Will Wagner Interview

This interview was originally conducted on behalf of and published via Speaker TV and available here 

Following a distant weekender in our mainlands and the lesser loved Tasmania, I found myself tired as I picked up the phone. It was a pleasant morning and an excitement had gotten the better of me, pacing back and forth before picking up the phone. Within three short rings, I was suddenly deep in discussions with Will Wagner; a name practically synonymous with the Melbourne music. Better known as the driving force and vocalist behind The Smith Street Band, Will and friends had recent been packing and traveling across Australia for their St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Discussing plans for the music festival between shows, we found ourselves chatting about life off tour and the overarching sedative powers of FIFA.



So Will, when you’re not on tour what are your typical morning rituals?

Not much really, sort of hang out at home drink a lot of coffee play a lot of guitar, play a lot of video games. Nothing all that interesting when I am not on tour – I probably should get more of a social life but I am usually so fucked from the tour; day to day pretty much is just hanging out with my girlfriend and playing video games.


What are your favourite video games to unwind with?

I play a lot of FIFA – I find it really meditative in a weird way. That and Far Cry.

In the rare amount of downtime you do have, what is your favourite local venue to see bands at?

The Rev or Old Bar. I visit both of those like once a week when I am home. But again neither of them offer FIFA facilities so…

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What is your favourite place to eat when you’re home in Melbourne?

Well, I live in Footscray, so there’s a real population of recent immigrants which means there’s so much good food. I love eating at The Rev they have some really good stuff. Sapa Hills is this really good Vietnamese place in Footscray.  Smith and Daughters and Smith and Deli are two really good places in Fitzroy/Collingwood amidst that area just near Brunswick Street – they’re totally vegan and just incredible places – Smith and Deli opened last year and it’s like a New York style deli that does all vegan food. The first time I went there I bought a sandwich – the buffalo tofu chicken thing while I was doing a seminar thing across the road, and I just sat out the front and ate it and I was like I think I need to go buy this again to eat for dinner it’s so good. The whole aesthetic of the place is just so awesome, they really nailed it.

What are three things you cannot live without?

A guitar nearby at all times, I am quite a fidgety person and it’s pretty much the only thing I can stand still and focus on. Coffee at all times I seem to need like 15 cups to stay alive throughout a day and embarrassingly my Phone; I really like to listen to podcasts it’s another thing I would really struggle with if I wasn’t able to put my headphones in tune everything out and listen to two brattish people talk about soccer for an hour and a half. It calms me down in a way that music kinda doesn’t now. they would be my three things.

“I like listening to something that I have no idea how the fuck they managed to put this beat [and entire track] together…” 

 

Evidentially, some of your Tasmanian fans have likened The Smith Street Band to likes of the Foo Fighters. Who would you identify to be some of your biggest musical influences?

Bruce Springsteen is kinda what made me want to start and Against Me both are probably like the biggest influences on my life and my music – Both bands continue to be amazing and inspiring in so many different ways. I also listen to a lot of hip-hop. I find good hip-hop that’s not just like “I’ve got guns, I’ve got cars.” Good hip-hop that’s got a story to tell is very fascinating, it gives a really cool insight into growing up in an environment where I didn’t grow up in. For this I love artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Run The Jewels – them and Kendrick are like my two favourite things to listen to at the moment. Astronautalis is also great. I find interesting storytelling hip-hop fascinating. I really like listening to that kind of music because I have no idea how it was made – listening to punk rock is sick but you can hear – oh, that’s this kind of guitar and that’s this kind of amp – but I like listening to something that I have no idea how the fuck they managed to put this beat together with this sample from an old soul song and how this old Knarl Rodgers guitar lick. All this stuff that they can smash together to make something so cohesive. 

You were asked to sign a car a while back. What is some of the strangest things fans have asked to have signed?

The car was pretty good, I don’t know it’s always just like t-shirts and ads, I don’t know if anything can quite stick out as much as someone just asking if they can pull their car around the back. I’ve written things on people which they’ve then got tattooed on them which is pretty crazy  Like written things in my handwriting and they’ve then gone the next day and got it tattooed on them which is pretty fucking insane – that would probably be the other thing that stands out.

I remember this one time a girl wanted me to write this big thing on her arm and the only thing we could find was a really big fat sharpie and i felt like I fucked it up- like aw fuck do you want me to do it again like we could wash your arm and start again – then she got it tattooed and it looks cool. It’s always a lot of pressure like halfway through writing something someone’s like I’m going to get this tattooed on me tomorrow, like fuck why didn’t you tell me this beforehand; what if haven’t spelt anything right?

Is there a mental process you go through in the lead up to such intense stints of touring such as your upcoming USA tour?

Not really, there probably should be, but it’s pretty much still just jam continuously. We’re writing a new album at the moment so pretty much every day we’ve been home rehearsing that and rehearsing for Laneway’s set. Trying to write songs for the album, we pretty much just try to do that everyday cause we all kind of organise everything ourselves; we’ll just spend too much time texting each other trying to get all this shit together and sort everything out, but we probably should go on some kinda like spiritual retreat before we go on tour.  You know, not talk to each other for a few days before we spend every single waking second sitting in each others pockets.

With such lyric based music what are your means of countering any writer’s block you may face?

I think sometimes you can write and sometimes you can’t. Like my thing is I try to write every day even if it’s just generic and really crappy dribble – which I am sure some people say abut all my songs, but I try to just get something out every single day just so you have a bit of momentum when you do have a good idea. Once you start saying I can’t write anything you can’t write anything: then you actually can’t write anything. I’ll try and churn out lyrics constantly and then even if I write every day for two weeks and there’s one phrase in there that’s usable then cool; I got something out of that two weeks of writing.

While sometimes you write a song and it’s done in like five minutes – like ‘Surrender’, you know, the songs that got played on the radio that just fell out in 10 minutes –  then you sit there with a guitar and are just like “where the fuck did that come from? Why can’t I do that again?”


What acts are you most excited to catch at Laneway?

Royal Headache and Battles are probably the two bands I am most excited to see but haven’t seen.  Royal Headache are a band I like and have loved since their first record came out; I have never got the chance to see them and they’re supposed to be like phenomenal. I am also looking forward to seeing High Tension and Violent Soho, it’s going to be great to hang with them and watch them all across the country – they’re both some of the loudest, impactful bands in Australia so they’ll both be great to see as well as Fidlar and, of course, Purity Ring.

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“At this point staying sane is pretty much my goal for 2016.”

 

How do you think 2016 will compare to 2015?


I think it will be a bit less hectic, we would have done nearly 200 shows, with lots of big chunks. We’d be on tour for like four months, doing Australia straight into America straight into Europe which was cool but we really needed to take a bit of time away from each other and a bit of time off. We’re just finishing that now and we’re going to try to write, record and release an album hopefully this year- if not at the start of next year.

We’ve got some more Australian and European touring in the pipelines for later in the year but we’re going really try and bunker down for a few months and go somewhere nice and spend a big chunk of time recording – that’s sorta my favourite part of being in a band and is something I’m really looking forward to doing. But yeah, hopefully in 2016 we’ll try to stay chill but knowing us we’ll probably just say yes to everything and end up playing a bunch of shows. At this point staying sane is pretty much my goal for 2016.


And finally – What can fans expect from your new album?

In my head, it’s like heavier and darker, but that’s what everyone says when they’re writing a new album like, “yeah it’s louder heavier and darker than the last one”, and then it sounds the exactly the same, so… probably it will sound exactly the same (laughs). But I don’t know – my goal for the record is that I want extra instrumentation, I want to work with a composer and have songs where it’s like no one in the bands playing and it’s just a string section and piano and work on that kind of dynamic. Just make it a bit more interesting and less like guitar driven by adding bits with string sections and horn sections and orchestras by themselves – knowing us however it will be like ‘Throw Me In The River’ again and hopefully people will like it.

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Jamestown Revival Interview

 

This interview was conducted by Anniemae Goldring on behalf of Speaker TV and was originally published here

Following a hugely successful reception at Out On The Weekend Festival, Jamestown Revival allowed us to pick their brains, talked influences, and what lays ahead for the duo who started as a small town friendship and have gone on to make waves globally.

How did you find the self-recording process?
Making a record on our own was an amazing process.we can’t take all the credit because we have some very talented friends who helped shoulder the load, but it was a family affair that made it special. I think we learned a lot and quickly realized just how much we didn’t really know until we threw ourselves into it. There are a lot of highs and lows that come with recording yourself. It’s liberating to have complete control of the project, but for us, that came with some moments of self-doubt and feeling overwhelmed. Ultimately, it made us be better though and that’s the fun part. It’s like any other DIY project, if you put new hardwood floors in your house it may not be the most polished and professional job, but you’ll be damn proud of the finished project. And that’s the feeling we were chasing.

What piece of advice could you offer to someone who is looking to take the plunge to move from their hometown in the pursuit of their musical aspirations?
There’s no such thing as halfway committing. You are either in and taking all the steps necessary to committing yourself fully, or it’s half-assed and that shows in the long run. Speaking humbly from our experience, it’s the times that are the most uncomfortable that end up yielding the best results. It’s hard to have something to say when you’re fat and happy. it’s also imperative to have goals and tentpoles to strive for and to be revisiting those goals and adjusting them or adding new ones as you move along. As much as people think music is all about being a free spirit, it’s the people who are the most driven that end up succeeding, just like anything else.

In light of Out On The Weekend, who were some of your favorite acts of the weekend?
It’s funny, we had to go to Australia to connect with some really cool bands from America, but we have a great respect everyone both foreign and domestic. I might be tedious to list everyone, so I won’t but It was honestly one of the better festival experiences we had to date. A lot of respect for Love Police putting it all together.

How did you find Australian audiences in comparison to American audiences?
This was our first time in Australia so it was definitely a pioneering effort for us, but I wouldn’t say there are too many differences. If anything, the Australian audience seems to be more attentive and listening than we expected. Which is always a welcome surprise.

What sparked the idea to start Jamestown Revival?
Both Jon and I were looking for a fresh start. We began writing and creating music that was completely new for us and it sparked an idea musically that was very honest and just felt right. So we ran with it!

How does the Australian take on Americana stack up against the real thing?
Not too shabby. We’re really like cousins anyway. I think a lot of what makes up Americana is very much a part of the Australian spirit. At least with the people we encountered anyway.

Who would you identify as your three biggest musical inspirations?
Tough to narrow it down to just three but John Prine, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Willie Nelson have all been very important to us.

Do you think 15 years old you at a ‘Studio Night’ could have ever anticipated where you are today?
This might sound crazy but since we were kids, it has always felt as though if we put our minds together we could accomplish some pretty bizarre shit. That being said, neither one of us could have ever fully imagined being able to play music for a living and having the opportunity to travel half way around the world. We’ve caught some lucky bounces for sure. I always thought “studio night “was just an excuse to hang out, but maybe it has paid dividends after all.

Has there been a stand out moment of your career so far, if so what?
A lot of milestones and great moments. We’re grateful to be paying our bills. Sometimes it’s hard to stop and appreciate everything just because we’re so focused on forwarding momentum. Playing with Merle Haggard was up there for sure.

What lies ahead for Jamestown Revival?
More music, more touring and more stories to tell.

Keep up to date with Jamestown Revival at www.jamestownrevival.com

She Cries Wolf Interview


This interview was originally conducted on behalf of Speaker TV by Anniemae Goldring and was originally published via Speaker Tv and is available here

Ahead of their last run of shows to round out the year alongside Jack The Stripper we sifted through the mind of Luke Harris from fastly emerging Gold Coast band She Cries Wolf.

What inspired the name She Cries Wolf?

We initially named the band She Cries Blood, but Alex didn’t like that – so I changed it to She Cries Wolf. It was fitting, as I had just finished dating a girl who lied so much that when she told me something horrible that had happened to her, I didn’t believe it. Turned out to be true

Who’s your biggest musical influences?

Personally; AFI, Norma Jean, Silverchair, John Lennon and Nirvana.

What is your major driving force as a band?

The driving force is playing fun live shows and inspiring others to create music and perform.

Do you think you have had a defining point as a band so far, if so what was it?

We each have a defining point thus far, I’m sure. For myself, it was definitely the East Coast tour we did in May/June. We definitely stepped things up performance-wise and realising that people from other states backed us was a great feeling.

What has been your favourite gig to play so far and why?

During the May/June tour we played a headlining show at a pub in Toowoomba. The vibe of the night was low and we were nervous setting up. We started playing and instantly the room erupted into flailing bodies – it was so much fun.

‘Goodnight’ is your only entirely clean song on Divorce, what was your main inspiration for creating this track, and is there an artistic reason behind this?

I had initially written that song for a band I was in previously, named Closure. During Divorce’s pre-production phase we realised that the album was 30 odd minutes of aggression and decided to break up the sound with something different. In doing this, we felt it created a better listening experience.

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What was your creative process going into the creation of ‘Chapter II’ and how was this similar/different to other tracks such as ‘Fixtures’?

The process was much the same. Kyal and I didn’t stop writing after Divorce. We spend a lot of time outside of shows, work, life etc. working on new material in his bedroom. Troy wanted us to drop a new single – so we picked one of our favourite tracks and went straight into the studio. The difference is in the quality and production, which has served as a benchmark for the future.

When you formed this band in 2014 did you ever anticipate how fast momentum behind you guys would build, and how does what you expected and what you have achieved stack up next to each other?

We had no idea how this band would be received and really expected nothing. That’s why everything that has happened so far has been incredible.

Are you currently working on any upcoming releases, and if so what should listeners expect?

We are working on a new album, which will be out sometime next year. Follow us on Social Media for release dates and updates.

SHE CRIES WOLF TOUR DATES
Friday November 13th
The Lab, Brisbane, QLD

Friday December 4th
Aspire Studios, Wollongong, NSW

Saturday December 5th
Invasion Fest, Melbourne, VIC
Tickets available at www.oztix.com.au – AA