Interview: Coen Ayres
Photo: Tim Kelly
Whether if it’s a late night on the drinks after the set of your favourite band or just casual banter at the park, the sentence “You know what’d be pretty cool guys….what if we started a band” is something that yourself or another member of your friend circle has definitely come to say. For the self-proclaimed “weirdos” of the Illawarra, The Pinheads, a weekly ritual of pizza and bowling in Northern Illawarra sparked not just a nationally respected rock n roll band, but now alongside their record label, The Farmer and the Owl, they have helped curate a massive line-up for the upcoming Wollongong Farmer and the Owl music festival. I talked to the Bassist of the band, Tanya Avanus about what could be their biggest year yet.
Hey Tanya, so whats going on? Seems like you guys have a big year coming up.
Yeah a massive year planned out, we’re all very excited.
With such a big year to come, when you look back at the days of hanging out at the bowling alley, did you ever believe this idea that you would not just be touring nationally but helping with the making of a festival?
Well why the idea of forming a band wasn’t ever really a joke between us the idea itself was something we never thought we were going to take seriously. The only reason we really formed was because two members of our band were brothers and they had a free house for a couple of weeks while their parents weren’t home. It wasn’t till we got booked randomly to play a gig for Straight Arrows where we had to ask ourselves “what are we doing?” and “what is going on?”, but after that we decided that maybe it was time to start playing better hahaha. Never in our lives did I think we were going to be travelling overseas and curating a festival. We’re very grateful for all of this.
So you guy are back on the road for what seems like a massive national tour for your new seven inch record. How’s it all looking for you all?
Yeah, well we’re going on a massive tour, it's actually the first time we’ve ever hit the west coast and Tassie before, as well as some regional locations we haven’t been to in a long time so we’re very excited.
What are you personally looking most forward to?
Mostly I’m just looking to spread the love across the nation hahaha. I’m keen to play down at The Brisbane Hotel in Tassie though, I’ve heard it’s a real rite of passage and some of my favourite bands have played down that way.
The tour wraps up in your home town of Wollongong for the Farmer and the Owl Festival that you guys helped curate alongside other bands such as Hockey Dad, how did you get involved in all of it?
The whole idea kind of started out as a joke. Band members and team members from the record label were all in a big group chat and essentially just a big ‘what if’ came up asking what would happen if we were to curate our own music festival and of course we all thought that would be awesome. From then we all just started to throw names out there like what if we had this artist and this artist and eventually after a lot of dwindling down, we got our final line up.
Something that I’ve found which is really cool about the lineup and the social media build up, is that you’re trying to do a different kind of festival with plenty of artist who all do very diverse styles of music. Why did you guys come to that decision?
We really felt the need to do something different. Time and time again we see music festivals trying to cater to one specific music genre and in doing so doesn’t garner enough interest from everyone to go see. So, with the Farmer and the Owl festival we really think we’ve got a lineup for everybody. We also want people to come who may not know every artist on the lineup in the hopes of finding some new music that they may like.
With such a stacked international and national lineup, who are you most excited to see?
We use to tour with Amyl and the Sniffers before they got massive so to see those guys again and how far they’ve come is going to be cool.
So with already a killer start to the year, how are you guys gonna keep riding the high you’ve created for the rest of the year?
Well in March we’re heading to Austin, Texas for SXSW which is super exciting and something which Is something myself and all bands I reckon dream to do someday. After that we’re heading back into the Pinshed Sound Laboratory (Pinheads recording studio) to finish off the recording of our second album and finally we would love to head back to Europe but we will just have to wait and see on that one.
As experimental punk rockers RACKETT prepare to kick off the 'READY OR NOT' EP tour, front-woman, Bec takes time to have a chat about performing, new music and gig culture.
BLUNTFORCE: It's been a fast rise for RACKETT. What has been the biggest is this really happening moment?
Bec: I'd have to say touring with The Darkness.
BLUNTFORCE: That is pretty cool!
Bec: Yeah! Yeah I mean, I listened to their music growing up, so it breaks down the boundaries between fantasy and reality.
BLUNTFORCE: I suppose there's always the risk when you meet those kinds of people; you build them up to a certain level. It can be quite hard for them to live up to that.
Bec: I don't know so much that it's hard for them to live up to it, as much as it's hard for me to just be myself. I start acting; I reduce the possibility of a connection, a genuine connection because I'm so starstruck I sabotage that. My natural reaction to feeling starstruck is to play cool and I usually 'over cool-it' to the point that I sabotage those connections most of the time. I'm working on it.
BLUNTFORCE: I understand what you're saying but you portray such a confident figure on stage. From the Electric Lady (Bec shaves her head mid-set) set to Miss Peaches, not only did you guys take - yourself, in particular - take control of what is a tiny stage but crowd participation was compulsory. You aren't afraid to get up close and personal with someone in the crowd and that's not something you see very often. Is that stage confidence something that comes naturally?
Bec: I have been onstage since I was two, so being on stage is just like, normal to me. I have been training all my life to get to that point. I grow in discomfort, that's when I learn the most - when my boundaries are broadened.
BLUNTFORCE: There is a tendency for a lot of crowds to just stand there and watch with folding arms sometimes. Does that make it harder for you guys to play or you really don't care, you're just got to break that barrier down?
Bec: A performance is a two-way street. If the crowd is not willing to give up their dignity and give into the moment, then it makes me more outrageous.
BLUNTFORCE: You've got a pretty full schedule coming up. A tour off the back of the EP, supporting Killing Heidi through October / November, it's very much full steam ahead. Is there going to be a break insight for you guys where you can regroup and see what your direction's going to be or you're just going flat stick for as long as you can?
Bec: We have gone full-on since day one and that's not gonna stop. After the tour, we will focus our attention on recording and curating a new show.
BLUNTFORCE: Is that something you'll be looking at bringing out sometime early 2018?
Bec: We strive to deliver new material to our fans, and with their support (buying our music, coming to shows), we will be able to continue to do that.
BLUNTFORCE: Did you get to see many bands on the Crawl?
BLUNTFORCE: I did notice that there are quite different crowds between venues and the bands that are playing. At last years Crawl, the Botany View was shut down. The crowd was very young, very amped and there were some issues between a member of a pretty popular band that loves getting loose and security and it got out of hand.
Bec: I guess you attract a certain type of crowd and behaviour based on the message you're sending in your music.
BLUNTFORCE: Do you feel like an outsider when you're at these kinds of festivals?
Bec: Prior to and before the show I feel like a disgruntled parent on a moral rampage. I'm there to perform, but these performances are mostly in bars, I find myself at the centre of a drinking culture that I've personally outgrown. Sometimes, I just walk around these festivals picking up rubbish and lecturing punters about self-respect.
- If you're looking for top-notch tunes and a no fucking around, slap you in the face gig - Catch RACKETT debut their EP at YAH YAH'S - MELB 22/09 & THE CHIPPO HOTEL - SYD 23/09 CLICK HERE for tickets. The best thing you'll do this weekend.
by Tim Kelly