Duane Smith (The Chevelles)
Interview by Leo Abbs
Things may have appeared to have slowed down in the last few years for local Power Pop band The Chevelles, with it being 12 months since they last played live. However, it’s not necessarily the case with a new worldwide deal being signed with US Label Wicked Cool Records. Their first release through the label being a Chevelles retrospective in 2008 followed by the band’s first album since 2002’s ‘Girl God’, called ‘Accelerator’.
Perth Sounds caught with Duane Smith to find out more about the new deal, and a little about the Chevelles history.
The band has been around for 18 years, and have ventured out to Europe on numerous occasions, also the US and Brazil. Smith said that the biggest success hasn’t actually come in Australia, but in Brazil.
‘Probably Brazil where we sold most records, we had a record deal out there. We sold two thousand copies originally. We sold quite a few records in the mid nineties. Then we got invited back each year to do some shows and play some really big festivals.We went over as part of the Australian surf music festival in Brazil with Yothu Yindi, Gangjagang and Spy Vs Spy and we toured around and played to 30,000 people on the beach, and other big festivals and our own shows with between 2 and 5,000 capacity. That was probably the biggest market we got into. The main areas where we sold records were Spain and Brazil.’
Spain was the first country where The Chevelles travelled to out of Australia in 1991. Smith recalls it was a chance meeting at a gig in Sydney, which opened the door for the band to expand overseas.
‘There’s a funny story about that. We were playing a ‘Rock Against Work’ which is an afternoon gig on a Thursday at the Hopetoun in Sydney and these Spanish guys came up and said ‘Do you want to play (in) Spain? You’re quite big in Majorca, there’s a big festival there do you want to play?’ We built a 42 date European tour around those gigs.’
So what’s it like when a little Perth band, and you get popular on the other side of the world and you come back and play the Amplifier Bar?
‘We are all pretty realists, we’ve been doing it for a long time now. We were the next big thing on triple J in the early 90s and we were getting flogged by Triple J, and doing sizable tours and playing big crowds here. We found other countries to go to, there’s never really been a lull. And there was always somewhere to go. If we are playing to 50 people at a bar somewhere, it’s still rock’n’roll.’
One thing that Smith has noticed, is that after being around for nearly two decades, is that bands have started naming his band as an influence.
‘We’re 18 years old now, and In the past few years, a lot of bands are getting myspaces and putting us and other bands as influences. It’s like we get underground and cult status in pockets all over the places. It feels good and keeps us going again.’
After the Amplifier show, it will be time for an extensive overseas tour for the group, with fellow Perth band Gigantic.
‘Gigantic are going as well. They’re doing the whole leg with us, it’s part of Artswa mentoring grant, where the old blokes take young blokes on tour. (We’re) going to Sweden, London, and Switzerland, then 2 weeks in Spain. New York, South By South West in Austin, Texas, we’re doing 3 shows there and San Francisco and San Diego.’
With the band preparing for a new record deal and (another) world tour, it appears exciting times are ahead for The Chevelles.
The Surfin’ Santa Christmas Show
Friday 21st December 2007
With Jack And The Beanstalk and The Smokin’ Eldorados
Natalie D-Napoleon – After the Flood
Review by Danielle Hanrahan
You don’t hear much country music in Perth, so you wouldn’t ever expect to hear a Perth musician singing country tunes. Perth singer/songwriter Natalie D-Napoleon is changing the local view on this, with her achingly pure and passionate solo release, ‘After the Flood.’
The title track, ‘After the Flood’ has a sound reminiscent of Faith Hill, with lyrics that speak from heartfelt human experiences. D-Napoleon’s voice enchants the listener from the beginning, making anyone who isn’t a fan of country normally, to review their standing. The alternative-country sound of D-Napoleon brings a raw, young and uplifting voice in a music genre that seems to have fallen stale within Australia and Western Australia.
‘Slow Burn’ reinforces the nature of the five-track EP with its painful, soaring vocals that seem to stop the listener from whatever they are doing and to completely give themselves to the stories D-Napoleon weaves through her lyrics. D-Napoleon seems to have cleansed her soul through this EP and which audiences can feel through her beautifully married guitar, vocals and lyrics.
After being introduced to a steel, string guitar at the age of 15 has developed into a love affair which never breaks and one which D-Napoleon has learnt on after her own heartbreak, using their experience to both develop as a person and an artist. Launching her musical career in Bloom, an alternative-rock group, D-Napoleon has branched out on her own with ‘After the Flood’ and will continue to do so in the future.
‘Kid Gloves’ reinforces D-Napoleon’s masterful take on country music from a Western Australian young woman with a Croatian background point of view and it is this different sound of country which makes D-Napoleon truly magnificent in producing this sort of sound. D-Napoleon ends the ep with ‘How The World Works,’ a truly uplifting tale which makes the vocals of D-Napoleon which is sure to be carried from anywhere in the world thoroughly stuck in your mind that one play to this EP is not enough. An offering of passionate feelings and human experiences brought through the endearing nature of how D-Napoleon delivers each of her songs as well as her haunting voice.
‘After the Flood’ is a beautifully beguiling solo debut from Natalie D-Napoleon, who has directly changed the face of country music. With a mix of passionate lyrics, delivered with an enchanting voice, that makes this EP a small token of what this artist can do and which we hope to have more of in the future.
Natalie D-Napoleon on myspace
This gig was a special treat.
Being able to see one of the best slide guitarists in the world, at a fantastic outdoors venue – the inner courtyard at the Fremantle Arts Centre.
Tonight was the first in a series called The Sonic Sessions. First I must tell you all, that doors open at 7, and it starts at 8pm on the dot. Don’t make the same mistake we did of thinking it would start later, like we did.
Dave Hole was sitting on a chair on stage, holding his fender guitar, being asked questions by Lucky Oceans. After a while he opened the questions up to the audience.
‘What’s your favourite music to play?’ was an early question.
‘Blues?’ He replied, confused by such an obvious question.
When you hear Hole play, it’s obvious he’s in love with the blues. Which he did very soon after. Watching this man play, is quite mind blowing. I’ve seen plenty of talented people play slide guitar in the last few years – John Butler, Jeff Lang, Dave Mann…and none come close to watch Hole let rip with his unorthodox slide technique.
A more interesting question was ‘What did you study?” obviously a guy thinking he studied music, and Hole replied
“Physics. You need to know a lot about physics to play guitar.’
As for guitar questions, we learnt that Hole uses open tunings (which is common for slide guitar) and his favourite is Open D.
Dave Is a seriously amazing musician. Any fan of the blues or guitar playing, should check out this guy next time he’s in Perth.
Wormhole / Tangled Thoughts of Leaving / The Wilderness / Sans Sangria
Railway Hotel (44 Tydeman Rd, North Fremantle)
Friday 30th November 2007
Review by Leo Abbs
The Railway Hotel is the latest venue to give original music a go, and it certainly has a lot of potential. It has a fantastic indoor band room with good viewing capacity, a large stage, comfy chairs and also an outdoor stage. Tonight’s show was inside, but I’m told the outside area is used regularly as well.
Sans Sangria were first up to bat tonight, and they were late to start, due to their drummer, which cut their set short. Which was a shame as their set proved to be quite interesting. Early on, they played some of Graham’s Knapp more country flavoured tunes, with the band filling out the sound, in a refreshing and original way. Later in the set, it was apparent Knapp has a love of Radiohead, with some similar styled vocals.
Overall this band tended to lean towards experimental pop/rock or Post-Rock, and they weren’t afraid of trying different ideas, with hints of hip-hop in the vocal delivery in one song. They also ended with with Graham swapping instruments with the bass player, Justin, who lead the band through an instrumental.
The Wilderness were the most conventional band on the lineup today – but in no way were they boring. They play rock’n’roll that has a blues element and is heavily driven by the organ. At times the organ reminded me of the Doors. After seeing them do well in the Campus Bands, it was nice to be able to see them again.
Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving or (TTOL for short) were amazing. They are a unique beast in this town, there’s no one quite like them. They play crazy progressive rock, led by some amazing piano playing. It’s been almost a year since I last these guys, but they blew me away tonight. Playing only 4 songs in a 40 minute set, their musicianship was top notch, with Aaron on Synthezier sounding brilliant. There were less vocals this time, obviously they are leaning towards a more instrumental side, not they had much singing in the first place…
Playing after TTOL, Wormhole always were going to find it hard. However it was there gig, so they had a decent crowd, not huge, but enough friends to make it worthwhile. On CD, Wormhole come across as more orchestral and classical, but tonight they definitely sounded like a 70s Prog Rock band. They’ve added a keyboard player to the lineup, but he was drowned out in the mix, and with their excellent guitar harmonies, you almost wonder why they’ve needed the keys. They played along to the a projector screen, but from my seat towards the back of the room, the screen was partly hidden as it was displayed at the side of the stage.
Overall, a solid night’s worth of music and it appears we have a bloody good venue on our hands. Check out a gig at the Railway soon. Recommended!
College Fall have recently returned from their second European tour, this time taking in UK, Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The reason for this trip was to tour their debut album ‘Eleven Letters’, which has been released in Finland the UK. Perth Sounds caught up with Glenn Musto (singer/guitarist) over lunch in the city recently to find out more about the band’s European travels.
‘Our album is called ‘Eleven Letters’, which just got released in the UK as we arrived, and Finland. We went over to launch that and do a tour, and expand ourselves in Italy and a couple of other places’
Starting off in a country where they’d never played before, turned out to be a great way to start the trip. They were chosen to play a festival in Italy (where Jodie and Simon Bartlett from College Fall have family) in a village that was thousands of years old.
‘Italy was a highlight because we played one show at a town festival, which was just massive, and in beautiful surroundings in a village, that was over a ten thousand years old, and that village was a backdrop. We were treated really well and it was such an event for those people to have a band from Australia.
They’ve had a festival there for 12 years, and we were the first band from overseas, let alone from so far away and we were treated like royalty.’
The success of the first European tour was evident when the contacts they made in 2006, meant they had record companies ready to release the record in 2007. Of the two counties (UK and Finland), Musto said the latter was the best.
‘The Other highlight was definitely Finland. The record label that put out our album were really good. We played 6 shows and I think five of them sold out. We hooked up with the right people, who had a real love for the music we were doing, got what we were about and booked us the right shows as well.’
Tampere, Turku, Jyvaskyla and Helsinki were the four Finnish towns College Fall played in. they were university towns and the response to the band’s music was quite flattering for the band. Once again, the success in Finland was built through the previous tour. Once interesting thing Musto notes, is that live music in Scandinavia ceases over summer.
‘It was the start of the season, because they (pubs and promoters) shut their music down over summer.
In most of Scandinavia, the pubs and promoters do, because most people are on holiday. Uni towns (in summer) don’t have as many people.
Talking to Musto, he seemed to love Finland and they’ll definitely be heading back. He mentioned how much they love music there and it’s not just the love of metal which is well known, in fact the alternative indie pop music scene is thriving, which suits a band like College Fall well.
‘Finland has a history of being big in metal, but they are huge music fans. I read recently that Finland has more bands per capita, than any country in the world. Probably because it’s so cold, what else are you going to do? People do indoor activities. So many bands and so many bands that love pop music.’
Back in Australia, College Fall barely took time to rest, before playing their first shows, heading to the north of WA, to play Kununurra. An unusual place to play, but once again Musto was enthusiastic.
‘It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s like nowhere else in Australia.’
He talked a little more about the trip up there, saying they played six shows over ten days in the main pub to packed crowds, proving once again, there’s plenty of opportunities for local bands outside of Perth. Finally he added, ‘As a band, as people, we’re not interested in doing the same old thing.’
College Fall play their return show in Perth, Sunday December 2nd at The Paddington Ale House in Mt Hawthorn. Doors open 6pm with support from Adem K (Burton Cool Suit)
For other tour dates visit College Fall’s webspage at www.collegefall.com (.)