Archive for January, 2016

Sonic Truth: Music’s Gender Problem

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Mike has asked:

Why is the music industry so male-dominated?

Dear Mike,

Let’s start with some good ol’ verifiable facts. As of this year:

+ no solo women have ever won the Triple J Hottest 100 since it was established in 1989
+ only three have won the UK’s Mercury Prize in its 22-year history
+ around 1 in 10 audio engineers are women, and no woman has ever won a Grammy for producing a non-classical record.
+ industry gender pay gaps are substantial, remain in place and in some areas are increasing.

Also, take the Billboard Power 100 for 2015; index of the industry’s most powerful and influential. Twelve spots out of the total 100 feature women — often they are featured as part of a duo with a bloke. So while Taylor Swift, Adele, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna are all marquee names in music, the reality is that it’s men producing the records, pulling the industry strings and landing the kudos when they put their own tunes out there.

The past couple of months has seen black metal musician Myrkur forced off social media due to death threats and Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman revealing she’d been sexually harassed by a prominent publicist. Anyone can spend some quality time with Google and find myriad similar tales from now and in the past. Lots has been written on this so I’ll leave it to one side for now.

For my part, one of the ways I think the music industry can help here is by fixing a certain mindset. My theory is that women working in music earn less respect because of sexist biases about expertise. Expertise is highly valued in the music industry, whether it be as a great manager, talented audio engineer or a sick guitarist able to shred G# diminished sweep arpeggios at 220 BPM.

Socially, we still reinforce ideas that men are more pragmatic, technical and decisive while women are emotional and vulnerable. But research on the brain has debunked this idea. If this bias can be banished from the music industry, we’re encouraging more women to succeed in roles that they would be great in, but haven’t always been given the opportunity.

Not many of us, even those involved in the music industry, have any influence on something like who lands in the Billboard Top 100. But all of us love music, and we can be more conscious in the way that we express that love. Women musicians and producers rarely get called geniuses, but lots of them are. If they achieve great things in the music industry, it’s an achievement usually described with the prefix “female”. Just laziness.

Music culture is archetypal. We can name heroes in all parts of the music world, but our handful of heroines have been confined in a small corner of it. The more inclusive we make the myths, in the way we talk and speak, the faster we can move towards an equal playing field.


If you’d like an answer to any of life’s great mysteries, get at Alex on

PREMIERE: Deep Heat — It Remains

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Melbourne’s Deep Heat occupy the perfect niche for disciples of the Our Band Could Be Your Life indie rock underground of the US — somewhere at the intersection of the bass-driven post-punk of Pylon, the garage leanings of the Wipers, echoes of Built to Spill’s sense of melody, with occasional flourishes reminiscent of later DC hardcore. Today we’re very excited to share ‘It Remains’, the second track taken from Still Life, the band’s forthcoming full-length.

Deep Heat are launching Still Life with a run of east-coast dates in April, with some staggering supports in tow, and will preview tracks from their debut LP at Melbourne community radio PBS 106.7FM’s Drive Live, taking place all next week at the station’s Collingwood studios.

Thursday April 14 — Phoenix Bar, Canberra
w/ Bobby Kill, Passive Smoke, Agency

Friday April 15 — Janes (AA), Wollongong

w/ Burlap, The Nuclear Family, Solid Effort

Saturday April 16 — Blackwire (AA), Sydney
w/ Shrapnel, Aloha Units, Delivery Boys

Friday April 22 — Visions Gallery (AA), Brisbane
w/ Sick People, Occults, Clever

Saturday April 23 — Trainspotters, Brisbane
w/ 100%, Deafcult, Submissives

Saturday April 30 — The Curtin, Melbourne
w/ Love of Diagrams, Deaf Wish, Bits of Shit and Mollusc

Still Life is out April 22 on Poison City Records.

Two Minutes with Reaving

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Ahead of their spot supporting High On Fire at the Kings Arms in Auckland on February 23, we spend a couple of minutes with Reaving and find out what’s up…

Describe your music in five words or less.
Riff. Solo. Riff. Solo. Riff.

What’s going on in the world of Kyzer Soze?
Opening for one of our favourite bands High On Fire (fuck yeah!) which is huge for us — Matt Pike is a big reason why we started this band. We’re also playing at our favourite penis-themed festival WoodCock in Tauranga and then on to recording our first full length album and hitting the road to tour it later in the year.

What motivates you to make music?
Musical exploration and the lengths to which you can take an idea, hanging with your buddies and drinking lots of beers. Hey that rhymed! We should start writing lyrics.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
I guess the only low points we can think of are hitting creative road blocks but generally it’s just a passing thing and if you just keep your head down and bum up they are easy enough to get through. Also we’ve had a few run-ins with shifty people who have ripped us off and not met commitments but if you’ve played music long enough it seems par for the course. Having thick skin and learning from those experiences is the only way forward.

High points would be getting a last-minute call up to open for Red Fang and Beastwars! Along with the many long drives gigging around NZ and a collaboration project we did with artist Alex Bartlett at The Experiment, a multimedia arts festival that went off without a hitch even though it easily could not have. Taking risks and things miraculously working is what music is all about. Always take the risk.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Bowie (sobs), Mastodon, Elder, Metz, Yob, Bespin, Ghostface Killah (with badbadnotgood), Between The Buried And Me, CONAN, Fuzz, and Mahavishnu Orchestra.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first? And why?
Our dear leader Winston in his communist wisdom would have us all chop an arm off and redistribute them evenly (i.e. mostly to himself).

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
We couldn’t come up with a general consensus of what pisses us off so individually:
Taman is pissed off so often he’s not sure specifically what he’s pissed off about.
Alex: When you have a shower and have to poo straight after. It can really ruin your day.
Winston: The exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring NZ artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
It would be a summer festival at Tahaki Reserve which is a little natural amphitheatre at the bottom of Mt Eden. We’d play nice and early so we could drink beers and get wasted to see our favourite live bands and ones that are long gone. In no particular order:
Mountaineater, Black Science, The Mint Chicks, The 3Ds , Shoutin Preachin, Human Instinct, Greenfog, Ticket, The Ladedas, Triumphs, Into Orbit, Bespin, Dhdfds, Hiboux, Down The Hatch, Mason Clinic, Stonedogs, Husk, Bloodnut, God Bows To Math, Jakob, The Phoenix Foundation, Slavetrader, Parents, Shitripper, Gundry Blues, PCP Eagles, Bloodbags, Lost Rockets, His Masters Voice, Diving, Threat Meat Protocol, Connan Mockasin, Spook the Horses, X-Ray Fiends…Damn there has been and is a lot of good music to come out of this country. I could keep going but the festival would have to be a two-dayer.

Savages — Adore Life

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Savages intention for Adore Life was to write the “loudest album ever”, a lofty ambition, especially when you share a world with Swans, a band that Savages singer Jehnny Beth has mentioned many times as being hugely influential on the sound of their new LP. Swans’ influence is strong throughout the album, from the grinding guitars of opening track ‘The Answer’ to the growling violence of ‘Adore’. It’s a sound that’s clearly made for live performance, with the singalong vocals of ‘Sad Person’, and the manic energy of ‘Surrender’ coming close to bringing us the thrashing chaos of the pit. Adore Life succeeds on many fronts: as an evolution of Savages trademark sound, and as a darker, threating album, full of violent force and energy. But it’s less transcendent, less surprising than debut Silence Yourself, and while the tracks are very good, they’re never quite as good as the singles on their last LP, barring the possible exception of ‘Slowing Down The World’ — which is narrative and powerful in a way that Savages have never been before. It’s unclear as to whether that’s a problem with the album, my subjective expectations, or if there’s simply more that’s going on here that the recordings don’t allow the listener to grasp. In any case, it seems to be a watershed release, and the way that Savages go from here, in their albums and their live performances, will vastly change the way that it’s interpreted. Taken on its own merits alone, though, it’s a very dense experience. It’s hard to process in a lot of ways, as there’s both a lot, and very little going on here that we haven’t heard somewhere else before.

The album runs the gamut from the fairly traditional Savages sound of ‘Evil’, through to the distant, vast expanse of ‘I Need Something New’. It’s new terrain for the band, and, despite the miserable, down-tempo plod of most of it, you can tell they’re feeling really good about the things they’re doing here. But by the second-last track ‘T.W.Y.G’ you start to feel a little weary of their structure. Every song here builds and swells a little bit like later Swans, but never manages to reach its full potential. It feels like it’s caught between potential futures. On one hand, the clattering simplicity of early Savages, on the other, the looming majesty of later Swans. It’s the sound of progress and transition, but it doesn’t feel like it’s been completely settled yet. This is a startling experience. To go from an album as self-contained and tonally complete as 2013’s Silence Yourself to the melancholy diffusion of 2015’s Adore Life feels like a precarious decision. But there’s a seed of hope in the anxiety. There’s a chance of a renewal here untouched in either this album, or the previous LP; a chance they could be greater than the sum of all their parts. If we’re looking at raw ambition and the sense of possibility, this is probably an improvement on their debut. While Silence Yourself had an amazing sound, it was difficult to imagine where the band could go from there. More polished, pop-hook heavy post-punk would have seemed like they were playing to their reputation. The Swans angle is welcome and unexpected, but the mix is underwhelming here.

If nothing else, the album proves that Savages are unwilling to rest upon their past successes. It tells us that they’re building towards something. They’re throwing old ideas out and adding new influences in, in a regimented dedication to improving their sound. The trouble is, the project isn’t finished yet. At this point it could really take them anywhere — on to greater heights and higher authenticity, or banality through the replication of the sounds of more inspired artists. Honestly, it’s more confusing than the band has ever been before. It’s not a great album, but it’s definitely an exciting one.

Adore Life is out now through Matador/Remote Control.

Noiseweek: ATDI, Primavera, Iggy post-Pop and more

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.
As the northern hemisphere festival season gears up, so too do the reunions, with At The Drive-In now joining LCD Soundsystem in the quest for festival payola. ATDI’s anticipated comeback will see them embark on a huge tour of North America and Europe and release new material.


Meanwhile Radiohead, the aformentioned LCD Soundsystem and Sigur Rós head up an enormous Primavera Sound line-up, with Shellac, Boredoms, Venom, Destroyer, Tortoise, Goat and about a hundred others also making the trip to Barcelona in June.


If you had any doubt about the huge changes the music industry faces, mull this over for a moment: In 2015, ‘catalogue’ sales (i.e. releases more than 18 months old) outsold ‘current’ releases for the first time ever. Yet more copies of Dark Side of the Moon have been pressed and inflicted upon the world, with only Adele and Taylor Swift outselling Pink Floyd’s 1973 sharehouse must-have on vinyl last year. The times they are a-changin’. Or not.



Iggy Pop and Josh Homme Team Up for Secret Album | New York Times
“The collaboration started with a text message from Mr. Pop to Mr. Homme, who recalled, “It basically said, ‘Hey, it would be great if we got together and maybe write something sometime — Iggy.’”

Heathcliff Berru and Other Missing Stairs | Impose
“We owe it to ourselves, to our work, and to the listeners and readers who are interested in what we do, to fix the missing stairs instead of leaping over them, to truly address these issues when they are raised, to listen to these allegations with fair and open minds and take them seriously.”

Why Are the Eagles So Hated? An Explainer on the Immensely Popular Yet Divisive Rock Band | Billboard
“Some Generation X-ers and other post-boomers have begun examining exactly why they were expected from puberty to reject the Eagles. In his 1972 Newsday essay, Robert Christgau praised the band’s musical prowess, then famously shifted gears with the line, ‘Another thing that interests me about the Eagles is that I hate them.’”


Naðra — Allir Vegir Til Glötunar
Unpronounceable Icelandic black metal. Good.

Hopefully the first of many in the trove of Bowie rarities and outtakes to surface after his death — in which he impersonates Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and Tom Waits.

Fatima Al Qadiri — ‘Battery’

Wonky bass-driven electronica from the Kuwaiti producer, taken from forthcoming LP Brute.


PJ Harvey teases new album The Hope Six Demolition Project with features lead single ‘The Wheel’ and album opener ‘The Community of Hope’. Out April 15.

Ty Segall and The Muggers — Live at KEXP
The garage god inaugurates the Seattle public radio station’s new studios with a half-hour set of material from new LP Emotional Mugger, released last week.

Two Minutes with Kyzer Soze

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Ahead of their spot supporting High On Fire at Brisbane’s Crowbar on February 21, we spend a couple of minutes with Kyzer Soze and find out what’s up…

Describe your music in five words or less.
Death metal.

What’s going on in the world of Kyzer Soze?
Writing new material and playing shows.

What motivates you to make music?
Creating something that makes you feel, we all love music as listeners. The journey you take when you write a song, that gives you chills, it a great feeling. The adrenaline from playing live shows is a very strong drug. You can’t get enough of it.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
Highs would be supporting The Black Dahlia Murder and At The Gates last year; lows would be losing money, but that’s just about every band these days.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Rivers Of Nihil’s new album Monarchy, Black Crown Initiate, the new Cattle Decapitation, Inferi, The Black Dahlia Murder, Blood Red Throne and always Behemoth.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first? And why?
Roine, he’s the only one with enough meat on him to make a decent roast.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
When people say: “The scene is dead maaaaaaaaan.” Fuck off, go to a show and check out some new bands. We have some of the best new bands in the world, so stop being lazy you dickheads.

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.
I would love to see AC/DC play with Portal. Psycroptic can open and it will be at Lang Park. Bring some black metal to the masses.

Anger Management: Venomous Concept — Kick Me Silly; VC3

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

The first blast for 2016 comes in the form of grindpunk supergroup Venomous Concept and their third LP Kick Me Silly; VC3. Twenty short, sharp bursts paying homage to old hardcore punk, but being that the band is made up of two parts Napalm Death and two parts Brutal Truth you know this has some weight behind it.

Shuffling longtime Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury to guitar and adding John Cooke (live session player with Napalm Death and Anaal Nathrakh) on second guitar has thickened out the sound and made room for the occasional squealing lightning speed solo.

At times the riffs and power make the songs basically sound like Kevin Sharp singing for Napalm Death. The grind of ‘Busy With Your Dead’ and the ten second ‘Johnny Cheeseburger’ speeding by. The aptly titled ‘Anthem’ is pretty catchy straight-up hardcore; the album’s twenty tracks occasionally blend in together. The album’s longest song ‘Forever War’ (clocking in at a marathon 3:17!) is a slightly more atmospheric number, that musically reminds me of the Dead Kennedys.

There are plenty of bands playing this style, but when it’s done with such passion and venom, you can’t help but enjoy it. They also just released a pretty rad cover ‘Suffragette City’ in tribute to David Bowie.

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

Tortoise — The Catastrophist

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

With the passing of seven years since 2009’s Beacons of Ancestorship, post-rock pioneers Tortoise have returned with a satisfying collection of songs that put the playful back into play. Post-rock’s most abstract band had already absorbed much of the 90s underground sights and smells, combining into a heady amalgam that’s more post-post-rock than it is post-rock; they continue to explore a sound awash with new-agey synths.

While any newcomer to the band might find The Catastrophist’s cruisy tempos somewhat conservative, any initiate into Tortoise’s soundscape knows that — as with all their albums, replete with their signature minimalist grooves — understatement is sovereign. In the majority, song lengths keep to under or around a respectable four minutes, rendering the band’s sonic excursions more ambient tasters rather than immersive transfigurations.

The album’s opener, and title track, represents the most structured and straightforward piece on the album, while following track, ‘Ox Duke’, serves as a more appropriate introduction to one of the album’s primary themes of exploration: timbral layers and textures. Rather than backgrounding or foregrounding particular sounds to elicit textures, Tortoise has the various sounds in ‘Ox Duke’ play off each other by pulling a timbre from one instrument before discarding the original sound and moving in with another. For example, the high register of the cymbal crash at about a minute into the piece introduces the next stage of the layered build into icy string synths, texturally contrasting against earthy guitar chords while rhythmically complementing them. All these elements collaborate to produce a wide palette of interconnected sounds while generating fluid, ambient textures.

Followed by a very Pink Floydian cover of David Essex’s 1973 single ‘Rock On’, the band continues with their timbral explorations on the ominous ‘Shake Hands with Danger’, featuring sharp guitar tones underlaid by their characteristic oblong bass groove and prominent percussive exotica. ‘The Clearing Fills’ depicts a serene soundscape that gradually dissolves into ambience.

As the album’s single and longest song, ‘Gesceap’ forms the centrepiece for The Catastrophist, hearkening to Philip Glass’ late 70s-early 80s output with it’s hypnotic spiderweb of patiently layered polyrhythms.

‘Yonder Blue’, another album highlight, features Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Huble’s languorously — and gorgeously — deadpan vocals over hazy atmospherics and twangy strumming.

Between the upbeat electronics of ‘Gopher Island’ and the sophisticated funk of ‘Hot Coffee’, The Catastrophist finds Tortoise making a warm, expressive, and consistently interesting addition to their discography.

The Catastrophist is out this Friday through Thrill Jockey/Rocket.

Noiseweek: RIP David Bowie

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

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

Perhaps the only good that comes out of losing an icon like David Bowie is that it gives us an opportunity to reflect on and revel in his genius. That his death came as such a shock and was felt so keenly by so many, should be no surprise given his unparalleled impact on music, flim, art, fashion and popular culture. The eeriness of final album Blackstar and the accompanying videos for the title track and ‘Lazarus’ with hindsight, quite obviously a ‘parting gift’ or goodbye letter to the world he dramatically helped shape. Noiseweek this week presents a collection of the best stories, tributes, and playlists honouring his life and work.

Sales of Blackstar have soared in the days since Bowie’s death, with Spotify streams of the icon’s back catalogue also experiencing a jump of more than 2800% in the past week, The Guardian reports. Unsurprisingly, this puts Blackstar at the top of the UK charts (his 10th No. 1 there), whileBillboard reports the album is expected be Bowie’s first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Will we ever here the demos for the reported follow-up album to Blackstar he was working on? Let’s hope so.


SXSW founder Roland Swenson has fessed up to changing the Bowie Street sign to David Bowie St in downtown Austin. Read a collection of other, more conventional tributes on social media over at Pitchfork and great obituaries at the New York Times and Wire.


A huge tribute show fronted by long-time collaborator and producer Tony Visconti is being planned for NYC’s Carnegie Hall, featuring The Roots, The Mountain Goats, Cyndi Lauper, Perry Farrell, Michael Stipe, Laurie Anderson, Cat Power and The Polyphonic Spree over two nights on March 31 and April 1.


Fittingly, the Starman will be forever immortalised with a constellation named in his honour.



Iggy Pop on David Bowie: ‘He Resurrected Me’ | New York Times
“A lot of people were curious about me, but only he was the one who had enough truly in common with me, and who actually really liked what I did and could get on board with it, and who also had decent enough intentions to help me out. He did a good thing.”

Henry Rollins: Bowie’s Blackstar Is On The Level Of Low and Heroes | LA Weekly
“The album is agile and nervy, challenging and masterful. It is unreal the poise and guts he displays in this collection of seven songs. Hopefully, he was able to get some feedback from fans all over the world.”

What It’s Like to Play Guitar With David Bowie | Pitchfork
“He created this atmosphere for me where I walked into the studio thinking the old way, and walked out with a set of tools that I didn’t even know what to do with. This goes to the core of things I did with Bowie that changed me forever.”

‘That was David: life and death were art for him’ – Bowie’s pianist remembers his friend | The Guardian
“Mortality wasn’t something David discussed, but he sang about it a lot. I think he saw the pain and felt the suffering in life more than most. Many of us put up filters and go into denial. I don’t think he ever did that, and that came out in his music.”

On David Bowie And Mortality | Stereogum
“We’re going to spend years figuring out what Bowie was telling us with this album. But certain things about Blackstar already seem stark and obvious in the wake of his passing. For one thing, the album’s catchiest song is named after Lazarus, the Biblical figure who rose from his grave. How could we not have seen that.”


The Quietus goes deep into Bowie’s discography in their ‘Beyond the Hits’ playlist.

Not sure how KEXP left The Melvins’ version of ‘Station to Station’ off their list of best Bowie covers, so here it is.


David Bowie’s Effect on Music Videos – New York Times

Interview: Rohan Thomas, Director of The Other Option

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Until trade blocs and football federations came along in the last 10 years or so, Australia had never really considered itself part of Asia — preferring instead to identify as part of the Orwellian non-region of Oceania, and looking to mother England or the new imperial superpower of the USA for cultural mores and economic direction. It’s no surprise given the country’s past.

A similar phenomenon existed with touring Australian bands until the late 90s — the USA or Europe presented as the only viable options for international touring. It’s hard to believe given our relative proximity and the huge crowds of eager young punters in South East Asia. Thankfully, a trail was blazed by some pioneering punk and grindcore bands and now Australian bands are regularly touring the region, and linking up with like-minded artists. LIFE IS NOISE editor Cam Durnsford sat down with filmmaker Rohan Thomas, who documents this change in his film The Other Option, to talk about the origins of the project.

How did you came to make films?

I actually started out interviewing bands for my podcast D.I.Wireless. I’d done little montage film clips for friends’ bands in the past, so I guess the mix of interviewing bands and video editing meant I thought I’d have a crack at a documentary web series. The first was for Poison City Weekender way back in 2010. Then I documented a road trip down the East Coast of the States to the 10th anniversary of The Fest in Gainesville, Florida. I did another really fun series for Poison City again a few years later, but the whole time the idea for the film was in the back of my mind.

How did this project come together?

The second band I ever interviewed on my podcast was Not OK from the Gold Coast who had just returned from a South East Asian tour. I became really interested in what the scene was like in South East Asia, in particular how a band I had seen the night before play in front of a handful of people had also completed a 12-date international tour in front of some big audiences of there. After more research I realised that absolutely no-one had even been there until the late 90s — but now the popularity of touring there had exploded. It felt like something had been uncovered. After a lot of emails and a research trip, I sat down and wrote a script and was on my way.

The Other Option Documentary (OFFICIAL TRAILER) from D.I.Wireless on Vimeo.

Did you have an idea of where the story was going to end up when you started out, or was it written in the experience of filming/interviewing people?

I figured if I was going to do a film, and it was going to cover 15 years of underground music history across four countries I had to have my shit together. On my previous doco series I had just stuck a camera in people’s faces and worked the rest out later. So I did as much research as possible, including travelling to Asia to meet people just for research. I wrote a script based on all the common themes that came out of this research. I stuck to that script pretty much the whole way through, but sometimes when you sit down to interview people you get some curveballs! And collecting archive video footage and photos is a nightmare and changes things as well. Overall I learnt so much about how a film comes together.

I imagine travelling to meet people, conduct interviews and film you were treated with the same hospitality that Australian bands were shown on their tours. Were there any experiences that really stood out for you?

Absolutely. The passion, hospitality and hard work of people in the South East Asian punk scenes is what stands out the most, and I hope the film reflects that. I remember I had jumped in the tour van with an Aussie band called Up and Atom when I was in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Somehow we ended up more than four hours outside of town for a show in a hall the middle of nowhere — a tiny village, surrounded by farms and mountains. As usual, the show was running late and it was past midnight and I had to get all the way back to the city for an early flight. I was fucked. The organiser of the show went and rallied this random kid who gave me a private ride at what felt like 100km an hour on a scooter to the nearest train station, then helped me get the last train back to Yogyakarta. He stayed with me until the train left. He probably missed the rest of the show. He just wanted to help. Unbelievable.

Despite the barriers to participation with access to equipment and venues, or hostile cops, would you say the scenes there are healthy? Who are some of the bands you’d recommend?

’Punks always find a way’ — and South East Asian punks are masters of that statement. While the scenes are very healthy and offer touring bands some amazing shows and experiences despite the challenges you mentioned, one thing I learnt from my time there is that there are also elements that are absolutely no different to any other scene (including Australia) such as lack of venues, attracting audiences to shows and dealing with cliques and scene politics. There are some SERIOUSLY amazing bands over there, almost too many to mention. But some faves off the top of my head are Daighila from Kuala Lumpur, Vague from Jakarta and Snäggletooth from Singapore (RIP).

The doco makes a pretty good point about the unfairness of the experiences of South East Asian bands wanting to tour Australia as compared to Australian bands on tour in Asia, thanks to our stupid immigration policies and government. While these policies remain in place, what do you think can be done to help make it easier for bands from the region to visit Australia?

It’s a really tricky one because while the film makes a point of immigration barriers, there are many other issues preventing South East Asian bands from coming here, including money. It is unbelievably expensive for a punk band from Indonesia to be able to book four flights here, then travel around for a week playing shows. But if somehow they can find a way, and find a supportive and experienced promoter here in Australia, and can avoid the pitfalls of immigration, then they are a chance. It has been done. But as you can see, it’s not easy.

Do you think the influx of Australian bands touring has created any resentment from local bands? Watching the film it struck me that there might be the same mentality you see with Australian backpackers abroad – taking lots and not giving much back, being completely insensitive to culture and customs – is that a fair assumption?

The film actually touches on this subject a little and before going there I thought the local bands and promoters would have definitely agreed with this statement. But they didn’t. For sure, there are times where touring bands have been typical Aussie dickheads or haven’t been appreciative of how much work these people were doing to support their tour — and the guys in the scenes in South East Asia won’t want anything to do with them again. But overall as long as the touring band offers some element of respect and interaction with locals, to be honest they are just so stoked to be able to share music, stories, politics and what their city/country has to offer. As one interviewee in the film put it, sometimes the South Est Asian punks just don’t know how to say no.

What’s next?

Some time away to learn from the massive amount of lessons I encountered while putting something this big together, including some technical aspects of filmmaking. But I have three different script ideas ready and have already started putting my feelers out for one of them. I must be a sucker for punishment.

For more info and to get a copy of the DVD head to The Other Option.