Sunday, 27 July 2008

RFM Leaving Party @ Sammy's

So on Friday night RFM (Retrophonic Funk Machine) had their official breaking up party. It was ambitious affair, held at Sammy's nightclub, with 9 bands and 2 DJ's: Tono and the Finance Company, 'Koile, The 'Bones, Biff Merchants, RFM, Vibrasics, The Tweeks, Julian Temple Band, Left or Right, DJ Getafix, and DJ Boof.

Tim Walsh whips up a trombone solo.

I got roped into doing sound with Andy Straight, which was cool; I get kind of anxious at these sorts of big gigs (which I'm playing at), and doing sound is a good way for me to participate in the event, and a good excuse not to make annoying small talk when I can't be fucked. It also pays, and I enjoy the nerdyness of doing live sound.

Thank fuck I didn't have to put a mic infront of that

Anyway onto the venue. Sammy's is a bangin' venue. It's huge, you can see the stage from anywhere, the acoustics are good, and most importantly, it's purpose built for entertainment. Well, it was purpose built for entertainment about 80 years ago (I actually have no idea how old Sammy's is), as a caberet, theatre type venue.

Lewis Waite crankin' with Vibrasics

There are certainly problems with the venue - don't get me wrong... It's been run-down for years, and the new owners have bought into a massive - and I mean massive task of cleaning, re-fitting, and upgrading. It's going to take years to get to it's former glory, if the owners can stay afloat! Hopefully they can.

The gig. I'm not going to go on about every act, but I will say RFM played their tightest, most energitic performance in years. I was really proud of them. They've obviously progressed as a band and as individuals by performing together. I mean hell, they've toured NZ, successfully released an album, and improved dramatically as musicians.

500+ people came to the gig to show their support, and plenty stayed right till the end (4am-ish) partying and enjoying the music. I was stoked. I haven't seen that many people out at Sammy's before (even at gasp - Holly Smith).

Iain Dangerfield

It was awesome. Bye bye RFM.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

"160 Characters" video up on Youtube!

Hey all,

So I finally uploaded The Tweeks' new music video, for the song "160 Characters." Mucho credits to Lucinda McConnon (aka The Sneaky Spoon) for having the vision, skills, and bodaciousness to put this business together. Fuckin' tight.

The video was made as part (or full?) of a design paper Lucinda was doing, and was shot over several random mornings (including a 7am start at Rialto - shudder), afternoons, and evenings at a multitude of Dunedin locations. Anyway it's fuckin' awesome. It's on Youtube - sweet. With a bit of hicklety-picklety I'm sure Anthony will be able to link it to our Myspace, and Facebook pages.

Now the question is, can we get it on NZ TV? HAH! Stay posted for the ensuing drama.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Alan Ibell Band, with Tono & The Finance Company and The Biff Merchants

On Saturday I had the honor of performing in the Alan Ibell band. It was a pretty cool evening, featuring Tono & The Finance Company, and The Biff Merchants in support.

The Alan Ibell Band

Both the support bands really played well. The Biff Merchants played in their “quieter” setup, in which Ben (the drummer) plays with a makeshift box thing which has incredible aggressive kick drum sound, just “turned down.” So basically the whole band could just turn down to his level, and they sounded clear, crisp,and tight. The New Main Street Singers from A Mighty Wind would be proud.

Some Biffs earlier in the day

Tono et al played well also, though by this stage I was starting to get distracted by some elements of the cafe's furniture arrangement for live gigs (sorry guys, nothing good for the press kit in here hehe):

Something really needs to be done about the position of the couches, coffee tables, and lunch tables around the bar. The bar is the place I want to hang around (for it's easy access to beer – which is delicious and cheap at Circadian Rhythm), yet it suffers bottlenecking. As everyone standing are squashed to the bar side of the room it's difficult to see the band if your a few people back from the front “row.” However I don't really know if there's anywhere to really put any of the furniture in that building, and I'm sure that the owners make much better money off running the place as a restaurant rather than a venue.

If I was smart I would have taken photos of this. Sorry.

Anyway that was really a minor annoyance given the quality of the music and the great people at the gig. I really enjoyed the company of the people involved with the evening, with extra-curricular highlights including a late night business meeting in the nearby alleyway, and Tono getting Logan to by him a “bottle of red” at 3am. I saw him 10 hours later, and it wasn't a happy sight.

The Finance Company

In other news I sent off my Working Holiday Visa application to the British High Commission today (530 something dollars later). Hopefully they don't think I'm a security threat, and grant me 2 years access to their country.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The Tweeks in Queenstown

Last night it was The Tweeks' turn to play at The Dux De Lux in Queenstown. It was a reasonably low-key affair, with a relatively chilled out crowd. We have realised that this is pretty much the best result for gigs in Queenstown. We got to go through our set without heckling from country yokels or drunken tourists, while quietly powering through our bar rider.

As The Tweeks Ltd is in a reasonable amount of financial bother at the moment (or “in the shit"), we opted to save on costs and did the gig without a support band. This meant that in order to fill out the evening we had to whip out some older songs, and a few covers. While it was quite funny to subject the audience to an unrehearsed version of “I Don't Care” by The Ramones, performing songs from our back catalogue can cause some unwanted self-reflection on the bands progress, especially while onstage. Some of the songs we played last night were 6 years old (written whilst in 2nd year in the contemporary rock paper), and performing them alongside some of our newest stuff highlighted how much the band had changed since then. I could bore you with details but I won't. Needless to say playing some of the older ones was also quite depressing and added enthusiasm to the band's onstage alcohol abuse.

Anyhow it's 2:40pm, I'm in the Mosgiel Shell station, and I'm playing tonight with the Alan Ibell band. All I can think about are hangover remedies. Do I go for the coffee and nurofen? The jazz cigarette and Wayne's World combo? Maybe the Lucozade and sleeping mask?

Sunday, 13 July 2008

The Wicks and Sunset Cinema Tour July

So this weekend I did sound in Dunedin, Queenstown, and Christchurch for The Wicks, Sunset Cinema, Bang! Bang! Eche! and Oh My Golly! It was rather timely as I needed to get to Christchuch anyway to give the British Consulate my “biometric” information (fingerprints and photo) for my working holiday visa for the UK. More on that another time, but yes I'm moving away on the 16th of October to London.

I originally was just going to mix my mates band Sunset Cinema (Matt Brook, DJ Champion, Samdrub Dawa, Lee Nicholson, and Will Jensen) in return for free travel, but it turned out that the Wicks hadn't organised anyone to do sound for them so I ended up getting paid to do the whole lot. Brilliant.

But yea the first show was at The Backstage, which featured a reasonable turnout for a Wednesday night (competing with The Taliband at pint night at Refuel). It was advertised as having half-priced drinks but it appeared no-one in the staff working that night knew about it so naturally people (on both sides of the bar) were disgruntled (I hear however that from now on it will always be half-priced drinks on Wednesdays there). Anyway it was On My Golly!'s first ever show, and they received encouraging support from the audience. Good on 'em. However from a soundperson's point of view I really don't like the whole laptop/midi keyboard thing unless it's done properly (Oh My Golly! and Sunset Cinema were both guilty of this). The factory sound output of a laptop is terrible – buzzing, instability, etc etc. Oh yea and it takes Adam from Oh My Golly!'s laptop about 10 minutes to boot up.

The next day we boosted to Queenstown and setup at The Dux. The Dux is a pretty sweet place to play. They provide you with a reasonable guarantee, a good small vocal PA, and a meal and a few beers. Often crowds can be pretty disinterested and sparse, but hey that's what rural gigs are like. One thing to look out for is while Caleb Finn is enthusiastic and genuine, he can be prone to double booking bands, so when booking there you have to make sure stuff is all confirmed through emails to be safe.

Anyways the gig went well, the PA worked fine, and afterwards Matt and I stayed at DJ's parents place, which features an awesome outdoor spa. Needless so say we enjoyed a (NOT GAY) naked spa at 1:00am. Perfect.

Sunset Cinema performing at the Dux

The next day me and Matt got up really early (7:30am) and started the drive to Christchurch. It's a pretty freakin' long drive (6-7 hours), and we had to be in the square at 3:20pm to make our appointments at the British Consolute. The drive was reasonably pleasant – I spent most of the time on my computer doing my freakin' tax return. Anyways we arrived safely, did the visa stuff, and then met up with The Wicks at The Dux in Christchurch for soundcheck.

The Dux in Christchurch is a sweet venue for small bands. You get a good guarantee (which is a rarity in main centres), and a small rider. Anyways we hurriedly soundchecked (the Dux is in a residential zone, and therefore has very strict times when bands can soundcheck and play). The system sounded fine on first listen, a few channels weren't working, though this is normal for NZ club systems so I wasn't too worried.

When it came to the gig I realised why engineers that do sound for my bands when we play through here complain about the system... Once there are a few people in the room, and the band is charging, it starts sounding pretty boxy, and is underpowered. The venue has the main PA settings locked so you can't fiddle with it (which is probably good for the overall safety of the system in the hands of inexperienced operators).

Otherwise the gig went reasonably smoothly, with all the bands putting on energetic shows, and the mid-sized crowd being enthusiastic. After the Sunset Cinema guys and myself said our goodbyes to The Wicks, then did the usual supermarket beer mission and faffed around at Will's girlfriend's (Helen) parent's place. Awesome.

So all in all a relaxed, reasonably well organised tour. Cheers to all the guys from The Wicks and Sunset Cinema for having me along. I'll post some pics up once I get my (parents) camera out of DJ's car.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Coughing and gagging on vomit

Yesterday I sent one of these in. You must by now know that I hate doing this shit.

It is a funding application for the NZONAIR "New Recording Artist" scheme. New artists are meant to send in a demo, and then they might pick you and give you $5K to record it, and another $5K to make a video. So I did what most other bands do, take an already professionally mixed song (in this case "Happened Before" by The Tweeks), muted the echo effect, spring reverb, close drum mics, etc, to "downgrade" the song to "demo" quality.

Maybe we'll get a return on our investment.

By the way, speaking of investment, did you know that Liam Finn recieved both a video grant, and a radio hits rebate last year? So I paid tax so that one of the most priviledged under-30's in the music industry in New Zealand could get more money!!

Yes that's right, the same Liam Finn who recorded his record in his father's million-dollar studio Roundhead

For free.

I don't think that Liam Finn really needs a 5K video grant, or a rebate on recording costs for his music. Does he? Surely his father could dip into the cash that stuff his pillows that he sleeps on every night for that money? (I love the idea of Neil Finn dozing off to sleep on a pillowcase of money humming "don't dream it's over," don't you?)

Doesn't it seem a little bit silly?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Betchadupa, and Liam Finn's solo stuff. I really dig his shiz. Really dig it. But seriously whoever from his management/label/whatever made the desicion to go for that funding must be really fuckin greedy. That's bollocks.

And to the Finn's: Please don't get angry with this post and try to destroy my fragile music career! I really like your fam's music! Please don't hurt me!

Friday, 4 July 2008

I feel sick in my mouth

So the other day I filled out some of these forms:

Yep, to some in the "industry," they'll be familiar. They're video funding application forms for NZONAIR. Every couple of months most bands in the country go through with this ritual of picking their most "tv-friendly" track, burning it to a CD, and sending it in to NZONAIR, and after a couple of months find out (via the kiwihits website) that they didn't get any funding for their music video.

Well, at least, that's my experience. I've been doing it since 2002. Why do I still do it? I don't usually actually.. I stopped throwing CDs, printer paper, and envelopes out (well effectively anyway) a year ago. I found the exercise to be pretty much pointless. That was until this band got funding for their wicked song "Love and Economics." Awesome huh?

Now I'm usually one to be against shit like NZONAIR music video, album, and new release funding. They've got a bad track record of giving money to (major) signed bands with poor songs, staying power, interest, x-factor. What really fucks me off is that many of these bands actually don't need any extra cash to help them make a music video... They're signed to majors who think their 3-day-old manties are the business. Let's look at some questionable desicions.

Goodnight Nurse Hard To Watch You Go

Mushroom Records
Shihad Rule The World Warner Music
Elemeno P Loaded Gun Universal Music

I mean seriously - c'mon! These are bands who have sold shitloads of CDs in NZ. They don't need 5K to help them make a video!! What is up with that? And then there's the argument that none of these bands (and there are many more) have actually managed to make any serious dints outside of their home territorys, propably because the music they make is just a shit copy of overseas mainstream stuff.

Another thing I have against all this carryon as well is the amount of money been thrown around. I think it's too much.
"What?" you cry, "5k is a bare bones recording budget - I'd have to get volunteers, skimp out of lighting, minimise rehearsal, get moonlight editing rates, and I won't be able to get the good Auckland coke that I know the director likes." Well for the bands I hang around with down here in filthy old Dunedin, we do videos for less than 1K most of the time, record albums (including mastering) for around 2-3K, and tour NZ on 1K (if it's a real blowout).

Now that I think about it - 5K would be the perfect package for a Dunedin band. With that you could record an album, do a video, and have enough money afterwards to do a radio campaign.

Am I crazy? Or is the world crazy? Ahhh anyway congratulations to Tono! I think they're thinking of touring Oz or something with that cash or something. Awesome. Never fear I'll let you know what they think of my applications (did you like the printed out CD-R? It's the first time I've ever done that for NZONAIR.... Maybe I've got a shot after all... Probably not).