Out & About With Dave Adair
Out & About With Dave Adair
Dave Adair’s been a busy boy about town again this issue, checking out The Morning After Girls, Brakes & The Rifles on your behalf:
The Morning After GirlsSacha Lucashenko - voice/guitars
Anton Jakoovjevic - percussion
Aimee Nash - voice/guitars/keys/percussion
Scott Von Ryper - bass/voice
Martin B. Sleeman - voice/guitars
“We want people to have experienced every emotion you can possibly feel. That you’ve witnessed something, not that you’ve seen a band like the other one you saw in a pub last night. We come from a background of creative experience and we want to convey that to our audience.”
Welcome, my friends, to the deep, reflective and mysterious world of the Melbourne founded, Sydney based quintet, The Morning After Girls. They are fresh from a European tour with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and sit in a floor throbbing Kebab House above the Roadhouse in Manchester, soon to be the scene of their slot in support of Stellastarr. Stored safely in their arsenal is the ‘power rocking with a bluesy push’ of ‘Run For Our Lives’. A longing and forceful feel hangs off this number like groupies dangle from the sleeves of Peter Doherty. It feels like a cathartically therapeutic number to perform - it certainly is to listen to:
“That song pretty much scales all the contradictory things you ponder when you are deciding upon anything in life. You think you have a solution sorted - then you feel trapped again. When you play it live every night you are resurrecting the feeling you possessed when you penned it. It is nice to be mindful of how past experiences intertwine with how you feel now.”
Live shows that have earned them comparisons to My Blood Valentine, The Pixies, Jesus & Mary Chain and for me, anyway, Sonic Youth - seem to vary each evening. The reason for this dynamism is:
“We vary the set list each night depending on our mood and the mood we perceive the crowd to be in. Sometimes we don’t decide what to play until the crowd starts filing in. That way we try and get a feel for what they want and how they are feeling. Sometimes you just feel like taking it easy and wallowing in the melodies - other times you feel like producing an onslaught.”
The dynamics of the band are intriguing - their occasional four-pronged vocal attack must take some orchestrating and result in some creative squabbling:
“Everyone has a common vision, so if you are mature enough to deal with it then differences are not an issue. It’s like marriage: how do some people couples stay together for 42 years and others for 2? It’s all about respect - so if you have that then you can’t go far wrong.”
Some music commentators have implied that the band’s music and their stance stems from a feeling of not fitting in:
“A lot more people will identify with not fitting in than you might think. Everyone, at one point or other in their lives, will feel alone. There’s a multitude of artists who feel like they don’t fit in.”
On a similar theme, is there a message for those still purchasing Limp Bizkit, Good Charlotte and The Darkness albums?
“Listen to The Morning After Girls.”
“Hold on, does that mean I am saying that we sound like those bands?”
You would only have to listen to The Morning After Girls for five seconds to realise that this is definitely not the case.
I am soon witnessing four guys and one gal crammed onto the cosy stage at The Roadhouse, relaxed and brooding their way into the atmospheric and slightly spacey build up to ‘Corrupted’. Martin B. Sleaman’s dusty vocals settle in quickly to create a mysterious and roving opener. The forcefully bolting rant of ‘High Skies’ catches the attention of onlookers. These enigmatic Antipodeans seem to have spookily second-guessed the mood of the crowd again tonight, choosing material from their more ardent range that incorporates ‘Who Is Gay’. Maybe, they will have to wait until they play somewhere like Cambridge in order to be able to wallow in the melodies?
Brakes – Manchester Academy 1Brakes started life as Eamon Hamilton’s (of British Sea Power fame and quirkiness) outlet for his rustic brand of poetic, acoustic artistry. Now, as he lounges on a kitsch sofa in the cosy dressing room of Manchester’s Academy 1 before his band’s support slot for The Editors, he finds that his combo have now crystallised into a trouper-group - as opposed to one of those style over substance super-groups. Comrades Alex and Tom White (Electric Soft Parade) and Marc Beatty (Tenderfoot) have duly:
“Fleshed out the sound and done amazing things with it.”
Success and recognition - gained via the uber-rocking single ‘All Night Disco Party’ and the 16 tracks in 29 minutes debut album ‘Give Blood’ - a whirlwind of free spirited empirical rock with a Johnny Cash country nod and wink - has come at no small cost:
“I have had to leave British Sea Power. Brakes were offered the Belle and Sebastian tour and this current one - as well as a tour of the USA around the Austin area. I just couldn’t dedicate the time to both groups anymore.”
Eamon’s demeanour is relaxed and it’s evident that he is relishing the task of becoming established all over again - not to mention being a support band once more - something that seems to suit Brakes’ sucker punch style:
“Yeah, I like winning an audience over who are there predominantly to watch someone else. It’s like flirting with the Bank Manager’s wife! We went down well with Belle and Sebastian’s fans and with The Editor’s lot so far. It’s enjoyable.”
This leads me to wonder what sort of impression he wished to create with Brakes?
“Hhhmmmm - I’m not sure what impression we wish to create.”
Ok, let’s tilt it in another direction then, what are the aims and objectives of the collective?
“To take the songs I’ve written and play them as loudly as possible. We have all been mates for years and have a great deal of respect for each other - so we just wish to continue in the vein in which we started.”
This inevitably leads me to get the amiable artist to divulge how Brakes resolve creative differences - given the fact that the band is comprised of highly creative musos with their own way of getting the job done:
“With fists mainly - or whisky and beer is a good cure also.”
It is clear that I am talking to someone with a poetic mind – so - what forms the poetic base from which his song writing springs?
“I love Blake and Wordsworth, though I wouldn’t perform poetry live. I don’t like my speaking voice, I prefer my singing one.”
In this digital and slightly lazy age, hype is all round us - no matter where we look. I am interested to see if Eamon feels that we rely too much on tastemakers in both the USA and the UK?
“Tastemakers are like the man from Del Monte - they pick the bands and say yes. Everyone has freewill - it is just a shame that the tastemakers don’t have better taste.”
Eamon scoots off to sound-check and I take my place to watch. I notice that eight other people are gathered. The scene brings back memories of my first British Sea Power gig - but Eamon and his amigos still throw everything into it - despite the meagre gathering.
The sound-check itself is usually utilised by bands to perform a snippet of their songs and get the vibe right. However, with these guys - some of whose songs are merely thirty seconds long - a mini-set ensues. Brakes are a sound engineer’s dream - their musical craft and professionalism mean that their tango effect rock with a country blues spice is always in great working order.
Eamon returns buzzing, enquiring:
“Is there a bowling Alley around here?”
Oh yeah, is this a band secret?
“Yeah, it gets us in the mood - I usually get two strikes a game.”
Although he is clearly in love with his art form would he change anything about the modern music industry if he had the opportunity?
“Erm, I dunno. I wish British promoters would treat you better. I mean, in Europe they treat you so well. They give bands a cooked meal at venues - but it’s nothing like that here.”
I wrap my enquiries up by asking Eamon the last show he attended as a mere spectator - and whether going to a gig is like doing homework? Does he compare notes on the band or artist’s performance?
“No, I don’t make any notes. I usually drink beer and just enjoy the experience. The last act I saw was Suburban Kids with Biblical Names. They are a Swedish folk/pop suburban act and were very good.”
Before long Brakes appear before my eyes in a now heaving Academy. The brazen sub one-minute post-rock-whirlpool of ‘Pick Up The Phone’ has those gathered to witness songs built like houses a little perplexed at first but they soon open their minds to the crashing sounds all around. The instrumental dexterity on offer during in the marathon ‘All Night Disco Party’ sees chugging baselines (Mark) and grinding guitars (Tom) craft the perfect forum for the diminutive Michael Stipe-esque Eamon to gush out his gruff, cosmopolitan vocals. The four-second beast that is ‘Comma, Comma, Comma Full Stop’ signals the end of a forceful and flying set. The Brakes are well and truly off.
The Rifles - Manchester RoadhouseI arrive as Brighton’s Upper Room deliver a relaxed & breezy set. Singer Alex Miller displays searching indie-soulfulness as throws his post-mod voice clearly around the swelling crowd on the back of the bruising lyrics to ‘All Over This Town’. It is no surprise that they busted the top 40 with this effort recently - the number gains even more striking sincerity in a live setting - the lamenting of small town attitudes being something that many people present connect with. ‘Black & White’ closes a brisk set and is packed with poetic honesty and sweeping guitar hooks - ensuring that The Upper Room will be visited again by those with an eye for a searching melody.
That hype machine must be over due a re-oiling soon. It’s been hard at work once again! A vast majority of this sold out crowd are like Big Brother fans at eviction time for the arrival of Sheffield’s latest indie darlings - Milburn. Their set starts off with some swirling power-skiffle before descending into a post-mod rock out that is best encapsulated by ‘Send In The Boys’ and ‘Storm In A Teacup’. These two numbers have much in common with another band from Sheffield whom we have heard a great deal about of late. The exuberance of one member of the crowd who clambers an overhead pipe and makes several trips to the stage is too much for the security and he is unceremoniously escorted from the venue - despite a mid-song (and in tune!) cry of - “leave him alone” - from front man Joe Carnall. Milburn’s swaggering musical style and friendly crowd banter certainly made for a carefree forty minutes.
It took a little time for London’s Rifles to get used to the fact that their sold out gig is now around two thirds full - but the scattered crowd soon hook up to a sound that pivots between Hard-Fi and The Jam. Latest single ‘Repeated Offender’ - and previous single ‘Local Boy’ - stand out for their hard hitting urbane nature - and has those with a penchant for raw, retro sounds fully satiated. Lead Rifle Joel Stoker does his utmost to resurrect the lively spirit and his gritty vocal assault makes the punk shaded ‘Fat Cat’ a gripping spectacle to witness. The Rifles have the sound and lyrical skill that everyone hoped The Ordinary Boys would have achieved. Let’s just hope that Joel manages to avoid the lure of Big Brother and concentrates on building from Rifles already punchy and provocative base.
Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06
And also: www.sonymusic.co.uk
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