Oh, and we’re organising a tour overseas next year.

What motivates you to make music?
That’s a tough one. After you’ve been doing it for long enough the question of “why” sort of becomes alien. It’s just part of your routine like eating breakfast. Or sneaking a couple of beers immediately after breakfast. I guess the easiest answer is that it’s cathartic, meditative, and you’re hanging out with your mates while finding an outlet for your nervous energy.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
The high point has definitely been the love we’ve gotten online for our two albums. It’s weird being in this rinky-dink city (Sydney) that doesn’t have a lot going on in terms of a stoner/psych scene, but at the same being contacted by people all over the world about your album, asking when you’re coming, or just saying “hi”.

As for the low point? You’ve got to remember, we started this band in high school. That means we were using absolutely rubbish gear, with no rehearsal space. So we were all crammed into our drummer Chris’ bedroom. So imagine it’s the middle of summer, four sweaty teenagers crammed into a tiny bedroom with a drumkit, three amps and no air conditioning. It’s weird, whenever we get to spread out on stage and not have a guitar headstock inches from your face you get slightly agoraphobic. On the plus side, we’re pretty grateful for any less-than-terrible travelling or performing arrangements, so there’s that.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Child and Comacozer, who we just had the pleasure of playing in Melbourne with. Also, Sahara Surfers’ new album which just came out and absolutely slays. We’re also in the middle of a Supertramp revival period. There just came a day where we were hanging out, and somehow Supertramp’s greatest hits ended up playing. And then again. And then every week. We’re pretty sure this is just something that happens to everyone naturally with age along with back aches, nose hair and not trusting teenagers.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first?
Jed (bass). He actually goes to the gym so he’s got some muscle on him, while the rest of us look like particularly neglected mops. Although this would most likely lead to our downfall as he’s probably the most prepared for a desert-island type scenario, whereas the rest of us would immediately regress to a state of child-like panic upon realising there’s no Wi-Fi.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Honestly? The live music venues in Sydney dying off. Every few months we end up losing another one. And there’s only so much blame you can try to level at people who move near venues and then suddenly discover that live music venues aren’t silent after 6PM every night. The truth is that it’s the mentality of a lot of people in this city to not bother seeing live music unless the band is already trendy and you gain some scene-points for being there, or they’re mates of the band. We just got back from Melbourne and people just went to gigs to see some music, places were packed at 3 in the afternoon. About 4000 people went to the last ever show at the Lansdowne in Sydney when it closed last month, as if they really cared, but where were they for the years before? People go on about how sad it is to lose all the iconic venues they never visit, and the dwindling of scenes they never support. These are usually the same people who think nothing of dropping 50 bucks in the pokies and spending a hundred bucks on cabs in a night, but being part of a scene and supporting live music is a bridge too far, and it brings my piss to a boil. Rant over.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
One more heavy show at the Annandale, loud enough to dislodge the new owners’ monocles into their daiquiris. Tumbleweed, Child, Comacozer, Kaleidoscope. And probably Savage Garden. Gotta have some sweet with the sour, y’know? Some yin with your yang. Some gin with your tonic. Some Simon with your Garfunkel.

AVER join Elder and Earthless at their second Sydney show on October 25 at Hermann’s Bar. Tickets on sale through

PREMIERE: Stream Skullcave’s Searing New EP, Climbing

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Following on from last month’s killer single, “How To Tell You’re Winning”, we’re thrilled to present the premiere of Skullcave’s second EP, Climbing.

First things first: these riffs are white-hot. “Am I Crossing Over?” channels the best parts of High on Fire while “Wishing You Were Missing” hits with the weight of an avalanche. The real kicker is the finale, as the quiet guitars of intro “(Falling)” give way to the mammoth that is “Climbing”, highlighting Skullcave’s greatest strength: the marriage of gargantuan riffs with compelling world-class melodies. Hear it for yourself below:

Skullcave launch Climbing at Jimmy’s Den in Perth on October 16 and the Prince of Wales in Bunbury on October 17.

Anger Mangement: Witchsorrow

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.

Before this review I’d just like to acknowledge the tragic passing of Pete Dunstan, aka The Black Captain). I used to listen to Pete broadcast during the mid ‘90s. I’d tape the show, get woken up by the tape finishing, turn it over and record again. Pete put me onto a lot of amazing music. He was a compelling broadcaster, his writing was top notch and you can check out his archives here at LIN. Above all, he was truly nice guy that made time for everyone. Please take the time to read the really nice tribute to Pete by Matthew Tomich.

Taking a magnifying glass to any genre of music and subsequently falling down a rabbit hole is fascinating. Genres within genres and subgenres really negate any foolish argument of, “I don’t like genre A/B/C because it all sounds the same.” One of the more fascinating styles of music to do this with is doom metal.

While the mantra of doom metal is generally low and slow, there are a plethora of different styles and sounds under the doom umbrella. Who could have predicted that when Black Sabbath tuned down in 1968 that doom would have mushroomed into what we have today? Like something a bit more psych? There’s a tonne of bands for you. Prefer something more epic? Plenty there too. Funeral doom for winter? Done. Doom is way more popular now than it ever has been. Bands that couldn’t get arrested 5 years ago (Yob, Electric Wizard etc) are putting out incredible albums and the live shows are a hot ticket to get.

The UK’s Witchsorrow play a brand of doom on their third album, No Light, Only Fire, that has a capital M for “METAL”. Following on from 2012’s full length, God Curse Us, and the awesomely titled/why didn’t I think of that EP, De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas, this new record sees the band speeding up a touch and embracing the sounds of bands such as Saint Vitus, Reverend Bizarre, Trouble, Cathedral and even a touch of Hellhammer.

The production is great, everything coming through loud and clear, the band giving the producer the direction of: “Hellhammer. ‘80s aggression. No posing.” The opening (almost) title track reminds me a touch of High On Fire. There are still plenty of longer songs here with riffs aplenty. “Made Of The Void” and “Negative Utopia” are top notch but the real highlight is the awesome stomp of “The Gallows” and its awesome middle-weird, slightly black metal tremolo riff.

Guitarist/vocalist Nick “Necroskull” Ruskell puts in a great performance, even showing a nod to older folk/acid groups with a small acoustic ditty, but bassist Emily Witch and drummer David Wilbrahammer are right there in step with pounding drums and gnarly bass. The album ends with a re-recorded version of “De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas” to show everyone that they can still go as low and slow as anyone.

No Light, Only Fire is an excellent album chock full of great doom metal songs. Great stuff.

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.

PREMIERE: Stream Tangled Thoughts of Leaving’s New EP, The Black Captain

Monday, October 12th, 2015

We’re pleased to present the premiere of The Black Captain, the companion EP to Tangled Thoughts of Leaving’s album Yield to Despair.

Initially intended as a bonus for fans who’d pre-ordered Yield to Despair, TTOL opted to name the EP in tribute to the late Pete Dunstan. It’s a heavily textured collection — more jam-oriented and ambient than its companion release — but TTOL have always been masters of balancing their extreme and complex pursuits with experimental noise and slow burn post-metal. The seven minute-centrepiece, “Reprieve”, is one of the best pieces of music they’ve put out in their decade-long career. Vale The Black Captain.